May 2, 2012:  We took our staff out to lunch for a delayed Administrative Assistants Day and an early Birthday lunch for my wife.  It was an enjoyable time.  We finished the meal and were waiting for the birthday cake, when my wife turned to me and said, “I’ve got a problem.”  An ambulance to the hospital and the clot buster shot. All within 60-90 minutes of the first symptom.

Still she had lost her right side.  Three months later she left the residential rehab facility and finally returned home.

While we waited for out-patient rehab to be approved, we started going to the gym, a local Retro Fitness.  First it was only the treadmill on days that she did not have rehab.  But as the “approved” amount of rehab faded, we started to expand her workout.

It was lucky that I had been exercising for the prior 5 years and had spent time actually reading and learning about exercise.  I was able to apply that knowledge to her needs.  The key thing that I needed to understand was functionality and how to build on it.  All my knowledge would have been for naught if she was not willing to work.  Thankfully she was.

Progress was slow.  Small advances – but they built one on the other.  Finally she started driving.  That gave her the freedom to move back into the community and seek out activities beyond the house.

With all the workouts, what I could give her was limited.  She needed movement – not just the one direction movement of a treadmill or an elliptical machine or a recumbent bike.  She needed the ability to Dance.

Our Retro Fitness outfitted a classroom with a Screen and a DVD projector.  You could choose your own program.  I was not impressed.  Classes need teachers.  Classes need others to provide the dynamic.  She tried it – but getting the room when it was not being used by gym rats working out to an advanced program was tough.  When we could get an empty room, she did not enjoy it.  Her legs and arms would not move the way they had – she had been a top-notch dancer.

Finally, they started live Zumba classes.  She was not interested until my daughter cheered her on and encouraged her to try it.

The classes are during the work day, so I could not accompany her.  The first time, I snuck into the gym and watched her.  Sad.  But – she was toughing it out.  It has been a couple of months since she started.  She goes twice a week.  Once on a day that she also exercises and the other on a non-exercise day.  No question – the live classes are what she needed – what I could not give her.

Since starting Zumba, she has regained the ability to jump – forward – backward – side to side.  Then jumping jacks.  The other day – while we were in the kitchen – I glanced over and saw her doing dance moves. Tap, step, tap step, break step.  I applauded and she did more – moves we’ve done on the dance floor.

At the gym this morning, we expanded on those movements – fantastic – she did what she could not do 6 months ago.

Did you ever think that Zumba could be a stroke recovery exercise?  Not me – but – never limit your thinking or limit what you believe you can accomplish.

To quote her doctor on watching her jump – “Amazing.”

Tomorrow is her 70th birthday – Happy Birthday Sweet Heart.

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