Physical Therapy at the Shepherd Center

After being on the waiting list since about May, I finally got the call that the Shepherd Center was ready for me and i started physical and occupational therapy three weeks ago. It’s going really well but lemme tell u, the shit wipes me out! I’ve been going every Wednesday at 1 and I’m done at 3, and yesterday was the first day that I actually stayed awake for the entire ride home. I am tired fuh so at the end of every session.

When I was diagnosed, I used to go to an arbitrary neurologist. A few years later, I’d started experiencing some things and and my manager at the time suggested that I reach out to the Multiple Sclerosis Society to ask them for a referral for an MS specific neurologist/facility. That’s how I found the MSCA and to this day, I think that her advice was some of the best I’ve received since starting my fight. I myself pass that same advice along to any newly diagnosed person with whom I’m in contact. Well I took that same advice last year when I found myself trying to start up physical therapy again.

Over the years, I’ve had 4 PTs including the 2 knucklehead “in-home” care therapists. Now, in their defence, there’s only so much u can do in someone’s home – ur hands are kinda tied based on the home setup…but barring that, I still maintain that they were still crazaos. But anyhoo, I digress. As far as the other two, I used to go to those facilities. I’m not discrediting everything they each did for me but the experience at the Shepherd Center is completely different. The Shepherd Center is a renowned spinal chord and brain injury rehabilitation facility here in the Atlanta area. The Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis Institute resides within The Shepherd Center. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that the majority of their patients have MS. The therapists focus solely on helping MS patients regain mobility, teaching them how to function as normally as possible given their restrictions and circumstances and showing them exercises that could strengthen and possibly retrain those muscles that just refuse to function how they’re supposed to. In a nutshell, their focus is ensuring that MS patients have the best quality of life possible.

And oh the toys! Apart from the standard gym machines, there are so many other machines and pieces of apparatus to help us walk, workout etc…it’s amazing. Now, I get that Shepherd center might be special with the availability of such things so boy am I happy that I am over there. In my next session, I’m supposed to use the AntiGravity Treadmill (AGT). It’s a big spaceship like looking thing but essentially when we go in, it’ll keep us up, so we don’t have to worry about falling or keeping balanced, we can just focus on working those legs as hard and fast as we want. I want to use it, but I’m afraid of how much I’ll push myself and how I’ll be able to function after the fact – nevertheless, I can wait to get in. I can’t even begin to describe what I used yesterday but let’s just say that I walked the fastest that I’ve ever had in a long time.  I even asked Ian if he wanted me to run…he said no. I often say that sometimes when it comes to my experiences and dealing with this disease, I’m too ambitious. Well this PT I have now is ambitious himself and when I told him that I miss my canes because eh no way a walker is cool, he jumped at the chance to let me walk with a cane. I haven’t done that since Novemberish 2015 so I could hardly contain my excitement – hey, it’s the little things! Now, if he didn’t have his stability belt around me, I woulda buss my ass a few times well, and my technique was rhell rusty but it felt so good!

Walkers – who needs ’em…
SIGH!

Stay tuned for next week’s story of the AGT…

5 Additional Things I Couldn’t Live Without

somehow I ended up reading this post the other day and realised that I need to modify the list somewhat. Those 10 were in no particular order back in 2012, but there are some items that are still quite relevant today. They are: My  Inner/Outer circles, alcohol and my AM/PM pill boxes (I don’t take that many pills but without those things I wouldn’t be able to keep up with what I’ve taken and when and I’ll be up shit street regularly).  I hope I never have to experience life without any of those – nuff said. fast forward to 2017 and here are my additions:

My Life Alert Chain
I didn’t want it and was forced to deal with the fact that I need it. I started with a bracelet that of course, I’d forget to put on but these days I wear a chain and it’s somewhat embarrassing (mortifying actually), because sometimes I go out with the damn thing around my neck and I can safely say that it goes with absolutely nothing I wear. Like I’ve said before, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s a necessary evil so ugh! whatever! I am happy to report tho, that I’ve never actually had to use it (knock on wood) and the one time there was a misunderstanding, responders were there in 2 2s and the process worked like a charm.

Look closely and u’ll see it swinging round my neck

Soca Scooter and Bumblebee
I’ve actually had dreams of not having them handy or their being damaged/destroyed…that should be rewritten as “nightmares”. I cannot imagine my life without them.

