James’ News & Progress – 16th Oct 2012

Similar to daily life, one must continue to set new and inventive challenges to continue personal development and maintain enthusiasm. Trying to walk with one crutch when you have yet to master walking with two may seem a little counter-intuitive however, for me, it has proved to be quite a valuable exercise. Specifically, because it intensifies the weakness in my overall balance and therefore identifies where I rely most heavily on crutches. Even though I have spent almost 4 years breaking down my walking pattern, working tirelessly on quality versus quantity and focusing on strengthening or regenerating the weakest muscles in my body, slightly changing the focal point in a session has continuously added value and provided ammunition for further improvement. That said, during my first attempt, I felt incredibly unstable and vulnerable. As with most physical challenges, the psychological side plays a huge part. Next time you’re walking down the street, for instance, try focusing on exaggerating your hip shifting whilst walking. It will definitely challenge you mentally more than physically.

The functional task was walking to bed via the bathroom to clean my teeth. Probably the most difficult part of this challenge was balancing on one crutch whilst trying to pick up and apply toothpaste to the toothbrush with the other hand. In addition, because I lock out my knees for stability and balance, bending down to the sink was also quite problematic. All in all, though, I’d say 7 out of 10.

In our apartment, we have an internal staircase from the car park to the ground floor. It has been a looming nemesis for the last couple of months. With some reluctance, I found myself lined up at the bottom of 17 stairs peering up at what to me resembled a vertical cliff face with no handholds. This was my view…progress-october-2012

For an average able-bodied person, the height of each rise would barely register prior to ascending a staircase. For me, every centimetre of pitch seems like at least 10 cm of extra clearance required. Thoroughly evaluating my chances of making it to the first landing, with Adrian (my physio) and Dad positioned in front and behind me, I set off. After what seemed like an eternity, with long pauses on steps two and five, there I was, standing on my first peak. The second half was a blur of effort, struggle and finally, relief as my two feet stepped parallel once more on the top landing, signifying my achievement.

Amazing that a single flight of stairs could take almost 35 min of strain and strong assistance, balance-wise, by two grown men. Very exciting all the same though.