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Written by Kelley Underwood   
Wednesday, 13 December 2006
Its been some time since I've posted any new information regarding my recovery from the spinal stroke and ensuing paralyzation. Since today marks the one year anniversary of the stroke, I thought this might be a good time to put some info out. I had hoped to provide recent photos or videos of physical therapy and aquatic therapy but we forgot the camera Monday for physical therapy and today when we tried to use it at the Drake Center pool we found our batteries to be dead.

In October I reached the annual limit of physical therapies allowed by my insurance company. At this same time, the fine folks at Orthopaedic Physical Therapists and Associates made the initial contacts with a trainer at the Drake Center pool. We began seeing the trainer once a week in October and we also go to the pool on Saturday mornings during community swim times.

Just last week I was allowed to start physical therapy once a week due to a non-profit organization that assists with these costs between the time a patient's insurance expires and then kicks in again. So currently I go to physical therapy on Monday, Aquatic Therapy on Wednesday and Saturday. 

During my last therapy session in October I used a walker to travel 50 feet total in four separate walks. You can read about that and see videos in another news article here. While in the pool we've worked more on trunk strength and leg strength. I think we've seen some pretty good improvement. Today, with water at about 4.5 feet, I was able to walk forward and backward for considerable distances unassisted. I only use Styrofoam dumbbells for stabilization. My trainer, Lisa Newport, works me pretty hard at walking, core strength and leg and ankle strength. I know this has helped.  During my last visit to the neurologist he said my right foot was at full strength and my left foot was very improved.

A week ago, at my first return visit to physical therapy, I seemed weakened and was unable to walk very far with the walker. This Monday was a different story. I was able to do four timed stands for over a minute each. After that, with my arms already tired, I was able to walk the same 50 feet as in October but this time in only three walks. My last stroll was 31 steps and covered 21 feet. This represents a significant improvement. My ability to stand seems to be much better also.

Healing these nerves is a long time process. Not every day is better than the last. In fact, I've had to learn to control my disappointment when I fail to achieve more at each subsequent session. Being a competitive person has not made this an easier lesson to learn. However, my faith and courage are constantly reinforced by comparing my abilities today with those of  2 months ago. When taking a more high level view, it becomes clear that God is working and healing as a response to the efforts of my therapists and trainers and my own efforts.

This has been a very challenging year. I've been in the hospital three times, nearly died in late June with pulmonary embolisms. I am so thankful for the great people who have helped so much. My church and my Sunday School class essentially rebuilt the first floor of our house allowing me access to the entire floor. Even folks from my workplace, including a technical coordinator from a local school district, came out to help with that job.  My employer has allowed me to work from home and the time necessary for the many many doctor visits and therapy sessions. My wife's employer has also allowed her to take the sick time necessary to get me from place to place and care for me as necessary. Most of all, my wife has sacrificed so very very much to perform most unsavory tasks that are essential and yet impossible for me to accomplish without assistance. She is so tired all the time but yet so sweet. I know when we said our marriage vows 26.5 years ago neither one of us expected such a dramatic turn of events in our lives. But, where some abandon or pull away from such responsibilities with injured spouses, Trudy has drawn closer. She has worked hard to keep my involved and to resist the temptation to "disappear" within the walls of our home. I love her and look so forward to the day when I will be less of a burden to her.

God has blessed us. We are so fortunate to have the support organizations we have behind us. So blessed to maintain full upper body strength and see the gradual return of strength in my legs and torso. Yesterday a friend from work stopped by to drive me to a meeting I was to host in Dayton. When he was trying to get me and my chair strapped into the van he asked me to just move my left foot a little so he could free of the strap. It was with great pleasure that I was able to do just that. A year ago this time, as i was being wheeled back and forth from CT Scans and MRI Scans and X-rays I was already completely unable to move my left leg. By 1:00 a.m. when I was wheeled into a hospital room both legs were motionless. While I can't yet go dancing, its amazing how nice it is to be able to do something as simple as raise that foot a bit to help.

A year from tonight, on December 13th, 2007, God willing, I'll be writing to tell you about how great it is to leave the wheel chair at home when we go out. I can hardly wait,

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 December 2006 )
 
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