They are hardly ever still, my sister’s feet. But they don’t let her dance. They don’t even take her places. She is at their mercy. In their pain and urge to move, they flex, twist, and contort, seldom able to rest even a few seconds. So, too, her legs move and thrash, wrapping her up in the bed linens like a winding sheet. The medication she takes for restless leg syndrome has not been helping much.
A severe multiple sclerosis flareup two months ago has left her legs more painful and uncontrollable than ever. Because that flareup also impaired her ability to walk, my sister has been living in the hospital, then on my couch, then in a nursing home, and then back on my couch again.
She is enduring a crippling case of the uncertainty blues. Physical therapists are trying to strengthen and retrain her leg muscles so that she might be able to walk unassisted again and return to her home. She can make it from the couch to the bathroom by using a walker. We are working to get her on a newly approved MS drug. Theoretically, it should reduce the number of brain lesions she’ll suffer in the future—lesions that impair her nervous system’s ability to send and receive the signals that support walking and other body functions. MS has already taken away much of her vision. We don’t want it to take anything more.
Two sisters. I’m the older, and when I look at her feet, her curled toes remind me of the little girl she once was. She may never dance again. She may or may not return to walking unassisted. But we are hoping. Baby steps.