First Steps

“I can move my legs a little,” I said to my mother, lying in a hospital bed recovering from the latest surgery on my legs.
“I know baby, but you have to move them more to walk,” she said, running her fingers through my hair.
I didn’t completely understand what happened to me. A stroke had affected my motor skills, and robbed my ability to walk. My days of running and jumping, like a normal kid, were over. All I knew was I couldn’t walk, and I wanted it back.
The next day, being wheeled into therapy, I was determined to get my legs stronger. I had enough of being pushed around, and feeling helpless. It was time for me to start being a normal kid again.
“Nurse Betty,” I said, as clear and stern as I could. “I want to learn how to walk! I’m tired of being pushed around.”
“We have to build up the strength in your legs first,” she said, trying to sound encouraging. “Your legs have to hold you up.”
My determination turned to frustration. I figured the best way to strengthen my legs was to walk.
“Nurse Betty is just looking after you,” mom said. “She doesn’t want you to hurt yourself.”
Mom wheeled me back to my room in time for a visit from one of the doctors. Every day a different doctor came to see me, some days two or three at a time. It seemed like the hospital’s whole faculty was interested in how I was doing. They would all listen to my heart, and ask me how I was feeling.
“Dr. Howard,” I said, after he finished listening to my heart. “When can I start to learn how to walk?”
Dr. Howard’s eyes got real big, and a smile from ear to ear washed over his face. He stood up, and walked over to my mother.
“What do you think? Is he ready to start using his legs?” he put his hand on his hips.
“He asked me that last night,” mom said, sitting in the chair with her arms folded and a concern look on her face.
“It sounds like he’s ready, and determined to learn,” he said, facing both of us.
I couldn’t contain my excitement, and raised my arms over my head. “Can I start now?”
Dr. Howard looked at me, and smiled. “Not yet. I have to tell your other doctors, and we have to adjust your schedule.”
I joyfully bounced on my bed as Dr.Howard left the room, dreaming of the day I’d get out of my wheelchair, and take my first steps.
“I’m going to walk mommy!” The bed squeaked from me bouncing on my knees.
“You will, baby. Lie down, now, and get some rest. You’ve had a long day.” She opened a book, and read me to sleep.
“Nurse Betty, Nurse Betty,” I frantically said, as mom wheeled me into the Therapy Room. “Dr. Howard said……”
“Slow down honey. I can barely understand you,” Nurse Betty interrupted.
I took a deep breath, “Dr. Howard said I could learn to walk.”
“He did? Okay, lets work on those legs.”
Nurse Betty had me get out of my chair, and on to a mat. Lying on my back, she carefully bent my knees up and slowly stretched them out again. She did this over and over, bending my knees a little farther each time. After doing that for thirty minutes, I sat in a small office chair with wheels on it. I had to push with my legs to make the chair go backwards. I struggled, but succeeded in moving the chair five feet within ten minutes.
“That’s enough for today,” Nurse Betty said, smiling at me. “You did great, I’m proud of you.”
“I’m proud of you to,” mom said, and hugged me tight.
I didn’t want to stop, but I was so exhausted I barely kept my eyes open. When mom got me back to my room, she held me until I fell asleep.
Two months of therapy going five days a week went by. My leg had gotten strong enough to where I could push that chair around the room twice.
“Why are you coming with us today, Dr. Howard?” I asked.
“I just want to see how you’re doing, buddy.”
Nurse Betty waited for us outside the room. She took over wheeling me, and push me to the parallel bars.
“Are you ready for this?” She moved the lever to break the wheel on my chair.
“I was ready two months ago.”
Dr. Howard was inside the parallel bars facing me, and Nurse Betty was beside me. With some assistance from Nurse Betty, I pulled myself up. I slowly picked up my right leg, and put in in front of me. With all of my weight on my right leg, I picked up my left and put it in front of my right.
“Why are you crying mommy?”
“Cause you walked, baby.”
My life changed right there. Maybe not to have a normal life, but a better life than the doctors would have thought.

3 thoughts on “First Steps

  1. kingsboro2008

    I have an aunt that is paralyzed because of a stroke. I was attracted to the Title of this post and the first few important words. I am so glad I read it

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