Bionic legs

Yesterday, I received a gift.  Ok, well, I paid nearly $3000 for this gift, but it’s a gift nonetheless.  I got my bionic legs.  These legs were custom made by this amazing prosthesis guy near my house.  My mom and I went to his office two weeks ago.  He put molding stuff on my legs.  It was similar to the stuff they use to make a cast when you break a limb.  The molds went all the way up to my hip.  Very awkward.

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He told me they would take about a week and a half to make them.  He wasn’t lying.  At exactly a week and a half, I got a call that they were ready.  We made an appointment that coincided with physical therapy, so I could pick them up and then take them exactly to 5 O’Clock Shadow (my physical therapist’s new name, since he always sports a very well manicured stubbly beard) to show me how to use them well.

I showed up at the office, a little nervous.  I’d been hanging my hopes on these braces.  In my mind, these would be a game changer.  Once I get braced up, I’d have no more excuses.  But, what if they didn’t work right?  What if my legs still couldn’t hold me up or work?  Rolling into the office, I was so nervous I was almost in tears.  Thank goodness for large sunglasses and beautiful Southern California weather that necessitates the wearing of said glasses!

Then I saw the braces.  They were awesome!

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The braces were put on me, as it’s kind of awkward to do it myself.  Granted, I will learn and get better.  But for the first time, they were put on my.  I stood up.  It was amazing!  I stood better than I had in months.  My legs felt straight.  My back felt straight.  I decided to go for it, and took off walking along the parallel bars.

Obviously, I got tuckered out pretty early on!  But it was a great start.  The prosthesis guy said that I had more determination than most people.  That made me happy.  I’m a sucker for positive feedback!  I then went to PT with new legs in hand.  5 O’Clock Shadow seemed happy with them.  We spent the whole session playing with them.  He’s going to try me on arm crutches as well as the walker to see what I do better on.  He said I’d have more independence with arm crutches.  So, it seems like a no-brainer to me!  Harder but more mobility seems like the way to go!  I do love a good challenge anyway.

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5 O’Clock told me to practice standing at home this weekend.  He also told us to get a gait belt for if we practice walking.  The hubs could follow behind me with my wheelchair and grab on to the gait belt if I started to fall.  We obviously listened:

If you’ll notice, my wheelchair is far behind me, and the hubs is in front of me filming.  Oh, and no gait belt.  Whoops.

Now, I am more motivated than ever to walk!  It’s going to be hard.  But, what about this journey hasn’t been hard?  But at least I’m feeling progress.  And that speaks volumes!  And my new mini-goal (cause my mom said I have to have one) is to walk into my neurosurgeon’s office next time I see him in July.  I think he’ll be awfully stoked to see me cruising in.  I know I’ll be stoked!

I also know that with my new bionic legs, there’s no stopping me now!

Sore. Soar.

I am sore.  Capital S-O-A-R.

Let me go back to the beginning.  A couple weeks ago, I became frustrated with my physical therapy.  I felt I was in a rut.  I’m not progressing.  The routines were always the same.  I wasn’t seeing much change.  I know that plateaus happen.  I am prepared for that.  But it seemed I was in a PT rut.  My parents came down to take me to a session.  The session started off with my therapist trying to put leg braces on me for 25 minutes.  No joke.  25 minutes.  Then I walked one lap around the room (about 60-70 feet) and then I was done.  She ended the session 15 minutes early.  I was frustrated.  I’ve been really pushing myself in pool therapy and seeing great results.  But then I have a session like that, and I’m frustrated.  There’s also the fact that I felt my therapist didn’t really get me.  She’d put a brace on and ask “How does that feel?”.  That’s hard for me to answer since I have no feeling in my legs….

I’m the type of person who lets things go.  I will just put up with things.  I put up with these sessions for months, because I just figured that’s what it was supposed to be.  And I didn’t want to say anything to upset my therapists, cause I really like both of them.  It’s definitely nothing personal.  My mom is like a pit bull when it comes to me and my health.  She will fight and protect whenever she feels that I am threatened.  She witnessed this session and she lost it.  She sees how hard I am fighting to get mobility back and was beyond livid that the therapist would be so nonchalant about the session.  She wanted me to call the boss and ask for a new therapist.  I don’t like awkwardness.  I decided to try to find a new place.

Keep in mind, I was spoiled by having the Drill Sergeant during my acute rehab.  He was seriously the best physical therapist ever.  He pushed me.  Made me work.  I hated him.  And I want to find someone as similar to him as possible.  Call me a glutton for punishment.  If I didn’t live 2 hours away from him, I’d still be going to him.

I was referred to a new facility by the pool where I do my swimming.  I looked them up and they seemed young but very educated and qualified.  I made an appointment for the evaluation with the head of the group.  He was probably about my same age and full of energy.  He seemed to know what he was talking about.  But what struck me the most, is that within an hour after my evaluation with him, he’d already contacted a prosthesis guy on my behalf.  This guy is going to make my bionic legs.  I’d been trying to get them made by a company since early December 2013 but they were giving me the run around.  I told the new therapist that and he was outraged.  The fact that he was willing to help me when he had known me for 50 minutes meant a lot to me.  That’s when I decided to break up with my therapist for good.

I’ve had 3 sessions with my new therapist now.  Each time, he has pushed me beyond what I think I can do.  He also explains the mechanics behind what I need to be doing.  He wants me to struggle and fight and do things the right way, versus sloppy movements just to get something done.  This is just like the Drill Sergeant.  With the DS, if I did something sloppy, I had to repeat it until I did it right.  This new therapist makes me do that.  With DS, I was sweaty by the end of the session.  My shirt looked like I had been doing pool therapy.  The new pt pushes me until I have broken a sweat, and then makes me continue even further.  DS was sarcastic and hilarious.  The new pt isn’t quite there yet.  But, maybe soon.  I warned the new pt that I would always try to argue and convince him to go easy on me and that he can’t let me get away with anything.  He said he never does.  So while he’s not the Drill Sergeant, he seems to be the closest I will get to having DS out here with me.  And as long as I progress and have someone who keeps me working, I’ll be ok with that.  And that is why today, after yesterday’s hour long session, I am sore.  And soaring.