Submitted by Cathy Cuff-Coffman

This is Part 6 of Cathy’s multi-part blog series, documenting journey with a Baclofen pump implantation. You can read Parts 1-5 here.

Hurry Up and Wait

Today marks seven fully completed days in physical and occupational rehabilitation, and to be honest, the progress is slow.

Here’s why: my neurologist can titrate up 10-20 micrograms of intrathecal baclofen into my spinal cord at a time. He’s also decreasing the oral baclofen I was taking.

My right leg’s “high tone” is stubborn and is slow to welcome the intrathecal baclofen. My right arm responded better; however, my right hand did not. My hand is less stiff but incredibly weak, and my fingers still won’t work independently, making typing very difficult.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, rest assured I am NOT! I’m just sharing the facts because I know how much more work I need to “put in” to accomplish my goals.

Yes, I have had some significant improvements, as I said yesterday. Today in Physical Therapy, Kate and Brian pointed out the good: “You aren’t swinging your right leg out anymore!” And the need for improvement: “Your quads, hamstrings, and glutes are weak (or not firing), and we need to work on your knee hyperextension.”

On the Occupational Therapy side, my right hand’s grip strength has improved, but my fine motor skills and dexterity are temporarily struggling. My occupational therapist, Kirsten, says this might be a side effect of decreased oral baclofen.

If I take all the above in at once, it could be daunting. But this isn‘t my first rodeo. The staff gave me tools and exercises I can do in my room: a Theraband for my legs and arms, some yellow TheraPutty for my hand, and some isometric and stand/sit exercises.

It only takes a second to obtain a spinal cord injury; the recovery is often slow and unpredictable. My journey has been fascinating, frustrating, and even fun.

The good thing about being squired away in rehab is that I don’t have many distractions, so it’s a “no-brainer” to pick up my tools and do some “self-improvement.”

And my neurologist gave me a bonus: 25 micrograms today!!