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!)
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!
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…”)
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!
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.
Wear a red ribbon for me!
Lucky Blessing Challenge #24- A Lucky Blessing is Exercise.
I bet with that title, I lost half of you. But please stay with me here. I started out at the beginning of the stroke barely able to move. I remember struggling to touch my forehead, and Darin said (cause I don’t remember) when they put me in a standing frame and stood me up that I passed out! So uh, yeah, I’ve come a long way. I stand alone (with a lot of effort,) and walk with help! (See the video, it’s there.) I was doing 3 hours a day, now its about an hour a day. I am getting better because I do something everyday (which wipes me out!) Bit by bit, and baby step by baby step (Darin calls them caterpillar steps) I progress. I gotta move, or I will go backwards and atrophy.
You are blessed with sound bodies (yeah they might ache a little,) but you can walk and move around. Take a walk (or walk the dog.) Play a game with the kids. Do something cardio in front of the TV. Just stand up and sit down over and over. Go up and down stairs a bunch of times. No excuses. (Take an Aleve!) If I can do it, so can you. I used to be an anti-exercise person (oh, I’m too busy and too tired,) but you need to make it a priority. You’ll feel better, and as a side effect the endorphins will make you perk up. And as a main effect you’ll look and feel better. (No guilt!) The Lord wants to see you healthy and happy. It doesn’t have to be hard. Give it a shot. “Let’s get physical…”
Who loves sit-ups? (Cricket noises) Neither do I. But it is a necessary evil. I would highly enjoy parting with my well-earned gut. (Laying around after the stroke for almost eight months, endless shots and giving birth to six kids will give you that!) I need to strengthen my core again. I asked if crunches or full sit-ups were more beneficial. They told me that they are essentially the same. They want me to do a full sit-up, because I am doing double duty as I pull going back. I try not to engage my arm, and make abs do the majority of the work. The point of doing this!) It is seriously a difficult exercise. (I got my shirt all sweaty.)
Speaking of t-shirt, I had this shirt made after a line we started saying. “No rest for the wicked, WICKED WALKER!” They called me a wicked walker. I am sure its just motivational. I am walking now with just a small walker, and a guy moving my right leg. It’s okay, as long as I keep my weight forward. If not, I feel like I’m going to fall backwards. We go about 12 feet then I sit down for a deserved break in a wheelchair that someone trials behind me with. We walk about six times. (Still an exhausting endeavor!) Don’t forget what a blessing you have when you hop up and walk across the room effortlessly. When your body forgets how, it’s much more of a production!