Those of you who know me know that I don't like to be associated with my disability. It's not that I don't believe it is there. I know it is. I know I walk best with my canes. But, I don't like to think of the limits it places on me. I don't like to think of it as a problem. "Glee" coined the term "handicapable" and I really really like that. I am more capable than I am disabled.
While I am grateful to my physical therapists who worked with me for many years to get me in the physical condition I am in today, I am not a fan of physical therapy. You need a prescription to go to physical therapy. The doctor has to decide that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. But, PT is not something everyone can go to. That's the reason I am not a fan of it. I was thrilled the day I "graduated" from physical therapy!
Just because I don't have a doctor's order that specifically discusses the proper course to continue to improve my physical condition, doesn't mean I am excused from physical exercise. Since I am the most unmotivated person you will ever meet if left me to my own devices to work out and since I am not easily able to exercise independently, as much as I was not a fan of PT, I do have to admit that my workout routines are much more effective and beneficial with assistance.
So, now I work out with a personal trainer at Fitness Together in Old Town Alexandria. I.LOVE.IT. My very first trainer there, Tim, paid no attention to my disability, challenged me just as he did his other clients, and pushed me everyday to walk without my canes. Within four months, I was walking 4 blocks of uneven pavement filled with crooked and broken bricks sans canes! It was so exciting because walking outside without my canes was something I never thought I could do! My dad and I continued to practice (We need to get back to that) and I was doing so well that one day we drove home without my canes. We realized about 30 minutes later that we'd left them in a field. Thankfully, when we returned to the scene, they were still there. Who'd want to steal canes anyway? But, hey, you never know!
Tim left and I felt like a revolving door as I got passed from trainer to trainer until a steady replacement could be found. Now, I have Chris. I used to think Tim was tough, but then Chris came. Oh boy! And, let me tell you, I can't "hate" Chris because he is so nice and pushes me to continually improve everyday. Chris also has as much patience as an ocean has water! (He calls it stubbornness) Quite often I will shoot Chris a look that says, "Are you CRAZY?!", but secretly inside I am thankful that he has the confidence in my abilities to challenge me in the way he does. He, like Tim, ignores my disability and treats me just like he does his other clients. I love that about him but it also means my body "hurts so good" the next day.
My workouts are tough. Who would have ever thought I could walk without my canes carrying a 25lb kettle bell in each hand? I walk sooooooo slowly I almost annoy myself to pieces, but when I reach the goal, I pant and rejoice like someone who just won a marathon! A walk outside without a fall or stumble is chalked up as a success. Lifting and lowering my own body weight using the TRX results in difficulty in lifting my arms above my head the next day. Chris sets his blackberry to ding 15 minutes prior to my session's end. Many a day, I wait for the ding! That quick, relatively quiet beep sounds like angels singing the Hallelujah chorus in the midst of a workout with Chris! But, I love it. I am being challenged and improving in ways I haven't been for a long time.
Then there's the cardio...This is a necessary evil. I do not like cardio. It's boring to me. You don't go anywhere. You just keep moving on the same machine with no destination in mind. To distract myself from how much I hate this but how good it is for my love handles and for continued strength and flexibility, I strike up conversations with the other FT members and have made a few good workout buddies.
For the majority of the day today, my arms were sore and my quads were on fire! But, the hurt is good. The hurt means I am working muscles that are weak. The warmer weather not only signals swimsuit season which should be motivation in itself, but it also means Chris and I get more time outside to practice walking! San canes and without physical therapy, I feel so free!
I do, however, thank my PTs for getting me to where I am today and do hold one phyiscal therapist close to my heart.