495. Bumpy

Coach R trains US Soccer's Ali Krieger - 7 exercises to prevent ACL injuries

Coach R trains US Soccer’s Ali Krieger – YouTube:  7 exercises to prevent ACL injuries

Right before I started talking at the Christmas Tea I turned to Smurfette and was like, Hey, J – you ever done this sort of thing before? Cuz things are about to get a little craaazy…..

Ann Ning Learning How | Dec 14 - AVM and Stroke Recovery Yr 3 | Yeah, I totally just went there

She told me it was cool – she knew the drill – so my no-holds-barred approach that day didn’t unnerve her. I spoke at a Brunch a couple Saturdays ago, where we welcomed some new friends into our family.  I gave a brief update on my physical condition bc when I did the Christmas Tea, Trainer D had called me out the day before. Things have gotten so much better since then, and I have definitely reached another level physically.

I was gritting my teeth the whole time at Tea. I really wanted to set the record straight so I didn’t tell Mommy how poorly I was feeling bc I knew she’d make me lie down or something.  I had to expend an inordinate amount of effort then.  But this time at Brunch it was much smoother sailing. I am SO much healthier, thank the Lord.

After I consulted Smurfette initially, I counted calories for a couple of months, saw that I had been under-eating for a long time, and learned how to game the system within a couple of weeks so I wouldn’t get the Nastygram from My Fitness Pal. I also started drinking Ensure and felt so much better (Trainer D: DUH. [rolls eyes]). And then Trainer D proposed that I adopt Macro goals (%Protein, Carbs, and Fat). And so I did this “If it fits your macros” style of eating in addition to ramping my calorie goals up by 300-400 over another few months, during which I rediscovered the joys of the sandwich.


16.  Now is *not* the time for fasting...but maybe it is.

16. Now is *not* the time for fasting…but maybe it is.

The results were good. I became more mindful of what my body was telling me – e.g. on days that I “run” and train I have to eat a Giant Breakfast. I know now that once I “feel” the deficit I’m in the danger zone. I used to fast weekly in my Old Life. When I started this practice (I researched it and talked to the Health Nurse at work, FYI) I hid my scale so it wouldn’t be about that. It was fabulous – it’s how I learned to use the body to engage other parts of you. But now I can’t muscle through – I feel my body shutting down if I am failing to fuel appropriately, and I feel an intense obligation to MommyDaddy et. al to not allow this to happen. So last week at the Running Gym I instated a mandatory snack time for myself at 10.30am (this left an appropriate block of time prior to the start of any activity) since I had not been able to eat enough that morning. Coach R played along while I chewed my Quest bar dutifully, but Trainer M declined to participate.   I was going for the: If I have to suffer, we ALL have to suffer effect. Oh, well. You win some you lose some.

When I started eating more appropriately I was also able to “run” and train harder.   This is where the rubber really hits the road. My core strength, balance, spatial awareness etc. are improving, slowly but surely. I can do more things and know the tricks to make my eyeballs last longer and to prioritize so I can exercise the mental acuity I need for certain activities. And as time passes, I am getting better at managing my deficits and surround myself with people and safeguards to help me recognize when I need to scale back my activities.

When Uncle Bus passed away I was extremely sad. I’m still sad. And I recognized that I have a LOT of older friends and this situation was just going to escalate. I informed my people that I would be a MESS when this happened.

Well, it happened. Aunty Haigouhy went home to be with the Lord last week. She was Uncle Joe’s wife. They were special to me.

50.  A Cup of Water

50. A Cup of Water


Last Sunday we went to the hospital to see her one last time.   I tried to press myself into the wall outside her door and just disappear.  She was “asleep” but became agitated when she heard our voices. I hadn’t seen her in a long time because she had been moved into a home a while ago. Sigh. It’s been kinda rough.

I put myself on an eating vacation. I postponed an appointment with Smurfette, which confirmed Trainer D’s suspicion that my regimen had been derailed. I informed Coach R (technically, I email bombed him as is our custom), and then I tried to do “mindless eating” by watching a video of him training Ali Krieger (US Soccer) while I ate half of my barbacoa salad from lunch.

It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. At one point he’s explaining how to move one’s arms – you know, athletically. I started giggling and haven’t stopped for four days. Poor Coach R. I know he’s very good at what he does and all, but seriously? How am I NOT supposed to laugh at this stuff? Truly, though – you should watch this video, esp if ACL injuries are a concern of yours.

But you know what? Even though things have gotten kind of craaazy bumpy I’m doing well right now.  I was in excruciating pain when Dan Uncle passed away at the end of 2014.  Over the last couple of months I’ve had similar stress, compounded by a medication-induced cough, and a harrowing trip to the ENT, but have not been in that kind of pain.  Thank the Lord the cough cleared after 3 weeks and Coach R no longer has to carry my cough drops in his pocket.  I’m still nauseous.  Last week in the middle of a set with Trainer D I paused with my kettle bell mid-air and shifted my eyes from left to right and said simply, Trash can.  (i.e. in case I throw up, where do I go?)

did have some weirder head pain that made me nervous enough to get a full work up even though I’ve been assured nothing’s growing in there.  The last time I got an MRI was in 2012.  So I got a new one a few weeks ago and it came back clean (Yay!)  so the pain was just stress-related. Surprise, surprise.  It’s gotten better with time.

