Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It’s Good to Be Back!

Three months – that's how long it's been since I was at Roll 2 Walk. Since August I have been sick, stressed beyond belief, and more thankful than ever that the semester is over. Surprisingly, for missing three months, my three days at R2W weren't bad at all. It was as if I hadn't missed a day between visits. Right off the bat, I figured I would tire out quickly and I would be sore afterwards, but I was far from it. I actually had a lot of energy afterwards and even while I was doing my exercises.

Mid-sit-up on day 2
The only little hiccup had been while I was kneeling on the first day; my blood pressure kept dropping after only a few minutes. Also, I needed spotting on my upper body, when in August I didn't need any spotting.
One cool thing that happened on day one, though, was when I was doing back extensions, an exercise I don't really like because they're kind of hard to do. Anyway while I was doing them I could feel the left side of my lower back working (and burning). Chad had said that it's hard to tap into the lower back and that I was doing the work because he was giving me resistance, whereas other clients all the resistance he provides is just to make sure they don't fall back.

Kneeling day 3 - 100% awesome
One "theme" to my workouts this week was that my glutes were firing. One indicator was on day one when we did bridges. Chad had me do five bridges and on the fifth on hold it and I did! Not for very long, maybe two or three seconds, but I held it nonetheless which is significant to my progress. So because my glutes were firing, Chad wanted to do more kneeling and while we were doing them he wanted me to focus on squeezing my glutes on the way up to the kneeling position. On day three, to tap into my glutes even more, Chad and I did squats (I wish I had a video showing y'all this because it's a little hard to explain the exercise, but I'll try). The squats are the part between the sitting part before kneeling and the part where I'm actually kneeling. Chad had me do five of those. The incredible thing that happened was that Chad said he hardly had to help me with them; all he had to do was guide my hips… with his thumbs!! I couldn't believe it at first but after I thought about what I just done and felt, I believed it.

Kneeling on day 2 - it was a little better than day 1

Other things that happened were: on day two Chad had noticed that my hip flexors were very tight but once they loosened up it my kneeling was better and on day three my physical therapist observed my workout so that she had a better understanding of what I was doing and how to do the exercises, we normally do at physical therapy, better. It doesn't seem like a lot happened this time around but in the grand scheme of things a lot did. Being able to tap into my glutes and lower back are (and will be) essential for standing and core strength. Also, tapping into those muscles will be helpful when I get to the point where I can dress myself and when I do pressure reliefs in my manual chair. This little bit of improvement means tons for the future and what I'll be able do if there should be a cure for paralysis in the near future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Lose Weight - The SCI Way

I'm going to make this short and sweet –

School has been kicking my arse and I haven't had a moment to relax since…… I was sick. Even then, I couldn't really relax.

For two weeks, earlier this month, I was incredibly sick! It was not pretty, so I'm going to spare y'all the details. Let's just say my digestive system was revolting against me.

So, because I was sick for two weeks, I missed a lot of school. I have never (involuntarily) missed that much time from school, except when I got hurt, but that's a different bag of potatoes. Anyway, I'm finally caught up, for the most part. I'm afraid I'm going to fail my ensuing Media Planning exam because I wasn't in class to get the gist of my prof's lectures.

I was supposed to schedule workouts for October but because I got sick that was out of the question. I feel really bad because I haven't done any of my Roll 2 Walk stuff since August, so I'm afraid that all the progress I had made is going to be all for naught. We'll see what happens in December.

But the really good news is that after three-plus years of being a quad, I've lost about 30 pounds and two inches of my seated hip width, which I'm really proud of. It's awesome but it also puts a damper on things like clothes… now that I'm skinnier my jeans, even the smaller sized jeans, don't fit right in zipper/crotch area. It's a serious problem because the zipper rolls up and every now and then presses or rubs against the supra-pubic catheter in my bladder. I don't know what to do. Is there anyone (quad or para) in the Internet/blogosphere/world that has had this happen? I need a solution, ASAP. I'm not kidding when I say it kind of looks like I have a tiny penis. I don't have those parts… fortunately. The upside to the weight loss is that I can be justified for a new power chair! No more Darth Vader chair, I'm getting a slick, stylish and smaller one that I won't be embarrassed to be seen in. Especially since I'm going to be driving soon and I'll be stuck with using a power chair.

If there are any quads (or even paras) out there that thinks it's impossible to lose weight – it isn't! You have to watch what you eat – meaning listen to your body:
  • If you're full, stop eating.
  • If you're not hungry, don't eat.
  • Eat food that's good for you - McDonald's or Sonic and junk food don't count.
  • Dump the soft drinks - water is your best friend even if you don't like water (which is a crap excuse to not drink water - suck it up and drink it!)
  • You also have to exercise! Even if you're a higher level quad than I am, you need to exercise – anything that gets your heart pumping counts.
  • If you're a quad and your level is the same as mine, get your doctor or physical therapist (if you're not doing PT - DO IT!!) to justify getting you a manual chair – it is worth every penny and your body will thank you for it in the long run!
I'm serious. This is exactly what I've been doing for the past two and a half years and it works! Now, DO IT!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August: Hot as hell but great workouts!

