Wednesday, 29 February 2012

29 February - home coming

Its taken me a few days longer than expected to type this - and I'm glad it did.

I ended last week feeling a bit low. My tone had increased and my body was very tight. It was difficult to really get going during the last couple of days in the gym. I know it sounds crazy to say this about a week that began with me driving a car, going to yoga for the first time, running on the treadmill at 7mph and running the length of the gym, but the last couple of days felt like a bit of an anti climax. I think there were several factors at play. Physical tiredness was one - no surprise after 6 weeks of intensive hard work, several nights of mixed up sleep and so not enough stretching.  Emotional fatigue was another - missing my family, friends and home, the uncertainty of moving on to the next stage etc.

So I'm glad that I waited to type this, because now I can tell you that after a few days back home I'm really beginning to see the benefits of my time at PW.  Yesterday I went back to my regular gym for the first time and rolled out the training routine David, Genny and Steve built for me, which includes many exercises (lunges, squats, line jumps, dead lifts etc, etc) that I simply could not do six weeks ago. I then I got back on the treadmill. There's no harness here, so I can't do the over speeding work and can't expect to reach the speeds I reached at PW, but I was very pleased with how I walked compared to before I left. Today I did one of the outdoor walks I did regularly before PW - it felt significantly faster (the timer on my phone played up, so I'm not sure by how much), but more importantly my gait felt more stable, relaxed and confident. And something has changed this evening at home - hard to describe except to say I feel much more aligned, balanced and stronger.

And, of course, I've had the joy of getting back home to the family. Ali and the kids met me at 6am at the airport. I'd called home before leaving LAX. Max told me he wasn't going to come to Changi - no way he was getting up at that time in the morning, and he'd rather stay in bed, he said!! But I'd had a tip off that he said that so that he could surprise me when I arrived!! He did come, of course, though he still had his pyjamas on under his clothes!! Amy told me she definitely was coming, but she was worried about having enough time to brush her hair before leaving the house. Boys and girls, eh!! They were waiting with a big, bright "welcome home daddy" sign, which Amy made (with a bit of help from Ali). 

So today I'm feeling good again - about a great 6 weeks at PW, about where my recovery stands now, and about where it will go next. My goals 6 weeks ago were to strengthen areas of muscular weakness, reduce my tightness and make my gait more efficient, smoother and faster. I'm now significantly stronger in most areas. There are some areas that need more work, but they are relatively few and I'm clear on what needs to be done and have a training program to help me do it. Tone remains a big challenge. I'm probably tighter now than 6 weeks ago, but I think that's starting to ease a bit as I settle back into home and a regular stretching routine. My gait has improved - I still have some challenges on my right side, but the improvement is significant and I'll continue to gain as I strengthen my hamstrings, anterior tibs and glutes. The goals I set six weeks ago did not include jumping and running - but I got started with that, which feels fantastic, and will build on that. And whilst PW does not specifically treat hands, and though mine still have tone and tightened during my gym work outs, the stretching I've done over the last 6 weeks does seem to have helped my left hand in particular. 

I don't yet know how to best structure my training now I'm home - which therapists, which facilities, how to supplement my PW program etc? That will start fall into place over the next few days, I'm sure, but will also re-shape when I return to work (hopefully in the next couple of weeks or so). 

I had a long good bye at PW last Friday morning, taking time to say farewell to new friends. Here are some of clients who were around on Friday morning. These peoplere-define determination, courage and belief , as do all the PW clients, . Best of luck to you guys and all the other clients and carers I met - keep in touch and see you soon, I hope.

Janece with Yoshi

Russ and Trevor
Brenda getting walking, with Mike, Andy and Laurent 
Tonje and her mum, Britney

I said this to the PW staff last week, but I'll say it again publicly - you've helped change my life, and I can't think of a better way to say thank you than that (save perhaps, David, for a few bottles of Jose Cuervo and Johnnie Walker Blue!!) 




Jes, Joy and Alicia


Derek and Edna came to Carlsbad on Friday to drive me back to LAX. Here's our good bye at the airport, plus a photo of Derek near home in Palos Verde on my first day in California 6 weeks ago. This is were they settled many years ago - you can see why they took a shine to it! 