Stretching my hips at a fancy restaurant with Boo Boo's family.  April 2015

Stretching my hips at a fancy restaurant with Boo Boo’s family. April 2015

Notably ,my right side hurts as often as my left side now, or more.  I guess it’s the cumulative effect of 4 years of guarding my left side’s weakness.  But I know how to roll stuff out, and I’ve scaled back on my cane usage and typing/piano to save my arms (which is a new wrinkle, but we’re rolling with it).  I routinely get out of my chair and squat to stretch my hips – it doesn’t matter if we’re at a fancy restaurant, or in some other context that’s weird – the point is that I know what I need to do.  This is still a work in progress, but I don’t feel helpless anymore – like I just have to wait for things to happen.

The end result:  My wellness level has shifted upwards.

Feel free to cheer rowdily at this point.

This is another indicator that all my Training + Treatment is working. Thank you, Team Tanimal!!

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!


491. BMTCR Day


The week after we progressed to the no-holding hands during step-ups incident this happened:

To:      Coach R
From: Me

Re:      I decided 2 things.

I decided 2 things this morning

  1. I’m going to bump my caloric goals up by 100
  1. Today is BMTCRD – Be Mean to Coach R Day
    1. this is in response to how you wouldn’t hold my hand last week (?!?!?!)
    2. don’t worry – recent attempts have shown that when I’m trying to be scathingly mean people think it’s utterly hilarious
    3. you should be grateful – EVERY day is Be Mean to Trainer D Day.


See you soon!


477.  Hey, Mommy - Look what I did! | Seriously, I just reread this post to make sure it was the one I was looking for and it's a riot.  The best part is that it's all true!!

477. Hey, Mommy – Look what I did! | Seriously, I just reread this post to make sure it was the one I was looking for and it’s a riot. The best part is that it’s all true!!

This brilliant idea struck me while I was ignoring my multiplying oatmeal and doing my hair.   I do some of my best thinking while wielding my hair implements. But I put the iron down long enough to shoot this email off chop chop.

Later that morning during Stretchy Time:

Me: Are you ready for BMTCR Day? I’m punishing you for not holding my hand last week.

Coach R: But you were successful.

Me: Irrelevant. It’s the principle of the thing, R.

Soon after this exchange I had occasion to punish Trainer D, too. I pulled out all the stops. I emailed Smurfette, I hid in the elevator even though D hates it when I don’t take the stairs (I recruited a staffer to be my lookout – his job was to create a diversion in case D approached), and I purchased a special “treat” for him at the grocery store (the broccoli apple puree in the picture at the top.)

I forwarded the email string between me and Smurfette to Coach R as a cautionary tale. “Do not let this happen to you,” I said solemnly.

I saw Trainer D again at the end of the week. I left the banana that was actually rotten at home bc I was feeling magnanimous that day.  I thought the one I included with the Broccoli was sufficiently brown.  It turns out that man actually LIKES brown bananas.  Grrr….  Plus his caloric needs are so great that he delights in whatever I bring him.

I have to ask him how the broccoli tasted. A couple days later, after I had been meaner than usual for a week and made a semi-public example of him, we reached an understanding and called it pax. Or to be more accurate, I decided to stop antagonizing him. We’ll see what the new week brings.

Update:  I’m scheduling this on Monday.  So far so good.  But I can’t make any promises for the rest of the week.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

487. Leave Nothing Left in the Tank


I started taking selfies to send to J to make her laugh. Check! Goal met. I took this one after a “run” + Train double-header. Coach R was in fine form.

Me (looking at some guy doing some lateral stepping on his hands over a riser while in a plank position): Hey, R – we’re never doing that, k?

Coach R: I designed that exercise.

Me: Why am I not surprised? Still, I’m just telling you out front that we’re never doing that.

Both Trainers have gotten increasingly exacting lately. I think Coach R has had his thinking cap on bc he’s been observing my “running” form and sees more material to work with, whereas Trainer D has been highly motivated to write and execute a new training plan for me ever since I got on his body fat scale. (That was a one-time only event, BTW. I flatly refused yesterday.)

When I do “sprints” on the bike Trainer D pulls out all the stops in terms of motivational Trainer Talk. The problem is that I keep on laughing whenever he starts and it’s disruptive to my breathing pattern and interrupts the circuit. I’m still dripping sweat by the end, though, so something good must be happening. One of the phrases that doesn’t make me laugh, though, is Leave nothing left in the tank.

He’s telling me to go all out – don’t hold anything back, and expend every ounce of effort in me. Coach R subscribes to the same philosophy – win or lose, he wants to see you giving 100%. (My side note: but of course, winning is nice.)

Coach R backed down from his pinky-swinging, no-hand holding agenda over the past couple of weeks as he saw me going downhill. I haven’t been feeling great – there was the coughing plus some yucky head pain (I got a new MRI and it came back all clean!), accompanied by some worse than usual nausea. Around this time I got it in my head to bump my caloric goals up by 100. SMASHING idea, I thought. And then I immediately got stressed out and had trouble eating anything. I got the NastyGram again.

