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) :)