Well I’m three years into relearning how to walk. Little by little the mystery continues to unravel, muscle memory increases as does muscle strengthening, balance and confidence. Thanks to Ann I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with Jennifer Gianni and Laura Browning Grant. I’ve attended a few amazing workshops with Mary Bond and James Earl and had the honor to meet with many other professionals along the way as I continue to reach towards new levels, setting new goals and keeping an ever faithful open mind.

On very rare occasions as I’m working each week through my routines a by-product of my stroke called phantosmia occurs and lingers sometimes a few hours or occasionally on and off throughout a day. Sometimes it’s even with me for a few days. Phantosmia is not uncommon amongst stroke victims and is basically the olfactory system hallucinating that it smells something pleasant or unpleasant. In my case the smell is of something burnt and it lets me know my brain is fatigued after so much work concentrating on consciously moving the right side of my body while the left side moves without effort or sub-consciously. As both sides are in conflict it can occasionally wear me down. Who knows, maybe my brain is actually smoking and what I’m smelling is burnt spent brain cells (lol!). Learning how to listen to your body, especially in this case is quite interesting, but that’s another blog!

After a particularly great week in Pilates this week, I noticed on Thursday and Friday my phantosmia was in full gear, but I wasn’t associating why. On Saturday morning the mystery was solved when I got out of bed and my gait was improved before I even started my morning stretching routine! My muscles weren’t as tight as usual, I was walking with less effort and I was trying to figure out what changed?

The first thing I noticed was my lower abs and right glutes were engaging more and with less mindful effort. My right knee felt a little more stable and while walking as my right foot would plant and my left foot would swing forward from back to front there was something new, but I had to keep walking to figure it out. It was…strength, though small it was more defined effortless strength. I was pushing off with the toes of my right foot more (second toe predominantly) and dorsiflexing through my right ankle with more stability. This was new! There was also a small spring in my step. But the knee, what was it? I kept walking and suddenly I figured it out! The engagement of my lower abs and right glutes was assisting me in the right knee. As I would plant that right foot and swing the left foot from back to front, I could tell the bottom of my femur and top of my tibia were now gliding over their highest points as my left foot would pass evenly with my right foot and my right leg was going towards “full” extension with a bend in the arch of my right foot and spring off the toes as my left foot would plant. My right knee wasn’t snapping backwards into hyper-extension with each step as I would try to fully extend my leg in the process of walking.

It’s something I can now do a little more easily on a rested brain versus a fatigued one, but I’m another step closer to something I was told would never happen again! This certainly proves a few things such as the power of will, the body’s amazing ability to heal itself and lastly that doctors words are not always the final words just because the letters “D”-“r” precede their names. Go prove them all wrong and try to regain what you lost! Now I need to continue with my Pilates exercises and my other routines as I practice more walking. Practice doesn’t make perfect…perfect practice makes perfect!

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