Here is my accounting, so far. It has been 4 months in the hospital with almost 3 years of physical therapy (6 days out of the week) at home. I am still mostly stuck in bed depending on someone to do everything for me. My friend and Pastor, Steve, was paralyzed the neck down from a traumatic motorcycle accident. He was absent from us for about two years when miraculously we begin to receive video clippings of his progress. It started with him moving arms, then him being able to balance himself sitting, and finally, of him taking that precarious first step. Today, Steve is very active and one of the most animated Pastors of our church. So, I guess the most obvious question is why am I still paralyzed and did not progress like Steve?
For Steve, he grew up with normal muscle tones. So, when he recovered from his spinal cord damage, he still had good muscles to regain more strenght. My situation, like many who were affected by polio from the 1930s to the 60s, our aging muscles tend to go downhill faster than normal muscles. So, what little muscles I have left may or may not lead me back on my feet. You would think that exercise would help me become stronger. That is a yes and no answer.
Normal muscles when exercised gain strenght because there is balance how they grow when exercised. Unfortunately, depending on the severity on how the polio disease affected the body, the balance in muscle tone is a factor. The greater the severity, the greater the imbalance. My best friend is a polio victim of the 50s like me who had just suffered a mild stroke. Polio had left him to be dependent on crutches. I’m afraid after the stroke, no physical therapy treatment will allow him to ever use crutches again. I pray he can gain hand control back so he can drive his electric wheelchair.
My reality is that one leg is stronger than the other. I grew up depending mostly on my good leg. Post polio weakened my strong leg but the compression sped both legs deterioration somewhat that I could not carry my own weight. Then, there are my arms which unfortunately never had any real muscles. With the compression, I couldn’t even hold a pen in my right hand nor hold a ball with my left.
I used to joke that exercise was against my religion. Well, in some ways, exercise will probably not give me my legs back nor even my hands. But I do have a strong neck and a determined brain to be not such a useless burden to others.
Lord willing, I will continue in His service using all that is left to me.