Say Geronimo

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Life’s unforeseen turns often unfold God’s biggest blessings! While brainstorming ideas on how to raise funds in order to achieve my financially lofty goal of entering REACT’s gait training program, an unanticipated e-mail from Kendell, director of REACT, popped up in my in-box.

Hope filled me, lifting a self perceived iron veil which seemed to be creating a barrier between my new overwhelming goal and me. Kendell presented an unprecented offer of an open gym to clients and potential clients during the month of April. This reasonable monthly membership made REACT (an elite gym specializing in spinal cord recovery and neuromuscular diseases: monetarily available to a greater amount of people. Clients could workout on specified days and times for a more reasonable monthly fee. Trainers would be available to assist clients through a choice of eight circuit training stations, although mainly designed to be independent activities, similar to an average gym. The problem was that even in this gym, I wasn’t average. REACT dealt with physically challenged clients daily, but how much help would be too much help? Spanning the expectation scale of sunny to cloudy, I felt hazy as to whether this alternative might be the best for me. Refusing to let blurred clarity dim my initial enthusiasm, I had to check it out!

A brief overview of the variety of stations/machines available for open gym use was given to me by Emma, a REACT trainer. Of course, being unaccustomed to the choices given, I felt like a skydiver falling with a defective parachute. For a moment, a dash of doubt swept over me. Was I too high maintenance to handle these circuits independently? As much as my brain wanted to succumb to those thoughts, I crushed them quickly. I pulled my imaginary ripcord to my back up chute, and mentally yelled,”GERONIMO!” This is what REACT does. They are professionals. It was just different from what I was used to with Bob and his one to one client/trainer ratio. Embracing change is hard – even more reason to embrace my NO FEAR motto! It’s been a while since I’ve planted myself in a new environment without the immediate comfort of someone I know well to fall back on. I also knew that just getting inside REACT’s doors had taken me three months. Quitting was NOT an option! Despite feeling discombobulated, I was positive I was in good hands and precisely where I needed to be!

I perked up when I recognized a familiar station; the standing frame. Although I had never used a standing frame, it was one of the pinnacle reasons I came to REACT. This was where to start! Years in a wheelchair curled my body into a permanent sitting position. Bob and I had prepared for this culminating moment for over three years. Hours of stretching and straightening my legs, trying to override 36 years of sitting. Starting at the standing frame, a necessary and weighty ambition; there was no turning back.

Two, muscly trainers transferred me onto the standing frame from my wheelchair. My favorite part! By this time, it was obvious to all that this damsel in distress was going to need more individual attention than was previously intended. They graciously accommodated me. REACT trainer, Aaron, gently set me on the seat, comfortably strapping and securing potentially flailing body parts such as feet, hips, and torso. Like a car to a jack, he slowly and carefully cranked the machine, ascending me upright. My body cried,”Uncle,” at the end of three cranks! Talk about tight! My palms were dripping sweat probably more due to the fear of how this new challenge might effect my unpredictable SI joint and it’s ability to hold in place. Anxiety prevented me from reveling in shear delight, yet did not keep me from enjoying a view of the world I had not experienced in ages. I was upright for the first time in 36 years!! Straightening less than halfway, my body could only stretch 30 degrees, with 90 degrees being straight; lasting only for 30 seconds to 1 minute increments. As brief as the time lapsed, I was confident that this was the beginning of exactly what I needed!

After going through a few other exercises, Ryan, REACT’s head trainer, casually evaluated me. We both agreed that I needed more than an open gym, yet was in no way ready for the gait training program, albeit a great goal for the future. In his professional opinion, only two machines would be beneficial toward my progress and pocketbook at this time: FES bike and standing frame. Together, Ryan and Kendall offered me a deal that I couldn’t refuse, and that wouldn’t break my bank. Another great aspect of the FES bike and standing frame is that once I was settled on either piece of equipment, I’d require little trainer time. Thus, allowing me to attend REACT while charging me for only a quarter of an hourly gait training session. Ryan set a goal for me to stand up straight in the standing frame by September. That gives me 6 months to fund raise in order to start REACT’s advanced gait training program at $100 per hour, 2 hours a day, 2 days a week. Yeeeouza!

Gait training is my ultimate goal, but not my end all and be all. God’s plan is all that matters. It would, also, be unrealistic to think that my body is ready to walk after sitting for 36 years. The daunting task of retraining my body to cooperate against gravity can only be done by literally and figuratively taking strides of faith! God has opened another door on this incredible journey, blessing me once again!

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