Tag Archives: physical therapy

Cute Shoes

If you recall, I have this knack for cute shoes. I think it could be partially genetic–a family trait that naturally flows throughout my genes, much like my love of coffee and good reads. The artistic eye for cute shoes is also a key conversation starter with strangers. “Cute shoes!” I say honestly and enthusiastically while waiting in long, slow lines at the store. Time suddenly seems to quicken its pace and before you know it, your engaged conversation is ending.

Even though this intrigue of fashion is still very much part of how I complete my wardrobe for the day, it is not as much of an importance of appearance anymore as it is sturdy convenience–although at this point in time, I can argue the fact that it doesn’t matter what is on my feet…I am still prone to ankle twists, bad balance and falling: thus, I still own a pair of cute slip-on shoes that I save for special occasions, just like my bag of make-up. (Secret! ūüėČ )

Because I realize that my walking is declining and my bones are fragile (it is a miracle that I am even walking, let alone have not broken any bones during my falling episodes), I am trying to take the appropriate steps in safety by wearing regular shoes–except that I can’t physically tie shoes due to my hand conditions. My physical therapist had mentioned last Fall during one of my PT sessions that there was a¬†shoe and leather repair store,¬†in which she recommended to her patients. This store specializes in shoe adjustments as well as repairs. My adjustments would be removing the shoe laces and getting Velcro straps.

“Sounds old-timer fashion,” my first thoughts concluded. (No offense meant to my elderly readers.) But when I received my pair of tennis shoes back, I actually think that they are kind of cute. ūüôā

DSCN3430

 

Remember how exciting it was as a kid when you first learned how to tie your own shoes? My Velcro straps enabled me to re-experience that simple childhood joy.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:19, NLT

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What I Lean On

“Help me. Help me.” I blurt out in a semi-panic but soft-toned voice. I knew my sister, Melissa, was behind me with my walker and bag. I had just taken my first step down the stairs leading to the garage; I felt my body starting to lean backwards in off-balance mode. The last thing I wanted was to take another tumble, thus, my cry for help. Melissa helped me rebalance and I slowly descended. At the bottom, my walker is reopened and I place my bag in the middle compartment. Now holding to the handles, I stand and wait for my ride to church.

I haven’t used my walker in the house since around Thanksgiving. Even my cane I have left in the garage and have only used these two walking assistants when going outside the house to town, church, errands or meeting friends and social gatherings. That is until this past weekend. I first started with my cane. I noted at the beginning of last week that getting up to use the bathroom in the early mornings could sometimes have me feeling off-balance. I never used my cane, but just had it resting against my bedside for “just in case.”

Then I fell. Friday afternoon–I was setting up my painting area for a Saturday morning, “Coffee, brunch and painting,” time with ¬†a friend. I don’t even know technically how it happened, because I don’t remember twisting my ankle, but my tumble forced me to my knees. If I had “snapped forward,” I would have just landed harder on my hands. But my fall sent me on backward whiplash; my legs being folded under me, I crunch down on my crooked feet. As I regain composure, but in pain, I try to shift my feet out from under me but find myself underneath the table (that is the part in which I don’t understand!) I knew I was going to have to have assistance getting up off the floor, and since no one came downstairs yet to check on me, I pushed my Lifeline button. ūüôā

Friday’s fall resulted in a very sore left leg: a torn ligament in the knee. It is really the last thing I wanted at this time. I already am struggling with increasing frustration at my right hand and just the mental processing of being slow. Now I use my walker more regular in the house–discussion today also mentioned that it might be time to restart my AFO braces (at least the right foot while my left leg slowly heals.) That decision alone will be something to pray for peace about–my choice to end wearing them, and PT sessions, in the Fall was primarily to live without them until I needed them to walk. I can still walk, but it is only by God’s divine power that I still can.

I see myself weakening and I want to be strong; I force myself to persevere, but need strength to lean on.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Words by: Elisha A. Hoffman

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Thinking of you.

