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Merely Me's Corner: Speaking of Toes...

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:22pm

by: Merely Me

Speaking of Toes...

Okay so I will never be a ballerina.

Mostly my toes get used for lifting me up so I can see better in crowds as I am on the short side.Just like that old song goes, "Five foot two, eyes of blue, koochie koochie koo." Other than that, my toes don't serve much purpose other than peeking out from summer sandals.

A lifetime ago I actually did take a ballet class. I was a teen who always wanted to learn something new. I had absolutely no aptitude for dance but I looked upon it as a challenge. Forever a klutz, I thought that a ballet class would teach me grace. It was not to be, however, as this duck would never turn into elegant swan.

I remember the dance teacher coming around to give pointers and sometimes to grant us a compliment if we were found worthy. I grew weary of hearing the praises given to the other girls as the instructor would pass me by. The one day she paused before me as I was poised before the bar,and she gave me a gift. "You have very good balance," she decreed.

On the way home from class, I glowed. "I have good balance!" I repeated to myself. Me, the eternal klutz, had a newfound image of my body. Maybe I couldn't move with skill or grace but I could hold a pose without losing my balance. That was good enough for me.

My moods and interests quickly turned to other things...jewelry making classes...writing...and boys. My little pink ballet slippers found their way to the back of my closet.

Now here we are decades later and my toes have a different tale to tell. I am still very much a klutz but now I have a reason for my stumble prone nature. I have Multiple Sclerosis. One of the first symptoms I had felt prior to my diagnosis was a tingling and semi-numbness in my toes. That is where it began. Such a slight symptom, barely noticeable, but definitely there.

And balance? My old dance instructor might be disappointed. I have lost my sense of balance. There are days I could not pass a sobriety test, not because I am inebriated, but because my lack of balance is yet another symptom of my MS.

It seems that the toes can be one of the first body parts to be affected by Multiple Sclerosis. Indeed one of the first symptoms many MS patients report as I did was:
"A "pins and needles" prickling sensation most often in your toes or fingers - like your foot or hand fell asleep"

There is also a reflex in your toes which may indicate neurological damage:

"Babinski's sign: A test for signs of disease process in the motor neurons of the pyramidal tract. The test involves drawing a semi-sharp object along the bottom of the foot. The normal response in adults and children is for the toes to reflex downwards (flexor response). In babies and people with neurological problems of the corticospinal tract, the big toe moves upwards (extensor response)."

Before I was officially diagnosed I could be found at home testing my own self for this Babinski sign by using the end of a pen up my foot. Come on...admit it...you did this too. Okay so maybe it was just me. My toes did funky things but I was never sure if I truly saw the sign or not. Self neurological testing at home...not for the faint hearted or easily confused by the directionality of toe movements.

So what was I saying? Oh yes...I will never be a ballerina. This was confirmed by my neurologist, who after performing real doctor tests in her office chided, "Well you are no ballerina are ya?"

And you know...I am okay with that. My toes are just fine about hanging out in sandals or comfortable sneakers. They have had their day in the sun and could wish for little more. Perhaps one day I will break down and treat them to a pedicure. I think they deserve it, don't you?

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Suggestions, Comments and/or Questions are always appreciated.. - Thank you
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