Lifting, standing and `st-rolling`. (Sorry Alison)

Day three of the rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville, the National Spinal Injuries Centre (like NCIS but in a different order!). As you will be aware by the last two entries it is full on for me, I can categorically state that I learnt more in day one of my rehab here than I did in the entire thirteen weeks that I was at the last unit, that was increased today with my first physio session before lunch that came in as a fastball. Jo had called the ward to see if I would be able to come down to the physio department as there was room for me to do some practice transfers and lifting whilst she sorted some admin out. I had been down to the physio dept earlier as I had wanted to go in and see if I was able to practice the things I had been taught yesterday but when I got to the doors I could see that each physio was with their patient and therefore decided not to bother anybody. The fact that Jo had now invited me to go and practice now was perfect. I will be honest and say that i am struggling a little with it as in my head I know that how I have taught myself and been doing it for two years works and I am able to do it that way. Instead I am struggling to do it the way I have now been taught and as a consequence find myself half resorting to my way. Then I have to stop myself and pause, get back in to how I have been taught to do it and carry on. FRUSTRATING! Still, I keep going and hopefully I will do it as a natural movement very soon.

With me set up on a plinth and with another in front of me to face plant if I lose balance I started practicing what I had been taught and it seemed to be going quite well. Jo came over to see how I was doing and after a few more lift and holds I transferred back in to the chair. We went to see Andy who is the guy in charge of wheelchair fitting, adjusting and repair. Essentially all things wheelchair. Jo is concerned that mine is not actually set up properly for me and wanted Andy to look as well. My legs bounce and my feet move forward on my foot plate meaning that without the strap I have put across the front of my lower legs to stop the feet from moving too far forward, my feet would indeed fall from the foot plate and cause me some problems. The idea is that I drop the castors to the lowest adjustment on the forks and then drop the height of the main chair on the axle. Andy looked at the chair and it was decided that I would return later in the day with my power chair for another physio session which would involve me being in the standing frame for a period of time and would therefore enable me to get in to the power chair and leave the manual chair empty, later on in the afternoon I would go back to Andy and we would adjust the chair, perfect.

My first physio session ended with Jo watching me transfer on to my bed and explaining a different way to do it. The way she was suggesting I carry out the task actually makes a lot of sense. It essentially means that I do not have to move my manual chair once I have got on to the bed which is something I have to do more than once now. This I did a couple of times, not perfectly but certainly well enough for me to understand how and why I would do it in this way and well enough for me to practice every time I go to or from the bad. Exercise complete, it was time for lunch.

Immediately after lunch I collected the power chair and made my way carefully to the physio department, riding in my manual chair whilst driving my power chair. Arriving without incident, Jo took the power chair out of the way and she directed me to a manual standing frame. The one I have is a motorised unit that brings me in to the standing position, it also has foam `cups` for my knees to fit in to which will keep my legs straight. This frame had neither of these features but the idea was to see if I would be able to get myself in to it safely and strap myself in, this at home would allow me more time in the frame as I would not have to rely in Wifey being available to help. I positioned myself ready to slide forward in my chair and position my feet ready for me to weight bear and stand. Jo showed me where the strap needed to be for the feet, mine I have across my calf muscles (or where they should be!) but in actual fact it only needs to be behind the ankles, it is there simply to stop your feet from kicking backwards. With my feet in position I held on to the front of the standing frame tray and pulled myself up and forward ending with me leaning over the front of the frame and my chest/belly lying on the tray. Here is where Jo put the strap across/under my arse and I stood up. We had several attempts to sort my legs out as they were not playing ball at all and instead of staying straight, were actually trying to bend sideways to collapse, I was beginning to look like a standing version of road kill. No matter what Jo tried she could not get my legs to play and so it was decided that it was just as well I had the `cups` as I clearly needed them. It was at this point I wondered if my legs would have been stronger in so much as they would hold me up like everyone else I have seen in the frames, had I been allowed in the standing frames whilst I was an inpatient at the other unit. Still, no point in dwelling on it or even asking the questions as they clearly were not able to stand without the `cups` and that was that.

