It’s pure luck I had to wait this long to sit down to write my blog post for today, and my dear friend Jennifer suggested the topic.
One night I was doing some random internet surfing about foot drop and peripheral neuropathy, and I stumbled upon the website for the Turbomed Xtern. And I was intrigued. This looked like a revolutionary AFO — one that could possibly give me some stability and flexion back in my left ankle and enable me to walk better — and maybe even run. I decided to talk with my surgeon at my upcoming appointment.
Since my spinal surgery in August 2019, I have been battling with peripheral neuropathy in both feet, with the left foot being worse, resulting in a noticeable foot drop. I have AFOs (ankle foot orthotics) for both feet, and I readily acknowledge they help me walk and keep steady. But they’re uncomfortable, unattractive, and prohibitive in some ways. Because they are rigid, I did not have any flexion in my ankles so I could not do certain activities. I couldn’t do things like planks — my feet would pop out of my shoes. I also couldn’t run because I couldn’t do the heel to toe motion. I have not been using the AFOs for about a year now, and I can get along pretty well. I’m still a little limpy because of the foot drop, and I do get tired because it’s a bit of an effort to walk, but I can walk and do some things I couldn’t do when wearing the AFOs. But I still couldn’t run. And I kind of miss running.
I showed him the Turbomed Xtern and he immediately wrote me an order for the AFO and referred me to Rinella Prosthetics and Orthotics. Dan Rinella ordered me a Turbomed Xtern and put it on my new Hoka running shoe. Quick round of applause to Emily at Naperville Running Company who took her time with me and really worked with me thoughtfully to help me get in the best possible shoe for my condition and to work with the orthotic.
Tonight, I brought my orthotic home and put it on. My life changed.
With this orthotic, I can walk almost completely normally and with almost normal balance. On a typical night, I need to use a cane to help me get up the stairs because my foot drop just makes it challenging to navigate stairs. But with the Turbomed Xtern, I was able to walk up and down the stairs almost completely normally, as you can see in this (not flattering but damn impressive) video.
Tomorrow, I am going to wear it to the gym and do some walking on the treadmill to see how it feels. I’m also going to add a clip to the shoes I wear to boxing in hopes it will allow me to do some more exercises there by giving me more stability.
And maybe, just maybe, this will allow me to run again someday.