Friday, 28 December 2012

Balancing and stablilisers

A few shots from a training session two weeks ago - progress on balance, stabilisers and core strength. The last couple of months has been tough on many fronts - so its good for me to be able to see video evidence of physical progress





Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Stair climbing

a few exercises from last week. working hard on core stability and keeping my knees bent and soft - good prep for the hill climb!


 



My first mountain?

Well, just a little hill, but you've gotta start somewhere, and this is the best Singapore has to offer! 163 metres, 1.7km up (same back down again, not surprisingly). Many thanks to Swee, my trainer, for having the idea. We do it again next week! 




When we got to the bottom, my walking seemed better than its been since the accident - so we took a video! I was really, really happy with this.






Friday, 9 November 2012

Courage


http://positive-thoughts.typepad.com/positive-thoughts/2012/11/courage-is.html


Courage is admitting that you're afraid and facing that fear directly. It's being strong enough to ask for help and humble enough to accept it.


Courage is standing up for what you believe in without worrying about the opinions of others. It's following your own heart, living your own life, and settling for nothing less than the best for yourself.
Courage is daring to take a first step, a big leap, or a different path. It's attempting to do something that no one has done before and all others thought impossible.
Courage is keeping heart in the face of disappointment and looking at defeat not as an end but as a new beginning. It's believing that things will ultimately get better even as they get worse.
Courage is being responsible for your own actions and admitting your own mistakes without placing blame on others. It's relying not on others for your success, but on your own skills and efforts.
Courage is refusing to quit even when you're intimidated by impossibility. It's choosing a goal, sticking with it, and finding solutions to the problems.
Courage is thinking big, aiming high, and shooting far. It's taking a dream and doing anything, risking everything, and stopping at nothing to it make it a reality.
~ Caroline Kent ~

Be unrealistic - I love this

http://positive-thoughts.typepad.com/positive-thoughts/2012/11/be-unrealistic.html


Let's take a closer look at this word, "unrealistic." Was it realistic, in the early 1960s, for John F. Kennedy to proclaim that we would put a man on the moon by the end of that decade?

Fifteen years ago, was it realistic to believe that millions of people worldwide would be exchanging e-mail messages every day? Was it ever realistic to believe that a sheep could be cloned?

As you'll probably admit, all of these things were unrealistic. And yet, all of them were accomplished! Why?  Because certain people dared to "dream big" and took the steps necessary to bring their visions into reality.

Take a moment to think about it. Are there any goals that you have given up on ... or hesitate to pursue ... because you decided they were "unrealistic?"

Here are some ideas that will assist you in bringing your dreams into reality:

1.  You wouldn't have the dream unless you could implement it. The universe does not waste its efforts by giving you the desire to accomplish something ... unless you also have the potential to achieve it. Now, no one said it would be easy! Your goal may take years to attain, and there may be numerous setbacks before you can claim victory.

2.  A positive attitude is the foundation. You can achieve something extraordinary only if you have a dynamic positive attitude and a strong belief in yourself and your abilities.

3.  Don't expect others to feel and see your vision. You may be able to picture your outcome in vivid detail. This is your personal vision. But don't be discouraged when you find that others (even those close to you) can't "tune into" that dream. All that counts is that you see it ... and feel it.

4.  Enthusiasm is crucial. Bold objectives are achieved by those who are "on fire" about accomplishing them. So, are you excited about your goal? When you are speaking about that topic to others, can they sense your passion?

If you are lukewarm about achieving your goal or are just in it for the money, you probably won't succeed. Also, if you are trying to achieve a goal that someone else has set for you -- but your heart isn't in -- you will face disappointment.

5.  Commitment gets the job done. Sure, many people are excited at the outset. But, they quickly lose interest when obstacles appear in their path. And, with any "unrealistic" goal, you can bet that the trip won't be all fun and games.

You're going to face some tough times. Those who are committed have decided that they are in it for the long haul -- however long that haul may take. They usually have a timetable for realizing their dream, but quitting is simply not an option. That's the mindset that achieves the "impossible."

6.  Your everyday progress will look quite ordinary. When you look back at the accomplishment of most "unrealistic" goals, you're going to find that they were achieved by harnessing the power of cumulative efforts.