This week's workouts at Roll 2 Walk were awesome! I rocked it this week and I have some proof. You'll see. You didn't think I was going to show y'all right away, did you?
Monday I get to the gym and almost right off the bat Gray said my posture looked better. All I can say is that I'm becoming more aware of the position of my shoulders in relation to my back and the little bit of massaging that I'm doing in my neck must be helping it. We started my workout on the floor. I did the the rolling exercises, the oblique reaches, and the hip flattening exercises. After that, we either got on the table or we went into kneeling, I can't quite remember. When we went into kneeling I did extremely well. It was the first time I didn't have to come down because of bp (blood pressure, not British Petroleum) issues and I had my upper body most of the time. It was phenomenal, I was very proud of myself. After that, it was the same ol', same ol', not that that's a bad thing, I'm just figuring y'all don't want to read about it.
Tuesday was rough. How rough? Well, I had bp issues while I was standing and kneeling, I was extremely tired out, and my muscles were sort of sore and worn out from the day before. At the time I didn't really have a clue as to why, I thought maybe I was getting sick, but now that I think about it I most definitely was dehydrated. At one point I was really frustrated with myself. It's crazy how I was dehydrated but at the same time freezing my ass off. But that's how it goes when you have a SCI (spinal cord injury).
After I was done with my workout I went to a community "physical therapy" facility to try out an FES bike. It's a recumbent bike but electrode pads are placed on my quads, hamstrings and my glutes and when the bike is turned on my muscles receive an electrical stimulation in the motion of riding a bike. The overall objective is to ride the bike myself without the help of the stimulation. I had five tries to get in an hour of riding. I only got to 30 minutes but apparently that was good for the first time.
My Wednesday workout was awesome. The only thing that really stands out is the kneeling that I did. It was near perfect. It was like Monday's kneeling but better. Well, you'll see in the video below. What's happening is I'm using my triceps (which I don't entirely have) to keep myself from falling over, my shoulders are down and away from my ears, and when you see Chad take his hand away from my hip I have control over my hips. Meaning, my glutes and core were keeping me stacked on top of my knees. It was BAD ASS! I couldn't believe it. I still can't wholly believe it and I've watched the video so many times I've lost count. Just watch. You can't really hear what Gray is saying and I don't have editing software (nor the money to buy some) to fix it.
I gotta say, I still got a booty. If my back wasn't over-arched I think I wouldn't look so flat chested. Oh well... I'm being a bit vain, sorry about that.
Should I post video or photos more often? Leave a comment and let me know.
So that was my three day week – a bunch of awesomeness! Since school starts Thursday I don't know when the next time I'll be down in Austin between now and December. Maybe I'll be down there for weekend or two, we shall see. 
As always, please, please, please donate. Funds are running low and I'd really like to continue with this progress. Please [Insert puppy dog face here]. Thanks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

June and July @ R2W

Ok, I know I should have written a post for June but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was immersed in World Cup Soccer and I've been feeling blue (don't worry, it comes with the territory). Plus, I only spent two days at Roll 2 Walk and not much happened… then again, I don't remember a lot of what happened.

The biggest "development" was that we (Gray, Chad and I) determined that my hip flexors are tight and that they need to be stretched out. The guys showed my mom how to do that so we could do it at home and we've been doing that the best we can since then. The guys and I continued to work on my shoulders and posture. The work that we've been doing on my posture has vastly improved and every day, while I'm sitting at my computer or in front of the TV, I work on it. I think I'm more aware of my posture now, than I was before I started Roll 2 Walk. We also tried some hands/elbows and knees load bearing, which was pretty exciting. I was worried about my wrists hurting once we got to my hands and I was worried that my triceps were going to hold very well, but Chad assured me that he had my elbows. I was ok for the most part, I mean I did have to rest every once and a while because of my shoulder and neck would get tired, but that's to be expected.

Now that I got you up to speed on June's shenanigans, I'll let you in on the highlights of this month's trip or what I like to call the "Return to Pain" trip.

Monday was a LONG day! From the time I woke up to the three-hour drive to Austin and then the three-hour workout. I was exhausted by the end of my workout; which after five months of going to Roll 2 Walk you'd expect I wouldn't be exhausted. Au contraire, mes amis. We didn't do anything different – range of motion, TG, core exercises, kneeling and standing in the standing frame. But for some unexplainable reason I was sore right off the bat. I was having bad nerve pain in my left hand, so maybe that was sucking the life out of me. Nerve pain, if I haven't told you what it is, is the worst kind of pain imaginable, worse than breaking bones, because the pain doesn't go away. Imagine your hand or foot on fire and you can't put out that fire, that's what nerve pain is like when it's at a five on a scale from 1-10. Anyway, the nerve pain was making things, like doing the sit ups and back extensions, difficult and was frustrating the hell out of me. I was having one of those days.

Tuesday I was so sore I was having a little trouble pushing my wheelchair. It was fun! I eventually loosened up a little bit, either that or I just forgot about how stiff I was. The rolling exercises that I usually do without any problems were hard for me to do, that's how stiff I was. Ok, I'm going to stop whining now. I did the usual exercises – range of motion, TG, kneeling and standing – with a couple twists added. After I did some kneeling I got on my hands and knees and worked on connecting to my triceps while working on squeezing my shoulder blades together. I would like the hands and knees exercise more if it didn't bother shoulders and neck so quickly. I guess I'll get used to it. Anyway, after that I got into the standing frame but Gray wanted to try something different. Instead of having the seat of the frame holding me up Gray got behind me and sat in the seat so he could easily adjust my hips. It was quite cozy back there. A tad bit uncomfortable but it helped my hips and back get in the right position.

