Shut In

I’m a shut in today.  Not by choice.  Forced.  Whatever the opposite of kidnapped is, that’s what I am. Forced to stay at home until 7am tomorrow.  Here’s why:

Right before the end of the year, the management company for my HOA sent a letter with a map showing the repaving of the streets in my housing community.  During the day that the street is being slurry sealed, you can’t drive on it and have to walk along the gutter to where you can park your car.  My street was not on it.  I emailed Ed, the man whose email address was on the notice and basically said “Hey, my street isn’t on there, but I’m assuming it’s coming up.  What happens to someone in my situation who is in a wheelchair and can’t get to a different area where cars are parked?”  I sent the email on December 22.  He responded at 5:45pm on the January 6 (over two weeks later!) and said my street had been inadvertently left off the map and that we were scheduled for the following Wednesday, January 11.  As to what a person in my situation would do, this was his response:

“My suggestion would be to stay at home for the 24 hour period that day, or  arrange to stay with a friend (or neighbor not being slurry coated) if you need to leave the community the day of the work.”

Can you imagine if someone told you that you could just stay home for 24 hours or go stay with a friend?  My response was that perhaps if he were a paraplegic he could just randomly stay at home, but that I had a hearing in court on that day and could not miss it.  And, let me explain what it would take for me to go “stay with a friend”.  First, I’d have to find a friend whose house I could get into.  Then, I’d have to make sure they had a place for me to sleep that was accessible.  Showering?  Well either skip it or pack along my shower bench and a hand held shower head that would have to be attached.  Oh, then there’s my kid that I’d have to pack up and bring with me along with all of his stuff (you know, like a crib).  I’m an adult, not a frat boy.  It’s not especially easy for me to “stay with a friend”.  I may have also mentioned to him that I don’t think it’s legal to tell me that I’m trapped in my house in a few days.

Well, it happened that it rained on the 11th, so they had to reschedule.  This was the email I received from him:

“I understand the inconvenience involved and fortunately today the vendor requested to reschedule the project due to the rain.   We are moving the slurry project forward to Feb. 1st, 2nd and 3rd.   You will receive the updated email notice and maps  following this email.   I trust this will give you adequate time to arrange your schedule to accommodate the project.”

Do you, Ed?  Do you understand the inconvenience?  Because until someone tells you that for 24 hours you are a prisoner in your home, you will not understand.  And, I hope you never do have to know what it feels like to have someone callously tell you that you can have adequate time to arrange your schedule to be trapped at home.

I was in court this week because I am taking a case to trial.  I had to tell my client, the DA and the judge that I had to miss court today because I’m trapped in my house.  The judge was dumbfounded at this!  I also had to explain how staying in a hotel wasn’t especially feasible due to my baby.  It’s just a huge mess.

So here I am, stuck at home for the day.  I love my house, so it’s not a bad place to be stuck.  But, it’s the principle that Ed from Prime Association Services can treat someone so callously.  He should really be ashamed of himself!

So if anyone needs me today, well, there’s not much I can do about it since I am a shut in for the next 21 hours.

 

20170125_061949

Come to Jesus meeting

I know that since joining the gym at the end of April 2016, I have been talking pretty consistently about how much I love it!  And, if you follow my Instagram, you see that a majority of my photos/videos are from the gym.  I get it.  I’m obsessed.  But, I can’t explain how happy I am that I found a gym where I feel comfortable and where I actually want to spend time!

And almost more important than that, it’s a place where everyone cares.  I know that GunShow cares cause I pay him to care.  (Yes, I know that I’m poking the bear and will pay for that later during training.)  But, it really goes beyond payment.  Everyone there is just genuinely nice!  It’s like the unicorn of gyms!  Yesterday I was there working out on my own (I am trying to not be lazy on my days off from training and still go in to get some cardio in).  After I did a virtual boxing class (another amazing perk of the gym!!!) I was chatting with Smiles (the gym manager), GO1 (one of the gym owners) and Gangsta Belle (the female trainer from North Carolina who has this super sweet accent and an amazingly wicked sense of humor). The conversation started with us talking about whether I could take Gangsta Belle’s “yogalates” class.  She thinks that I can, but we are going to meet before so she can figure out how to modify some of the things.  But, it’s a class that incorporates stretching and a core workout, both of which are areas that GunShow is always getting on me about improving.

