Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Balancing Act

It's a flying saucer! Look out! LOL No the above photo is actually my latest toy device at Gold's gym. It is called a BOSU (both sides up) balance trainer. It is like a swiss balance ball cut in half and mounted on a hard plastic base.

Apparently there are several exercises you can do with it (what I would consider extremely difficult and advanced....not sure if I could ever attain some and others I know I cannot). However I just try to simply stand on the thing.

I remember the first time Harley was showing off and jumping up and down on it while I had extreme difficulty just maintaining 5 seconds of stationary standing without falling off. Yeah I have walked a marathon and climbed the tallest tower on the west coast but I just make you think things are easy when actually they are not. My legs are continually bruised from falls in just normal daily life and I have fallen down the stairs bruising my tailbone and most recently spraining my other ankle (I sprained the opposite one when I came home from treatment in summer 2004).

Anyhow, I am really proud to say I have gone from finding it extremely challenging to stay on the device for 10 seconds to my recent accomplishment a couple days ago of staying on for over 5 minutes.

I had a major breakthrough the day I climbed the Columbia Tower and met the Ershlers. After the climb I decided to stop off at the gym and workout seeing as it only took me 15-16 minutes to climb the tower. I had no idea really how long it would take to climb the tower as the Seattle marathon lasted hours to complete.

For a few weeks of practicing over and over again, I just could not seem to exceed 10 seconds and actually averaged 5 seconds as many tries resulted in 3 seconds before falling off. I was so elated after the tower climb that I was in a very determined mood. I am not even sure how many practice attempts it took me. I figured out that focusing on the striped colored wall in front of me helped immensly compared to a plain white wall with people walking past in my side view.

The stripes were large so I focused on the border between them that was near eye level. Then I noticed a few light scuffs on the wall in front of me and focused really hard on them until my eyes were not bouncing so much. My legs shaked as if they were about to crumble. I pictured the image of Susan Ershler's face and envisioned her telling me I could accomplish this feat. Finally after 150 seconds (yes that zero really is meant to be there) I released from the device happy and feeling "On Top of the World". What a great day! Not only did I climb the tower but I also drastically broke my measily 10 second record with an astonishing 150 seconds!!!!!

Now some people may observe me with strange curiousity or you yourself may wonder what the fuss is all about. For some, they would question why I was having such a struggle. I have to admit that I would have been one of them before losing my balance. Now I understand.

Often when I go to the gym, this is one of the balance activities I have been working on improving. About 6 weeks ago I broke my record again and almost made it to 5 minutes (I think it was 4 and a half). Yet when I came home it after dark, I got disoriented in the driveway and fell twisting my ankle badly and landing on it. Frustrated that my foolish foible would interupt the strides I made and hard work I had accomplished, I knew I would have to start again.

Fortunately I did not have to go back to the drawing board. I abstained from practicing on the BOSU trainer until my ankle felt a little stronger. After two or three weeks I could not contain myself any longer, jumped on one day and accomplished 2 minutes after some practice. Sunday night I accomplished over 5 minutes but I noticed the device I was standing on was re-inflated to its maximum capacity. I am not sure if this makes it easier or if my balance is actually improving. I will have to test out the difference tomorrow night.

About the ankle......Here is how it happened and something those of us with NF2 or balance challenges deal with DAILY!!! I should have known better really. As I said, I came home at night (dark out) when it is important to be more cautious as those of us balance challenged have a hard time with less light. (The best I can describe this is the difference between day driving and night driving...your perception and reflexes to situations drastically change. Now imagine having night blindness on top of that.)

I got out of my car at home not thinking in the right frame of mind about needing to be more cautious. My hair should have been tied back and it was not. I leaned down to pet the dogs and my hair fell in my face resulting in wild disorientation. I had no sense of direction (succumbing to a sort of land type vertigo). As I began dancing around to avoid falling and to get my bearings I twisted my ankle. Then the final icing on the cake was my heavy gym bag sliding off my right shoulder and causing me to come crashing directly on top of the twisted ankle.

It was excrutiating pain! The dogs were dumping on me and licking me all over my face as they worried about me hurting myself (they tend to do this when I hurt myself or I happen to be sad). LOL I am just editing this now and realized what I wrote here!!!!! ROFL I meant to say that my dogs were "JUMPING" on me and not "DUMPING" on me! Eeww! Gross! I am sure glad I have to ability to laugh at my foibles! ;+)

For the first few days I did not go anywhere as I had injured my right ankle. It hurt too much to drive and was painful going down the stairs. Five or six weeks have passed but it is still swollen (larger than the other one) and hurts in certain positions or just plain bothers me to the point where I feel like pulling it off my leg.

Yes I had it looked at 3 weeks afterward, but the doctor did not want to do xrays and said this was typical for a sprain. As a result, I have had to cease my running that I was making improvements in (was hoping to run some 5 Ks this summer and work up to a 10K). I also stopped going to the water aerobics which I have really enjoyed and is good for my balance as there are certain moves or running in the pool which would cause the wrong kind of strain on the ankle. If it is doing better I can commence running in July. Perhaps I will try returning to water aerobics next week.

What else have I been doing to keep active and work on balance? Well fortunately I can still walk without my ankle bothering me. Last week I tried running for short spurts and took the next day off completely. I have also been back to lifting weights this year as I am trying to gain back muscle strength that will help me improve my balance. In addition, there is this machine I really like developed by Cybex which takes impact and jarring off the ankles. It is like a combination of running, cross country skiing, and stair climbing. It is great!!!!

By the way, check out the link to find out more about what a BOSU is by clicking the lighthouse link in the post title. It is cool!

1 comment:

PalacePool said...

Wow, I just found this from the nmu site. It is absolutely amazing to see all that you have done, and been through.

Hope we can reconnect in the near future, it has been a very long time since I have seen you.

Please be in touch.

Tim Bennett