This past week I have managed to stand twice a day for 30 minutes each time. This is a really great development, suggesting my knee has finally mended itself.
On Monday I will, once again, re-start the walking program. Thankfully, my big brother Colin arrived in Kunming a few days ago, coming all the way from Atlanta, and he will be here for another week. Colin is a very strong and tall guy, coming in at around 6’4”. He will provide extra insurance in case anything goes sideways when I start walking next week. The idea is that he will step in and help get me sitting quickly if he thinks I’m about to get injured again.
My neck is also on the mend and only starts to ache after many hours sitting upright without my neck brace in the afternoon. With that said, I was able to use my manual chair yesterday for the first time since the surgery and get out of the house to go hang out in downtown Kunming. It was nice to see the “outside world” again as I’ve spent the last eight weeks either at the hospital or in my apartment.
I must admit, though, it has not been all that bad being cooped up in the apartment recently, because my mother and a now a dear new family friend, Fried, have transformed our backyard into the most unbelievable little garden, filled with fruit trees and plants … strawberries, blackberries, blueberries + oranges and figs and even a beautiful peach tree. Yunnan Province must be pretty close to the Garden of Eden. Everything seems to grow here in great variety as well as abundance.
Fried is a German fellow who has been living in Kunming for almost a decade after bicycling over here on his own all the way from Germany!
Today Fried has a Chinese wife and infant daughter and owns the premier late-night live music bar called the “Moon Dog” where foreigners and locals alike hang out for the amazing whisky selection as well as live music.
In Germany Fried also practiced professional landscape design and thus had the experience (and local knowledge) to help Mom turn a backyard full of weeds into a little slice of paradise in the space of just two weeks! And now we even have a beautiful patio area where we can smoke Padron cigars in peace.
Panoramic view of the garden
Electric gateway to our secret garden!
View towards my bedroom window.
Blueberries … strawberrries … eat ’em as you pick ’em!
Fruit and herb section of new garden
Still to go is a vine-covered trellis for shade.
Over the last few days it has been pouring cats and dogs in Kunming, and we were worried that our garden would be washed away. To our surprise and delight, not even one flower was destroyed. However, downtown Kunming experienced flooding that reminded me of Miami after a hurricane.
Downtown was so flooded that thousands of cars were washed away … people in makeshift boats were paddling around many streets in stiff currents … and many hundreds, if not thousands of businesses were underwater … this in a city with more than 7 million population.
Luckily, I live in the South West of Kunming where the floods were relatively minor.
My father left this afternoon for Hong Kong on the first leg of what we not-so-jokingly refer to as his first “Global Pain Tour” … scheduled for the next month. As my regular readers will recall, my neuropathic pain has unfortunately not decreased since the surgery and continues to seriously impact my rehabilitation on a daily basis. And allodynia makes even touching my hands and arms feel some days as if glass from a broken bottle were being ground in! I will go into more detail in future blogs as our pain management strategies develop.
The initial Global Pain Tour involves meeting both research neuroscientists as well as clinicians offering strategic insights as well as potentially useful therapies, all of which I’m game to try. Meanwhile, we have just launched a parallel effort here in Kunming, which is a major centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine. Specifically, we are investigating qigong breathing, acupuncture and well-proven, herb-derived nerve pain medicines. East meets West … again!
I will also be adding pain management as an additional focus to this blog, because a recent U.S. government sponsored grant revealed that approximately 75% of spinal cord injured patients suffer from some form of neuropathic pain. Many of my SCI friends rely on long-term use of drugs to reduce pain.
My dad and I intend to lay out many different pain management options for the SCI community, because relying on drugs, which admittedly I do at the moment as well, is not a long-term sustainable solution.