My walker
The first installment included my canes; now it’s my walker – sigh!

Speaking of walkers, my walker tray
When I walked with my canes, I had a free arm/hand to use as needed.  Well with the walker, no hands are free. At first I used to use SS in my apartment when I had to carry food (anything really) but I needed to cut that out as it limited my walking. I went to my trusty Amazon (I am an amazon old ‘ho) and started searching and of course, there it was – a walker tray (it still amazes me all the things available “out there”…one jes has to start looking). Great buy and best money spent …that month.

Lyft
The decision to stop driving was one of the most difficult ones I’ve ever had to make – I still miss driving to this day. My not driving meant that I was just about completely dependent on others and that wasn’t something I wanted to deal with at all. I remember how nervous I was the first time I used Lyft (Hannah was my driver) and how anxious I was about people pulling up and seeing me in SS. Now, nothing fazes me and I’ll deal with whatever situation presents itself (one day I’ll tell u about my getting in the various SUVs – LOL). I was able to reclaim so much of my independence using Lyft that I’m not sure how I’ll handle it if the company ever goes under (I eh really feelin Uber). I’ll be forever grateful to T-ster for suggesting it.

I think that’s it for now. Special mention goes to my bionic foot but I can,  and do, walk without it so it can’t be a “live without” item.

In other news, I’ve been on the PT waiting list at Shepherd Center since March. They called me last week so I go back to PT & OT later today. The last time, they discharged me after 6 sessions, so we’ll see what happens this time.

Anyhoo, allyuh hol’ it dong…I gone so

My Vibrating Machine

Settle down…This is a PG blog 😉

My OT made me use this first. It’s a machine that (u guessed it) vibrates that helps patients with spasticity. My left side is spastic – it’s the reason that my left hand curls up and the leg gets so stiff. The word that the therapists use to describe spasticity is “tone”. So the vibration machine is used to break up the tone in my body.
Personally I feel that should be re-evaluated cuz isn’t that one of the reasons i’m in the gym at the crack of dawn every Tuesday and Thursday morning? to tone up?  now u want me to break my tone up!…anyhoo, i digress.
Not the one at Shepherd Center but u get the drift

The platform u see there is the vibrating part and my OT had me place my hands on it for a few minutes. It felt weird cuz it was going at HI speed/second in my book. Did it break up the tone in my hand and make any difference? Yes. A little…as soon as she stopped it. Wasn’t anything to write home about tho. A week later, my PT suggested I stand on it. Now.  I eh go lie, I was a lil skeptical because I was unsure of how I’d function after being on it. If my quads get massaged or stretched too vigourously, my walking is all out of sorts so all the vibrating on the legs? Hmmmm I wasn’t sure. Anyway, I stepped up and she turned it on. The shit had me scared. The vibrations were so powerful that try as I might to keep my legs relaxed, i couldn’t. I mean for most of the time I was on it, my body was straight as a pin. I was very leery, but push come to shove, I had Soca Scooter so I guess I won’t walk as much if things go to shit.

Well. Lemme tell you! I got off that thing and took a step and allyuh! It was the most normal I’d felt in however many years that I’d been using walking aids. It was AMAZING! I couldn’t believe it. My PT even remarked that my movements looked smooth and effortless as I walked around the room. Unfortunately that was my last PT session. I didn’t know how long the effect would last but I was sure it wasn’t going to be forever so…I bought one for here.  It’s not as powerful but it certainly does help with the stiffness of my leg – usually i need help to bend it (especially if i have to sit in the front seat of a car) and that task is so much easier to do now.  I definitely notice a difference.  used to be that if i was lying on my back, it was pretty much impossible for me to bring my knee to my chest on my own.  while using the machine?  not a problem for the most part.
By the way, yesterday I got the call from Shepherd Center that they received my prescription for PT/OT and by the way “just need to make sure you know that there’s a waiting list…and right now, it’s taking about 2 months to get in”. so here we go…playing the waiting game as usual for all things MS.

hol it dong…Stax

Physical Therapy

I’ve had some physical therapists over the years. I went to 2 or 3 facilities and ended up stopping each one for one reason or other. Some years ago, I discovered “home health care”. Up until then I had no idea that even existed – I guess it’s not until u really need something and start poking around that u really realize what’s “out there” – and for whatever reason, I decided to do in home PT.

