Wednesday, May 12th 2010

More training for the girls

Time for some more physiotherapy training! Recent sessions have concentrated on passive movements of the upper limbs but we have now reached a point where we need to start looking at lower limb passive movements. Lying in one position on the bed for 10 hours each night hardly able to move means that by morning when my carer arrives to get me up my legs have become very stiff. So I contacted Margaret, my Community Physiotherapist, to ask her if she could drop by and demonstrate some techniques that my carers could use in the morning to help loosen up my stiff legs before attempting to stand up and walk to the bathroom. The amount of time that I can weight bear is already down to just a few minutes so to minimise the chances of me falling I need to ensure that my legs are working properly.

So at lunchtime today my carers started to turn up at the door followed shortly afterwards by Margaret who had brought a surprise guest who I’ve not seen in a while; Chris, my OT from the PCT. She’d joined Margaret to take a look at the problems I was facing in my attempts to stand up. Because they didn’t want to tire me out I was left to wait in my study whilst my care team and Margaret adjourned to my bedroom where Margaret, using a member of my team lying on the bed, demonstrated the passive leg movements. Back in the study and Margaret used me to demonstrate the passive arm movements for the benefit of those who had not received training before.

Margaret and Chris also took us through the techniques of using a lifting belt. This is basically something that is worn around the waist and is fitted with a series of handholds going all the way around. The idea is that it makes it easier and safer for a carer to assist in helping someone to stand up. I must admit that over the last week or so in particular my strength has weakened to the point where I am finding it increasingly difficult, even with assistance, to launch myself into an upright and standing position. If I can’t generate enough momentum by rocking backwards and forwards prior to launching myself off the seat then I am just as likely to fall back on the chair. The lifting belt allows for a wider choice of positions to hold me, and indeed to guide me downwards should I fail to stand up. Ann and I gave it a try whilst Margaret was on hand to supervise. We actually failed on the first attempt, probably because I was feeling quite weak today but we managed it on our second attempt. I’m not sure how effective this would be if my legs were to buckle at the knees but at least handling someone from the waist puts less stress on them than say being lifted from the arm joints. Well, at least now we have another piece of kit that just may prolong my ability to stand a little while longer although the number of recent attempts to stand (and fail) is steadily increasing so I fear this last shred of independence is on borrowed time…

… Spoke to soon! Late this afternoon I took a fall onto the carpet in my study when I tried to stand up with the help of my carer. Unfortunately my legs completely buckled and I fell down onto my knees trapping my legs beneath me which hurt more than the actual fall. Fortunately my carer was skilled and experienced enough to be able to get me upright again although I was rather shaken by the experience. Nevertheless once I was standing up I gingerly walked to the bathroom but I breathed a big sigh of relief when I made it back to my study chair and was able to sit down again. This standing and walking business is getting really scary. The fall was reported to my agency and a request was made to have a second carer assist me to bed this evening but in the end we made do with just the one because the second one was running terribly late and I was tired and wanted to go to bed. On this occasion I managed to conquer my fear of falling and made the attempt to stand up with just one carer. Sometimes I find that the only way to conquer a fear is to face it head on. And this is what I did on a couple of occasions tonight. Having said that I’m also acutely aware of how painful head injuries are having already suffered two. Anyway, I made it through another day and I was so grateful to be able to lie in bed and not have to combat gravity. But for a while I lay there wondering how long would it really be before I needed double-ups at key times of the day?

Today was also a fine opportunity to (at last) get some pictures of two of the healthcare professionals who have been supporting me since shortly after my diagnosis. This is something you may remember me mentioning a little while ago when I marked the occasion of my blog’s second anniversary, and how I regretted not having more pictures of all the kind people who were looking after me. Today I was able to redress that shortcoming a little. I had also intended to get some pictures of the girls themselves but unfortunately time was against us on this occasion and they all had places to be. But stay tuned because the girls are planning another jailbreak soon so hopefully we’ll get some pictures then. In the meantime here’s a couple of pictures of Margaret and Chris, one under natural light and one with flash. Thanks this time go to Alli for the camerawork.

With Margaret (in white) and Chris

With Margaret (in white) and Chris

Mark

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