Sunday, June 13, 2021

Six Years and Four Minutes

In July 2015, I first used an FES bike for my legs. Since then, I have regularly used the system and written about on here before. In the nearly six years I have biked, my legs have pedaled over 1,450 miles over hundreds of sessions. Those numbers are impressive and I'm very thankful God has allowed me to do it. However, I have been concerned about other results during my times on the bike.

As a review, the bike provides electrical stimulation to my leg muscles through pads that are placed on them. A motor in the bike moves the pedals while giving stimulation. If my muscles react strong enough to the provided pulse, the motor turns off and my own body does the biking on my own.

Early in 2021, I had a number of times during my 30-minute ride that I would go for a full minute or more on off the motor. My legs responded to the stimulation correctly and were able to bike without the motor taking control. It also meant for nearly 29 minutes I was just along for the ride, but it was at least something. Unfortunately, my legs have gone lazy the last several months and only done 7-30 seconds independently each time. Biking is still great for circulation, some muscle building, and bone maintenance, but it's best if my own muscles can put forth effort and also burn calories.

Thinking to my bike history, it has been 3-4 years since any of my stimulation settings were adjusted. On Thursday, I connected with a remote support therapist from Restorative Therapies (the bike manufacturer). The physical therapist took my history, connected to my bike's computer, and made a few changes. She slowed my speed from 40 RPM to 32, increased the power going to the electrodes, and other adjustments.

As I watched my legs slowly go in circles, I noticed the computer recording much more power coming from my muscles. At the end of the 35-minute ride, they had gone for 2:55 without the motor. On Friday, the time increased to 4:04 without assistance. Both of these times are new records for me in the years I've been cycling. I now go about 0.2 miles less per session with the decreased speed, but I would rather have quality than quantity.

Even though we live in a sin cursed world that includes disabilities, God has not abandoned us. I'm thankful He has provided technology like this bike to help with many areas. I look forward to this week's biking and to see what results come. After years of occasionally burning 0.1 calories, I may even double that amount for a full bite of ice cream!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Finally a Week Alone

With the world shut down last year, very few vacations were made by anyone. It has been getting increasingly difficult for my parents to get away anyway, and they weren't able to go on any of their regular trips. The year is half complete, but they were able to leave last week Sunday afternoon and returned yesterday evening.

The challenge for my parents is finding enough coverage for me when they normally are responsible. Five hours every evening and weekend days are hard to fill for several days in a row. However, for this week, one caregiver agreed to do three nights, my aunt and uncle two nights, grandmother and aunt one night, and another occasional helper Saturday evening. It's a precarious house of cards, but the plan allowed them to be free of the house.

Sunday and Monday evenings were my aunt and uncle for three hours, and one of my older, retired, helpers was going to cover the remaining two hours. Unfortunately, she was sick, and unable to come, but my relatives were okay with staying longer and my day helper Sara covered one of the two-hour slots.

It was a great weather week in Iowa. Part of my household chores was watering flowers and tomato plants in various locations. I made sure they had good drinks and monitored the plants on the deck for at least 30 minutes a day. It meant sitting in the sun and enjoying the outdoors, but I was willing to make the effort.

Living as a bachelor, I tried a few new, and old, recipes for supper and found another option I think my parents would also like. Saturday evening came, and the scheduled caregiver didn't come at her expected time. Calling her, I discovered she wasn't aware she had been scheduled and was already busy with something else. Sara had already been with me for ten hours, but my helper that was feeling ill early in the week was well enough to come and sit with me until my parents returned.

In the quad life, some days get challenging and I have to quickly adapt and come up with solutions. I'm thankful my parents could get away again as they enjoy. The caregiver that helped three evenings is scheduled for surgery in a few days and won't be available again for a few months. Therefore, if they didn't go this past week, my parents may not have been able to go at all.

Now that everything has returned to normal, it's time to get back to other projects. However, those will be saved for future entries.