The conversation morphed from that to my horrible, terrible, no good, very bad diet.  I know that if I ate better I would be seeing way better progress.  GS gets on me about that too, but being the head strong person that I am, I see it more as a way to obstinate and combative with him.  But while I love to see him shake his head in annoyance when I tell him that I had [insert bad food here], I’m really just hurting myself and delaying progress.  So, it’s time to make a change.  The come-to-Jesus that I had with GO1 and GB really made me think.  (Plus, there’s something to be said about advice coming from other females who can relate than from a dude who has all the willpower in the world and whose goal is to make the Hulk look small.)  I went home and told the Hubs about my new plan to get healthy.  He stopped listening when the words “turkey meatloaf” came out of my mouth.  To be fair, that doesn’t sound so good to me either.  But I’m going to find healthy and delicious ways to be healthy.  And I’m going to save sweets  to be what they were intended for: a sweet treat, not a staple food group.

I’m also going to be more public about my diet.  No more private binge eating.  This morning I had a Greek yogurt from Trader Joes (I’m sure I will hear about how that’s full of sugar and not actually healthy, but at least it’s protein, right?! BABY STEPS!) and I made my lunch.  It took me less time to make my lunch than it would have taken to drive through McDonalds.  And it’s full of protein and deliciousness.  I took a can of tuna and mixed it with half an avocado and some mustard.  (It was also a fun excuse to try out my new avocado tools- a cutter, slicer, de-pitter AND a half-avocado saver.  No clue what their real names are.)  I’m going to cut up a tomato to eat with it.  This should be a nice healthy and protein-y lunch after my training today.

20170125_061949

Let’s Make Me Great Again!!

Goodbye NuMotion, Hello Access Medical!!

I need a new wheelchair.  I’ve needed it since this time last year.  I started my research into new chairs.  But, it wasn’t until I rolled into the Abilities Expo and met the team from Colours that I new exactly what I want.  When I rolled up to their booth, one of the Colours guys, Jose, named immediately the three things that I dislike about my current wheelchair.  They are things that I not only dislike, but things that, when changed, will make wheeling much easier.  My wheels are too far forward, there is no tilt to my seat and my casters are wrong.  When he pointed out these issues, I knew that he and everyone at Colours know what they’re doing. (To be clear, the problems with my current chair are my own doing because I ordered it myself online and paid cash out-of-pocket.  I didn’t really know what I was doing when I ordered it and didn’t think it would be that hard.  If you’re reading this and are in a wheelchair: get professionally fitted until you know exactly what everything means.  You don’t know what “camber” is or where your center of gravity is?  Don’t order your own wheelchair.)

The week after the Expo I called Colours and made an appointment to go in to see them to get measured for my custom chair.  They were awesome and helped me pick the best chair.  The only catch is that you can’t order directly from them.   They don’t deal with insurance.  Apparently insurance companies are so annoying to deal with that they would need to staff multiple people just to deal with that.  They just want to build the chairs, not deal with bureaucracy and red tape.  So I called the people who I ordered my first wheelchair through: NuMotion.  They were annoying with my first chair because it took FOREVER.  I ordered it in September and didn’t receive it until December.  But, I figured I wasn’t in a super big hurry, so I could wait a couple months.  I called my doctor for the prescription, then called NuMotion with the order form, prescription and everything else that they needed.

The receptionist was rude when I called.  That should have been my first red flag.  She acted like she was doing me a favor by speaking with me.  I should have taken the hint.  But, I decided to stick with them, mainly because I wanted my chair and didn’t know where else to go.  Someone called me a few days later (I think her name was Maria) and said they were starting my file and they’d be in touch.  I have yet to ever speak with Maria.  When I called her back after not hearing back, she was on vacation.  But I was promised that someone was still handling it in her absence. Since March 2016, I have yet to speak with someone other than the rude receptionist(s?) there.  I would call every month and a half to two months to follow-up and was always put into a general voicemail with no name.  I finally called the national center and was told by a very nice woman that the head of the Cerritos office would call me back.  I think his name was Mike.  He did call a few days later at 6pm as he was leaving his office when I was eating dinner.  I called him back at 8:30am the next morning.  He didn’t answer.  I’m still waiting on his return call.  That was in October.

I finally decided that enough was enough.  I need a new chair and they obviously don’t want to get me one.  You’d think they’d be eager to order my $8,000+ chair (I don’t know how they get paid, but I’m sure they do very well.)  Yesterday I found a new place to order my chair from, but they’re in Carlsbad.  The lady I spoke with was so super nice and informed me that they actually have an office that happens to be about 2 blocks from my house.  She told me that it might take a little while for them to get back to me, but that I should hear something by Tuesday of next week.  Considering I have been waiting 11 months, 5 days is NOT a “little while.”  That’s a breath of fresh air!  Cut to today when I was at the gym and receive a phone call that the guy who I was supposed to meet with was actually in my area and could meet with me.  (I only found out later that it was the owner of the company that came to fit me for the chair.)  When I handed him the order form and prescription, he told me he wished all clients were as organized and proactive as I was.

