Sorry to have been off-line for a few days, as I injured myself Friday and had to spend all weekend in bed recovering.
Here’s what happened.
Last week was my first since surgery back on the job at rehab, which started off on Tuesday with standing balance practice. On Tuesday I managed to stand for a full 2 minutes in one go without passing out, and by Friday I managed to stand for 20 minutes in one go. Each day I’d been getting up and down more than half a dozen times, which is really exhausting in this early phase.
So … on Friday Dr. Zhu interpreted my improved standing performance as my being ready to attempt the walking protocol, which required no less than 4 therapists to assist me — 2 to hold up my upper body and 2 to handle my legs, as I am paralyszed from the chest down.
Ready to go …
On my way … first walk
Wow … harder than it looks!
Here’s a link to a video my sister Tiffany made of my Friday performance …
Unfortunately, on one step a therapist working from behind pushed my right leg forward, but the rubber toe of my sports shoe stuck on the floor (at least as near as I can work out) and as a result my right leg buckled inward, seriously twisting my knee and ankle. Remember, I’m bearing 100% of my own weight.
My initial response was quite peculiar. For the past 2 years since injury, I have not perspired either above or below my C-6 level injury. As some readers will know, it is unusal for a SCI survivor not to be able to perspire at least above the level of injury.
In the instant I twisted my knee, however, I immediately started perspiring on my nose and forehead in addition to having goosebumps all over, which is my body’s ususal reponse to a Dysreflexia episode.
This all happened so quickly that I was unaware initially that I had injured my leg. Only when I returned to my apartment that afternoon did I realise that I could feel something was seriously wrong due to an explosion of neuropthic pain and also that I could no longer sit up in my wheelchair without passing out.
How’s that for another odd response? Dysreflexia ususally drives blood pressure higher, very much higher, but here I was passing out from low blood pressure for the first time in over 2 years.
The weekend was living hell, as my ankle and leg swoll up and my blood pressure oscillated crazily. I passed out dozens of times on Saturday, and severity of the neuroapthic pain defied description.
Dr. Zhu and my neurosurgeon, Dr. Liu, both came to the house to visit me on Saturday, and Dr. Zhu explained that twisted knees and ankles are not uncommon in the beginning due to the fact that knees and ankles unused for years are weak. The core message seemed to be that a few days of bed rest would enable me to try again … Tough love!
Dr. Liu + Dr. Zhu visit me + even bring a heat lamp!
My particular challenge is that my baseline neuropathic pain has not subsided since before surgery, or at least it seems that way, but I’m really not sure yet because inflammatory pain from surgery has not yet completely abated. Anyway, given my still-high baseline meuropathic pain level, the twisted knee and ankle sent pain through the roof. Combined with the unstable blood pressure, I’ve been unable to focus on anything, let alone a computer screen, nor have I been able to sleep without resorting to benzodiazapine drugs … uggh!
In short, since Friday afternoon I’ve been a mess!
Presently here in China we’re in the middle of a 3-day national holiday, so I’m off-duty recuperating.
Meanwhile, my sister Tiffany was here visiting for the week and has been a HUGE help to me. She came all the way from her home in Raleigh, North Carolina via Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
Really happy for Tiffany’s visit
Sadly she had to leave yesterday, as she is running a yoga retreat this summer.