James’ News & Progress – 23rd Oct 2012

My BIG day of walking!!!!!!

Over the weekend, a question popped into my head. How far could I possibly walk on crutches in one day??

A quick call to Dad late Sunday and my agenda for Monday was set. Kicking off at 9:40 am, with Papillion (my occasional nickname for Dad) by my side, I walked 100m steadily and relatively comfortably in 17 minutes and 58 seconds, then sat down. Therein, my simple strategy was established. I would walk 20 minutes (in theory accomplishing 100m) then rest for 20 minutes.

Now, as I was pacing up and down a small portion of a local waterside walking track, which I should also mention was pretty much dead flat, I seemed to attract constant attention from the general walking public, easing into their morning exercise. Firstly, and most amusingly, an elderly Asian grandpa burnt past me with his walking stick and incredibly aging frame, only to pause and clap before he cruised by a second time. In addition, for the first 200-300m, a lady, who was gardening in a nearby house, offered her expertise as a physio assistant and kindly moved my wheelchair forward so as to save Dad running back himself. Aren’t people amazing!!!!

After a long morning and with the midday heat really sets in, a lunch break was taken. I had walked approximately 500 m.

I don’t know about you, but I often find that whilst up and exercising although I physically tired, it is only once I stop true fatigue really sets in. Today, this was certainly the case. Following a bite to eat and some serious downtime, I dragged myself out of the car and back up onto the track. Energy levels were low to very low. The clock said 3:30 pm and finally, the midday heat was waning. The next 200m was particularly stressful and for the first time, I was forced to contemplate calling it a day, mostly due to exhaustion, instability and increasingly aggressive spasticity. As the afternoon cooled, the temperature posed less of an issue, however, my legs were literally falling from exhaustion. The last four, 50m stretches were barely manageable by reducing to 10 minutes on 10 minutes off and by 6:40 pm I had shuffled to incapacity. 1000m exactly completed and not one step more. Not quite 42.2 km of a marathon, but after setting off 10 hours earlier, it felt every bit as much.

As you can imagine, the next day and a half were particularly slow, as were my communication skills. Interestingly though, the most painful part of my entire body was my neck, which continues to strain because of my requirement (due to lack of feeling and proprioception in my legs) to see my feet every step of the way.

An epic day with Papillon to thank for his unbelievable patience and support.