Three words. It can change the whole course of the day, especially when God intervenes in timing. He knows when you need to hear them spoken to the soul, when you need the nourishment because the circumstances around you have left you exhausted and dehydrated. I can’t even count the times this has happened during my journey, the last 11 years.

Last night, I found myself on Youtube watching those inspirational-acts-of-kindness movies that get you a bit teary eyed. It might be part of my personality traits, but I got to admit…all those childhood days of pretending to be Florence Nightingale¬†came to memory and I suddenly wanted to do something for someone. Something big.¬†I wanted to be one of those inspirational stories; I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. All I could think of was donating money to different places. Why does it always seem t0 come to that?

Today I finished an autobiography, Unthinkable, by Scott Rigsby. He is a double amputee above the knees. At the age of 18, a truck collision shattered just about everything in his body, especially his future dreams.¬†Reading the first two chapters you clearly see that it is a miracle he is even alive. Over the next twenty years, Rigsby went through countless surgeries, therapy, drug addiction, party life, seven years of college (and still graduating with no sense of direction in life), a severe case of TBI (traumatic Brain Injury) and depression, debt and no money for bills, in and out of jobs and lawyer cases for settlement issues, and the constant public eye at his “disability.” I think he went through just about everything.

In his own journey, God led him to¬†a place where¬†Rigsby surrendered everything and it was only then that¬†God¬†started to piece together a new course: the unthinkable. Rigsby had always been a runner, but dreams of a future in¬†that seemed impossible; he is now¬†a life showing that nothing is impossible for God.¬†After picking up a few¬†sport related magazines with stories¬†of¬†triathlon athletes, he got a crazy idea–he would participate in a triathlon. He had virtually nothing going¬†for him..not in the¬†physical or financial realm, training or knowledge of what this all entitled…he just knew this was the open door that God was gently leading him through–the chance to use his disabilities to bring God glory for the capability.

As I read, it became obvious that God used ordinary people with big hearts¬†to help Rigsby accomplish his dream: the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon. They saw a need and simply used their time, talents or training skills, connections, hospitality to meet the need. His supporters didn’t¬†act because they wanted to be a huge “inspirational teary-eyed story.” They helped because their thoughts were for Rigsby…they were his “Thinking of you” crew. He couldn’t have achieved his goal on his¬†own. Rigsby now uses his¬†testimony to help others¬†cope with loss and shattered dreams.¬†He doesn’t do it by heroic deeds, but words of encouragement and¬†guidance.

This weekend¬†has left me with many thoughts–I still don’t feel like I¬†have a dream. I still see limits in my life physically, but learned¬†much from Rigsby’s testimony of trusting God with the impossible. I need to be more in prayer for direction–how¬†God can use me (my time and talents) to help¬†others. I don’t want to just say, “Thinking of you.” I want it sincere, with Love.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Rebalance

The Olympics are always a fascinating two-week¬†event to watch (Even more so, the Paralympics that come a few weeks after!!) Although I enjoy watching the¬†ice skating, curling, and speed skating competitions, my favorite of the two seasons (winter/summer) is the Summer Games.¬†Last summer, the Olympics were held in London–which I found fabulous as Britain/UK is on the top of my own “Mel’s World Travels” sort of wish list. I had been reading several books on the reigns¬†of¬†the different¬†kings/queens and through some church history already, so when CBS would air the “interesting things of London” segments, I felt like a school kid.

At that time, I worked early morning shifts and¬†would be home by lunch for the rest of the day.¬†This¬†meant that I¬†had the chance to watch the afternoon events that you don’t normally see in the evening time as they get crowded out from¬†the more popular ones.¬†I got to see¬†sailing, archery, table tennis, equestrian,¬†judo,¬†fencing, taekwondo and I watched some weight lifting. It was all very interesting.

Every sport has an attribute in which I feel they put more attention to¬†more than another sport would focus on…for example: soccer: kicks and feet motions; synchronized¬†diving: timing of the downward movements; equestrian: pose and maintaining your horse; rowing: upper body strength; and my favorite, because I¬†have none–gymnastics: BALANCE!