He left and said the paperwork would get started.  Based on the timeline he told me, I should have my new chair by March.  I. Am. So. Excited!!!!

Thank you Access Medical for being so amazing!  So far I one million percent would recommend you to anyone and everyone!  Everyone I have spoken with has been so amazing.

And screw you NuMotion.  Thanks for absolutely nothing and making me feel so completely unimportant when I was begging to give you my business.  Everyone make the switch from NuMotion to Access Medical!

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Life is hard.  Like, really, really hard.  Work, bills, loss, stress…it all adds up.  Life is also beautiful.  Friends, family, kind deeds, thoughtful words, the beauty of a sunset.  It can all be beautiful.  It’s not one or the other.  It’s not so black and white.  But sometimes, it’s hard to see that.  When you’re on a high it’s hard to remember that life can have it’s downs.  And when you’re down, it’s hard to think you’ll ever get back to a happy, or even normal, place.

I try to be a positive person.  I am good at finding silver linings and positive twists on things.  And I try to share that positivity, both on this blog and with people I know.  But it’s also really easy for me to go to a negative place.  You know, the place that’s filled with “I can’ts” and “I miss” and all the other things that one should try to keep at bay.  But, why should you keep those negative thoughts away?  If you ignore the negative I think they creep back up and overwhelm you.  And it’s easier to swim in the shallow end of a pool than in a tsunami.  (I don’t know if that exactly made sense, but I think you’re getting what I’m saying.)

Loss of mobility is hard to deal with.  Yes, I can adapt (and have) pretty well.  But it’s still tough.  There are things I can’t do anymore.  That’s something I have accepted.  I do my best to find a positive side to things I can’t do (i.e. I can’t walk, but at least I don’t fall and scrape my knees up like I used to) when I can.  But there are still times when the sadness creeps up and I get emotional.  And then I look at everything I can do and recover from the sadness.

Recently I wrote an article for a magazine and I tried to cover this very topic in it.  I talked about how the first time my son went in a pool, I wasn’t able to be in it with him.  We were at my aunt’s house for a family party and there is no lift at her house.  My husband and mom took my son in the pool and baby boy had a blast!  But it was really, really hard for me to not be a part of that.  Sure, I could have gotten in the pool (you know, gravity) but it would have been hard to get out (again, gravity).  And then it would have been about me and my safety which would have taken away from the Little Mister’s first pool experience.  In the article I wrote about how sometimes you just have to accept that there are some things you can’t do and find ways to turn them into a positive.  In the pool example, I mentioned that I took one million photos of the Little Mister in the pool to commemorate his first swim.  If I had been in the pool we would have missed out on those photos.  See, positive outlook!  I was still super sad, but at least there was some positivity that allowed me to move on and not be overwhelmed.

The editor told me that I was being negative and said something along the lines of “where is your can-do attitude?! There are public pools with lifts that you can use.” That wasn’t the point.  I do use public pools with lifts.  I love swimming.  I’m part mermaid.  And I appreciate that the editor wants to portray a positive image.  But the point is that I was in a place that didn’t have a lift and I missed out and I was sad.  But I dealt with it and moved on.

And I guess the point of this blog is that if all people do is portray positivity it makes the people going through hard times feel alone.  Or misunderstood.  Or unrelateable.  We all have down days.  We all have things that hit us the wrong way and make us sad.  It’s human nature.  And when you have a disability there are things that will come up that you can’t do that will make you sad.  And yes, there are ways to adapt.  But sometimes that isn’t an option.  And to ignore this publicly is to make others feel that they are all alone.  I’m here to say that you are not alone.  We all struggle at times.  We all get down at times.  And, even when you’re in the thick of it and feel that life is going to overwhelm you, it will get better.

And acknowledging that isn’t negative. It’s real.

My hamstrings hurt

My hamstrings hurt this morning.  More my left than my right.  It was a day-after-the-gym-proof-that-I actually-worked-out-why-did-I-push-it-so-hard-could-I-have-pushed-it-even-farther kind of hurt.  It was a good hurt.  I woke up to this hurt around 4:30 this morning. I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep.

But, holy [expletive]!  My HAMSTRINGS HURT!  MY hamstrings hurt!  MY HAMSTRINGS HURT!*

Before everyone thinks that I’ve gone insane: My. Hamstrings. Hurt.  Translated: I can feel my hamstrings!  I haven’t felt my hamstrings since (ballpark guestimate) August 12, 2013.  How do I know that?  That’s the day before I became paralyzed.  My hamstrings haven’t really worked since.  In fact, I’d kind of assumed they somehow jumped out of my legs and were sitting on some beach sipping mai tais.  I wouldn’t know they were there because I couldn’t feel them.

