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By Warren Macdonald
I throw myself into rehab like a man possessed. I have to give myself the best possible chance of success and that means being as fit as possible. But wheeling into the amputee unit's gym, I'm startled at first ny the site of all the people with various missing limbs. Then again, I probably freak them out as well; they all have more in the leg department than I've been left with.
The first objective is to get my balance back. Losing so much weight in the form of my legs has thrown my balance off completely. I have to be very careful just sitting up so that I don't topple over backward without my legs to counterbalance me. We start with me sitting up on a treatment bed and Belinda standing in front of me, throwing a tennis ball between us. When that gets too easy, we move on to using bats, turning the exercise into a form of aerial table tennis. From there, we graduate to a medicine ball. Now it's getting interesting! The first time she throws it to me, it knocks me over backward. But the workout it gives my stomach muscles is incredible. When I catch it off to one side, I spin around with it, carried through by the ball's momentum. But I think I'm doing well with all this balance stuff - until she brings over the Swiss ball and explains what she wants me to do.
Easing myself off the edge of the bed, Belinda on one side of me and Allison (her assistant) on the other, I cautiously shift my weight onto the pressure ball, my stomach tensing as the ball moves about. Suddenly, it rolls from under me. I'm too slow to throw my hips forward and have to be grabbed by the girls to keep from falling. My near spill gives me quite a start, and my stomach is still doing cartwheels as they help me back on.
Around the same time, I begin using what is commonly known as a "wobble board". A plywood disc (about 400 millimeters/16 inches in diameter) with a halved plastic ball attached to one side, the wobble board becomes my favorite toy. Placed on the floor, ball side down, it presents an extremely unstable seat. Just being able to site on it is an acheivement in itself. But in the beginning, I can't stay on it for more than a few seconds before falling off. It, too, gives my stomach muscles an incredible workout, and that alone is incentive enough for me to get on it at every opportunity. Resigned to the fact that, because I'm spending so much time sitting down, the spare tire around my waist is now part of the furniture, the wobble board provides a glimmer of thope that maybe, just maybe...
For more about Warren Macdonald and his story please visit: http://www.warren-macdonald.com/