One day I had to take some significant pauses during Line and Ladder Time and then Coach R had to go get my Ginger Water (ginger helps with nausea) while I was lying on the Leg Press. As I took generous swigs I told him about the day before when I was over 500 calories short: It wasn’t my fault, R – I fell asleep BY ACCIDENT!!

Trainer D has been particularly attentive to and observant of signs of distress (even if I’m not aware of them myself), he is just so…. I don’t even know how to describe it.  As we  had our pre workout update chat one day I couldn’t contain myself – WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?!?!?  I wondered out loud.

I watched the clock very closely two Fridays ago and was APPALLED that every time I checked only 20 min had passed.  The fourth time I was glad bc it was all over, but no, he seriously says to me, Come over to a table.  We’re just gonna do some core work real quick. So I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, Leave nothing left in the tank wherever I am – training, running, at home, etc.

The real reason I’ve been sad and stressed is that Uncle Bus passed away on May 18. SNIFF. I have been avoiding writing this post. Usually writing makes me feel better, but lately I just wanted to hide.

I adjusted my expectations regarding many things when I got sick – but something I never said out loud was that I secretly hoped that my Older Friends would “wait” for me to get better and things could ] be like they were. I was always shuttling people places (supermarket, pharmacy, doctor, church) and did a lot of hospital visitation in my old life. I did it because these Older Friends took such good care of me as my adopted grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Visiting 101 - part I

Visiting 101 – part I

But now I understand that it’s never going to be like that again. They can’t wait for me like I had hoped.

I saw Uncle Bus about 3 weeks before he went home to be with the Lord. He was living with a granddaughter and could barely lift the pen to sign the documents Daddy had brought him to attend to. This did not stop him from giving me the cheekiest wink ever when we left.

A week or so later, Daddy needed to go back but I asked to be excused. “I don’t think I have it in me,” I told Mommy quietly. She understood. I thought I had already said my goodbye.

But then when Uncle Bus stopped eating Daddy was called in to see if he could coax him into swallowing some nourishment. I gauged the urgency of the situation and told Daddy I wanted to come, too, if he thought that would be okay. He did – I think Uncle Bus would be very encouraged to see you. As I got ready I prayed with tears in my eyes because I knew it was going to be rough. But I told myself, You’re stronger now. You remember how to do this. Uncle Bus has been your friend for as long as you can remember. This is the least you can do for him. Leave nothing left in the tank.

When we arrived Uncle Bus was sleeping and we saw the names of other friends on the sign-in sheet who had been spending time with him. I could tell from the physical change, even while Uncle Bus’s eyes were closed and he was breathing gently, that there would be no convincing him to eat and that he would be home with the Lord soon.

Before he went way downhill, Uncle Bus had asked Daddy to preach at his funeral. He also said that Mommy and I would be very welcome to attend. It was a private family-only graveside service and this was a very great honor so of course I was determined to be there. There were some major all-terrain mobility challenges but I made it. I tweaked my ankle a bit but Gen fixed it. Daddy was under the weather and was eating my cough drops (he NEVER takes cough drops) prior to the service but I texted my siblings an SOS message in the car, they prayed, and Daddy did great. He brought a good Word and didn’t cough once.

On the way home I took care of his jacket and Bible in the back seat. I realized that the last time I held his Bible was in Oregon. I had “borrowed” one from the stack of different translations he keeps by his bedside and kept it beside my special chair in my apartment. I used it daily and “forgot” to give it back. I think Mommy found it in my storage garage last year and brought it home.


Since that day I’ve been working through everything and have found that even when I think I’m giving 110% and leaving nothing left in the tank, because I know the Lord there’s always more. It’s like the widow of Zarapheth’s oil that didn’t run out when she was making bread for Elijah.

308.  No Sign of Weakness

308. No Sign of Weakness

It’s a good thing, because if I’ve learned anything over the past four years it’s that big things happen and you’re sad, but the machinery of life still keeps on rolling and you have to keep moving or be crushed. For me, this means that I need to eat (it’s a lot better this week!), keep on Training and getting treatment (I’ve been super stressed but my body (not head) pain level has been very low – I attribute this to overall strengthening), and right now we’re planning for Uncle Bus’s memorial service.

I’m working on his slideshow and as I look at the old pictures I can’t help but cry a little. Or a lot. But I’m going to do this thing right – I won’t leave anything left in the tank.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!



481. A Reason to Celebrate


On the day I “interviewed” at The Running Gym we did strength/range of motion testing and Coach R forwarded the “Getting to Know You” conversation thusly:

Coach R:  So what part of China are you from?

Me      [Internal]:  Ummm… Why ya gotta ask me these hard questions, R?  It’s my FIRST DAY.

[Out Loud]:  I dunno.  Our blood is Chinese but we’re actually from Malaysia and Singapore.  Why?  You ever been to China?

Answer:  Yes, Coach R has been to China.  He was there for the Olympics (Beijing ’08).

Coach R is not used to helping people like me.

But he chose to do it anyway.

However, the fact that Coach R’s professional expertise has already been recognized at a very high level presents a problem – I style myself as a skilled provider of personal branding and career building collateral – the fact that he’s already been to the Olympics narrows my sphere of influence drastically.

I used to do resumes and interview prep for friends all the time in my Old Life.  I don’t really remember how it happened – I think I picked it up in B School and as an interviewer at an old job and for the Career Services department at Georgetown.  This part of my brain made it through unscathed.  In fact, my skills might even be stronger now that my social filter is compromised.

