Earlier this year there was a fundamental shift in the structure of my body. I knew something had happened as I felt so different, but I wasn’t exactly sure what had gone on. I was experiencing a deeper level of mobility which was particularly noticeable in my lower spine, sacrum and pelvis. The lumbar sacral junction, which had been disconnected for so long had suddenly grown so strong. Not by chance I might add, but through many hours of work. When I say disconnected we are talking about an extremely weak joint between the lumbar and sacral sections of the spine and a loss of connectivity between the elements of the body above and below that level. For so long the vertebrae in the sacrum were very much locked together and now they had regained a mobility I’d all but forgotten about. In turn the pelvis had gained volume and I had greater strength and mobility in the hips. This is really helping me to move around with ease. For years the only way to move around, without a wheelchair of course, was to physically lift one leg and move it, then the other leg, then my body and repeating the process. This has slowly improved over the years as strength has returned and I gained more and more ability to move my legs independently until now I find I can pretty much dispense with the need to use my arms in assisting with lifting the legs. This one’s worth a video blog but that will have to wait. Although the improvements in the lower spine and pelvis were the most noticeable, they were far from the only increase in mobility. My whole body seemed more connected and mobile at a deeper intrinsic level.
It wasn’t until May that I went for my bi-annual visit to ABR Belgium to meet up with Leonid Blyum and was interested to hear his take on what had changed. A quick feel of my body and he realised there had been a dramatic improvement in the connection of the flesh to the bones and this was throughout the whole body, the arms, legs and trunk. It’s funny how our perceptions of the same fundamental shift can be so different. From an external viewpoint his trained eye sees the structural changes, whereas from my internal perception I appreciate the resulting functional improvements and often miss the structural changes they have resulted from, until they are pointed out to me.
The structural shift has been brilliant, but as with many changes in the body it hasn’t come without its difficulties. As a result of the improved connection of the flesh to the bones, and believe me the flesh used to slide around on top of the bones, there has been a freeing off of the dermal layers. The layers of skin had been clamped together, so to speak, in order to compensate for the lack of stability from the disconnection of the flesh to the bones. This freeing off in turn resulted in renewed lymphatic activity in the skin and the need to discharge the toxins that had been unable to be removed from clamped up skin layers. It started with a rash on the back of my hands and ended up with a breakdown of the skin there and six weeks of weeping hands. I’ve never known anything like it. An absolute outpouring from the body of all that had built up in the skin over years of inactivity there.
Getting the skin to heal up and grow strong again has been proving difficult, but a long weekend break camping in Denge Marsh has helped move it forward enormously. The camping trip also allowed me to realise just how much this shift in my body has brought improvements to a way of life. I’ve always loved camping ever since I was a kid, when our parents used to take us on three week long camping holidays each summer, but until now camping as a paraplegic has been a damage limitation exercise. Great fun but I’d go home depleted and with a real need to spend extra attention looking after myself. This time, however, I took everything in my stride. I went on my own, or rather myself and my two dogs, to explore Denge Marsh in Kent, an area on the Dungeness peninsula rich in aquatic bird life, not to mention the Marsh Frogs croaking at night around the lake next to the campsite. I loaded the van with my Tramper (a fairly all terrain mobility scooter) and all my camping gear, including everything necessary to cook over a real fire, and managed to pitch my tent in the wind and set up the camp with ease. I spent the best part of four days exploring the area, including the local pubs of course, cooking, eating and living outdoors and lazing around with my dogs when the time came to rest. The sun was out each day and there’s plenty of wind blowing across the Dungeness headland. I could tire of the wind if I spent too much time there but the wind has a real spirit to it. Relaxation combined with ‘sun and wind therapy’ worked wonders for my hands and having the ability, and energy, to take everything in my stride made it all very enjoyable and I came home invigorated. All spring I’ve had plenty of energy and a stamina I haven’t known for years. I’ve got so many jobs done around the garden and smallholding, but it wasn’t until I went camping that I realised just how greatly this fundamental shift in my body has improved my life.
There’s much more work to do and many more structural improvements to build within my body, but as those major structural changes occur I get exited for the future.