I’ll Take the Small Steps

Having a rest from rehab on the Sunday is a good thing. I hadn’t yet done a full week of rehab work, only having arrived at the hospital the previous Wednesday. It was a good mental break from having to think about exercises, counting laps of the hospital that I had walked that day, and getting ready for hydrotherapy. So Monday morning I was ready to tackle a full week of rehab. As expected, my morning physio was just hard work; struggling through exercises that once would have been easy. Also, I knew enough about my condition to know that any improvement might be a long time in coming. Nerves that have been squashed so severely do not bounce back over night, or in my case, a matter of weeks. My rehab was a matter of focus upon what the movement should be like, aiming for that, rather than actually achieving the movement. So my exercise routine with my physio was slow, trudging through, and recalling what the movement once looked like and once felt like. It left me not only physically tired, but also mentally exhausted.

My afternoon rehab involves a hydro session. It’s a nice change getting into the pool. If I lost my balance it really didn’t matter. What’s the worse that can happen ? I go under water. It’s safe. One exercise that was part of my program seemed to be a waste of time. A couple of steps away from the side of the pool, facing away from the edge, I then had to fall back against the side, allowing my hands to go back to break the fall. While not exactly hard work, it’s quite relaxing to continuously fall back in water. It didn’t feel like work. Also, it was slightly frustrating. When one normally falls back, the foot normally flexes. The reflexes in my left foot work okay, but my right foot stayed exactly where it was. Just lifeless in the water. So in my mind, it wasn’t worth the five minutes doing this exercise. But that Monday took both myself and the physio by surprise. I started to fall back against the side of the pool and my right foot moved. It was slight, barely visible in the water. I felt it and was so surprised that I missed catching myself against the side of the pool, and went straight under. The physio came to see what happened. I repeated the exercise, expecting the slight reflex this time, and the physio saw the minute movement. There was no doubt, some movement happened. And I was ecstatic! It wasn’t a huge leap forward, but I didn’t care. It was a tiny, minuscule, step forward. But the point is, it was a step forward. There was progress. And that is how my recovery started. One small step. When I told a friend who visited that evening, it was trivial news to him and so he responded in a flat voice, ‘well that’s great’ and moved to a different subject. It’s hard to imagine not having a foot that works, so it does seem stupid to get excited about such a small thing. But when in rehab and all you do is wait until the next appointment, doing exercises in between, and looking for any sign of progress, this minuscule sign of progress was a leap. I’ll take the small steps. At least I’m moving forward. The morning tea ladies got it though. I had already become a bit of a favourite with the catering ladies. I’m always very happy when anyone brings me a cup of tea. The next day, at morning tea, the ladies bought be a chocolate eclair after hearing in the kitchens what happened in the pool the previous day. They had me pegged already. I’m not a great eater of cake, but I cannot resist a chocolate eclair. It was their way of celebrating with me. And for that, I’m very grateful.

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