Spinal Cord Injury with Caleb: The Latest Progress & Mental Musings

Well I am just over the three-month mark since receiving stem cell treatment and of course the question on everyone’s mind is, “What is happening?” In short, a alot and a little. Huh? Take a chair, I shall elaborate.

First the little…When nerve injuries of any kind heal it’s very much like the old TVs where you had to fool with the antennae to get a strong signal. It would flicker and fuzz as you narrowed down the hot spot. They give hints, and then come in clearer, for short periods, then longer, then permanent. Each nerve needs to undergo this process. Somethimes the changes are imperceptible at first then I notice a new feeling or a more accurate sensation or a stronger muscle contraction so that…little by little…progress. The lot of it is mainly in my core. I am now no longer using a chest strap as a safety precaution to keep me in the chair because my core control and strength is much improved. My therapy session on January 2nd at Push to Walk saw a major boost in progress. I am using my hip flexors with minimal help from the trainer. I am now doing flexion exercises both standing and sitting. As I activate the muscles to move my leg, the muscle groups in my thighs and hips are tightening. This mean complex nerve signals.

In response to a recent photo I posted on Facebook of my brother and I standing side by side in December of 2013 a family member posted one of us standing side by side in 1992. In the most recent I am standing in a gait-training harness that allows me to bear weight while standing flat on the floor. It stretches the tendons in my knees back to normal and helps me focus on the nerves needed for standing. It feels good to stand and feel the weight on my legs and the stretch of tendons and ligaments. The old photo was of course before my injury and I had completely forgotten about it. As I sat and stared at it for some time a deeper revelation of change being the only true constant in life settled in. It was like looking at somone else.

Strangely I did not feel the regret I thought it would drag up, but I did have a wish. I looked into the eyes of this young teenage…what I now realize was just a boy…so self-assured and strong on the outside, but insecure and self-conscious, looking for validation on the inside. I wanted to have a conversation with him. I wanted to tell him a few things, I thought about what I’d say. I’d tell him to slow down and relax. I’d tell him Jesus was not coming back before his 21st birthday. I’d tell him you may hate school now, but you’ll long for these days to do over again. I would tell him to stop worrying what others think because they are just worried about what you think of them. Besides in three years they’ll be gone only to show up 20 years later on Facebook fat or bald or with grandkids. I’d say, “Get over yourself, what you think you want in this moment is fleeting, it will change. If you want to be a man be quiet, listen, sit still, work hard, observe and give 100%.” But above all, I would look that young man in the eye and I would smile, I’d tell him everything is going to be ok. It may get hard, real hard, but no matter what, be true to yourself. Stop trying to please others in what you do, say, wear and believe and follow your heart, your true will. You will make mistakes, but get up, do it again. When the dust settles you’ll be the last man standing and standing on your own two feet.

I’ll never get to have that conversation with the young man in that photo. He had to learn a lot of it the hard way and is still learning, but he’s got muscle movement, he’s got progress, he’s surrounded by the coolest friends in the world and the stem cells are working.

So where do we go from here? Up. Forward and up.

Thanks for reading.

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