486. What I ate Wednesday

Languishing bananas?  Problem SOLVED.

Languishing bananas? Problem SOLVED.

The title of this post is a tongue in cheek reference to many food blogs – it’s a custom for food bloggers to do a WIAW post that chronicles their food. I’m not limiting mine to one day, though. It’s been rather a rough week. But on the upside I haven’t been as nauseous this week as I have been. I think I’m on the upswing!

Let me just make sure you understand that I have ALWAYS loved food. It’s just that my body’s first response to stress is nausea, loss of appetite etc. My post-injury relationship with food has been a rocky one – it’s so confusing, eat, don’t eat, eat more, eat less – my body has changed so much I can’t keep track. Well, I don’t really have to keep track because the message has been quite clear for the past several months: EAT. Thank the Lord that my diet is already relatively clean so we didn’t have to do a major overhaul there. Mommy says that in my old life I used to eat twigs and call it yummy. Good thing I didn’t have a Vitamix back then.

But the goal right now is to eat more and to do so in appropriate macro quantities (The macro mentality – tracking % Protein, Carbs and Fat – was Trainer D’s idea – I haven’t discussed it with Smurfette yet). At first it was just eat more. I learned really fast that if I fell under a certain number of calories My Fitness Pal sent me a nastygram in big red letters. So within two weeks I was gaming the system so MFP wouldn’t be mean to me. One night I got the nastygram so I took a screenshot and sent it to Smurfette and Trainer D with the note: 5 almonds. Problem Solved.

Heh heh. You can be one calorie over and you’re considered “good.” When I self-regulated to the point where I was comfortable Trainer D adjusted my Macro Pie goals (MFP shows your calories in a convenient Macro Pie chart). One of the funniest things for me is to have my Pie tell me that I need more fat. When I do I just go over to Daddy’s chocolate box and eat some of his favorite truffles. Sharing is caring, right?

We’ve hit a few bumps in the road as I’ve encountered things in my life that stress me out. This is a typical text conversation on Thursday morning when I go get my PTSD treated and then have Michael & Me Time and Training Fun and Games:


This is my Magical Multiplying Oatmeal.


I have been advised to do “Mindless Eating” – you know that thing our culture tells us NOT to do, e.g. you NEVER sit in front of the TV with a bag of chips. Well, apparently Mindless Eating can be a good technique if you’re trying to get nourishment in you but your body is protesting. Problem is that our TV is on the other end of the house from where the food is. One morning I had Greek yogurt and strawberries.


Breakfast was going nowhere. So I brought the iPad out and Googled your friend and mine, Chip Ingram. 6 minutes and 23 seconds later, my breakfast was in my tummy.



In the evenings I’ve had a harder time eating and swallowing so I have been loving this omelette – egg, cottage cheese and arugula. Thanks, Mommy!!



And I have also found comfort in making other people eat things I don’t want to. Example: Languishing bananas no more. Trainer D will eat them! And if he won’t, his friend, Trainer K aka Rowlf will.


Side note: Coach R gets Kind bars and natural gummy bears.


Gen and CMD get flowers bc of food allergies etc.

Ok, it’s almost 5pm (I’m writing Wednesday night). So I’ve got to go downstairs and start eating quickly. In addition to my caloric/macro goals I have retained the old hospital habit of drinking water etc. freely only before 6pm. When you cannot walk to the restroom you learn pretty fast that curbing your liquids at night is advisable. Now I can walk but I still limit my liquid intake. I also try not to eat carbs after 6pm – Trainer D suggested this after talking to me about my sleep patterns. Apparently carbs might have been spiking my blood sugar, which most people are fine with, but can cause sleep disturbances in some (like me). So I have an hour to drink the rest of my Ensure and water, and I’ve also scheduled a whole wheat English muffin and peanut butter. Coach R suggested some complex carbs starting the night before Training.

I’m going to go do my duty bc I plan on feeling MUCH better ASAP :).

Have a great day! I will, too.

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485. Best. Day. Ever.


Isn’t this collage fantastic?  My brother took the pics on his phone so the angle was slightly different than the one I took:

Is THAT for ME?!?!?

