Tag Archive | therapy

Tai Chi for Stroke Recovery 

I’m about 6 years post-hemorrhagic stroke. I am constantly looking for new ways to get therapy, which is beyond the traditional therapy. Traditional therapy has just gotten boring, and I tend to not keep it up at home. I like fun therapy!!

 Last year I did pool therapy, and I really liked it! It’s just hard to swim in the winter. I really wanted to do something different. 

 So last October, we joined our local Recreation Center, which also includes a Senior Center. The Rec Center has an indoor pool, every kind of workout equipment, and lots of exercise classes.

 After trying the pool, I just couldn’t keep swimming there because the water wasn’t warm enough for me. So I decided to try some classes. In the Senior Center!! Yup! I figured that would be my speed! The age for the Senior Center starts at 50, so I fit the bill!

 The first class I tried was Chair Yoga. It was fun! Very challenging for me! Apparently not too challenging for the 94 year old lady in class!! Actually all of the class could do the yoga! Except me! I’m not usually one to compare myself to others, but it was glaringly obvious that I was struggling in class. I’m also not one to give up, but it was just TOO tough! A little bit tough is good, but TOO tough is frustrating and not productive.

So, next I tried the Tai Chi class. I used to do martial arts, and my husband still does jujutsu and taiko drumming. I still feel surrounded by martial arts with our dojo friends, too. So Tai Chi is another martial art! I LOVED the first class! It’s physically challenging in a good way! I love the calmness that I feel in class. I work hard to get my right side to cooperate, but nobody knows that I’m trying hard! That’s a good thing! Any time I feel like I blend in with others, I feel great! When class is over in an hour, I feel so good!!! Tired, but good!!

 Tai Chi is slow. It can take years to “get it”! There are so many intricate details that one might not get for years. I love that!! That’s how it was in jujutsu! So that’s what I know to be true about martial arts. Tai Chi follows that philosophy. The teacher is really good! She believes that she is also the student. She doesn’t expect perfection. She expects us to try, and do our best that day. It’s Tai Chi for Diabetes, so it’s a slower class than her other classes, which is why I signed up. I don’t have diabetes, and neither do some of the other people in class, but I’m sure some have other issues, too.

 I’m so glad that I’ve found this class in the Senior Center. I look forward to going every week! It’s something that I know will always be a part of my life. I’m not sure that I’m physically stronger because of Tai Chi yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be stronger with time. Some day, I’ll try that Chair Yoga class again, too! Haha!

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Five Years After My Stroke

It’s been a little over 5 years since my stroke. It seems like my right side is weaker than it used to be. My day-to-day activities aren’t enough to build up the strength in the muscles. The brain signals are probably weak to the muscles, and I feel it! So, the doctor has recommended pool therapy this time.
Bryan and I were thinking that pool therapy would be good for me, and we bought a 4 ft pool to set up in the backyard. We haven’t put it up yet, because there’s a lot of preparation to the yard that needs to happen before it can go up. So hopefully soon this can happen. 
In the meantime, I went to my first pool therapy session. It was so crazy! First off, walking into the pool, I realized that I had very little control of my right leg, once I was in water above my knees. I actually felt like it was right after the stroke when I was learning how to walk again. My leg was very uncoordinated, and I really couldn’t feel my leg! I spent a few minutes walking along the side of the pool in about 3 ft of water while my therapist finished with her other patient. At one point, I even wondered if I was having another stroke, because that’s how it felt! After her initial evaluation of me, we started to do a few exercises that she had to keep modifying because I just was unable to do them! She was very surprised that I couldn’t do them, and even at one point asked me if I walked with a walker or cane! Haha! No, I can walk, just not in the water! It was crazy, and so hard, that I just couldn’t believe it! It was a real challenge!
I will also be starting physical therapy in a regular therapy setting in a building. They call it “land therapy”! So one day a week for land therapy, and one day a week of water therapy.
I hope to build up my strength on my right side, and wake up the muscles that don’t seem to be getting the brain signal to work.
After we get our pool set up, I will use it daily, and do the exercises that I’m learning from going to therapy.
I enjoy going to therapy! It’s hard, and it’s very tiring, but I like it! It’s fun, in a serious way! It’s all about learning to strengthen your body, and all of the different and creative ways to make that happen.
Therapists are awesome! In the 5 years since my stroke, I’ve had quite a few Therapists, and they all have done things differently. It’s so interesting! I like to have fun, but seriously do the work. I love how they see all of the little things with the muscles and the way the body moves. They see the details, while also seeing the whole thing.
When I was growing up, we almost always had a pool. I love the water! I’ve always been a good swimmer, and have felt very comfortable in the water. This new water therapy has shown me that I have a long way to go, to feeling comfortable in the water. I have a new goal now, to get to where I feel good and coordinated and comfortable in the water. It’ll happen! Hopefully soon! It’s all good!

