James’ News & Progress – 5 September 2009

On Friday night it was time for the hotly anticipated second lift opening party. This one for the young guns. Given my current predicament, it was a change for me to sit back and watch the afternoon preparations unfold with Penny and Martin (my sister and brother) in full control. As it is the first time that Penny, Martin and I have lived together at home for almost 15 years it was a rare opportunity for all our friends to share a few frosties together and meant upstairs at 5 Ferry Street was bursting at the seams. Luckily we had prepped the neighbours who didn’t mind as most of them were at the first opening. Rumour has it that Martin was still entertaining on the balcony as the sun came up . The ‘graffiti wall’ which we set up in the lift made for some interesting reading the following day. We clearly have to make these events more regular in the future.

The rest of the weekend was comparatively low key until a number of unexpected although very welcome guests began to arrive early Sunday afternoon. They must have caught wind of the left over rosé and roast pork and beef needing to be polished off by Monday. Yum!

Back in the gym, this week after almost a month of using the bioness (anti foot drop electrical stimulation), we decided to try walking without either this electrical assistance or ankle support (ankle-foot orthotics to prevent foot drop in my right foot) which had been used for general overground frame supported walking. The trial was successful as I managed to walk, still with two assistants on the frame, a reasonable distance especially as it was my first attempt.

I was also encouraged this week as my left arm finally showed some improvement from the shoulder joint. This means that I can now raise my arm up to nearly 90 degrees. Although some of this could be natural recovery, the boxing that I have focused on over the last month must be contributing. Hopefully it is only a matter of time until I will be able to use my left arm to assist with washing my hair among other things.

Another key element of my rehabilitation continues to be my wrist and hands which I spend almost 2 hours a day on. Unfortunately progress is still relatively slow and an ongoing challenge. I never thought as a 30 year old I would spend so much time playing with “thera putty” (similar to play-doh/plasticine) or children’s board games in the hope of strengthening the minimal movements I do have and promoting recovery of movements I don’t. One of the more demanding and somewhat boring parts of the job but crucial to my eventual aim of independence.

On reflection, a year ago I was driving between weddings in Italy and Slovakia….. how life can change in such a short period of time.