Gym Junkie

Throughout my life, I’ve never been particularly inclined toward physical activities. I was the kid who struggled to catch a ball and had a hard time with swimming lessons. Team sports never seemed to be my thing though I played some soccer and hockey in high school. As Janis Ian once sang, in “At Seventeen”, I was one of “those whose names were never called when choosing sides for basketball”.

It’s only recently that I’ve managed to make significant strides in this area. I like to go swimming, for example, though I suspect that’s more about relaxation than exercise. The realization that I needed to commit to daily sessions at the hospital gym was a bit daunting, to say the least.

My current exercise regimen focuses on enhancing my strength and balance. Among the various exercises, the stretching routines targeting my “unamputated” leg have proven to be the most challenging. Just a few weeks ago, that leg had lost a considerable amount of muscle tone due to extended periods of immobility during my hospital stay. However, I’m pleased to report that the difficulty level of these stretches is gradually diminishing as I make progress.

Another aspect of my exercise routine involves practicing “hopping exercises.” Right outside my apartment’s front door, there’s a small step measuring about 15cm in height, bridging the gap between the foyer floor and my apartment floor.I’ll need to be able to jump up on that. A week or so I couldn’t jump more than a couple of centimentres, but now I can scale the heights of a Sydney phonebook!

A further update from the rehabilitation gym at Sacred Heart / St Vincent’s. There is still a LONG WAY to go, but was pretty happy with today (aside from the near fall), so I thought I’d share.
As progress continues towards a prosthetic limb, they need to add on a “shrinker”, a compression stocking to actively control swelling of the residual limb.They also need to “measure” the circumference of my limb. The idea is the bottom of my leg will become “like a cone”, so it can accommodate the prosthetic.

In addition to the physical exercises, there’s a daily “mental exercise” where each participant contributes to an A-Z list. Today, I suggested we create an A-Z list of Musical Instruments, and this challenge turned out to be surprisingly demanding.

I’ve also been engaging in mirror therapy, a technique that involves placing a mirror between my legs, allowing me to see my left leg while the other leg (amputated) remains hidden behind the mirror. This therapy aids in retraining my brain to adapt to the physical changes resulting from the amputation.

While I generally stay active by walking, I recognize that incorporating aspects of my current daily exercise routine into “my new life” will be essential. Even though I’m not particularly fond of exercise, especially if given the choice, I understand its importance during my hospital rehabilitation. Fortunately, I’ve come to appreciate the process and find a sense of enjoyment in it. Still, I don’t envision myself turning into a “gym junkie” or participating in bodybuilding championships anytime soon.

4 Replies to “Gym Junkie”

  1. Looking good James! From a place of utter ignorance it seems like you’ve made amazing progress in a very short time!

    Thank you so much for candidly sharing so much of your journey** – there are tons of Imaginary Internet Friends who care about you very much and are keenly watching your progress.

    ** I’m sure you will say this is what bloggers do :)

  2. Wow! It’s an education for your IIF’s (Carolbaby) too. The ability to share the experience, the complex physiology and the emotions is, I assume, linked to your journalistic expertise? And she’s right. We do care. And it won’t stop when you leave rehab.
    I’m no gym junkie either but have grown to appreciate exercise as more than a ‘have to’ . It always makes you feel better. Keep going!

  3. Thanks Sally, Andrew and Carol, thanks for your comments. Carol, I had totally forgotten the phrase “imginary interenet friends”, but loved it, and nice to be reminded of it. Andrew – there are lots of videos on Youtube about mirror therapy. So far, it’s been proving to be successful in reducing the phantom pains. Sally – my past experience with gyms has been with lots of loud, souless music, and I think that’s part of the reason. I think there was also a sense of competitiveness, about who can lift the heaviest weight etc. I think I’ll be coming back to St Vincents for regular sessions, even after going home. And after that, maybe I’ll find somewhere that’s more in tune with me. I’ve been blown away by the response I’ve received to posts on Facebook, Twitter and this blog. You’re right, people do care, even if they don’t always say it. One of the takeaways for me from this whole experience is to thank people more and say why they made a difference. Reading your comments has really helped brighten my day.

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