Sharing the lessons along the way…

Mystery and Intrigue

For six days, I have tried to describe what is different in my legs since the 15% decrease in intrathecal baclofen.  I have been at a loss for how to share with you the difference in my gait, the shortened length of my stride, or why I need the cane to propel myself forward, etc.

I have also been at a loss in determining which muscles have tightened in my lower legs because I want to focus my rehabilitation exercises on those.

It is times like these when I wish I knew more about anatomy and physiology.  Since the onset of this illness, I have learned so much more than I ever imagined, but still cannot rattle it off the top of my head as I can with information related to neuroscience and psychology.

Some serious research, five dog walks and many outings later, I have solved at least part of the muscle mystery.

At this dosage, my left leg/foot is the most changed.  I discovered that I am unable to propel myself using the balls of my left foot.

There is no spring in that step, which is where the cane becomes helpful.  I use the cane every second step so that I can spring myself forward faster and more stably.  Otherwise, my steps are short, my stance/gait is wider than shoulder width, and my left foot tries to turn inward to help propel me forward.

While this may not fascinate you, I find myself fascinated by the muscle groups involved in this lack of spring.

The baclofen keeps the muscles from contracting or tightening, so little by little, muscle groups will tighten more as the dose of baclofen is reduced.  It is fascinating to me that a series of muscles’ tightening can make walking forward a challenge.

Gastrocnemius - Muscles of the Lower Extremity...

Gastrocnemius – Muscles of the Lower Extremity Anatomy Visual Atlas, page 31 (Photo credit: Rob Swatski)

I won’t bore you with which ones are specifically involved, but will share that I know how to work on stretching those involved so far.  I have designed my own physical therapy regime from exercises I remember from years ago and what I have learned along the way.

I am excited about the exercises I am doing and frustrated at the same time.  The pain in the pump areas is limiting some of what I would be doing.

If anyone is wondering about how I am doing with the decrease in dosing, I am here to tell you that I am doing quite well.  I can still drive a car.  The dogs and I have gotten better coordinated with the cane on our walks.  I am using my shower bench.

I am intrigued so far with the dose decreases, and that is a good place for me to be!


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