Wiggle wiggle pinky toe!

I’m laying in bed, slowly waking up and adjusting my eyes to the winter sunshine as I glance out the window, when I decide to do some visualization exercises with my legs and feet. I go through the usual exercises that I’ve been doing as frequently as possible in my free time: flex my feet, bend my knee, rotate my legs in and out. Since my accident, I don’t get any movement in my lower body when I do these exercises but I’ve stubbornly and consistently kept at it. The reason why everyone – from the nurses in the ICU to my spine surgeon to my acupuncturists – has emphasized the importance of visualization is the belief that there is enormous value in sending a signal from the brain to the lower body and by thinking and trying to move those limbs, one can repair the neural pathways and reestablish that damaged connection.

This time though, something feels different. I lift myself up to sitting with my legs straight ahead of me on the bed and I throw off the covers to get a better view. Something just feels different, like there’s movement and it’s not just a spasm or reflex (which I have frequently as well). I stare at my right foot and see that my pinky toe is slowly moving in and out. To make sure this isn’t a fluke, I stop and do nothing. Pinky toe doesn’t move. I try again and there it goes, immediately responding to the signal I’m sending. This can’t be right, it’s been months and months of having my legs and feet dangle lifelessly as I’ve dragged and lifted and bumped and dropped them from place to place in this strange new world of life post-Spinal Cord Injury.

I do it again, this time to confirm that what I thought I had been seeing could actually be real. “Wiggle little toe, wiggle”. Wiggle wiggle it says, as it dances back and forth, proving to me that for the first time in almost six months, I have regained motor control of a part of my lower body.

What a development for the new year, what a way to show me that 2013 really will be a special year, one in which I hope to achieve all of my recovery objectives and kick this damn injury’s ass! It’s only one pinky toe, on only one foot and it’s still a long ways to go I’m sure before I can move my legs around like I used to, but that pinky toe gave me so much hope for the future of my recovery. To go from feeling that moving any part of my lower body is the equivalent of moving a table with my mind, to then finally seeing a flicker of hope in a tiny little pinky toe is an indescribable moment. Now, I can move this toe 10,000 times if I have to until it leads to me being able to control my other toes and then my foot and then my ankle and then my legs… My fire of recovery has been fueled, my conviction has been confirmed and my dream to reach my ultimate goal has entered into the realm of reality.

Want proof? Here it is:

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253 thoughts on “Wiggle wiggle pinky toe!

  1. Your belief in yourself is so very encouraging for everyone; not only those who have suffered similar injuries, but EVERYONE. All the best for 2013, and may that first little piggy lead the others all the way home!

  2. Best of luck with your recovery Arash. Your blog makes me want to run outside and do all the things that litter that huge “one day” pile in the back of my mind, not because of the fear that something bad might happen, but because of your will and belief in your recovery: inspirational.

    kassia x

  3. I am still not sure how WordPress works, but the title of your piece intrigued me. As a “retired” RN (brain surgery) your progress intrigues me even more. Will follow your blog and back up to discover the entire story now. My joy with you, and my best to you.

    1. I also am a retired RN (due to lots of medical problems), and just learning how to blog. I found Arash’s story fascinating. So many times people quit trying because success wasn’t immediate. I believe that because of his determination he’ll get more use of his legs.
      I cover a variety of subjects. Please check out my blog on wordpress: quirkywritingcorner

  4. What an amazing start to 2013. Amazing testament to the human body and all that can be accomplished with it through hard work, determination, and a will for the best result possible. Congratulations on this “little” step forward, and hoping for many many more of them in the coming year. Thank you for sharing your encouraging journey with so many proud and excited strangers.

  5. Arash,

    Thirty two years ago I suffered a slipped spinal disc and was unfortunate to be in the care of a doctor who did not recognize the severity of my condition. I didn’t either, being zonked on pain killers. It is only thanks to my wife that I was not totally paralyzed below the waist because she finally demanded surgery and the disc was removed.

    The numbness extended to about half control over the calves of my legs, the bottoms of my feet, and partially affected excretory functions but thankfully left me manageable. In the time since, the numbness has gradually decreased – I’d put it as 70% recovered. Muscular control has lagged, but has also improved somewhat. In the last six years I have experienced perhaps four or five episodes of pain spasms. The nerves are growing back. The pains, sharp, stabbing, almost like burning, come at random intervals varying from a few seconds to 10 or more minutes, an exquisite torture that prevents sleep, but the good news is that none of these episodes has lasted longer than 36 hours. Starting Thursday I had another one – about 30 hours, affecting a spot at the base of the middle toe on my right foot. (Location is different for each episode.) I wore a blister at the site – pressure seems to counter the spasms somewhat. Today there’s no sign there was ever a problem. Weird.

    I just thought I would share my experience. I admire your courage and if my story helps, then good. Hang in there, Arash – nerves do heal, and who knows – maybe stem cell therapy will soon be able to speed it up.

    Jim Wheeler

    1. Wow! Your story is amazing also. As a former nurse I’ve seen so many people who had given up. I’m glad you’re doing well. My neurologist recommended I take a B-complex vitamin. I have Myasthenia Gravis which is a bit different from your problem. The B helps to calm the nerves and I’m not having as many leg cramps as I did. My pain was better until I switched seizure medication. The new med seems to aggravate my pain. The pain was caused by a fall, and, even though I have compressed vertebrae in my neck and lumbar regions, I’ve been told surgery will not correct it. Living with pain is not my idea of fun.

