One Who Makes Slow Progress

Sensitive questions are sometimes asked in masked ways. Only a crass person would ask, “So, you making any progress at all on your ability to recover?” Of course not, but friends and family who DO care are hoping and praying that recovery continues and they understandably want to know. Any positive movement would be a cause for celebration. A question that I do get, especially when I haven’t seen someone in a while, is, “Are you in physical therapy?” That sounds to me like a question I wrestled with myself early on. I mean, really, if I (you) work at it just a little harder, I (your) legs, feet, or even torso should begin to work, right? Wrong.

It isn’t about working harder. It’s about a spinal cord that was damaged badly enough from being hit by a fast-moving vehicle and being dragged out of my own vehicle and dropped on my head by a well-meaning, but uninformed passerby, to now block messages from my brain to my body below mid-chest. Therefore, my lower body doesn’t obey those commands that are given by my brain. Yes, I do exercise my upper body religiously and stretch as directed to maintain flexibility. But, more exercise won’t fix what’s wrong. Only a miracle or new medical research will fix it. That’s exactly why my family and I search for related, promising research and share it through this blog. (See Pages: SCI Research& SCI Of Interest in menu bar next to Home.)

Does that mean I’ve given up? Of course not! What I do is measure progress: progress that is made in minuscule steps forward. How do I know I’m improving? Lots of little ways:

  • Being able to reach buttons on the microwave touchpad that I used to need a stylus-on-a-metal-pole to activate.
  • Being able to bend and reach far enough over the sink to be able to spit after brushing my teeth without needing a small receptacle.
  • Being able to bend to retrieve items from the floor – without fear of tipping out. [I reach higher & further and am better balanced.]
  • Being able to slide into Van Gogh’s driver’s seat without planning 15 minutes to do so.
  • Going outside to drive Van Gogh without forgetting my transfer board.
  • Realizing that I am comfortable driving without tensing up and worrying that I would forget how to stop or accelerate at a reasonable pace around corners.
  • Realizing that a car started to enter the intersection and I automatically depressed the left lever, which is the way to brake. [Practice pays off.]
  • Learning that some bodily functions aren’t on the strict timeline I had when I left Mary Free Bed Rehab Hospital – and others are still on a strict clock. [Fine-tuning workarounds.]
  • Baking more quickly. The first time I made blueberry muffins, it took 30 minutes just to get out all the ingredients. Just recently I made them and I had them ready for the oven in a half hour. I still need help getting things out of the oven, unless quite light with an easy way to grasp the tray, but I can usually move the item onto the oven rack. It’s progress.
  • Realizing that my husband and I could together prepare a whole meal good enough to invite someone (elderly man at church) or two special people (parents) over without them having to bring any food – let alone bring in the whole meal like during the first years. [Progress with cooking and baking.]
  • Being able to maneuver my wheelchair to fit in a space or get out of one without hitting any furniture, cupboard, appliance, or wall as frequently. Note, I didn’t say never, but there are fewer dings, gouges, and smudges. Fine-tuning furniture placement has been imperative. [More mobile.]
  • Moving from the first summer of not being able to close the very-tight-fitting door, to being able to close it only if positioned just right with wheels locked, to being in an absolutely correct position but no lock to the wheels, to closing it with a good oomph.
  • Having success with one-handed-rolling. Progressing from simply rolling in circles, to very slow progress rolling one hand 1-2 pushes before switching hands for whatever I was carrying and pushing 1-2 times; to that process increasing to faster than a snails pace, to utilizing doors/ counters / handy stable items with one hand and the opposite wheel with the free hand. [More independence.]
  • Moving from discussions with spouse from guarded and ignoring the elephant in the room by closing the other out from daily discussions, to occasional ‘used to be’ types of conversation, to honest discussions of losses and what ‘died,’ to laughing and more normal conversations more often. [Real quality of life.]

These small measures of progress are within the context of my 60-something body that is physically succumbing to the ravages of age more quickly than it should. There are some things I cannot control but I’m doing my best to control what I can – my attitude.

I run across acquaintances, friends, or distant relatives who say, “I’ve been thinking about you a lot and I pray for you.” I pray for those who pray for me. I don’t know all their names so I pray in broad terms; God knows their names.

