When you are injured you begin to think back to previous injuries, or problems that you have had with the failing body part. Recently, I’ve thought about my ankle and the past problems that have surfaced in my running history. My history is minimal, but I did have one significant childhood illness that I am occaisionally reminded of.
When I was in junior high school, I was also very active. I ran on the school’s cross-country and track teams, competed on the gymnastic team, and was on a neighborhood swim team during the summer. I loved sports and gave it my all.
One morning I awoke with the feeling that my legs were asleep. You know the feeling you get sometimes when you’ve slept funny and deprived the limb of adequate blood flow? It felt just like that, but this was different. The numbness began in my right leg and left foot, but over about an hour’s time it had made it’s way up my legs to my waist. I had to crawl down the hall and yell up the stairs to wake my parents. “I think something is WRONG with me.” The numbness continued and for a total of 6 days I was hospitalized where tests were done on my feet, my spine, and my brain. Even though I was not aware of any illness that my body was fighting, the doctors suspected that my body was trying to fight an illness. They said that my body had lost it’s ability to distinguish the difference between the intruding bodies (germs) and itself. My immune system had attacked the nerves in my spine and that caused the myelin sheath of my neurons to be damaged. The nerve impulses were not transmitting properly because of it.
When the numbness moved back down my legs, I saw a physical therapist to learn how to use crutches until I regained my balance. I got some strengthening exercises too. I never regained full sensation or control of my right foot.
This residual effect was so minimal that most would not have noticed: I am crazy ticklish all over (except for my right foot), and I cannot point my right toe to the same degree that my left one can (only noticeable in my gymnastics performances during adolescence). As an adult, I notice that I drag my right foot when I get tired. This has proved to be a handicap that leads to frequent and sudden trips to the pavement. *ouch*
Other than the occasional big spill, my clumsiness has not been a played a big role in my running. Or has it?