Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Crumbling from the inside… 5

It’s not what you may think. It’s my bones, not my mind.

Sort of hard to tell, but it’s my left foot that is a bit on the fat side.

I spent three hours in emerg yesterday, waiting to see the Dr. about my x-ray (which was done in about 5 minutes). I did manage to sneak in a little nap while I was waiting – busy spot. This was the first time that I was there for something other than an examination of my urine! The previous night I noticed that my left ankle, foot and toes were very swollen and even a bit bruised. Bill thought it best that I get it x-rayed so off I went.

While waiting I was thinking about what it would be like to have a cast on my foot/ankle, and if it came down to it I was hoping it would be an air-cast or boot.  Transfers would be tricky, physio difficult, walking or standing – on hold for the duration? The frustrating thing was that everyone kept asking me if I had hurt it doing something, which, if I could feel it, I would have known and been able to answer!!

In the end, no bones were broken, but the Dr. said that my x-rays (as in my bones) did not look great. I had my bone density done a little while back, but I have not seen the results yet. I guess now I know.

Left foot 33 degrees, right foot 20 degrees. The inflammation increased the temperature. A glimpse into the way my crazy body functions.

I am not doing enough to protect my body and that means  aging with an SCI becomes even more risky than it already is. This is serious.

I had a great visit with my mentor and friend Chris last week. She has spent 30 years living with an SCI. That is a long time. Now, she is aging with an SCI and looking back at how she would, perhaps, do things differently. She could see where I am at in my recovery, and how, like her, I am getting involved in speaking and different types of advocacy.  It’s the type of work that takes time to plan, involves meeting people at various different times of the day and makes it difficult to develop a routine. This is where I am at. No routine, especially in regards to fitness.

I have to do more to look after myself. Chris said that if she could go back she would do more to develop a fitness routine and continue with physiotherapy for as long as possible. This is going to take time, and I am going to have to make it happen. Standing is one of the best things I can do – weight bearing on these leg, hip and foot bones is one thing that helps improve bone density – that and nutrition. Hello calcium and Vit D. My friend Shannon has actually improved her bone density from her last scan “just” with exercise and diet.

While all this was going on yesterday I also got news that one of my young Parkwood SCI friends had died from a blood clot. Her accident was one year after mine. We had shared stories about CCTC and our time as inpatients. While in Parkwood I was given a blood thinner every day, but that was deemed to no longer be necessary for me. Blood clots. Another thing that I need to be aware of. My Dr. said in relation to lifestyle, movement is one of the most important things to prevent this from occurring.

Feed my body well, move it and keep my mind active. These are my goals for living well with an SCI.


There’s calcium in chocolate, right?


  • Peggy says:

    Your blogs are always packed full of good information. Bone density and blood clots, who knew. Ok, I did know about the blood clot risk but not bone density. I am happy to hear that nothing was broken.

  • Patricia Arnold says:

    I had osteoporosis diagnosed when I was in my fifties. I was first put on Didrocal along with calcium then Actonel 35mg came on the market. I was on that for some years. I am now in my mid seventies and I have gone from a high risk bone density to a normal bone density. Actonel certainly helped me.

  • Julie Willsie says:

    Julie your words should be read by all that are new to the SCI world. It’s so difficult for us as therapists to stress how important these things are without feeling like we are nagging. But then it’s devastaring to hear the negative effects of not taking enough care.
    Keep writing, keep advocating, keep bolstering up others, but keep care of yourself first!
    You are amazing!

  • Susan Young says:

    That is kind of amazing to see the temperature change with inflammation. No wonder it’s so hard on the body! What are your thoughts about developing a fitness routine? I’m curious to follow your journey here since you were VERY physically active before and miss that. Right now just getting through your day seems like fitness routine enough, and so adding to it will be challenging but now you have another reason why it’s especially important for you.

  • Annie sparling says:

    Wow, glad you didn’t have any broken bones, also glad you got some helpful tips on living well. No matter what we may or may not deal with we all need to think about the future, making good choices now. Thank you Julie; I’m going to get back on track with taking my vitamins, keeping up the exercise and eating well. Thanks for inspiring me and countless others by sharing your journey! Huge Hug Annie

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