I should correct myself: I don’t have much balance, but anymore these days even my “much” balance does not account for much. ūüėČ I could venture to say that I somewhat¬†occasionally perform floor exercises like a gymnast, but less graceful in the air, more flapping of arm movements and I never land on my feet (quite the opposite.) However, the balance issue is currently being worked on during these past few PT sessions and ones yet to come. My rehabilitation doctor at Children’s prescribed for me to get ankle braces. These aren’t just any ankle brace–they are AFO¬†braces. (I like the abbreviation–it stands for Ankle-foot Orthotic.) They look like this:

ankle-foot-orthosis-afo-80454-3202943 medicalexpo.com

What you see is what it is–huge, feels like hard plastic, from knee past the toes bondage for your feet. So far the only fun part has been my display of cool designed knee-high¬†socks, which I actually only get to wear on the right leg as the neutral colored compression stocking takes the left leg. But with jeans on, nobody notices anyway. Otherwise, these AFO’s are hard work! I feel I am training for the Olympics, except in my case, I am “re-training” my brain to use the muscles that have weakened after¬†years of atrophy.¬†Also, these braces¬†are helping my right ankle to stay straight when I walk (but¬†I feel it trying to twist) and in time, I hope the added weight my left leg gains from the weak right side will balance out too.

The exercises so far have been small but aiming at balance. It is unbelievable how¬†it can make your legs feel like Jello within a few minutes! We took another strength-goals test today to see how I¬†am progressing…even though it has had two DVTs, my left leg is the strong leg!¬†But that doesn’t surprise me. Usually by the end of my session, I am ready for the braces to come off, but today I went an hour longer¬†after my PT left and¬†did normal routine things…then¬†I was¬†ready to take them off!¬†The walker proved to be a useful resource¬†in stability as I walked around¬†the house just¬†fine today; best part was when I needed a break, I locked the wheels and sat for a minute¬†to catch my breath.

This is only the beginning. Change will not happen over night…it is going to take time, effort, and a lot of sore muscles. In the end,¬†I should¬†(and hope) be able to wear the braces regularly in a day; I anticipate less falling, but that may just be inevitable.

I am ready for the challenge: it makes me feel like an Olympian.

Greece0048

The Olympic Stadium. Athens, Greece.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. Job 23:10 ESV

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Living in a Fast Paced World

At Tuesday’s doctor appointments, we discussed transferring me to a neuro rehab clinic¬†for my¬†Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.¬†This is still in the future¬†plans, but because I currently have a driving restriction until¬†I take a driver’s mobility test (based off the way I am currently walking, just to ensure safety on my reaction times)–it could be up to three weeks¬†until I get the test¬†completed¬†even though I am on the current waiting list. Because of this, I am not able to get¬†myself over to the rehab¬†facilities and since I have already¬†started with Home Health, the plan for now¬†is to let them finish¬†their sessions and then¬†I go¬†on from¬†that point. I have been pleased with my PT sessions¬†so far.

My first session of PT was last week and I start OT¬†next week, which I am anticipating, because today in getting ready my hands lost grip of my makeup bag–momentary sadness¬†to shatter a perfectly good bronzer. Anyway, while last week’s PT session was mostly talk and the “see where you’re at” balance, strength and mobility tests, this week was a full 45 minute workout. I have had PT twice already: one after my first blood clot to strengthen my left leg¬†and¬†the second session this past Spring to strengthen my neck and upper back muscles.

