Bursting through the dam walls

dam breakingImagine a dam with the force and intensity of the highly built up water pushing against its walls and practically squeaking through its cracks. It will probably begin with an initial trickle of water, peeking through the thick, protective dam walls, and dripping down the other side but it’s obvious that once that happens, there’s no turning back. After that first little trickle, the dam is going to give and the pent up power of this heretofore static water is going to explode through the walls and pour and gush out, making the dam seem like it never existed.

This is the easiest way for me to describe what I feel happening in my lower body these days. For a few weeks now, I feel like there’s more energy (the best word I can come up with) in my legs. They feel more active, more awake, as if they’re just about ready to jump up from their slumber and begin to move again. Often times, when I lie there and really concentrate and channel my attention and intention to specific parts of my legs, it feels like they are just about to obey my command and spring into action. Sometimes, I can get them to twitch and spasm a bit (movement of some kind) if I really think about it. It may be random but it’s something.

I always talk about how difficult it can be to notice change and improvement in my body. Because I’m living this recovery day to day, I can’t easily tell what’s better today compared to yesterday or last week. But when it comes to this recent feeling in my legs, there’s no denying that they feel a bit different. I don’t have any proof, and I don’t yet have any motor control in my legs (but I can still wiggle the toes in my right foot!), and there’s no way for me to predict how soon this will happen. All I know is the gut feeling I have that I think things are on the verge of changing.

Maybe this is blind optimism, maybe this is me trying to manifest my own destiny and attempt to bring about the change that I so desperately want, and maybe I have it all wrong. But I really don’t care what it may seem like. At the end of the day, these legs feel different than they used to and I think it’s only a matter of time before that water gets through the cracks of the dam, starts pouring out the other side, and eventually knocks the whole dam down and flows like it used to.

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45 thoughts on “Bursting through the dam walls

  1. This is great to hear Arash! I don’t think it’s “just” blind optimism (though of course that helps) – it sounds very grounded and real. Keep thinking this way, and willing your legs to twitch, and you will be walking again soon!

  2. what an amazing post about your progress. you are right on track and i believe you are correct about the dam getting ready to burst. your hard work is already paying off. every cell in your body is reacting to your thoughts, energy and intentions. keep it up, every second, minute, day counts. i love watching your recovery unfold on this blog. you are a miracle of life arash

    1. Much appreciated. Your words are so kind and full of support. My only intention is to keep all this up and to let this healing continue to occur. I just can’t wait until it leads to more substantial changes. -AB

  3. Trust your instinct or gut feeling, it is usually the truth. That’s what I have learnt in life. Nobody besides you can truly know what going on in your body even with the latest technology. Trust yourself, you are on the right track. Success!

  4. Arash: This is great – particularly to sense your genuine enthusiasm with the actual, positive changes taking place in your body. It’s also a wonderful change in tone from some of your earlier reflections of doubt and frustration. Your determination and commitment are paying off, and it’s really very exciting to see that you’re finally seeing the proof and outcomes of all that. For those of us who have observed you, we’ve seen the progress more dramatically than you’ve probably felt it til recently – this is one of the greatest frustrations of this healing process: to be tempted to doubt ourselves and those shrouding us with their consistent encouragement and help. Do they really see any progress, or are they just being good friends and trying to keep us from losing hope.? Your dedication, commitment, perseverance and willingness to share your experience so authentically is not just fueling your own spirit, but inspiring others. From the little I’ve come to know about you, I have no doubt that you are going to achieve everything that’s possible and that you want for yourself. Along the way, I hope you’re also being inspired to move into new vocational paths that will continue to offer others all the wisdom, hope and help that you are learning for yourself towards practical steps of maximum recovery, mobility and independence.

