8pm, Thursday 14th March
Today I had my last Australian physio session. For the first 45 minutes we worked on the treadmill, tested out walking with Nordic poles and stretched out my glutes. The treadmill was pleasing to see the improvement of my walking and through the life-sized mirror it was nice to see that my calf muscles had bulked out since I had last glimpsed a full body reflection. The Nordic walking was promising and I am looking forward to moving on from my elbow crutches when I return back home.
For the last 15 minutes we worked on my ankles. It was during this that I tried the question I often ask but rarely expect an informative response, ‘I’m now going to ask a really annoying question that you probably won’t want to answer but I’m going to ask it anyway. In your opinion, do you feel that my prospects of recovery are good enough that I should be able to run again? Will my ankles be strong enough?’
From my physio’s facial expression, just like every other specialist I have asked this same question to, I could tell she wished I hadn’t asked. However, she did not avoid the question, professionally giving an answer honest to her knowledge. She started with my calves which she believes could come back looking at the progress thus far. If so, I will be able to run. However, most severe cases of Guillain-Barrè are still left with weakness five years after the first onset of symptoms. Given the severity of my case and the weakness that still persists in my tibialis anterior (foot up muscle), I will likely need to wear walking aids for the rest of my life. I am grateful for her honesty but it felt a little like a slap in the face nevertheless. What she said was in line with what I have been told by the neurologist back in October, thus making this the most realistic projection. On top of that she did not feel comfortable signing me off to dive on the great barrier reef, but that is less of a concern as I can always snorkel instead.
Despite the pessimistic prospects, a neuro-physio gym offers plenty of perspective and as I looked around I could see several patients in positions I had previously been in who would likely give anything to be in my shoes.
After physio, Alex and I paid our final visit to the café next door run by two very friendly ladies who, ever since the first time I visited with Max in November, have asked after him in their chatty Edna Mode accents. The ladies have always been charming when we have come in and my favourite saying of theirs is ‘sweet enough’ whenever I turn down their offer for sugar in a hot drink. This time they were especially lovely and told us how much they would miss us again once we were gone. I got myself a $10 (£5.50) meal deal of a burger, chips and a can of soft drink. Feeling a little sorry for myself I gave myself permission to have a sugary soft drink but staring at the fridge, I couldn’t bring myself to choose anything that may hinder my recovery, even by the smallest amount, so I picked out a coconut water instead. I haven’t given up just yet.
Melbourne and New Zealand
Since I last posted a blog, Alex and I have spent 4 weeks in Melbourne and 5 weeks in New Zealand. As my recovery has progressed with time, I have been able to participate more and more with what a place has to offer and that has contributed greatly to my enjoyment of each destination.
Instead of boring you with avid descriptions of where we’ve been and what we’ve done, I feel it best to upload a series of pictures and they can tell the story. Enjoy!
Getting shorn like a sheep for Summer in New Zealand