    2. Hi Jim, Thank you for sharing your story. Unbelievable that after so many years your body continues to heal and change itself. This really is inspiring and proves to me that the body naturally wants to heal itself. I’m sorry to hear of your pain and struggles but I imagine you have learned a lot about perseverance. Best wishes to you -AB

  6. Heya.. Arash.. Congratulations on the awesome progress you’ve made… May the force be with you… btw.. The houseboat pic looks cute…
    God bless and take care…

  7. I pressed the ‘follow’ link…

    But am I following you, or your diminutive but noble toe? Let us not allow the ‘toe’ to take all the credit! Although, nevertheless, it is worth partner in this great enterprise.

    Congratulations, jests aside – this has helped myself feel duly & justly insprired!!!

    Just believe!

      1. Perspective is something I deal with all the time it seems. Happy you may use that in your own writing. You’ll have to share some of your writing with me in the future. -AB

      2. Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. I was not well most of February.
        If you go to WritersCafe.org, you can see some of the writing. I have posted 2 poems so far. I entered another in a contest and can’t post it until after the winner is announced. I’m not much of a poet, but I’m learning. Also, check out greenwoodtimesmagazine.com (I think that’s the right address) I wrote an article on a professor at Lander University. I’m working on another article for Greenwood Magazine (there is a difference between the two) which I hope to have finished this week. My first book is out, Dana’s Dilemma, and available on-line. I had planned to have my 2nd book out at the end of 2012, but I didn’t make it. Don’t rightly know when it well get done.
        Keep wiggling!!

      3. That’s fantastic. I will definitely check those sites out and I’m glad we got to connect. Good luck finishing your 2nd book! I’m wiggling away… -AB

  8. Arash, I’m so glad I found your blog today. When I saw the post about the wiggle toe it caught my eye. You are winning your battle and I’m overwhelmed with your courage. I lost almost all of my muscle strength after a six month stay in the hospital. I had “drop foot” as one of the complications. I’ll never forget the first time I saw those toes wiggling. I’ve made the recovery and I’m sure that with your attitude you will too. I’ll be following your progress.

  9. Reblogged this on teacherchamps and commented:
    To be human is to mourn and celebrate with others, those familiar as well as strangers. Your journey inspires me to tears, a shared sense of hope in your recovery, and a renewed appreciation for the blessings, great and small. It is my pleasure to share your blog and story with others.

  10. There was a time when we see a old woman lift a car to save the child the wheel. Anash is revelation that with the mind and good heart perhaps all is possible. The will to live walk and love must never die. Thank you anash and robyn for sharing.

  11. There was a woman who lifted an entire car to saw her child under the wheel. Such is the power of our will and love. Thank you arash and Robyn for sharing. All the best.

  12. Dude, CONGRATULATIONS! I’m so happy and grateful for you.

    And, I think you ought to watch the video: THE SECRETS – THE LAW OF ATTRACTION.

    Try to get the video from somewhere…the video introduces us to the huge potential of our mind, and somewhere it mentions about the healing powers of the mind.

  13. Arash, I don’t know you have never met you and in fact this is the first time visiting your blog and I too am so very happy for you! It is an amazing thing! Oh! The joy and hope you must feel! I too have new found hope for this very simple and mundane seeming method, (10 years in Health care) Simply amazing! The mind truly is a wonderful tool! Keep up the great work and continued dedication!

    1. Thanks Tom. Yes the toe is the beginning of something bigger in my recovery. I too am amazed by the powers of the mind and all we can accomplish with focus, intention and dedication. Hope you keep reading -AB

  14. Thank you for sharing your journey of healing both mentally and physically! It’s often hard to understand the path we travel but, with God all things are possible! I’m beyond thrilled for you and I have faith the remaining toes, ankle, legs will move again too!

  15. Congratulations! I am so happy for your exciting news, and grateful that I stumbled across your blog. You are the first blog on WordPress that I’ve ever tagged to follow, that is how impressed I am by your beautiful writing, and your courage.

  16. Congratulations!! As a retired nurse I have worked with hundreds of people with various levels of paralysis. It’s always wonderful to see improvement. It will continue. Keep your faith in God strong.

  17. I want to thank you for reminding me of my miracle and to share with you my fall last year, I measured 18 ft. From my balcony onto the concrete. My pelvis, feet everything got ct scans and although I thought I would be paralyzed, nothing was broken! I had major muscular, skeletal pain and could not walk for very long. I had to use the motorized shopping carts. That was last February, and I am healed almost completely. I do want to thank you for reminding me of my miracle. You see I have been struggling financially and I have made that my focus. When I need to be grateful for everything, God is with you every step of the way. And I do mean step- be patient you will get there!

  18. Keep at it! I believe the mind is a powerful tool and you can make anything happen if you believe in it. I hope you are able to run again one day! 🙂

  19. Amazing. Tickled pink right down to my own pinky toe over your achievement. I can only imagine just how much the drive within you ignited over such a victory. Drink it in, savor, and enjoy this moment, something tells me there will be more.

  20. OMG congrats man! This is awesome!
    I know how hard it is to lie helpless in a bed, unable to move, even though mine was only from operation I head, and I recovered swiftly. I know it can hardly compare, but I just wanted to say I think you have tremendous willpower in face of such problem.
    Good luck in your future recovery.
    Stay strong

  21. […] learned about the surprises that can come from waking up one morning and discovering that a body part has suddenly regained its functionality. I’ve learned about the importance of perspective again, and again and again and how I will […]

  22. So happy for you! Love how the smallest one made the biggest stride so far! You are inspiring and a great writer. I am happy to have met you (at Hanni’s house in Tahoe). -Lis

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