By Dave Denniston
I promised I wouldn’t make all of these things about me, but I had a huge breakthrough last week! As many of you may have read, I took 76 steps at a fundraiser for Project Walk (www.projectwalk.org) last Wednesday in six minutes and thirty seconds.
My trainer, Lauren, told me two weeks before the event that she wanted me to take steps at the benefit and that she would help me do it. Since my ultimate goal is to walk again, I was not opposed to this idea. I just didn’t expect it to start happening so soon. I still feel like I’m hovering every time I stand up because I can barely feel anything in my legs. I agreed to the idea, thinking that I would take 20 steps at the most.
For two weeks I tried and tried to learn the balance and coordination required to use a walker without feeling my legs and making my body go forward, but not falling over. The trainers at Project Walk were treated to the athletic agility and coordination only a swimmer of my caliber can produce. They were not impressed. Some of them even commented that it would be easier to teach a Chimpanzee to do the salsa.
The week of the event, last week, I finally found the rhythm, and took a couple steps each day to practice. It’s a lot like breaststroke, I just had to kick my hands forward… or in this case, step the hands forward. (I’m still trying to figure out where I can implement this new dolphin kick rule).
The day of the event, three groups of people demonstrated their walking skills. Mike Thomas, Project Walk’s first client, took 2,000+ steps out in front of the building from the Deli to the Center. Two others followed behind him. Then a group that has been taking steps of up to 200 or so walked around the building.
Then it was the “First steppers”, of which I was literally a rookie. I looked at a pole in the middle of the room and thought it would be fantastic if I could reach that pole. This looked like way more than 20 steps, but I was game. Then I heard the trainers say, “Okay, you guys are going to try and walk from here to that SECOND pole.” I looked beyond my initial goal at the horizon nearly 500 miles away and saw the dreaded SECOND pole.
I stood up at my walker, and since my feet still drag my trainers helped me place them and kept me from rolling an ankle. Then I started locking and unlocking my knees as I’ve practiced before and putting one leg in front of the other. I also had to keep pushing my hips forward, or as Lauren says, “Send your butt forward”. Slowly but surely, I was making steps toward the pole. I’m not the greatest guide with the walker, and I spent several steps walking toward the door, then to the wall, then the window and eventually toward the second pole.
At about 50 steps my body was starting to indicate that it had had enough of this business and was ready for a nap. I pushed it, and that familiar feeling of the last 25 of a 200 breaststroke when you go out in 53.68 was starting to set in. I knew this pain. The second pole was in sight, even within reach. A few steps later, and a lot of sweat, I had reached the SECOND pole!
Now I’m expected to take a hundred steps of course.