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.

Trust.

Today was a body part at the gym day.  (I honestly don’t know what part of the body we worked out today because somehow GunShow managed to make them all sore.  Maybe shoulder day?  Maybe bicep day?  Pretty sure it wasn’t leg day, though he did still manage to get them involved and they are now steadily twitching as I sit here typing in agony.)  He was a bit under the weather with a sinus infection and he decided to take his unhappiness out on me.  Ok, I don’t know that last part to be completely true, but it is a very likely scenario.  I told him to take the time off to rest.  He told me I wouldn’t work out if he weren’t there.  I told him I would.  He apparently knows me too well. I would have gone to the gym.  And I probably would have half-assed it in a virtual class.  I love the virtual classes.  But, I also admit that I don’t push myself in nearly the same way he does.  Hence my need for his services!

But, the conversation also got me to thinking.  I sometimes do weights when I’m not training at the gym with him.  Again, it’s not the same way.

wheelchair lat pull downwheelchair lat pull downI don’t do some weights because I would need help (i.e. a seated lat pulldown [I’m sure the “seated” ).  I need help pulling the bar down to even do the exercise.  Sometimes I lose my balance.  I’ve never fallen.  Or even come close to falling.  But it’s still a really scary feeling when you have no control.  And that’s why I like having him there.  I know GunShow won’t let me fall or hurt myself.  I trust him.

 

I know that I’m a different kind of client.  I need more attention because things that aren’t an issue for other people are possibly problematic for me.  Like sitting on a weight bench.  A normal client can just sit down.  I have to transfer off of my wheelchair onto a narrow bench.  I have to know that I’m not going to fall off equipment.  Or that I’ll be able to get back up if I get on the ground.  These are considerations that I think about nonstop when I’m at the gym.  And that’s why it has to take trust.  My trust in him has grown as our relationship has developed while I’ve trained with him.  I’m willing to try different things that push me way [read: WAY WAY WAY] past my comfort zone because of that.  If I don’t trust my trainer (physical therapist, doctor, whatever) I’m not going to push myself or let them push me.  I’ll play it safe.  It’s once we’ve established that level of trust that I’m willing to go out on the ledge (so to speak).  And I don’t trust everyone.  Or many people, for that matter.  And if I don’t have the trust connection with someone, I will completely shut down.  That’s why I left a couple physical therapists prior to joining this gym.  No trust = not pushing myself = wasting my time and theirs.  But you have to understand how scary it is doing things when you can’t feel that you’re supported on the ground by legs that are meant to stabilize you and having a core that isn’t quite up to snuff.  It’s intimidating and daunting.  Even though past therapists would tell me to trust that my legs are there and still supporting me, it’s nearly impossible to trust that when you can’t feel them.  So when I can’t trust my own body, I have to trust the person who is working with me.  I have to trust my trainer.  I have to trust GS.

Another example: today we did timed bicep curls and I set the weights on my legs for very short breaks.  I had the weights resting on my hands because it’s scary putting weights on my legs and not knowing if they’re hurting my legs or not.  GS didn’t want me to cut off circulation to my hands by holding the weights.  I told him my fear of accidentally hurting my legs and not knowing and I could see him thinking about that.  I don’t think that’s something he had thought of before.  And I could literally see the wheels in his brain turning.  And then he said “Do you think I would let you do something to hurt yourself.”  It wasn’t accusatory like how dare I not trust him.  And it wasn’t feeling sorry for himself like he was sad that I didn’t trust him.  It wasn’t even really a question. It was a statement of strength.  I know he wouldn’t let me really hurt myself.  He knows that I know that.  And I moved my hands and let the weights rest on my leg.  And I did not get hurt.

Well, My legs didn’t get hurt.  My biceps are completely on fire.  But I suppose that was intentional.

