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Life After Paralysis is a blog that represents a variety of paralysis community members. It is a place for open conversation about the issues and the interests of people living with paralysis, their family, friends, caregivers, and the professionals that serve them. Comments are welcome!
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My Public Service

It has been several years since I retired from government service, but I have kept involved through my volunteering on several nonprofit boards and advisory committees. None of those commitments have paid much, in fact they actually pay nothing at all, but it is good to be able to contribute and pay society back in some manner for the good life I continue to live.

I mention that because I received some exciting news last week; I have been invited to step up my level of participation for the good of those of us who are disabled and getting up there in age. Thanks to funding priorities set by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the regional Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Healthy Aging with a Physical Disability is interested in learning if I am too far "over the hill" to recover some of my wellness.
The study will take six months, and I will receive personalized coaching from a wellness coach. I have not had a coach since my short career in intercollegiate athletics decades ago, but I know that good coaching leads to success. I won't even have to sign up for a gym membership to get that coaching, as my coach will travel to my home to evaluate my current condition and lifestyle.

The coach's next steps will probably be cleaning out my snack drawer and turning the resistance up on my Saratoga hand exercise cycle to actually help me build up muscle tone instead of simply going through the motions, which is equally as hard as coasting downhill on a bicycle.
In reality, I know that my diet is pathetic since it consists mainly of snack foods, frozen dinners and leftovers that can be heated up in a microwave. That is the kind of eating that results from cooking with quadriplegia. The sandwich cooks don't even ask me what type of sandwich I want when I visit my local deli, as they know it is turkey with lots of melted cheese. I get a free sandwich after buying six, and I have had several of those free sandwiches in the last year.
The unhealthy parts of my diet probably wouldn't be such a glaring problem if they weren't standalone items. I suppose most people surround those unhealthy items with good foods to at least balance out the colors on their plates. For me, the main course is usually the only course.
Part of my initial wellness evaluation will be to work together with my new coach to set up a wellness goal "action plan." The obvious one is to improve diet and lose weight, and losing a measly 100 pounds would be a great ending to this six-month study. That isn't going to happen, as I shudder to think what that diet might consist of: probably a lot of vegetables and low-fat foods.
The exercise that is normally required for significant weight loss is beyond my imagination, let alone the capacity of these puny arms. My Before and After photos would likely appear to be two Before photos, so I'll need to be sure to wear a different outfit for that After photo shoot so people can tell them apart.
While I'm contemplating what goals to set I might as well request hair regrowth as a wellness goal, and make it grow back with dark hair while at it; that is just as unlikely as finding a "cure" for my Spinal Cord Injury during the 180 days I am being studied. Other possible goals could include lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, but I'm guessing those goals would require the same levels of discipline and restraint as the earlier weight loss and exercise goals. Since I gave up on discipline and restraint several years ago and am not sure I have the energy to try them again, it may be time to seek out other potential goals.
If I could sleep through the night, starting each day fully rested, my life would definitely be better. In trying to find the ideal pillow, I have accumulated a pillow collection rivaling a Bed, Bath & Beyond store, but none seemed to work as advertised. Perhaps eliminating the chronic pain in my neck, arms and shoulders would be possible if I set pain reduction as a goal.
Obviously I have too many potential goals to be able to settle on just one. I will see what my coach has to say about it and let all of you know how I did, at a later date.

© 2014 Michael Collins | Like Mike on Facebook
Posted by Community Admin on Jun 20, 2014 6:36 PM America/New_York