I lift my hand tentatively off the parallel bars, shift my weight to my right leg and take a step with my left.
I catch Chris’s eye at the end of the room and grin like a giddy school girl. I did it. I want to do a cheesy fist pump but I restrain myself. I have been standing at the bars for the past 20 or so minutes repeating the exercises diligently. Shift weight, step forward, shift weight, step back. Repeat. And repeat. It’s a small movement but it’s hard to master. But that moment when I do euphoria floods through me. Right, this is more like it. Working hard and seeing the pay off. It may be small but it’s a start.
Surprisingly after yesterday’s session I am not sore at all. I thought my muscles in my right leg after being made to work after their 25 year holiday would be screaming in pain but they seem ok. Perhaps I didn’t work hard enough yesterday. Well we’ll fix that today.
Chris watches me walk and comments I am still having trouble with the weight shift. It’s a little better but I am still favouring my left side. He asks if it is because it is painful or I don’t trust the leg or if it’s a mental thing.
I think it is a combination of all three. While it’s not searing pain it is a little uncomfortable transferring the weight but I do think there is a bit of a mental block as well. Pain I can handle, retraining the brain is a little more difficult.
Previously Chris thought the leg might be a little long and need adjusting to ensure my alignment was correct but after watching me some more it turns out it is probably more due to my lack of muscle control in my right hip and butt.
It’s not my leg that is faulty, just me. If I was a doll I could join the cast of the Raggy Dolls.
On the bed I bend the leg up to do some core exercises and like yesterday it is quite painful. The leg pulls uncomfortably on the piece of metal that sticks out of my leg. I grimace and push through; I just want to be able to do my exercises as normal.
I attempt to lift the leg up vertical and hook the left leg under it to hold it up while I do some V crunches and hopefully some leg lifts. Immediately I am blasted with a shot of pain in the bone. It burns hot up my leg. I try to ignore it but I am feeling faint.
I lower the legs carefully, the pain still raging.
Just breathe through it, I tell myself as I close my eyes. Chris comes over concerned.
“You alright, you look like you are about to cry.”
I assure him I am fine. No crying in the gym remember, cyborg rule.
He still seems concerned but lets me continue with the next lot of exercises.
These are the tough ones. I concentrate and strain my muscles. They are shaking from exertion and yet I can’t get my leg to lift off the bed. With the leg on it is too heavy for my weak muscles.
This is the most frustrating thing, I feel like my body is betraying me. My mind tells it to do something and it simply refuses to listen.
“If it was simply up to your mind I have no doubt you would have run three days ago,” Chris says consolingly.
He asks if I am feeling a little better about it all and while it is frustrating not to be where I want to be I am one step closer. I am far from what I once was but not yet at where I want to be.
He again tells me to be patient.
I tell him I feel like a fraud. He looks slightly puzzled.
There has been a lot of talk from my friends on Facebook about how ‘amazing’ and ‘inspirational’ I am. Right now I feel far from it. I feel like a phony.
“They only see the end result. They don’t see all of this, all the hard work, the hard part. If they could they would only think you were more inspirational,” he says.
I smile. He is kind but right now I don’t quite believe it. But I’ll work on it.
I have never been very good with being bad at things. Not because I am amazing at so many things but simply I don’t deal well with failure.
I am reminded of when I was nine and we had a skipping unit at school. For an entire term our three-times a week sport classes were filled with skipping activities, drills and assignments.
I couldn’t skip. Try as I might I continuously tripped over the rope.
While my classmates sailed over the rope with ease, I stumbled.
Every afternoon for eight weeks I practiced skipping from the moment I got home to the moment I was called in for dinner. I would come in with rope lashings up my legs and down my arms but I was determined to teach myself this skill.
I would not fail. Even when it was painful.
In the end I did it. I taught myself to skip and collected all the certificates from the teacher for mastering forward skipping, backward skipping, double time skipping and so forth.
I have tried to tackle most things in my life harnessing this determination and this is what I need to draw on right now.
I continue with the exercises. I am willing my leg to lift. I am concentrating so fierce I feel like Matilta from the Roald Dahl film where she trains her mind to move objects.
Then it happens. My leg lifts a little off the bed. I grin. Did I do this with my mind?
Next time it lifts higher and I can hold it longer. I keep going until it is well and truly off the bed. I am spent but can’t stop the goofy grin spreading across my face. I did it. Now this is more like. It may be a small step but boy does it feel good. It feels so rewarding to see a tangible result and such a sizable improvement in one session. With hard work I can do this. I will do this. I’m getting there and I’m going to make this happen.
Afterwards feeling a little over confident I attempt to take a couple of steps unaided from the bed to the bars. I know I shouldn’t but I do. Not the best idea, I trip and stumble. Chris is by my side in matter of seconds and grabs me before I fall completely. He fixes me with a stern look. He is not impressed.
I am reprimanded and told to sit and rest.
I’m feeling too good about my morning of small victories so when he takes a phone call in the other room I do a little more walking next to the bars. It seems to be going well so I attempt it with no hands. Success! I manage a number of laps before Chris returns.
He takes one look at me and covers his face with his hands shaking his head.
I am probably not the best behaved patient in here.
I’m not sure if it’s a punishment for misbehaving but Chris is still not letting me use the cross-trainer in the other gym. I beg and plead but he stands strong.
He says he wants me to rest and not exhaust myself.
“You’re breaking my heart,” I tell him.
“It will mend,” he shoots back.
I know he is only trying to look out for me but I need this. I need to get a dose of those endorphins and do something I am good at for a while.
“Maybe tomorrow,” he relents.
I’m not sure if I believe him.
By the afternoon session I am feeling quite sore and worn out but I don’t let it show. I don’t want him to go easy on me.
There is perhaps a slight improvement in my walking and I graduate to a harder weight-shifting exercise and my leg exercises on the bed have also improved especially since my first attempts this morning.
I will take these victories. Tomorrow I plan to have some more. Patience, slow and steady wins the race right? Imagine how good achieving my goals is going to feel.