For those who don't know, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 22. I lived a normal life until about 5 years ago when things started to change and it became apparent to others and I felt like a lot of people would think "there's something wrong with him".
When I walked it looked like I was drunk but I wasn't. I was starting to have difficulties walking. First it was stumbling, tripping, then falling then it progressed to walking with a cane. From there I discovered that the reason for most of the stumbling was because I had this thing called "drop foot" which I had never heard of before. That's when the AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) came into place. (the black plastic thing you may have seen on my leg). The cost of the AFO was about $2000 which luckily the Ontario Government has this thing called ADP. I thought at first when it was mentioned to me they were talking about the payroll company I worked at years ago! ADP is "Assisted Devices Program" which will cover 75% of the cost which was great in combination with my work (at the time) benefits.
Not everyone knows this, but unfortunately, I had progressed to the point that I'm actually supposed to be using a walker but I don't really use it like I should. It makes me feel old, embarrassed, ashamed, defeated, burdening, needy, etc. It's awkward to not only travel with, but just go out in general. Try hailing a cab and watch them drive on by because let's face it, people are people and it's easier to not have to open your trunk, get out and assist when you can easily grab another person that will just "jump in". I used that as an example just because I knew most would understand as everyone's hailed a taxi once or twice in their life LOL! Sure most times people clear the way for me, but I'd rather have people looking at me for some other reason like a bird crapped on me, or I spilled red wine all over myself while wearing white! :-)
For those that really know me, you've seen the decline in my walking abilities and how it's deterred me from doing a lot of "normal" things. For those that don't know me well, I tend to "bow out" of certain functions because of the burden I would be, our strictly because it's just something I can't do due to my walking.
I had an opportunity to try "Keeogo" which is an exoskeleton device that assists with mobility challenges that cost about 75k USD but it just wasn't for me regardless of the price. It was heavy, had its own suitcase, and quite frankly I looked similar to Robocop! (from the waist down at least------I can send you a pic if you want, just ask lol!)
After that trial, I learned about something called "BIONESS L300 System". I found out it is a product specifically designed for foot drop. I went online and the first thing I read was "Bioness devices are clinically proven with the ability to increase range of motion and reduce the risk of falls, while improving confidence and independence." Sounds Great!! I started to investigate this system and learned that the Bioness L300 GO System uses 3D Motion Detection. A 3-axis gyroscope and accelerometer are embedded in the Stimulator to monitor user movement in all three kinematic planes and deploy stimulation in 0.01 seconds of detecting a valid gait event. Through an adaptive, learning algorithm, the L300 Go detects gait events, providing stimulation precisely when needed making it easier for users to clear their foot at different walking speeds, on stairs, ramps, and while navigating uneven terrain." (okay so that was a cut and paste from the website http://www.l300go.com/ I admit!)
I talked about it with my Dr. who in turn wrote me a prescription for it and said, "Go and try it, I think it'll be good for you, but only you will know". After that, I made an appointment .
Well, my first "try" wasn't that great. I was told I needed to exercise my upper quad as it was working against me and to come back in a month. A month later I was told I was 10% better than before. PROGRESS! I went back another month later to "try it" again and I was EVEN BETTER than before.
I currently have one "on loan" and I already can see my life changing!!! I'm already more confident when I walk and just thinking about all the energy I used to walk before will now be available to enjoy instead of being in constant fatigue! I've already gone for neighbourhood walks and didn't feel exhausted like I normally do and there was only a few "trips/slips" just like when toddlers learn to walk. I'm basically at that stage again but let me tell you it feels FANTASTIC!
Now here's where I need some help. This unit costs about $8,600.00 USD. (much better than the cost of a Keeogo unit) Unfortunately I can't afford this unit on my own and like I said previously, there is no Government assistance available for this.
So in closing, this is me looking at my quality of life drastically changing for the better and I'm asking for your weekly Starbucks money or anything else you could spare. In the meantime, ask me out for a walk and see the difference first hand!!!!
I hope to post videos soon and more pictures, but for now that's all I have.
I appreciate your support even if all you can offer is a companion to walk around the block with!