Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: An another Six Million Dollar Word and Stroke Recovery


Okay, this week I'm starting this week with a song.

 
No, I don't have this phobia, but it seems to fit today's topic for discussion.

Science is grand for coming up with humongous words to describe something simple. Today's term is neuroregeneration. It's a six million dollar word for regrowth of nerves.

A few years ago, I talked about this here on my blog having experienced it first hand after a back surgery deadened all feeling in both legs from the calf down. It took two years for the nerves to start regrowing enough to regain the sensation back in my feet. It came back in quarter size increments until there was only quarter sized increments of no feeling. I'm talking about full thickness loss of sensation. Example-I stepped on a nail and it inserted clear through my shoe and out the top of my shoe, and I didn't feel it. Now I feel everything when it comes to my calf down after twenty years.

In 2014, I said that it was the year of my stroke recovery that I would start to show gains again after the six month window of greatest recovery past. I was right and wrong. It was also the year that my spasticity raised its ugly head into full force too. I knew the nerves were regrowing because I could actually do more in living post stroke. I made some amazing gains in spite of the spasticity. Mainly, I relearned how to knit and was trying to spin wool into yarn. I was branching out and learning new ways to achieve what I wanted.

Today is the beginning of 2016 and I expect even more regrowth and more achievements because of my neurogeneration. With each passing week, I can reach farther with better control of my extremities. My leg still goes berserk when places like my knee are tapped  for reflex, but not near as great as it once did. I have greater dexterity in my motions like lifting my foot and placing it exactly where I want to place it. It makes walking more sure footed a breeze. But it doesn't mean I won't misstep and fall. I still do that but not on a daily basis now. More like weekly or monthly.

Neuroregeneration, continued therapy, dry needling, and Botox helps enhance these gains. My arm is coming along. It still has a way to go in pin point accuracy, but from what I understand, this is normal for the recovery process. The wrist and fingers are the last to respond. I'm still waiting and am hopeful. I'm already seeing gains with the reduction of spasticity. I can, on a low spasticity day, pinch my index finger to my thumb. That's a huge gain from a year ago when my hand was permanently clenched in a fist. It's amazing how the body will heal itself. The contratures in my wrist and middle two fingers stop actual straightening and full supenation and a full recovery. Surgery to resolve the contractures is useless until the spasticity is no longer present. So I have a long term goal of no more spasticity. It's never been done before but like I always end these posts, nothing is impossible.

I'd be dreaming if there was a way to resolve these problems with a pill, but who knows, science is always evolving. Maybe one day there will be. Take me and spasticity is history, or drink me and grow nerves back instantly. It was would be like Harry Potter fixing his broken arm with a spell or potion, but that's only fantasy today. Still studies are being made weekly on the possibilities so who knows.

I'm not really buying into instant gratification these days, but it would be nice, wouldn't it? Fantasy and Science fiction ring true with time. Not always the way we expect, but every day is forward progress. Maybe one day my great-great-great grandchildren will reminisce about how great-great-great grandma was paralyzed by a stroke but we don't have to suffer like she did now. How hard and long she took to recover from it. Thank goodness, it's not like that any more. We've got this pill that cures all the bad stuff that happens to the brain after a stroke. What do want to bet that scientists will come up with another six million dollar word to describe it's function too.

Nothing is impossible. 

3 comments:

Rebecca Dutton said...

Having read your blog for several years I know how far you've come. Being able to pinch your thumb to your index finger blows me away. I get mad when I read professionals write that stroke survivors who do not reach Brunnstrom stage 4 (relative independence from synergy) should be taught compensation.

J.L. Murphey said...

Rebecca, I believe in compensation only as a stop gap method of doing. It doesn't mean you try-and-can't-do-forever. I believe you can take it easier on yourself by compensating. But you keep on trying forever if need be to recover. I think I proved my point with the index finger and thumb. I may not have it back fully whenever I need it yet, but it will come so long as I don't give up and settle. Each day, week, and month I get a little closer.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You might have to do it the old-fashioned way, but glad you still see progress.
Who knows what science will create in the future. Tablets were seen only in Star Trek - now everyone has one. So anything is possible.