On Thursday afternoon, at my last doctor’s visit, we looked at my latest X-ray with smiles on our faces. My tibia is healing beautifully, with evidence of my injury barely visible.
This means new bone continues to form, and I’m recovering on schedule. Yeah, I guess I can’t get punctuality out of my system.
However, this does not mean that I’m running up and down the stairs of my house. Quite the contrary, my movements are slow, measured and deliberate. I’m walking around the house with either crutches or a walker—but at least I’m making good strides (pun intended) and, although far from my normal pace, walking again.
I’ve been advised though to stick to the wheelchair for longer distances so as not to fatigue a significantly weakened leg. It also means that for my US tour coming up this April, I’ll be sitting more than I usually do, and will be ditching the high heels for a while. I’m just happy I’ve been officially cleared to travel. Hurray!
My left leg versus my right leg… the comparison now is quite embarrassing. The strength in my lower limbs has always been uneven (I had to wear corrective shoes during part of my childhood), but the difference now is more marked than it ever was before.
And, because for the last six weeks, my right leg bore the entirety of my body weight for whenever I had to stand, sit, get into cars, or use the bathroom, it has grown very strong. My arms, due to using all my assistive devices, have also gained a good amount of strength. No, I am not complaining.
Throughout my recovery and healing, I’ve been receiving messages from friends all wishing me healing and positivity. However, a few messages stood out from the rest, because they came from folks who have been through this same process, or worse. Those messages inspire me to keep moving forward in focus, patience, discipline and determination.
Two friends from the “Once on This Island” family, Grasan Kingsberry (Storyteller) and Vitaly Dvoskin (resident physical therapist) both shared stories of their own bouts with injuries and subsequent surgery.
“The atrophy is no joke,” said Grasan, with Vitaly adding that seeing atrophy in patients versus experiencing it firsthand was very different. Both stressed the importance of patience during recovery, and having the will and discipline to move forward in order to heal.
Another actor friend, Tim Lounibos, wrote that, as an ex-athlete, he had experienced his share of injuries, surgeries and physical therapy, and was always amazed at how his body felt after the rounds of therapy.
He advised too that there would be more difficult days that might cause frustration, but not to beat myself up over them. It would take mental toughness, but that it’s better once on the other side, to listen to my body because it never lies, to follow the instructions of my doctor to the letter and to not overextend myself as that would cause a setback.
One major source of inspiration is watching the videos of my friend from Toronto, Aristotle Domingo. He’s a double amputee who just completed a six-week stint in the hospital, including five weeks of physical therapy to train him to walk with the second prosthetic (in separate surgeries around a year apart, his legs were amputated as a result of life-threatening infections).
One video had him racing around the hospital floor with the aid of a walker. It was fantastic to just watch that and vicariously feel the triumph he felt for being able to walk and, more importantly, be healthy.
And finally, from Mr. Pure Energy himself, Gary Valenciano. Via his public message board on Viber, he recounted two knee surgeries and the grueling rehabilitation he had to undergo. However, looking at him now, you wouldn’t even think that he experienced any of that. He’s fit as a fiddle, fulfilling his many projects as a producer and performer, and dancing. He’s living proof of what it’ll be once rehab is completed, so I have so much to look forward to.
My orthopedic doctor, Jello Ochoa, foresees that I’ll be able to walk without assistive devices by mid-April at 100 percent weight-bearing capacity, but to still use a wheelchair at airports and for long distances.
I’m just happy that now, at least at home and in certain places, I’m upright and moving, thanks to the therapists who have taken great care of me with their encouragement and coaching.
So far, from everyone, the message is the same: Don’t give up, persevere, be patient, work through it, don’t overdo anything, listen to your body, and have faith that things will even be better than they were before.
They’re living, breathing testimonies of these things, and for them I am grateful.
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