But today.  I. Felt. Them. They. Hurt.  A glorious hurt!  A marvelous hurt!  The most wonderful hurt that has ever hurt in the history of hurts.  I knew that GunShow pushed me yesterday at the gym.  We did some exercises that we’d never done before.  That I’d never really contemplated before.  He’s probably going to claim he’d researched and thought of it ahead of time, but I’m pretty sure that he creatively came up with it on the fly when I said “I want to try the rowing machine sometime when there’s less people around.”  His reply was “Let’s do it now.  No one is ever looking.”  (Um, rude.  I was having a good hair day.  I’m sure they were looking.)  But I decided to go for it.  The transfer took about 5 minutes because halfway through I started laughing (the kind of laughing that made Ninja Trainer come over to watch because he probably thought I was crying) and kind of got stuck.  But, I eventually made it onto the world’s tiniest rowing machine seat (I’m pretty sure it’s actually normal size, but in my nervousness, it was the size of a pinhead).  And instead of rowing, GS had the brilliant idea to have me “walk” my self forward and backward using the moving seat.  It was more of a pushing back with my quads and pulling forward with my hamstrings.  The pushing back was pretty easy because my quads have always been kind of present in the past few years.  The pulling forward was tough.  I had to try to not cheat by using my arms or core to pull myself.  But while it was slow, I was able to do it!  I think we did 8 or 10 or 503 reps. I wasn’t really counting.

I knew that I pushed it yesterday because my legs were tingly all day.  But now, if you need me, I’m going to sit here enjoying this wonderful post-leg-day hurt.  I earned it!  I deserve it!  I can FEEL it!!

 

*Note for my mom: Don’t worry mom, it’s a good hurt.  Not a “I did too much and hurt myself” kind of hurt.  You don’t have to worry, I’m OK.

paralyzed-ground-transfer

Playing with the baby

Today after the gym I had some time to hang out with the Little Mister.  We’ve been working on crawling/standing/pulling up.  These are all hard to do if he’s with me on the sofa or in a chair.  We sometimes can practice in his crib.  But, he’s getting too big and too active these days.  The natural solution is to get down with him on the ground.  Getting on the ground is a lot easier than it sounds when you’re a paraplegic.  The getting up is the hard part.  Here is the trick that I have learned: it’s all about leverage.  I normally transfer to the ground from a chair or the sofa, with my wheelchair right next to it.  I place my right hand on my wheelchair and my left hand on the chair.  My legs are in front of me.  I lower myself to the ground while focusing on trying to use my legs to support some weight.  Getting up is just a reverse, with the exception of my legs.  When getting back up, I leave my legs out front of me straight.  I don’t really know the physics or biology behind it, but it’s just easier.  Is it a lot of work?  Yes.  Is it difficult?  Not really, but kind of.  Is it worth it?  100% yes!

paralyzed-ground-transfer

Leg day: take THAT atrophy!

As I was getting ready for work this morning I mentioned to the Hubs that I felt like my legs were showing more atrophy.  That’s really my biggest fear- losing muscle that I will never get back.  That might seem like a silly fear, but here’s the reason why: I’m fully hopeful that someday there will be a cure for paralysis and I don’t want all my muscle to be gone and prohibit me from being able to walk again.  My muscles still have some slight ability, so I like to keep them active as much as possible.  Or, when I remember, at least.

[Random thought: isn’t “atrophy” a weird word?  It looks like “a trophy”.  But, isn’t that the opposite of what it is?  Your muscle is literally dying.  It’s going away.  You’re losing.  There’s definitely no winning.  Shouldn’t it be called a-sucky?  Or a-losing? Or a-where-the-hell-are-my-muscles-going?]

So, at the gym today I did leg day.  I killed it on leg day.  I told GunShow that I thought my legs were getting skinny and at first he didn’t understand why that was a bad thing.  “You don’t want your legs to get skinny?”  I responded “No.  I’m good with every other part of my body getting skinnier.  Just not my legs, cause it’s not for the right reasons.”  And after that, I killed it.  I rode the bike longer than I have yet.  I did more reps on the leg press and I did the abductor and adductor machine.  I was completely spent by the end.  Legs twitching up a storm.  It’s funny when I do leg day, because I know that I am working really hard, but I can’t really feel it.  And then after I’m completely exhausted.  But I still feel like I didn’t do anything, because, again, I can’t feel it like with other body parts.  Sometimes I forget why I’m so exhausted and have to be reminded that I did leg day.  It’s just a really odd feeling.

But, it’s something that needs to be done.  I need to start pushing myself more to keep my legs from withering away if I can help it.  They may atrophy.  And they may get skinny.  Too skinny.  But, I am going to fight like hell to keep that from happening.