Anyway, since Coach R has already reached a certain point in his career he is not giving me much room to work with over here.  And I like to feel useful.  So I do what I can.

All of this Recovery is exhausting  463.  Marked Progress

All of this Recovery is exhausting 463. Marked Progress

A couple weeks ago we celebrated RAD – Coach R Appreciation Day.  It was the work of months.  Remember when I told you about my idea for a Coach R TV show?  I pitched it to him via email and he told me later with eyes wide, That was SO detailed.

I’m like,  Oh, R, you have NO IDEA (pointing to my head) how all this works.

Although he is very accomplished and all I have noted several areas of growth for him over the past year+.  E.g. Coach R’s knowledge of doughnuts is sadly lacking.  He is also not very good at pretending to have mobility impairments.

456.  Agility

456. Agility

So I decided to help him learn to use his imagination more. I waited until he was away training some athletes in another country and I roped the crew at The Running Gym into helping me take pictures etc. for RRN Episode 1 – this is the pilot presentation of Coach R’s Neighborhood.

I think the whole thing is a complete riot.  But then again, it’s like this blog – of course I think it’s funny because I wrote it.  But I did get Coach R to LOL which is a major win in my book, and when Mrs. Coach R viewed it that morning (prior to RAD, via email) she enjoyed it thoroughly, too.

My CRFC (Coach R Fan Club) focus group gave me some feedback, which was very helpful – but the best part of the CRFC was informing Coach R of its existence (because I take somewhat of a naughty delight in making him cringe).  He had NO IDEA what I was planning when I asked him to be a regular character on my blog a couple weeks after we met.  All of my peeps have growing fan bases – that’s been my goal all along. I also made this video bc, as I explained to Coach R later, I need to throw your fan club a bone at some point.

Side Note: Fandom begins at home.  Example 1:  I took a series of pics of Trainer D one morning.  I sat in the leg press cage thing and snapped away while telling him laughter-inducing stories.  I emailed a bunch to  Smurfette and she was tickled pink bc I was feeding her scrap booking addiction.  “Smurfette loved them,” I informed him smugly.  “You’re welcome.” Example 2:  Ed Blueberry is the President of the Mommy Fan Club.  He didn’t want to let Tanpo in bc he’d probably want to preside, but Mommy says marriage trumps membership so I think Tanpo is all set.

I’ll share RRN Episode 1 with you tomorrow, and then I’ll leave you alone on the video thing for a while.  I’m just giving you the background information in this post.  The first 2.5 minutes are RRN Episode 1 and then it morphs into my Thank You video.  BTW, I appreciate your kind responses to my Thank You vid so much.  I am going to be a slow responder, but let me just say, HUGs.  

After we both finished traveling we finally had RAD at the end of April.  My tech friends were in charge of snacks.  Aren’t these popcorn boxes cute?


In my world you learn to celebrate as a means of survival.  I always need to be celebrating something.  And Coach R was an easy target – this year is his 20th year of service at The Running Gym.  I’m glad the occasion presented itself so conveniently for me but I had another Trainer check the system to verify R’s start date bc really?!  I’m pretty sure they had to bend some child labor laws to let him start working if he’s already passing the 20 year mark.

The thing is that Coach R doesn’t relish being celebrated.  It’s like me – I love celebrating stuff as long as it’s not me.  So I targeted him.  Heh heh.  I informed the staff that he was a flight risk.  “I’m pretty scrappy,” I explained, “but he’s stronger and faster than I am” – so they knew to be on the lookout in case they needed to “intervene.”

I informed Coach R himself 5 minutes beforehand and I said, R, this is gonna be like the time you took your children to see The Wiggles:  I need you to Man Up and take one for the team.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

480. It’s Friendlier With Two


17264018710_0932570f24_zWe left early on a Saturday morning to see Ezra’s first soccer game. I had Red the wheelchair in the trunk but didn’t even use him. I took my chances on the grass and had my backpack and Mommy’s fancy camera strapped to my person so I eschewed Leo the cane, too, in order to enjoy greater freedom of movement.

In an impressive display of mobility I walked around the pitch and rolled around in the grass (on purpose) to get into position to take pictures. Lots of pictures. My method of photography is to put the camera in sports mode and depress the shutter indefinitely. Out of 100 pics, I hope for 2-3 good ones. I think this camera takes 4 frames per second. I purposefully chose a small DSLR that would be easier for Mommy’s hands to hold, and mine, too.

So yeah, I took LOTS of pics: 1,035. I might have gotten a little carried away, but what can I say – it was an absolutely beautiful day, the soccer game was very entertaining, and my children are exceedingly good looking. Whatcha gonna do?

The best part was when a Mom stood up on the sideline and called to her little girl (wearing pink shin guards),

Honey – there is NO HOLDING HANDS in SOCCER! You gotta run after the ball!!!!

There did seem to be a lot of hand holding going on out there.

But it was funny because the little girl was just holding hands with a teammate for kicks. It’s like the Winnie the Pooh adage, It’s friendlier with two.

