Saturday, 28 June 2014

No More Vertical

One of the more challenging aspects of ALS is the creeping incrementalism of it all. It moves slowly; not so slowly that you cannot see changes, just slow enough that those changes only become obvious over a span of time. This is why I only go to the ALS clinic every few months; less often and the changes will not be really that clear. On the plus side, the changes for me move slowly, so I have longer to adjust to them.

Still, it was with some surprise that I returned home from Europe to discover a change that I had not expected, a change that crept up on me while I was wandering blissfully from hotel to hotel from London to Athens. When I got home, I tried to get vertical, only to find that I could not, even with my new approach. That is only partly true, I could get up; my knees would not lock once I was up there and I am now required to hold up my weight with both hands. In other words, over the last few weeks my legs have gone from load bearing to non-load bearing.

It is not that my legs cannot take the strain, they most certainly could if the muscles worked. The problem is that my knees will no longer lock into place. My knee joint, remaining loose, wobbles about and my upper half is no longer able to maintain the balance. Like a spinning plate slowing down at the top of a stick, my upper body eventually simple falls. This morning it was back into my wheelchair, an expediency planned.

I tried this yesterday too, with the same result. My thought yesterday was tiredness. After all, I had just completed a marathon journey from Athens to Calgary, sitting in a small airline seat all the way. Perhaps I just needed a day of rest for my body to recover. It did not. This morning when I tried it, well rested with a full night of sleep, I could not hold myself up, at least not with one hand.

The purpose of getting vertical is to do things with one hand while holding myself vertical on locked knees with the other hand, using that free hand to pull up pants or fetch things down from a cupboard. It looks like that is done, vertical now being relegated to the past. I could do it before I left; I can't do it now. It must have been close then; it is happening now.

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