Leaving LAX, with Edna and Derek
Derek, at home in Palos Verde, on my first day in CA

Here are a few videos from my last session with David on Thursday. He didn't send me the one where I landed on my butt! 

I've always said since the day of my accident that I believe I will make a full recovery. The progress I've made over the last 8 months, including the big gains in the last 6 weeks, have strengthened that belief. This will still be bloody hard work for a long time to come, but I know I can do it and I know that, at some point in the future, it will start to get easier.  I need inspiration, from time to time. This amazing clip was sent to me this week by my friend Rajan. 

I'm not 33 and I'm no former gymnast and can't hope to reach that level, but that will keep me inspired for a long time to come!! Its also what Ali has searched for ever since my accident - proof that a full recovery is possible.

Rajan also sent this video, to add to the incredible stories of bravery and determination I've seen these last few months. 

Some of you know that Rajan is also recovering from a C-level SCI from an accident last May. His recovery has been very strong, stronger than mine in many respects. He told me today that he's now back on a bike, running up to 800m and hoping to run a 5k in May! He has given me huge support through his comments my blog and Skype messages whilst I was away. Rajan, I hope you don't mind me sharing this, as a way to say a public thank you for your support - and for continuing to inspire and motivate me.

I'll keep my blog going, as a few people have asked me to - and will post updates every month or so. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Week 6 - Thursday 23 Feb - last day

So that's it, done. My six weeks at PW came to an end today, with the last of my training sessions. I'm going to save my thoughts and reflections for a post I'll write on tomorrow's long flight home. For now, I'll say that in truth today was a bit anti climactic. I'd hope to end on a high with some new achievement or other, but that didn't happen. Instead, today was one of those days where I hadn't slept well and my body was tight and didn't really get going, probably due to physical and emotional fatigue. But, no worries, they happen, to all of us. Just one slow day out of so many good ones, and I have so much good stuff to look back on and be really pleased about. Before I left today I filmed my last day interview. I didn't watch the recording, so fingers crossed I said what I hoped I would say about this great place and it's people. The video should be on the PW website next week, I think. Actually, I'm not quite done. I'll go to PW tomorrow morning for a last work out (but no trainer session) and to say my farewells before heading off to the airport. I'm ready to come home now. Can't wait to see Ali and the kids and catch up with friends back in Singapore.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Week 5 - Wednesday 22 Feb

Not a lot of new news today, so this is a short one. David had me work through my warm up routine to help bed that down; and in my session with Steve I jumped off boxes (which was fun as well as a great way to give me more confidence in my right ankle); before getting back to some over speeding, low hurdles (better today than before) and jogging. The highlight of the day came when I was heading out for dinner this evening - the 100 feet or so walk from my room to the lift was, I reckon, my best gait since my injury.

Tomorrow's my last day of training, so off to bed to re-charge for one last push!! 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Week 6 - Tuesday 21 Feb - still in orbit!!

I'm not back down to earth after yesterday! My high has been fuelled by lots of people asking me how yoga and the car ride went, which I answered with a big smile!! I've learnt that some people here do not know what an emergency stop is - I've said sorry to Genny for springing one on her without explaining it first !!! The yoga seems to have doe good stuff for my glutes and the muscles down the outsides of my legs, giving me a much more stable feeling standing and walking today. At least I think it was the yoga, though in truth I don't really care where the gains come from, so long as they keep coming!

Today, Genny walked me through the warm up routine she and the team have built for me to take home, and David is planning to give me my full home program tomorrow. The treadmill was having a temperamental day, and didn't want to work for my slot, so David got me harnessed up and running on the Curv instead - very different to the treadmill, including because your feet move the belt rather than the belt being powered, which makes it great cardio. That went well, but today's breakthrough came in my last session. After a short run down the gym, Genny asked me to lengthen out my stride - as you've seen on the videos, my steps had been very short, which is inefficient (and makes me look like a pony, or so Amy says). So I tried - and now I have a new jogging stride, and the beginnings of something that feels and looks a lot more normal! 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Week 6 - Monday 20 February - Just three things...

