Sunday, January 18, 2009

Learning How to Be Still and a PT update

About 3 weeks ago, I realized that I wasn't getting the best use out of my 24hour Fitness membership. I got a great deal on it (19.99 a month), but it's not such a great deal when you're paying for nothing. I decided to motivate myself the best way I could, by getting Ed to use a free week's pass to the gym so that I could have company :). Using the machines with him was nice enough, but I was still feeling frustrated with being unable to work out how I wanted to. We ended his week of gym using by trying out the Sunday yoga class that I had been too intimidated to try alone.

It was surprisingly unintimidating and I loved how relaxed the atmosphere was. The last time I had tried Yoga was at Berkeley, and I just remember feeling like I didn't know what I was doing and not really wanting to be there. This was different in a very good way. Though Ed's visit at my gym ended that day, my experience with Yoga was just beginning.

The next Thursday I went to the other Yoga class, expecting a similar experience. It ended up that this was a much more challenging class, with more emphasis on making Yoga a work out (the hard things during Sunday's class were the warm-ups here) but I still really enjoyed it.

Since that first week, I have been attending both the Sunday and Thursday classes and have really been enjoying them. I still really struggle through a lot of the poses, but am really liking many aspects of Yoga. I like how it is so relaxed, and yet is still very challenging. I like not wearing shoes when I'm active and being in the darkened room. And I like that I feel like I am getting all over stronger in a very positive way. I have hope that Yoga will somehow help my leg but, even if it doesn't, it is so nice to be doing something somewhat active that does not at all make my leg worse. That alone is great.

Ed has also gotten us a 9 week class of Pilates which will start next weekend, and I am also going to begin going to Pilates on Monday nights, so I will be doing Yoga and Pilates four days a week. Hopefully it will make me a better, stretchier, stronger person and someday, a better runner.

I have also now gone to 2 sessions of PT and am cautiously optimistic about that as well. The Doctor actually seems to really 'get' what's going on with my leg, and has made some enlightening 'discoveries' about my leg that I had sensed but never had diagnosed. What he explained is that, because of my leg injury (he thinks its most likely Piriformis Syndrome) my other leg muscles have gotten lazy and stopped working as they should. They will work for a little while but will give up quickly and force other muscles to do the work they weren't designed to do, which makes the leg tire out quickly. He also noticed that when I was lying down and he put pressure on the left side of my lower back, my muscles don't give like they should (i.e. when he pokes me, my body should sort of bounce but instead it just stays still). Also, my left (injured) leg is about half as flexible as my right.

So far, my treatment has be very different from the last time. The doctor spends most of his time putting pressure on my very lower back along my spine and having me push my leg into his hand (sounds odd, but apparently it's supposed to help). After he does that he hooks me up to this machine that sends pulses through my lower back while I lie on an ice pack with my legs elevated. He said he noticed that my leg is getting a little less tight (and more responsive. After my second session, he taught me just two exercises/stretches that I'm supposed to do a few times a day. One is called the ankle fight, where I cross my ankles and push them against each other. The other thing I'm supposed to do is stretch my hamstrings.

No difference in my pain yet, but I'm guessing it will take more than a few weeks to get results.

Hopefully between PT, Yoga, and Pilates, good things are on the horizon for me.

For now, I'm trying to be content with where I am and enjoying learning many new things.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Help! I’m Being Sucked into a Negative Black Hole… Throw Me a Number Line!

by Dad on Parenting, Worksheets (from

A Negative Number Black Hole Consuming the Universe (Especially M&Ms)

I suppose as a kid, it’s tough to focus on learning something new when your dad tells you that the entire universe might be erased by a minus sign.

We’d pretty much exhausted the positive integer subtraction worksheets, but had a high-motivation goal on the table involving another iPod download here, so something had to fill the gap in the space-time continuum… I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to toss out one of the introductory subtraction pages on negative numbers because I had the time to introduce the concept and work through a few examples.

Unfortunately, as far as my young charge was concerned, negative numbers might as well have come from Mars. Or worse. Much, much worse.

“Negative numbers? How do you have minus something?”

“It’s not like having something, it’s more like owing somebody something… Pretend I give you ten M&Ms, and you say you’ll give me ten back later. It’s kind of like you have negative M&Ms because you have to give them to me later.”

“But I have ten M&Ms because you just gave them to me.”

“No, pretend you ate them.”

Pause of imminent doom.

“No I didn’t. Here, I’m pretend giving them back. I don’t want negative M&Ms”.

The more I talked, the more negative numbers sounded not just odd, but down right scary. Numbers that can cancel out other numbers? Sudden risk to the global candy supply? By the time I exposed that Bank of America might, without asking, take money out of your bank account for overdraft fees, my daughter was pretty sure the world was coming to an end. I’m fairly certain the Birds and the Bees conversation is going to be feel like a walk in the park after all this. For half an hour we danced around the growing risk of explosion from the matter-antimatter annihilation of the numbers I created. Micro-black holes at the Large Hadron Collider had nothing on me here.

Before we plunged across the event horizon into a stretchy existence shredding demise, I gave up talking and my old friend, the trusty number line, pulled us back to safety. In these situations, you don’t know you’re on solid ground until you hear, “Oh that’s it? That’s easy!” in your ears. Thank you, Mr. Number Line… The world is safe from antimatter M&Ms and overdraft charges for now.

And, thinking about it, maybe I’ll just wait a while more on the Birds and the Bees, too.


*I was looking for a good worksheet for my students on negative numbers (they're actually taking to them quite well!) and found this, which amused me : ) * Number lines (and thermometers- which are arguably vertical number lines) are quite amazing indeed!

On fitness news, I have my first PT appointment today!!! Wohoo! Hopefully it goes well :)