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.

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