Thursday, June 16, 2011

An S&M relationship for good!

I’m in a Sadistic/ Masochistic relationship, and I like it.  Now don’t get any crazy ideas, but really I let this guy strap electrodes to my leg, put me in a 40 pound flack jacket and then do exercises, and that is just the beginning.  Yep, I’m talking about my physical therapist.  Still I go back twice a week because he knows what he’s doing and I’m getting better.

Physical therapy is a funny thing. Recovering from a surgery, especially one as extensive as mine, PT is essential.  However, physical therapy can do so much more.   I have friends in PT now for dog bites, bad backs, sore knees etc.  Sometimes we take how we move and how we exercise for granted. We focus on the big muscle groups or how far or hard we ride/ run/swim as we train.  Rarely, does anyone take a break and think about the muscles in your foot, hand, spine etc that makes all that possible.  Yet, in part that is the job of a PT.  Here’s a few snippets of my journey…

I have a deinnervated foot, half an ankle, a quad that had a section of it removed, and then significant muscular atrophy from months of sitting around doing nothing.  The first thing that my PT started working on was regaining my flexibility.  Then we progressed to work on my foot and ankle. You can’t stand if you have no strength in your ankle.  Think about it. First exercise assigned:  Pick up marbles with your toes!  Yep, I spent 15 minutes trying to make my little toes that can’t feel and can barely control to pick up marbles and drop them in a pitcher.  Good fun, 3 months later, I rock this exercise!

Then we progressed on to other fun ankle strengthening things like, put your foot on a BAPS (solid surface on a ball) and rotate it around.  It sounds silly, but week by week my ankle got less wobbly as I slowly learned to walk again.  There were all kinds of crazy core exercises to strengthen my back and get my abs back.  My BoSu ball and I became best friends. 

Soon, I started to be able to upright and the sadist focused on strengthening my ankle and balancing.  Thus, I became friends with a lovely pair of shoes I coined “Birkenstocks on balls.” First I just tried to walk on them, then I had to do various odd walks on them with resistance bands ties around my leg.  Thus, the S&M relationship began, because really that is crazy. 

Then the crazy lunges and core exercises really began.  Slowly, my body started to look like what it used to, but still my quad didn’t seem to activate normally through the surgical scar. So, the sadist attached electrodes to my leg and sent electrical stimuli through my quad at as strong of a frequency as I could handle all the while doing leg lifts.  I felt like a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, yet I didn’t reveal any secrets.

Week after week the exercises intensified as did what I was allowed to do outside of the PT gym.  Yes, you can swim. Yes, you can spin. Yes, you can ride a bike. Yes, you can get on the elliptical. Aqua-jogging? yes.  The yeses began to grow, my strength, confidence and optimism slowly started to return.

Still the sadist always pushed me with a smile on his face, if I started to get good at an exercise he made it harder, up the resistance, up the weight, do it standing on a foam pad.  He pushed, I laughed and set out to meet the new harder version.  Thus the masochist in me is fueled.

He started having me do lunges wearing a 40 pound weight vest.  Then other exercises in the flack jacket.  He wanted to load my Achilles so that I could prepare to run.  I now spend an hour at PT wearing this 40 pound vest.  Craziness I swear, yet I do it.  Sometimes, we jest about the combo exercises.  One day as a lark he said- stand on one leg on a foam pad, wearing a laser target, vibrate a body blade and throw a ball against the trampoline.  My prize for this stupidity, no BAPS board that day which is the true Guantanamo Bay exercise. 

I go, I go twice a week.  I spend 3 +/- hours there and I do whatever he says.  My reward, today he had me run on a treadmill.  5 months after my surgery and I’m starting to run again.  I’m well on the road back.  It feels great.  I’m good with this S&M thing we have going on!
I'm also incredibly thankful to my  PT Jonathan for travelling this long journey with me!


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