I have never experienced a singe¬†PT session that would literally leave me¬†so exhausted that I had to take a nap in the afternoon. To demonstrate how weak my muscles are–picture me on my knees, lifting the exercise ball over my head (repeat 4 times). By the last, my arms were beat. We also did a lot of balance exercises where I lift¬†one knee while on the other and then rolling the exercise ball back and forth while maintaining balance.¬†To the average person, these may seem so easy, but to a person such as myself, it was difficult. To be honest, today I felt like a toddler…learning to balance and lift things, freely falling over and struggling to get up. But the strength and retraining my mind to use the muscles does not happen over night..it is baby steps. ūüôā

Of course, I overdid myself this morning after my session. I went downstairs and painted a¬†canvas that will be¬†on display next week at a pizza¬†parlor in Yellow Springs. (more to come on that!) I finished¬†but had some extra paint and don’t like to waste¬†it,¬†so I¬†set out to¬†finish a small abstract one as well. No joke, the last few seconds of¬†“finishing touches”¬†on the painting and the table topples over!! Thankfully, the painting was¬†not ruined, but for the cleanup process,¬†I was back on my knees like my PT session and struggling to get everything picked up¬†without making a bigger mess. By the end of my painting session, I looked like a painting. ūüėČ

I¬†had been to Michaels¬†a few weeks ago to pick up paints and a¬†pack of 8×10 canvases.¬†At the check out isle¬†there were some extra-large reusable bags and on an impulse decision, I bought one in order to carry my paintings around when they go on display in Beans-n-Cream or anywhere else.¬†Artistically decorated, the front says the classic line, “Stop and smell the roses.” I thought of The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Growing up, Ferdinand was different. While his peers were shaping up to be the best for bull fighting, Ferdinand just wants to smell flowers. Only when he sits on a bee does anyone take notice of him. At the bull arena, he is adorned with roses…everyone expects him to put in a good show, and he just wants to smell the flowers. ūüôā

Too often I try to rush forward in my physical body, even though it is no longer capable of the word “hurry.” I forget to stop, breath in, smell the¬†roses (sweetness of God’s mercy and grace)¬†and realize that I don’t have to feel pressure to keep up with the fast paced world. God can use me just as I am…like a child.

They say that I can move the mountains
And send them crashing into the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
with faith like a child

Jars of Clay. “Like a Child.” Self-titled debut album. 1995.

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Paintings

A Day Like Today

Today ended up being my last¬†session of Physical Therapy. I was not anticipating this at all since I was scheduled two more sessions next week. I feel¬†as if¬†I “graduated,” and now I get to go forth and onward in life taking the new stretches and exercises I learned and hope to maintain what I have started to build in terms of healthier muscles. I think my eight sessions of PT also caused me to be more aware of the little daily tasks in life that I have come to¬†see cause neck pain or bad posture.

For example, I don’t wear much make-up; but after starting PT, I noticed that bending over the counter to apply my eye liner, shadow, and mascara¬†caused pain to¬†appear in my neck from the position¬†of bending in¬†and straining forward to be close to the mirror. I ventured to Target one afternoon and found myself a nice square mirror with a handle on the top and brought it home. I already have an over-the-door hook for my¬†bathrobe, so¬†I moved my robe to a different hook and placed my mirror over the door instead.¬†Brilliant. Best five dollars spent in the month of March!¬†One side note though, the hook is not that low, so when I¬†apply my eye make-up…my¬†nose is what¬†I first see in the mirror.¬†Good thing it is not¬†any higher or I would need a stepping stool!

Since¬†this morning brought unexpected good news, I–in excitement–decided to celebrate in the best way possible. I grabbed Taco Bell for lunch then headed to Wal Mart to buy an exercise mat so my twice-a-day¬†PT routines can be more enjoyable rather than just the hard floor. I wish I had a mat down the other morning as I took a “trust fall” to the ground.

“Trust fall.” I am sure you have heard of the term. It was the part of church camp obstacle courses I did not like. It was not in part of trusting the person behind me…it was trusting myself just to fly backwards. I just never could with grace or ease until Tuesday morning as I tripped over my own feet and pajama bottoms as I got out of bed. It sent me flying backwards, trust fall fashion, until my head snapped off the ground and I just lay flat. Not the best way to start your day, but all I suffered was a minor headache during the day.

