24 July 2008

fat half recap

Hey all! It's been a while, no? Here they come.

First of all, massive congratulations to Jonathan Roche on completing last Sunday's Ironman triathlon! Wow. That's a lot of miles of self-propulsion.

Next, thanks to everyone for contributing to Mr. Roche's efforts, and therefore mine, in whatever way possible - I'm secretly a real softie, and reading so many notes saying that you've been thinking of me (and Jonathan, too!) the past few days is and has been extremely touching. BTW, it's still ok to send a donation to Jonathan until mid-August; check out his site or one of my last few posts for the address/method. You're not too late ;-) Again, both your contributions and thoughts are so incredibly appreciated. Try as I might, I don't think I can say that enough...

On to the therapy updates.

OT has been grand. Lots of picking up and moving, of course. My Fri session was moved to Thurs. We played Scrabble for almost 2h. It was beautiful. Then Monday saw some stacking of washers and such, as well as folding towels to work on two-handed coordination. As it turns out, I still can't do laundry. Today (rather than Friday) I went for about 2h again, picking up blocks, putting together a disaster of a pipe-and-joint sculpture, playing some speed Scrabble, and wrapping up with some back/shoulder e-stim.

Since the last update, there have been all sorts of the usual Giger, e-stim bike, weights, and sitting balance in PT. Some changes have been coming around, though. This week I have started spending the "lunch hour", 12p-1p, at rehab on normal therapy days (Mon/Wed/Fri), extending sessions unofficially to four hours at a time. During this extra hour, which comes after my "official" time on Mondays and before such on Wednesdays and Fridays, I can go in and use the e-stim bike semi-unattended if one is free. This is a fairly popular thing to do, as it means patients can do other therapeutic stuff during official session time without missing the benefits of the zap bike.

So what am I doing instead?

Ironically, I do the e-stim bike. Starting last Friday, to be accurate, I've been working on an upper extremity FES cycle, exercising my arms, shoulders, and back muscles. The idea is the same as the leg e-stim bike - synchronized muscular stimulation to pedal a cycle - but this time with arms instead of legs. Many muscles may be stimulated, from forearm/wrist to upper arm to shoulder to back areas; so far, I've been doing biceps (elbow benders), triceps (elbow straighteners), and traps (trapezius: muscles that go from the neck through the shoulders to the back, moving a lot of stuff). While the leg bike runs a full warm up/exercise/cool down in a little over 1h, the upper extremity cycle goes through a complete workout sequence in around 30min (which, trust me, is plenty).

For me, it's definitely a hardcore neck/shoulder task. On one end, the traps are mostly in charge of holding my head up, which is a fair load of work on its own, as they are weak and I have an enormous melon. But then they are also being zapped into submission and expected to help out in the cycling process! eek.

However similar the two may be, though, the uppers cycle is much different from the leg bike. To be honest, the leg bike is a fairly passive exercise; fire it up and then play Wii or something, not exactly putting in a lot of effort because I can't move those muscles on my own. But not so with the arm cycle. Instead, here I'm expected to pedal like crazy to maintain a pretty fast pace, and the electrical stimulation kicks in to keep me from slowing down too much. That is, the leg bike does all the work, but I actively do the work on the arm bike. It's doable, but by the end of the sequence (if I haven't lapsed into "passive" yet) I'm getting shocked at full blast and still not quite keeping up to speed.

Overall, it's pretty much awesome. Sure, it tears my shoulders/back to painmed-justifying shreds. It works my biceps super solid, though - I do basically no stimulation power to them because I have good sensation there, so shocking hurts - and I think the stimulation to the triceps is very important to regaining their strength and control. So in summary, simultaneous ouches and yays I suppose.

Ugh! There are still a few more points to cover, but I'm spent for now. Feel free to go back to doing something useful, and I'll distract you again soon.


  1. Wow John, you wrote a really long post this time!

    I really enjoy reading your "distractions" and am amazed by the patience you show.

    Once again you shame me. I get up in the mornings with my arms and shoulders hurting and spend my day trying to relieve the pain and moaning about how much it hurts.
    Then I read your posts and you write about pain that hurts but is a good thing! I so very much admire you and your stamina! Especially given that you are so much younger than I. I am 57 years old but no where near you in maturity.

    I remember back when I was a kid, turning my bike upside down and using my hands to turn the peddles.
    Did you ever do that too? I'll bet you never dreamed you'd be doing that in an entirely different manner as an adult for entirely different reasons.

    Some of your therapy sounds interesting (the scrabble and washer stacking). Can't say as I blame you for not enjoying the towel folding as it's not one of my favorite chores either.

    Wish I had some words of wisdom to share with you or something that might entertain you. But just wanted you to know that someone is reading your words and very much enjoys the reading.

    Sending you hugs {{{{John}}}}

    Pam G. in Washington State

  2. Hi John,
    I asked your mom when you were going to write a book. Your words make me smile. "many miles of self-propulsion" and "still" not being able to do laundry. You are a guy for sure. LOL.
    Keep up the great work, Monika :)
    P.S. Make that Giger SMOKE!

  3. Hi John,

    I thought I'd take a chance and try to entertain you for a change.

    I can't remember where I heard it, but I think I heard that you were a Boy Scout when you were younger.

    I used to be a Scoutmaster and still participate in a list-serv for Scout leaders (over 8,000 people participate from around the world).

    Today one of them sent a link to something that I thought might interest you.

    He wrote: It is a bit loud but am guessing that this will make a lot of the Philmont stuff easier
    on some of the older folks.

    It is way cool. Stick with the video. It gets better
    and better.


    Hope it gives you a chuckle.

    Pam G.
    Washington state

  4. Hey John!

    Just had a great visit with your Pop. We got to hear how it's going for you. I have been reading your blog...WOW!!! So remarkable how things are falling in place. Your Dad will have lots to tell you. He got to see Bear's new bridge....and my creek. Keep up the hard work ...we know you will.

    Hugs to yous

  5. John... wow! I didn't know about your progress or your blog until just a little while ago (living in NC and trying to keep up on news via the Enquirer/Democrat is difficult at times)! I'm amazed John. I'm so happy that you are doing so well. I'm now a committed reader and look forward to future posts. Keep the faith! My prayers are with you.

    ~C. Link

  6. Sounds like a human case study of Pavlov's dog... Hey just had to throw in a comment, I love reading your blog. It keeps me from my depressing self chat. All I can say is Thanks, Oh and keep up with the towels... someday they might let you do the laundry... Step one Learn to sort colors