Walk It Out

I haven’t given up yet. I know I look drunk, but, no I wasn’t plastered. (Although I’ve been tempted!) 

Here’s a video of me walking with assistance after about 18 months! I did the entire 150 foot track, without sitting, in about five and a half minutes! I am a little more brave to lean to the left against the walker. With the use of my right hip I can get the right (mostly paralyzed) leg to advance. Standing up feels great! (Since I sit a lot!)

We might laugh too much, but it’s serious business! (Shooting for five minutes!)


Shake It Up

​It hearkens back to an old fifties exercise machine. (Let’s jiggle the fat away!) And it also seems like bit of a preposterous notion. This vibration machine really does exercise your core and legs, with not a big effort on my part. I just had to hold on and not let my legs buckle. The first experience I was given a goal of ten minutes, but after six I was toast. As you can tell from the video, I had mounds of fun talking and singing while I shook. Sometimes the therapist had to stop it, because I was laughing so hard. (Keep on wiggling!) “Good vibrations!

It Feels Wonderful!

I’m am constantly amazed at how the smallest movement can benefit your comfort level immensely! I have recently begun to lift my foot at the ankle, and it feels great.! It requires major concentration, but I can raise it up.  I was sitting in the car, and I lifted both feet. Then I thought, “Did I do that?” (But not in an Urkel voice.) So I did it over and over. I realized it wasn’t just a stretch reaction. (My right side moves when I stretch, sneeze, or cough in a reactionary way.) I was actually doing it!

It made my think of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. ‘Frozen’ stiff for a year, all he needed was oil. (Where can I get some? I use essential oils, but they don’t work that immediate.) With a sigh of relief, he said, “It feels wonderful!” He performed a spiffy little dance when he was able to move! (So will I!) 

The other day, I thought, what else can I move if I concentrated really hard? I sat out in the courtyard and tried all the parts of my right side, with much exertion, but nothing else was ‘unfrozen’ yet. (It will happen.)

I have a new trick though!

The physical therapist has jumped on it. The ankle is actually lifted by the outside muscle on your calf. (Peroneal) I’ve had electrodes there. I’ve done multiple ankle lifts. It hurts my head and jaw, due to major exertion. I need a Tylenol afterwards. I guess it’s all good. (You go ankle, make the other body parts jealous!)

Balance – 7/5/17

Balance is one of the things I have been working on lately. It’s a tricky thing, balance is. (I never thought about it before.) You gotta move your toes, and leg (I can move,) my good arm, too. 

In the gym, (or ‘on land,’ as they say) I have been standing for extended periods and moving golf tees from on block to another. That is actually hard to do! The therapist says I’m a perfectionist. I do the tees symmetrical, and I won’t sit down until both blocks are straight in the widow sill!

As I’m in the pool, we balance, but the water is not completely still. The movement is made by me and the therapist. I use my left foot often to keep me as steady as possible. But I never feel in total control no matter how hard I try. (That must be what drunk feels like?)

Working on my balance made me think of balance in general. Do we feel our lives are balanced? That means do we have a good balance between work and family? If you don’t have a family, do you have a good balance between work and play? (It applies in so many ways, depending how you look at it!) Strive to acheive that in your live. Don’t allow working constantly all day (and night) get in the way of your personal life. You will most assuredly see a positive difference. (I am speaking from experience!) No matter what you’re into, or give your day many of your hours, look at it seriously, and decide if you should spread your time around. 

Have you seen the meme saying “Only 10 more summers until your child is gone, use your time well!” (More or less depending on age.) Arghhh! I never thought about it that way! (The pressure is on.) Don’t think, “Oh, we’ll do it later.” Because later might never come. Seize the moment. (Take it from me,) we would’ve done more with the family if we would’ve known our life would drastically change. (You just never know!)

Sorry about my rant. I just feel strongly, we all need to work very hard to balance our time and bodies. (Balance is a funny thing!)