Last week Coach R and I hit another milestone. First of all, I noticed him assume the observing stance and watch me in the AlterG for a long time. Usually he allows me a pretty large perimeter or stands behind me and looks at my feet through the bubble window. This time I noticed him closing in over the course of several minutes. If you don’t know what I mean by “observing stance” – this is it:

Classic Observing Stance

Classic Observing Stance

Feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, arms akimbo or one hand rubbing the chin, (you can’t see it from this angle) eyes almost glazed over with the intensity of focused observation. They all do it. That’s how I know Coach R is watching – even though I don’t recognize his physical characteristics while I’m running, I can tell through the blur of peripheral vision when someone is watching me intently – and no one’s going to be doing that except him.

Based on what he saw he decided to make Training an “athletic day.” [Umm….I thought that’s what we were doing all along.] So he proceeded to put me through my paces, and after a few laps on the Agility Ladder he says, Okay, now this time, I want you to move your arms…You know, athletically.

Agility Ladder

Agility Ladder

I laughed for a while. It was one of those times when I looked at his face and said, Oh no, wait – you’re serious! Sorry, my bad.

Internally I’m all, So how am I supposed to move my arms “athletically” and hold your hand at the same time?

Answer: Coach R linked pinkies with me and said I was supposed to swing his arm concurrently with mine as the opposite foot advanced on the Ladder while maintaining a very light grasp on his finger.

Umm, what? I have a brain injury – leave me alone.

“I know that trick, R,” I informed him. I did not just fall off the turnip truck, thanks. I know where this is trending. A6 Frankenstein did this to me when he taught me to walk. A bracing handhold turned into a light grip on his extended index finger, and then it was, Now just PRETEND like you’re holding on. And eventually I walked by myself. After I cried a lot (in private) bc I was terrified and bought some motivational jewelry.

277.  Wake Up Call

277. Wake Up Call


I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before that Coach R would have been working towards this goal. Maybe I blocked out the possibility as a defense mechanism. I’m good at that.

“Did you see me fall down?!?!? NO. ” I protested. The implication was, Picky picky…If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I want to hold your hand. :/ It was panic-induced plain speech.

But he was unmoved. So I suggested that we dispense with the hand-holding entirely. I mean, if I’m going to hold your hand you might as well make yourself useful or get out of my way. You’re either helping me or hindering me, Buddy

“No,” he responded flatly. Apparently Coach R has a step-by-step plan whereas I prefer the cold-turkey method.

Fine. I made him pretend to be me while I “guarded” to see what he wanted me to do. I still didn’t get it so when it was my turn I proceeded down the Ladder and tried desperately to move my arms in an athletically coordinated manner but he ended up having to swing my arm (the right one was the side our pinkies were linked) for me. The left one was flopping frantically. Hey, at least it wasn’t in the “handbag” position.

the "handbag" | 32.  Concessions

the “handbag” | 32. Concessions


Eventually, after a few more patterns that (thankfully) did require arm-swinging, we moved on to some other new and exciting movements. But the shift in our approach to Ladder Time was clear to me.

“I can feel my brain changing,” I told Coach R. It’s gradually getting easier and I don’t have to “think” as hard – that’s why he chose to introduce the arm element this time. It’s like when learning to walk I was so confused about having to remember all of these things at once, but eventually it just “clicked” as my brain re-formed the right connections.

That’s the point of this. The purported goal is to eventually operate independently. Because it’s true – There’s no holding hands in soccer. But I’m just saying that right now it really is friendlier with two.

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!



470. Look at THAT one


Eddie taking a breather at my other Gym


Transitioning to the Full Disclosure Model with my peeps is one of the best decisions I ever made. Actually, there was no “transition” with Gen – she knew it all within 5 minutes of our meeting. I could explain it better to CMD after she treated JJ and I could refer to “My friend from Africa” so it made more sense. I had told Trainer D a little bit about it all when he first got up in my grill (and called in the professional help – Smurfette – for a casual consult) about my food soon after we met. But it really came out of left field for Coach R.

420.  I Said It

420. I Said It

He didn’t flinch. None of my peeps did – they just absorbed the impact of what I was saying and we have continued to roll merrily along in pursuit of a higher level of health with a shared understanding of my situation.

The only person I noticed flinching was Ann|Ning. I still do sometimes, even though our interactions have gotten so much easier since I no longer have to keep track of who knows what. But I can still get caught by surprise.

Example: Some team members were talking about the big Powerball jackpot last week and Coach R asked me what I’d do if I had a billion dollars.

This is an extremely benign question. It’s the sort of thing you could ask in an icebreaker exercise for team building among strangers, and we are not strangers.

But a lump rose to my throat anyway and I blinked hard as my mind flew through the things I’d like to attend to but can’t. Of course, this led me to think of what people who win or inherit big bucks might do – buy real estate, cars, etc., and I stifled another sigh. These things don’t fit in with my lifestyle.

Finally, I thought, I have my wheelchair. I have everything I need.

A long time ago I told you I’d introduce you to Red, my wheelchair. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. I just have to pull it together enough to write that post. But I’ll tell you now that it was a direct answer to prayer. I had been praying for a long time that the Lord would give me “something for me,” because I can no longer enjoy so many of the things I used to.

