Today was my second visit and my first taste of what the ExoSyms will be like as I tried on my test devices. I went in with an open mind, but well armed with advice from fellow Clubbies – don’t expect the angels to sing and sudden freedom from all past issues the moment you put those babies on. Good advice. And dead on.
Last Thursday, I was casted for the test devices. Today was the appointment where I’d try them on and Ryan would adjust them as necessary (until today, a rather ambiguous process).
The kids and I drove out to Gig Harbor and I met my dad in town for lunch. He took the kids so I could go to my appointment.
The first piece of advice I’d like to impart from today’s experience is “bring reading material.” This is the second meeting where there was a lot of alone time as I waited for a very busy Ryan. I worked on my ruthless solitaire skills and made a mental note to never forget my book again.
When I was first escorted to my exam room, I saw two women testing out their brand new ExoSyms – one each. One lovely lady from Albuquerque stopped to talk to me briefly. She was still getting used to it, but said she was walking with no pain. She was really pleased, which gave me hope. She wasn’t a Clubbie, but had been dealing with a deteriorating ankle and past surgeries, so she was so pleased to experience walking without pain. “The doctors told me my next step was surgery with a cadaver bone. That didn’t sound good,” she joked with me.
Not long after, Ryan arrived with my test devices. They’re basic clear plastic outlines of what the ExoSym will be, without the strut and far more plastic than there would be fiberglass in the final devices. Ryan gave me some knee sleeves and had me try on the devices. The right one fit so nice, but the left one was way too narrow.
Ryan had me put on my shoes. I think my shoes yipped, I’d stretched them so to get my feet in. When I stood, I noticed if I relaxed I hyper extended me knees. It felt more natural to try to stand on the balls of my feet.
Ryan took them in the back and “adjusted” them. When he came back, the left one was warm (he’d heated and expanded it). It was closer, but still no cigar. Off he went to do it again. This was when I became convinced I could beat solitaire.
The next time he came in, I tried them on and Ryan put in the world’s most comfy wedge lifts. I kid you not. So soft and spongy, and just the thing to level my feet. A little extra lift in the right shoe and off I went.
First he had me walk with parallel bars on either side of me. He noticed my left toes pointed out and he corrected me. I got that down right away and suddenly, I really was more stable. I think I might have impressed Ryan. He seemed surprised I’d gotten it so quick and had me head out into the gym to walk around. He was pleased with my form and I walked back and forth for a bit. I pointed out where my right kneecap was rubbing and my left outside ankle bone was rubbing. He make a mark on the devices in each place in Sharpie and had me take them off. Back to solitaire.
When he came back the final time, I put them on and strutted around. Yes, the sky didn’t open with sunbeams and the angels didn’t sing, but I certainly felt far more comfortable than I thought I would. The bone pain wasn’t there. However, the left foot tendonitis was still a little bit annoying, but not as bad as without.
Ryan pointed out my ExoSyms will have a strap around the ankle for more support (these test devices didn’t). That will help, he said. Also, the ExoSyms only correct everything knee down. It will help me isolate what I need to work on knee up, such as my weak hip and core, he said. While I wait to take delivery of my devices in 16 days, I’m to work on a number of exercises he’ll send to me. I hope with 16 days of core and hip exercises I’ll be able to hit the ground running, literally, when I take delivery on July 27.
Before I took them off, Ryan had me walk across the mat I’d walked across on my first day that measured my gait and steps. He showed me how the device had corrected some of the issues already. “This shows me we are on the right track, which is really good,” Ryan said. Core strengthening will only do more.
Then, at my request, he took a video of me walking with them so I could compare with my “before” walking. I sure felt more stable, but I make a point of not watching video of myself walking. This time I needed to so I could see for myself. That’s Ryan at the beginning, telling me to “hit it.”
I’d taken the devices off just before my dad and kids arrived. They all asked to see the video. My dad remarked right away that my gait was much more stable, with less limp. Later, when I showed it to my husband, he said the same. So, for just a test device fitting, I can say that the devices will definitely be a positive improvement for me.
It sucks to now have to wait two weeks, but I’ll focus on strengthening and keep up the count down. It will be here soon! Thanks you Ryan, for your dedication to making these kinds of options for better lives available for us.