We are patiently waiting for my leg braces to be finished. They were suppose to be done last week, but unfortunately there were complications and they didn’t get cast. Now the due date is the week of May 11th. Both my therapist and I are anxious to get them so we can work with them and see the differences they can afford me in terms of my standing posture and if they will aid in my walking abilities.
Bruce and I started using another piece of rehab equipment last week. It is a “Home Gym”, they are advertised on TV. The equipment is basically an inclined plane on casters and you can do several types of exercises where you are utilizing the effects of gravity to act as a resistance. We are going to set the incline board down to 5 or 10 degrees and I’m going to transfer onto it, with my leg braces on. Once on the board, we’ll release the knee locks on my braces and position my feet against the foot platform. Now, from a bent knee position I try to straighten out my legs, pushing my body away from my feet up the inclined plane. Bruce rigged a strap to hold my feet in place when we tried it in therapy, otherwise there is no control over where my legs and feet might migrate when I attempt this. I know I can do this because I can feel the nerves firing to the muscles, trying to get them to work. This movement is very similar to one of the repetitive movements we make at home trying to get the nerves and muscles working together again. I still have very little to no sensation in my calves and shins, so it will be easier to try and force my knee down, straightening the leg, pushing my upper body away from the foot plate than to try and coordinate all of the muscles and nerves needed to push off from the board. I am really looking forward to work on this.
I recently had a conversation with one of our friends, talking about goals we hoped to accomplish from these treatments. Anyone in our situation wants to be able to walk again, as they once did. That is a common goal aspired to by all of us and it is just human nature to want to return to the state of physical well being that we use to occupy. Now that we have seen some slight movement in the motor functions of each leg, it is natural to expect that someday I will regain complete control over my lower body and become ambulatory as before. I am a very black and white person about this. Just because I have nerve sensations telling me certain muscle groups are firing and that those muscles are contracting, until those sensations translate into actual motor function, then that’s all there is, nerve sensations. Do I have expectations that those nerve sensations might someday become motor function? No, but I do have hope that someday they might.
Some have asked why I don’t go in to get my nerve/muscle impulses tested to see at what spinal level a meter could detect electrical activity. That way I would know how much I have progressed, if any. This could also give me a base-line for future comparisons. My response is that it doesn’t matter what a meter can tell me. If those nerve impulses aren’t translating into motor function, why would I want to set myself for failure to expectations I can’t fulfill, if there are no further developments? Either, I am functioning at a specific spinal cord level or I’m not. It does me no good to think about abstract functions, that might be obtainable, when it is hard enough dealing what I have to endure on a daily basis being disabled and trying to rehab my body so that it might regain function someday.
Not much to report on the bladder/bowel situation. I can still bear down and urinate while sitting on a toilet, but there is no consistency or sensation. Unfortunately, my lifestyle and the demands of my job and therapy, cause disruptions in the bladder training. I can not void my bladder, but have found that after going as much as I can that I can bend over and tighten my abdominals. This allows me to further put pressure on my bladder, expelling most residual urine. I can control flow through the contractions of the muscles. Though not ideal, it works, and I don’t have to catheter after each attempt. This is definitely work in progress. We can only hope and work for better results.
Today is the big day. When I get off of work, I’ll go to therapy where John Morris will fit my new leg braces to me. Kathy is going to be there to watch and take pictures. She and I are excited at the possibilities this might mean. Bruce Greenlee, (my therapist), and I are excited by the prospects of what we might be able to accomplish with these new braces. Whether they will actually help or aid in my walking, and if they will allow us to try new concepts in therapy that can be beneficial in achieving further progress. I’ll let you know how it goes and the Blog Master will provide visuals of where we stand, literally.