The northeast is getting pummeled by yet another snow storm but we have rain. And we are not on the rainy side of the state either. I like hearing it on the roof and knowing it is washing snow down to the river which carries it into the mighty Columbia and on down to the sea at Cape Desperation. Though we live several hours from the ocean, we get to observe a strong maritime society whenever we drive down-river to our "shopping town." Tugboats push large barges up and down the wide waterway. Wheat is often the cargo on the western voyage but the freight being pushed upriver is often much less glamorous. Many of the barges, their containers covered well, are ferrying tons and tons of garbage from big cities like Portland and Seattle. There is a huge landfill upriver which makes a lot of money for the county by accepting these inglorious loads.
Saturday was bright and sunny and I walked up the hill of our property to the back fence. Not that far, but it is a little steep. There was still about 4" of mushy snow on the ground and I took Quincy with me so he could snoop around the brushy piles of branches and under the oaks where the deer often lay at night. Taking small, trudging steps and avoiding the position of lifting my legs up and over things, even snow, I made the trip and reveled in the view from up there. It "would" be nice to have 3 flat acres, but then we wouldn't have such a lovely view of the mountains to the north, the highway pass to the northeast which follows an old Indian trail, and then to the east, the beginnings of a prairie. I noticed I can see glimpses over there of some far off "wind farms."
In the throes of feeling pretty good, I promised myself I'd climb up there often in an effort to build muscle and lose weight. Sunday, I made good on my promise and enjoyed another 15 minute "hike."
Last night, prompted by some words from a friend, I got to wondering about something that was told to me a couple of years ago. I wrote my friend yesterday that because I have spinal cord injury, I cannot build muscle. That was what an RN told me back when.
My friend often challenges my thinking and asked if I knew where to find a medical article validating that statement. She mentioned how it didn't seem to make sense since paraplegics in wheelchairs become athletes with amazing upper body strength.
I couldn't answer that subtle challenge because I have already searched and searched, only to come up empty-handed.
I chewed on that late at night, and then this morning, I came to the realization that I've always known what was meant by that nurse and her statement. I just forget what I know sometimes.
It isn't that muscle won't increase for SCI patients. It's that exercise will cause such flare-ups in symptoms that some SCI patients (like me) won't be able to even start to keep it up! I have found this to be completely true in my experience. Today, I could feel a strong flare in neurological sensations and pain and extreme weakness in all parts of my legs. I did not walk up the hill today.
Perhaps there is also something physiologically different between "complete" spinal cord injury victims and "incomplete," which is what I have. Perhaps with the "complete," the terrible damage is done and there is no further compression that is exacerbated by certain exercise.
To explore this theory further, I can explain with the example of a paraplegic who has use of her arms, but not her legs. Her injury was further down the spine, but above her spine is relatively okay. The awful compression in her lower spine is irreversible and no futher damage can be done. She is numb below the waist. But her upper body has no compression problems. Perhaps she can work out and lift weights without causing neurological compression and subsequent flares.
It is well known that anything below a spinal cord injury injury is affected, while above it should be okay. Mine happened at the skull base, so I have the entire spine still affected by daily compression caused by movement. Does this make sense?
Perhaps when my skull base is stabilized, I will be able to build muscle, takes walks, ride a bike, do repetitive movements without paying the central nervous system fiddler.
It's true, I am someone who loves to learn the circuitry of things. "That's just the way it is" rarely is accepted by me. That's the investigative journalist in me, I guess. "Enquiring" minds want to know!