James’ News & Progress – 22 October 2009

A couple of weeks ago, whilst at the golf dinner, I was kindly offered the use of a wheelchair friendly holiday house about an hour and a half up the coast by one of the guests. Over the last 12 months I’ve yet to have the opportunity to be away from either hospital or family house mostly because of the logistics that go with being a quadriplegic. In my case, I still have 2 carers who come in every morning to help me out of bed, use the toilet and assist with showering as well as dressing. In the evening another carer helps me to bed. In addition I currently sleep on a customised air mattress to minimise the changes of developing pressure sores which are common for people with paralysis given their lack of feeling and immobility. These can be very dangerous and eventuate in skin graphs and extended periods in bed. So it was with great excitement and some caution that we began plotting.

I am happy to report that last weekend Sarah and I finally managed to escape for a night up the coast avoiding any complications by skipping my morning routine and ensuring that I rolled over once or twice during the night. For someone who used to go away at the drop of a hat and at least a couple of times a month it was, as you can imagine, a very welcome break and thoroughly enjoyable. Here’s hoping it can become more regular.

During the week I spent the majority of my physio sessions upright in my walking frame, with forearm support, working on my newly independent walking and practising my little steps with more focus and control. By independent walking I mean without assistance on the frame albeit minimal help is still necessary to move out of my chair into the standing position. I can now manage 150 metres per session however given the increased dependence on my core and arm muscles I fatigue much more rapidly.

I’ve also taken up playing chinese checkers, backgammon and Nintendo DS to promote hand function and recovery of movement in my fingers. It seems that every new person that walks in now presents a new challenger. Although the dexterity of movement in my fingers is still relatively minimal I find these exercises helpful as well as entertaining. Here’s hoping I can transition from board games to ball games in the future as they are much more my scene.