Friday, 2/3/17 Day 2
Well, after having lived through Day 1 and practiced all seven exercises from the handout Shelby, the PT student gave me, I showed up at the gym medicated to the gills but nonetheless sparkly-eyed and ready to go.
“How have you felt, today?”
“Can’t complain,” I said. “In fact, I turned another corner today.”
“Oh? What did you do?”
“I managed to put in my left earring with my left hand,” I gloated.
She sucked in her breath. “Hey, great!”
After leading me to a table, she asked me to show her the exercises I’d been assigned to do, as we chatted about this and that.
Soon, she was placing a much-deserved ice pack — my reward for work well-done — on my shoulder and helping me lean back.
“Is Daniel here?” I asked.
“Sure, he’s right over there. Let me go get him for you.”
Within minutes, he came around and, after more friendly chit-chat, stretched my arm as gently as he could. Although it was a minor “owee”, I took some deep breaths and made it through. It was a small price to pay to regain full use of my left arm. My spirits were soaring because after Jeff and I finished our therapy sessions — my PT at TMI and his EECP at Legacy Heart Center — we would head out for a day at the Fort Worth Stock Show.
At last, after the machine he was attached to stopped and the assistants freed him from the straps that held him down, we struck out for the stock show where we strolled the cattle and pig barns, shared a jumbo corny dog slathered with mustard and a large iced tea, before checking out the general exhibits. Best of all, we benefitted from some badly-needed exercise.
As we walked, Jeff was impressed that I was finally able to take his hand as we walked, something I had not been able to do up until then.
Between Days 2 and 3, I reached yet another milestone: applying mascara to my left eye with my left hand without winding up looking like a Picasso painting. I could hardly wait to report my progress to Shelby on Monday, February 6.
Monday, February 6
This time, after putting me through my “paces”, Shelby raised the bar a couple more notches. This time, she handed me a pair of hand-grippers that athletes use for strengthening their hands and fingers and asked me to use each finger at a time as I squeeze it. When we noticed that that my ring finger and little finger were barely cutting it by themselves, she asked me to use both of them.
“Don’t worry. We’ll be helping you to further strengthen your fingers.”
An “aha!” moment flashed in my brain.
“Would playing my piano help my fingers?”
“You know, it just might.”
“Good,” I said, grinning. “I haven’t played my piano in years, but I’ve been dying to pick out a song I’ve been hearing on Pandora.”
For my last exercise, Shelby led me to a door where she directed me to ball my fist on a wash rag against a door jamb, push as hard as I could, and count to twenty. Once I finished, she had me turn around and so that I was facing the other way with my elbow touching the cloth. This time I was to push as hard as I could against the door with the back of my shoulder.
Soon, Daniel came around and stretched my arm while I was chilling with ice on. my shoulder. Bracing for another “owee”, I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t hurt like it did on Friday.
“Okay, that’s it. We’ll see you next Wednesday,” Shelby said, leading us to the checkout desk.
I caught their attention one last time. “I will definitely play my piano when I get home.”
Each of them gave me a thumbs-up and waved good-bye.
When we returned from Jeff’s therapy, play the piano, I did. Thank God for muscle memory. Although years without practice had caused me to be rusty, I sat down and picked out the tune and accompanying chords to Leonard Cohen’s “Alleluia” on a piano badly out-of-tune. Regardless, I was ecstatic.
“Wow, babe,” said Jeff, as he came out of the kitchen. “That sounded really good!”
“And would you believe this is the first time I’ve played this song?”
Once again, I turned one more corner by removing my sling and leaving it off for the rest of the evening, as my PTs said I could start doing.
Every step I’ve taken, so far, has been a step forward. When I return, next Wednesday, I can’t wait to tell them what all I’ve accomplished since I was there, today.
Stay tuned for Days 4 and 5 in my continued journey to recovery coming on February 15 and 17.
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