This morning on my walk, I had an amazing breakthrough! My walking has already gotten much better, more natural, with the ability to pick up my right leg more quickly; my shoulders and torso swing in rhythm and I'm much quicker. I told Betsy this morning that it helps my right arm to straighten (it wants to grip up) if she just momentarily touches it. If she holds it, it fights her and resists; but if she just touches it, it automatically relaxes. Much like a horse's mouth, I suppose! A few minutes later, my arm was gripping, and she DIDN'T touch me, but I THOUGHT of her touching me, and boom; my right arm relaxed! I did it several times! The brain must send different messages; if I think, "arm down", it fights me, but if I imagine Betsy touching my hand, it relaxes immediately! It's so interesting to learn the different ways the brain responds.
We had another interesting discovery last week. I was working hard at getting my right knee to bend, so I was picking each of my legs up very high, like exaggerrated marching. Betsy began to do it beside me in the hopes that my body would mimic hers. I learned about "mirror neurons", and it may not be exactly like this, but this was our mirroring effort. Sure enough, it was better!
My plans for Houston are progressing extremely well. The horse I am riding, owned by Kathleen Jones, is named Rondo Del Rey. Rondo's sire is Regazzoni. The owner of Regazzoni, Esther Noiles, wants to do an auction of a breeding to him to help cover my expenses! That's SO amazing because, as I'll have a sponsor if I make the selection trials, Houston is all on me, and despite the amazing help, it's really out of my budget. I am working on a horse for the trials and have a couple of promising options. I'll keep you posted!
One final big possible change. Since my accident, I've had a great deal of trouble sleeping. 4 hours is a good nights sleep for me. But last night, I slept pretty well! This is my thinking; although I've been menally active with writing articles, reading, playing words with friends, managing my business, etc., my brain wasn't tired enough to shut off. With all this preparation for the paralympics i.e. arranging the horse, where to stay, creating a freestyle, finding and organizing my show stuff, a mountain of paperwork, by the time I go to bed, my mind is exhausted enough to rest!
I can't tell you how great it feels to have something to work toward! That's what I love about para; it gives people the abilty to work at being the best they can be even if it's not the best in the world. For me, it gives me the chance to work toward being the best I can be RIGHT NOW. I'm getting first hand experience of the joy that offers.
The people in Houston were unbelievably helpful and generous. This experience showed me the immense amount people care and want to help. I've was always amazed by that before, but this experience amplified that notion 100 fold. The least I can do is share my experiences with you!
I am going to barrow an absolutely perfect horse owned by Kathleen Jones. I chose him, but the number of offers I got astounds me. Big, huge cyber hug all around!
Lendon is going to come help me for a few days before the show! I can't pay her, but as the amazingly generous and caring person she's shown herself to be time and again, she's going to help me anyway! (and support me!)
I decided to wait to get the Baclofen pump till I'm up north. The appointment I had with the surgeon was just a consultation; it would have been several more weeks before getting the surgery. Then I'd almost be home anyway, and it will feel so much better to have my darling husband with me. I postponed it before I knew about the show, but I'm so glad I did! Surgery would definitely keep me out of the saddle!
I'm noticing the tiny gradual improvements. When I put lotion on my left arm with Righty, I couldn't reach my shoulder at all before; now, it might get scratched up a bit and leave streaks, but I can reach the shoulder easily. In order to make my steps keep an even rhythm I always had to make my left foot wait a bit because, no matter how hard I tried, I could not make my right leg move more quickly. Now I can! What a difference, I might take tiny steps, but boy to I go quickly (relatively)! I tried to eat a bowl of cereal with Righty the other day. Not a good idea! But I'm enjoying noticing these little accomplishments. They're not as exciting as going to the bathroom by myself, of course, but they still give me joy!
Ok, I have a consult with the surgeon on the 22nd! Because many of you have asked about it, I have had Botox. It did help, and that's what I went the doctor for, but the pump lasts 8 years and would eliminate the need for 50+ shots of Botox every 3 months. The pump would go in the lower part of my spine to get to my leg, eliminating Thumper. We'd still have to Botox my arm, but that'a whole lot less shots for the elbow, wrist, fingers, and hopefully the shoulder. 20 is doable; over 50 is torture!
I'm vetting a horse on Thursday! I won't tell details till he passes... Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed!!
I said that I would share both the good and the bad with you. Well, I have a bad... Not really bad but makes me sad.
I have really bad clonus where my right leg shakes uncontrollably. When it does it in the shower, it makes a thumping noise. So I call him Thumper. Righty has a companion. It prevents me from triking (on my tricycle), has begun to stop my walks, and comes out when I do any sort of exercise at all, and for me, exercising is walking for 10 minutes.
The doctors suggested I consider a Baclofen pump. They surgically implant a pump in my belly that releases a certain amount of Baclofen directly into my spine each day that will stop my clonus and reduce spasticity. To make sure the drug works, they injected Baclofen directly into my spine today with a shot. We saw no result. I have a high tolerance. We've tried 4 drugs to help me sleep: ambien and 3 I can't pronounce much less spell, and none have an iota of affect. So I'll go back Friday and have another shot in the spine of an increased amount.
Ok, today is Friday, and, with a double dose, it worked! Yippie, Thumper was put in a coma! Soon to be completely laid to rest! So long Thumper! The extra fantastic thing is that, with less spasticity, my knee was more willing to bend which normalized my gait a little! I'm going to be skipping before you know it! My doctor says the coin phrase they used to use for the medicine, "unlock the potential," applies directly to me. Thumper has been preventing me from doing so many things and encouraging me to compensate for so many others. Thumper is who was driving me crazy, but this unlocks so many doors of progress. It's as if I've been trying to walk through a glass door, and it's shut. Now I'll have to figure out how to open the screen door, but the glass door will be open. "Unlock the potential." Give my endless hard work a chance to get me somewhere. One simple surgery where I stay in the hospital one night and then carry on as normal with exercise. Very well worth it. Between this and a new horse, I just may be in London, who knows? ;)
Its been two years today since my brain injury. It means a great deal to me that people still care, that people still want to help. I feel that these horrendous circumstances have done a lot of good: made me grow, vastly increased helmet awareness, maybe brought the horse community closer together maybe just shown that we are. I did this speech for Equestrian Aid to commemorate my anniversary. It was at the very show I was supposed to begin the afternoon of my accident of which I still hear stories of the show of caring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvrVyBIzX2Q
Thank you for staying with me on this long journey.