I’m afraid my body is going through another period of decline. There’s been too many of these coming too fast over the last few years, and it scares me -- a lot. Most I have been able to handle or compensate for, but this most recent one -- if it really is a permanent decline -- won’t be so easy to work around.
Over the past few months, my arms have gotten weaker. I am no longer able to press up using the arms of my wheelchair as high or for as long as I used to, not am I able to maneuver my body around the bed (to get in or out) as easily as I once could. Some days, when I am really tired or having a lot of pain in my left shoulder, I cannot move myself any real distance at all. It’s frustrating and depressing, as it means I am one step closer to becoming totally reliant on others to do that I need to do.
I’ve known for ages that this may happen -- okay, I’ve been told to expect this may happen -- but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to accept that the time in which it occurs may be here. There’s always going to be a small part of my spirit that refuses to believe that what the doctors predict for me (total quadriplegia) is really going to happen. After all, I’ve defied a lot of predictions in my life, and I think I’ve become a little bit cocky about being able to do it again.
There’s something about this particular loss of ability that’s more frightening to me than the others I’ve gone through. Throughout everything, my arms have always worked pretty well -- they became my legs when I needed them to on that first day I sat down in a wheelchair, and they have gotten me to where I needed to go ever since. They are the reason I have any freedom and autonomy at all, and the fear of losing that chills me to the bone in a way that mere words cannot explain.
The truly good news is that this may not be permanent. (Fingers and other body parts crossed for luck.) This decline in arm strength correlates almost perfectly with the timetable for damaging my right rotator cuff and breaking my leg.
Since those two things occurred, I’ve been babying my upper body. This is partially by choice -- in the hope that my damaged shoulder will heal on its own -- and partially of necessity because I just couldn’t get around on my own the same way I had before now that I had to drag along a leg encased in a fiberglass cast. During the period I had my cast on, I relied heavily on the HipHubby to help me transfer in and out of my wheelchair, which gave my upper body a long respite period from having to move my full weight around. Now that I need it to maneuver me about again, it’s not been able to respond in the same way it did when it was being used all the time.
I’m rather hoping that this little vacation from being the workhorse can be reversed. This week, I’ll hopefully be starting physical therapy to help repair the damage to my rotator cuff. Once I feel more confident that bearing my full weight on my right arm won’t mess my shoulder up any worse than it already is, I’ll be able to start swimming again. It shouldn’t take long after that to determine if the loss is temporary and can be regained through training, or more permanent in nature, the result of my nerve damage. Even if I cannot regain my full strength, I should be able to tone myself up through the PT and exercise programs, which will hopefully delay the progression of the nerve damage for as long as possible.
These periods of decline are getting harder and harder to handle mentally. Thank goodness there’s reason to believe that this one may not be anything more than just slacking off (okay, so having a broken leg isn’t really slacking off.) Wish me luck that with a little hard work in PT and a lot of laps in the pool I can get back to be the buffest HipCrip possible.