Why do I?

A trick question. Why do I lope lopsidedly, tilting to the right when I walk? It’s not entirely because I have CP. My right shin is significantly shorter than my left; which is not due to brain damage, but simply the way I am. A thought that has occurred to me rather late in life, but, better late than never.

If I wear a right shoe with a platform of about an inch – as I did for a while, though it proved ruinously expensive in shoes – my tilt would be much less noticeable. So why don’t I do that all the time? (I’m reminded of these advertisements for ‘vanity heels’ for men of short stature who wish to boost their height.)

Probably in part because, although the professionals have known for decades – since, presumably, the physio measured my leg length in 1975 – they did not comment on the discrepancy to me in such a way that I felt there was anything that could be done about it, or that was worth doing. If they had thought it was worth doing something about, surely they would be doing it?

Only now do I recognise my false logic. Perhaps the physio knew there was an unevenness, but did nothing because, in the normal course, we compensate for such variations quite easily. Lack of symmetry is the norm, after all. But the ability to correct is what ‘ordinary gaited’ persons achieve; something rather beyond the capacity of an adult with impairments who is already recalibrating to the max most of the usual parameters just so she can walk.

I’m treading perilous waters here, I do realise: to fix or not to fix, that is the question. There must have been an era during which it was considered ‘the right thing’ to encourage remedial surgery, hard work, physiotherapy, with a view to maximising our potential (and improving our chances of integrating successfully with ‘normal’ others). Forty years on, I assume that integrationist philosophy is more benign.

But – at what point does intervention make a positive difference? I still don’t know the answer. Piecemeal suggestions offered to me these days tend to sound apologetic. I suspect I would benefit greatly from a full MOT which I have never properly had. But a shoe platform that would wear out only slowly, for my right shoe to help stabilize my gait? Well, they can send people to the moon, I’m sure they can invent a hard-wearing, soft sole – I know they can, my current pair of shoes has been though the wash three times and they are still in good order – for an occasional platform. Not rocket science, but effective, nevertheless.

Yesterday, I’m delighted that this blog post about my writing appeared on Karen Dustman’s blog, Clairitage.com. Thank you so much, Karen, for featuring me!

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