My left foot clunks. I honestly don’t know why it clunks, but it does. My disability affects my entire body, but is most visible and most present on my left side. My left leg is weaker than my right. My left foot is less articulate than my right. My balance is much worse on my left side. And my left foot clunks.
When I lived and studied in England in 2009, the clunking in my foot disappeared. I built strength in my legs and ankles and feet through walking, hill climbing, stair-climbing, and pilates. When I went home, my sister said that she used to be able to hear me approaching because of the clunking of my left foot, but that she didn’t hear me anymore. This was solid evidence to me that my hard and consistent work was paying off, even though it’s something as small as eliminating the sound that my left foot makes. I did not consistently work to make my left foot stop clunking. It wasn’t a goal I was working toward. It just happened as my body transformed with my practice. When I finished my degree and came home, I still worked very hard doing pilates, gym-based training, and yoga, but the clunking in my foot returned. Again: I can’t explain why it returned, but it did.
My current physical activity in London involves three pilates classes per week, lots of walking, and lots of stair-climbing. I live at the top floor of my building and the lift is often disconnected, so I have no choice but to walk up more than eighty stairs. I am physically capable of this – and it doesn’t bother me – but it’s more challenging to do when I carry laundry bags or shopping bags. I have to ask for help sometimes (which is rather embarrassing) but I find that people don’t mind. It’s more frustrating for me. Yesterday, I went to pilates. When class finished and I walked down the stairs, the receptionist told me she hadn’t heard me descending the stairs. My foot didn’t clunk anymore. The clunking had once again disappeared.
One of the challenging things about writing about my rehabilitation is that I often can’t explain how or why things happen. They happen as a result of certain forms of exercise and therapy, but I can’t pinpoint a specific stretch or movement that helped me achieve the milestone. All I know is that the combination of walking, stair climbing, and a dedicated pilates practice stopped the clunking in my foot once and has now done it again. This is further proof to me that even if you lose strength in your body or you lose the ability to do what you were once able to do, you can get it back if you work hard and effectively.