Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski
Concerned about how easily I get short of breath, I asked my physical therapist to help me improve my breathing. I regretted the words almost as soon as they came out of my mouth. My therapist looked way too happy.
With my upcoming knee surgeries, I couldn’t walk the treadmill or pedal the bike fast enough to get my heart rate up. Instead, my therapist put me on a hand cycling machine to improve endurance and tone muscles. My job is to push the handles forward and then backwards, rotating them in circles, as fast as I can, for three minutes each. How hard could this be? I am seated and don’t even use my legs.
I started going flat out. My therapist cautioned me to slow down as l had a long way to go. What does she know, I scoffed. Apparently a lot more than me. My breathing quickly became labored and I began gasping for air. My mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton balls, and by the end of the first two minutes, I was begging for a water break.
“You can have a break when you finish your six minutes,” my therapist told me. “Keep going strong.”
Was she kidding? I was sure I was going to die before my time was up, and I let everyone else in the room know it, too. Obviously I underestimated my abilities because I not only survived, but continue to improve every time I get back on the cycling machine.