Helping a Bedridden Woman Walk Again -- In Service Of Others


I've done a lot of things but the time I'm most proud of is the last 15 years of my life that I've been coaching people in life and health.

I remember when I first started out as a personal trainer in a fancy Midtown Manhattan gym I was convinced that in order to help people, I needed to know everything there was to know about everything. Once I knew EVERYTHING I'd guide them through our time together and the rest of their lives perfectly. I spent long hours studying everything I could find and attending courses. I was a sponge.

I learned more about the body, brain/nervous system, and human psychology than most people know there is to learn. Still I couldn't quite get all the pieces to work. Part of it is because while our knowledge of our minds and bodies could fill hundreds of thousands of pages easily, the total there is to know would fill millions. We are just scratching the surface on ourselves.

The other part was that I was approaching everything the wrong way.

It wasn't until about 5 years ago that I learned the most important thing that brought it all together.

I should be knowledgeable but that isn't what is going to get my clients to the next level. Only they know how to do that. I just help them find the path, guide gently with the knowledge I had when necessary, but mostly, I'm just there to fill in a few gaps and provide support.

Simply being able to ask the right questions at the right time so they come to the answer they need. Even if they aren't the answers I want them to come to. That skill is more important than anything else I could know about their physiology.

By the time I figured this out I was pretty stuck. I had tons of great clients who I loved dearly but our relationship was set. They came to me to work out. I practiced what I knew with them where I could and we did see strides forward but it was hard to break out of the role I'd had for so many years.

Bt the time Covid hit I was still seeing clients but my main job was running a personal training studio I'd helped to open a few blocks from Times Square. Of course Covid meant shutting down the gym and all my in person work stopped.

Most of my clients left NYC and they didn't like the Zoom thing so I lost many people who I'd been with for close to a decade. Covid didn't do a lot more my productivity or the crippling social anxiety I've always wrestled with. I was pretty sure I was done with being a coach. This choice solidified in my ond when we moved to Mexico In October. My wife is fluent in Spanish. I am learning but a long way off from functional.

So when a woman found some writing I'd done back in 2017 and tracked me down with an urgent problem she needed my help specifically with, I almost turned her down. I didn't feel like I had the chops. I was barely working out/on myself. I was regularly forgetting basic nutrition and fitness ideas, and I was in a rut. I told her this but still she persisted. She knew it was me she wanted to work with.

Her problem was an interesting one but one with extreme challenge. Her 70 year old cousin had an injury which laid her up. She'd always been heavy set and in this time she was bedridden she'd gained more weight and now couldn't leave the bed.

She was no longer strong enough to simply lift her leg or sit up or turn herself over. She'd also suffered a lifetime of abuse and had an abundance of body image issues. This meant I wasn't even going to be able to meet the person I'd be trying to help. I would be coaching through a proxy and only on zoom.

Having spent the better part of 18 months sitting inside my NYC apartment and barely even taking walks, I'd come to realize the importance of doing the basics like walking if you ever wanted to make progress in getting stronger. I found no matter how much I worked out in my apartment, I was just barely maintaining without all the other things that come in life.

This woman is 70, has never been in good shape, is diabetic, has a fear of exercise and pain, is loaded with muscle imbalances, all her joints are inflamed, she's coming off an injury, and can't get out of bed or even lift her leg. How do you turn that around? Through a proxy? On Zoom? Without even meeting the person?

And I am out of practice!

My woman who hired me (my client from here on out) works in the medical field so she knew her way around but she had no fitness or coaching background and although she'd been working hard to help, they were just spinning their wheels. My client was getting more worried that her cousin would not ever make it out of that bed. Her knees hurt so much that if you toucher her foot she's scream, her back hurt from the weight and position and not being able to adjust herself in the bed, and her shoulders hurt with every exercise she did. She also had carpal tunnel, bicep tendonitis, and an over protective partner who'd acted as an enabler through this whole thing.

Every workout they did together caused pain and while they were helping slow the degeneration of her body and strength, they weren't turning it around or even keeping it from getting worse.

After explaining that I probably wouldn't be able to help her in my current state of practice and having her insist, I decided to meet with her on Zoom.

After the first two hour meeting. We'd identified some issues and took wheel spinning and injurious workouts and added some direction and corrections.

She was excited and I felt good.