Today I:

- reached 7.0 mph on the treadmill
- drove a car for the first time post injury (Genny's car, which is a Murano, so pretty much the same car as my Qasqai, spookily; on a car park, all very smooth, no issues!)
- went to a yoga class (with Genny, I managed at least 75% of the poses, no tumbles!)

How about that! 

A huge thank you to David, for helping me get me to this stage (and there's more to come), and to Genny for her amazingly kind and motivational acts. 

I've had a few waves of happiness already tonight! Time to rest and enjoy some more!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Week 5 - Friday 17th February

Yesterday was tough going, but today I bounced back in style. 

Bri gave me a set of wake up exercises to do first thing in the morning, which helped get me in gear for a strong start with David, who took me through a warm up program he's built for me. Today's forward and lateral lunges felt much more stable and controlled than any time in the last 5 weeks, and the warm ups left me feeling ready to have a go at over speeding. 

Result? In my last run, I reached 6.5 mph for 20 seconds, a big increase from Wednesday. As you'll see from the video, I still catch my toes on both feet at top speed because I can't dorsi flex fast enough. Its not painful, but clearly I could not reach this speed without the harness. However, I can now clear my toes at up to around 5 mph; I seem to have fixed a "circumvention" problem (my left foot used to come round in a circle and catch the back of my right leg); and my knees are coming through well helped by an much stronger arm pump. And so the baseline has risen again. I was really pleased with that.

Genny helped maintain the momentum, beginning with some great exercises to get right into the remaining weak muscles in my right shin and then a return to some hip exercises I found impossible five weeks ago, but managed well today. And then, to top it all, I ran the length of the gym, which I reckon is over 75 metres!! That completes one more of my goals!! Its captured on PW's camera - you might get to see it next week. 

Genny says that its typical to see most gains in the last week. That's really got me looking forward to next week!

I leave the house on Sunday and will stay in a hotel for the last few nights. So its farewell to the stroll to the beach and the rooftop view of the ocean. I'll make the most of it tomorrow! 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Week 5 - Thursday 16 February

I got stuff all mixed up this morning. I thought my training sessions were this afternoon, in fact they were this morning. I thought that Jamie Gillentine was in today, in fact its next week! The extremely helpful Jes, who runs the PW schedules, quickly re-arranged to get me half an hour with David, and an hour each with Genny and Bri.  

I was a bit sluggish in the session with David - fuzzy head and a tired body - but had good breakthroughs with Genny, seeing big improvements in my forward jumps (much more even between left and right, better landing on the balls of my feet) and split jumping on the trampoline (which as Genny said I simply could not do when I first got to PW). 

If you've seen Jamie's video you'll know Bri was his lead trainer, and it was great to get the chance to work with her today and tackle lots of new exercises for core and pelvic stability and hamstring strengthening. One of the goals I set last week was to be able to pick up Max and Amy. We tried to persuade one of the smaller aides to let me try carrying her, but she was having none of it, so instead Bri had me shuttling around carrying a kettle ball  - a good start, but the ball is lighter and a lot less wiggly!

Bri reckons I'm ready to try a yoga class, so is looking for somewhere she might take me over the weekend. Genny reckons I'm ready to have a go at driving, and has offered to let me have a go in her car on a car park next Monday! They are wonderful people, these trainers.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Week 5 - Wednesday 15 February

The trainers often ask me whether I feel any difference in my legs and feet after my exercises. My standard answer now is that I feel hundreds of differences. Its true - every time I exercise or stretch, or sit or lie for a while, when I move on to do the next thing my sensation and motion is different in many ways and it takes a little time for the new stuff to settle. But a few changes really stood out today. 

First, on the trampoline I got a very clear sensation of landing on the ball and toes of my right foot. That's the right place to land (in plantar flexion) and I have been landing there before, but the sensation has not been so clear. David said that, as well as being good news on the sensation front, this could be a sign that my body is now learning how to absorb force, which is critical. I think that adds a small trampoline to my shopping list of exercise equipment (the kids will be delighted)!!