Puppy Therapy

When I decided that I was ready for a dog, after putting my sweet 15 year old dog down in July, I had a list in my mind of what I wanted in a dog. I wanted to rescue an older female dog who was sweet and gentle, and who would want to hang out with me. The dog would have to be very nice, and definitely not a puppy! When I started visiting shelters and various dog organizations, all of the dogs had major issues that I didn’t feel prepared to deal with. I stayed searching, knowing that I would “know” my dog when I saw her.

When I was at the shelter in Santa Cruz, I saw this cute little dog, and knew it was mine. When I looked at the tag on the cage, it said 2 month old female Terrier mix. For some reason, I thought it said 4 month old. She’s actually 3 months old. Anyway, it was a puppy!! I looked back at the dog, and just said, “Well, I guess I’m getting puppy”! I never fight the feeling of knowing that there’s a bigger plan at work for me, and I just have to trust that intuition. When we went back inside to fill out papers and get a session with the pup, they informed me that someone had just called and put the dog on hold for 2 days. I wasn’t even allowed to have a session with her, because technically they owned her now that they put her on hold. So we left.

On the way home, I told my daughter that if that little puppy was meant to be ours, then she will go off hold, and we will get her. Once again, I had to trust that feeling that I know what is right, is what will be. The next night at the time the shelter closed, I called them. The puppy had just gone off of the hold  status. They opened at noon the next day, and I was there with my mom shortly after noon. I was able to get a session with her, but while waiting, I had a lady come up to me and ask me if I had my heart set on her, because she was also interested in her. I told her that I did. I realized that if I had arrived 5 minutes later, I wouldn’t have gotten my dog. When I finally was able to meet her, she leaped into my lap! Well, that’s exactly what my last dog did, and I knew this was definitely my dog! My PUPPY! It was “meant to be”!

So, we’ve had “Nilla” for about 2 weeks now. I’m in love with this little dog. Even though I never wanted a puppy, she’s so perfect! She’s very friendly, happy, playful, rambunctious, smart, and so loving. She takes at least 2 naps a day, and so I do, too! Haha!

I have realized that Nilla is actually providing therapy for me! I am her main playmate, therefore, we are outside a lot! She loves to fetch, and actually even brings it back to me! Throwing the toys, I use my right hand, which is the side affected from the stroke. She doesn’t care if I throw it weird or crooked. One of the exercises that I’ve done in therapy is to throw a small ball against the wall and catch it. So, I do that with Nilla. She has a Frisbee-type of toy that is definitely a challenge for me throw, but I do it! Squatting down to be at her level is therapy. Getting up from that squat is even better! I do that a hundred times a day, I bet! It’s got to start getting easier!

A weird thing that has affected my right side is rhythm. What I mean by that, is when you knock on a door there’s a rhythm to that knock. I don’t have that rhythm on my right side. To tap on my legs to call the pup over to me, is therapy, to get the rhythm down. Tapping my foot to call her over, I work on the rhythm. If I go slow, I can do it. If I try it  fast, it’s all confusing. But Nilla doesn’t care, and that’s what’s so perfect! Prying her little jaws open to get grass, dirt clods, rocks, and other things out, is therapy. I make myself use my right side to get the various items out! I also make myself find reasons to tap my fingers, hand, or foot.

I am thankful for my little puppy! I never thought I’d get a puppy, but I am so happy that I did! She makes me laugh so much every day!! She helps me out, without knowing that she’s helping me with things. She is constant entertainment for all of us! She’s learning the rules, and getting better every day. I am glad that I have the time to spend with her, being consistent, and turning her into the best dog ever! She’s helping me to be the best that I can physically be, and I’m hoping that maybe I can get that rhythm back! Life is so good!