I found out during that call that my client was also caretaking for her mother who had issues with memory and being mobile. She had a caretaker for her mother but still took on a lot of responsibilities when the caretaker wasn't around. I'd determined my goal was to not just help the patient get out of bed but to get my client her life back.

A week later we met again. There was some good news and there was some bad news but overall things were heading in the right direction. Honestly, I was thrilled by this. I expected way more bad than good but it seemed she was able to take what we talked about and get a lot done with it.

In the middle of the next week I got an update. There were setbacks. She asked me if we should even bother meeting that week since we couldn't progress. I gave her my opinion that this is a journey and we are going to need to try things and then adjust.She could keep pushing against the roadblock but there were probably ways to just walk around it that would be quicker. We should meet and discuss.

She agreed and that Sunday we jumped on a call and went over everything. It went almost 2.5 hours but by the end she felt like she understood what'd gone wrong and had new tools to deal with it.

That was an interesting one for me because I felt like I wasn't much help that week but at the end of the call she read off her notes and I realized that not only had I given her enough to move forward with, I'd given her way too much. We had to stop and pare it down to just the relevant actions for that week.

That week was filled with breakthroughs. She was first able to get her cousins partner and son get on board and help. She was also able to get her cousin to do a lot of the exercises with more success and less pain than ever before.

Also, that week was the first time they were able to get her cousin out of bed and into a chair without her being in excruciating pain.

One of the setbacks the week earlier was when they got her into a chair, the pain in her legs was so intense she was in tears and needed to be put back in the bed immediately. Her legs simply weren't used to being under her body. The blood vessels were weak and they were filled with fluid. The pressure was just too much the week before.

But not this time. For the first time in six months, this woman could sit in a chair for two hours and be part of the world. Now this isn't something she could do under her own power-- It actually took three people and some implements to get her there-- but up to that point it had been impossible. This week she'd gotten a little stronger and a little more knowledgeable about her body and how to avoid the pain and she got two hours of being in the world with her family and out of that damn bed.

And she was energized!

The next week there were setbacks again. She needed a hoyer lift but the one that took weeks to deliver was faulty. There was also an emotional backlash which my client was warned about in our last conversation would probably happen. She didn't deal with it perfectly but for her first time coaching someone, especially a family member, I was proud of the way she did handle it. She backed off and no damage was done. A few days later they were able to continue forward even stronger with better boundaries and more clear expectations of each other.

That weekend we talked and celebrated the victories. There was still so much to do. her cousin still couldn't lift her left under her own power or turn over but she was more motivated and she'd started doing something she hadn't done before in her whole life. She was doing small workouts on her own in between sessions. She'd also admitted that it was her own arrogance and ignorance that got her here and she declared her determination to get out fo that bed.

We'd also gotten her to where the movements she was able to do didn't hurt anymore. We were able to touch her foot without setting off the pain/fear response and that meant we could start working her legs more and applying some strength training principals to her routines. The same strength training principles used for an athlete, just scaled down to meet her where she was at which was trying to move her legs under her own power and roll over to her side.

For that we'd work on negatives. If you're not sure what a negative is you could imagine it as trying to learn pull ups by starting by jumping to the top position with your chin above the bar and then lowering yourself down as slowly as you can under as much of your own power as you can. That will help build the strength to eventually do the concentric or positive which is the act of pulling yourself up. We also started working within ranges of motion that were most easily controlled and working with her position so she had the most advantage to have initial success. The later progressions will be taking away those positional advantages and working bigger ranges of motion. We will gradually phase out assistance and soon she will move her leg from any position under her own power.

But that's later. For now we were leaving the pain behind and starting where we were.

My client walked away with a clear understanding of our direction. She had a better understanding of how to modify the workouts. She understood was she needed to about range of motion, the techniques that would be used, and how to adjust if problems arose that week and why those adjustments were important.

The results helped us move forward more. her cousins partner and son understood there was a direction now and they were eager to help. They stopped putting up so many roadblocks and her cousin had agreed to meet me if I was comfortable! This is a request I actually declined but more on that later.

That week there was a set back though. Her cousins grip was giving out. She was doing a lot of pulling to help when they adjusted her in bed and her grip strength wasn't there. She'd complained about hand pain in the past but with so much going on it became the thing that didn't get the attention it deserved. My client and I didn't realize the severity of the problem and overworked her tendons and ligaments until she couldn't make a fist.