I hit on the idea of a wheelchair over a year ago as I anticipated more travel, and said, Lord, I’d really love a Tilite 2GX titanium chair with tubular arms and swing away footrests, but I could never afford one. I wanted it to be titanium so it would be super light bc I’m not the one carrying it. I haunted a wheelchair website online for weeks and built the model of my dreams and determined that I couldn’t justify spending that much considering that I’m only an occasional wheelchair user.

Then, guess what happened? “My” chair showed up on Craig’s List. Seriously, based on my EBay research, the chances of finding a model with your specs at a discount is slim to none. Ernie and Tanpo took me to see it (near E&R’s house) and I got to test drive it to make sure it fit. A2 was the last person to “seat” me properly, and that was while I was in inpatient at RIO (3rd hospital) – I knew my numbers from then but my situation has changed. Happily, it fit, and Ernie and Daddy took care of the money handling. And then J said she’d bedazzle it for me. We made a day of it and with KAR, who lobbied strongly and successfully for sparkly streamers :).


So I’ve been enjoying my chair ever since! It’s something just for me that is simultaneously meaningful and useful, even if I only use it once in a while.

A few months ago I cried a little and told Mommy, I miss my pretty clothes.

We’ll work on getting you some pretty clothes, she comforted me. But I said, “No, thanks,” bc I don’t really need pretty clothes to live like this. Right now my mindset is: the more I own, the more I need to clean, or move out of the way so I can clean the table etc. Besides, I have already decided on my uniform (all black workout wear) so I don’t have to think – I just grab things and put them on.

One morning I sat in the lobby of The Gym dutifully sipping my Chocolate Ensure since I had just seen Trainer D and am trying to abide by the new liquid protein rule. A cute little kid, maybe 3-4 years old, came skipping up to the chair next to me and his mom busily zipped him up into his coat in preparation for their walk to the car.

He had been sick (his mom kept on feeling his forehead), and he was busily asking her for some chocolate milk as she attended to his coat.

Don’t worry, buddy – we’re going to go get the BIGGEST chocolate milk you’ve EVER seen, she assured him.

But the promise of this future delight was difficult for the boy to grasp. As his coat got zipped up as high as it would go he looked over at me sipping my Ensure, and told his mom in a loud stage whisper full of awe and longing, Look at THAT one.

I laughed and laughed, and told him I was sure his would be a lot yummier than mine. But I’ve thought of that incident for the past week. That kid had only one wish in the world. And I had what he wanted.

I don’t flash back to Medical scenes as often anymore. What has been troubling me lately are flash backs to scenes of every day life – the clothes I used to wear, the handbags I used to carry, the jewelry and shoes I chose so carelessly every day since I fell back on my favorites so often. I knew what worked, and surrounded myself with the wardrobe and teacups etc. that made my life easy and beautiful. It’s all gone now. But I’m learning that I have everything I need. And more.

308.  No Sign of Weakness

308. No Sign of Weakness

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469. A Successful Day


Ed taking a breather at The Running Gym – 3.27.14, right before we went to OR I brought Ed everywhere with me.


A year ago my gait changed for the better after Trainer D introduced me to the Farmer’s Carry and his good friend, the kettlebell. The next week my PT noticed and started talking about throwing me out of rehab so I went to The Gym and had words with Trainer D for hastening the end of my formal Rehab career – a “job” I had gotten comfortable with since it’s the only thing I had known since waking up.

352.  Ed Says, "Well, that backfired, didn't it?"

352. Ed Says, “Well, that backfired, didn’t it?”

I felt like he owed me so I tasked him with helping me learn to run. However, his overwhelming enthusiasm for ORFR concerned me.  I soon decided that I’d rather trust a machine than another person, so I made an appointment to try out my local AlterG within the week.


Happily, the Traffic Cop at The Running Gym is Coach R. You have to get past him in order to use the machine, but I ascertained that he knew he could help me within minutes even though I am nowhere near his regular client population. I sensed favorable brain activity from his line of verbal questioning and physical evaluation. On that very first day he stood in front of me while I was on the elliptical machine and made the same exact form adjustments Trainer D had made a few days before. The second time it happened I figured I should start paying attention more.

Team Tanimal | Ann Ning Learning How

353. Team Tanimal

Coach R showed me around The Running Gym and as I did my first set on the leg press I tried to illustrate my teachable spirit by doing whatever he said and saying, See how well trained I’ve been, R? I know how this gig works. He left me with some papers explaining my two paths: (1) Just running on the AlterG, (2) Training – we’d incorporate the AlterG as my warm up. I indicated that if I were to train it would have to be with him. I waved my hand around the room – “I’m sure these people are proficient,” I said, “but I need you. At this stage in the game I’ve decided to be picky.”


Side note: I’m kind of mean like that but I also quail at my own brassiness.

 I considered my options over the next week and decided I’d try to get Coach R to help me if he was willing to take my case on. So I came in the following week and as I got ready to get in the AlterG I made my sales pitch and asked for his opinion on what to do. I really like people to “opt-in” and try to give them ways to demur gracefully if they choose.

385. Sales Pitch

385. Sales Pitch

This is when Coach R famously said, Well…if you wanna do this RIGHT….

 Snicker, snicker. Now that we have a year of Training under our belts I can freely admit that I was thinking, No, R, I want to do this WRONG.

Side note: Aren’t you thankful that we don’t have thought bubbles following us around over our heads?

