So having undergone a plethora of tests, Pia ( to whom I am eternally grateful for looking after me for a week) and I sat with Dr Susan Harkema and Dr Michael Stillman for about 2 hours.
They talked about me, and their conclusions, based on the results of all they’ve done, and what my next steps might be in this Christopher Reeves Foundation Victory over Paralysis assessment week
They mentioned a few things that gave the impression that I was in a good way compared to ‘most in my situation ‘. I weigh 12stone 4 lbs, approximately 20 lbs adrift of my pre injured self, about right given the wastage in my legs and bum.
My pulse of around 40 is ‘comparable to a good marathon runner’ they said. Michael called me ‘jacked’ – that’s the USA equivalent of ‘hench’…. ie well muscled.
My body fat was described as kind of crazy, given my condition, at 11% only. My bone density, and heart are well above levels of health expected- my heart ‘ that of an athlete ‘.
So, where does that leave me? I can’t just sign up to have an epidural implant, as all that stuff is still very much in the trial/ experimental stage, but they have other trials too.
They made it clear that I am a good candidate for a 4 month visit to partake in a trial that would involve a lot of physical exercise/ electronic muscle stimulation, and standing in a frame, whilst receiving electrical stimulation.
They would expect a lot of health benefit to me, by partaking. As well as regaining lower half muscle, they’d work on my torso, predicting a gain of a couple of vertebrae’s worth of muscular functionality. It occurred to me that a well as perhaps giving me better sitting down stability, it would help me to sit ski and maybe paddle a kayak… and from a being able to work perspective, increase the range of things I could do, without toppling out of my chair, either onto the floor, or into the patient’s lap – neither being that professional.
They seemed certain that physical improvement would be the outcome, and that’s something that’s worth having, if you’re me.
The logistics and expense, both monetary and emotional, of being away from home for 4 months is of course a factor, but the medical benefits to me, for the rest of my life, would be significant. I’m not expected to start next week or anything, but delaying it unnecessarily seems illogical.
The Frazier Rehab centre here makes Stoke Mandeville Hospital look fairly backward – not that I ever felt it was at all ‘cutting edge’ to be honest.
So, a bit of thinking to do, and arrangements to be made. Just as we are about to move into a far more suitable property for me, having sold our lovely house, I’m contemplating moving to bloody America…
But what would you do?