Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Crushed Heart Can Lead to Triumph

This is the moment. Just as imagined and hoped for. So much preparation has gone into getting to this exact point. Can a heart really pound this intensely without bursting? It's time to shine and overcome what you once thought was impossible. 

This is the description of a moment we have all experienced at some point. The nervousness, excitement, hope, and simultaneous dread; hoping all things go as dreamed, as imagined.

This is Sweet-pea's story. Sweet-pea is the fictitious name of a real person - my friend. 

Using my skills as a personal trainer, I volunteer at a center for developmentally delayed adults. This is where Sweet-pea and I met. 

The need for personal training with this special needs population is so high and often over-looked because it's not glamorous personal training. However, from my perspective, this is one of the populations that need it most. 

How would you feel bound to mobility aides, immobilizing braces, and straps? For a brief time at this center, about 20 of the patrons receive continued and personalized training throughout the week. A grant and volunteers makes this possible. Sweet-pea is one of the 20 who receive these benefits.

Sweet-pea is in her late 40's to early 50's and uses a wheelchair. She can't talk, but she gestures and nods "yes" and "no". Sweet-pea is strong-willed and as independent as she can be. She loves to tease and has a natural "Oh ya? Just watch me attitude." 

Sweet-pea's neck leans excessively forward (practically touching her clavicle) due to postural and upper body weakness. As directed by a physical therapist, we've been working with her to walk with the aid of a walker as we follow behind her with a wheel-chair to catch her (just in case). This week the goal was big and Sweet-pea was eager for it.

Sweet-pea was going to walk about 80-feet with only three rest stops. She was ready. She could see it and taste the victory. She was particular about a friend watching.  She was also specific that no one should get in her way as she walked the hall from point A to point B and back. She was nervous, but oh so ready for the challenge. So she began her walk.

For some reason there was an suddenly an unusual amount of hallway traffic and after 15 or so feet she gave up in anger and her heart was obviously crushed. Everyone was in the way. This was her time and the obstacles were too great. Crying and bitter she stopped.

Angry and yelling she wheeled herself away, crying and hurting she tried to hide. Sweet-pea's dreams, hope, and hard work seem to be for nothing from her perspective. My heart broke watching this breakdown. She was expressing herself the only way she could as language wasn't even hers to own.

I don't know how, but by some miracle me and her friend were able to talk her into coming back in to the gym room to finish a light workout. We were also able to reschedule "the great walk" for the next day during what we hoped would be a less busy hallway traffic time.

Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to be there for her the next day. I prayed for her and she was heavy on my mind all night.  I know the need to accomplish a goal like that. This was big and she was ready, but the circumstance was against her.

I was pleased to hear the next day that not only were the conditions just right for her, but she did "the great walk" and with only one rest stop! Though I wasn't there for it, I could see it in my mind's eye. 

Instead of her arm flailing in anger to motion people away and screaming in anger, I could see her arm triumphantly motioning the joy of success. I could hear her scream have the energy of an Olympic gold winning, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" I could even feel the joy and relief from the other trainers and aids as her goal was met this time.

And with the previous nervousness, excitement, hope, and simultaneous dread; hoping all things go as dreamed, as imagined. There is now an equal sense of relief, accomplishment, satisfaction, and humility. This is just my feeling about Sweet-pea s adventure. I can't even imagine what she must be feeling. Go girl!

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