My doctor cleared me to go to the gym a few weeks ago. I have to choose when I go wisely. A crowded gym with music and motion wouldn’t work. Last week, the motion of the ceiling fans had me seasick in no short amount of time. I wear my sunglasses and my hat to help cut down on the visual stimulation.
After talking to my doctor, I called my trainer. He is attending college here, working on his Master’s in Psychology. During his undergraduate degree, he took a few practicums in physical therapy. We have been focusing on gradually increasing strength and working on balance. I have made progress. It seems that activities I have familiarity in performing are “easier” to recover. Most of what we are doing in the gym were activities and motions I did prior to the injury. I have to relearn some motions. For example, last time we met, we ended the session with some martial arts punching and kicks. A roundhouse kick consists of pivoting 90 degrees and kicking out to the side. At first, I stood there looking stupid. I knew what a roundhouse was; I just couldn’t remember how to tell my body to do one. So, we started at the beginning. Inch by inch, I positioned my pivot foot, then practiced the motion in small degrees. Then I practiced the return pivot to the start position. We then added in bringing up my kicking leg’s knee toward my chest. When I had the pivots and knee to chest down, we added the kick. I had to repeat the process on the other side. My balance wasn’t perfect. I wobbled some on the pivots. But, I keep my feet!
I still have trouble with multi-step instructions. When doing punching combinations, my trainer first told me which familiar three step combination he wanted me to do. I couldn’t keep all the motions and which punches in my head long enough to execute. We had to build the combination by steps; one punch at a time. By the end of the fifth repetition, I was able to complete the punches and started getting some power back into them.
It seems that actions I did frequently, or actions simliar, are easier to relearn. I am obviously not familiar with the kitchen. It’s a sad commentary on my cooking skills but it’s true. I struggled to slice garlic bread. My friend asked me to slice it diagonally. I held the knife, looked at the bread, and waited for the proper programming to load, allowing me to complete the task. Finally, my friend guided my hands in the required motion. When I completed the task, the results weren’t the neatly sliced bread one expects. It looked like a hungry dog attempted to rip the bread into chunks. Ugly, but edible. I do ok with vegetables. I can’t cut anything to a consistent size.
The other big accomplishment for last week was in my world of running. I ran on a track for 30 minutes without walking. Granted, my pace is slow and more tentative than my prior running. This is a poignant example of the severity of my injury. Two weeks before the accident, I won my age group in the Yakima River Canyon Marathon. The course is hilly and runs through the canyon, next to the Yakima River. A short workout used to be 5 miles. Trail runs were frequent events. Now, it’s an accomplishment to run on a flat track for a half hour without puking or becoming too disoriented. Truthfully, I still get a bit dizzy and disoriented on the track, especially if there’s any other visual movement. I know it will come back in time. The physical activities are what I miss the most. Usually in the summer, I am hiking and/or trail running every weekend. My bicycle sits unused in the garage. This is a celebration tinged with sadness.