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

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Back Home: Swimming, Biking, and Avoiding Work

Sorry I haven't written in a while. I've been adjusting to getting back into my life in North Carolina. I was expecting to be energized and inspired, which is true for the most part (though not as much as I'd hoped).

It's finally warm enough here to go swimming outside! I'm lucky in that my parents live on an inlet sound. The water is warm, only a little salty, and no chlorine! I still do go to the YMCA but there's something just so much more refreshing about swimming in nature. My goal is to swim every day; I haven't quite lived up to that yet but I'm getting close.

Having SCUBA dived in a previous life I had a pair of fins lying around. Though my dad was tempted to get rid of all the SCUBA gear since no one's used it in years I asked him to save the flippers. When I'm swimming normally I have enough movement in the water to move my left leg in almost any direction and in any motion, though speed may vary. The right leg is stronger than the left so I have a slight tendency to veer toward the left. For anyone who's used flippers, they exaggerate your every movement. Now instead of listing slowly to the left I steer into left wall practically every kick. Though not what I want it to be yet, it's good to have something to work on I suppose.


I have been using the hand bike more and more every week. I don't use it every day but I make sure to use it a couple of times each week. The area around our house is flat, with miles of farmland in between us and town. At the moment the top distance I've gone is about 8 miles (we clocked it on the car odometer) but I want to go farther still. I felt tired afterward but not exhausted, so I know I can go farther.

Otherwise things have been pretty calm. I'm picking out new classes for next semester but for the mean time I'm enjoying my relative time off (from school work anyway). I have good friends who drag me out to make sure I spend this time doing something fun, always walking of course. So all in all things even out I guess. My life hasn't changed too dramatically but enough that I've noticed.

What to look forward to: the disappearance of my wheelchair. I've been keeping it around, more as my security blanket than anything else. Though I only use it in the house now, both my doctors and therapists have told me to ditch it completely. But it's difficult after all this time. So they've given my parents permission to hide my wheelchair! We'll see how this goes. It hasn't happened yet but my mother has been sending me warnings that it'll happen soon. I'm going to miss you wheelchair.

If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog you need to! From Joss Whedon, with Neil Patric Harris and Felicia Day. It is amazing!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Council of Disabled Animal Friends Blog

So that I'm not filling up the posts of this blog up with the adventures of animal friends, the Council of Disabled Animal Friends now have their own blog!
Check out There are already new members with more every day. For those who love disabled stuffed animals, disabled animals, disabled humans, or any of these, this blog is for you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Boot Camp: Week 2

My have gotten more and more spread apart as I got more and more tired from Boot Camp. Notice this one is the week after boot camp. I was going to wait until I uploaded the pictures and movies off my camera but I left it in Maryland! It's on it's way back so I decided to post in the mean time. I'll post pics and vids when I have them.

Over the weekend I went kayaking! It was a blast and I'll be doing it again, for sure! The only bad thing was of course I got sun burned (pasty white boys tend to burn). My legs were both angled with my knees toward the outside of the kayak so only the inside of my legs burned. It didn't really hurt, it just made my legs look really unusual. I think I'm going to have access to a kayak this summer so I should be posting about this again soon.

After a relaxing weekend it was difficult to return to the riggers of boot camp. Things were very similar to the previous week. I increased the amount I walked with both one and two canes, I walked on the Therastride, walked on the free walking harness, I walked with the AFO (ankle foot orthosis), etc. Read the last couple of entries if you want to see more on those.

Rigidity Splint

On Tuesday the rigidity splint was made. This essentially is a cast of my foot with the foot flexed backward. Since my foot naturally drops down (I have no muscle control of that foot) my ankle joint has become unnaturally tight. This is especially bad because that tightness causes the knee to buckle if the ankle is braced; this makes walking with an AFO considerably more difficult. The hope is that this splint will keep my foot in a more neutral position and slowly loosen my ankle up. If it will loosen up my ankle it's definitely worth a try.

Picture this with a slit down the center so I can take it on and off.

The cast was made very quickly on Tuesday. It should surprise no one that I had it made it green. The therapist who made it took it back with her in order to finish all the adjustments that needed to be made. At the inpatient gym it was accidentally thrown away by one of my old therapists. Not to name names but it starts with S and ends in ephanie! I mean come on, you really threw it out! (just kidding, love you tons!) So a new one was made, which took all of 20 minutes so no harm done.

AFO and my knee

If you haven't seen it already you can see the video of my kneecap moving due to my quads. This is significant because it means I can temporarily (about 5 seconds) hold much of my weight on that leg. We've been using this new found skill to walk without my full leg brace. It still needs lots of work but I'm starting to get the feel for this new mode of locomotion (it's been a year and a half, so it's new to me). I'll keep you posted on the status of this as it progresses.

Though I'm not going to be able to wear when I walk all the time, I've got a custom AFO on the way. I'll send pictures when it arrives, which could be a while.

Underwater AFO

My main therapist had an idea of combining the work I'd done with the AFO and the work I've done in the pool. We were able to take the AFO underwater because the AFO that I've been using is just a simple piece of plastic and velcro . Since the water supports much of my weight we have been able to focus on the work of individual muscles that need strengthening without worrying about the ankle dragging. This is the most stable I've felt ever!

Home Plan

Every time I go to Kennedy Krieger for boot camp I leave with a packet of stretches, exercises and recommendations. This program is what shapes my PT program from now on. It is my chief resource for everything PT as it focuses on my weakest areas. It focuses mostly on my left leg as well as strengthening of my core. I'll share bits and pieces as they become more relevant but its guidance will play a part in all of my recovery from this point on.

It was sad to leave again but I'm glad I won't have to keep that pace every single day. It was good to recharge my mental batteries with a boost of energy from therapists, family, and friends. I'm now armed with a new program and an reenergized will to succeed.