Friday, February 17, 2012

The Staircase

I thought I would give you an update about my progress using the "short legs." The last time I wrote about this was January 27 and after having reread it, I thought I would express what has transpired in this short time.

I am finally no longer secluding myself in the small exam room at physical therapy, I have now "come out" into the full gym. You may be surprised at how self-conscious a person is while wearing these short legs. Bear in mind that before all of this started I was 5'10" tall, now I am 4'6" tall, which to say the least is quite a change. Additionally, my upper body, torso, arms and head appear disproportionate to the length of the short legs.

Nonetheless I felt my ability to progress at a satisfactory rate was being hampered by my hang up about how I look, consequently, my desire to progress superseded my feelings about how I look, thankfully and finally.

I had practiced and successfully accomplished climbing up and down the small staircase (3 steps of 2 different heights)in the PT gym. It isn't as difficult as I had anticipated, however, it requires quite a lot of upper body strength. I am so thankful I have been able to maintain (through daily weight lifting) my upper body strength. I think about others who are not as fortunate as I have been, because they lack the upper body strength, for whatever reason, and how much of a disadvantage a lack of strength is in this particular situation.

Last week I met with my prosthetist, Jason, and I decided I was ready to climb a regular staircase. Jason accompanied me to the concrete staircase in the building of the prosthetist's office. I was successful in my first attempt to climb the staircase to the landing, 9 steps and then climb back down to the bottom.

Jason and I traded ideas about which ways were the easiest and safest to accomplish climbing and descending stairs. There were several people who were using the staircase while I was practicing. Jason was quite pleased at what I was able to accomplish since he had seen me last (about a month). He was equally pleased that I had begun to emerge from my cacoon of fear into being seen in public (in a controlled setting) in short legs.

When I returned to PT this past Monday Jason had called my physical therapist, Chris, to give her an update about my accomplishments in his office and building the previous Thursday.

Chris and I went to the staircase down the hall from the gym. I climbed up 9 steps to the landing and then another 9 steps to the next floor. After a short rest, I descended all 18 steps and landing to the bottom in one continuous motion.

Remember last year how I spent the entire summer "scooting" up and down the staircase to the sundeck in my building? Not this year, assuming I get over being seen by other residents in my bulding, which I will.

Today I successfully stepped out onto my balcony for the first time in over a year. I'm not saying it was graceful or easy, however, I was able to do it. As I continue practicing I will be able to sit and enjoy my balcony this spring and summer. I am overjoyed with the knowledge that I will be able to sit outside looking at my flowers and watching people walk by. You have no idea how much I missed that this past year.

Gradually I am beginning to use the short legs more and more everyday, perhaps not as much as Chris and Jason would like, but certainly more than I have been.

At 54 years old I am rejoicing in the "baby steps" I am now taking. Sometimes I have to remind myself you have no natural legs and yet you can climb up and down a staircase, how wonderful is that?

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