    I wrap up my time here at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta at the end of next week, and will be returning home to California. I need to consider what to pursue next for my own recovery – probably more SCI Fit and …? I’m still a ways behind you in my recovery, but am personally encouraged and emboldened by your own story and achievement. With this your latest blog entry and “epiphany”, I have renewed hope for myself and my own ability to burst through these dam(n) walls! Keep up the good work; peace. -Tom Haller

    Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2013 20:19:05 +0000 To: thallerjrpeagreen@msn.com

    1. Thanks as always Tom. I know what you mean about trying to figure out if friends are just trying to be supportive or if they actually notice the changes in us. I know that things have improved and I’m aware of some of the bigger changes, but honestly I don’t really care until it affects my lower body. My shoulders and arms can be as strong as ever, but I want my legs back.

      I’m sure you’re learning a lot in Atlanta and I look forward to hearing about your experiences there. I’d be happy to chat with you more and discuss other options for your rehab. I’ve been finding new things that I really enjoy doing and that I would recommend (i.e. swimming).

      I look forward to seeing you when you’re back and always feel free to email me and we can talk more specifics. Good to hear you’re doing well -AB

      1. Arash: Hope this finds you well and basking in the glow of your recent fame with the Al Jazeera piece — so cool!
        Actually, I forwarded your blog entry and video link to someone who has become a great friend and mentor to me since my own injury over a year ago now – a woman, Marilyn Hamilton, who turns out to be a neighbor of mine that I wasn’t even aware of until my own injury a year ago now (it’s an amazing, involved sort of “6-degrees-of-separation” story I’ll have to tell you some other time). Anyhow, Marilyn is an amazing person who has been a para for about 35 years now. She was so dissatisfied with equipment options available to her at the time of her injury, that she set about re-engineering something for herself that she thought would work better, and ended up developing the “Quickie” wheel chair. This is only one of many amazing, entrepreneurial and generous accomplishments she has achieved. (She also happens to be a member of the Board of Dirs. at Ekso Bionics.) I would like to encourage you to learn more about her by taking a look at her website – http://www.marilynhamilton.com. When I forwarded your blog to Marilyn and told her I had met you at SCI Fit, I also told her I had an intuition that the two of you should meet, and after learning more about you from your blog, she agreed. You two are made of the same, good “stuff” and I just have a feeling that you’d both hit if off. Anyhow, please “google” Marilyn when you have a chance and/or take a look at her website. I’m happy to provide you both with an email introduction, if you wish (I’m actually home from Atlanta/Shepherd Ctr and planning to hook up with Marilyn and her husband next week), or you can just get in touch with her directly through her website. Hope this finds you well and enjoying the July 4th weekend with people and things you really like. Cheers & peace. -Tom Haller

  5. Trust your gut instinct completely.
    ‘Feeling different’ is a great step in my book.

    I know this much from my own experience.

    Sometimes you don’t need to know why, or how, body awareness (or change) happens, just the very fact that it’s in this state leads to possibilities.

    Keep up the positive thinking and don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise.

    In Australia we had a highly aclaimed TV advertising campaign for travel to the Northern Territory (Australia’s northern state). It said “you’ll never ever know if you never ever go”. Keep that in mind as you travel your healing journey.

    1. I like that motto. Funnily enough, I don’t have much of a choice about going or not, so I know I’ll be on that path no matter what but I do need to keep up with the positive thinking and not get caught up in doubt. Thanks for the wise words -AB

  6. Amazing news! This isn’t just optimistic thinking, you actually feel something different. And no one knows your body better than you do. This is a moment to be celebrated, to be enjoyed, and to be used as fuel to keep on working, particularly on the hard days. I can’t wait to hear about your next big (and little) moments.

    1. I appreciate your excitement and I hope I can share with you some big and little exciting moments in the near future. No one knows my body better than me, that’s true and I really think something is around the corner. Thanks for the support as always -AB

  7. Arash,
    This news is so wonderful!
    Your faith in your recovery has brought you this far.
    Keep on keeping on!!!

    1. Thank you Sally. It’s easy to lose faith sometimes that’s why I wanted to recognize one of the moments in which I hadn’t lost faith and felt invigorated. With the lows come the highs, so I think I have to acknowledge all of it -AB

  8. Fantastic! I believe we all know what is best
    and what is going on with our bodies. Keep up your amazing hard work. You inspire me every day as I fight chronic pain in my back due to a multitude of issues. They are small challenges compared to the dam you are moving toward breaking through.