A sure sign of the benefits of all this strength and neuro work is being able to raise the baseline  at which my body copes comfortably with the challenges. Today, I went back to the dead lift jumps and line hops. I started the dead lift at the same weight as last week. That weight, which was challenging last week, was comfortable today, so David added a few pounds. After that I tried a normal jump - and got at least a couple of inches higher than last week. And in the line jumps, I almost doubled the number of jumps before losing control in my feet. That felt great but the thing that really stood out is that for the first time I had a real sense of wanting to spring up and "get good air" (even if I couldn't quite execute that). I think that's a sign that my body is getting ready to move on to a higher challenge. 

David has me over speeding on the treadmill every day now. We've got me walking very comfortably at 3 to 3.5 mph and I can hold my gait quite well at 4 to 4.5. I'm running on the treadmill several times every session. At higher speeds I can maintain good knee pull through but I can't dorsi flex so my toes catch and drag on the belt (that's where the harness comes in for safety). But that's how the over speeding is working - having been pushed to higher and higher speeds (today I reached 6.5mph for a few seconds), my body has learned to pump my knees and dorsi flex well at lower speeds. David and I are convinced its working. 

And the most exciting change is that tonight, back at the house, for 6 or 7 steps my walking felt normal. That's a small number of steps, but its the first time I have felt that post injury and it felt massive. Hopefully that's another new baseline!

Last week I toyed with the idea of extending my stay here for another week or two, but on Monday morning I woke with a gut instinct answer - to go home at the end of next week, as planned. I've made good progress here and David, Genny and Steve agree that I'm ready to move on. Coming home means that I'll be back to support Ali, as she continues to fight on with her own recovery; back with the kids, who I miss painfully; and able to start back at work and begin the transition out of this rehab bubble I've lived in for the last 8 months. I'm preparing myself for a very emotional next few days. Its a familiar feeling.  I recall the anxiety I felt when I left Singapore General Hospital (where I had my surgery and early therapy) to move to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for my ongoing rehab. The SGH team were a delight and a huge help in the early stages of my recovery. Whilst I knew it was the right thing to move on, I didn't know TTS or the team there and so didn't know what the next leg of the journey would bring. It brought 4 weeks of really good therapy and progress, and a few new friends. When I was discharged from TTS, I was delighted to be coming home but had a few tough moments contemplating the prospects of life without 24 hour care and the ongoing challenges of rehab, regaining my independence and not over burdening Ali. Within a few weeks the walking frame, wheelchair and other aids were gone, I was out at the gym and walking on the track and able to do pretty much everything for myself. Whilst I know that next week will be tough, I also know that I will leave here physically much stronger, with my motivation recharged, armed with lots of knowledge and a training plan - and so very well placed to continue my progress at home. Whilst I've never known exactly what each new stage of this journey will bring, its always spelled progress. I know that whilst there are still massive challenges ahead, I have the support of an amazing group of family, friends, colleagues and therapists - and as always that support will help me continue moving forward.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Week 5 - Tuesday 14 February

Just woke up from an hour's nap - my body calling a quick time out after another long, busy and  hard but productive day. 

David has found a solution to the ban on sled pulls - now I pull him instead, both walking and running!!  The sled pull is one of those exercises that helps develop the push off through my feet. Developing that was a big focus of a session today with Eric, in which I had another of those big "aha" moments - that I'd been placing too much emphasis on my glutes in the push off, and not enough in my calf muscles. Eric also got me to focus on carrying the push off all the way through to my big toe. My right big toe has been a bit of a theme in this recovery. It was the last part of my body to start moving again and the last to regain sensation. Now its the last to get properly engaged in my walking. It moves quite well now and there is some sensation, but its still a bit limited, which hinders my ability to drive off it. Today, that started to come, but then I felt a bit of pain somewhere around the toe and ball of my foot. That might be a sign of strengthening sensation, which would be a really good thing. I'll see whether a few strategically placed needles can help in tomorrow's acupuncture session, but I'll spare you the photos of that!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Week 5 - Monday 13 Feb - rehab for iPhones, and me!

So, in addition to exquisite design, intuitive functionality and legendary attention to detail, Apple can now add mechanical robustness to their product claims. Recent tests by a consumer (David) have shown that an iPhone 4 can withstand a full wash (medium temperature) and spin cycle and still function perfectly well. All you have to do is stick your phone in a bag of rice for two days and hey presto - good as new. And a lot cleaner too!! So here are the other videos from last Thursday. The dead lift jump helps develop triple extension - moving the hip, knee and ankle to create explosive power and speed.  I need that to develop the "bounce and verticality" I mentioned for jumping, running etc. The second jump shows how it should not be done, but fortunately I followed that with several good ones!

