Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Exercise

Ugh! That's a dirty word, isn't it? Does anyone really like exercising? I mean besides an anorexic? Sure you enjoy the endorphins release, doesn't everyone like the high? But PT exercises are so boring after a stroke! It's the same thing over and over again.

You might have really pushed yourself just after your stroke. Maybe even for a month or two, but for five years! Honest. A show of hands. How many of you long term, living post stroke are still doing your PT exercises once or twice a day? Weren't you told to do them? I'll admit to not doing them every day. It's more like three times a week, but I also do other things to compensate for the exercises.

Exercising more ranks right up there with losing weight as a New Years resolution, but it's April. But that's besides the point. The range of motion exercises you were given right after your stroke is just as important today as it was when you first had your stroke.

Muscle memory
If you let these exercises slide your muscles will forget how to function. As I said last week, if God says I'm healed, it would be mighty sad if I have let my muscle tone decrease to the point where it didn't make a difference.

New Brain Pathways
By the same token, what if I didn't make my brain try to reroute around the damaged part to make my muscles work? It would always be a very sad day. They are still forming.

Okay, so I've told you why I continue to exercise my paralyzed side. Let me tell you some alternatives to the standard exercises.

Go outside! The same four walls close in on you. Roll or walk yourself out on the porch or driveway. Enjoy the sun and breeze hitting your face. Me, if I went out on the porch, I'd be shooing chickens away, but that's an exercise too. I move my affected arm by the shoulder and stretch my elbow as far as I can. But still this simple action exercises my elbow and shoulder.

I feed our rabbits and chicken twice a day. Their feed is kept in large outdoor trash cans. I will bend my knees, scoop the feed, and use my gluts to stand. Not quite deep knee bends, but it works my gluts and hamstrings. My right hamstring is partially paralyzed. It also works my lower back muscles. The garden is also my workout area. Not all my garden beds are elevated.

We've got me baby chicken on our homestead. I keep my balance and hold each one daily. In case you didn't know, chicks get pasty butts and have to be checked and cleaned or they could die. The brooder box, where they live, is 3x4. They are quick and don't like to be handled. Catching each one with only one hand is an effort of sheer will. They are just getting their wing feathers at a week old and trying to fly.

Speaking of gardening. There is a lot of lifting, bending, balancing, and negotiating in planting, caring, and harvesting a garden. You can get a pretty good work out doing this. I am constantly shifting my weight between legs, using both of my arms to carry flats of plants from the greenhouse to the garden. I may be lopsided when I lower the plants but they don't care. I'm tucking them into their forever home. Shoveling and raking manure is nobody's idea of a joyful task, but for an organic garden, it's essential. Every six months we are raking rabbit manure from under their outdoor hutches to put in the garden each spring. The rabbitry has a poo removal system that has us toting 5 gallon buckets of waste every month to the compost pile.

Currently, the five adult chickens are roosting on the front porch rail at night. There is a pile that has to be scrapped and moved to the compost bin every month. Then, there is the straw in the little chick brooder. They eat and poop a lot. This is swept into the wheel barrow for Mel to take to the compost heap also. This manure won't be used until the next spring. Our current wheel barrow takes two hands. This will change this month when I purchase a one handed job like pictured. I won't be left out on all the fun. It will only set me back $129.

Did I mention that I'm closing on my house on the 7th? Well, I am. My Brunswick house is sold. That's how I can afford it. Yippee! But I digress.

There is still a lot around the homestead to do. Plenty for Mel, our wwoofer and son to do. In the coming months trees will be felled, and cut into firewood. I'm not exempt from stacking it in the wood shed. I'll be gathering tinder, broken branches and sticks for next winter. The work never stops. All of it requires bending stretching and using my muscles until I'm spent with exhaustion, but that's a good thing. I'm getting a work out. I'm using my muscles.

So doing the exercises on those sheets by PT, oh so many years ago, is almost passe. Yes, I still have a folder with those exercises in it.  I'll pull it out every so often to check and see what I haven't done in another way. Why do I do it still? For the two reasons given above; muscle memory and new brain pathways.

Have you given up your exercises?

Isn't it time to start doing them again?

Nothing is impossible.



1 comment:

Rebecca Dutton said...

Love your philosophy about exercise.