Until yesterday. I woke up thinking to myself, “I have the worst swollen glands!”¬†It took a few morning hours at the coffee¬†shop to¬†realize that it¬†was not swollen glands. My¬†entire bottom neck by my collar-bone¬†just throbbed; I finally¬†figured that it was major whiplash from my fall–it is more like a pulled muscle. I was fine during the day for the most part; but towards the early afternoon and evening, the bad posture and sticking out my neck due to the throbbing front portion of my neck caused the intense pain to start in the back of my neck. Of course, I could have done a bit more relaxing during the day, but I had this drive to organize my file box. After a few loads of paper trash, three times emptying my shredder and¬†frequent “lay down on the bed to give my neck some relief” times–my file box had a complete make-over. It felt grand.

I got in bed for the night and placed my heating pack on my neck. I started to think of what to say to my PTA about my Tuesday’s fall; I already had to tell her two weeks ago about another fall I took on the wood floor in the hallway–note to self: Mel wears shoes in the house at all times…not sock feet!! Or just now, I go in my room and miss the light switch, take a step forward in the dark and fall into my closet–note to self: Mel leaves a small lamp on in her room once it gets dark outside. PT has trained my mind to become more aware of these problems; it is just that I do not think of these problems or solutions until they occur. ūüėČ

Anyway, it did not take me long to fall asleep last night and before you know it, I was up an hour before my alarm was set to go off. I decided to use the extra time to read. I love morning readings. My mind seems so open, though my left eye would not stop twitching today. I¬†am currently reading¬†David Crowder’s book, Praise Habits: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi. This morning I was reading his chapter on Psalm 8, in¬†which he¬†rewrites the Psalm in his own words¬†in form¬†of worship.¬†This paragraph seemed to gratify my thoughts:

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,

your handmade sky-jewelry,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?*

I fell asleep last night after a day of what I consider macroscopic pain! I woke up this morning with only the usual morning stiffness that went away after I started moving around and getting breakfast. Yesterday I did not do any of my PT exercises or stretches; today I did them all (minus a few neck routines.) I went all day with no pain like yesterday.

I feel microscopic; I examine my thoughts and stand in wonder (awe) that God would heal this pain so quickly–that today was not a day of pain, but of celebration and fellowship.¬†It leaves me singing¬†as the Psalmist, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (8:1)

*Crowder, David. Praise Habits: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004. Pg. 49.

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A new day!

I am not usually up this early. Not a “get up before the sun” sort of person, but today was different. I opened my curtains to a dark sea-blue sky. No clouds to distract the beauty. I sit on the end of my bed and start my physical therapy exercise routine. I started¬†my sessions¬†last week.

The goals set from a PT view is to strengthen my inner core muscles, while releasing some of the pressure in my back (upper, lower) and neck. I also added my own goal of working on my posture, as my shoulders bend in and I stick my neck out.

When I try to explain my stretches and goals,¬†I always feel like an oxymoron: strengthening the muscles, yet relieving the pressure at the same time. How is that possible?¬†They are such simple step exercises too. Repetition. And¬†I think, “Why couldn’t I have thought of that on my own?”

As I finish my morning session, I begin to think about the day. How fresh it seems, and even though there are gray clouds in the sky, it is getting lighter outside. I think of Lamenations 3:22-24, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;¬†his mercies never come to an end;¬†they are new every morning;¬†great is your faithfulness.¬†‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,¬†‘therefore I will hope in him.'”

I thought about yesterday…how dreary, dark, cold, rainy, Monday of a day it was. My physical body was feeling the weather…it affects my hands like someone who suffers from arthritis. I had a constant pain spasm in my big toe on my right foot and I could not seem to lift my shoulders in a good posture position. It is like carrying an invisible weight. I thought of how most mornings I get up and forget to thank God for another day. Another chance just to get myself out of bed on my own, even if my body feels otherwise.

Today I have no pain yet. I can’t guarantee this day will be without it, but it is a new day. The gray clouds are now overrun¬†by the returning beauty of yellow hues and faded blue sky. The sun finally showed its face. It is as if¬†the morning¬†beckons, “Arise, shine, for your light has come,¬†and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

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