Old legs, new tricks

I hit a major plateau in my paralysis recovery.  Or, rather, the plateau was in my mental state regarding my recovery.  I became rather complacent in my wheeled life and kind of gave up on trying to get stronger.  I focused on getting better in my wheelchair.  If this is my life, then I need to be as good as possible in my wheelchair.  But, why can’t I do both?  Why can’t I be good in my chair but also still try to get out of it?  I give credit to going to the gym for helping me reach this new revelation.  The fact that I am getting stronger and getting pushed beyond where I ever thought I could go has made me more open to trying more things.  I’m still a big whiner and really have to be forced into new things, but I’m more open to it than I was a year ago.

Today was one such day.  I’m on vacation in Wyoming.  The hubs and I joined a gym for the duration of our stay.  It’s a really nice little gym, though it does make me miss my gym and my gym friends back home.  But, for a temporary gym, this place is nice.  (I love that I’ve become a person who needs to belong to a gym while on vacation.  I literally NEVER thought I would be that person.  I was always more of a “eat crap cause you’re on vacation” vacationer.  But, now I don’t want to lose all the progress I’ve made.  And I feel gross when I don’t work out these days.  Who knew?!)  I was going to jump on the recumbent bike while here, because that’s something that I’ve been wanting to try.  But, the  one here isn’t as nice as the one in my gym back home.  And that’s something I want to try when I’m in my home gym on my home turf with my home girls (and guys).  Instead, I decided to try the leg press machine.  The hubs was all for me trying and encouraged me to jump on.  So I did.  And at first, I wasn’t able to do anything.  Go figure- my legs didn’t work.  But, then I realized I could push my knees down to straighten my legs and then my muscles kicked in and controlled my going back down.  This was the kind of situation where I wish that Gun Show or one of the other trainers had been around to make sure I was doing everything correctly and to reassure me that I was actually working. (I tend to second guess everything because I don’t want to get my hopes up.)  The hubs filmed me while I did a few reps.  Then he showed me the video and I promptly deleted it.  (Note to self: you make some really awful faces when exerting yourself.  Don’t do that.)  Then the hubs filmed a second round.  Towards the end, I was actually able to kind of push myself up.  A little.  The unfortunate thing is that the video cut out at that exact moment because someone called me.  But, the video caught the awesomeness of the rest of it.  I don’t know if it was really that awesome, but it felt awesome.  And I felt like I conquered something new.  I tried for a third round, but my legs were spent and I didn’t want to push it.

So, now I am super stoked about my new signs of ability and I can’t wait to try it again and push myself more.  Though, I’m worried about when I get back to my real gym, because GS has already promised to torture push me based on the video proof what I am able to do now.  Who knows what can happen?!

Ode to GunShow

I love my new gym.  Seriously.  It’s just a really comfortable place with good energy.  (No, I’m not getting all new-agey. I just mean people there are super friendly and they usually play good music.)  I like everything except for my new personal trainer: GunShow*.  (Please see below for *.)  I hate him.  I’ve never hated anyone so much in my life.  I thought Drill Sergeant and 5-0 were rough on me.  But they were physical therapists and were more inclined to not push me too hard. (Drill Sergeant was a little more aggressive than 5-0.  But I still had some tricks that worked for leniency.)  I think personal trainers are just built differently.  Literally and figuratively.  Pain is gain. Sweat is fat crying.  And other such motivational sayings.

What makes GunShow even worse is that he was in the Army and had to rehab after an injury.  There is literally no pity in him for me.  He pushes me to my limit and then adds 5 more pounds.  He is quick to tell me when I have “4 more” but neglects to tell me when I’ve stopped counting and did 2 more than he instructed.  Jerk!

The hubs was his teacher in high school so on some level I think it’s payback for long held grudges.  I asked him and he denied that, though I swear I saw him rubbing his hands together like some evil genius.

