Yesterday I noticed two things that had changed already. For the first time since the tone set in big time about three months after my stroke in April 2011, I was able to easily extend my left elbow, almost completely straight.
I have been working on that with a medical apparatus by DynaSplint that stretches my arm straight at night while I sleep.
And I consciously work on straightening it when I am sitting or walking. Success until now has been inconsistent. While I’m walking, the left elbow usually pops up into a 90 degree angle. When I am sitting before I know it, the tone has made my hand migrate into my lap.
When I was in inpatient rehab during the second through fifth weeks after the stroke, I had started calling my left hand Cheryl after Cheryl Burke, one of the professional dancers on the reality dance competition Dancing With the Stars.
Burke was great at whipping some truly hopelessly awkward celebrities into a semblance of the demanding dance moves. My strategy was that my naming the stroke-affected hand after the show-stopping dancer and gifted teacher would inspire my hand and injured brain to start communicating again and restart movement. But my hand remained uninspired and got worse.
“Cheryl, get out of there!” was my frequent cry as that hand landed at my crotch, or worse, in my underwear as I would be pulling clothing into place after taking care of business. If you ever have a loved one who has had a stroke, you may encounter a return to some aspects of the toddler stage. I didn’t do a repeat of the terrible twos. Pottying, though, came with challenges of balance and transferring from a wheelchair. It was a major big deal and still can be although I am walking now and mostly independent in that area of personal care.
Cheryl still migrates, but not as persistently.
The other thing I noticed was that yesterday, the day after the injections, the top of my left shoulder was distinctly achy and has been so today, too. I don’t know if that is connected or not.
Here are some replies to comments about my botox.
To Gigi: No, botox is not permanent. But that is okay. The goal is to relax those muscles and nerves that cause me to curl up. Curling up is my description, not a word I have ever heard from physicians or therapists, but precisely what I feel like. Relaxing the appropriate muscles and nerves will give us a chance to work on exercises to strengthen the opposing muscles, like the ones that open up my hand and spread my fingers.
Various exercises along with my elbow DynaSplint and wrist DynaSplint will hopefully work more successfully as the botox kicks in. I will also continue using the shoulder DynaSplint that husband Walter has dubbed “the rack.” That apparatus is helping to increase my range of movement in my locked up shoulder.
To Patti, Friko, and Glenda: My neurologist did say even if the injections don’t eliminate the tone, he guarantees I will feel better.
To Ginny: My insurance will supply a limited number of treatments each year. I am scheduled to go for a follow up visit near the end of June.