Last week marked about 12 weeks of physical therapy since the surgery so my therapist took me through the Gross Motor Function Measure test to see how I am progressing. If you have been following this blog since the beginning you may recall that I took the same test the day before the surgery. My score went from an 86 (pre-op) to a 98 (now). Seeing this improvement in an objective measurement of my progress is encouraging but what’s important is how my life has improved as a result of the surgery and physical therapy.
Things that are awesome:
- I can run now – It’s not the most graceful running you will see and I have a lot of work to do so that I can learn to run in a controlled fashion but I can run now and that’s a big deal! No more just barely missing the subway for this guy.
- Dramatically improved balance – Before the surgery I would often trip while walking and the story always ended with me on the floor. I have plenty of bruises on my legs as reminders. I still trip sometimes while I am walking, but I am continually amazed that I now instinctively rebalance myself and resume a normal gait.
- Increased flexibility – The impact of this increased flexibility and range of motion is great. For example, In the past when I went out to a place that had bench style seating I always had to make sure to sit at the end because I could not easily lift my legs (if at all) to get over the bench. If I didn’t get that end seat and needed to get up at any point it became a whole production. This is no longer an issue. This example might seem silly but this happened enough for me to notice it as an issue.
- Less pain – I never realized how much pain the spasticity caused. As far as I knew all of the “uncomfortable” feelings I had throughout the day were normal. Apparently, the act of walking should not feel like dragging my body through a giant tub of molasses with bowling balls tethered to each leg and my joints should not feel like they need a bath in WD-40 when I get up in the morning! I never knew how easy and effortless it should feel.
Things that are not awesome but part of the process:
- Frustration – there have been days when things just do not go right in physical therapy and I get pissed off and come home and don’t want to do anything else. I know it sounds whiny but I want to be completely honest for readers that may stumble upon the blog and are considering having the surgery. Obviously, I get over it, but it happens.
- Testing Limits – more than a few times I have gone completely overboard with exercise and PT, which leads to an uncomfortable level of soreness that lasts for days. The only way to learn my limits is to keep pushing as hard as I can.
- Learning muscle control and coordination – This is a biggie and is still a work in progress. Phrases I constantly hear in PT:
- Abs tight
- Squeeze your glutes
- Activate your hamstrings
- I barely have number 1 down and I can intermittently achieve 2 and 3.
- This is hard work – physical and mental.
In just 3 months I am achieving things that I was repeatedly told would never be possible. I don’t think there are words that exist in the English language that can express how amazing it all feels.