With me back in my manual chair we headed to another frame which whilst it was a powered version, although we would not be using this feature, it had the `cups` we needed. Again I pulled the chair up to the frame and got myself shuffled forward in my seat. Feet firmly down I moved the strap to behind my heels and this was checked by Jo. Just like at home I put my knees in to the `cups` but now would be where it was a little different. Instead of me lifting and asking my Wife to put the sling under my arse, I had to pull myself up in the same manner that I had been told to in the last frame, this I did and Jo again put the strap across my butt. I could feel  the strap sliding down my butt towards the upper part of my legs, or so it felt so I asked if it could be checked. As I wear tracksuit bottoms, they were sliding down which in turn was moving the strap down. Whilst my ass muscles have depleted massively, I am sure I still have a really good ass, but good or not, not everyone (or indeed possibly anyone) wants to have it on full show in the gym whilst trying to undergo their physiotherapy, with this in mind, Jo kindly rectified the situation and in a short space of time I was in and standing, this is where I stayed for approximately and hour. I was far more comfortable in the frame than I have ever been at home. I can only think that it is the lack of strap behind my calf muscles and the strap missing from my chest. This will be something I will try at home. While in the frame I tried to stand with my arms by my side instead of supporting me and then raising the arms out straight to my sides to as high a position as possible until with a little over an hour gone, I had to lean forward and un strap myself and lower in to my power chair that had been brought over to me. A really good amount of time which enabled a good stretch on my legs, something that I could really feel when I leaned over the front of the frame whilst un hooking the arse strap. This is different to mine at home as well as mine I have to buckle in place whereas this one was a pin that you simply hooked the strap on to, just something I will need to practice when I get home.

I had a short while until my appointment with Andy to try to sort my chair and so, as I was in the power chair I decided to go to find the venue for the shooting I am to attend on the 13th of this month. I had decided to try to find it earlier in the day without success but I did find a reasonably sized cafe. I would love to pop there for a coffee but I have no idea where I found it! I had been given some directions verbally to try to locate the shooting venue just prior to leaving the physio and having followed them I could in no time, clearly see where i would need to go when the time arrives. All that was left then was to have a coffee, read a little more of the Spitfire book which the author Andy Saunders had given to me on our Op Nightingale dig on Salisbury Plain for the Spitfire of 609 Squadron lost during WW2, and then back to physio for the wheelchair adjustments. I am enjoying the book, it beggars belief that a Spitfire which had been downed in to the sea just off of Calais could after so many years, suddenly decide to be allowed by the sea to be viewed once more and subsequently, all be it a little brutally, be recovered. Anyway, that is another story.

I spent a fair bit of time with Andy over the wheelchair, regrettably we have been unable to do any adjustments as the castors are too big for the adjustment on the forks meaning that although there is a hole for the bolts to go in to secure the castor, the castor is too big to be able to make the adjustment. As a consequence we were unable to adjust the height of the chair on the axle as it would make it too tippy and as a result I would be falling out of it, tomorrow then I need to try to find out the price of some smaller castors to allow the adjustments to take place. Furthermore, where we have made the adjustments and alterations for the Freewheel, I will not be able to easily adjust the footplate. All in all, a bloody nightmare. Whilst I have managed with the chair for 18 months or so, I am now wondering how the chair would be if the adjustments are made,  AAAAARGH!

At half five tonight I joined around five other “wheelies”, Jo and Kirsty for a `st-roll` down to the local chip shop and Co-Op. It is a shitty pavement to the shops with holes, drain covers , broken and raised tarmac and some crap cambers but to that end is perfect for people to see what they are likely to deal with. You have to cross a few roads as well which is always amusing as you would not believe how many car drivers simply do not see you because you are not walking, the frightening thing is that we are around the same height or slightly higher than some children, there is something to think about! Upon returning to the hospital we went and ate and chatted in the cafe before the crowd went on to play table tennis. I however had a visitor! My Sister Andrea came in on her way home from work which was nice. By her own admission it is a novelty for her to have family up here to visit and so she has decided to make the most of it while I am up here, which is nice. We drank coffee, (not as much as Lara and I last night though, like a box of frogs on heroin last night, unable to go to bed until 02.00hrs!), and chatted about all kinds of stuff. A general catch up and she wanted to know what other things were going to be happening and how I was finding it so far. She can not believe how much I have missed out on in the past and is excited at the progress I am already making. It was almost 10 o’clock before we headed back to her car for her to make the final part of her journey home and so it is another later night on the Blog tonight. It is nice to catch up with people though and so I am hardly going to turn the visits down unless it is unavoidable.

So another day of successful learning and practicing today, I am so pleased that I have actually managed to get in to this place I can not tell you , grab the bull by the horns and take the opportunities that are presented, that is what I intend to do while I am here, and indeed that is exactly what I am doing. Looking forward to tomorrow, dietician tomorrow too….should be interesting. I wonder if the look on her face will say…YOU FAT BAS***D!

Goodnight all.

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