Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SCI: San Jose. Dancing permitted.

With the introduction of my standing frame years ago, I was able to practice weight-bearing exercise.  This exercise, this standing enabled me to do many things with my body.  It helps me to reduce the tone in my legs, the war spasm between muscle groups that were always meant to work together.  It helps me to increase my balance, and my general sense of well-being.  It strengthens the bone density in my legs, while gravity alone affects profoundly the circulation of my blood, and the movement of my digestion.

Unlike the standing frame and my therapist's office, this frame comes with the learning curve.  There are no guides for my feet, no crank to pull me into an upright position, and no therapist to observe my postures.  The learning curve is essentially this: the last three years I've worked with my rickety body to make it stronger and more pliant, while never really knowing if find that that was optimum, or even helpful.

In the last year-since April 21, 2012-I have been able to increase my use of this tool, and see its efficacy, increase dramatically over the first two years I had it.  I can only imagine what my development would've been like if I had to rely on outside sources for this help.  As it is, I am standing around seven hours a week.  My body thanks me.

In addition, I have received from my family, a manual wheelchair.  Daily, I go out into the yard, I push myself around in this manual wheelchair, and work out until I'm exhausted.  This is all done in addition to the machine workouts inside our mini-gym at the apartment complex.  I work out regularly during repetitions on the lat pulldown bar, and push myself as much as I can doing bicep curls.

 My fear has always been that there is this absence.  The absence is in the area of aerobic workout.  Having always loved going out on my bicycle, I feel this emptiness, a need not filled.my doctor, of course, is the first to agree with me.  While swimming is definitely a cardiovascular exercise, it still does not qualify as being aerobic activity.  By God's grace, I did experience a decrease in appetite as my activity level declined, but it still did not stop me from gaining a significant amount of weight over the last three years.

To the precise degree that my spirit had been willing to make changes, my flesh had proven weak.  With all the changes that I had made in the last three years, is thrilling to see that the thought of changing my  wardrobe one more time was more than I could bear.  I was strapped into my standing frame three days ago, and I found out that I could dance.  I found out I could play music, and I can move.  I was able to move my arms, my shoulders, my hips, and even my legs.  I found this so stimulating that I went through this movement for at least eight minutes before stopping in exhaustion.  I tried again, and stopped again.

The discovery that I can dance, the realization that I can move while strapped into my frame, is very liberating.  The thrill that I could increase my activity even this much is amazing.  I then discovered the next day that my arms wer

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beginning Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Some people this week reflecting on Pope Benedict's announcement that he will retire have joked:" so, what are you giving up for Lent?"  I suppose I find that funny.  Pope John Paul II was very young when selected at conclave to lead the Catholic Church.  I have to remember that when I think about how charismatic and well loved he was.  I remember reading that in his life he circumnavigated the globe over thirty times during his Papacy.

I keep this in mind remembering Pope Benedict was much older than he when taking his post.  Pope John Paul II was Pope for three decades of my life.  It is hard to imagine what kind of expectations I would have for his successor.  But, this seems neither good nor bad, and I can look at all the jokes, ignoring the ones that I find tasteless or ignorant.  Now, we can only imagine what the next Pope will be like in the wake of Pope Benedict's final Holy See you later.

Outside that, my thoughts have been on food.  My last ten months living independently of that obnoxious care home I lived in, one of my greatest celebrations has been food.  My liberation manifests in this excitement over being able to buy what food I want, eat what food I want, and sculpt a diet that for me is creative, nutritious, and cost-effective.

On Facebook, I've posted many pictures of the meals my caregivers have provided for me.  I've also posted pictures of foods that I've cooked for myself.  Right now every meal is a delight.  I have been learning how to control portions, control budget, manage my diet, and avoid spoilage.  Vegetables are the worst.  If I'm not going through my refrigerator on a regular basis, I can't rely on my caregivers to tell me when vegetables are feeling ignored.  In my recovery from codependence I try not to be concerned about that.  Unfortunately, if vegetables get ignored they do become unusable.

I believe starting today, that should be a non-issue, because I'm giving up meat for Lent.  Last Monday, my caregiver produced for me baked penne pasta in a rich meat sauce following my every specification.  She browns too much ground beef, and my only thought was, how am I going to use all this up before Wednesday.  I had her boil 2 cups of dried penne pasta, and layer it in the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish.  We covered it in a meaty red sauce and a couple handfuls of cheese.

After baking it for 30 min., I knew there was way too much there for me to consume by Tuesday night.  I ate some Monday night, sent it home with her to feed her family and still had too much for Tuesday.  But alas, it was after all Fat Tuesday, so I indulged.

I still have a freezer full of meat and awaiting me after Easter arrives.  In the meantime, I learn how to get creative – as I once did – with greens, vegetables, legumes, and grains.  That's all I have to report for now.

Thanks for reading.