It’s pretty hard to definitively say that I’ve improved because there are many conflicting results and they are all subjective. This may sound confusing so let me explain. The athletic therapy that I undergo which I’ll just refer to as physical therapy for consistency seems to be progressing quite well. As I’ve explained before, the goal of therapy is to retrain my muscles and body to perform movements that I previously could not do or had problems with. This objective was the entire focus of my therapist in China and although the techniques and exercises are very different with my therapy now the overall mindset is the same. With each new week that I visit my therapist she is able to identify improvements in my balance and strength. For example holding myself in a kneeling lunge position for 1 minute without falling over or the use of any balance support is something I can do no problem today but could not do at all 3 weeks ago. I try to not use my cane while walking around my house and I’m very happy to report that I do quite well. My therapist in China would not allow me to use my cane at all while doing walking exercise and I remember quite clearly how difficult, slow and clumsy my walk was. I even reviewed the video of my walking during therapy sessions and compared to how I perform today there is an obvious improvement. The problem is that the improvements are not maintained and I always seem to revert back to the same difficulties.
I can’t really claim any positive change in my walking because I still move as slow as a turtle and have great difficulty on ice or snow and uneven surfaces. Hopefully this will come with time, continued therapy and hard work. A major problem that continues to hamper me is the fatigue factor. I still tire very easily and when I become fatigued, which doesn’t take much, my body’s performance and movements deteriorate rapidly. Any progress I might notice depends on the time of day and what I’ve been doing but I recognize improvements that most people don’t see. My ability to go up and down stairs is much better but I’m sure others don’t notice. This again is not in terms of how fast I can move but rather performing the movements properly without cheating. Anything I do no longer comes as second nature but requires continual thinking and focus on the proper mechanics of every action. With each step I must concentrate on keeping my pelvis level and my posture upright without any leaning frontwards or to the side. My feet must point forward not angled and as I step up I must isolate my weight through my heel and push up extending my leg without locking my knee at the upper range of motion. My other leg must follow in a straight line by bending at the knee and not rotating my foot, leg or hip to the outside. It really is a lot to think about but eventually the process will be automatic and second nature. I now only need the handrail or my cane to ensure balance, I can step up or down two stairs rather than climb one rise at a time and my tows don’t typically catch the nose of each stair tread.
You can imagine how tiring it is for me to perform the most basic tasks like walking or climbing stairs not just in the physical sense but mentally. I have to be conscious of every move I make and every motion is deliberate not automatic. It is typical for me to drag my feet when I walk instead of lifting my foot with each step which is why I can trip on the smallest stone or bump. My eyes are very important as I have to watch where I place each step and where I plant my cane on each stride. Now that I can feel some progress in my movements I find myself becoming aware of everything I do such as keeping the weight in my heels while standing, my posture straight and upright and my core tight with so many positions and actions. I still have a long way to go but as long as I can notice things getting better eventually others will see my advancement as well. I’m still counting on the coming months to bring forth further improvement but as long as I am able to maintain without further progression or any new problems I’m happy! It is difficult to determine where I see my progress coming from whether its physical therapy, acupuncture or the stem cells. Perhaps it’s because of the stem cells that my body can benefit from the therapy and exercises I do but I don’t think anyone can say for sure. I do not want to build false hope or expectations, I just want to maintain hope and continue working on getting myself better.
Oddly enough after I was just boasting in my last blog how I never get sick, WHAMMO I came down with a cold this week! Fortunately it hasn’t been bad and I was only affected for a few days, I’m pretty much on the mend now. The shooting pains I was experiencing in my chest have also disappeared and will hopefully not return. The disease continues to act as if it has a mind of its own and is by no means predictable so I continue to pray for healing and that my condition will not worsen. I will always keep my blog up to date with any changes that occur so keep checking for new posts.