Wednesday I wasn't as sore as I was the day before. Probably because of all of the Icy Hot I used the night before and the good night's sleep. All in all I felt better and was ready to get to work. The workout was pretty much the same as Monday and Tuesday, except Chad wasn't there (his baby girl was sick – you were missed, Chad). It was pretty much a laid back work out. We did the rolling which was 100 times easier to do than it was Monday! We also worked some more on my shoulder blades. The general consensus is my right shoulder blade is winging out and it's not doing the same thing that my left one is so by concentrating on just on retraction (squeezing my shoulder blades together) will strengthen that rhomboid muscle and kind of correct the "curve" I have. As I was doing the exercise I could feel it making a difference. Right in the middle of my back at the bottom of shoulder blades I felt the muscles burning, something I haven't felt back there a long time. Since Wednesday I've been doing the exercise while I'm sitting up and I'm now convinced the chair back is partially the culprit of my bad posture and shoulder problem. But I'm just blaming the chair back because I'm not a big fan of it. At least it's better than the back on my power wheelchair. After the rolling stuff on the table we did sit-ups and back extensions, then TG and then, I think, standing in the frame and that was it. I wish we had stayed one more day but it wasn't in the cards or budget. It was short but sweet and fun three days.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May visit to Roll 2 Walk

I'm having a little trouble starting this off, probably because I don't know where to start. Since the semester ended I haven't really been able to relax, so I'm a bit exhausted and don't really want to write. But I'm going to quit bitching and do it anyway.
Since Sunday (May 16) I've been in Austin for Roll 2 Walk (and for a concert). It's been an interesting week, to say the least. My mom and I were shuffled between three hotels at the beginning of the week and on Tuesday we bit the bullet and decided to leave the Rat Motel we were in (a.k.a. Studio 6 - NEVER STAY THERE) and stay at an extremely better hotel. So, how were my workouts at Roll 2 Walk, you may ask? Here are the day-by-day highlights:
Monday was a kind of backwards day. We started off with free-standing (standing without the standing frame). It was the first time we had started off with free-standing which sort of threw me for a loop, but I didn't mind. My standing was awesome, my posture was straight and I was sort of connecting to my butt, except my hips wanted to bail to the right (all week they did that) every now and then. I stood for I think 30 minutes without having to take a break for my blood pressure. After that we got on the Total Gym and then after that I got on the table to do the range of motion with muscle stimulation. While I was on the table Chad and I did some triceps exercises. These were hard, mostly because I hardly have any triceps especially on the left, although Chad said my left was stronger than my right. After we did that we went to the floor to do some core exercises and to finish my workout I did some kneeling.
Tuesday was a two hour workout but we did a lot, according to my notes, but for the life of me I can't remember what half of what I did. First, I got on the table and did range of motion with muscle stimulation. Gray did a little bit of massage therapy to unstiffen my neck because the bed at the Rat Motel was a rock! Boy did that feel good, once he finished my neck felt so much better. When we were done on the table I did some kneeling. I remember my balance was really good and that we worked on protraction and retraction of my right shoulder. Also, I remember Chad being a fool and almost letting me fall on my face, which wasn't cool and scared the begeezus out of me, and the Gray not feeling too comfortable doing the straight arm kneeling with the box. After that Chad and I got on the Total Gym. It seemed as if we were talking about Deadliest Catch (the best show on TV!) more than were doing leg presses, but I could be wrong. Eventually, we stopped talking and he sat me up and I worked on my balance. While doing that I got SO focused on a particular spot on Chad's Red Sox shirt that he couldn't break my concentration. At one point I told him I was actually looking through him. Nothing could break my concentration not even Chad lifting his shirt like he was flashing someone for beads on Bourbon Street. It was as if I was in a trance or something, it was nuts! After I broke my own trance we did some wall exercises to work on the shoulders and posture to end the day.
Wednesday was pretty grueling, especially toward the end of my workout. Chad and I started off on the table with the range of motion and for the first time I connected to my adductor muscles in my right leg; the muscles on the inside of the thigh (the ones you use to keep your legs shut). It was pretty cool, Chad would bring my leg in some and I would kind of finish the movement. I don't know why, but I don't get excited about moving my legs on my own. Maybe I'm emotionally screwed up and I don't want to make a big deal out of it just in case it's a fluke, I don't know. I'm strange, I know. Anyway, after we did that we did kneeling but this time Gray was behind me and Chad was spotting my upper body. Before I got up into full kneeling position I did some balancing and core (mainly back extension and oblique exercises) and Gray worked on loosen the muscles below my collar bone to see if that would help with my neck and shoulders. When I got up in to the full kneeling position, though I had sharp pins and needles in my feet, it was not fun and was messing up my concentration. After a few minutes, though, it passed. The last thing we worked on that day was hardcore rolling, an exercise that involved me on my side and trying to flatten my hips while Gray resisted me, oblique exercises and flattening my shoulder to the ground while my hands were together. All of these were difficult, the hardcore rolling being the hardest of them all. I mean I was pooped, wiped out, annihilated; all I wanted to do was take a nap which I didn't do.
Thursday's workout was about the same as Tuesday's workout except I had this weird, uncomfortable feeling in my left butt cheek when Gray was doing the circles part of the range of motion. I did not like that feeling and I think it was associated with the pop I heard that morning when I transferred into my chair from the bed. Then when we went on the Total Gym I started sweating, a lot, and I wasn't sure if it was AD or not. Gray even said I was sweating through my shirt and while I was sitting up I almost got sweat in my eye. Once I got off of it and into my chair I immediately stopped sweating; it had been AD. This was weird because I hadn't had AD from doing the TG since my first week at Roll 2 Walk. I shrugged it off and the last thing we did that day was free standing, sort of, my damn dizzy spells kept my from standing very long.
My last day (till June) was pretty much the same drill as the rest of the week. First was the table and range of motion and a little bit of rolling exercises. When I was done doing those exercises Gray had Mark, one of South Congress Athletic Club's trainers/massage therapists, work on my neck to see if we could loosen the muscles that may be causing the metal-on-bone popping I feel every now and then. He did one massage that was above my collarbone and another below my collarbone and then he did one at the back of my neck which felt really good. He showed my mom how to them and then I went on the TG and almost immediately started to sweat. Needless to say we didn't spend much time on that. We went to the floor to do core and kneeling balance and when were done I had completely feel out of my bra, feeling totally embarrassed ran into the bathroom and fixed myself… Why is it that every time I leave Austin I embarrass myself? Who knows, but it's not going to happen again… hopefully.
Sorry, this is so long. I had a lot to write about and I didn't want to skimp on the details. But thanks for sticking through and reading all of it. I know I said last time that I don't have very much money left to pay for more workouts, and I was only able to pay for this month's because my mom helped out. I'd love to continue Roll 2 Walk but I'm going to need some help, so please DONATE HERE. Also, if you're in the Austin area on June 12th hit up Roll 2 Walk's Casino Night 2010 Fundraiser. Here's the link: ROLL 2 WALK CASINO NIGHT. Merci beaucoup!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Break @ Roll 2 Walk: Day 4