Swim – 6/28/17

I engage in water therapy three times a week. The floor of the pool is a treadmill, and I employ a lot of walking. I workout with other exercises also. (This pic above is my forced smile. Don’t miss the video below.) Because of the weightlessness of the water, I am able to move much more freely. It is letting me perform many motor functions I could not normally do. It is geared to help my body remember and hopefully “unthaw “and work like it is supposed to.

We have loads of fun. I’m always trying to do normal things, and I occasionally freak out my therapist Collin by doing unexpected random strokes like lunge back into a backstroke or try to float on my own. I enjoy hopping, since I can’t do that on land! We have too much fun, and he is impressed with my eighties music, movie, and superhero knowledge. We laugh most of the 45 minutes I’m in the pool. Now and then Amy has to stop the treadmill, I’m laughing too much to keep up.  One day, I was working on standing balance. My fingers tried to assist with this fast little paddling. Collin thought that was hilarious. I used to bowl the same way. (The ball will go in with a bit of body language, right?) 

Thanks to Amy for helping me get somewhat dry, then I go lay in the sun! I really enjoy ‘swimming,’ even if it’s in an exercise capacity. (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!)

One Step At a Time – 6/14/17

​Hoopla erupted in the gym the other day! I was starting to lift my right foot off the ground, but the carpet was stopping it from going any farther. So they duct taped my toe to stop the resistance. (New fashion trend!) Darin was there and we did a bunch of standing, and I took a drink as I stood there. 

Then we walked. The first step I took, the therapist shouted. I got the weight off my foot and kicked it forward. For every step there was a shout. After a while everyone in gym was cheering! (Kind of embarrassing!) I think it was a mixture of my hip and knee. Darin took Collin’s phone, and started recording. When it was time to go back to my wheelchair I said, “No!” I’m not done yet! We walked about 10 more feet, then my time was up. It felt so good to be mobile again! (Even though I had help!)

Standing Alone – 6/7/17


​​​I have been doing marathon standing lately. (50+ times, see the video) Practice makes perfect, I stood on my own for the first time today! (!!!) And I can balance on my own! (Look, ma no hands!) Wow, this is the first time in ten months. It feels so good the stand straight up. It is amazing how many muscles you utilize to stand. Plus, I learned that standing is easier if you lean forward past your feet. I never analyzed it before! I just stood up without thinking about it! Now I have to think about technique. “When push comes to shove, you’ll know what you’re made of…”

I started thinking about standing symbolically. I believe we absolutely must stand for what we believe in. People here, where I’m staying, know I don’t drink coffee and I don’t smoke and I don’t swear. I stand for what I believe in by being an example of my morals. I try hard to be a nice person. I’m setting the example of a disciple of Christ. (We are a house set on a hill, don’t hide your light!)  If it is necessary that you ever have to make a stand, other than setting an example, I hope you shine with bravery and courage. Stand for what you believe in! Just stand!

Boxing – Working Wednesday 5/10/17

Aquaworks (where I rehab) uses boxing to help Parkinson’s patients, and they have experienced much success. They thought they would use me as a guinea pig. It’s slightly different with one arm, but good grief I experienced an exhausting workout! After we got the Rocky jokes out of the way, (Adrian!) I punched and pummeled those bags with all I had! He also used handheld mini bags that I punched as he moved them around. I even did combos like left, right, left, uppercut. I never saw myself as a boxer, but I can see how it can become addictive. Then I used the tennis balls on a bungee to bob and weave, as much as I could without falling out of my chair. (Please, not that!) No wonder boxers are in good shape, its a major workout. (Sing with me “Doot – doot, doot, doot… It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight…”)

