Sunday, August 12, 2012

Teacups, Fishing With Leg Braces, And The Poor Man's Mineral Water Service

What do you think it takes to pass basic training for Navy SEAL's? Nerves of steel? Incredible athletic prowess? Big muscles? Those things can help, but the key is the ability to think clearly and calmly under pressure. In other words, even if someone drops you in a pool with your hands tied and no breathing apparatus, it's not a catastrophe. If you're taken into a dark room with a cover over your head and you don't what situation you will be presented with in that room and then the cover is removed and you are expected to react appropriately within seconds, it's not a catastrophe. If you spend hours in the freezing cold surf on the California beaches while the instructors yell, "Who wants a nice warm cup of coffee and a donut? Ring the bell (wash out of SEAL's) and you get a nice warm cup of coffee and a donut!"- it's not a catastrophe. If for a whole week you are drilled mercilessly and allowed only a maximum of four hours of sleep every day, it's not a catastrophe. Challenge, yes. Uncomfortable as hell, yes. But catastrophe? No. This is why wiry farm kids from Iowa make it into SEAL's and bodybuilders and elite athletes don't. It's not a physical challenge, it's a mind game. But that's the success mindset- nothing is a catastrophe. (I actually knew a former Navy Seal once. He was about as tall as me and was an incredibly calm person.)

When I was growing up, everything was a catastrophe. So getting my life together has required that I make a complete about face in my way of thinking. Finances and work have tended to be the most hot button issues for Malamute and me. So in the past when Malamute has had something about work that he has wanted to get off his chest, I have tended to over-react and turn a mountain into a molehill and started having a panic attack about being poor the rest of my life.

Then I remembered something from way back when I used to spend afternoons watching Oprah during the summer. I can't even remember who the self-help guru was who said this, but it stayed with me. He said, "Suppose you come home from work one day and you find your wife in bed with another man. You could scream and yell, maybe even get into violent confrontation, but then you are letting the situation control you. If you can take a deep breath and say, 'I'm going to make a cup of tea and then the three of us are going to sit down and talk about this', you are in control." Wow. I want to be like that. So though it has been an exercise in patience and I still slip up, every time Malamute says something about work or money that triggers my panic button, I think about that cup of tea. I'm much happier. I can't believe I spent so much of my life panicking and making myself miserable when I could have been happy.

***

"If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." When Duckling was born, it felt like most of the care the doctors wanted was based on giving him a fish every day for the rest of his life- catheterization, wheelchairs, permanent antibiotics, etc. I wouldn't consider us dogmatic about alternative health care options, we just want to do what works. And if that truly were heavy intervention mainstream types of things, we would do them. (This is why he had surgery on his back.) But the option of a large leg brace that doctors had been favoring since he was tiny, seemed like a lot of over kill to us. He already had more movement and sensation than anyone had anticipated. We didn't want something that would keep him from building the muscles that would be necessary for him to walk. We wanted a solution that would force him to do more work rather than a device doing it for him. 

As we watched him and analyzed his gait, we noticed that one of his biggest problems was that he tend to roll over his left foot and drag it along. Not the right way to walk. Malamute postulated that if we could get him a pair of shoes with high tops and some sort of light stabilizing brace that just focused on his ankle (the weakest part), rather than his whole leg, that that might do the trick. 

So we found a couple of pairs of toddler sized hiking boots on Amazon and bought those. (I  used to think, "Toddler sized hiking boots?! Beyond vanity what kind of need would anyone have for those?!" I'm eating my words now.) Next was the brace. What Malamute had in mind was something like a tiny, itty-bitty sized Ace bandage- flexible, but stable. Years ago, my grandma gave me a small wrist sized Ace bandage, the kind for carpal tunnel and I had kept it around- just in case- for years. Turns out that it was just what we needed. The hiking boot- wrist bandage combo has improved Duckling's gait 100%! He no longer drags his foot nearly as much and is starting to get his left foot facing straight like his right! With the training from the walker, he has been gaining more stability and balance and is starting to stand without as much assistance. The other day he walked up a hill with his walker, boots, and bandage and loved every minute of it! We are so proud of him!

***

Everyone wants good water, some of us just can't afford to pay for it. Those big, blue bottles full of fresh spring water don't come cheap and water filters take out junk, but often don't leave a lot of minerals. So every time we go hiking up in the mountains (at least once a week), we take a whole bunch of canteens and a large stainless steel water dispenser and fill everything up with the drinking safe water from the picnic areas and take it all back with us. You really can taste the difference!

1 comment:

  1. Haha. I love the in control story. And how strong a discipline that can be to achieve. If you can picture yourself calm in that situation, so many others seem like a piece of cake!

    LOVE that Duckling is doing so well!! And able to take such pride in himself :) That is wonderful. And praise goes to the both of you for making sure to do what is best for your son.

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