Lastly day four was a dousey(sp?). So much so that as I was leaving I fell over and hit my head on the wall, I don't know why I fell over, either I lost my balance or spasmed but this may explain why:

I did the range of motion with muscle stimulation and as I mention before I moved my legs on my own. I couldn't believe it until I actually saw myself bring my knee to my chest and catch Gray off guard. I'm still kind of perplexed, shocked, confused, excited… I don't know what to make of me moving my leg. I don't want to jump to any conclusions or get too excited because I've been disappointed before. I'm kind of in disbelief, also, like maybe it was a spasm and I just didn't know it, yet something tells me it was me connecting to my hip flexors and doing it myself. Hell, crazier things have happened, so why don't I believe what I saw and what I'm hearing? Je ne sais pas!

After the table stuff Chad and I did my core exercises; sit-ups, back extensions and half around the worlds (oblique exercises). I must of done close to 50 sit-ups and back extensions… although on some of the back extensions Chad screwed up and had me doing sit-ups. Next thing after those exercises I did some straight arm kneeling and then I got strapped into the bike. I like the bike, I like it because I can connect to my nerves while I'm doing it and because I get to a point where I'm connecting to it so much that I want to cycle faster but I can't so I keep pushing myself to get my muscles to working on their own.

So, after this week the money that was raised in December at my benefit and that has been donated since will almost be used up. I have enough for a single 2-hour session. I'm going to dip into my savings a little and my mom said she'd help pay for more sessions but that will only go so far. I don't like asking for money and I feel awkward about asking for donations but if you want to continue to reading entries about my legs moving on their own please Donate here. Just click on the donate button on the page, it's the same donate button from my benefit. It's much appreciated.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Break @ Roll 2 Walk: Days 3

Last two days of my Spring Break Roll 2 Walk sessions were AWESOME. Here's why:
The first thing I did was the range of motion with muscle stimulation. While Gray was moving my leg I apparently moved my leg on my own. I still don't believe it so it's hard for me to get excited. But anyway, Gray asked me if I was doing the movement with him, I said I was and he said I did it on my own. The movement was either bringing my knee to my chest from a full leg extension or it was just the opposite. I can't remember because I did both movements on my own and they WERE NOT spasms. I know it wasn't a fluke because I did it the next day and because I gave Gray goose bumps and he said he only gets goose bumps when something like me moving my legs on my own, happens. After my muscles in my leg and hip flexors got tired Gray would aggravate the sciatic nerve at the bottom of my foot just to see if he could give those muscles some juice. It worked for a little bit but Gray didn't want to tire my muscles out too much, plus he wanted to try some side-lying hip flexion and see if my muscles would do the work. When we did them my muscles initiated the movement but didn't do it all. Apparently the the position he was in to move my leg and at the same time aggravate my sciatic was like a freaky Karma Sutra position and if anyone had walked into the gym at that moment would question what was going on… I know I would.

The rest of my workout was kind of uneventful compared to what happened at the beginning of my workout. I did the total gym exercises and Gray said he could see that my legs and hips remember walking because as one leg extended the other hip would start to flex. And the problem I had the first week with my knee has somewhat gone away. The only time I start to get a little AD is when I'm sitting up working on my posture and balance. YAY! So, after the total gym I got on the vibrating table for the first time since January. I still don't totally believe or know what it's supposed to do or what I'm supposed to do while I'm on it. I know it's supposed to stimulate the nerves in my legs but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be feeling or doing other than trying to sit up straight and not lose my balance. That was pretty much it for day 3 other than standing in the standing frame.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Break @ Roll 2 Walk: Day 2

Well today was eventful. I did a new exercise that I can't wait to explain and tell y'all about all the cool stuff that happened when I did the exercise, but I'm going to keep you in suspense and tell y'all what led up to Chad and Gray starting this new exercise on me. But I got to hurry it up because one of my favorite shows will be on in 25 minutes and after that I got to take a shower.