These line jumps show some of my residual challenges with co-ordination, especially in my right leg and foot. But they also show that the bounce is starting to come - I'd not been able to get any "spring" before last week, so this was another milestone.

Today I had two hours with Mica, my first sessions with her. It was varied and hard work, and great to have input from another pair of eyes with great experience. We did lots of work on the Pilates reformer (great for addressing my hip flexor issues, opening the pelvis and improving leg co-ordination), had me crawling on the floor in a bear crawl (again hip flexors, whole body co-ordination), high knee kicks etc. Several of the trainers have found that I respond well working against some resistance. As with the sled pull, these runs with resistance bands force me to put my body weight forward and get better force through my legs and feet, which seems to produce a nice clean push off, high knees, good tracking, stable ankles and good co-ordination, especially when I combine that with good arm movement. 

We then tried to transfer that into a normal run, with this result......

Remember that Jamie Gillentine video? That run with Max and Amy is in my sights now!!

Talking of Jamie - he's at PW this Thursday morning, so I'm looking forward to getting to know him. I'm told that he's keen on meeting other clients who progress to this level - to share experiences, challenges, learnings. We are the fortunate ones and sadly there are very, very few of us - though Project Walk is helping to change that.

Its a stormy old night out there in Southern California, so time for an early night with a book or a bit of Whitney-vision

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Week 4 - Friday 10 Feb (belatedly!)

David's iPhone went through a full wash in his jeans pocket - and with it the further videos from Thursday! No vids taken on Friday, and so just a quick update from me - largely because I'm now struggling to remember what I did on Friday!! I do recall having a wrestling match with Steve - hands on each others shoulders, Steve pushing and pulling to try to de-stabilise me. That went well, with my feet moving quickly into good positions and my legs giving me good balance and power. Steve's a kick boxer, so I'm going to explore this activity with caution!!

To make up for the lack of video, and in response to special requests from Mark and Tony, here's a shot of Thursday's "metal mohican". This was just a two needle day, not eight - but hopefully the Jack Nicholson look (The Shining) helps up the horror effects!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Week 4 - Thursday 09 Feb - spring time!

So, back to over speeding today! 

My sleep patterns remain erratic. I sleep well one or two nights during the week, but most nights I sleep very lightly or for too few hours. Last night was one of those. Sleep is one of the factors that affects how quickly my body gets into the swing of the training sessions, but I usually find that at 10 am my body kick starts, having loosened up and built up enough adrenaline. This morning, David got me onto the treadmill by 930, for my over speeding session. Most of the session was fine, but nothing special and with one minute to go David thought that I might not make a run today. But then, at 9.59, right on cue, something kicked in and....... I ran at 6.0 mph for about 20 seconds - at least 15 seconds more than Monday and (more importantly) with improved ankle flexion and less pronation. I was delighted with that.

On Wednesday, David and I ran through my goals for the next two weeks. Whilst I've been making great progress, I've been lacking a bit of spring, bounce and verticality, meaning that I've struggled to jump, skip etc. So, today we started to address that. David has some videos of me doing dead lifts (first with just the bar, then with weights), then dead lifts with a jump, then free jumps. I hope to have those videos tomorrow. Anyhow, that all worked, which surprised me! So then I did quick short hops backwards and forwards and side to side. My body surprised me again - that worked really well. 

Then I did some work with Steve to get the quads turning on and off quickly, with some movement in the hips and pelvis. Essentially, I was trying to kick box. Like this.....

and this.......

and then this happened!!!!!!

That was all a brilliant surprise. I left PW very happy today!