After I “ran” he walked with me to the waiting room to meet Tanpo. I breathed a sigh of relief bc I was so pleased to recruit him formally for Team Tanimal.

“I would consider this to be a successful day,” I told him when we reached the desk.

“I would, too,” he said, and we shook hands solemnly.

Last week we celebrated a year of Fun and Games by doing a new exercise. It was a walking lunge – a partial version of a movement I saw him demonstrate for a rehabbing pro athlete on my first day.  My eyeballs almost fell out of my head as I saw him lunging, high-stepping, and twisting with a medicine ball in slow motion with astonishing control.  We were just walking to another part of The Gym and he stopped to demonstrate this in passing. I looked on with interest – this was one of the moments I knew I would benefit from Training with him. If Ed Blueberry had been there I would’ve said, We’re not in Kansas anymore…

He simplified the movement so I just had to lunge and step as low/high as I could, plus I had the benefit of a bracing handhold. Good thing Trainer D had made me do a walking mini lunge exercise while holding a bar (for resistance, not support) this summer that I practice at home. When I’m not holding on to anyone I lunge and step minimally, but with Coach R I could lunge pretty well. It helps that he stands right there, exhorting me to challenge myself, etc.

I lunged semi-respectably, except this one time when my right leg was in front and I went to pick up the left one and there was this loud s c r a p e as my left toe dragged on the floor until it got the message from my brain to lift off the ground. PS. This set of sneakers isn’t doing great. I couldn’t help giggling. Even Coach R chuckled. Pretend like you didn’t see that, R, I said, and we kept on going.

428.  Well-People Problems

428. Well-People Problems

I had noticed that although I was feeling better pain-wise I was having some left leg control issues. My left toes kept on hitting my right leg midstride while I was “running.” What was just some redness at first developed into a significant bruise that evening. It doesn’t hurt but I hope it heals before I see CMD. My left foot also kept on hitting the step when we did step-ups. It was worse than it’s ever been – Coach R actually had to adjust it mid-set.


Overall, though, the tenor of our time has been positive. What was a successful day in February 2014 was the beginning of a successful year. This statement is in stark contrast to how I told Coach R that I was very close to declaring the entirety of 2014 to be a wash out” before Thanksgiving. Yes, I am still frustrated by the things I had hoped to accomplish that did not materialize, but I’m in a better frame of mind now to acknowledge and be thankful for the things that did happen.


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463. Marked Progress

All of this Recovery is exhausting

All of this Recovery is exhausting

I’m feeling so much better now that I’ve got my new doc and Smurfette looking out for me that we’ve moved into a new phase of Recovery.

Trainer D was the one who informed me that now that his wife was presiding over my fuel he was really going to push me. He wasn’t kidding. I hit a new “running” milestone last week and was rewarded with an excruciating set of lunges the next day to strengthen my running gait. It was 4 sets of 10, actually (on each side) – so I was dripping sweat by the 80th and am still sore. I got to hold on to a bar for balance but weight-bearing was a no no and he was not in the mood to let me rest in-between sets, either, which wasn’t fun. I rested anyway after the first two. So there.

Earlier that week I had a physical. I managed to stand on their special scale that tells you all sorts of appalling information you’d rather not know about yourself bc the nurse slid it close to the wall and put her hand out to guard me just in case. Then I had to hold on to this metal thing for what seemed like forever – I watched the computer screen to see the bar approaching the “finish” line to see how much longer I had to stay on. I was sweating bullets then, too.

Over 3.5 years post injury I can finally stand well enough to have my height measured. I shrank. Maybe my bones settled differently or something must have happened bc I lost ¾ of an inch. My BMI just got worse. Oh well, that’s how the cookie crumbles.

That reminds me. When Doc was reading Smurfette’s memo she was just skimming and reading out loud. All I heard was the word, “cookies.” I was like, Booooo. Although Smurfette assures me cookies are okay for me, but just not in mass quantity. I’d like to remind everyone that I was raised by Baker Smurf.

439.  Thanks.  PS this is YOUR fault.

439. Thanks. PS this is YOUR fault.

I was the one who asked Coach R if we could up the ante experimentally after he had remarked in that sad, plaintive voice, We haven’t done the full workout in a long time…

It’s hysterical – after a year of working together he’s starting to speak plainly. There is less code and more “knees up…more control…I wanna see this pace…more agile….”

The tiger is showing his stripes. The muscle memory he regarded with eyes wide a month ago is now simply a reason for him to expect more.

Last week he informed me very calmly, We’re going to do something called “Super Sets.”

The ridiculousness of the name set me off. When the laughing subsided he explained the rapid succession of A and B I was going to repeat for a while. In the middle of A I realized I was extremely hungry and that I should consider eating a bigger breakfast on the days that I “run.” I mean, my Ensure mocha is delicious and all, and I pair it with some oatmeal or a GF waffle, but I have to think of what else to add.

We then talked about what would happen if I came in to the Running Gym for several hours at a time as is the custom for some. I’ve been amusing myself by thinking of the possibilities since then. It would be great.

If I planned on a 3 hour session the first two would be Coach R’s and I’d do whatever he said. This is what happens anyway. But the 3rd hour would be mine.