Remember how I had mention in my Roll2Walk: Day 4 blog entry that Gray (not Greg) said while I'm doing my total gym exercise my legs remember how to walk, yada, yada, yada? (If you don't, refer to that blog entry and you'll know where I'm going) Well, the guys wanted to see what would happen on the recumbent bike. And that's not just the only crazy improvements and "sightings" that the guys have noticed. When I'm doing the rolling exercises there's a variation to it where Gray or Chad bring my legs (while my back is flat) side to side, they're called windshield wipers. Anyway, when I do those Gray has notice that my hip flexors and oblique muscles connect and do some of the work, which is insane and almost incomprehensible to me to the point where I don't believe it. Also, when Gray was working on my range of motion in my shoulders I had mention that on my right side that under my armpit I was feeling a dull pain and he mentioned that it may not be pain and in actuality it could be my Serratus on that side coming back to life, which would be super cool! Yeah, I'm kind of excited but also a little skeptical, but that's kind of in my nature, I don't get too excited about something just in case my expectations dashed.

Anyway, so because of the interesting developments when I do the total gym exercises Chad and Gray wanted to see what would happen if got my feet strapped into the recumbent bike. Well something pretty cool happened, with a little bit of help and a start my legs, I did a little bit of the cycling!! I KNOW! Isn't that cool!? I was trying my hardest to keep the movement going and every now and then I did and I'm totally stoked about it. Tomorrow or Thursday I'm going to do more of the bike and I'm really excited about that.

Other than that there wasn't much to talk about (probably because I only had a two hour workout scheduled), I did the ANSR, the total gym exercises and the wall exercises. The wall exercises and my shoulders were not cooperating with each other and I didn't last long on the wall. Sorry this entry's so short and brief; at least it has some incredible news in it.

Spring Break @ Roll 2 Walk: Day 1

My Spring Break started with a more-than-amazing and completely euphoric performance by the RX Bandits on Sunday night! You cannot understand how much fun I had and how liberating it was to do it by myself. I love the RX Bandits and will be a fan for life.

Anyway, let's get down to business, shall we? What did I do yesterday? Well, I did the ANSR stuff with my legs, the total gym exercises, some standing and kneeling, rolling, bridges, some prone exercises and getting my shoulders and rotator cuffs back to normal. Yesterday was pretty low key, except Chad and I kept taking shots at each other but that's for a little later. The only new-ish thing was the rotator cuffs and shoulders and the prone exercises. Gray worked on depressing and retracting my shoulders and rotator cuffs to get them in the right place and to better their range of motion. He did some funky manipulating of my shoulders, especially on the left, that actually worked and made my shoulder feel better. It was as if he had magic hands, I swear. Each time he did a little manipulation I could get just a little bit better range, it was pretty cool and I must say I was impressed. My shoulders weren't aching after my workout and this morning I wasn't sore. I was completely surprised.

The prone exercises I did yesterday concentrated on my triceps and elongating my neck. There was one exercise where with my palms facing down I had to lift my hands off the ground, that's all triceps. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get my hands off the ground. The other exercises involved me reaching for my heels and keeping my neck neutral with my spine while retracting my shoulder blades. I had a lot to concentrate on but I got it done. After I did those exercises I did kneeling. I got frustrated with the balancing part of it yesterday because I couldn't find my balance at all and because my torso wanted to curve live a backwards C, I was seriously getting pissed. When I did the balancing on the total gym and the table I found my balance right away but when I was kneeling it just wouldn't happen. To make matters worse I was in front of a mirror so it kind of made me madder to see the backwards C in my torso. Once Chad decided I had had enough torture they put the box in front of me, except the box was shorter which meant I wasn't going to be on my elbows, I had to support myself with my arms straight, elbows locked. Now, I didn't support myself without help, Gray helped me keep my elbows locked while also flattening my fingers. After a while my right shoulder would get tired and I would relax it, well, when I did my right triceps would fire/spasm for some reason. Gray thought it was because when my hand was flat on the box the nerves in my palm were getting aggravated and that would trigger my triceps to spasm, I thought it was because my fingers had too much pressure on them which was hurting them and my triceps spasm was a reflex to the pain. Whatever it was, it really perplexed Gray.

I finished my workout with standing and to be perfectly honest I was spent. I was really tired and out of it. Chad said I looked bored, but in reality I was just exhausted. Exhausted from the workout and exhausted from taking shots at Chad. Why you may ask? Well, because he didn't answer any of my text messages Saturday or Sunday concerning going to the RX Bandits show. Turns out he changed his phone number and never told me, so I called him a jerk because it was jerk thing to do. Well, to make a long story short, he got me back quite a few times but I always had a come-back or two (which were way better than his, mind you, Gray would probably agree despite his bromance with Chad).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Break @ Roll 2 Walk: the “Prequel”

It's Spring Break and I'm at Roll 2 Walk. But first a "prequel," well a short entry about my weekend two weeks ago at Roll 2 Walk.
Feb. 26 and 27, I did two three-hour workouts that basically focused on my posture and the problems I have with my shoulder girdle; that is all the muscles like the deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, etc. that control my shoulders and shoulder blades. It wasn't all posture, I did the total gym workouts and basic ANSR exercises. And yes, there was a lot to talk about since my January appointments, but I'll leave that for last.
Gray (not Greg, I mistakenly called him Greg for a week and then some before I went on Roll 2 Walk's website to check his name… great reporting, oops, so sue me) and Chad were impressed to see that my posture had gotten since January. I mean it wasn't leaps and bounds better but it was a significant improvement. Good thing I've been able to work on it with my physical therapist, huh? But my posture still and probably will need working on for a while, at least until it I don't have to think about. Things like squeezing my shoulder blades together and elongating my neck are things that I have to think about doing when I'm in my chair and when I'm doing the exercises like the bridges, doing the total gym, kneeling, and standing.

