My re-learning how to walk proceeds one step at a time.
Thursday we went to the nearly-finished new rehab facility at the hospital at the invitation of my therapists. They wanted me as a guinea pig to help them learn how to use the new “marionette machine,” a device that suspends the crippled patient from the ceiling, holding their weight and allowing them to practice walking along a path on the floor.
When we arrived for the appointment we immediately learned that the new device had not been cleared for use yet by the safety engineers. So we stayed to say hello to some of the folks we’ve worked with who were there to learn about the device. We got to meet the new medical director of the rehab facility. We brushed off all the apologies that the equipment was not ready to use. As Melanie said, it was a fun day’s outing, something different for us to do.
The most fun came when we first arrived. We learned that the hospital elevators had been programmed NOT to stop at the sixth floor while the new rehab facility was under construction. I was in a wheelchair. Climbing stairs was out of the question. We convinced some construction workers to let us ride with them on the elevator reserved for them. It was part of the day’s entertainment.
The next day we returned to the regular rehab gym where the therapists had me practicing walking again. This is practice without the walker that I lean on all the time now getting around the house. The therapists tighten a “gait belt” around my chest, above the feeding tube. This gives them a way of hanging on to me as I try to get up on my feet.
My balance is still mostly shot. Although I can sit still in a chair or couch okay, once I start to move, my head feels nothing but the wobbles. On my feet I have to concentrate on not toppling over (hence the therapists grabbing onto the gait belt across my back). The sense of wobbling affects my vision, making things look like a hand-held camera in a movie chase scene.
When they had me trying this for the first time a few weeks ago they had me go maybe 20 feet from one chair to another nearby on the gym floor. Then I would rest for several minutes to catch my breath and settle my head. They now have me going over 700 feet, twice around the gym without stopping. But when I do stop I still need to catch my breath and let things in my head calm down again. Not fun.
But it’s some kind of progress. And I grab what help I can. After the first few steps today I gladly reached for the hand of one of my therapists, holding on as I moved forward. It seemed to steady my steps a lot and I wasn’t sure why. So when I was back in my chair and could see him, I was interested to notice the tattoo he had on his arm above the hand I had held in my grip as I tried to walk. It was a quote in flowery letters, like on an old manuscript. It said,
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13.
A good and timely reminder for me. Thanks, brother. And thank you, Lord.