Today is 68 days post-op.
Father’s day always makes me feel sentimental. There have been nine since I lost the toughest, most stubborn man I know! He suffered from a neurological illness called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It isn’t an illness you can cure or slow down, and it caused him to lose all of his motor skills while still maintaining his mental faculties.
Before being properly diagnosed with a herniated disc there were days where I pictured myself in a wheelchair like him; yes, my mind went THERE. In hindsight I see how I was causing myself much more stress and anxiety than needed, but there are certainly some positive takeaways by reflecting on my Dad’s journey. My favorite story to tell people is about when he came to visit me in Boulder:
I had been living in Colorado for about a year, and this was the first time I was living out of my parent’s house. My dad had been diagnosed not long before I left New York (and insisted I go!), so he and my mother were coming out to see my new digs. I contacted the local ALS chapter to borrow some essentials for him while he was here (wheelchair, toilet chair with handles, shower bench, etc) so that my mom didn’t have to pack those items along with the medications, bibs, and numerous other items it took just to get him through the day. I got them a room at the hotel I worked at, which was just a few blocks from my second-floor apartment. My father was determined to see what my new home looked like. It took him nearly twenty minutes to get up two flights of stairs (and would not let any of us help him). He would stop frequently, give us a big grin, and shout OORAH in true Marine fashion. He was weak, often in pain, but wasn’t about to let that stop him.
That will forever be burned into my brain, and I think of that when I’m throwing myself a pity party over something much less severe. I’ve been relying on that memory a lot lately, and trying to turn the “I can’ts” in my head into “I will’s”. I recently started seeing a trainer (Nicole) again in order to make sure I’m exercising the right areas of my body to regain strength, and using proper form to prevent injury. I have been telling myself “I can’t do plank. I’ll hurt myself.” The thought of letting my core dangle in space without support is terrifying. During past workouts with Nicole I had been doing modified planks, and yesterday I wound up doing mountain climbers. The first set was shaky and difficult, but not because it was physically hard. I had been telling myself for so long that I couldn’t do it that I had to overcome that mental hurdle. By the fourth set I was sweating my brains out but managed to do a full rep of 12 with only one break halfway through.
Today I went on a long walk and wound up at the beautiful pier by my house (Belmont Veteran’s Memorial Pier), which naturally reminded me of Dad. I came home and wanted to try out a regular plank. I did. I did it.