A side note: I’ve had 2 in home therapists and dealing with the 2 of them (and a few other in home health workers) convinced me that the majority of them are crackheads/sprangers/knuckleheads/insert whatever word u prefer to use here.
I stopped using the first guy right when I started declining 2 years ago and the 2nd? Well after 4 sessions I never saw him again – go figure! He was a waste of time anyway so I never tried to track him down either.  I met the Bioness rep to get my bionic foot at the Shepherd Center. Shepherd Center is a very well known, highly recommended brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation center here in Atlanta and while we were organising, she asked me if I had a therapist. When I told her no, she suggested that I try to get in right upstairs at their MS Institute – in her opinion, the best in the state, maybe even the nation. I took her advice and asked Dr. Gilbert to get the ball rolling. When the Shepherd Center rep called me to confirm everything she warned me that the wait for PT was a 6-8 weeks.  Wowzer! Oh well I best get on the waiting list…i’ll get pick at some point. Wouldn’t u know it a week later I got another call to schedule appointments – fella said that patients requiring Occpational Therapy and PT get priority. Sweet! OT wasn’t even on my mind, Gilbert just wrote the script that way.
Each time I chose a PT, I’d do so after reaching out to the MS Society to find out who they’d recommend cuz maybe the person focused on or was interested in MS patients (cept the in home people – u jes have to take what u get with them); turns out that each of the therapists i chose had a friend or family member with the disease so they were familiar with it. Well the Shepherd Center has an MS Institute – MS is the therapists’ only focus. There are so many machines and gadgets in there and I was exposed to so much – I’m really happy that I took the Bioness chick’s advice.  I’m on a break right now (unlike before, not my doing) but a new prescription was just faxed in.  Only problem with that is that who knows if I’ll be lucky again and be bumped up to the top of the waiting list – I’m not given first preference just because I was there before – oh well…as usual, all I can do is wait and see…
I gone so…allyuh have a good weekend.
P.S. More to come on my PT experience.

My Bionic Foot

I’d seen the ads for this product before but never dug into the benefits of it. As my walking took a turn for the worse, I started looking into it and eventually i had the opportunity to get a free evaluation, so why not go check it out.  During the evaluation, I could actually feel the difference the thing made. Essentially it’s a cuff (with two electrodes) that goes around my left calf and it stimulates the nerve that makes my foot “work properly” – meaning in the heel to toe action. Without it, most days, my left foot just drags as I try to move the leg to take a step. The device is made by Bioness and they actually produce 1 for the upper thigh (stimulates a nerve in the leg – don’t know which one as I wasn’t evaluated for this), one for the hand (I didn’t see results as drastically with this one) and the one for the foot.  (Anyone want to take a stab at why the ass this font changed???)

 
It’s a 3 part device. There’s a sensor in my shoe – at this moment it’s in my sneaker (it can only work with shoes that have a strap around the ankle (ladies, a sling back shoe) or a whole shoe) – the cuff is secured around my left calf and I have a small remote to control it. When I’m ready to move I place it it “walking” mode and when my weight is off the sensor, it senses that I’m ready to take a step, I feel a tingling sensation and my foot “kicks” into action. It doesn’t allow me to walk further (cuz my legs still get fatigued) but it sure makes the act of walking less laborious for me so i definitely walk vs using the scooter when i can.  There’s also a “training” mode where it stimulates the nerve without the sensor so my foot moves up and down on its own but the idea while doing this is that I actually move my foot with it (so in a sense I’m retraining my brain and foot to work together to get the foot moving properly). 

 
My “problem” right now is that I really have to find other shoes with which it’ll work. A few months back, I had to go somewhere that required a dress and I wanted to walk vs using Soca Scooter. I had to make a decision – a dress (I’m short so I only wear short dresses) and sneakers or jeans with sneakers…what to do what to do?!?! In the end I wore the dress because that’s what the occasion called for but it was still kinda weird. So I have to buy some new shoes. 
 
Why my bionic foot u ask? The day I got it, Learls and OB were here and that night as I was walking into my bedroom, she looked at the way I was walking and said, “u doh have on yuh foot?”  It became “my foot” and when 1 of my aunts called and said, “I hear u have a bionic foot!” Well.  How do you refer to it as a “Bioness device” after that? 🙂