Is THAT for ME?!?!?

I love the bottom right pic in the collage.  Sheer delight is written all over that child’s face.

Yesterday I was not so delighted with life.  But looking at this picture collage made me smile so I decided to post it.  I have been coughing for a while but ignored it and called it “allergies” or whatever was convenient at the time.  As it started impacting my lifestyle I got a little more concerned – I ate less in the evening (focusing on soft foods) bc swallowing got harder as my body got tireder, carried a little pack of cough drops everywhere, and prayed I wouldn’t cough too much during Training.

As a precaution, however, Coach R obligingly carried my lozenges in his pocket and Trainer D helpfully pointed out the nearest trash cans in case I needed to throw up and the closest Trainer within the vicinity “for backup.”  On Monday, however, I coughed enough for the first time to have to climb out of the AlterG bubble and take refuge in the locker room for a while.  Coach R was working on someone else but heard me cough as I extracted myself and got the full story later.

Oh, no – wait – just remembered that wasn’t the first time. The first time was when I was feeling a tiny bit unwell but decided to bump my speed up by 1/2 mph anyway instead of the baby step approach. That didn’t end well. I tried to sneak out unnoticed but Coach R caught me :/.

So I finally did what I was supposed to do a while ago and went back to my ENT.  This is ENT3 out of  7 (I think).  I have had a lot of ENT’s but I’ve seen him the most – 3x now.  I saw Dr. S when I first became an outpatient.  I was still in a wheelchair and when he asked what brought me in I waved my hand in back of me to where my father was sitting and said airily, Daddy explain.

Ed en route to the ENT

Ed en route to the ENT

I was in the phase where I was making everyone verbalize what happened so I could verify that their stories matched.  Mommy had done it the day before with my old PCP so now it was Daddy’s turn.

And then after Dr. S looked at my cords and said some stuff about how he didn’t like what was going on and opined that it was partly a lung capacity issue I leaned back into the corner of my wheelchair, looked at him solemnly and said raspily, “If I could run, this would NOT be a problem.”

He looked at me with equal solemnity but with the corner of his mouth turning up in a way that said, We’ve got a live one here, folks!

He then said I was supposed to come back within 3 months but I conveniently “forgot” for the next 18.  Oops, My bad.

Well, I’m running now (with the help of highly trained professionals and a fancy machine) but I’m still having some issues.  I dragged my feet on making the appointment even though I was supposed to go for a checkup within a month bc I hated the idea of being the initiator.  I knew that if I showed up because of a specific concern I couldn’t do my Coach R impression – the one where I speak with utter finality and insist that I’m so much better we should dispense with these formalities and everyone should keep his hands to himself.


So I decided to signal to the market in another way.  I clutched Ed Blueberry pathetically in my lap (this was not a studied move, I just held on to Ed bc I wanted to) and after Dr. S numbed me up but before he brought the spaghetti noodle camera out I was like, So there’s no other way to do this, huh?

ENT3:  No, there’s no other way to asses the vocal cords other than to look at them.

Me:  Ok, fine.  Just checking.

So he took a look for what seemed like a very long time, but  really he was extremely nice and careful.  But this did not prevent me from edging away from him in the chair (he had to tell me to come back a couple times), and as my discomfort grew I remembered how awful it is to not be able to breathe, which did not help me remain calm, and the tears started to squeeze out of the corners of my eyes.

Happily, I did not throw up or cough, although we had discussed contingency plans if this did occur, and there was a little gagging.  The verdict is that whatever is going on with my cords doesn’t look any worse (YAY), he thinks it’s drug-related ( Double YAY – this is an easy fix; I had already discussed the possibility with my doc), oand the best news of all – I just bought myself an entire YEAR of freedom before my next check up (WOO HOO!!)

See?  The running thing totally worked.

Now the only thing I have to do is go see my PCP on Thursday bc I’ve been having some abnormal head pain.  Mommy thinks it was ENT-stress-related.  Maybe it was, but I’m just trying to cover my bases here.  I remain assured that these things that crop up are just annoying, not a sign of imminent mortal danger, but I just want to be looked at anyway.  I told Coach R, If all goes well, I will have seen 4 docs before I see you again on Thursday. (I saw him Monday.)