The worst part is that there is no distracting him.  With my physical therapists, I could always get them distracted.  I had one who I could get to massage me for the entire session.  I would just tell her that my legs and shoulders were tight from sitting and pushing all day.  The next thing, I’m snoozing on the table.  The hubs would get so mad that I would get away with that and tell me I had to stop that.  What I heard was “Do that every time?  Challenge accepted.”  And 5-0 loved to talk about the physiological aspects of everything I did.  He’s roll over the skeleton and show me how everything worked.  That took up half the session.  But, with GunShow, I can’t distract him for anything.  I do try too!  His response “You think I can’t multi-task?  Keep going.”  I think I threatened to punch him like 3 times today because of how hard I had to work and how sore I was from Monday.  That’s what happens when I work for the straight 60 minutes and become sore and tired.  Maybe once I give him nice throat punch he will let me have more breaks.  But, somehow I think that would lead to more reps or some new torturous activity.

I hate this guy so much that I spent the last hour looking up personal trainer memes to bombard him with.  That’s the first passive aggressive step before throat punch.  You have to work your way up the aggression ladder.  Here is the first one from my new arsenal of memes:

personal trainer 10 more

 

Ok, and for those of you reading this, replace hate with love.  It’s only been one week and 2 sessions with him (though the soreness in my muscles would indicate differently) but I think he’s actually an amazing trainer.  And I’m always up for a challenge and looking for opportunities to fight when someone doesn’t give in to me and let me have my way.  My physical therapists (specifically 5-0 and Drill Sergeant) were so amazing and I loved working with them.  But, it wasn’t enough to make me stick with it.  I can already tell that this is going to be a much, much different experience.  And I’m not just saying that based on today’s conversations about metal music and festivals.  The fact that I enjoy talking to him is just icing on the “get me in shape” cake.  [And yes, I am aware that I probably shouldn’t be using sugary cake metaphors when talking about getting in shape and my personal trainer.  Give me a break- it’s only been 1 week at the gym.]

*GunShow was his choice of name for this blog.  He’s a goofball but since he wouldn’t stop increasing the weight on the machine I was using, I gave in.  I was hoping he would reward my generosity by going easy on me for the rest of the session.  He did not.  So for now I will acquiesce, but I do reserve the right to rename him “Jerky J” at any point in time if he becomes too hard on me.

Gym rat- day 3

Today was day 3 at the gym. 3 days in a row! I think you get a medal when you go 3 days in a row, right? Yesterday we went in the afternoon and the gym was full of big muscly guys. I think I prefer going in the morning where it’s more women and older people. That’s more my speed. I’m not quite at the “lift 300 pounds and grunt really loud so that everyone knows you’re lifting 300 pounds” phase. Give me a couple weeks. One of my clients is a big muscly guy and has promised to train me once I win his case. I’ve bartered with him- I won’t charge him anymore for his case and he will train me. He said he’d train me for free if [WHEN!!!] I win his case. I have 2 witnesses to hold him to that!

This morning the owner of the gym was there and was super excited that we were there too. I know this because he exclaimed “HI!” and waved with both of his arms over his head. Not quite a 3-day medal, but close.

Me on the arm bike at the gym

Me on the arm bike at the gym

I’ve learned that people are more awkward around me at the gym. They don’t want to crowd me or offend me by assuming things. Case in point: This morning I was using weights in a free weight area. I happened to be next to a balance ball apparatus. It’s the thing that looks like half a balance ball with the bottom being a flat board. (In looking it up, I see it’s called a Bosu Ball.) I think you stand on it and try to balance. I used one back in the day during PT (like 2006). I was never any good at it.

Anyway, a woman came up to me nervously asked if I was using it. I tried to not laugh when I said “no” because she was so sincere and nice about it. She probably felt awkward because it was right next to me and didn’t want to offend me by assuming that I couldn’t use it.

This made me realize that people generally are nice. And respectful. And nonjudgmental. She could have easily just assumed I wasn’t using the thing. But she was worried about hurting my feelings. That was very nice.

So, I think I’ll go back for day 4.