Thus, if we view a snapshot of each day along the way, no single day's accomplishments would look extraordinary or monumental. However, by making these efforts day after day, the individual created a momentum that propelled him or her to the desired destination. Remember, you don't climb a mountain with one giant leap.

7.  There are no guarantees.  By the way, is there a chance that you could embark on a challenging goal ... and not reach it? Absolutely. But, when you set an ambitious objective and give it your all, you are a winner and can hold your head high regardless of the end result.

So, do you think that you could double or triple your income -- or come up with an idea that could be worth thousands, or even millions, of dollars to your company? Whatever your big dream might be, don't worry that it is "unrealistic."

Friday, 5 October 2012

My Bangkok talk

This is a video of the  talk I gave in Bangkok. Its 30 minutes long, so grab a coffee or something stronger before you sit down to watch! 



Saturday, 18 August 2012

Bangkok video


Last month in Bangkok I told my story to the Diageo Asia Pacific leadership conference. It went really well. At the start of the speech, I showed a video (which Diageo's creative agency helped put together). Here it is.



Friday, 29 June 2012

One year on - photos and videos

Here are the photos and videos I said I'd publish in my post earlier today.


A few weeks ago, I went back to the scene of my accident for the first time. I drive past this place pretty much every day, but this was the first time I'd got out to take a closer look. I don't know for certain but am pretty sure that this is the hole that my tyre went down. My head  landed on the kerb. 








The kids have started doing the Hash House Horrors runs on Sunday afternoons. Recently, I joined them to walk one of routes - and found myself on the marathon course!!!




Here are a few videos from recent training sessions with Swee Kheng. You can see the issues I still have, mainly with my right leg/ foot, and with tone when I start to move faster. But you can also see the progress, I hope.







Here's one from last week - when I seemed to find my running legs again - first time for a little while!! I was very happy with this.




One year on


Today is the first anniversary of my accident  - the day that changed my life and the lives of my family forever. As you can imagine, there's a lot going through my head and today is a day of very high emotion. There's a lot I would like to say and do, but above all I want to celebrate and say thank you.

On 29th June 2011, a cycling accident left me with a spinal cord injury, unable to move and with almost no sensation, from the shoulders down. In the days that followed, Ali and I started to learn about the potentially devastating, traumatic impact of this injury -  possible permanent paralysis, incontinence, breathing complications, infections, a lifetime of dependence on care, and so on. Fortunately, I showed signs of some functional recovery fairly quickly, which was encouraging. But the medics made it clear that it was impossible to predict how much I would recover and to what extent I would be left disabled. A few weeks after my accident I was told that, given the level and nature of my accident, at the date of injury I had a less than 10% chance of ever walking again.

Today, my biggest physical challenge is muscle tone, spasticity and tightness. That's caused by the damage to my neurological system. The tone and tightness is compounded by physical, emotional and other stresses. Over the last couple of months, I've ramped up at work and pressed on with my physical rehab whilst trying to manage through the huge uncertainties and emotional issues the family still faces. I've taken medication since the accident, but the way the drugs work is by suppressing the nervous system, which seems to me (and others) to work against the healing process, so I recently tried to reduce the dosage. The net result has been an increase in tightness these last few weeks. But I know that it will improve eventually. And I know that when it does I will be in a really good position to make even more progress at an even faster rate. 

As things stand, one year later, I can walk (and do so without walking aids). I'm learning to gallop, skip, hop and run. I can ride a bike and swim. I can play games with my kids, kick a football, hit, throw and catch a ball. I drive, without any modification. I can type and write. I'm back at work and beating the targets I set for my first 3 months back. I'm fully functional and completely independent. My motor control, sensation, muscle strength and function all continue to improve. 

I don't know why it is that I've been able to recover this far. I think there are many reasons and I think they include the specific extent of the damage to my spinal cord; the medical care and drugs I received in the ICU; the success of my surgery; the great nursing care that followed; my extensive and intensive rehab program (physio, OT, cranio sacral therapy, meridian resistive stretching, massage, acupuncture, Qi Gong, counseling, coaching etc); my ability to finance all of that, including my six weeks at Project Walk; the energy I've drawn from the thoughts, prayers, encouragement and support of my family, friends and colleagues; the rock solid support from my employer; the inspiration I've drawn from the amazing people I've met and stories I've heard along the way; the make up of my body, spirit and mind - my level of fitness and health before the accident and the way I found myself able to choose hope over fear, believe in my recovery and keep focussed and determined to stay the course. 

