There is no evidence in my ancestral tree that would suggest I might have been afflicted by a neurological disorder like Guillain Barre Syndrome. Prior to October 8th, 2010, I had never heard of the disorder, let alone know how to pronounce it properly and know what it’s affects might be. Lots of time in the Intensive Care Unit and Rehab Unit at the hospital was ample to reflect on the meaning of paralysis! And lots of time to try to figure out how to stand and walk – again.
Despite the more than a half century age difference, I found myself in a competition with my eighteen-month old grandson, Marcus, striving for the goal of ‘first to be bipedal.’ Should be an easy win for me, I thought, as I had many, many years of walking and as scary as it might be to imagine, running under my belt. My brain told my muscles what to do and due to the fried out status of my nerves, nothing happened. My legs didn’t work; my arms didn’t work; and, the strength needed to stand and walk seemed to have stood and walked away from me.
My defiant proclamation to the unit’s head nurse that I would recover in a short term and not the long term I had been assessed as requiring seemed for a time to be just bluster and bravado.
Then on October 25th, physiotherapist Dawn and occupational therapist Cathy entered my world and began applying forms of physical torture that to that point in life, I had been unaccustomed. (Pictured with me are to my left, occupational therapist Cathy and to my right, physiotherapist Dawn). Their tag-team regime of upper body stretches and exercises quickly lead to my re-naming them ‘Cruella and her evil twin sister, Cruella.’ The place of their work was renamed the ‘Torture Chamber’ from the Therapy Room. Fortunately, they weren’t willing to let me skip therapy any more than I was willing to give in to the pain.
Learning to stand was the most difficult of challenges, one that I wasn’t certain I would ever again master. It was after watching my daughter, Lisa, stand up that I finally figured out the mechanics and began standing on my own. With standing ‘conquered,’ walking became a natural progression. The walk distance increased from 5 to 100 yards in a week. I’m now able to walk about half a mile and I’m stretching that distance almost daily. Unfortunately, I think my grandson, Marcus has me beat in the running category but I hope to catch up soon.
Thanks to all who have left comments or extended well wishes and support for me on Facebook. It is very much appreciated.
Next time – So What Did I Miss While I Was ‘Gone’