Physical Torturers. That is what my friends and I called our PT’s in the eighth grade. They were wonderful women in uniforms who worked on us in their very own torture chamber. Their chamber had to be passed on our way into school every morning and the way out and to the lunch room. It loomed large in our lives. This was no “Nurse” office like in regular schools. No, this was a “Special” School. We were special for many reasons. Each one of us had a different disabling condition or deformity.
Our torturers were hell-bent on breaking up scar tissue and stretching muscles and tendons shortened by misuse or disuse by forcing our limbs in directions recent surgeries or other congenital disabilities and deformations which, for me was the “new normal.”
I remember laying on a vinyl covered wooden stilted and crossbar strutted bed. My torturer at my side bending my knee toward my chin and the hot liquid running out of my wide open mouth. Gasping for air my new friend, PAIN was taking away from me every other second. Or by stretching my legs toward a ceiling that did not want them either. Pain was PAIN. Yet, pain was a positive thing. As long as not pushed too far. Once every day of the school week. Sometimes twice a day.
PT today is something entirely different. Not painful this time. Difficult. I am trying to learn how to balance my own body and how to focus my eyes without getting nauseatingly dizzy and falling down. At this point, I am learning to control the 500 pound lead weight which, has fallen in LOVE with Gravity. Gravity has an iron hold on me. Gravity likes to play games with me by yanking with a singular rough and determined demand that my head and torso fall hard to my right and (so far) smashing me into my raised hospital bed or being felled backward on my bed like a newly chopped tree. Something gratefully has NOT attacked me on the hard vinyl covered concrete floor.
The “Special” School today is called a Skilled Nursing Facility for my rehabilitation. I was so exhausted yesterday (Wednesday March 8) I took a vewwy long nap. I have felt all energy taken away from me EVERY day since my surgery (SSCD) REMOVED one sixth of my vestibular or balance system. This has given Gravity (it is now a pro-noun due to its specific personal attachment to me. We are, in fact, on first name basis.) a new and nearly unbreakable friendship. PT is teaching my body how to work with Gravity instead of my giving into an unhealthy co-dependent relationship. Ah, THAT is the therapy aspect.
Between yesterday and the early hours of today I have had a couple of realizations. One I discovered yesterday in PT in the bathroom. Forcing me to walk and talk at the same time tends to create a violent discussion with my bowels. I was sitting on the one throne I cannot escape when I had a “wonder”. I wondered if part of the dizziness I experience when there is too much peripheral distraction (or movement or pattern or people walking by or my attention being drawn to a color change or sound or well, shit I AM ADD) to either side of me is caused or exacerbated by one eye or the other. My eyes will dart to that disturbance and I immediately lose all sense of balance. At least, my knees and hips remain capably beneath me. As long as I have my trusty walker in front of me with my hands gripping hard to the padded rails and a spotter behind me to give me a slight push back to up.
To find out while in a safe seated position with a grab bar to my left and right and my walker in front of me I put one hand over my right eye and quickly moved my head together with my left eye to the left and quickly t my right. THAT went ok. I was able to quickly focus on the items I locked onto in either direction. Hmmm. I put one hand over my left eye this time. I swiveled my head keeping my eyes on the two targets at ten and two on the clock face and unhesitatingly became dizzy and unable to focus on either. OKAY then. This makes perfect sense since the deficit in my vestibular system is on my right side.
This morning I told my PT and OT (Occupational Therapist) the results of my scientific study. They both made the “well, that makes sense” face. They were already aware of this because of the copious medical charts they had to read through before meeting me. Silly wabbit. Apparently, it was just news to me alone. After all, the Visual Ocular Reflex (VOR) exercises were designed to help just this problem.
Now that I am on board with the VOR I know which eye specifically is the problem they designed the VOR around. One more thing I did not know. As I think over this and over the balance and proprioception issues I have had for many years my new realization puts a lot of this into a new perspective.
The holes in my Superior Semi-Circular CanalS have been in existence and growing for well over a decade. The symptoms began infinitesimally small. Growing ever larger in impact one my whole system and physically enlarging the hole. Ergo, I am a bigger klutz than I used to be. I just accepted my klutziness as “just me.” Until, PT for the proprioception problem causing my internal sensation and commitment that my right leg was longer than my left when, in fact, they are only incrementally different in length. I now have another LEGIT proprioception problem due to the SSCD.
I have seen/HEARD improvements. My breath is not heard in my head now. Sounds are not so deeply affecting. Though, being totally off balance, for now, is pretty difficult. I am improving. Four days ago I could only walk 260 steps like a drunken bobble head. Today I walked over 600 steps. Still, entirely like a drunken bobble head. This is progress!