Monday, November 7, 2011

Complicated Badass

Rehabilitation is not a linear process. While the big milestones are hit 1, 2, 3…the fine tuning doesn’t work that way at all. Can I walk? Technically, yes. But how far? Some days I can walk almost a whole block. Some days I can barely make it to the bathroom. Whatever I did yesterday won’t necessarily be doable today. It’s quite a mindfuck really. When I graduated to a cane recently I thought “yes! This is my next biggie! I’m almost ok again.” Pfft! Walking with that cane has been a huge challenge. While it’s a challenge I welcome and am excited to embrace, it’s also a whole other level of frustration and worry. I’ve become more vulnerable with the cane. I’ve had my leg give out a few times in the past week, and a cane isn’t much good in that situation. Luckily I only ate shit once and it was in my bedroom. My 2 year old son was the only witness, to which he shouted “Whoa! You ok, Angie?!” Apparently we’re on a first name basis now, but that’s another story.

I’m also using my right arm and hand more. There are days when I feel like most things are doable. Then I get stuck trying to open a jar or I’m the first one to a new box of cereal. Opening that plastic bag inside the box usually results in me mutilating it with a steak knife in a maniacal rage. It’s frustrating to know there are so many things I have figured out how to do but then other trivial things are damn near impossible. I think it’s those little things that make life difficult and even painful. I can give my son a bath, but I struggle like hell to scratch my own nose. It doesn’t make any damn sense.

So how is your rehab coming along?

That is a difficult question to answer. Yes, I continue to make progress. On paper if I listed what I was doing a month ago and then listed what I’m doing now, the lists wouldn’t be terribly different. It isn’t always about accomplishing new tasks. It’s how I go about each task, how fluid and how strong the movements are that show significant progress. How am I supposed to explain that? Well last week I could reach like this, and now I can reach like that. Umm…yeah ok. Fascinating.

My OT told me that the trick is to make it look easy. Fine tuning is about pretending my movements are normal, so eventually they will be normal. (That's the hope anyhow.) With normal movement, will come strength. If I keep trying to pick up a cup, eventually I'll pick it up. And the fact I kept at it, allowed my arm and hand to build up the strength to lift the cup. So, if someone asks me if I can lift a cup the answer depends on what kind of a cup! You see? It’s a damned complicated question. So far yes to plastic if small and not full, and no to glass - at least not coffee mugs or beer pints. Trust me, I'm working on it. Can I write? Ah hell, yes, I can write my ABCs but if you want a friggin essay or someone to keep up taking notes in a meeting you’re barking up the wrong tree, pal.

I was informed in OT last week that while I have a lot of fine tuning to do, there isn’t much they can teach me anymore. (OT focuses solely on my shoulder, arm, and hand.) He said that it’s clear that I’m working hard at home and he’s shown me all he can. While he gave me his “it’s not you, it’s me” speech I sat there frozen, quickly blinking away my tears. I’m not ready to let him go. No way. I can barely carry a plate from the kitchen to the table. How can he think I’ll be alright on my own?

He said he had one last test he wanted to try. If I could do it, I don’t need him anymore. He handed me a piece of string about 4 inches long, and told me to tie it in a knot using only my weak hand. He chuckled and said even people who haven’t had strokes struggle with it. OK so I’m supposed to use only the hand that I can’t even feed myself with to tie this here string into a knot. Bring it.

Reenactment of awesomeness

You know I did it! He said “You see! You’re awesome!” I’m like, “duh.” Then he said “Do it again” just as he turned to hand something to his co-worker. He turned back around and I already had my palm held out, with 2 more knots tied into it. Fine, OT. I guess I don’t need you considering I’m a badass and all.

Reenactment of further awesomeness

So that’s my latest: I’m an awesome badass that still can’t cut my own meat or put my own hair in a decent ponytail, but I can tie a knot like a mofo. Thank goodness my left hand can still lift a Long Island Iced Tea to my lips until my right hand catches up.

1 comment:

  1. last night i hit myself in the head with a spatula when i was doing the dishes. my left hand - bob dole - still has a mind of his own sometimes. i should make him tie some knots.