When a stroke survivor said "I'm vertical for one more day" I remembered how hard it was to steer a wheelchair with one hand and one foot on linoleum. I'm grateful that I'm not pushing a wheelchair across carpeting at home. I'm also grateful that no one has to put a wheelchair in the trunk of their car when I go out. My grandmother didn't know how to drive so she spent a lot of time at home, but American women my age grew up owning their own car. I get depressed if I spend several days inside. When my five year old leg brace needed to be replaced I was glad I have easy access to an orthotist.
I had to make several visits to have my brace adjusted so it's fortunate that I live only 20 miles from Wayne's office. My brace has to reduce the stress on my joints as much possible when I walk. I'm terrified of hip and knee replacement surgery if I abuse my hemiplegic leg. I'd have to go off my blood thinner for surgery and could wake up with the worst type of stroke called locked-in syndrome. People who have a brain stem stroke as I did can be totally paralyzed including being unable to blink or move their head as well as having all four limbs paralyzed.
When I heard myself telling Wayne that a lot of my confidence in the community comes from my brace I realized why I was uncharacteristically sad when I saw him. The brace fitting process stirred up the fears I felt when I first stood on a leg I couldn't trust to hold me up. Those terrifying memories are still there even though I haven't thought about them for years. I've had enough bad falls to be glad my brace keeps my ankle from collapsing when I put weight on my hemiplegic foot. Seeing an orthotist again helped me remember how lucky I am to have good health care.