As the year 2019 draws to a close, I have been taking some time to reflect on the major milestones of the year. There was the trip to Miami in February, where I had the pleasure of seeing Greg successfully finish the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents), and where I set a Personal Best for most steps taken in a single day (18,000!). On this trip I really pushed my limits and built up my endurance so I could walk farther distances without breaks.
There was my first round of constraint-induced therapy for my leg in Birmingham, Alabama in March, where I learned how to weight shift on my left side while walking. A subtle improvement, yes, but one that had a major positive effect on my gait.
I started a full-time job as a Junior Underwriting Associate in April, and managed on my own for a weekend away in DC to visit friends. I love my job, and feel blessed to work in an environment with amazing people who are fully invested in my development (and where I can use my Spanish on a daily basis too!).
In June/July I got the Bioness unit to help with my walking, and spent three weeks back in Alabama for a round of intensive constraint-induced movement therapy for my arm. I learned to embrace the Use it or lose it! Motto, and now involve my left hand in functional activities like fixing my hair, zipping my jacket, and tying my shoes. I definitely don’t perform these tasks as well as I used to, but the important thing is that I’m making an effort.
Fast Fwd to October, which was a big month for me. In October I walked in heels at my friend Hannah’s wedding, and then traveled to London to visit my sister and best friend. This was my first time traveling abroad post-stroke, and I managed without my parents. That week, I achieved the goal of independent travel and improved my sense of awareness when navigating crowds. My siblings and I also traveled to Dublin, where we drank Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse, visited Trinity College and saw the Writers Museum. That month, I also rode the subway in New York for the first time without help.
In November I resumed PT to improve my gait while wearing the Bioness, and in December I made it through my first busy renewal cycle at work.
And today, I achieved another recovery milestone while at the gym. I walked three miles in an hour’s time (59:09 to be exact ;)). When I started my workout, I began at my usual 2.5 pace, but decided 15 minutes in that I wanted to set a new standard and push my limits. So I escalated my workout from a speed of 2.5 to 2.8 to 2.9 to 3.1. Aggressive – potentially, but no progress was ever made by staying within your comfort zone. I was feeling good, my Bioness was firing correctly, and I was feeling inspired to end the year on a high note.
3.1 is the fastest speed I have walked at since my injury and one hour without any breaks is the longest I’ve walked on the treadmill. It makes me excited that I was able to walk fast and for extended time without breaks. In PT this month I set a 2020 goal to run a mile by the end of the year. I’m ready to level up, and would love to be able to run again, as it’s something I always enjoyed.
Fast walking is a start, and now that I’m getting more comfortable with the Bioness, I think running might just be feasible. I’m feeling thankful for all the blessings of this 2019 year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish in the 2020 year. New decade, new year, new chance to work hard to achieve our goals. Onward!
PS – If you’re interested in reading more about my journey with recovery and how I try to turn a traumatic experience into a beautiful opportunity for growth, be sure to pre-order your copy of my new book, Fast Fwd: The Fully Recovered Mindset, publishing in April 2020. Only 8 days left to place your pre-order, don’t miss out!