Update from the Clinic

I am relaunching the blog with a series of posts originally written in 2014.  You can scroll to the bottom to start reading with the first post.

August 8, 2014

Learning to walk the second time is harder than learning to walk the first time.  There’s an observation I never expected to make.  I want to give you an update on the therapy progress to let you know how I am doing and how to pray for me.

The folks here have given us various numbers for how much muscle mass a person loses each day they are incapacitated.  It’s a really big number and if I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t believe it.  Before this began, I was not “athletic” but I was active and could do all that I needed to do.  After nearly a week sedated and another couple weeks immobile, I had little muscle left.  It was deceptive, because during that time my body collected fluid.  So, for example, my calves were larger than before but it was all water weight.  When we finally got the water off, my calves are about the size my arms used to be and my arms are thin.   Like those pictures you have seen of the big dinosaurs and little teeny arms.  When I was officially “released” to the therapy floor, I couldn’t role, slide, or reposition myself in my wheelchair and could barely lift my arms over my head.  I have a 24 ounce cup of water by my bed and it took two hands to lift it.  All-in-all, not a pretty picture.

The challenge for the therapy team was to take what was left of me and help me build the strength to walk again.  To be honest, I thought it would be impossible.  But, I kept looking at the poster from Megan in my room (see the first post in this series) that says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” and I knew it would happen.  I didn’t know what God had in store, but I believed it included walking.

I spent a few days in therapy and contracted C-Diff (a nasty bug that causes diarrhea) and they needed to move me off the floor for a week.  When I came back, I really couldn’t walk at all.  The first week in therapy I used a standing frame that braced my knees and hoisted me into a standing position.  Once standing, I would do some simple exercises to strengthen my knees and core muscles.  By the end of the week, I was able to stand at an Evo Walker that allowed me to stand, support myself with my elbows and put weight on my knees.

The Evo Walker allowed me to take my first steps.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was technically walking.  I could also use it to stand for my strengthening exercises.  By last week, we decided to switch to a standard rolling walker because that is what I will use as a transition device until I am walking independently.  It was a huge challenge to go 15 feet with one person on each side of me and someone else following with the wheelchair.  By last Friday, I could walk about 50 feet with standing breaks.  Again, not pretty, but making progress.

I also fought off another round of C-Diff last week that started over the weekend and continued through Wednesday when the medication began to kick in.  But, I didn’t want to leave the rehabilitation floor this time and just worked through it.  Every time I stood up I felt like I would mess my pants.  I have come to appreciate Depends (that makes me sound old) but they got me over the fear of embarrassing myself in therapy.

This week has gotten off to a good start.  The effects of the C-Diff have gone away.  Yesterday morning was business as usual knocking out a few 30 foot walks and wondering when I would break the barrier.  Yesterday afternoon, it happened.  I was able to walk about 100 feet with only standing breaks.  I did it twice.  Today, I walked a total of 300 feet in my two sessions.  I am thankful.

I also have begun working on steps.  This afternoon, I was able to lift my foot onto a 2 inch step and stand on it.  I need to graduate to 4 inch steps before I go home.

This short summary squeezes a few weeks into a few paragraphs.  While the outward signs are physical, there have been spiritual battles we have fought in prayer and spiritual insights from going through this process.   I don’t know why God has ordained this for me and I may never know.  What I know is that it is by His grace I am alive and by His grace I am walking again.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “walking in Christ.”  We can say that our life belongs to God and we have a general idea of what that means.  For me, everything I have done from the moment of my heart attack is done using time that God has given me.  If I had any questions before about who my life belonged to, I don’t now.

Please pray for my continued health and for the strength to build in my legs and arms.  Pray that I can maintain an attitude of thankfulness in all circumstances and that the people here will see my faith and recognize that this is not a “me thing” but it is a God thing.

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