Friday, August 24, 2007

Tell It to the Foot


Shortly after my injury, I learned two things about my prognosis for recovery: the damaged nerves needed time to relax and, if possible, regenerate and new neural pathways could be formed as the nerve signals find shortcuts around the damaged areas.

Since nerves are supposed to regenerate at a rate of a millimeter a day (about the same rate your hair grows) it doesn't make for a great spectator sport, I can tell you. The gains are so gradual, I'm never really convinced anything is changing at all.

And while it's nothing to shoot off fireworks over, the re-routing of neural pathways at least has the appeal of novelty. What's more, I'm pretty sure it's actually happening. It's hard to explain but I'll try.

If I move my fingers or raise my eyebrows, it's very easy. I've been doing it for years and I've got it pretty well figured out. In fact, just thinking about raising my eyebrows is nearly the same as actually doing it. I almost can't think of it without doing it. Try it yourself and maybe you'll see what I mean.

When I consider my toes, though, it's an entirely different story. If I think about moving my toes, the first impression I get is "Yes, I have toes, but No they don't move." It's exactly the same impression I had we I first woke up in the hospital. The difference now is I can move my toes but the way I do it has changed.

To make the movement happen, an extra step has been added to the process. It's like I have to translate a phrase into another language-- a language I'm not fluent in– to make the movement happen. So there I am, the Ugly American, shouting for my toes to move but my poor toes only speak Esperanto and have no idea what I'm saying. Then I remember to say, "Movi via toeis, placxi!" And my toes say, "Ho, kial did ve ne diri do?" *

Now here's the really strange part. If I concentrate very hard and don't send the translated command, if I use the old pathway, I can manage only the slightest, weak movement. So, somehow, the two pathways exist side by side.

*My apologies to anyone who actually speaks Esperanto. Or as they say in Esperanto: sorry.

FOOT notes:
movi via toes, placxi is supposed to mean "move your toes, please."
ho, kial did ve ne diri do is a transliteration of "oh, why didn't you say so?"


wassamatta_u said...

Hey! I didn't know you speak Esperanto! I used to take Esperanto classes, and got to the point where my teacher said I spoke it like a native! :)

Anonymous said...

YES, YES, concentrate!

Your Humble Servant,

ps Lisa - I'm back early

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the toe movement!

Yahoo! That is TOE-Tally terrific!
I know that sounds stupid but it's all I could come up with on short notice.

Maybe the toes would move better if you spoke like a Baltimoron to them. Baltimorese is very simple, remember?

#1 "Hey Hon, move your fat (insert body part here) already!

#2 "You get out of my parking spot or I'll tear you a new (insert body part here) one!

And of course, my favorite method of fluid motion-

#3 " Ah, screw it and let's go have a Natty Bo, Hon!"

Congrats to you Robb, if we were there we would raise a beer to you, one of your home made variety, as I'm quite sure mine would poison someone.

By the way, do you know how to make wine? Does drinking your brew increase your powers of concentration? Is there anything here we can claim was the result of space alien intervention?


robb said...

Mark: you are in rare company. According to a Wiki article I read, there are currently about 1,000 native Esperanto speakers in the world.

Presumably this includes the infamous feral children who live in the basement of the U.N. Building in NY and the poodle-eating albinos of Alum Rock Park.


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