Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back to two-a-days

June 17, 2010

Do you remember two-a-day workouts?

I’ve been thinking about those since I’ve been in rehabilitation. Nearly a half a century ago, I remember hot August days wearing smelly football pads and working out under the hot Kansas sun. It was mornings and afternoons of hard work getting into condition.

You were always under the watchful eye of coaches who were always shouting encouragement or reprimands. Yet, you took personal satisfaction in small, momentary successes.

Well, I’m back in two-a-days. Only it’s more important now as I am relearning life skills. My momentary successes might be putting on my T-shirt by myself or eating with my left hand.

So, what are these two-a-day practices like? First, they teach you the simplest of basic skills. These include swallowing properly, tooth brushing, bathing and shaving.

Shaving was the first challenge. Having never tried this left-handed it was a bloody experience. The hardest part was getting the razor square on my face. With that accomplished you could have a semblance of a shave. Unfortunately, this experience resulted in several nicks and cuts. I have always said that I would not use an electric razor. After the last failed attempt, which resulted in several cuts to the chin, I decided to eat my words and I now have an electric razor.

Another new electric toy is my toothbrush. It’s much easier and probably does a lot better job than my old method. However, I still have to get it in proper position without getting toothpaste all over my face.

Another adventure is eating. While it is modified, I still have a hearty appetite. The food is tasty, however I seem to have a transportation problem: hand to mouth. I really have no problem in getting the food on the fork, but there have been some near-misses. My left hand is working very hard on becoming a reliable dinner partner. I will admit that if given a choice, I’ll take a sandwich.

One of my big successes has been learning to take off and put on my T-shirt. I am actually able to maneuver this task. I just wish now that I could handle the rest of my dressing. I think that putting on my socks will be a bigger challenge, although getting them off is relatively simple.

I spend a morning and afternoon session in physical therapy, which is very hard work. We challenge non-cooperative muscles to return to work. Success in this endeavor is measured in inches, and a small move is a major victory.

The therapists use a variety of simple helps to relearn old skills. I particularly enjoy batting the balloon. I remember doing this when our daughters were young. We are learning to stack objects just as a toddler. I guess part of me reacts like a toddler.

Therapists use electrical devices, too. They attach electrodes to my arm and leg and send electric impulses to snoozing nerves. It’s strange to watch your fingers and toes flex without your permission.

When it comes to swallowing, I have graduated, and that is very important. I no longer have to drink thickened liquids. You can’t imagine how bad thick coffee tastes, let alone water. My speech is about back to normal. The therapist’s goal is to get me to talk slower, but I naturally talk fast so that won’t be easy.

In all, I am very busy, and that’s a good thing as the time goes by quickly. Believe it or not, this work is very tiring. We work from 8:30 to 3 p.m. with a lunch break. Nothing gets in the way of therapy.

I hope to successfully complete my two-a-day workouts and return to normal. Again thanks to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, cards, calls and flowers. This support is very comforting and uplifting. Yes, I’m absolutely coming back.

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