Peaking Around a Corner?

…As in, maybe turning a corner a little.

I started this project about six weeks ago and have been skating 7 times. All this time, the skating itself has been kind of boring because it was just lousy and pain-ridden forward skating around and around and around. Not too exciting. Most of this time has been dealing with foot pain, equipment problems, fatigue, and getting used to rink dimensions and  sensory overload and how to manage it, and finding good ice time. As far as the skating itself, I haven’t seen any improvements.

But I’m starting to. My boots are still not foot paradise, but they improve greatly after just about ten minutes or less. I am no longer skating with an hour of severe foot pain followed by days of mild to moderate lingering pain. I have sore muscles in my legs, but that pain is not that big of deal to me and I know it will improve.

I had a long way to go to get my skills back. But I can see improvements in my basic stroking and have been able to work on Basic Skills stuff. I can feel my right side getting stronger.

Ice time is ok for now. The Lloyd Ladies (and men) are all pleasant and I have enjoyed meeting them. I had my first group lesson with them yesterday and there are some minor kinks to work out with being able to follow along with the lesson, but it was good to be in it. Lessons help push you further than sometimes you would have pushed yourself that day. I need to arrange for someone to tell me when it starts and when its “my turn” because I can’t tell otherwise. I also had too many helpers. They were all well-meaning, but if 4 people are surrounding me trying to tell me what is going on, I have no chance of hearing/seeing ANYTHING. I need just one person so I’m going to have to kindly manage some of my overabundance of help!

I long for fast-paced big ice, but I don’t need it yet. If/When I do, I will relook at my rink options or add to the Lloyd Ladies. But for now, Lloyd Ladies are fine. I’m a bit concerned about Lloyd Ice, though. Now that I’ve walked through the mall with my son, Naim, I realized that the mall is not dead, but is “sick.” Its got really only one anchor store, which is Macy’s, and Macy’s is struggling. Several vacant spaces exist throughout the mall. And now with the other rink closing soon, what will become of it. Seriously, they should take one of the big vacant stores and make two big standard sheets of ice on it. And then try to get a fitness club in there as well. Think of all the people that would bring in to the stores! But, for now, I’m hoping Lloyd holds out for me and the others who skate there and/or someone can work out a new rink or two in this town. Calling Tonya Harding! Did your movie make you any money, Tonya? Can you invest it into a new rink? I’ll come! I’ll bring my friends!

But I digress…

My biggest challenge so far has been scheduling and fatigue issues. Even there, I see a little bit of improvement, although its not worked out, yet. I read up on exercise fatigue, kidney disease and fatigue, etc. I realized that I developed a low RBC and had to take epoetin shots the last time I was skating heavily. But it also was a time when I had kidney stones and went through 4 kidney surgeries in a matter of 8 months, so that was probably the more likely cause. (And I don’t remember falling asleep immediately after skating back then, just overwhelming tiredness all the time, but I skated when I could still.) So, I get blood work about every 2 to 3 months and I will check my RBC next time, but I’m leaning more towards this being exercise fatigue. I’m thinking of dropping pilates for the time being, but then just yesterday after I skated, I was tired and not fully functional, but I could get a few tasks done in the afternoon and I did not fall asleep, so maybe there is improvement already. I tried to drink more water during skating, have a small snack immediately after, and some of the other tips that they say can help exercise fatigue, but its not like I’m brand new to exercise, either. So its still a bit up in the air, as is scheduling to both get everything else done and to not overdo it to the point of being dysfunctional. It might kind of be a day-by-day or week-by-week thing for awhile.

I sometimes have tiredness and “oh, god, do I really want to get my ass out of here to skate?” feelings in the morning, but once I get there, I’m fine. I no longer feel anxious about the skating itself, although I’ve struggled with guilt and anxiety over sleeping too much, being gone too much, not getting as much done at home. But hopefully I can get rid of that. There is something nostalgic about walking through Holiday Park and a mall by myself with my dog and skating bag to the rink. It brings back so many memories of my single, child-free days. I am getting kind of protective over that time, and it does help with my overall day-to-day anxiety and enjoyment of life. I’d be on the ice every day if I could, but for now, I am just happy to start feeling the skating high that comes with a level of comfort and confidence on the ice.

Weekly Wrap-Up 5/Goals Week 6

I got so caught up in the new boot business that I forgot to do this, so very quickly:

Week 5 was just a lot of working on foot exercises, resting my foot, and getting used to the new skates. I skated one time, which I already wrote about. I FINALLY, did a pilates reformer class, which worked mostly on arms but was good. I did lots of StretchIt app and, I think, one Daily Burn and took a couple of walks. But because I spent a lot of last weekend and Monday/Tuesday resting my feet, exercise was a bit on the light side.

This week:

  • Skate Monday (I already did this). It went well. I got about 1 hour and 15 minutes in. I took less breaks and worked on lifting my left foot in a proper stroke instead of dragging it along for the ride. Its got a ways to go, but was an improvement. Also worked on other Adult Basic 1 stuff like “rocking horses”, dips, snowplow stops.
  • Pilates on Tuesday or Wednesday;
  • Skate Thursday. This will include my first group lessons with the Ladies of Little Lloyd. (aka: the Hooky Club) If I get the chance, I want to see what that pro (I think her name is Jane) thinks of my blade mount. I still need to get it permanently mounted at Valley with my pro shop guy, Jim.
  • Continue with stretching on the other days, also work on developing an off-ice routine to strengthen my ankles, legs and flexibility. (I downloaded Sk8strong’s Guide to Off-Ice Conditioning, but I haven’t really looked at it yet.) This maybe something I can do at the gym while kids are playing basketball because they have the bosu balls and stuff like that available.
  • Continue working on stamina and management of other stuff around this “project.” Okay, I failed this today. I came back home and slept! : ( But I did leave plenty of work for the kids to do while I was gone). Seriously, though, this needs to get under control and quick. Maybe it will be easier when I work through the summer. But damn. “Staying awake all day.” should not have to be a goal.

