It’s mostly a mental game at this point. I know how to strength train. The hard part is training my brain.
When I’m really trying to walk well, I think about each step. I think about each muscle that’s firing and whether it’s the right one.
At the beginning of this year, I looked at some of my friends and even though I was doubting it in my mind, I said: “2020 is the year of no crutches. I’m calling it.”
Of course, they fully jumped behind me in support. But I realized what I said, and immediately jumped back. “Wait no. What am I saying? None of my doctors think I’ll ever be off of my crutches. I was joking.” I smiled nervously and looked down, a little defeated at the thought of ditching my crutches.
This week, I stood in my garage and thought back to that moment.
What if I could? Or at least ditch them for some distance? Or move to just one crutch?
I’ve proved people wrong before, haven’t I?
I was scared at the thought, though. Mostly of getting my hopes up, only to fail or realize it’s just not in the cards.
But I reminded myself that’s a dumb reason.
Why not just try? If I give “No Crutches 2020” as my friends dubbed it, a fighting chance, if nothing else, I’ll at least come out stronger.
Standing in my garage, I started to map it out.
I need a little more strength, endurance, a lot more balance, and even more practice.
Strength? Easy, that’s what I’ve been doing. The rower, weights, bike and core work.
Endurance? Gross. But necessary. Lots of walking.
Balance? The fun part. AKA the boxing bag in our garage.
And then of course, lots of practice walking. With my crutches though.
I told my dad that if I was going to get rid of them, I have to master them first and he agreed.
So, why am I writing this on my blog?
A few reasons.
One being, I need accountability. I need my Orlando friends and family to hold me to working hard and walking lots. If anyone wants a quarantine walking buddy, please make me come with you. For real.
But another reason is that as I’ve lived with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a physical disability, I’ve learned just how imperative gym/physical therapy time is for someone with a physical disability.
And I think reading something like this when I was younger, seeing how someone else is dealing with CP, would’ve made a huge difference for me.
Hearing someone else with a disability say these things would’ve motivated a younger me:
I’m in your shoes, and I’m going to make the argument that working out and doing whatever you can to get better, is even more important for us.
Of course, each of our situations are vastly different. And working to get better will look different for each of us.
But the importance is the same.
To the kid with chronic pain, I am you. Trust me when I say the gym actually helps.
To the kid trying out a new form of mobility device, start slow. Focus on the small things first, and the big things will come faster.
To the kid thinking there is no way they can get better than their current situation, I’ll tell you what I’m telling myself. Just try. Take the small victories.
Saying you tried is better than nothing.
Listen to doctors, but don’t take their word as the end all be all.
Don’t listen to the negative thoughts or negative things people are saying. If I did, I wouldn’t be living independently, writing you this.
I vowed last time I was in the hospital, when I actually started this blog, I would always try to go a little farther than I thought I could.
That’s what I’m doing and hoping it can also encourage all my other pals with disabilities to do the same.
Have a big goal in mind, but just try to go a little farther each day.
Doing that got me to college independently, off my 3West hospital floor faster than planned, on crutches again and now hopefully off of them to some extent.
Right now, I’ll just be pretending I’m Rocky Balboa in my garage and then walking all around Orlando.
Hold onto the independence you do have, tight. And then fight for more.
You never know what could happen.
That’s what pushes me. Dreaming of what could happen.
Be brave, just try, dream big and celebrate every victory.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”