This morning started out like every morning does. Some good breakfast in bed just before heading to hand group. This morning's schedule threw me for a little loop in a positive way. Before I could get out of bed my PT Carey came in and said "let me see your schedule, lets get rid of this, this, and this and you are going in the pool!" I was really disappointed yesterday when I found out that there were no therapists scheduled to help in the pool and my session got canceled. So, this was great news and a wonderful way to start off the day!
During hand group I got the wheelchair boys to fix the back of my chair for there were some screws loose and missing. So while I sat at the table playing with staples and paperclips for therapy I was being worked on like the number 4 car in a Nascar race. As soon as hand group was done I did a good long pressure break and then my mom and I decided to just head up to the pool early.
We got to the pool room and in the back they had an area with a miniature elevated exercise mat similar to the ones in the gym but about half the size. I transferred onto the mat and they brought a pool chair over to the mat for me to then transfer into. This chair hooks right into a small lift at the edge of the pool that swings from the edge and then lowers you down into the water. Once you are in the water the chair stays put and off you go! There were two other people in the pool with me that were also working on different forms of therapy. The instructor was a very knowledgeable and kind lady that you could tell had a lot of experience with all different kinds of injuries. The first thing she did was flip me over to my back to see if I could float. The many years at Sunset Beach, as a lifeguard and swimming instructor, really paid off for this moment. I immediately pushed my belly up into the air and pulled my chin to the sky floating like a champ. I used my arms to do some beautiful sculling action on each side which kept me afloat and allowed me to maneuver around as well. Once she saw my floating skills she said "boy you're going to make this really easy for me aren't you? I'm not going to have to do anything at all." After floating for a little while she put me in one of the corners of the pool and gave me several different exercises to focus on strengthening my abdomen and torso. We also worked on standing and moving all the different muscles in my legs. It was really amazing because on land I can't get any movement and it is really hard to see if the muscles are twitching. But, in the pool she said she could feel all kinds of muscles throughout my legs working which felt so good. Swimming in the pool has got to be one of the greatest therapies I have experienced yet. After the stretching and strengthening she said "why don't we work on a little swimming." Now, without my legs I thought my gosh I am going to sink to the bottom of this glorified bathtub. The pool was plenty large for me and two other people to all be working in, probably 35 feet by 20 feet, but was truly just a huge stainless steel tank about four feet deep. She taught me the best way to roll from my stomach to my back to get air each time I was to run out while double front stroking, two arms at a time, with my face down in the water. It was the weirdest feeling but once I would get my arms going and enough momentum my legs would lift up to the surface of the water and I really was swimming. I did several laps back and forth across the pool until I was so tired that my last lap was almost completely underwater and my mom right away when I came up at the other end and grabbed the side said "I think that's enough." The instructor gave me a really cool pair of goggles to wear while swimming. She mentioned "it's been a while since we have had any swimmers. You did a really great job today." After catching my breath and just screwing around a little bit, dunking under water and pretending to snorkel, I back floated over to the chairlift and got plucked right out of the pool. We showered to get the chlorine off, dried me, and got me back in my chair. We headed back downstairs to get me in bed for I was ready for a nap. The pool worked so many muscles and was so incredibly tiring yet satisfying. It makes me want to have a very small, at the least, therapy pool somewhere in my house someday. So, if anybody has experience (Uncle Peter) in building tile pools I think we could take that on as an awesome project and turn a spare bedroom into a pool therapy room someday.
I ate lunch in my bed and relaxed until my next therapy which was a therapeutic rec massage. A local massage therapy school is associated with RIC and many of their students put in mandatory hours with the patients all throughout the building. Basically, your therapists just request that you get a massage every once in a while and they come right to your room and rub you down. Lucky enough two students came and my mom and I both got a 40 minute massage. Both girls were in their last week of the program and really seemed to know what they were doing. It felt great, especially after working so many muscles in the pool earlier.
After my massage we headed straight for the gym for my last class of the day, PT with Carey. Carey got me onto the mat right away to go over trying to take my chair apart piece by piece as if I was going to break it down to put it in a car. The cushion comes off easy and the back was just two little clamps that you flip, but the wheels were pretty hard for me to release. The wheels pop off by pushing a button into the center of the room and pulling them off. Carey let me know that there are special center release mechanisms made just for quadriplegics that have limited hand function. So, when I order my wheelchair that will be one of the bells and whistles that I have added to it from the factory. I definitely feel as if I will get full strength and a great grip back but until then these adaptations will help me cope and once I get the grip back I will still be able to do it either way so I might as well have it added to help me now.
After working with the wheelchair Carey wanted to put my legs in slings hanging from a steel wire grid that is mounted above all the workout mats. She made it so my legs were just floating as I laid on my side. We then proceeded to check each of my leg muscles to see how they were firing. Several different areas were easier to tell if there was anything yet or not. After working each leg she then started checking some of my muscles in my abdomen and love handle area (medically known as my quadratis lomborum). Carey was really excited to see that my side (love handle) muscles were obviously active and much stronger than she had anticipated. She kept making my mom and Kalli come and feel the muscles as I performed different sit ups or side crunches. The presence of these muscles now working made me quickly realize why my stability and balance has increased over the last few weeks because as soon as we were done I felt a bit wobbly with those muscles having been worked to the max. Our time was up for the session but I figured since I was already on the mat I should definitely get my legs completely stretched out using the newly learned self stretching methods. Once I finished stretching out I hopped back in my chair and went to the rickshaw to do a quick 6 sets of 15 with 60 lbs pumping up and down. Endow, I will definitely be moving up to 65 or 70 if I can manage tomorrow. Tonight 60lbs became just a hair too easy.
We then headed back over to the canary room for some dinner and fun conversation with Joey and his mom. After dinner we headed back to my room to do a little blogging and start my nightly routine. Today almost seemed like I was living in a spa, a little therapy in the pool, then a massage, followed by a good stretch session. Life isn't too bad at the RIC!