Hey blogger land!!
I've been waiting a long time for just the right inspiration to bring to you- and today, on the basement steps of my new client's house, I witnessed a miracle!
It was just a normal Friday session where we had planned to go over all of my clients's new exercises. (Let's call her Dawn* to respect her privacy). Dawn came to me after attending a few of my aquafit classes and told me "I love your classes! You really seem to know what your doing. What's your background?"
After a brief chat about my education, training, and rehab-prehab specialization, she exclaimed: "I want to hire you!"
You see, Dawn, like most people who come to aquafit at 9 am on a weekday in Halifax, is a retired A-type personality, who loves to move, wants to stay fit and functional, but is limited by arthritis and pain. When she told me about the knee replacement surgery she needs to prevent bone-on-bone degeneration, and further disability, she expressed equal amounts of frustration and determination. On one hand, her surgeon said she needed to lose 50 lbs before he would operate on her (which, in my opinion, is a tad ridiculous, since BMI is what he's using to make that suggestion and this woman would be unhealthy if she got to that weight), but on the other hand she is determined to heed his recommendations, get healthy, strong, and lose weight.
So she hired me to put together a water based pre-habilitation program (strength and endurance + range of motion) and a land-based total body exercise program. After just two weeks of practicing the water program and 1 week of practicing lower body and core exercises on land, today we went over the new upper body routine, followed by an optimization check of the exercises she already practiced. The optimization check is where I review client movement patterns and get verbal feedback about the difficulty of each prescribed exercise as we practice them together. As I watched Dawn struggle with a Pilates type exercise, I asked her to describe what made it so difficult. I quickly realized that there may be a physical/ mechanical limitation preventing ease of movement, and I asked Dawn if i could try something. I palpated her IT band and gluteus, only to find ligamentous tension so great that it felt like the high 'E' string on an acoustic guitar! My hands magically went to work, and with Dawn's courage and trust in me, we began slowly peeling back layers and layers of tension, frustration, and pain. When we were done both legs, I had her try the challenging exercise again, which she did with incredible ease and fluidity. She smiled at the difference. "Wow!" She said, "thats pretty impressive."
"It feels great doesn't it!" I said, empathizing with her newfound ease of movement that I too have enjoyed.
But I wasn't prepared for what happened next. As we made our way up off of the floor, which was typically a slow and monumental task due to her limited knee range of motion and chronic pain, Dawn grew quiet. I slowly gathered my things to leave, and she stopped me and said "Wait a second. I feel different. I want to try something. I want to try the stairs." So instead of going up the stairs to leave, I stepped aside, and watched Dawn cautiously make her way to the bottom of the stair case.
With equal parts fear and a newfound energy about her, she grabbed the railing and stepped up with her good leg. Then, she paused slightly, and said "I think I can bend my bad leg, let me try." So I walked over to lend her my hand, and just as I was about to make contact with her, she lifted her bad leg up to the next step! No stopping in between! She just floated up, step after step, gaining momentum and releasing giggles with each stair. Then she got to the top, and said "I wonder if I can go down normally too?" Again, I put my hand in front of hers in case she needed it, and she slowly started her descent. Good leg, down. Pause. Balance. Bad leg bends slowly, normal weight shift, and the leg goes down! After that, there was no stopping her! She began barreling down and up, and down and up, and up and down the stairs at speeds I had never seen her go. At times she barely held the railing! "I can't believe it!" She said with tears welling up in her eyes. She did it again and again. Up. Down. Up. Down. "I can't believe it Candice! This is amazing!" Goosebumps came over my whole body! Then a wave of hot and cold!
Her emotions burst into tears of joy, and she threw her arms around me, shaking from the experience and the sobs. I hugged her back; so excited, so shocked, and so amazed at the radiant energy that was pouring out of her body. I could feel my eyes watering and my nose starting to get stuffy. What a miracle to witness!
Her husband heard all the commotion and came running to see. "Ron! (name changed) Ron! She exclaimed, look at what I can do!" She ran up and down the stairs again and again. He stood at the top in disbelief. Then he joked, winked at Dawn and said "this is great hon, I've got a bunch of stuff to go downstairs and now you can carry it for me!" We all laughed, and I left them to celebrate, knowing this was the first big step on Dawn's road to healing.
Another miracle, another connection, and one more reason to always start from wherever you are.