Starship GIMP

 Posted by on March 18, 2014  My stroke
Mar 182014
 

Thalamus_small“SpaceLog, 2014.3.18:
Acting-Captain Baker of the StarCommand vessel GIMP reporting. We've been drifting in deep space for over a year, far from home with many systems still down. Sensors are slowly coming back online, but still patchy, with starboard still on manual as we struggle to re-wire that side of the vessel.. The bridge crew are gone and I've assumed command, even though I don't  know how anything works. I just continue to mash buttons randomly, hoping something happens in this drifting hulk..”

It's felt like that at times.. as I sit and try to move my right leg, finessing the mental connections to my hamstrings and calf muscle. They are still not firing properly yet, and after 12 months of silence, I must confess to being a little worried about it. Finally though, I feel something back there. It is less a movement and more of a feeling; hard to say exactly what is happening, but I will assume any change at all is good. Perhaps some tenuous mental connection is finally being made between my brain and the back of my right leg?

One big change in my circumstances is that my physical therapy (on my leg) and speech therapy both ended on the 31st of December, although I continue with occupational therapy (on my hand). This is not to say that my leg is healed, far from it. That will be at least another 2 years I would think, but you know how the US medical system works; once you move beyond critical care, out the door you go. I prevailed on the physiatrist to lobby the insurance company for more hand therapy, and so far that continues, although once a month rather than once a week as before. From here I'm committed to doing the same program of leg exercises that I did for months under supervision, but on my own from now on. I'll do my best to do them as often as I can and get as strong as I can. I still have the same issues I've had all along; weakness in my right shoulder, and weak muscle reaction on the back of my right leg.

For several months now, I have been getting on the elliptical and walking BACKWARDS, to work my right hamstring, on the prior advice of my physical therapist. In my current condition, I am barely able to use the right hamstring at all and the right leg is almost 90% assisted by the left leg in the opposite side of the gizmo. On top of that, I can't keep going for more than 15 minutes before my left leg is overwhelmed, but I think the exercise is finally starting to pay a small dividend.

I am truly grateful for the gains of the last 12 months, and the limited mobility that I now have, and yet I’m utterly astonished at how slow my recovery is, and disappointed I am not further along, as contradictory as that sounds. Extrapolating this past year’s rate of recovery, but going forward, I guess it will be several years to recover to anywhere even close to where I would like to be. That is a sobering thought and I must concentrate on my minute gains not to become despairing of my situation. There is some solace in knowing I am beyond that critical stage at least. I have mobility, clumsy yes, but at least I am mobile, and I have been riding public transport alone, a goal from a few months back which I have now achieved.

I spoke of spasticity in another post before; the tendency for muscles on the affected right side of my body to spasm and twitch and 'fight' with me. This is a very real problem in times of urgency, like hobbling across an intersection to beat the lights, where it feels like an invisible imp fights me for my own controls. Needless to say it feels beyond weird to lay in bed and see my own arm reposition itself without any input from me. The only time this may happen for you is that involuntary stretch during a morning yawn, (or the 'piss-shivers') but I feel it all the time in my right side, and it will be a factor as long as the muscles on my right side are not strong enough to override it..

One recent clumsy, spastic one-armed gimp moment was that I dropped my iphone In the toilet. In hopes of drying it out, I tried all the internet tricks- I put it in a bag of rice for a few days, I zapped it with a hair dyer, but no luck. I could hear new texts and phone calls, but frustratingly the SCREEN was black and therefore the phone was rendered utterly useless. For someone in my condition, being contactable at all times by phone is not just a luxury but something of a necessity, so I had to buy a new phone, and because Apple recently changed the cables that the new model uses, I had to buy all new peripherals and accessories too. That was an expensive trip to the toilet… So let this be a lesson to you about the perils of Twitter on the shitter.

In addition to my physical therapy, I also have the task of training my left hand to draw (which I spoke of in my last post). It's not really stroke therapy as such, but an important part of my rehab never-the-less. I'm pleased to say that this is one area in which I can see clearly visible progress from week to week, and recently I've been feeling that my left-handed drawing has been markedly improving. Julia and I often draw from the television, and I've posted at least one example of our TV DRAWING sessions so far on my blog, plus, another post of some recent LOCATION SKETCHING. All this focus on drawing and my new relationship to it as a left-hander, inspired me to write my last post here on CaringBridge, but I elaborated on that in a NEW POST on my blog, where I talk about how I came to love drawing in the first place, as a child of 8.

And that about sums up my news of late. Until the next thrill-packed episode!

“SpaceLog, 2014.3.18- supplemental:
Sadly, Ensign RIGHT, is still in sickbay… A good man, but no longer fit for duty, till he regains his senses… Meanwhile, Yeoman LEFT is filling in for him, with mixed results. We hope to be back in our own sector within a year or two. It’s a long haul on backup engines, but what else were we going to do out here anyway? Crew-morale is good. Let’s hope it stays that way or this already long voyage will be extra long.
BAKER out.”

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