Bad Leg

Apart from my ankle, I get by OK with my leg. It works, but it does feel different. It is difficult to explain: there is definitely sensation there, I am aware of the sense of touch, for example, and can feel heat and cold, but I can’t pinpoint exactly how it feels different.

A consequence of this is that it “goes to sleep” through inactivity, especially in the morning. If I get off the sofa in the morning, for example, my first few steps are quite doddery. This is not the case if I move regularly, or in the evening (at least, that’s my perception).

Another way in which this manifests itself is during the night, when I often suffer from cramps in my leg. Almost every night, it seems, I need to either jerk my leg in order to correct it, or sit out of bed altogether. I used to get cramp as a cyclist, after long rides, and put it down to dehydration, but not as often as I do now. And it occurred on the calf muscle itself, if I bent my leg too quicky, for example. These pains occur in my foot or the front of my leg, if I straighten things carelessly. So possibly different. And again, possibly dehydration – I don’t like to drink too much in the later part of the day because I don’t like having to get up to pee. And I can often aleviate it by using my other foot to lift my bad foot to 90°. There is a kind of acceptance that things are just “different” these days.

Carbs

I think I mentioned before was that one of the things wrong with me is diabetes. I lived with this at arm’s length for many years. Both parents were also affected, and yet with all the cycling I did I was, if anything, underweight. The diabetes might have caused the stroke. It’s possible but by no means a dead cert.

It’s a funny illness because whilst it’s generally associated with fatties, as I say above, that ain’t necessarily so. It’s only really since the stroke that I’ve padded out a bit, more through just the lack of that exercise than anything else. And whilst the headline Enemy #1 is sugar, the real danger is carbohydrates in general, although of course sugar being a carb will do the job nicely, in sufficient quantity. If I eat some potatoes, my sugar goes sky high, without any sugar cube in sight.

Whilst the cause of the stroke was unknown, this was one of red flags, and I didn’t pay attention to my sugar levels in the way that I do now. The other biggie was my blood pressure, although to a large extent this is out of your control – you go to the doctor’s, you get a tablet or two, and you hope that things get lower. Don’t get me wrong – there are steps that people can take to reduce blood pressure, but let’s just say that in my case they didn’t stop me from having a stroke at 48! In my case, the management of my blood pressure was a problem for years, even though I was a skinny cyclist. While I was in hospital following the stroke, one of the things that got changed was my blood pressure meds. Lo and behold, my blood pressure is now well controlled, although it is only measured quite irregularly, so this says to me that I could have been on more appropriate drugs all along.

No sour grapes, I’m just saying… You do end up being fatalistic – if my blood pressure was/is the problem, then there’s not a great deal I can do in any case! At least I can control what I put in my mouth.

Having said all that, I met my wife in Salisbury yesterday and we enjoyed one of those tiered afternoon teas! Finger sandwiches galore, although I was quite frugal in having just a single (dry) scone, plus a single cream cake (a minature chocolate eclair). My next task this morning is to test myself (which I now do daily), although I skipped carbs at supper so hopefully everything evened out.

Holiday Time

I went away on holiday with my wife last week, my first time away from home since the stroke.

We stayed in a “normal” room, i.e. not one for disabled people. Deliberately so on my part. The holiday, however, was an organised coach trip to Scarborough, and was clearly aimed at more senior people. A lot of my criticisms of the package are based purely on this age difference. For example, the hotel was without internet, and what they said *did* work, *didn’t*. Nobody seemed bothered, except for my wife and I.

Getting onto and off the coach was dependent on the actual terrain on which we were parked, but was generally do-able. There were plenty of things to hold on to, to give myself leverage. So too was manouvring about the coach. I did find that my bad leg was prone just to “relaxing” out of the seat into the central aisle, something I had to be aware of.

The room itself was en-suite, with a bath and a shower over it. Of course, there were no grab-rails that I’m used to, although this wasn’t particularly a problem – again there were plenty of places where I could safely use my good hand to lever myself off the toilet; the shower was actually better than the one we have at home, and I didn’t use the bath.

During the week, we visited the nearby Whitby, Pickering and Bridlington, plus of course had time in Scarborough itself. Also the village of Goathland (the TV series Heartbeat was filmed here, although I never watched it, so to me it was “just” a moorland village), and the WWII prison camp Eden Camp which is maintained as a museum.

Fatigue was a big-ish problem, and it limited my energy levels quite severely. I did a lot of sitting, although of course this was the coast! I did manage to see places, but these were very much one-off visits to see the town centres, rather than long, relaxed strolls about the place. My watch counts my steps – a normal day these days is just a few thousand, but here I think one of the days was 12,000. Because of this, my sugar was well-controlled, until I realised I could push it a bit with the odd piece of cake or ice cream. There were lots of mobility scooters about the place, although I didn’t try one. Scarborough, particularly, is built on several levels, so there are lots of gradients. Worthwhile, but very hard work. Pretty much everywhere else was flat, at least the areas that I saw. Pickering is the terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and we were lucky enough to see a train arrive, although we didn’t have time to travel. Pickering itself was pleasant enough, though there was precious little else there.

I have published a set of photographs under my real name, if anybody is interested. A taster appears below:

My Flickr stream