Last week marked the five-year anniversary of my accident. What surprises me most this far on is how much improvement I am seeing in a lot of ways. I am still finding myself able to do things in the wheelchair that I couldn't do previously, like pick something up off the floor without it being in the exact right spot beside the chair, or go up a ramp without stopping partway for a break; I am still getting stronger all the time, which helps with wheeling around as well as making transfers to and from the chair a lot easier; and, I am actually getting a little bit more feeling and muscle control lower in my abdomen over time.
A lot of the improvement I think is from what I have been doing in yoga over the past couple of years. My instructor and I have been working pretty hard on balance and exercising what few muscles I do have in my core, and even small changes there seem to help. It all comes together like this: Without any abdomen muscles, as soon as I lean forward in my chair I fall over. But with even a little bit of control there, I can lean forward a bit without having to hold on to something. This means I have two hands now to do a lot of things instead of one, and when I wheel around I can put some weight behind the push without worrying as much about falling over.
The map shows a wheel into the village I did last week. When we first moved here two years ago it was a big deal for me just to get to the historic shipping village, which is about one kilometer away for a total trip of two kilometers (about 1.25 miles). Now I can go past the historic village, past Steveston and to the entrance of Garry Point Park (and back) for a total trip of 5.5 kilometers (about 3.5 miles); last week I did it in just over an hour. I am still working hard at it all, and hopefully I will keep seeing that kind of gain over the next five years.