Other than my posture we worked on my problems with my shoulders. We did some prone exercises with where I was on my elbows squeezing my shoulder blades together and doing a kind of push up on my elbows. Boy did I feel the burn after about 5 minutes. I mean shoulders were SCREAMING… nay, yelling at the top of their lungs. I was hurting a lot and Icy Hot was my friend the next morning. When I did the wall exercises the second day of my weekend I had a really hard time getting my back straight, shoulders against the wall and my neck straighter. Every now and then the muscles in my neck near my trachea would start to tighten up and choke/gag me; I got to say it was fun… not.
The best thing about the weekend was that I got to rub the fact that the Dallas Cowgirls got raped by the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs and my NOLA Saints won the Super Bowl in Chad's face! I told him I knew the Cowgirls weren't going see the Saints again in the playoffs and that the Saints would win the Super Bowl and I was right and with that I won the right to really rub it in. He even picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl and lost, I think, $400 to someone. I knew my Saints would win, how couldn't they? They had most of the nation (minus Indiana) rooting for them. I just got one thing to say: WHO DAT?!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Roll2Walk: Day Five

Today was the last of my trial week and I wish it wasn’t the last for three months. I had a lot of fun this week. From doing the exercises and actually feeling muscles fire to listening to Greg and Chad’s stories and their experience their bromance made this the best week of exercise ever! At first I was nervous about how Roll 2 Walk worked and how my attitude would hold out but as soon as soon as I started the first exercises all that disappeared. I can’t wait to go back, the sooner the better, too. Hopefully I can work something out and schedule a weekend or two in February, even though they don’t usually scheduled weekends.

Today I did many of the same exercises I did throughout the week but each day I did the exercises the more muscles I felt come back to life. I also became more conscience of which muscles I should be focusing on when I was doing the Total Gym, the range of motion exercises, and the sit ups. I’ve also become more aware of what I have to do to correct my posture with each balancing exercise like squeezing my shoulder blades, rotating my shoulders back and relaxing my neck muscles. Even when I did the rolling exercises I figured out what exactly I had to do to get my hips over. It’s pretty incredible.

I also have to give props to Greg and Chad. They were pushing me and telling me what they could feel me doing and how surprised with how much was firing and how quickly I picked up on things. Plus they way they messed around and put their cheesy bromance on display just made this week all that much more fun. I mean these guys are hilarious and remind me of a couple guys I know from home. I call them Dumb and Dumber, not because they’re dumb but because they’re just as funny as the characters from the movie. It’s so hard to describe in words what they do I’m not even going to try.

I seriously can’t wait to go back. I want to progress more, wake up more muscles, get better posture, tolerate kneeling longer and free stand longer. This is what I need to be doing to get back the ability to walk, living more independently and living in New Orleans again. I have never been so motivated to do something like this before and I can’t wait to go back.

Ok, I got to go to bed or I'll pass out in exhaustion right now but I promised I'll write about the acupuncture tomorrow before the Saints game.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Roll2Walk: Day Four

What a day! The guys changed things up on me. I was expecting to get on the table first and do the ANSR but instead they started me on the Total Gym then did kneeling then the table. Sneaky, sneaky those guys are. But I did really well today Greg was kind of impressed with how much I improved with my rolling and with what I was doing on the Total Gym.

I don't know if I explained what I do on the Total Gym or not. Well, I did but I called it a leg press. The Total Gym is used for active load bearing in a laying  position, but it's effective especially when I sit in a chair 24/7. Today was a little difficult starting off because my spasms made it difficult. It's been rainy all day and rainy weather usually makes my spasms more intense. By the way, spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that I wish I could turn off, but it doesn't work that way. Anyways, after my spasms cooled down Greg said that he could see that my muscles remember how to walk because every time he would unlock one knee the other leg would go through the motion as if it's going back. Just think of the way you walk and how as you plant one foot down the other leg is going backwards, that's what my legs were doing. It's crazy, incredible and really cool. 

Kneeling is starting to frustrate me because I seem to only be able to about 5-10 minutes before I start getting dizzy. That's not enough time to concentrate on making the connection to the muscles involved with it the motion. It really bums me out. Chad said it'll get better the more I do it but I won't be back until March during spring break and then summer after that. I guess there's not much I can do about it until I start going full time. 