This is my list of activities and learning modules so far:

11. Wok Breath

11. Wok Breath

  • Hair care
  • Manicures
  • The merits of exfoliation
  • Community reintegration – We can borrow a wheelchair from next door and I’d push him around the neighborhood so I’d be getting exercise
  • Cartoons and Snack Time
  • Coach R needs to teach me to watch Soccer bc it makes me jumpy since people always seem to be getting hurt and they’re not wearing a lot of pads like in American football
  • 121.  How to Eat Ice Cream While Minimizing the Health Consequences

    121. How to Eat Ice Cream While Minimizing the Health Consequences

    Super Sets My Style: e.g. rapid succession of folding towels (I didn’t go to OT for nothing, people!) followed by nap time (for me, not him.  Coach R can use this time to go make some poor injured athlete drag him around the Gym while wearing a harness and “sprinting” with good form.  #TrueStory. PS Coach R does this thing where he leans back until he’s almost supine so the person towing him has to work extra hard.)

  • Bossy Smurf Administration – Powerpoint, Excel, White-Boarding etc. 101 in 20 – minute increments. That’s my limit. At the 20 minute mark I have to get up and stretch/squat. Trainer D has recently put me on an 8-minute schedule. I’m doing it to see if it helps with the pain management but it cramps my style. Example: my timer just went off but I’m kind of busy typing. Grr…

Coach R has a lot to learn. We’d better get started. I explained to him that if I were in charge we’d do things differently: That’s how we play it in Acute Care. Just kidding. I just said, This is what earlier stages of Recovery look like – none of this running around, jumping and squatting business.

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461. Doing My Duty

That's right, P2.  Eyes on the prize.

That’s right, P2. Eyes on the prize.

It has only been a few weeks since I started my new health regimen and I feel SO much better. Of course, I know there is still a long way to go, but after I met my new doctor and spoke with Smurfette the Dietician my blood pressure (which was appallingly high that morning) went down, my pain melted away, and I started resuming the activities I had abandoned as I went downhill at year end.

This is what has been happening:

Jan 7
To: Trainer D
From: Me

Thanks for helping me Mon.  I “ran” better and was feeling good through Tuesday.  My hip started to protest again this (Wed) morning but thankfully I went to see Ninja CMD and she took care of it.  This message requires no email response – I just wanted to ask before I forget and so you can think about it and talk to me later:  I’m concerned that the hip pain is now directly related to my improper body usage/quad dominance whereas prior to this there was no discernible pattern except that it was triggered by stress.  Do you really think the pain I’ve had lately is due to quad dominance, and is it fixable?

Thanks 🙂

To: Me
From: Trainer D

I am pondering. Figure it out we will. Pain free you will be…

I was hurting so badly I sent him that pathetic email on the 7th, but I saw my new doc and Smurfette on the 8th and 9th and immediately felt so much better that I went to The Gym later in the morning of the 9th and informed him I no longer cared about his answer since both issues (stress and quad dominance) should be addressed.

Smurfette has me logging all my food in My Fitness Pal so she can see what I’m eating. To review: the concern is quantity (not enough) as opposed to quality.  I told D this morning that I have trouble staying awake long enough to eat all that food!  This is primarily a Sunday problem since we’re out for most of the day.  I find it much easier to eat and am much hungrier on Training Days.  E.g. On Sunday night I agonized over whether I could get away with not eating that 8 oz of strawberries bc I just wanted to go to sleep.  I decided that since I wouldn’t be red flagged by MFP to go to bed.  PS.  He loved the story about how sometimes I can’t finish all of my Ensure (Active High Protein Low Sugar , Chocolate! Coach R quizzed me on this – not the Chocolate part, the protein part.) upstairs during my extensive grooming routine so I take it to the kitchen and make an Ensure mocha.  🙂

To: Smurfette
From: Me
Re: My Fitness Pal info…

(You’re supposed to log exercise as well as food in MFP.)

…I use placeholders for working out with Trainer D and Coach R bc the app is difficult for me to type in and if I try to enter strength training I don’t know the names of everything we do, can’t remember, etc.  So I’m calling it “Calisthenics.”  I have to remember to tell Trainer D about it in case he might be deeply offended :).  But even though sessions are an hour I count fewer minutes of actual activity since I allow for resting, laughing, stalling, walking in between places etc…

A while later:

… I have not noticed body changes but I HAVE noticed behavioral changes.  Specifically, after I saw [the doc] a couple weeks ago and you (thank you SO much for that quick, informal consult) I felt so much better.  My pain melted away and my blood pressure went down.  I have been uncomfortable for all of Q4 bc I’ve known something was wrong.  Trainer D was brave enough to be a true friend and call me out.  He’s all, I can’t diagnose, I can only recommend….That was code for, if you don’t take action you will never hear the end of this.  So now I feel like things are going in the right direction and I’ve got people lined up to help me transition from survival mode to sustainability.  I’ve resumed my home circuit Training D told me to do, I make more of an effort to fuel up, I have resumed more of the home activities (cleaning, cooking, filing) that really fell by the wayside as my condition deteriorated over the past few months…


…PS.  Let me just say again that I feel LIGHTYEARS better since joining the practice and speaking with you. Thank you!! I saw both Trainer D and Coach R today.  Fun times were had by all.  D was right about the alimentation.  I hate it when D is right.

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