Back at it

The past month has been rough.  March is already my least favorite month but this past one was one for the books (though technically it started in the end of February).  I took a few beatings and wasn’t sure how I was going to come out on the other side.*  It started with my broken toe.  The mysterious, no clue how or when it happened, why do I not have feeling but can still tell that this thing hurts like heck, broken toe. That was annoying.  Then, the next day I hurt my back at the gym.  I did a motion which involved twisting which is a huge no-no in my spinal cord.  And that spinal cord made sure that I knew how pissed off at me it was.  It took about a week and a half for me to stop crying in pain.  Then it was more of a I-got-punched-inside-my-spine ache.  Then it became a dull pain.  And then, one day, it was gone.  The Hubs asked how I was feeling and I realized that I wasn’t.  There wasn’t pain there.  In the midst of all the broken painness, I also caught an ear infection.  That sucked too.  A lot.  The ear hurt, and the antibiotics they put me on made me throw up a lot.

But, now it’s April and I’m pain free, earache free, bones mended back together and healthy.  And as of a week and a half ago, I’m a contender for a clinical trial on the ReWalk.  If I get into this trial, I’ll have the bionic legs for a year and help prove to insurance companies the health benefits of having them.  To say that I’m beyond stoked is an understatement!!  I have my physical therapy evaluation next week.  So, having been out of service for the past month, and with it being a beautiful new month, I decided it was time to get back to the gym.

For the first time since joining this gym I was nervous to go in.  I’m a bit gun shy now that I may hurt myself again.  But, I had an appointment for training with Ninja Trainer so I had to go in.  And I have faith in his experience in training and I know he won’t let me overexert myself.  We had a talk about my fears and about how I just have to be careful, mindful and vocal.  The hour flew by!  We did a very thorough warm-up and did a lot of slow training on various machines.  You’d think that slow movements and lower weight would be easier.  And if I could raise my arms, I would slap you in the face.  My arms caught fire before out session ended.  It was amazing!!

And my biggest fear (that I would lose all progress that I had made) flew out the window.  I still retained a lot of the strength that GunShow had helped me gain.  Ninja Trainer pointed out the definition in several of my muscle groups, which made me feel better.  I was also worried that my dedication would be gone, but I’m so stoked to be back in the gym that I found my motivation to make healthy changes all around!  NT is going to give me meal planning guidelines to help me meet all of my goals.  His training, combined with eating healthy and *fingers crossed!!!!* the ReWalk could be everything I need to make some HUGE improvements!  And I did promise my gym friends that I would try to walk again so they could be the gym who got the paralyzed girl walking.

Cheers to picking back up and moving forward even stronger!

*It wasn’t all terrible. I did get to spend a lot more time with my Little Mister and do a ton of fun things like park play dates with other kids. I think that little baby is what kept me from really going off the deep end.

Setbacks Suck!

I never pictured myself as a person who would be emotional and upset when not able to go to the gym.  But, as I sat in the office at the gym this morning freezing my account for a month and crying to Ninja Trainer about how scared I am to lose all the progress that I made, I realize how much working out had become a part of me.  I’ve been putting so much effort into training.  And getting stronger.  And making progress.  I’m proud of all the work I have put into getting stronger.  I’m proud of pushing myself and seeing strength in my legs that I had thought were betraying me.  I’m proud when I sometimes catch a glance of my shoulders in the mirror and see how they’re getting defined.  I’m proud when one of the trainers tells me that I put in good work.

But I pushed myself last week when I knew better.  My back started to hurt really bad, but I pushed that aside and kept going.  And since then, I’ve been paying the price.  My neurosurgeon called me into his office for an emergency MRI.  Luckily he said there’s nothing in my spine which made him feel the need to cut me open.  So, in that sense I feel overwhelmingly relieved.  But, he also said that I sprained my spine and no working out for a month.  If I start to feel better, then I can go back earlier.  So I am going to start at the pool next week and try to loosen things up in a safe manner.  And while that is nice, I’m so worried about losing everything that I’ve made.  And I’m worried that if I do get back to the gym that I will lose the motivation which I’ve built up.  I know that I need to rest my back.  And I know I should be super relieved that I didn’t do more damage and that I don’t need to get cut open.  But I’m going to be sad for a minute and acknowledge the fact that setbacks suck.

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.

 

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.

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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.