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.
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.