Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Kiné (Health Care Encounter Series)

Without doubt, the health care professional who has changed my life in France beyond belief would be the kiné (physiotherapist)

I'm trying to remember right now what single event made me go to see the GP to ask to get a referral to the kiné, since I've had the problems all my life.  It was probably J who suggested it after hearing me complain or seeing me struggle with my 'dodgy' legs just one time too many.

I still remember clearly my first appointment.  It was in the days that I will still nervous speaking in French to strangers with 'out of the box' vocabulary and J came with me for support.

The kiné surgery has 2 treatment rooms, one gym room and a hot-tub room where patients do resistance work in the water.

For my first appointment, I was shown into one of the treatmnt rooms for a consultation where the kiné assessed my legs, prodded them and asked lots of questions about the reason behind my problems.

This was in late 2009 (I wrote about it in 2010 when my original prescription for sessions was nearly out) and since then, I've been going twice a week, every week without fail.  I lift weights by doing leg curls, I do propriceptive exercises, which basically means I work on my balance and muscle stability and memory.  I also get in the hot tub once a week (far more annoying than it sounds at 8.30am!) and do resistence training in the water.

I wish I had his legs (minus the hair!) source

couldn't help myself source

The results?  Nothing particularly visible to the untrained eye, but to me, there are huge differences.  I can now balance on my left foot for longer than half a second, my toes do not permanently 'grasp' the floor and my thigh has got stronger.  My Achilles tendon is much slimmer (it was bound with scar tissue before) and I can bend my leg slightly more before my heel raises off the floor.

I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to make my legs more functional and also quite disappointed that I never got this opportunity in my home country, the UK.  When I had my op to lengthen my Achilles tendon 12 years ago, I had 3 sessions with a physio afterwards.  I needed intensive and prolonged physio to help me with a problem I'd had from birth, but I never got it.  I see another girl every week when I go to the kiné.  She has practically the same problem as me but it has been treated all her life.  It's difficult to compare, but I do, and I wish I had her legs!  She doesn't have an ugly foot and her calves are the same size.  It just wasn't to be for me.

The kiné really has become like a member of my family.  He's seen me through unemployment, loss, joy, injury and helps me a lot by giving me advice.

I can't imagine not going to my sessions.  They've become inane to me.  A twice weekly reminder how lucky I am to be able to get great care in France and for almost free.

I have 2 lifelong goals to do with my legs.  One is to have my calves the same size, the other, to be able to walk on tiptoes.  The first, I've already been told will never happen.  The second really is stopping me fulfilling my dream to go on 'Strictly Come Dancing'.  But seriously, these dreams may seem totally banal to most.  A pipe dream to others.


Andromeda said...

I know if I had gotten physical therapy for my back curvature (not really scoliosis, but still not at all a normal straight back!) when they first noticed it when I was 11, things would be so much easier for me now! So I too fully appreciate the awesomeness that is France's kinés! (And kinés with osteopath husbands are extra awesome!)

I don't think you're dreams are banal at all! Would plastic surgery ever be something you'd consider for the calves? If you know that the kiné will never achieve what you want? I think all the time about surgery for my ears that stick out (seriously, they stick out a lot). Everyone in the world can say "don't be silly, you look fine" but I feel like it should only matter what you feel about yourself. Learning to accept yourself "the way you are" is really really hard and not something that I think is even possible! Dreams mean you have hope and you haven't given up that you'll get what you want, one way or another :-)

Eileen said...

I used to really want to be able to wear heels again... and that's never gonna happen and I don't care anymore. Tiptoes is probably out of the question too, as well as running. Fortunately I've always hated running so I can't say I miss that much. But there are certain things I hope to do with my bad feet that are probably within reach---rock-climbing, hiking, wearing more than one pair of shoes!

Emmy said...

A - I've seen calf implants on the tv but they weren't that noticeable and I don't think it's worth the pain (apparently, very).

Eileen - what's up with your 'dodgy legs'? I am very interested to meet other people in a similar position.

I never could really wear heels although I've got a couple, they just hurt my toes as they 'grasp' the floor more than usual. I can only wear them if I won't stand up or walk much!! I laughed at the 'one pair' comment. I wear one pair 95% of the time, summer or winter that I've had for 4 years +. They have holes in the soles and now it's winter again, they are taking on water.

Tiptoes is only a dream too for me.

Eileen said...

I've got an arthritis problem with my big toes that I've had for about six years now and I'm just jumping into the surgery waters with it because walking was becoming more and more painful. It's a totally invisible problem though. It's called "hallux rigidus". I noticed it when I first came to France six years ago and all my good shoes starting hurting and heels became excruciatingly painful (and I had some beautiful heels too!). Arthritis is never really fixed but I'm hoping to get some mobility back, especially since my boyfriend is so sporty.

I used to really love shoes. I worked in a shoe store for three years and didn't buy bad shoes either. But now shoe shopping is a huge pain. I never invite anyone else along.

I know it's not the same problem really but I just had the surgery last week so your kiné post caught my eye!

Emmy said...

I know how you feel. Ive acrually bought pairs of shoes just to try on on the house knowing i'll never be able to wear them. They are just pretty objects.

Saw the podiatrist today who gave me a recommendation for a shoe shop that might suit me but im already imaging othopeadic shoes and granny heels.

I hope your op is successful. Even if it helps only a little thats a great thing!

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