27 March 2007

Trampled underfoot

When the doctor prescribed a night splint for my unfortunate foot injury, he queried me rather closely about whether I'd wear it. His questioning was pragmatic: this is a $250 piece of durable equipment, but he also admitted that he'd be unable to tolerate having the thing on all night. It's quite a contraption, too: a large piece of molded plastic with a padded footbase and multiple and straps and buckles and bits of velcro. It reaches nearly to my knee, and its raison d’ĂȘtre is to pull the ball of my foot towards my head all night long. The idea is to create a passive stretch in the arch and heel; the reality is something along the lines of medieval torture. Still, I've been in so much pain for so long that I'm ready to try just about anything short of amputation.

For several weeks now, I've been dutifully strapping the thing on at bedtime, only to wake about 2 hours later with a numb foot. No amount of adjusting the straps, buckles and bits of velcro changes this outcome, and I've become quite adept at unbuckling it in the dark and taking it off. Admittedly, I tend to become somewhat frantic when I take it off because it gets seriously weirdly uncomfortable. Still, I figure that two hours of passive stretch is better than none, so I continue to dutifully strap it on and equally dutifully remove it when it wakes me up.

The spouse and I were rather bemused one night recently when we were awakened by the loud thump of the splint hitting the bedroom floor. I'd half awakened a moment earlier to discover the toes of my right foot locked in the back of the splint, pushing it rather forcefully off my left foot. Who knew that my right foot could operate so independently and singlemindedly? I only fully woke up when the splint actually hit the floor. The spouse and I laughed a little at my heretofore undiscovered talent for escaping instruments of torture, and went back to sleep. It wasn't until I got up the next morning that I realized that in an act truly Houdini-esque, I'd gotten the thing off with all buckles, straps and bits of velcro intact.

It wasn't quite so funny the next night when I awoke about 3 am to discover the splint cozily nestled between my ankles. Five hours earlier, it had been firmly attached to my left leg. Morning light again revealed all buckles, straps and bits of velcro intact. It seemed impossible that I could be squeezing my foot out of this thing in the middle of the night while sound asleep...and I am not a sound sleeper.

I'm not sure how I will explain to the doctor at my next appointment that I'm wriggling out of his Iron Maiden for the foot in my sleep. He is already threatening me with terrible things (think Really Big Needles) if I don't follow treatment instructions to the letter (and I am; I AM!).

Worse yet, concert season is nearly upon us. I have to be able to gambol through airports and stand in puddles of beer for three hours straight.

And there is no way I'll be able to explain that splint to TSA if I have to lug it around with me.