We were already very limited in the exercises we could do so this was a major set back but we were able to find ways to work around it. Plus the easter/passover holidays were here and my client would be traveling and unable to meet with her cousin. Because of that we also took a week off from meeting.

We were able to turn this into a win though. While my client was gone, she was able to convince her cousins son to come in and help with the strength training while she coached him on zoom. This was something that wasn't possible before because he was sure he'd hurt her and her cousin was too embarrassed to ask her son to help her with her needs. But neither of them wanted to see the progress stop or reverse and they now had the confidence that my client could coach him. My client lives over an hour away from her cousin so could only go there a few times a week but her son was able to work with her daily and major progress was made that week.

She still was now able to rotate her legs which is absolutely HUGE. There are knee stabilizers involved with that rotation that were losing function. It would have been impossible for her to ever stand up again without use and flexibility in those rotators. Also when a muscle isn't used, your body begins removing tissue needed to stretch it and control it. You are always evolving to suit the demands you put on yourself and that means use it or lose it!

I was concerned we wouldn't be able to get this back but these movements that week helped her get out of even more pain. She loved the way she felt when doing them. One of the things we'd been doing was just a few reps of some movement every hour. At this point she'd decided it was all she wanted to do because it felt good and she was starting to understand the importance of it and loved it.

This past Sunday my client came back from vacation and we got together again. She was rested and excited. She'd used some of our principles to help her start getting in her own workouts again which is something she'd been neglecting spending so much time in the service of others. SHe'd also been able to help her mother with many of the ideas we'd been discussing for her cousin and her mother was becoming more mobile and needed less help.

Further her cousins son had decided he enjoyed working with his mother and that meant my client was only going to have to travel out to see her cousin for workouts once per week instead of two to three times. Instead they'd just coach over zoom.

My plan was working. In our first meeting I took three pages of written notes but in the center I wrote in giant letters the word INDEPENDENCE.

Her cousin needed her independence back and while she's still not up and about, we've allowed her to be independent in part of the plan and actions that will get her out of bed. She's working out on her own several times per day and we've gotten her doing other things in her life she thought she couldn't do anymore from the bed.

But also INDEPENDENCE was meant for my client. She needed time to herself. She needed to workout. She also runs her own business and she hadn't taken a full day off for herself in two years. We now have her taking one day per week completely off and she took a week long vacation with her mother to see other family for passover.

Now she was breaking the chains a little as she finally had help from her cousins son and partner and her mother was becoming more mobile and independent which wasn't even part of my plan going in.

Oh and there's one more thing. Yesterday my client texted me an exciting update. For the first time in 7 or 8 months, she her cousin was able to control rolling from her side to her back and to push through her foot enough to begin to shift sideways which is the beginning of being able to roll over onto her side with her own power. Her knee didn't hurt and neither did her shoulder. They were able to put her on her side 5 times and have her control rolling back down before she was too tired to do it again. Everyone is super excited and we are determined to take it to the next level.

Compare this to 6 weeks ago when she had zero belief she'd leave that bed again and barely cared. Everything hurt. She didn't trust the doctors, she didn't trust her cousin, she didn't trust her body or herself. Her son was afraid to work with her and her partner thought outside help would just hurt her more and wanted everyone to leave her alone.

I know this is a departure from my normal writing about Splinterlands and my frustration with its day to day direction that I feel is hurting it. This also isn't crypto or any of that. I'm not even going to put images or headlines in here. I doubt this will even be read.

I'm writing this to document the experience that is bringing me back and showing me the value of the work I've done for 15 years to be able to be in the service of others. To see the whole picture and apply basic principles where they are needed for the best results to take place.

I thought I was done with coaching. I still haven't fully decided I'm not. Doing this is showing me that where I want to be right now is a coach of coaches. Consulting?

@Splinterlands I'm available for free! Will work for the value of my assets to stop declining. I know a thing or two about systems, big picture thinking, economics, and market psychology. I'm pretty sure I can help you right the ship long before validators or land come out.

Sorry, I had to throw that out there.

Whether you read this or not I hope you're finding your way in the world and you're coming up with ways to be in service of others.

**This is a repost because tags didn't show up the first time


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