James’ News & Progress – 27 March 2009

This week’s update is a first-hand account from James of a typical day in rehabilitation at Moorong Spinal Unit.

If the first light of dawn has not caught my eye by around 6.30 am, then the shrieking lorikeets in the maple tree outside my room and/or a smiling nurse entering my room with the first round of daily anti-spasm drugs starts my day. Once my hand and feet splints (contraptions which keep my fingers, wrists and ankles in a neutral position overnight) have been removed, I try to complete a one hour routine of mental exercises focusing mostly on moving the body parts which have not responded thus far or strengthening the ones which are currently only showing flickers of movement. These are all done whilst in bed before breakfast arrives. Hands, hip-flexes and hamstrings are current goals in these sessions.

Once breakfast is completed (I can manage the toast however the nurse helps with the cereal and tea), the daily toilet and showering routine commences. Again, the friendly nurses are heavily involved with me merely assisting with teeth brushing and body washing, although I am trying to add value where possible as the days progress. Before I finally make it into my electric chair, I am hoisted in and out of bed for dressing and checked for any pressure sores.

Normally this morning routine is finished around 9.30 or 10.00 am and the daily therapy sessions commence, either in the gym or the Occupational Therapy room. Additional activities on a weekly basis could be sessions of Nintendo Wii in the recreation room, using my good right arm to swing a racquet on the tennis court (albeit the racquet is heavily strapped to my hand) and hydrotherapy. Over and above the scheduled program, two or three hours of additional weights, strengthening and cardio sessions are completed every day.

Dinner is served at 5.30 pm (because I guess it takes so long for us all to eat!) and afterwards, if I am lucky, a friend or family member comes in to help with massaging and flexibility exercises, predominantly on hands and legs. As you can imagine, by the time the clock strikes 9.00, it is lights out for the exhausted client and the splints go back on!

Further insight, and stories of daily life will be included in weeks to come.