Tag Archive | recovery

We may not be where we thought we would be but…

Your life may not be where you always envisioned it would be just yet, but all you have is now. Remove the unrealistic expectations and unfair demands of perfection you’ve placed on yourself…close your eyes…and just dance. Really experience life. Really experience God’s love. Enjoy the knowledge that you belong to the Lord and feel the joy of sharing Him with others. Enjoy the life God has given you as you cast every care on Him!

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the life You have given me. Show me how to fully live it without placing demands of perfection on myself. Help me to just dance, just live, and enjoy the gift of life You’ve given me and live it to the fullest in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

My life changes what seems like daily. Living with chronic pain, dealing with a spinal cord injury which left me with deficits all the while still being a wife, a mother, and grandmother isn’t easy. Yet, I know that I am here for a reason. Each day I open my eyes I am thankful for another day I get to be with my family, enjoy everything around me to the best of my ability, and to have the opportunity to keep moving forward. Even on the days I feel like I am going backwards, I know that God is still with me working on me, refining me.

Significance

O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24

Each one of us is a unique creature of God that was created to enjoy all that
God has made. We all play a part in this world, but we cannot reap the benefits of what God has given us if we don’t know our own value and significance. I was reminded of this recently when I attempted to throw away a pile of rocks I found in my car and one of my granddaughters yelled, “Stop, those rocks are special. I found them when I was taking a walk with my mom.”

My grandchildren ages 5, 7, and 9 love to collect rocks. Each one is different
and has a story. I find these rocks of various sizes and colors in places
around the house and car like on the kitchen counters, on my washer or dryer, on the coffee table, under the seats in the car, in the back-cup holder, and various other places. Each child can tell me a story about where the rock was found and what they were doing when they discovered the rock (s). These white, brown and grey ordinary insignificant rocks were beautiful and valuable because of the special memories they created.

It made me wonder if I do a good job of letting those around me know how
much I value our time together. Do I make them feel important (significant)? Do I remind them and tell them? How often do I tell them;

You make me laugh and happy!

I enjoy out time together.

I believe in you!

You are important to me.  

I love you.

Each day we are given another opportunity to enjoy all God has given us. Another opportunity to keep moving forward, but for this to happen we must first take the time and notice its significance.  We will never regret taking the time to spend with our loved ones, but we might regret wasted moments looking at our phones or sleeping the day away. My grandchildren could have walked by and ignored the ordinary rocks. Instead they saw the beauty and significance in each rock they collected. The rock(s) helped form a special memory, which gave them meaning. How can we do this for our family and friends? Our lives are often busy and rushed, but I urge you to take some time to make sure those around you know that they are significant (important).

 

My Bilateral Bioness L300 Go System

Back in July I test drove new devices to see if they would work for me. The Bioness L300 Go are electrical stimulation (FES) foot drop and thigh weakness devices that provide freedom and independence for people recovering from Stroke, Multiple, Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury. The good news was that they worked, but the bad news was that they are costly, and insurance does not cover them. We submitted the claim to our health insurance provider, and we received the denial stating that these devices are not considered a medical necessity. Why is it that devices and/or procedures that can and will improve the quality of life of the patient are considered “not medically” necessary?

This creates a difficult decision of finding a way to pay for the devices at the cost of $5530 each ($11,060 total for both legs) or just doing without knowing that these devices can mean the difference between regaining more independence by improving and rebuilding neuropathways and proprioception. In speaking to the representatives from Bioness, most patients are left in my situation of having to pay for the devices themselves or giving up on their dream of walking with better stability, control, and better overall body posture.

The L300 made walking easy and light not heavy and stiff like it is normally. It senses when my foot and leg are getting ready to push off and move forward. The sensor sends an electrical signal to my foot/ankle causing the device to activate and lift my ankle thereby flexing the foot and lifting the ankle and toes preventing the foot from dragging. Because of the SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) I also lost proprioception along with balance. The signals that go from my lower extremities to my brain and back are interrupted because of the damage to my spinal cord. In order to regain more stability my body must rebuild and create new neuropathways. This where these devices can help. As the devices send the signals to my legs, my brain and body engage via the new neuropathways being developed. Over time these new signals turn into sustained signals allowing the body to adapt and rebuild balance and proprioception. They also allow for better posture and body mechanics as the patient is not hunched over a walker, the hips and thigh muscles are more engaged allowing the legs to do their job reducing the stress on the knees and ankles.

The cost of these devices makes them out of reach for most patients as they are not covered by insurance. There are alternatives such as financing them or paying for them via credit cards. I believe that more patients should have the opportunity to obtain such devices, but until these devices become more affordable or insurance companies start recognizing these devices are “medically necessary” they will remain out of reach for most patients. As for me, my family and I have decided to order my devices and appeal the decision of our insurance company. We know that the likelihood of getting reimbursed is next to none, but the benefits of using the devices far outweighs the cost.

Once I receive my devices I will move on to the next step. I will meet with a representative from Bioness where my devices will be fitted, tested, and set up. I will be taught how to work the devices, how to care for them and charge them.  I will also return to physical therapy for about 8 sessions working with the devices making sure that they are set to the right frequency and intensity so that I gain the best possible outcome.

It is my hope that over time I will improve to the point where I will not longer need any devices. But for now, I will continue to keep moving forward, and praying every step of the way. God continues to bless me even through the pain.

Taking steps to walk without assistive devices

Every week for the past 5 months on Tuesdays and Thursdays I head to my local gym to workout with my wonderful trainer. The decision to return to the gym was not an easy one. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do much of anything, but I knew I needed to do something to kick start my recovery. Although my journey started in 2001, I did not loose the use on my legs until June of 2017 when I stood after the 5th surgery. Upon standing with a walker I went to take a step and I began to fall. My husband and the CNA grabbed me to keep me from falling. They placed back into bed and all I kept saying was,” I cannot feel my legs.” I lost complete feeling on my right side from the waist down, my left leg had some feeling (when I stood it felt like I had a sponge under my foot), and I lost my proprioception. Proprioception is the ability to tell where your body or body parts are in space.

For the 1st year after the surgery I worked with a physical therapist 3 times per week. When I left therapy I was still very weak and was still unsteady and had very little balance and proprioception. My knees would hyper extend, my ankles would twist outward, and my feet would drag. I wore corrective devices such as braces to knee my knee from hyperextending and ankle braces that prevent me from rotating my ankle. I still wear the ankle braces.

Well, I thought I would share some of the progress I have made since starting at the gym 5 months ago. I am still not able to ride the stationary bike as my ankles and legs cannot seem to move forward, but I am able to use the treadmill , even on an incline. I also work on strengthening my legs and core. I still cannot do much upper body as it sets the spasms in my back off.

Leg press-I have to be careful and not let my knees lock. I pay attention to what my legs are feeling and not feeling. This is how I build new communication pathways. Repetition and concentration.
When I first started walking with a walker I had to constantly look down at my feet. If I looked away my brain had no idea where my feet were and I would loose my balance.

Each day I have to strive to keep moving forward. I have good days and some really unpleasant ones. There are days that no matter what I do I cannot seem to get the spasms and burning to stop. My legs feel so heavy and I feel like I am walking through thick mud. I do my best to not get discouraged. My families love and support along with lots of prayer are what get me through. God is doing amazing things and even on some of my worst days I am thankful because I get another day with all of those that I love.