Friday, February 5, 2016

Get busy LIVING!

Anyone that has followed my blog knows that I strongly believe that an amputee must remain active. This does not mean hitting the gym 7 days a week or spending 3 or 4 hours working out every day. It means getting out and doing something. I have been told that walking isn't exercise, that in order to benefit you have to raise your heart rate more than walking can bring on. I guess some people (trainers included) do not understand how difficult walking can be to the new amputee. Most of us have spent a period of time prior to the amputation in a very sedentary state. A radical transition into heavy exercise would be detrimental. You should always consult with your physician prior to beginning any new routine to make sure that your body is healthy enough to make the transition.

I began with walking. At first it was laps around the living room until my wife was ready to strangle me in my sleep. Then I began walking to the end of our street, about 2 blocks with a slight grade (up to start and down coming back home). I transitioned pretty quickly, even though I was having trouble managing my volume. I also sweated like a pig. Keeping a seal on my sleeve was difficult, and I had to carry around a towel everywhere I went. I transitioned to the walking path at our neighborhood sports park. It is a 1 km track that circles the baseball/softball parks. I started with 1 km and progressed on up to 5 km. I walked as fast as I could manage and always was playing against the clock. The foot I had was hydraulic and kept me from running.

At this point I had had my leg for 4 months. I was fitted for a new socket that was smaller than the 5 gallon bucket I was in to start. The fit was awesome, and my insurance had finally approved a Rush™ Foot. This transition was amazing to me. The Rush™ Foot allowed me to jog. Don't get me wrong, I had been sedentary for about 4 years prior to my amputation, other than swimming I had got little exercise. I had to teach myself to run again. It was hard and it hurt, a lot. I started out on the treadmill at work. Clumpity Stomp... and eventually I could run about a mile. It has not been comfortable, as I am still too heavy to do it very long, but I keep trying.

I was also able to ride my bicycle again. This opened a whole bunch of opportunity. I happen to live in one of the most incredible bike friendly cities in America. We have miles upon miles of dedicated trails to allow people to bike and walk all over. The Northwest Arkansas Greenway is an incredible system of trails that stretch from Greenland Arkansas up to Bentonville Arkansas, a distance of about 45 miles. The trails connect different areas and each segment has it's own character. Just getting out there is fantastic. Fresh air and a fresh perspective is an incredible way to relieve stress and worry.

I have people comment that they are proud of me that I didn't just knuckle under and say "Woe is me", I did not sit back and cry about my situation. I read once that there are basically two types of people (societies) in the world. People who live, and people that die. In all of my experience, I have never found this to be inaccurate, everyone is capable of being in either group they choose to be in. Notice I said choose. You get to make that choice. As 'Red' Redding said in the Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy living or get busy dying" Always choose to do everything that you can, do not surrender quietly. Becoming active is the key to improving the situation.

Get up, get out and do something today!

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