    As your former Prof, I just have to say your blog is amazingly well written. Your determination is infectious. I would not have expected any less from you!

    Warmly, Leslie

    1. Thanks Leslie. It’s been helpful to have this blog for me and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed connecting with some amazing and supportive people all around the world. I’ll keep working hard, and you do too. -AB

  9. What a wonderful post Arash — no never blind optimism — you just keep SEEING it …. And FEELING it. I am thrilled to read you are sensing change in a good direction. Just know if anyone will overcome this thing – it will be you. I look at your header photo a lot and just sense the spirit that resides in that body of yours. It is strong and shining. I continue to look to you for my own inspiration too.. so let’s keep at it. I am rooting for you all the way. Keep bursting through those dams — it’s the way to go! Love to you dear beautiful friend ~ x Robyn

    1. Seeing and feeling. I like that Robyn. You’re absolutely onto something because it’s easy to lose faith and confidence in my recovery when I stop seeing it. I have so many things to live for, so many things I still want to do that when I think of those things, it becomes easier to see and feel the reality of recovery. But when I get down and frustrated, the thought of recovering becomes difficult and unattainable. That’s why I wanted to recognize this moment now, when I feel like a big change could be right around the corner. Much love to you -AB

      1. Yes Arash – I know what you mean. I have days that are beyond hopeless. I get lost in the what could have been kind of thinking – now 20 years into this. I also worry about the future. I think you are on the right track when you reference seizing those moments of optimism… we need to milk them for all we can — they are powerful and carry energy – to propel us forward… so thank you for the reminder – I will continue to look for the good in every little corner of my world too. My disability has so much to do with pain and biomechanics – and now some neurological sequel to that.. Our stories are different and yet, I completely feel for what you must be living too. Always here for you. Much love – RL

      2. Yes they are different stories, but the struggles that we face are similar. The fact that no one probably knows what you or I go through on an everyday basis, the fact that it can be so lonely to go through this on our own, these are all things we deal with on our own. I’m glad to have found you, to be able to draw inspiration from you and to know that someone else may understand just a piece of this equation… I’m grateful for all of that. Great to be in touch, as always -AB

  10. I am so so excited for you!! You continue to be an inspiration for all of us. Your amazing hard work and determination will make it happen, I am sure.

  11. I have been experiencing this same feeling for a month now, and every day I can feel more. It’s that rumbling in your legs when you’re trying to move them, right? Inconsistently, I can get the quads or hips to fire, more on the right. It’s one of those wonderful feelings that reminds you of how much progress you’re making. Good things are coming your way, Arash. I feel it.

    1. That’s fantastic to hear Peter. You can fire your quads and hips??? Dude that’s huge. How much movement do you get out of them? Looks like you’re already bursting through the dam walls my friend… -AB

  12. Yes! This just made my day. I remember, so clearly, during those first few weeks in the hospital, while massaging your feet and legs, feeling slight pulses of energy in your feet, and thinking to myself, it may take a while, but these feet will walk the Earth again! So thrilled to hear that you are feeling this energy gaining strength and momentum. I’m all for dam removal, ESPECIALLY THIS ONE! Much love.

    1. I remember those moments too. I ALWAYS feel like my legs have it in them to start moving, it’s just a matter of how soon! I want to break through that dam so badly… Much love to you. Hope you’re well -AB

  13. After fourteen years the feeling doesn’t stop. I have been slowly improving control, strength and sensation. Keep positive and things work out. Thank you

  14. you’re going to be fine. it’s electricity. it’s your electricity. you and your body will know each other so well through this process. let the water erode the dam, it will. a trickle through a hairline crack, more water pushing through the concrete, a steady stream as if from a tap, pushing away old tensions that built up during this time of healing, and finally flow — unending, nourishing, clear, strong, persistent, unable to be compressed. i will imagine it for you and it sounds like many many others will too.

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