Friday, October 25, 2013

50 Crunches in the Pool

We had a small group for the 4pm Find Your Core Strength Aquatics Therapy Class at Spaulding Rehab. Diana Fischer,DPT, whose energy, enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to helping us find our strength is infectious, was excited to have us use the entire pool. Usually we concentrate on either the deep end or the shallow end of the pool for our workouts.

Diana kept the cardio intense and was able to give a lot of individualized attention to each member of the class. She made suggestions that strengthened my quad muscles and helped me to chase after Tom into the deep end of the pool by lengthening my stride. And just so you know -- you can in fact sweat in a pool. She gave us an invigorating workout that my body welcomed.

As the final exercise of the day, Diana gave us a "noodle" and had us put it under our legs so we could lie horizontal in the water. She then instructed us to do 50 crunches.


Flashback to just about 7 years ago when I was being evaluated by Kerry, a physical therapist at the Spaulding Rehab International Rehab Center for Polio and Post Polio. She asked me to do a crunch. The pain was intense in my cervical spine and well - everywhere. Every muscle burned. I was so weak and deconditioned. I really had no idea how I would ever regain my strength....

And so I began to engage my abs and work from my core. With the help of a scar tissue treatment session, the scar tissue from a 3 hour abdominal surgery and repeated laparoscopies was released so that I could access my abdominal muscles. Well not only could I access my abdominal muscles but I could isolate them, engage them and do the 50 crunches.

Talk about feeling the burn!

I can engage and strengthen my quad muscles, the muscles of my upper body and now find my core strength.

Diana was so encouraging while I breathed and did my crunches. She said that my form was perfect and after I finished, she gave me a high five. You would think that she was the one who had experienced the accomplishment as she was genuinely joyful to see what I was able to do.

I took the first steps on my healing journey at Spaulding Rehab Hospital and worked to find my strength in the old building on Nashua Street with what would now be considered archaic equipment. From my memoir, "Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility"

The buzzing hum from the fluorescent lights echoed the buzzing in my nervous system. I sat waiting for my first appointment at the post polio clinic at Spaulding Rehab Hospital. My complexion was as white as the paper that covered the exam table. I felt as fragile and vulnerable as that piece of paper that gets ripped off and tossed away after the exam. Every inch of my body hurt. I was exhausted. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I hadn’t really cared whether or not I woke up in the morning but I had a husband and twins that needed me. Ironically enough I was at the peak of my career as a VA social worker. Somewhere deep inside of me there was a feeling that there had to be a way out of the hell I was living in. I couldn’t sleep. I felt depressed. My award winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs no longer fueled my soul.

The symptoms began in 1996. I had episodes of feeling fatigue and muscle burning. I was anxious. At times, I noticed that the limp from paralytic polio returned. In 1992, I had reconstructive leg surgery to correct the deformity of my left leg and to avoid a total knee replacement at the young age of 39 years old. Here I was 7 years later feeling as though my body was beginning to deteriorate and my life falling apart.

By outward appearances, I had it all. I had a successful career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston. I had the usual angst of raising twin teenagers and was blessed with a loving supportive husband. We had our usual share of crises. My husband was laid off during the dot com bubble burst the day before he had surgery for bladder cancer. My mother and his father died within a few short months of each other. We were members of All Saints Episcopal Church and had a beautiful home in Brookline, Massachusetts.

In 2004, I told my primary care provider that I was afraid there was something wrong with me – really wrong with me. When I described my symptoms to him and suggested I had post polio syndrome, he told me that post polio syndrome didn’t exist. He suggested I was experiencing empty nest syndrome even though my twins hadn’t left the nest yet. He gave me a sample of paxil and told me I needed to see a psychiatrist. He told me I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I had been in and out of therapy for years. I knew as a clinical social worker that I probably did suffer from post traumatic stress disorder but this felt different. There was something profound happening in my body that needed medical treatment.

And so it began but I had absolutely no idea that I would return to the new Spaulding Rehab Hospital now being able to build strength, train my body safely and move with efficiency and joy and be able to thoroughly enjoy and celebrate being alive.

The Singing Bowl from A Celebration of Life. My books of inspirational poetry are available on Amazon.

Shaman reaches
palm outstretched
with love
focused intention
the bowl comes to life


a few inches from heart center

she appears

my guardian angel

not as an apparition for eyes to behold
her presence fills the room
an indescribably delicious love

breaking bonds
severing ties with all not love

powerful protector of the light
of my soul

I was saved

I am healed.

I am home.

No comments: