Walking improving substantially

I would say I’m 60%, perhaps 70%, better now than I was the day I went into the hospital (and the number moves to about 85% if you are just rating my walking). Walking has improved pretty dramatically over the past 48 hours. I attribute this to some important work done in PT, combined with having spent an hour on the treadmill on each of the two days.

Today I got to 2.5 mph on the treadmill in PT and was able to do most of it without holding on to the rails. I was unable to walk heel to toe at PT, but tonight at home I was able to take several steps before losing balance. Best of all, I was able to balance on my left foot, the one most substantially weakened, for 30 seconds.

If you were a fly in the wall in my home, you would observe that I am not using my walker in the house anymore, and am much more self-sufficient. I make almost all of my own food, get my own medications, and am almost completely independent. I occasionally do a little bit of housework. I am using the cane exclusively at home, and to get out to my car. I use the walker only for longer distances, as I still tire very quickly. When that happens, I lose balance, coordination, and proprioception (the sense of  the relative position of parts of the body), which makes walking difficult.

I am really happy and encouraged with the rate at which I am healing and getting strength and function back. I occasionally have half a day that feels almost normal, or at least several hours in a row. Feeling is even beginning to return to my feet and legs, which I think accounts for a lot of the rapid improvement in my walking. The sensations in my feet and legs are still really uncomfortable,but I know they are signs that healing is under way, and I say bring it on.

Video: Recovery progress

Three weeks ago I could put one foot in front of the other only with great effort. This video, shot tonight at the gym, obviously shows substantial improvement. Problems still with balance, coordination, and spatial placement (a sense of where my feet are), and this makes it very difficult to walk well without concentration, and without looking at my feet. I cannot close my eyes while I am standing or I fall over. Feet and legs remain quite numb, though that is improving, I think. I am now driving whenever I want to, and my energy levels seem to be increasing every few days. Still the occasional horrific day where I am drained and unable to do anything, but learning my rhythms. Pretty much using only a cane now to walk around the house.

Today’s progress

Today’s progress —

Drove today. It was effortless. Not the slightest difficulty. Seeing progress of some kind nearly every day. Took Kyra to the doctor’s office, and that trip ended up taking almost three hours. I held up well. Met at my home with someone about church stuff earlier. Going to Kyra’s orchestra concert this evening. Life feels somewhat normal today, though my legs and feet are driving me particularly insane.

Some have expressed concern that perhaps I am overdoing it. I am not. My decision to not drive was voluntary, based on my feeling that I could not do it safely. My choice to drive today was also my choice, but I did run it by my physical therapist yesterday and in his opinion there were no concerns. I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill yesterday, but both my PT and my MS doctor had cleared me to do it. In fact, they both want me walking as often as possible. I know most of you have not seen me, but I have just been way too sick to have any kind of cavalier attitude about either my illness or my recovery. I assure you, no one is taking this more seriously than me.

I preached at church last Sunday and announced yesterday that I will be planning to be back in the pulpit from here on. That may sometimes be all I do, but it’s the job where I impact the most lives so that’s what I want to return to first. Next week I’ll begin to move back into meeting with clients and people at the church. That is obviously another area where I have a fairly big impact, so it’s a priority. Last to return to my schedule will be duties that are purely administrative.

My top priority will continue to be my recovery, which means rest, quiet, being at home, PT, stretching and working out, and general self-care. Thanks for your continuing expressions of love and concern. I have come a very long way.

That’s today’s progress and a general update.

New milestones

Not three weeks ago I could barely walk halfway across my living room using a walker.  I just finished walking .85 miles on my treadmill, which is in the basement, where I haven’t been in three weeks. Starting speed, 1 mph. Ending speed, 2 mph. It took thirty minutes. Still lack the balance to do it without holding on, but big deal. Feet and legs were tingling/buzzing like crazy the whole time, and of course numb. The tingling/buzzing got worse the longer I walked. Signals are definitely struggling to get through somehow. My brain is healing.

Tomorrow – Driving.

Milestones II

*Showered standing up for the first time since getting out of the hospital
*Made the bed this morning

When I was a runner, I usually ran at around 7mph. In PT this morning they started me off on the treadmill at .7 mph. That .7 mph felt every bit as good as 7 mph ever did,  maybe better.

My PT has a special interest in MS, which is even more awesome than how easy she is on the eyes. She’s also really sweet and she inspires my confidence. I feel so blessed to have worked with so many amazing PT’s. Today, for the first time, I had a clear vision of myself completely back to normal. I was actually running again. Only in that vision I was running as a man who knows what it feels like to be paralyzed. I assure you, no human being has ever run with such power and freedom.

As I have written, I usually don’t find traditional language helpful, but just so you know how I think: for me Christ is powerfully present in these notions of healing, freedom, power, joy, and redemption.  And certainly in this miraculous resurrection that is happening in my own body. That’s normally how I think, but would usually just observe, treasure, and experience God there without necessarily naming it, just as Mary “pondered these things in her heart.” The older I get, the less vocal I am about specific ways I experience God, and the more I just silently ponder and love God in my heart.