Right now I’m waiting for my Ensure to solidify in the freezer enough for me to Vitamix it up into an Ensure Frosty.  I kid you not – I’m getting good at making Ensure into yummy things.  But I already had ice cream today.  After I cried at the ENT Mommy took me and Eddie out for fro yo!!


Green Tea Gelato Fro Yo - this made it all worth it

Green Tea Gelato Fro Yo – this made it all worth it

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484. THIS is why I do this


At the end of 2014 when things started going downhill but before he called me out, Trainer D started getting in my grill about wanting even more information to feed his data-driven approach to Training and started talking to me about his favorite metabolic rate test – it involves wearing this crazy mask thing that measures your breathing, etc.

448.  Called Out

448. Called Out

I held it together while at The Gym but I cried for a week as I struggled with the memory of one of the first times I sat in a chair. I consoled myself by pre-ordering a Fitbit Charge HR (the one that measures your heartbeat through your wrist – you don’t need to wear a chest strap) so I could provide more data if pressed sans mask and when I showed up at the gym again I explained the situation to Trainer D with tears in my eyes. I don’t want to do that test, D…bc I make jokes about thinking I might die during PT but the first time I really thought that I was scared bc I couldn’t breathe and I lacked the verbal skills to tell anybody.

I haven’t done that test but now, 5 months later, I did the thing I vowed NEVER to do and got on The Gym’s body fat scale because Trainer D was talking about wanting more data again. I have told both Trainers, I am never getting on your body fat scale, nor will you ever approach me with a pair of calipers.

I made Coach R this reminder.

I made this for Coach R’s benefit.

But as is my custom, I seem destined to do things I never thought I would – e.g. that horrifying StairMaster experienceand we measured my body fat. (PS. Calipers = Still Not Okay.) So Trainer D got geekily pumped to go home and map out my new Training Plan and I lost no time in reporting to Smurfette and getting the ball in motion to see her professionally since I need some additional assistance with my eating “disturbances.”

Let me just state again that I’m not Training for Training’s sake. That’s the point of this post – I’m not just talking about body fat for kicks, promise. There’s some major method to this madness and as I’ve indicated before, more muscle protects my joints – which are increasingly showing signs of wear since they move in a way that is abnormal. But hey, I am grateful to be moving them at all. I work hard at this so my voice, vision, stamina, balance, spatial awareness, and overall carriage continue to get stronger.

I saw Mrs. P a few weeks ago at one of CP’s big design events. (He’s my friend who inspired the “Food for Thought” Business series.) The event was swarming with people eager to see C’s design, hosted in a beautiful private home, not a public ADA compliant space.

Food For Thought When Launching a Business Series | Ann Ning Learning How

But I did it – I survived a rare evening event and it was SO worth it. Mrs. P (C’s Mom) told me how she was hilariously struggling to get her son the artist to look at the pretty spreadsheets she had built for his business, and at dinner she said, You look amazing.

Side note: if you haven’t seen me in a few months or more, you see more dramatic changes and your language is likely to be stronger.

Me: Thanks, Mrs. P – I’m telling you, it takes a village. I have a team of highly trained professionals for all this. [Pointing to myself up and down.]

It’s true – I get a lot of help and invest all my time and money into Recovery so I can do things like go the Design House.   I took some squatting breaks bc my hips were bothering me, but I’ve been trained to do what it takes to last longer and move more efficiently, and J told me, You were moving really fast on those stairs.

Recently I was honored to speak at the IFI women’s conference – Mrs. D made it easy for me with an “interview” format and predetermined questions. Mrs. R was supposed to be my partner that day and I was SO Excited. Mrs. D didn’t know that Mrs. R and I go way back when she first asked us to do this. Mrs. R was as glad as I was to be asked, but she wrote me a nervous email about how she hadn’t done this before.

I laughed and tried to calm her – Seriously, Mrs. R, I knew this sort of life was POSSIBLE bc I watched you do it for over a decade.

I kid you not – I knew what this looked like bc I started hanging out with Mrs. R when I was a freshman at Georgetown, and GU was her hospital. She prayed me through undergrad, my early working life, and Business School (and beyond). Thanks, Mrs. R!

