i am naomi’s left foot

today i told heather, one of my physical therapists, that the hardest choice i have to make each day is to dorsiflex — that is, to flex my foot upward at the ankle.

left-side movement, balance and coordination (especially dorsiflexion) are the areas of motor control that have been most affected by my tumor — and the ones that most limit me on a daily basis.  because my neural pathways are physically blocked by the presence of the tumor, my rehab team and i are trying to find ways to reroute my motor processes around these blockages in order to achieve an improvement in my motor function.

while my dorsiflexion has improved dramatically over the past couple of months, it is still an excruciatingly difficult exercise — much more so mentally than physically.  during my session today, i experienced a breakthrough that was, in part, physical.  i was able to make two muscle groups fire at the same time that had previously refused to do so.  but the more important breakthrough was mental:  if the most taxing activity of my daily life is to flex my foot upward and take a step forward, and yet i make that choice over and over each day because i know it’s what i must to do get better, then i have the strength to make any other choice necessary to my well-being.

over the past couple of months, i have learned that it is possible, by sheer force of effort and repetition, to create new pathways in my brain for physical movement.

why then, should i be inhibited by my existing pathways with regard to other choices i must make on a daily basis — the choice to keep living, the choice to do something meaningful, the choice to be happy?

if the pathways aren’t there, i’ll create them.

and just as i need my physical therapists to push me during each session to do a little more than i did last time, to stretch the limits of my physical and mental capacity, so i need my friends and family to push me to stretch the limits of my mental and emotional capacity so i can continue to take steps forward each day toward happiness, fulfillment and well-being.

i am so grateful to everyone who has been a part of this journey with me thus far, in particular to those of you who have made me feel valuable, worthwhile and loved in spite of (or perhaps even because of) the fact that i have a brain tumor.  if not an entirely new pathway, it is one that i have not spent enough time nurturing in the past, and it is one i hope you all will continue to help me strengthen as i make the choice each day to dorsiflex and take a step (or many) forward.

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