Getting Physical-week 5

This week Josh moved from thirty minute sessions to a full-hour. Partly because we discovered how much time it takes to correctly position him for each exercise. But also because his enthusiasm requires more time. I have seldom seen Josh so excited about an activity.

I remembered to take the camera this week. I really want to make sure and document this journey of getting more physical. Realizing that Josh wants this is very humbling for me. I am so often the first person to encourage him to do something. But as Josh got older, and we lost access to physical therapists, I sort of gave up. I thought we had gotten everything that we could get. To see Josh responding to exercise, not just physically, but emotionally, has rekindled hope that I didn’t realize I’d lost.

As I ponder that thought, I realize that I had lost hope for myself, too. I was overweight, tired, and discouraged. My struggle with diabetes, and learning how to control the blood sugar, beat me down. I’m not a person who stays down very long. Facing a problem, acknowledging the situation, creates an atmosphere of challenge that fires me up. I didn’t want to just live with diabetes, and the eventual breaking down and wearing out of my body.

I decided that I couldn’t make the disease go away, but I could fight the core problem, and stop medicating the symptoms. I analyzed what causes diabetes and figured out that I’d already gone the diet route. And food wasn’t my problem. Every article I read identified belly fat as a core symptom of diabetes. I decided to go to war against fat. So I turned my focus off of food, and onto exercise.

I know myself well. I knew that I wouldn’t push myself so I signed on with a personal trainer. By facing the trainer every week, I am held accountable. Because I am Josh’s caregiver, as well as his mother, I took him with me to the workout sessions. And I saw Josh light up. He wanted to work out more than any person I’ve ever been around. Not because he was fighting a disease, but because he wanted physical movement.

I wish we could all approach physical activity with the enthusiasm Josh has. Every week, he does something that surprises and amazes me.

For example: His left arm has a strong reflex pattern. If you touch his hand, or arm, and try to help him use the hand, Josh immediately goes into a wind-up. Not this week. We positioned Josh on the mat so Abby could stretch his arms and legs. And this is what Josh’s left arm did:

No reflex, no wind-up. Just a nice, soft extension. You can tell by the smile on Josh’s face, he knows he did something wonderful.

Looking to the right

Looking to the left

This seems like such a simple move, small ball between the knees until you realize that four weeks ago Josh’s legs were so tight you couldn’t pry his knees far enough apart to do this.

This is the highlight of the hour for me. Last week, we managed to get Josh out of his chair. This week, Josh got so excited to try standing that he almost got away from us. He has a long way to go but when you stand by him, and feel him pushing on his legs, not once, not twice, but over and over, you can’t help but get excited.

During this weeks session, Abby and I got so excited that we must have gotten noisy because the door opened and in came Dr. Christa. A few minutes later, through another door came Jessica, the lady who gives Josh his massages, and finally, when Josh put weight on his legs, even Dr. Gibbs came in to watch. I wish I could share the feeling this week’s ‘Getting Physical’ gave us all. It was a warm, satisfying hour, for sure.

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