How I Walked Again

By Cristie Gardner

It began with belief, and a vision.

It is easy to blame my injury for my inability to walk more than a few yards before being consumed with pain in my legs. But now I have done the work–the fierce determination, the sacrifice, the time and study, the anguished pleas for Divine intervention and answered prayers. And I can gratefully stand before you, and walk before you, pain free and able to walk great distances.

Several years ago, while I was working for US Airways in Cleveland Ohio, my station manager told us we had to work on the cement floor of the airport without padding under our feet (I guess he was more concerned about tripping than protecting our feet). As a general agent for the airline, my job involved the ticket counter, where we lifted bags that sometimes weighed more than 50 pounds and placed them on a conveyer belt; we also loaded passengers onto the aircraft and went to the gates (often running) to meet aircraft as they came in. I loved the job! I loved the microcosm of humanity that I saw and served on a daily basis. The perks of flying for free were also a fun element to my job.

But one day, at the end of my shift, I felt like I was walking on cut glass that had been shot out of a volcano. I learned I had severe plantar fasciitis, with bone spurs. Never before had I been injured in such a way that I didn’t recover within a couple of weeks. The company ruled that I was disabled, but I didn’t allow that to stop me, assuming that I could change all of that by positive thinking. Over the years, I tried magnets, sonography, platelet rich plasma injections (very painful), massage therapy, physical therapy, muscle integration, and prolozone therapy (excruciating). Until recently, I was ALMOST reconciled to being disabled for the rest of my life. But I never gave up. I learned that by stretching the opposing muscles, I re-taught my injured muscles to work in harmony with each other again. Walking involves using muscles on opposite sides from each other, in balance, or the injuries continued or caused greater pain.

It was almost like being a baby again, trying to figure out how to balance, using the opposing muscles. But without the polarity of both sides of the muscle; both ends, and both sides of the legs involved, my recovery was imbalanced and I remained disabled.

So I began new efforts: I changed my diet entirely. I eliminated foods that caused inflammation. I bought a massage gun, and night after night I hammered away at the knotted leg muscles to confuse them and soften them and decrease their resistance. Slowly, over time, the inflammation diminished and I could stretch the legs and walk short distances with less pain. I practiced until my muscles became stronger and regained their muscle “memory” of how to walk and relax in balance and counterbalance. My weight dropped down, now that I could move.

I transformed into the very form I envisioned when I began my quest to heal.

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