Blessings! Shalom, Collene (aka One Who Makes Slow Process)

 

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28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ellie Murray
    Jun 09, 2018 @ 16:20:18

    I like this post.. We leave for glacier park tomorrow. Very hot in Aspen with all the big bucks(not animal) around .BUT BEAUTIFUL Ellie

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. FastHugs
    Jun 09, 2018 @ 16:44:23

    Haha, ready for big bucks Brig and Ellie to leave town for a bit, huh? Enjoy Glacier Park. Loved it there.

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  3. Carol Ketterer
    Jun 09, 2018 @ 16:51:20

    Thanks for sharing, Collene. We all need to stop and be thankful for every small blessing. You are an inspiration!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  4. Kathy Sherman
    Jun 09, 2018 @ 19:18:59

    Collene,
    Your patience with explaining complex processes is just one of the reasons I do admire you! I love how you pray for your PRAY-ERs. ❤️👍🏻🙏🏻❤️
    Yours and His,
    Kathy

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  5. Elly
    Jun 09, 2018 @ 20:43:32

    Thank you for your honesty, not to mention the detail of your consistent efforts. It helps those of us who love you to know more of your life.

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  6. Teresa Ritsema
    Jun 10, 2018 @ 17:27:54

    Hi Collene. I read this with real admiration for your ability to describe in great detail the wonderful progress that you are making. I remember during my days working in spinal cord injury how overwhelming many people would feel trying to learn basic self-care, and tasks that are taken for granted in the “temporarily able-bodied” world. Hurray for you! God bless you and Al.

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    • FastHugs
      Jun 10, 2018 @ 18:12:22

      Teresa, yes, when you worked with SCI you saw firsthand what needs to be relearned. It’s a slow process but it DOES improve. Thanks for writing. (More people should realize they are “temporarily able-bodied.”)

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  7. Hal
    Jun 10, 2018 @ 18:25:51

    My admiration grows for you and I appreciate your words each and every time I read them. You are tough, resilient and inspiring!! Thanks you, Collene!

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  8. Pat Denbesten
    Jun 10, 2018 @ 20:45:37

    I enjoy reading your posts, Colleen. Your writing helps me better understand the specifics of how life has changed for you. So glad to hear how you focus on your progress! Your positivity is inspiring. Praying & hoping
    Pat D.

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  9. Debbie Groover
    Jun 11, 2018 @ 03:50:59

    I miss you. I think you count your blessings better than anyone I know. We can all learn from you. Love, Deb

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  10. Ann Miller
    Jun 11, 2018 @ 12:27:19

    We’ll never understand every little daily challenge that you are overcoming. You are one of my idols, moving forward through life’s mountains.
    Hoping to see you in July (calendar is still squishy). Love, Ann

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  11. Pam Ogle
    Jun 12, 2018 @ 08:06:46

    Faith & positive attitude is what keeps you loving life. Your blogs are an inspiration to read.

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  12. Dan Ondersma
    Jun 12, 2018 @ 08:43:11

    Keep up the good fight Colleen! I know just a little bit of what you are going thru after breaking my femur and ending up with a total left hip replacement 2 years ago. It has taken those two years to get back most of what was “normal” before the injury. At our age, it takes more time to do lot of things and your list of “little improvements” brought back a lot of memories. Thank you.

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    • FastHugs
      Jun 12, 2018 @ 09:37:09

      Yes, Dan, you do have a sense of what the road to recovery is like. I’m glad to hear your 2 years of hard work has brought you to being close to normal. You also realize what Teresa meant by ‘temporarily able bodied.” Thanks for taking the time to reach out.

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  13. Jan Hommes
    Jun 13, 2018 @ 13:44:23

    Thanks for sharing Colleen. Your positive outlook inspire of the challenges sends an important message for all of us. I know I need those reminders . Thinking of you often and keeping you in my prayers.

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  14. dalisonwatt
    Jun 13, 2018 @ 18:09:09

    Love the honesty. Your words translate into other life situations. Being real spreads awareness. Awareness improves the heart of the world. xo.

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  15. Carol Burger
    Jun 13, 2018 @ 18:09:22

    Hi Collene. Look at all those bullets of progress. Love your love of life-and life long learning! Praying for those medical advances.

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