After the third dizzy/nauseous spell I went on the table and the ANSR with the range of motion and some inner thigh and outer thigh squeezes. After those I did some rolling with Greg and he was really impressed with how much easier they were for me. I was too, frankly. I mean I just started Monday. And then we started something new for my triceps. The idea of it was to get my elbows locked without using my shoulder while my arm is up in the air and then do something like a bench press and Greg was the press except he was putting weight on my hand while he straddled me. It was a little cozy and had to shut my eyes. Thankfully we moved onto another exercise for my triceps, snow angels but with these I had to my palms up without rotating my arms and keep my biceps relaxed. It was hard to keep my biceps relaxed and resisting the urge to rotate my because for almost three years I've done exactly that to lock my arms. The left arm was a lot harder to do than the right and whenever my arm tried giving up I started talking to it or I would shake my head and start over again. I never talked my way out of it or thought I couldn't do the exercise, I just pushed through it. And when I switched back to my right arm I did more than I had on the first rep. I was seriously impressed with myself and how disciplined I was in relaxing the shoulder muscles I had to relax and then concentrating on using my triceps to lock my elbows. Then something really cool happened, I felt some deep muscles in my back contracting, and I felt my right lat coming to life. So Greg had me get on my stomach and do some exercises that would work those muscles. 

Greg and I had spent so much time on the table that we barely had time to stand. Today we did free standing and today I wasn't Pisa, I was standing straight and I was doing it right. It was pretty bad ass! 

It kind of sucks that tomorrow is going to be my last day for three months. I'm actually having a lot of fun doing this. To think of it, it's the most fun I've ever had exercising, besides playing soccer (which I never consider doing exercise, probably because I was having so much fun). Plus, there's something about Austin that I like. I think it's because it's like a mini New Orleans. Yeah, I could almost see myself living here... if it wasn't UT Longhorn country. But there's no place like LSU Tiger country in NOLA! ;) 

I'm going to sign off here and then tomorrow write two separate blogs. One about the acupuncture and the other about my last day. Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Roll2Walk: Day Three

Good news, the Icy Hot bath worked! I woke up this morning feeling like a new woman with shoulders and a neck that felt like heaven! Hooray! They hurt a little now so I'm probably going to put Icy Hot on tonight before I go to bed, just in case.

Today was a bit like day one without the assessment. Started with the range of motion plus muscle stimulation which is actually Active Nervous System Recruitment (ANSR). So what Chad and Greg are doing is acting as my nervous system while they put stress on my ligaments and bones to excite the nervous system and create spasms. While they do that I have to either help or resist what the movements that they are doing in order to reteach the nervous system to recognize the movement patterns and send signals to assist or resist the movements. Nifty, huh? It's helping my dysfunctional nervous system start to recognize what it's supposed to do. I should of been doing this when I was like 10, being the clumsy spazoid that I've been most of my life.

So, Greg went through the same movements we did the first two days but today he threw in some bridges and what he called Nazi Marches, I kid you not. When he was showing me what they were they actually looked like the Nazi high kick marches you see in old videos from WWII with a knee bending. He looked kind of ridiculous doing them now that I think about it. The bridges were where Greg would assist me in thrusting my pelvis to the ceiling. Before your dirty little minds get any ideas, think of a geriatric grandma getting a sponge bath. Yeah, I went there. Anyway, the object was to actively recruit my glutes, hamstrings and other muscles to lift my butt off the table. I felt a lot of muscle activity when I did that, it was so cool, it's hard to explain. As with the other range of motion exercises but mostly on my right side in my but and hamstrings. It's really encouraging to feel those muscles trying to do something and then hearing the trainers say I've the quickest reflexes they've ever seen and how they can see that I'm making that muscle to nerve to brain connection. May be I am the product of Wonder Woman and Stretch Armstrong, who knows?

We did the Total Gym exercises that Chad, Greg and I concluded that was aggravating my old knee injury (I dislocated my left knee cap playing soccer in '04) and giving my a little bit of AD. No big deal, though. But after that we went onto the floor and I did assisted sit ups, back extensions, half around the worlds (oblique exercises) and kayaking/rowing. I did three 25-15 rep sets of each and I probably could of done more it Chad hadn't said it was time to do kneeling. I was actually having fun doing those, I was kind of bummed when I had to stop. But kneeling had to be done before I got in the standing frame. I don't like kneeling because every time I do it I get dizzy and have to stop for five minutes and start all over again.

After I did the kneeling/dizzy dance three more times I got in the standing frame instead of free standing because they guys wanted to play it cool with my shoulders, which I did not complain about. The whole time I was in the standing frame I felt like I was leaning to one side so I just told Chad and Greg 'just call me The Leaning Tower of Pisa' and Chad says, "Ok, Pisa!" I think it's going to stick. That or 'the girl who almost puked in the standing frame' because I thought I was going to puke about 20 minutes into standing.

Tomorrow, if I get started on my blog earlier, I'll give my two cents about acupuncture and how I think it may be malarkey.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Roll2Walk: Day Two

This morning I woke up to a lot of pain in my shoulders and neck. I didn't, no I did, expect sore muscles but not this sore!! It's been four hours since I did my work out today and about an hour since I put Icy Hot on the sore muscles, yup, they still hurt! Knowing that I would be sore, and because I told them my shoulders were screaming this morning, the trainers weren't as hard on me today as they were yesterday. Well, that and because they wanted those muscles to take a rest so I don't end up pulling something.

First thing I did today was the combo of range of motion with muscle stimulation. Today was a little bit harder to concentrate on thinking about the muscles that do the motion of bringing my leg to my chest, straightening it and all the other motions. I don't know why, maybe because of the pain in my shoulders or because it was cold in the gym or because of my lack of sleep, could of been anything.

