Click the picture for the story of Calypso, the Three Legged Green Sea Turtle, and why she's my symbol

Sunday, October 16, 2011


My therapy has taken a new route. While I will still be working on strengthening the various muscles I use for walking, I'm now going to be focusing more on the walking itself.

Anyone who has followed this blog will remember boot camp and my walking on the therastride. The harness system kept my weight in check and let me walk when my muscles were not strong enough to hold me up. Now that I can the harness is out the window. I'm walking using my AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) and my own determination.

This started because I requested at PT that I could use more practice walking without my canes. Since I have no timeframe for when I'll be able to walk without my ankle brace my next step will be to stop using my canes. So I'm walking on the treadmill, one that has bars on either side in case I need them.

My first ever video of walking without canes, I walked for about a minute and that was using my KAFO(Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis), which supported my leg to the hip. Now I'm walking for about 15 minutes, which leaves me completely exhausted. The muscles supporting me are still very weak, causing me to weave back and forth. I cannot walk a straight line to save my life. My favorite new saying:
I weeble and wobble... and I might fall down. But I get back up!

All this walking will be a step in the right direction. I keep improving but there's still a long road ahead. Walking metaphors irritate me when walking is the problem in the first place. Ah well, such is life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

Ice Cream Cake:
I went into my normal physical therapy session last Thursday; I was asked by my therapist if I knew that this was my 100th Session. I had no idea. I have enough trouble remembering what day of the week it is. She smiled mischievously and the session continued. At the end of the session I attempted to pack and up and leave but she stopped me in my tracks. She disappeared for a second and reappeared with cake and balloons.

For those who are unaware, your average physical therapy patient never reaches 100 sessions, with the average recovery time for a basic injury being around 6 weeks. So to have seen someone make the type of gains that I have is quite rare.

Needless to say I dug into my ice cream cake and shared it with the rest of the clinic. I was glad that had decided to at least wait until after my PT session to bring out the ice cream. I think me hurling up the nice cake would slightly ruin the mood.

Those who follow The Turtle Walks will know that I have been making significant strides toward normal walking recently, shedding my leg brace and switching to the lower AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis). These type of gains can only be made by an accompanying gain in muscle mass.

For all of 2010 and large sections of 2011, I wheeled myself around everywhere using my wheelchair. While this did lead to an increase in the size of my arms it caused the muscles in my legs to atrophy. Now finally I am starting to see some return of muscle mass to my legs. The right leg, the better working one, has been slowly gaining mass since late last year. Now that I've given up the leg brace the left has decided to join the team.

Metaphorical Cake:
Inspired by a blog called Therapy, Thoughts, and Learning I've been thinking of my life as a cake, baking in the oven.

Sometimes my life can feel a bit like this cake... Candy Mountain Charlie!

I know that all the ingredients I need to become a complete fulfilled individual are already inside me. I just need to let them sit and let the pressure do it's work, forming me into something I've been craving for. Right now my cake is only half baked but I hope that in time I'll be something I'm happy with. But no point dwelling on it too long. After all, if you watch the cake too long it'll never finish baking! So best just to get on with life and see how things turn out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Accidents

Last weekend an accident happened that would shoot me to the next level of ambulation. While walking around with a friend a wire on my leg brace broke. There is a wire on each side of the leg brace so I was able to make it back to my car without too much trouble but it became clear that I needed to have my leg brace fixed.

I gave the broken brace to my orthotist, who sent it off for a tune up from the manufacturer. I attempted to use Roboleg, the computer controlled leg brace, in the mean time. I soon remembered why I stopped using Roboleg: the brace is heavy, clunky, and difficult to control. I was quickly getting more and more frustrated.

I had used my AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis), the ankle brace, in therapy and at the pool but I had yet to use it for any length of time out in the real world. After only one day with Roboleg, I decided to put on my AFO and try wearing it while my leg brace was being fixed.

I trialed out the AFO on a school day, with great results. I expected to feel more tired than usual, which I did. Other than this I didn't suffer any great consequences from the switch. As I continued to wear it throughout the week I felt more comfortable, stronger, and more mobile. Every day my endurance improved and I was able to walk farther. An added bonus is that the AFO can be hidden under my jeans, making me a little less obvious (though the canes end up giving me away).

Me walking without canes with the AFO. I can only do this for short bursts right now, but this is my future.

These experiences spurred on the inevitable epiphany:
I don't need my leg brace any more!
I knew this day was coming but until this week I didn't realize that the time had already come. This accident caused me to move onto greater devices of mobility. I have pure chance to thank for huge improvements to my walking. I can use a brace that has no wires that can break, no computers that can malfunction, and is powered by my own muscles.

I have my leg back again!