I'm learning and understanding more as each day of this journey goes by, but I expect I'll never really know what it is that's got me here. But I do know that things could have been so much worse for me. I know that many other SCI victims face far bigger challenges than I do. I know that many of them would love to be able to do what I can do now, and I've met many who are working extremely hard to get there. I know that I am fortunate. I'm very grateful for the fact that I am where I am today, and that I have the potential to go even further tomorrow.

I also know, for sure, that I could not have done this without all of you. My medics, nurses, therapists, trainers, family, friends and colleagues. You have energised, motivated and inspired me. I will always be grateful. 

My injury has caused a huge amount of trauma, grief and upheaval for Ali, Max and Amy. Its very painful still for Ali, who saw our dreams, plans and securities torn to pieces. Whilst the kids have found new ways of being with me, I know they'd love to have me able to do the things I used to do. They are the victims of this too. But they brought me through the worst and have stuck by me. I'll find a way of marking today with them, saying thank you and letting them know how much I love them.

Today, wherever you are, please have a little celebration!!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A truly inspiring, beautiful video. Thanks to Rajan for sharing it.

http://www.andrewcohen.com/2012/05/16/video-never-give-up/

Sunday, 29 April 2012

29 April - first bike ride!

I've been riding my stationary bike for several weeks now, but today, I rode a bike outside for the first time. Here's a clip of the first moment - a practice run near the bike  hire shop, and then me off with Max & Amy through East Coast Park. A wonderful afternoon - and one more family activity regained. It feels fantastic, for all of us I think! 





Tuesday, 24 April 2012

24 April - two months on

It's two months since I came home from Carlsbad  - already!! So, as some of you have told me, I'm overdue an update!


I started back at work a couple of weeks ago. I'm easing back in slowly, working just two half days in the first two weeks, and aiming to increase to three full days by week 5. When I get to full days, I will start late morning to allow time for my therapy or training. As I've said many times before, the support from Diageo has been phenomenal. I had a really warm welcome back and now there are many people wanting to help ensure that my transition is successful, and that I return to full capacity over time. My boss has told me to structure work around my rehab, not the other way around, which is a fantastic way to help me keep on with my physical recovery, whilst at the same time re-building things on the work front. I'm very fortunate! Its early days, but so far so good - I've been able to get done what I planned to do, in the way I wanted to do it.  I've been tired at the end of each day, but that's to be expected whilst I re-adjust. This is a really big step for me, but the timing feels right and I know I can make a success of this.


I'm driving again!! One of the local hospitals runs a driving rehabilitation assessment. There is no legal requirement to do the test (as far as I know), but it was clearly the right thing for me to do, for everyone's sake. The assessment was pretty straightforward. First, I met with an OT (if you're reading this, hi Florence), to talk through my rehab and my physical and mental condition; and to perform some tests on basic functionality. A week later I had an on road test with a driving instructor. That went really well - except that I completely stuffed up an attempt at reverse parking!! The instructor didn't seem to mind, and I passed and got a certificate that I'm fit to drive. I'm loving the liberation and I've thought to myself that behind the wheel of a car I feel just like everyone else. I do tend to think a lot about the placement of my right foot on the pedals, but last week I drove through a massive storm (big, even for Singapore, which is saying something) - and all of a sudden I found that if my mind is distracted my legs and feet still work perfectly well!! Interesting! More of that later. I thought that I might have some issues with the tightness in my hands, but they are fine - and in fact I think my left hand benefits from having to clench and unclench as I move it from the steering wheel to the gear stick. So, another big box ticked!