Arm Bike

I love the arm bike.  I used to hate using an arm bike when I was walking.  I felt defeated- that I should be using the regular bike or elliptical but because my legs weren’t as strong, I was using the arm bike.  But now that I’m wheelchair bound, it’s become an awesome workout!

The arm bike at my gym requires me to transfer to the little bench.  I don’t know if it’s removeable.  The arm bike at my physical therapist’s clinic has a removeable bench where I can wheel right up and stay in my chair.  I don’t mind transferring though.

The workout I did today (3/29/15) consisted of 15 minutes:

1:00 warm-up

4:00 forward [moderate] (L4)

4:00 backward [moderate] (L4)

1:00 forward [rigorous] (L5)

1:00 backward [rigorous] (L5)

1:15 forward [moderate] (L2)

0:45 forward [rigorous] (L5)

2:00 cool-down (L2)

This definitely got the heart rate up and the sweat pouring.  Trick: keep your back straight and your abs tight for a great core workout.  Don’t twist from side to side.

Gym Rat

Ok, that title may be a *bit* optimistic or even *slightly* misleading.  I went to the gym today.  First time.  I guess that doesn’t quite qualify me as a gym rat or a regular.  But, I do intend to go back.  So that’s something.

Just like a majority of Americans, the Hubs and I joined a gym at the first of the year.  There’s a small gym by our house which is owned by a super nice guy who is really excited about helping me get healthy and in shape.  He even moved weigh equipment around for me.  We dutifully joined in early January.  Today was the first time we went.

I’m really good at excuses. “I don’t feel good.”  “Tomorrow I have PT and don’t want to wear myself out.”  “It’s Tuesday.”  Whatever the situation, I can come up with a great excuse to talk myself out of going.  I actually packed my gym bag one morning and went to the gym on my way home from court.  I pulled into the parking spot which is literally in front of the door to the gym.  I sat there for a minute and then chickened out.  In my head, people were going to stare at the handicapped girl in the wheelchair and judge me for being there.  The hubs has been busy with work and we hadn’t found any time to go to the gym (Sounds an awful lot like an excuse, I know).

Going to the gym is always a good idea.  I never get there and think “Man, I’m bummed I went there today!”  Even if I’m sore, I don’t regret going.  The soreness lets me know I actually did something!

Cut to today- we decided to go.  I put on my gym clothes as soon as I got up.  That’s always half the battle.  Luckily, the hubs as motivated to go.  I’m always on the fence.  It sounds like a good idea, but do I really want to?  Today he wanted to.  He put his workout clothes on which got our dogs super excited cause they thought it meant that they were going on a walk.  So, 20 minutes later, after he returned from a quick walk with the dogs, we left for the gym.

As we were parking, another car came into the handicapped spot next to us.  Out comes an older man with one leg.  Not even a prosthetic.  Just one leg and crutches.  The reason why this is noteworthy is because I kept seeing him all over the gym (again, it’s very small).  He would balance on the one leg and do the overhead pull down bar weight thing (yes, that’s the technical term I believe).  Nothing makes one feel like a whiner than to see a one legged man killing it in the gym.  Talk about inspiration!

I did my thing on the arm bike.  I used to think the arm bike was kind of a weird machine.  But now that it’s my go-to gym aerobics machine, I appreciate it.  Talk about an arm, shoulder and core workout!  The trick is to sit up (not propped up on the backrest) and flex your ab muscles the whole time.  Yikes! I also used a pec machine, which made me feel like I was going to fall off the little bench thing.  I did not.

This little outing taught me A) I’m able to use quite a bit of machinery in the gym; B) I should definitely stop feeling sorry for myself; C) I should also stop being so conceited and thinking that people are looking at me, cause the only people who glanced my way were just waiting for me to finish with my sets.  [Well, I also caught a few glances when I took a selfie to send to my mom and dad as proof that I was in the gym.  They tend to not believe me unless there’s photographic proof.  My dad said I used photoshop and my mom said I took a photo in front of a gym poster.  Haters!]