I’ve got a black band hanging from my door for lat pulls, a grey band tied to the knob for forearm rotations, a green band looped around the coffee table for leg lifts, and a red band I loop around my calves for side squats. I’ve got five pound weights for curls and ten pound weights for presses. I’ve got pulleys for arm extensions, taupe putty for finger stretches, and a spring press for grip strength. I’ve got a ball for palm spins, a block for shoulder releases, a strap for hamstring stretches. I hunch on a stool for scapula extensions, press against a wall to lower my quads, and spider back up the same wall to lengthen my shoulder. I move through five different stations in five rooms of my house twice a day to get over what that Porsche did to me. Then I walk or bike or swim for more progress. The mantra that accompanies my manipulations:
Movement is good. Resistance is better. Dizzy is progress. Swimming is best.
OT/PT is a progression of small to large. I started with my hand, direct movement and massage on my broken metacarpal and its related joints. A few weeks later we added work on my shoulder, pulling, pressing, and extending that joint. Last came the back, with an entirely different strategy. Stretch and strengthen the muscles that surround the lower back before actually engaging the fractured vertebrae. Lift my legs, clench my gluts, tighten my belly. Do it again, and again, adding bands of resistance.
Twelve weeks after the accident I rolled to a sitting position after my floor exercises and the world spun. Whoa! Where did that amusement ride inducing whirl come from? The dizziness continued, to various degrees, for several weeks, until I realized that dizziness signifies reclaimed strength and I embraced disorientation.
I don’t like to swim; I feel trapped in water. But nothing supports a wounded body without pressure, or strengthens muscles without stress, or soothes our entire being so effectively. Only after I began to swim regularly, eventually one mile four times per week, did I believe what the therapists have said all along: I will regain all of my strength; all of my ability.