Last week I flew to St. Louis to meet with Dr. Park and the physical therapy team for a 4 month post op checkup. Generally the team in St. Louis thinks I am doing pretty well and they provided some great feedback on new things I should be doing in physical therapy. The main thing that Dr. Park pointed out is that I need to stretch more to improve my flexibility so I have started varying the types of stretches I do and trying to do more stretching each day.
I am still working on improving my running powers. It is slowly getting better but I think it’s going to take quite a bit of work to get all my “systems” working in tandem to achieve a good running pattern. The main issue is that my right leg is notably more stiff than my left leg and my right toes sometimes catch when I run. I will address how we plan to attack this problem below.
My balance continues to improve and this week I was able to stand on my left leg for 16 seconds on my left leg and 12 seconds on my right leg, without falling over. Before the surgery I was not able to achieve 10 seconds on either leg. Of all of the improvements I have seen so far the improvement in balance definitely ranks as one of the most beneficial. The improved balance has affected so many different aspects of my mobility. I now feel much more comfortable navigating through crowded spaces; something I used to hate to do before. I never felt quite safe in crowded area and the slightest bump could lead to me falling over. I still have work to do in this space but it’s great to see all the crazy core exercises are working.
Based on the feedback from Dr. Park and the physical therapy team in St. Louis my physical therapist and I setup some new goals for the next 8 weeks.
- Strengthen my calf muscles, particularly the soleus. This should increase my step length, reduce the toe catching on my right foot, and help me achieve a smoother gait.
- Increase dorsiflexion range of motion to 20 degrees. I am currently at about 15 degrees.
- Increase hamstring strength and range of motion (this was on the last set of goals, let’s call it an oldie but goody) to assist with foot clearance in the swing phase of walking.
- Consistently run for 15 feet without right toe catching.
- Stand on either leg for 20 seconds without losing my balance.
Now that I am 4 months out some friends have asked me if I think I made the right decision by having this surgery. There has not been one moment when I questioned my decision to go forward and so far I have no regrets. If you have been following this blog you know it’s a lot of work but I want to explicitly state that benefits I have seen far outweigh all the work I have been putting in and I have no indication that this will change. During the visit I asked Dr. Park how long does it take for the average adult patient to plateau and he told me a year so I am planning on firing on all cylinders for at least 8 more months.
Have been following your posts from the start. We’ve been in St Louis for a week and a half so may have passed you in the street. My son had SDR a week ago and we’re in the tricky post op phase. Hearing you say you have no regrets is a good thing to hear.
I cannot emphasize that point enough! The great thing for Rhys is that he is much younger than I so a lot of the bad things I had to go through he will never know! The rehab will be tough but I think you are giving him a completely different life than what he would have had by having him undergo the SDR.
I am so happy to read about all the amazing progress you have made these past months. It is truly inspirational. Also, I think it’s awesome that you are documenting the whole experience to serve as a resource for others considering the procedure. I have to admit I got emotional a couple of times while reading, especially when you made reference to the everyday activities that posed difficulties for you that many of us take for granted (e.g. navigating crowds and bench seating). It brought me back to all the times we’ve hung out with the gang and I had no idea. I wished I had been more sensitive to it.
I can’t wait to see you again and see for myself how far you’ve come. Having said that, I’m sure a great deal of your progress can’t be seen with the naked eye. Even still, I can’t wait to see you! Till then, looking forward to the month 5 update! 🙂
Keep up the awesome work!!
I miss you too! It’s been a while. Thanks for checking out the blog and for the words of encouragement. Do not worry about not being more sensitive to it. Right or not, I rarely complained about the CP and tried to just live my life to the fullest. So you had no way of knowing. That’s all the past now anyway, and things are still getting better!