I have to show you some of the magic of Southern California. Yesterday, I met up with Anne and Steve again. We drove down to Seaport Village, a dining and retail development on San Diego bay. Nice to get to see a bit of San Diego, but better was to come. We drove back northwards to La Jolla (pronounced "Hoya", in my best Dora the Explorer Spanish accent!). There's lots of money here, and it shows in the houses and high end shops and boutique hotels. This is the coast line. In the distance is the Torrey Pines golf course. What a setting! Last weekend, I had the thrill of seeing a pod of 15 or so dolphins close to shore on Carlsbad beach. But take a look at La Jolla Cove. Max, Amy - keep an eye out for the pelican and the seal pup with the itchy chest!!

I could have spent hours there, even just watching the surf roll in. I was lucky that the sea was a bit stormy yesterday, making for the whitest foaming surf. 

Mind you, not everyone is happy. Apparently two years ago the residents of La Jolla tried to get the seals moved. They wanted their beach back. Stunning!

Tomorrow's training sessions finish at 6pm and then I'm out for dinner, so I'll post my next update Saturday my time.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Week 4 - Tuesday 07 Feb

Today was a lot of fun as well as hard work - as most of them are. Here are videos of my work with David on the trampoline and treadmill. On the trampoline I do one minute with two feet; one minute single leg on each leg; and then repeat it - so 6 minutes altogether, which is really challenging (for most people, I think!). This helps stimulate the neuro system, and is a great workout for many leg muscles and a challenge for ankle flexion and foot placement.

These 360 turns on the treadmill also aim to challenge and strengthen the neuro system, as do side steps and backwards walking on the treadmill. They also get the trainers fired up and cheering - as you'll hear on the video!!

No over speeding today - we'll get back to that on Thursday, but there was good progress, especially with backwards walking. I'm starting to get good lift in the heels, which means that the hamstrings and glutes are really starting to fire. 

That's the product of lots of focussed work, including countless hamstring curls and yet more slugging up and down the gym with the sled pull. Today, David added an extra 10 lbs to the sled, taking me up to 80lbs/ 36 kg (around half my body weight). A client called Tom told me that he wants to do that some day. Its an incredible feeling to be inspiring people around me. I'd understand it if some clients had mixed feelings about seeing me do what they've been fighting for years to achieve, but I've only ever had people tell me that they find it inspiring. Later Tom and his wife started to share some ideas about using whips and stuff to move me along faster! Fortunately, by that stage David and I had got ourselves banned from using the sled pull. Jason, the floor manager, is worried about the damage we might do to the floor!! So, some relief for me there - except that David mentioned a hill outside!!?

Rest day tomorrow, but I will go in mid afternoon to meet with David and Genny to re-work my goals for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Week 4 - Monday 06 Feb

Week 4, and the start of the second half of my time here.

Yesterday's Super Bowl party was great. It was at the home of Erik, one of the long term PW clients, in Corona, about an hour's drive from here. Erik's parents house has a pool (with slide and waterfall!) that looks out onto the mountains on the edge of the desert. They kept about 40 people really well fed and entertained. It was fantastic to get to know many more clients and their families and to learn their stories. As Mark Brill said it would be, the game was a bit secondary - and I probably understood about 30% of what was going on. Madonna's half time show was pretty spectacular (even with her tight hamstring, one slight stumble and lip synching, or so they say!). They know how to entertain out here! On a day of firsts, I tried Moonshine - but only one small one, so as not to end up in the pool!

One session today was cancelled, so I had just two hours with David. I filled the third hour on the spin bike and something called the Curv. The Curv is like a treadmill, but it curves up at the front and back and you power it yourself - the further "up" the curve you land your feet the faster it goes and the faster it goes the harder it gets. It really challenges you to get an even stride length and a steady cadence. You have to get a good foot strike and push off, challenging the ankle flexion, hamstrings and glutes. To vary the neuro challenge and increase the work for the hamstrings, I try powering it with one leg and going backwards. David suggested that I add a one hour warm up before my training sessions - 30 minutes on the spin bike, 30 mins on the Curv. That will mean that I'm now extended to 4 hours a day, just on my walking (plus a couple of hours on my hands). Busy days! All paying off, I  think.

