Happy New Year!
I want to start off by wishing all of you best wishes and good fortune for 2018. You’ve all helped me through 2017, a year I am tempted to call tough, but looking back, has been one of my most fulfilling years to date. Major physical setbacks have started to be overcome, and you coming here and reading my posts, supporting me, and complimenting my attitude, resolve, and writing provided the backdrop for all of it. Thanks to all of you. Keep it up!
Over the holidays, I took a lot of time to really review 2017, and both my physical and mental health have really changed. I know, I’ve shared the same news with you all year, so this post, the 1st SickRick.Blog post of 2018, is going to lay the physical differences out, and then I will provide semi-regular updates as my recovery continues. Since I am now in charge of my own therapy, Physical and Occupational, I really needed to assess where I am, what I need, and how I am going to make it happen. It’s been hard to make a true assessment until now, because the improvements have been subtle, and most noticeable to only me. Recently, however, the differences are very noticeable because there is a very definite line between good and bad when it comes to my physical abilities. Initially, I was concerned about the substantial gap between good times and bad, but in reality, it’s provided a blueprint for what I need to work on, and that is everything.
My strength has improved, as I am able to stand and balance for longer periods of time. I practice and work on this daily. I notice it most in the shower, where I can now use both hands to wash my hair, without having to hold on to the support bar or the door frame to prevent a fall, and my hair is beautiful and full-bodied again! I can now workout my other muscles from a standing position for longer periods of time, which is important. Yes, I am stronger than I was 2-3 months ago, but I have experienced substantial muscle atrophy since this all started in February. The most important muscles for me to work right now are my core muscles and my legs. The most fit muscles I have right now are my Triceps, as I use them for everything, particularly to lift myself off of the couch or chair or walker from a sitting position. They are the only muscle on my body with any kind of definition, and I guess I should just be happy there is even one. Without a substantial amount of work, there could be none, so progress has happened.
My dexterity has increased, a lot. I rarely drop things, and I am making drastic improvements in my ability to maneuver things around without having to set them down and pick them up differently. I notice this more than anyone, and it is incredibly satisfying to be able to do it. It’s so much more efficient and time-saving. I do daily exercises with my hands and fingers, mostly using Thera-Putty, a clay/Play-doh type of material, but my OT made it clear that I need to work on larger muscle movements to continue improving the dexterity in my hands.
My walking has improved, but is without question the worst skill I have. I do less walking than anything, so it makes sense. My plans for improving this are lots of leg work, walking without the walker for short trips, and stair work. Of all of my short-term goals, I want to focus on getting outside and doing some easy hikes with my dog Benny at Naga-Waukee this summer. I am being realistic about this, and would be thrilled if I could just walk him around the block. His devotion and understanding throughout this whole process needs to be rewarded, and I intend to pay him back.
I’ve moved all of the weights and exercise equipment to the basement (well, Dylan did it), and I plan on making my way down there, daily, starting today, to exercise. I’m driven and I believe, strongly, that I can overcome this disease. Working out is essential, and having to use the stairs to get to the basement is just a small part of pushing myself. I plan on making 3-5 trips, up and down, the 2 stairwells in the house daily.
The holidays were a real wake up as to how things affect my body. 3 days of Christmas celebration took it out of me, and 2 days of New Year celebrations can still be felt. I pushed it, and while seeing family and friends was incredibly rewarding, I’m slightly disappointed in some of the decisions I made…
During the High School Football season, I allowed myself 1 (sometimes 2) beer every Friday night. It helped me feel like part of the group, and eased some of the anxiety of being in a wheelchair. It always made me feel like garbage, but it was worth it at the time. Since going gluten-free, I haven’t had any alcohol, and I have told myself and others, maybe even here on this blog, that I would probably not drink again. I lied. During the Wisconsin game on the 30th, at a small gathering of friends, I had 2 drinks. I had a great time, enjoyed watching my Badgers kick ass, and no real damage was done, but on NYE, possibly encouraged by the previous night’s success, I got straight-up drunk. Not sloppy drunk, but exhausted, and therefore slurry and hard-to-understand drunk. I made it to midnight, made my way upstairs, and slept for 6 hours. I wasn’t hungover, but I regretted the drinking. I really don’t think it’s for me anymore.
I won my Fantasy Football Championship, and with my winnings, I purchased a new recumbent exercise bike to (slowly) start building up my cardio, but mostly to help with movement. It will be nice to freely move and build some strength, and hopefully feel a bit of freedom while doing so.
My plans for this blog are changing a bit, as my updates slow down, my desire to write has increased. I may write and share here about different subjects, and I hope you all continue to read, share, and respond.
That’s all for today. I feel like I missed the mark with this post, but as I stated above, I’m still in a holiday fog.