12A. Celebrating a Year of Walking

Note:  Today is a 2-poster so please scroll down to read 12B !

I celebrated my 1-year anniversary of learning how to walk on September 21st.  Sadly, there was not much celebrating going on since I had a cold and was busy coughing all over Ed.  (He declined to enter my room after that first night and took a really good bath since, so don’t worry.) I had visions of blackout cake (introduced to us a decade or more ago by my cousin-in-law, NonyaJ, I think) or else a visit to the cupcakery J(SK) had more recently introduced us to, but alas, I was sipping soup instead.  Happily, I finally snagged a piece of chocolate cake yesterday in the cafeteria of Planet Rehab.  Mom and I stopped there after a double-header.  I had my first session of pool therapy, and then met PT37 for physical.  We stopped for lunch since we were going to Vision Therapy soon after and it was easier to eat at Planet Rehab than go home and fix something.

I’m happy to report that ORFR (Operation Run Forrest Run) has commenced.  It appears that PT37 does not waste time, so yesterday, on my 2nd visit, she strung me up in a harness and I practiced some gentle jogging.  Okay, it probably didn’t look like jogging, but still, it was a start.  When we first came home my PDG (The Pokey Doctor Guy, a.k.a. the ENT) opined that my whispery voice was a lung capacity issue.  “This would not be a problem if I could run,” I told him solemnly from my wheelchair.  At The Place, the main goal was to walk and I polled widely on the subject of whether I’d run again.  I got mixed reviews.  After PT6 and I both left The Place I practiced walking really fast and then trotting a bit like I’d seen other patients do when learning to run.  This only lasted for a week or two since my leg started acting up and I had to sit down entirely.  After OD3^(1) referred me to PT29 I showed up at The New Place and informed them that there was a diversity of opinions on whether running was an okay goal for me, but I kind of wanted to try anyway.  Accordingly, after a couple of months of PT29 and PT30 magic (with an emphasis on balance and weight-bearing on my left side), I was transferred downtown to Planet Rehab.  Let the record show that my new Rehab Doctor isn’t a fan of running in general since it’s such a high-impact activity.  I am not aiming for distance running, however, I’d just like the option to perform the physical act of running should the need arise.

I also walked on the treadmill yesterday.  PT37 stood behind me (feet on either side of the treadmill belt, like what you do before you start the machine), and ramped the speed up.  PT36 stopped by and PT37 told her (rather gleefully, I thought), about Monday’s stairwell adventure.  Then it was harness time.  The harness hangs down from a track on the ceiling so a patient can learn to move on level ground but doesn’t have to worry about falling since the giant baby bjorn carries your weight.  I lost my balance a few times and tested the limits of the overhead track, but PT37 was there to tip me back into place so I didn’t stray too far.

When PT36 did my evaluation for entrance into Planet Rehab I asked her to give me a walking number (1 to 10, 1= Drunken Sailor, 10=Normal Walking).  I scored pretty low that day and I said something like “C’mon!” when she gave me my number.  But she then turned her clipboard around so I could see the sheet that listed things to look for if the patient is pretty far gone.  She had underlined the phrase “reaches for wall,” and I immediately dissolved into laughter since my entire forearm was resting on the wall and I was leaning on it unashamedly.  I was caught red-handed, and so conceded the point.

So my first running attempt wasn’t fabulous, but it was an attempt.  A little over a year ago I wan’t even on my self-devised walking scale – I was rolling around in my wheelchair, a happy zero, but still a zero.  So we’ll see how this whole running thing pans out.  It will likely take a long time, but I’m willing to see it through.