You'll remember that last week I reached 4mph on the treadmill with comfortable gait. This morning I increased that to 4.5mph. At 5mph, things were still going well. So we pushed it to 5.5, then to 5.7, then for just a few seconds to 6.0 then to 6.2 mph (at which speeds, my feet started to flail, although my knees were still coming through well). Last week I was told that the average speed to break from a fast walk to a run is around 6 to 7 mph. Today, we found that for me that's 5.7 mph. Today, albeit in a harness, for just a few seconds and with messy feet and other imperfections, I ran for the first time!!

That's still sinking in. I don't have the words to describe how it feels.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Week 3 - Friday 03 Feb - Rolfing, bouncing and bug sex

I've been Rolfed! As I've said before, I'll explore all avenues to support and accelerate my rehab, so today I had my first Rolfing session. Rolfing is a form of bodywork that reorganizes the fascia. I first learned about the fascia from Viv Spanopolous, Andrew Liaw and Erose's team at Body System Therapy back in Singapore. Its a seamless connective tissue that permeates the entire body and surrounds and supports all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing works on the fascia to improve postural efficiency, including spinal and pelvic alignment. Today's session also aimed for improved breathing. It seems very much in line with the work I did in Singapore. That  seemed to be helping, so hopefully I can continue that. 

I followed that with two hours with David and one hour with Steve. I didn't quite achieve what I wanted on the treadmill and the hurdles, as my ankles, glutes and hamstrings wouldn't fire as fast as they needed to, causing my feet to get a bit out of control at higher speeds. Even so, there was some improvement, especially on the hurdles. Also, whilst I'd thought that the treadmill measured speed in kph, I learned today that its in mph - so I'm now comfortably reaching 4 mph on the treadmill with no problems (and with effectively no body weight support). That's a lot faster than when I left Singapore. In David's session, I had my first go on the trampoline, including two footed and single legged bounces. That went well - with my feet plantar flexing (toes pointing) and landing as they should. It took me right back to the garden in Shanghai, and the many hours I spent on the trampoline with Max and Amy. Steve got me on the vertical climber - and that's the first time I've used one of those for nearly 5 years. Also a success. So, whilst there were no specific breakthroughs, it was a good, hard 3 hours of work. 

As well as learning all this new stuff about SCI and the body, I'm getting acquainted with the local animal life. If you look closely at last Friday's video from the beach, you may see lines of birds flying in a line of 6 or so, very low and almost touching the waves as they break. These really cool birds are Surf Scoters. They come here in Jan and Feb and are great to watch as the sun goes down. Earlier this week I saw a humming bird just behind the house. And this morning, as was doing my hand exercises and stretches on the roof terrace, I learned that a female ladybird can walk 18 inches up a wall whilst carrying a mating male. Then she fell off - caused by a knee trembler, perhaps. No, he did not let go. They disappeared off under my yoga mat. I thought it best to allow them some privacy.

Its Superbowl weekend. I'm invited to a party at a PW client's house, somewhere in the desert 45 minutes drive north of here. This will be the first time I've watched a full game of American football - I need a bluffer's guide. The party starts at 1 - and ends at 10pm!!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Week 3 - Thurs 02 Feb - a new gait emerging?

I had an enjoyable and busy day off yesterday. I met Anne and Steve Hocknell, friends of my in laws who happen to be in Carlsbad visiting their son and family. They took me south down the coast to Leucadia, where we stopped for coffee before checking out Moonlight Beach, a fantastic surf beach, and then heading back to an outlet mall in Carlsbad - I bought some clothes for the kids, and spied some other shops that merit another trip at the weekend. Late afternoon was spent at a well known, traditional barbers, adding some local flavour; and in the evening I got to know one of the PW clients and her sister over dinner.

I walked back home from the barbers. That was about a 25 minute walk. My gait felt better - more stable, less effort and I was able to maintain a fairly consistent gait over most of that distance, showing improving stamina. Here's a shot of me walking at the end of today's 3 hour session with Steve. I've also included the video from day one, so that you can compare the two. Hopefully you can see what Steve and I saw - increased stability in the right ankle; a bend in the right knee and less (or no) hyper-extension; less stiffness in the right leg; less of a hoik of the right hip; narrower foot placement; increased speed. That's good progress. I still have loads of work to do - but another three weeks in which to build on the progress so far. I think I'm in a good position. 

Here's one of the exercises done today to strengthen and loosen my pelvis and hip flexors.