So goes the old spiritual, "Dem Dry Bones". It's not one of the real verses, but it should be. The actual verse is "your thigh bone connected to your hip bone, your hip bone connected to your backbone, your backbone connected to your shoulder bone."
It's not too far off. The only thing separating the shoulder bone and hip bone is the back bone. All the bones are connected in some way. Anyhow, I find that "the shoulder bone connected to the hip bone" works for me.
I discovered, on my own, that as my shoulder twists toward the back, my hip automatically engages, lifting my thigh, bending my knee and propelling me forward. It's not the prettiest of gaits, but it's one of the most effective walking styles to date that I have adopted (and I have tried many).
When I turn my shoulder, I raise my hand on impulse due to my spasticity, as if I'm always saying "Hi" to a friend. Though, if I really concentrate, and breathe, my arm and hand will drop down along my side. But only for a while, and then it tenses up again and returns to its old spastic self.
What sparked this revelation was last month's stint at St. Augustine University therapy sessions, when the students asked me to step up onto a plastic rise about 6 inches high. But even after all the pre-gait preparations, I couldn't do it without them manipulating my hip flexor. Then it was like magic.
When I think of all the times I'd attempted that exercise, I was frustrated by the fact that I could not lift my foot. But this time was different. They must've hit the right button because I was able to bend my knee and lift my foot several times in succession.
That was back in the winter of 2016. Now I have figured out how I can move the shoulder on its own, by means described above.
When I go to the gym, or anywhere, I can forget my cane. One week has passed without using it. As I trudge up the driveway to my truck, I think of how I used to walk with my cane and how it's a lot better without it. Now, I have two free hands.
What I've learned from all this is that it's taken me forever to put the pieces together to get this far. Post stroke is as much mental as it is physical. One has to work his way back through much trial and error. But now I think I'm on the right path to ambulatory health and well-being. It's only a matter of time when the brain snaps to what I'm trying to do and gets on board to help me. By creating new neural pathways, it will make walking feel more natural, again.
So until next time, Sports, keep on trucking.