I received a really nice email this week from a man called Simon from Cambodia, asking how exactly I got back up on my feet – THERE’s a question!!! – from being totally locked-in to recovery. Okay then…
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:
Looking back to my Shenton Park ward bed, I suppose it started with Jade, God bless her. Although it was my idea, I had to have Jade’s help. To begin
with, I asked her to put a pillow under my knees so that my legs were bent, and then she put a pillow at the bottom of my bed under my feet. On every visit, I asked her to do this whenever possible, usually just before she left.
At first nothing but, after repeatedly trying, my eyes saw my quad muscles flicker!!! (This took about a month, as I remember.)
A week later my legs could push a little – okay it was less than 5 millimetres but this then triggered BELIEF! Actually, it was more than belief; it was an obsession, totally compulsive.
It took a long time to go from one stage to another and I took very opportunity to progress. Whenever they put me in that damn wheelchair
I’d push them footplates; while I was waiting for my dinner or meds I’d be pushing and pushing (think I wrote about this stage in my book).
And then there was my secret weapon – Alisha, my physio. What a special woman! Alisha set me up with a mad way to challenge me, trying to push me further and further….again, this phase of my recovery is dealt with in the book.
For now, I’ll skip to home ‘cos that’s where my beloved ‘bar’ helped me, but for different reasons now. This bar was not for my scotch and smokes, it was my training prop! Every morning for months I tried standing at the bar for more than 10 minutes each time. You’ve no idea how long a minute was to me while my legs were quivering, but they gradually got built up. Alisha had already got me to a certain stage but from now on it was up to me. Just me and the bar. And a clock!!! I also kept the wheelchair behind me for when I dropped backwards like a sack of shit – back in to my hot wheels! My legs quivered uncontrollably, yet I with every minutes, I became more determined – my iPod helped a lot!
One thing I must stress, though: DO NOT DO THIS UNSUPERVISED!
I took too many chances, really – and please understand, every stroke is different (there, I said it! Covering my arse!!!)
After my bar time of standing, I started shifting my weight from leg to leg then tried to take steps while holding onto furniture or walls. Scary, but those first steps are what it’s all about! I walked once with Alisha behind me but on ya own you tend to hold onto stuff. Later, I braved the garden where there was a lot of grass, taking a few steps unaided, then turning around and stepping back to my chair. Then another few steps and back to my chair and so on day by day. It was a tedious business but I knew it was the only way. Sheer hard effort day by day by day….
The exercise bike helped move things forward a lot; bet I ‘cycled’ a few thousand miles at home! And of course there were many physio sessions in Alisha’s gym. I can hear her voice in my head even now, and her wonderful laugh (she was always laughing). I think that helped too!!
I can’t really go any further, as, once your stepping, well…you just keep on stepping to become a proud member of the “ministry of silly walks”.
There’s no quick fix, I wish there was. All I can say to those locked in is “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Try pushing that pillow your feet to get things going. Ask the nurses to set you up before they leave you, close your eyes and try to push on that pillow night after night after night…
If there’s a muscle there, it will build up deep inside your leg and grow until one day it may just move that bloody pillow!!!! FOCUS! One flicker is the start of everything! FOCUS! And, above all:
Don’t stop believing!! You are amazing!! Start today!! You can do it!!!