And at the conference I’m telling you, she was phenomenal. (Side note: she had been hospitalized like the week before, or something.) It was Words of Life on steroids. You can’t speak with Power unless you’ve lived it. And she’s lived it, and I learned about it not because she sat me down and talked to me but because I spent my early adulthood watching.

Right before we started I walked down the center aisle caneless. I saw myself like in a movie – I could hardly believe I was really walking, but I made it safely to the front and sat down. Later, I told the group – No one told me I had to run. I decided to do that by myself. And THIS is why I do it.

The ability to participate in events like this and have the mental stamina to prepare appropriately is exactly why I pursue Recovery aggressively. But my life isn’t spent just “waiting” for the next event. Every day there are small triumphs and things to look forward to.

Last week I cleared the dishwasher in the morning. I do my best physical work soon after waking up. Still, I had to do it in installments, and I had to practice my breathing and bracing bc my back was getting grumpy. But as I took the last dish out of the bottom rack I smiled knowing that Mommy wouldn’t have to do it later. She spent enough time picking nuts and berries out from under my wheelchair cushion and washing my hair for me, etc. It’s taken some time but now I can do more – so I smiled again and thought, THIS is why I do this.

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483. Erm…Are you sure about this?

image1Last week my massage was particularly harrowing. I told Gen how it’s hilarious that she lets me talk about what I think is wrong and what hurts, but she gathers all the information she needs by looking at me as I get up from my chair and walk to the room and then she gets down to business when I’m on the table.

She laughingly referenced the day we met – You had a hundred “rules.” Examples:

  • No cream – I’m allergic
  • Don’t touch my neck
  • All these clothes stay ON
  • Don’t touch me in general

Just kidding on that last one. Kind of :/.  PS.  Not kidding re. the clothes.

She recited some of my introductory rules and then mimicked her inner thoughts when we I first showed up – What, did someone bring you in here at gunpoint?


I thought that was hysterical bc I had never verbalized it like that before but it’s so representative of this whole situation. Now I flatter myself that I’ve gotten used to this whole Recovery thing and can roll with the punches, but apparently I still give off the air of being an unwilling participant who just wants to be left alone.

The problem is that my physical deficits require a lot of close contact for treatment and safety reasons.

Mm hmm. How terribly ironic. Holding hands with people was not my custom in my Old Life. One day I stumbled at the Gym doing some kind of I don’t remember what sort of move.

Trainer D: Ok, do it again. Wanna hold my hand?

Me [shrilly]: NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

[reconsidering] Sorry, that came out meaner than I meant it to.

But when it comes down to it I have become dependent on the safety provided by another person. But it turns out everyone’s plan is to lull me into a state of complacency and then SURPRISE!! It’s time for you to do this on your own.

480.  It's friendlier with two

480. It’s friendlier with two

Last week Coach R progressed from the pinky-swinging to making me doing step-ups without holding on to anything (he put me on a step near a railing so I could grab it if I lost my balance). The idea was for me to practice my balance and move my arms, which you know I love. :/

Coach R:       I want you to do this without me holding your hand.

Me:                How did I NOT see this coming? (Seriously, I was shocked.)

I WILL cry if I have to. (PS. I don’t make idle threats.)

Coach R:       I’m RIGHT HERE (indicating his proximity.)

Me [sullenly]: Yeah, yeah, yeah…

I could tell from his silence that he was concentrating on his ready stance and it was time for me to stop protesting and start moving. So I did my best but we stopped without even completing the full set bc my left ankle was hurting. I used my core as much as I could.

Coach R:       I’m happy with the way that went. That was better than what I was anticipating. Was that what you thought would happen?

Me:                 I didn’t think

Coach R:        [Chuckle] – that’s a really good answer.

Me:                 Seriously, I never even imagined that you would make me do such a thing.


In retrospect of course I should’ve known that we were moving in this direction – but I guess I refused to let myself think of it.

When I told Gen the story about the pinky swinging she smiled knowingly bc this is very much her world. But the thing is that it wasn’t my world until I got sick. When I landed here I was terrified and appalled at all the things that have to happen in RecoveryLand to get you healthier.

