I'm ashamed to admit that, prior to Robb's accident, most of what I knew about paralysis came from watching movies and television. I never really reflected on the mechanics of paralysis. A character would be described as being "paralyzed from the waist down," and I would have some nebulous idea of a distinct horizontal line bisecting the body, below which the person had no use of their limbs. I just accepted that phrase, without giving it much thought.
Robb and I were talking about this last night, on the way to dinner with our inlaws-in-law, Barbara and Arnold. Robb said that when he thought about paralysis -- if he thought about it at all -- he had a mental picture of a clean boundary between paralyzed and mobile, which was a permanent state of being.
We both have come to realize how overly simplified this image is.
According to the diagnosis of Robb's physiatrist, Robb has "accute paraplegia." When I initally read the doctor's report, I must have skimmed past those words. Robb said them to me yesterday, and the phrase really shook me up. In my naive understanding of this word, paraplegia was a state in which a person has no use of, or sensation in, any part of their legs. I pictured someone without any hope of walking.
Obviously, this isn't the case with Robb.
Not much has changed recently. Robb still has no sensation in the front of his feet, and has a lack of motor control in some areas of his feet. He lacks sensation on the backs of his legs. His pelvic region is still off-limits. But the boundaries between working and not working are rather fuzzy.
This just doesn't conform with my previous imagining of what paraplegia entailed. Parts of his legs work fine. Which is a very good thing, as they are picking up the slack for the parts that aren't currently working.
What's my point in all this? Darned if I know. I'm just thinking out loud.