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February 9, 2013

As Time Goes By: Tell my leg to stop pulling my leg

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The Daily Star

---- — After 76 years of living with it, I have decided that my right leg has a mind of its own.

Whenever I put on a pair of pants, my left leg goes into the left leg hole with no difficulty, but when I try to put my right leg into the right hole, something happens — it doesn’t come close.

Sometimes my foot aims for the leg hole and it ends up cross-wise, rendering any further advance into the leg hole impossible. There I stand on one leg. I also have a problem with vertigo, which comes on real fast when I am standing one-legged.

I am very vulnerable to falling down in this position and must stabilize myself as fast as possible by hanging onto something.

Sometimes I can stabilize by just touching something — in essence, reassuring myself that there is something nearby that I will be able to hang onto. (Usually I do.)

Besides going cross-wise to the leg hole of my pants, I also experience another problem. Without warning, if I do get my right foot in the leg hole and have proceeded to get most of my leg into the pants, my foot will go at a right angle instead of maintaining a pointed-foot orientation. It is worse if I have a shoe on.

There I sit, with a foot encased in a shoe, with it stuck down in my pants. I am unable to go forward or back. I wait and try again a few minutes later to see if my situation has changed. (Maybe my foot shrunk?) No hope. I yell out loud “DIANE.” Help comes running to my side and I hear the familiar words, “What have you done now?”

After struggling for a few minutes, Diane gets things organized and I end up with my pants on the right legs. I turn to my right leg and say, “I hope you are happy now.”

Let’s talk about stockings. I can usually get a stocking on my left foot without too much angst. This holds true for any stocking, including the diabetic compression stockings that go right up to just below the knee.

Compression stockings are made two ways. The first is to use a stretch fabric that is so tight that body builders could use it as a source of resistance in their exercise programs. The second thing they do is to purposely cut the fabric two sizes too small, which can cause you to get a workout just putting them on.

There you are, struggling; your cardiac rate is already at maximum. You have one sock on but the stocking for the foot with a mind of its own refuses to cooperate.

Because my right leg is so obstinate, I have a short temper when I have to deal with it. In my sternest voice, I shout “Listen up, you’re going into the sock or else.” I rear back in my bed, and using my arms, get my leg at a 90 degree bend, which results in my almost being able to touch my toes.

My right leg has been here before, so it knows what is coming. With a mighty lunge, I get the hole of my stocking over my right big toe, and that’s it. I try to get the stocking off my big toe using my wooden back scratcher. This requires eye-toe coordination. I flunked that test in the kindergarten. (Square block, round hole.) I decide to get help and shout, “Diane.”

I know that my right leg likes Diane a lot, so when Diane shows up to assist me, my leg becomes obedient to a fault and Diane finishes my leg-sock problem with those words we all hate, “There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Where was she five minutes ago when my foot would respond to nothing I wanted it to do?

I need to say something about neuropathy. Those readers who know what I am about to say will be shaking their heads “Yes.”

Neuropathy is a nervous system problem that manifests itself with the sensation of “pins and needles” in the soles of your feet. The first time it hits you, you will think that your foot “fell asleep.”

You will shift the position of your foot thinking that it is akin to a blood circulation problem. Not so. While a change of position might help a problem caused by poor circulation, the change in position does nothing to stop neuropathy. The “pins and needles” sensation will become so intense that you might think your foot is on fire.

You may become desperate. Hitting your neuropathic foot with the handle of your wooden back scratcher will do nothing — you might not even feel a thing.

When you are trying to dress with a foot that is in a full-blown neuropathic attack, you will find it almost impossible. You can send a message to your foot, “Get into the underwear,” and with luck you may get it passed the elastic part of the top only to get hung up in the “fly” opening.

If you thought it was a funny sight getting your foot stuck in a pair of pants, then having a toe locked in the fly of your underwear is one for the record books.

I think I could live an exciting life if I could only get my clothes on.

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by email at hgeerken@stny.rr.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.