My physical therapy sessions could have been considered hell on earth. It started off with three 30 minute sessions a day and slowly progressed to five sessions. I owe Danny, Mike and Steve most of the kudos to getting me back on my feet (ok, foot). They never gave up on me and continually pushed me a little harder each day.
Deviating from the normal exercises to rebuild my muscles, The Three Musketeers decided to do my sessions with music. It was unconventional but in five months I went from barely being able to stand being able to go for a four mile walk and the ability to run for a half mile. It required sessions every single day, weight training, a lot of sweat and Justin Timberlake. No, I never had a fondness for him or was a fan of his group but there were two songs that had the perfect beat for what Danny, Steve and Mike had me doing.
They sat down with me and asked me what my goals were. Umm, hello, it would be nice to walk. I desperately wanted to get back to kickboxing, dancing and everything else that happened before I lost my leg. They asked me strange questions like what music I listened to, what I did for fun and if I considered myself handicapped. That’s when they left the room and came back five minutes later with a game plan.
Having the ability to walk is something that most people take for granted. You get up, put one foot in front of the other and just walk. I had to learn all that over again. First in parallel bars then with a walker. It was a humbling experience that could have easily crushed my spirit but my trainers wouldn’t let me dwell on things for too long. The first sessions were grueling and made me want to give up on the idea of ever being able to walk again. Again, Mike, Danny and Steve were there to give me the “look of doom”.
When I was finally able to stand up and take my first steps without a walker, cane or someone holding on to my arm I started crying. It was the first glimmer of hope that I saw in a long time – it was the first time that I really felt like “it” was happening. That’s when they played two videos for me. One was “Bye, Bye Bye” and the second was “It’s Gonna Be Me“. They said that in one month I would be able to do every move that was in both videos. Yeah, that’s when I started thinking they were consuming a little more than protein shakes in between work out sessions.
Every day, three to five times a day, I heard those songs. Every day, three to five times a day I danced to those songs. They had the videos trimmed down and spliced with live performances so that each one had total movement from start to finish. After three weeks of doing everything Justin Timberlake did in those videos I was able to walk up and down my block by myself, make it up the steps alone and start on the third leg of my journey – regaining the twenty pounds of muscle that I lost. Sure, watch the videos and assume that those moves are easy. For most people they will be a slight challenge but for me, well, it was like moving with two left feet.
I had to learn exactly how much I needed to clear my left foot when jumping, sliding and turning. Again, that might seem easy but it required so much concentration. I am thankful that I was able to train and do these things at my local gym. The owner, Bob Parish, has been a constant source inspiration for me. He’d call me if I was ten minutes late, show up at my house if I said I didn’t feel good and if I tried to leave early he’d hold my MP3 player hostage. I have so many people that I owe my success to and they know exactly how I feel about them.
After the first two weeks they started video taping my workouts so I could see exactly what they meant by “clear your toe” and “you’re too far left“. Seeing what you are doing in a mirror and seeing it on video tape are two completely different things. Maybe some day I will get up the nerve to post them on YouTube. If nothing else, they are worth their weight in laughs. I can’t believe that I was ever “that” stiff and clumsy.
Even now that I no longer train with Mike, Steve and Danny every day I still see them at least three times a week. They still make time to check up on me and see how I am doing. I couldn’t slack off at the gym even if I wanted to because there are too many people there that know what I am supposed to be doing. I still have “Bye, Bye, Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” on my MP3 player and whenever it’s on shuffle and they start playing I have to stop and take a minute to think about how far I came in such a short amount of time.
I am extremely blessed to have been given a second chance at life. I was about as close to death as you can get and not even a year later I am farther along with my therapy and recovery than I ever thought possible. Every day that I wake up is a gift for me. Justin Timberlake has no idea how much he’s helped me, even though it was two songs and some dance moves, if it weren’t for that and my three trainers, chances are I’d still be walking at a snails pace instead of being almost ‘normal’ again. Every morning when I step out my front door and turn my MP3 player on I smile. I might not be able to run a marathon but I’m alive, getting stronger every day and refuse to ever utter the words, “I can’t do that” ever again.
If I can cheat death, everything else is a piece of cake.