However, we have to always remind ourselves that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and before we can run, we must first walk. And in order to walk, we must first step. Stepping successfully involves a stride complete with strong dorsiflexion (lest you start dragging a foot), strong ankles and knees, precise heel strikes.
patience is a virtue
It’s unfair how in the matter of seconds, an infancy’s worth of neurological learning can be completely wiped away. For some, it only took the beat of a car accident or a fall; for me it was totally random: the invisible hand that reached into my brain and kneaded a hemorrhage through the front right side of my head took a bit longer, but it was still a question of very humanly perceptible time that all use of my left side disintegrated.
When I found out what had happened, I thought I’d be back on my feet and completely returned to normal, packed and ready to fly overseas for my first year of study abroad in Italy, within the next month or so. Bedridden at the hospital, I’d asked my mother if my student visa was ready yet.
My mom looked at me sadly and said, “Oh, you can’t go to Italy this year.”
Rehab is nothing if not a lesson in patience. Obviously, those of you going through a similar process know this already. A brain injury, or any other form of traumatic injury (even weakness in personality, addiction, psychological issues, or healing from emotional baggage) is always a long journey that seems to lack a final destination. These things aren’t like scraping a knee — just leaving it to heal on its own and then skipping merrily on your way. To be sure, nature does take its part in the healing process; it provides us the experiences and the bodily systems to heal on their own, but when it comes to rehabilitation, personal involvement and effort is not an option, but a must.
So while you’re practicing these basics, it helps to slow down and make sure you’ve got your form down correctly. As Dr. Amen says, “Perfect practice makes perfect.”
Yesterday I was walking around the track at the gym in extreme slow motion, and I found it helped to force myself to be patient by repeating over and over in my head (and even sometimes quietly out loud), “One step at a time.”
Gradually, my snail pace picked up. Each alternating step matched an opposite arm swing, something I began in an exaggerated fashion, keeping arms bent at 90°, back and forth, back and forth. Eventually as the speed at which I walked quickened, the arms dropped into a natural arm swing typical to the way people normally walk. (By the way, alternating arms and legs is a highly recommended practice, as it “cross-stimulates” your brain signals. Do it!)
It really does help to repeat that mantra to yourself over in your head as you work on your retraining. Patience is a virtue not always easily learned, but invaluable to keeping your sanity and well being.
To our healing,