Fighting Back!

About six weeks ago I was once again a wheelchair-bound cripple. Something had happened to my right knee and hip that caused the leg to lose the strength needed to support me, so I could stand for a bit, but I could not walk.

That was discouraging, to say the least . . . until it began to make me angry. I had worked so hard for a year and a half to make walking with a cane a reasonable way to get around that this just shouldn’t have been happening.

So, I took action – right from my wheelchair.

At Lenny’s Mobility class at the Cabrillo Stroke Center, he makes you walk, supported by parallel bars, so I kept going there. It was hard work, but my good balance and my solid left leg, along with the parallel bars gave me enough support to make those walking exercises possible.

Mini and Belle (behind glass door) look on as I walk across the patio.

I had requested physical therapy at Dominican Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation facility, but that seemed to be taking forever so, after about two or three weeks of making progress in the Mobility class, I began to wonder what else I could do on my own.

Then I recalled that Christoff had graduated me from doing sit-to-stands, to a walker, and then on to walking with a cane, which finally got me walking. It was clumsy, but I was walking then – sort of like everybody else.

So, I retrieved the walker from the garage and with Christina’s help did some walking. The walker supported me, and Christina followed with the wheelchair in case I needed to rest or felt like I was about to fall. It was tiring, but I was able to walk!

Sarah also pitched in and observed that I walked straighter than I had walked with the cane and stood taller too. I thought that a rollator (4-wheeled walker) might be a bit less tiring to use, so I decided to buy one, despite Sarah’s protestations that they can get away from you.

The rollator isn’t less tiring, but it is more flexible because it has brakes that allow me to control it on a slope and stop it when I think it might be getting away from me. It also has a seat, which isn’t very comfortable, but provides a readily accessible place to park if my legs get too fatigued.

When I went to Lenny’s Mobility class with only my rollator for support, he suggested I might be too fatigued at the end of class to safely get home. I am careful to watch my energy level, particularly how my legs felt about things.

When I finally got certified to go back to Dominican for PT, one of the things my new therapist, Kevin, told me to do between meetings was to use the rollator as much as possible, and the wheelchair as little as possible.

That has led to some interesting things. I had to climb into one of Cabrillo’s open-air minibuses which required climbing a step of over a foot in height. I then had to ascend and later descend a ramp of about thirty feet in length that rose three feet. To exit the symphony, I had to make it down a flight of five stairs, and in my house deal with a couple of less ambitious ramps. Several places I have gone required going up or down curbs.

And so it goes. I’m doing things I was previously trained to do with the cane that I now do with the rollator. I’m also doing sit-to-stands, balance and other exercises, in an effort to build strength in my right and also my left leg.

The effort as always is to live as close to a normal life as possible. Normal isn’t really possible, but as long as I keep it in front of me and the stroke in the rear-view mirror, life will be all good.

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14 thoughts on “Fighting Back!

  1. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, John, that goes something like this:

    The person who says he can, and the person who says he can’t, are both right.

    Glad you’re one of the former. Keep up the good work!

    1. Mr D – Keep up all the great work!!! I know it hasn’t been an easy but you rise up for anything and you always do great!!! Your determination is an inspiration. Keep going!!!

  2. …Always glad to hear of your determination and progress. Keep going forward. You are an inspiration! Thanks for also sharing your writing talents with us. Mary

  3. Yes, John, what an inspiration. Your comment about anger being mobilizing reminded me of an Outward Bound course I was on at age 45. I couldn’t get over the tall hump while rock climbing. I cried and told the instructor I couldn’t do it. He kept pushing me as I hung there suspended. I got so angry at him pushing me that the energy propelled me over the top.
    I am so glad I had that poignant experience and your comment was a good reminder of all we can do to help ourselves especially now when we really want to stay as independent as possible and to heal from all kinds of insults to our bodies. As long as our minds are in gear, we are good to go (as far as our bodies will allow).

  4. Ah, John, you are an inspiration to us all!

    As Gothe said (paraphrased), “If you can, or think you can, start now. There is power and majesty in new beginnings. Start now.”

  5. John,
    You even look better! Right on! So glad you are taking charge and pushing ahead like you are.
    Keep it up! See you soon!

  6. Hi, John, you sounded terrific on the phone. Sorry to hear about one step back, but sounds like you’re going forward again. I have one of those rolling walkers and I just may get it out again since my other knee is giving me trouble. Stairs are my nemesis and I’ve quit walking as much as I used to….not good. You have such wonderful spirit, John. I think of you very often. Thanks for the call. I’ll return the favor soon. Love you, Mareli

  7. Tried to send note twice and it disappeared on me before I finished. It was great to hear from you! I’ll call you soon.

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