Eddie the Eagle – Movie Monday 5/8/17

I absolutely loved this movie. At first glance the movie might evoke memories of other cliche underdog to champion movies, but it ended up being much more. We rented it at Redbox and almost watched constantly until it was due. Eddie possesses incredible amounts of heart. You can’t help but get emotionally involved. Many people are down on Eddie and his dreams, even the washed-up trainer is hard on him at first. I am lucky that way. I have a whole community of cheerleaders! I know the rehab road to walking and self-sufficiency will be a long one, but I have a wonderful support team to help me keep my head up. I have never heard, ‘you’re not good enough.’ (My family and friends are great optimistic motivators!) Eddie was awkward and untalented, but he demonstrated heart and determination. He kept trying.  I know I look pretty dorky with my limp arm, but I hope to have have as much self-trust and drive as he did. Dreams can come true. “A dream is a wish your heart makes… ” And add a dash of hard work!

Stroke Awareness – Working Wednesday 5/3/17

May is stroke awareness month. I have done some reaserch, and the numbers are amazing! Stroke the #1 cause of disability. (I’m in the club!) 80% of strokes are preventable. (I should’ve had my blood pressure checked more!) The first cause is high blood pressure, the second is lack of exercise. Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the states. (Talk about dodging a bullet!) Others include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, heart or artery disease, and a bad diet. If you do (or may) have any of these, I would highly suggest changing your MO – method of operation. (You don’t want to have a stroke, it’s no fun! To say the least!) A stroke is a blockage in the arteries associated with the brain, thus cutting off blood flow and cutting off the oxygen and nutrients to the brain. The brain is an amazing natural marvel. Doctors haven’t got it completely figured out.

There are many different kinds of strokes that affect 800,000 people per year. Hemorrhagic is when an artery bursts and blood gets in the brain, consequencly blood flow stops. They are mostly less destructive. Ischemic is broken into two categories: Cerebral Embolism, which is a clot or blockage in the brain. (I assume that’s what I had. My blockage was in the brain stem. I had a MRI about about eight months earlier, and there was nothing to alarm them. So it developed quickly.) Cerebral Embolism is a clot somewhere else in the body that breaks off and travels to the brain. These ischemic strokes make up 87% of all strokes. Then there are TIAs. They are small strokes that usually go away, like little warning signs to a bigger stroke. Get medical attention so you can avoid a larger one. (I had these, but I was misdiagnosed with Ophthalmic Migraines. My vision would go super blurry, but they usually went away in 10 minutes or less. My head didn’t usually hurt, it was just inconvenient. I found out later they were TIAs or mini strokes.) The last is called Cytogenic “stroke of unknown cause.” It is actually an Ischemic stroke and 30% are Cytogenic. The doctors just can’t explain the cause. (Thanks, I probably fit in here, they can’t explain why my one clot in the brain stem happened so fast, and it was too dangerous to operate. So I am still blocked.) 

Since it cuts off blood and oxygen to the brain, certain pods (or controllers) in the brain actually die. (In was told I had small veins growing around the blockage so I might get some function back. Grow little veins, grow! You can do it, I have faith in you!) That pod failure results in loss of some body function depending on where it is at. Some disabilities include, one side parlyzation (which leads to walking difficulty,) muscle weakness, hearing loss, emotional instability and voice alteration. (I have these. Mine was in the left side of the brain, thus my right side is paralyzed.) But others can be vision loss, memory loss, cognitive ability, difficulty or no swallowing, uncontrolled bad behavior, or total paralyzation. (Oh, how I am grateful not to have these!)

Now that you know all about strokes, how do you avoid them? Think FAST. F for face drooping, A for arm weakness, S for slurred speech, and T for time to call 911. Other signs could be vision disruptions (that’s what I had,) understanding other’s speech, numbness on a body part or one side of body, trouble walking or loss of balance, or a sudden painful headache. If you experience one or all of these, time is of the essence. Within three hours, a medical practioner can give you a clot busting drug so you might be able to suffer decreased problems or avoid death. 

80% of strokes are preventable. The big thing to do is have your blood pressure checked often. That way, doctors can monitor your stroke risks. Don’t put it off! (Take it from a survivor!)

Wear a red ribbon for me!