But Gen summarized it nicely. After she listened to my rules recitation at the beginning she (after laughing inwardly) thought to herself, Okay, I get it – you’re telling me I have to earn your trust.

And she did. They all did. So now even though I’m still scared sometimes, and although I like to put up a bit of a fight and say sassy things for fun, they all know that I’m really just along for the ride.

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123. Don’t You Care?

This was the first time I heard myself play the piano (I'm still sitting at the keyboard) and I heard what I sounded like.

This was the first time I heard myself play the piano (I’m still sitting at the keyboard) and I heard what I sounded like.

Ji read the account of Peter walking on water on Sunday morning.  At least that’s what I think he read – I’ve had hearing loss so I often fill in the blank with what I think was said.  It reminded me of a favorite passage in Mark 4 – the one the phrase, “Peace, be still” comes from.

Tanpo read the Scriptures to me at night before he and Mom would leave for the evening.  I would often request something and I remember requesting Mark 4.  We never talked about it, but I remembered this since I’ve enjoyed this passage for years and I had a deep desire to hear it again.  Long after my parents left and during the days that followed I’d lie in my bed and think, “He cares.  He cares.”  Because that’s why I wanted Dad to read Mark 4 to me.

First of all, it’s the Lord who suggests, “Let us cross over to the other side,” (Mark 4.35).  Changing locations was His idea in the first place, and idea execution is a non-issue for Him.  I like to remember that me being disabled was His idea in the first place (I was initially a very unwilling participant) and He’s the One who’s going to see this thing through.  Second of all, I like this account because the disciple’s question is so terribly honest.  The wind and waves are crashing around them, and the Lord is asleep – asleep – in the stern.  So they wake Him and say, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4.38).

Can’t you hear their tone of voice?  They’re like, Hellooooo – we’re all gonna die.  I know that tone of voice since I use it often myself (at least mentally).  It’s not the amazing power the Lord demonstrates as He calms the storm that grabs me, it’s the fact that such a raw question made it into the Scriptures that made me request this passage in the hospital.

In answer to their question, the Lord addresses the situation immediately.  I would love for my situation to be addressed immediately, too, but we’re not working on my timeline.  He then asks the disciples, Where is your faith?  Sometimes I can’t find mine.  Maybe I left it in the pocket of the jeans I was wearing when my brain bled.  Or maybe it is in storage with the rest of my things in that garage in OR.  But no, it’s still with me – along with my family, it’s one of the things I didn’t lose that day.  I just forget sometimes and need to be reminded that He cares.

Hebrews 11.6 But without faith, it is impossible to please Him.

Psst – read this, too!

481. A Reason to Celebrate


On the day I “interviewed” at The Running Gym we did strength/range of motion testing and Coach R forwarded the “Getting to Know You” conversation thusly:

Coach R:  So what part of China are you from?

Me      [Internal]:  Ummm… Why ya gotta ask me these hard questions, R?  It’s my FIRST DAY.

[Out Loud]:  I dunno.  Our blood is Chinese but we’re actually from Malaysia and Singapore.  Why?  You ever been to China?

Answer:  Yes, Coach R has been to China.  He was there for the Olympics (Beijing ’08).

Coach R is not used to helping people like me.

But he chose to do it anyway.

However, the fact that Coach R’s professional expertise has already been recognized at a very high level presents a problem – I style myself as a skilled provider of personal branding and career building collateral – the fact that he’s already been to the Olympics narrows my sphere of influence drastically.

I used to do resumes and interview prep for friends all the time in my Old Life.  I don’t really remember how it happened – I think I picked it up in B School and as an interviewer at an old job and for the Career Services department at Georgetown.  This part of my brain made it through unscathed.  In fact, my skills might even be stronger now that my social filter is compromised.

Anyway, since Coach R has already reached a certain point in his career he is not giving me much room to work with over here.  And I like to feel useful.  So I do what I can.