In my last post I said that after returning to Singapore I needed to think about which therapists to work with and how to structure my training. I wanted as far as possible to replicate what I had in Carlsbad - a trainer (not necessarily a physio) who might be a kinesiologist or strength and conditioning coach, who could help me with gait training, strength and stability and who understands something about the neurological challenges. It was important for me to find someone with the right attitude - who can share my belief in my ability to beat the odds and make a full recovery, and who can keep me motivated and making good progress. And I needed access to a good facility with the right equipment. I expected to have to piece together a team of several people in different places. Actually, I think I've found it in one person in one place. I've been working with Dr Tan Swee Kheng, whose business is called Fifth Ray Integrated Activities. Swee Kheng ticks pretty much all the boxes. She's not worked with an SCI client before, but I didn't expect to find that outside of the main hospitals. She has a really cool facility in a warehouse down by the river. She does a lot of work with kids, but also gait, running and conditioning work with adults. Five weeks in, I seem to be making really good progress, especially within the last week when a lot of the gait training and strength work really seems to be bedding in, to the point that my movement has become more automatic and fluid and less effortful. Swee Kheng took a few videos of today's session, which I will post soon. 


Its a strange thing - I can now count at least 5 times during this rehab when exactly the right person has popped up at exactly the right time to help me on my journey. A couple of people have said that its about putting it out there and allowing the universe to arrange it. I'm beginning to believe it!!!


One of those people was Andrew Liaw. Andrew popped up as a cranio sacral therapist last October. He's also a physio and over time we started work at the gym and the track. Andrew had a quite uncanny knack of reading exactly what was happening in my body and his exercise program was a really good pre-cursor to the stuff I did at Project Walk. He's had total faith in my ability to recover, and has been hugely motivational. I'm now moving off on a different path (for a while, at least) but want to say a really big thank you to Andrew. He keeps a fairly low profile, but if anyone in Singapore wants his number, give me a shout. 


I'm still working very hard on the rehab - twice a week with Swee Kheng, twice a week at the gym near the office, once a week on a long walk, Saturday mornings in the pool, and every day a "get me moving routine" first thing in the morning and stretches at night. I've hooked my bike on to a stationary bike stand, and do a half hour ride on that once or twice a week. I also have one OT session a week, and try to fit in a weekly massage. A lot! 


In the first few weeks back from Carlsbad I struggled with increased tone, especially extensor tone in my right side, which causes my leg to straighten and forces my foot into plantar flexion. That seemed to worsen for a few weeks. Having spoken to a consultant and physio at the hospital, and to Swee Kheng, I decided that I needed to adjust my exercise regime, reducing the intensity in some areas for a while to allow me focus on form and quality of movement. That has meant that for the last few weeks I have pulled back from jogging, reduced the amount of jumping and shifted away from a focus on speed. Other than that, the home program that David, Genny and Steve built for me is still the core of my gym routine. The results seem good. Over the last few days there has been a noticeable improvement in my gait. I've felt much more fluid and smooth pretty much every time I have moved. Today I noticed that I am putting less mental and physical effort into walking. And that is making the whole thing more efficient - and faster! Other people are noticing too - especially Ali!


One strategy to address the tone is to try to divert my mind from it. That's really hard to do, because the tone can dominate my movement and I've developed a habit of thinking hard about every step. But over the last week or so I have had a bit of a breakthrough and found a technique that seems to help. I'm learning that if I can distract my mind to something else (eg to think about putting force through my left leg), my right leg is able to move automatically (almost) and more smoothly.  


The last few weeks have been tough going sometimes. I've felt low some days and sometimes felt that my progress had slowed, or even slipped backwards. That's the first time I've experienced that, other than for the odd day or so - and I know how fortunate I am to be able to say that. But I never expected my progress to be straight line the whole time, and in some ways its good to have been through this - I've learned how to come out of it. And I expect I'll need to use that knowledge again some time.


Ali is battling hard with her own recovery. A few weeks ago she went on an intensive therapy course in Australia. The course is known for being pretty tough, and Ali was anxious about going, but she did so, very bravely. She had a good experience, made some breakthroughs and came home in a much better place than before she left, and with some tools and techniques that will help her as she fights on. Its still really hard going for her, but she keeps on fighting.


The kids are doing fine. Max has got me playing football on the drive (my right leg moves much slower than my left, but the fear of falling over when I kick the ball has gone away!) and Amy has me playing tennis. Amy is storming ahead with her reading (not far off chapter books!) and Max is in a school play this week!


That's it for now. I'll post some videos soon.











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!!) 


Genny
Steve
David



Mica




Michael



Jes, Joy and Alicia


Kassie

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