After I did that I went to the floor to do some rolling and triceps exercises. The rolling was intense and wasn't easy at all. Greg would bring my legs to one side and I would have to bring my upper body to that side. No easy feat my friends. I would get to a point and then pretty much hit a brick wall because the momentum that I had going into the roll just stopped. Part of the exercise was slapping the hand on the side I was laying on with the one that I wasn't laying on. I had trouble with that because I have next to no triceps and every time I did one side I would tire out my shoulder just a little bit more. I kept doing it though, which surprised me a little because I usually just give up if I can't do something, and giving up didn't even cross my mind once while I was doing the exercise, just resting did.

After those I did exercises where I sat up against a wall and worked on my posture and worked on rolling my shoulders back and then did snow angels against the wall and slightly bending side to side. Oh and I had to do the robot with my arms. I liked these exercises because they barely put any pain on my shoulders but also because I liked having my back straight up and down without the little hunch. It made me really conscious of my posture and how bad it is! I knew it was bad but I didn't really think I hunched that much. Yeah, I know dad, you tried to tell me, I was wrong, you can gloat when I get home ;).

One last thing before I finish because it's getting late and my ADD is getting worse... One exercise/task that I did was one where the trainers sat my on this table and put my feet on this vibrating board. At first I thought they were doing this just to mess with me but that wasn't the case. The purpose of it was to get that neuropathway talking again and to help increase circulation. Greg had warned me that the exercise would make feel like I needed to pee and told me to let them know if I needed to, I guess so they could carry me to the bathroom and drop my pants, I didn't ask, but said I already had it covered.

Tomorrow is supposed to be harder than it was today because Chad set up my workout (Greg did today's). So tomorrow I'll be in a world of hurt... wish me luck!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Roll2Walk: Day One

Twelve hours ago (9:30am) my mom and I left for Austin from our suburban home in Mansfield, TX. Why? Some of you may know why, others may be not. So I'm going to quickly explain.

On a cold night on Dec. 18, 2009 in NOLA, my friends threw me a benefit concert to raise money for me to go to Roll 2 Walk, a boot camp of sorts for those with spinal cord injury, I'll explain a little more later. Friends from LSU, high school, elementary school and people I didn't even know showed up to the event to listen to four great bands - The Rooks, Rabbit, The Craft Brothers, and Smiley with a Knife - drink copious amounts of beer and other alternative beverages, eat, and bid on items for silent auction so that I could go to this program. The goal was $2,000 we ended up raising (including online donations) $3,470!! That's a staggering number that still hasn't fully set in to me. I'm completely humbled and feel somewhat undeserving of this kind of generosity and I will never be able to thank everyone who donated and showed up enough that night.

So that brings me to today. I started my first week of Roll 2 Walk. Officially it's a trial week just to give me an idea of what is to come if I continue with the program. Did I say "if?"I meant when I come back. I spent three hours working on my posture, getting muscles to talk to my brain and vice versus again, and really concentrating on my core muscle to help my balance. It was tough as hell but I kind of enjoyed it. Does that make me insane, um, yeah.

First thing I did today was meet the trainers Chad and Greg, they then picked me up and put me on the floor and had me do some simple assessment exercises. Simple my butt! One was rolling, another was getting on all fours, then from there onto my knees. Oh yeah, did I mention I'm a quadriplegic? I did it, but obviously not by myself. after that they picked me up and put me onto the table where they did a combination of range of motion and muscle stimulation. This is the part of the program that focuses on reconnecting the brain to the muscles and get them firing on their own again. While Greg extended and flexed my leg he wanted me to "do" the movement with him. When he was working on my right leg, bringing my knee to my chest, he asked, "are you doing that?" I said I was trying to and he told me that I have hip flexors. They're the muscles around the pelvic/hip area that bring you knees to your chest when your laying on your back or walking up stairs. He started putting pressure on the bottom of my foot to aggravate my sciatic nerve to get that pathway to my brain and do what it's supposed to.

After the table the guys moved onto a leg press and had me do some leg presses which I think I may have been doing myself with a little bit of help and some balancing and posture exercises that focused on my core muscles. While I was doing this I was sweating like a pig. I couldn't tell if it was the exercise or if it was Autonomic Dysreflexia (it's a pain reflex but not like an able-bodied persons, it's more like a warning sign that sometimes includes a excruciating headache and profuse sweating). The core muscle exercise were not easy and are probably the reason why my shoulders and neck hurt right now. With that in mind I going to quickly finish up...

After all of that I did some more core exercises like sit-ups and oblique exercises and kneeling exercises. I got super dizzy and nauseous doing that, I was VERY close to passing out. Imagine quickly losing your hearing and not being able to hear yourself at the same time... not fun.
After my little close to passing out scare I did some standing without a standing frame. Now that was freaky. By that point I was starving, tired and getting more tired with every second, felt disgusting because of all the sweating, and my shoulder was cramping. I mean I was pooped! I'm still pooped and I still have to get into bed in a little bit.

Tomorrow will be almost the same but harder, as if today wasn't hard enough. Before I left today Chad mentioned how we'll be doing "The Wall" with a menacing smile. I ain't skerd, though. Nothing can compare to the abuse I got about being a Saints fan. They'll see who gets the last laugh when the Saints beat the Cowgirls in the NFC Championship game (if the Girls make it past Minnesota) :)