All of this Recovery is exhausting  463.  Marked Progress

All of this Recovery is exhausting 463. Marked Progress

A couple weeks ago we celebrated RAD – Coach R Appreciation Day.  It was the work of months.  Remember when I told you about my idea for a Coach R TV show?  I pitched it to him via email and he told me later with eyes wide, That was SO detailed.

I’m like,  Oh, R, you have NO IDEA (pointing to my head) how all this works.

Although he is very accomplished and all I have noted several areas of growth for him over the past year+.  E.g. Coach R’s knowledge of doughnuts is sadly lacking.  He is also not very good at pretending to have mobility impairments.

456.  Agility

456. Agility

So I decided to help him learn to use his imagination more. I waited until he was away training some athletes in another country and I roped the crew at The Running Gym into helping me take pictures etc. for RRN Episode 1 – this is the pilot presentation of Coach R’s Neighborhood.

I think the whole thing is a complete riot.  But then again, it’s like this blog – of course I think it’s funny because I wrote it.  But I did get Coach R to LOL which is a major win in my book, and when Mrs. Coach R viewed it that morning (prior to RAD, via email) she enjoyed it thoroughly, too.

My CRFC (Coach R Fan Club) focus group gave me some feedback, which was very helpful – but the best part of the CRFC was informing Coach R of its existence (because I take somewhat of a naughty delight in making him cringe).  He had NO IDEA what I was planning when I asked him to be a regular character on my blog a couple weeks after we met.  All of my peeps have growing fan bases – that’s been my goal all along. I also made this video bc, as I explained to Coach R later, I need to throw your fan club a bone at some point.

Side Note: Fandom begins at home.  Example 1:  I took a series of pics of Trainer D one morning.  I sat in the leg press cage thing and snapped away while telling him laughter-inducing stories.  I emailed a bunch to  Smurfette and she was tickled pink bc I was feeding her scrap booking addiction.  “Smurfette loved them,” I informed him smugly.  “You’re welcome.” Example 2:  Ed Blueberry is the President of the Mommy Fan Club.  He didn’t want to let Tanpo in bc he’d probably want to preside, but Mommy says marriage trumps membership so I think Tanpo is all set.

I’ll share RRN Episode 1 with you tomorrow, and then I’ll leave you alone on the video thing for a while.  I’m just giving you the background information in this post.  The first 2.5 minutes are RRN Episode 1 and then it morphs into my Thank You video.  BTW, I appreciate your kind responses to my Thank You vid so much.  I am going to be a slow responder, but let me just say, HUGs.  

After we both finished traveling we finally had RAD at the end of April.  My tech friends were in charge of snacks.  Aren’t these popcorn boxes cute?


In my world you learn to celebrate as a means of survival.  I always need to be celebrating something.  And Coach R was an easy target – this year is his 20th year of service at The Running Gym.  I’m glad the occasion presented itself so conveniently for me but I had another Trainer check the system to verify R’s start date bc really?!  I’m pretty sure they had to bend some child labor laws to let him start working if he’s already passing the 20 year mark.

The thing is that Coach R doesn’t relish being celebrated.  It’s like me – I love celebrating stuff as long as it’s not me.  So I targeted him.  Heh heh.  I informed the staff that he was a flight risk.  “I’m pretty scrappy,” I explained, “but he’s stronger and faster than I am” – so they knew to be on the lookout in case they needed to “intervene.”

I informed Coach R himself 5 minutes beforehand and I said, R, this is gonna be like the time you took your children to see The Wiggles:  I need you to Man Up and take one for the team.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

480. It’s Friendlier With Two


17264018710_0932570f24_zWe left early on a Saturday morning to see Ezra’s first soccer game. I had Red the wheelchair in the trunk but didn’t even use him. I took my chances on the grass and had my backpack and Mommy’s fancy camera strapped to my person so I eschewed Leo the cane, too, in order to enjoy greater freedom of movement.

In an impressive display of mobility I walked around the pitch and rolled around in the grass (on purpose) to get into position to take pictures. Lots of pictures. My method of photography is to put the camera in sports mode and depress the shutter indefinitely. Out of 100 pics, I hope for 2-3 good ones. I think this camera takes 4 frames per second. I purposefully chose a small DSLR that would be easier for Mommy’s hands to hold, and mine, too.

So yeah, I took LOTS of pics: 1,035. I might have gotten a little carried away, but what can I say – it was an absolutely beautiful day, the soccer game was very entertaining, and my children are exceedingly good looking. Whatcha gonna do?

The best part was when a Mom stood up on the sideline and called to her little girl (wearing pink shin guards),

Honey – there is NO HOLDING HANDS in SOCCER! You gotta run after the ball!!!!

There did seem to be a lot of hand holding going on out there.

But it was funny because the little girl was just holding hands with a teammate for kicks. It’s like the Winnie the Pooh adage, It’s friendlier with two.

Last week Coach R and I hit another milestone. First of all, I noticed him assume the observing stance and watch me in the AlterG for a long time. Usually he allows me a pretty large perimeter or stands behind me and looks at my feet through the bubble window. This time I noticed him closing in over the course of several minutes. If you don’t know what I mean by “observing stance” – this is it:

Classic Observing Stance

Classic Observing Stance

Feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, arms akimbo or one hand rubbing the chin, (you can’t see it from this angle) eyes almost glazed over with the intensity of focused observation. They all do it. That’s how I know Coach R is watching – even though I don’t recognize his physical characteristics while I’m running, I can tell through the blur of peripheral vision when someone is watching me intently – and no one’s going to be doing that except him.

Based on what he saw he decided to make Training an “athletic day.” [Umm….I thought that’s what we were doing all along.] So he proceeded to put me through my paces, and after a few laps on the Agility Ladder he says, Okay, now this time, I want you to move your arms…You know, athletically.

Agility Ladder

Agility Ladder

I laughed for a while. It was one of those times when I looked at his face and said, Oh no, wait – you’re serious! Sorry, my bad.

Internally I’m all, So how am I supposed to move my arms “athletically” and hold your hand at the same time?

Answer: Coach R linked pinkies with me and said I was supposed to swing his arm concurrently with mine as the opposite foot advanced on the Ladder while maintaining a very light grasp on his finger.

Umm, what? I have a brain injury – leave me alone.

“I know that trick, R,” I informed him. I did not just fall off the turnip truck, thanks. I know where this is trending. A6 Frankenstein did this to me when he taught me to walk. A bracing handhold turned into a light grip on his extended index finger, and then it was, Now just PRETEND like you’re holding on. And eventually I walked by myself. After I cried a lot (in private) bc I was terrified and bought some motivational jewelry.

277.  Wake Up Call

277. Wake Up Call


I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before that Coach R would have been working towards this goal. Maybe I blocked out the possibility as a defense mechanism. I’m good at that.

“Did you see me fall down?!?!? NO. ” I protested. The implication was, Picky picky…If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I want to hold your hand. :/ It was panic-induced plain speech.

But he was unmoved. So I suggested that we dispense with the hand-holding entirely. I mean, if I’m going to hold your hand you might as well make yourself useful or get out of my way. You’re either helping me or hindering me, Buddy

“No,” he responded flatly. Apparently Coach R has a step-by-step plan whereas I prefer the cold-turkey method.

Fine. I made him pretend to be me while I “guarded” to see what he wanted me to do. I still didn’t get it so when it was my turn I proceeded down the Ladder and tried desperately to move my arms in an athletically coordinated manner but he ended up having to swing my arm (the right one was the side our pinkies were linked) for me. The left one was flopping frantically. Hey, at least it wasn’t in the “handbag” position.

the "handbag" | 32.  Concessions

the “handbag” | 32. Concessions


Eventually, after a few more patterns that (thankfully) did require arm-swinging, we moved on to some other new and exciting movements. But the shift in our approach to Ladder Time was clear to me.

“I can feel my brain changing,” I told Coach R. It’s gradually getting easier and I don’t have to “think” as hard – that’s why he chose to introduce the arm element this time. It’s like when learning to walk I was so confused about having to remember all of these things at once, but eventually it just “clicked” as my brain re-formed the right connections.

That’s the point of this. The purported goal is to eventually operate independently. Because it’s true – There’s no holding hands in soccer. But I’m just saying that right now it really is friendlier with two.

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