Mostly, the next couple of weeks will be working on getting used to my skates, strengthening my legs, and working on Adult Basics. And STAMINA. I mean, geeeeeeesh!

High Tech DeafBlind Ice Skating/Sports?

Here is my brain fart for today.

So, I notice that I am very slow on the ice. Part of this is because I suck right now. But part of this is the level of concentration it takes for me to be aware of where I am and what goes on around me. My brain can only process so much of the veiled visual, audio and tactile cues that I get in order to keep oriented. This has gotten a lot worse than in the past. And though I know that my speed could get better after I get “back to it” and get some of my basic skills back, I question if it will because of the speed I need to go to keep orienting.

My husband and I run an adaptive tech business. He is the tech guru, I provide administrative support. So often when I come up with a challenge like this, I think to myself, “ok, how could tech help?” And then I go to my in-house tech guru and see what he has to say.

Micronavigation is all the rage in tech right now in blindness adaptive tech. Its an emerging industry and it has not reached its full potential yet. But it may be promising for the future. There has been tech that has helped blind people by leaps and bounds when dealing with more outdoor “macro” travel. GPS on iphones and mapping apps have helped tremendously. One of the most widely used ones is called BlindSquare. This app takes crowd sourced navigation information and puts it in your ear. For example, you can be walking down the street and it will say “SW 5th Avenue, 20 ft ahead.” or “Jamba Juice at 3:00.” It will also give you turn by turn directions.We have used it to navigate around Chicago’s Botanical Gardens and even to find our way back to our son’s sand castle after a beach walk by setting a “beacon” at that point.

I am at a disadvantage with blind square because I can’t hear it outside. It can work clumsily with a braille display, and this is one of the things I have been bugging the company about. I can still use it, but I have to set it to give me a very low amount of info at once and then stop often for the braille to keep up with it. This is typical for DB people. We usually have to wait for developers to remember we exist, too.

Another option for me is to set up directions in maps and then use an apple watch to give you tactile prompts for when to turn left and right and other information. This has been great for many deaf blind people. I don’t have an apple watch–not at all because I just spent $500 on skates! But someday, I will get one. The tactile cues for deaf blind people and their applications keep getting better and better.

But micro navigation is giving information about the so-called “last 30 feet,” such as the door to the store you want to go into or the evevator or bathrooms in a building. Blindsquare has used a technology called iBeacon to label hotel rooms in a conference or even gates at an airport. Here is a short video that shows how it works:

So, I started thinking about whether this could be useful in a rink setting.  Could I put beacons on the rink to send tactile info to my apple watch to give me location information? And if I got used to this, could I then skate faster? Like, what if there were beacons on the four “corners” of the rink and when I got near them, I would get a different kind of pulse on my watch? It would be another (less distracting) set of orienting information. Hmmmm….

I don’t think the technology is there quite yet. It might be more like nano-micronavigation? (Someone can let me know if it is!) But who knows what could happen in the next few years. And maybe this could work with other sports and rec activities like soccer (on the goals) or basketball or the gates on ski slopes, etc. It would take a lot of goofing around with, but an interesting concept may be coming down our way.

Little Victories

So here are some of my first few minutes on the new skates:

First Skate in Edeas from Lisa Ferris on Vimeo.

Now, I understand that this is completely and objectively unimpressive, but for me, it represents several minor victories.

Backing up, I ended up needing counseling over these boots! Not psychological counseling, but boot expertise. I had been wearing them around the house and they were just KILL.ING.ME. So much foot pain! And I was completely depressed and thought I had made a terrible decision and blah, blah, blah.

So, I talked with an online pro tech guy, who schooled me about the difference with Edeas and what everyone gets wrong about lacing their skates. He said I was lacing them too tight and that I was causing potentially permanent damage to my foot. But, I argued, when I lace them loose, I can’t even walk in them! I’m wobbling all around like a newbie on rentals! He says the problem is with my weakling, wobbling ankles, not the skates. And if I would just lace the skates right, eventually I would be able to stand in them and skate in them comfortably as my ankles and legs got stronger.

This corresponded, interestingly enough, with a guy I met at Valley last week. His daughter came up to me to ask about my guide dog, and I ended up getting into this whole conversation with him about speed skates. He was wearing speed skates, and I had never really seen them before. Maybe I knew the they did not come above the ankles??? But this is the kind of detail I can’t see on TV. So he totally let me check out his skates by touching them and he was explaining them to me, the very, very long blades, the “slap” part where the blades disconnect from the back heal, and the low, shoe-like boot. I was all, “how do you STAND in them?” I pretty much thought skates had to put your ankles in a head-lock of death to work and that is just the way it was. He said that you just do after a while. Your ankles get strong enough to support regular skating on them. They would not be good for jumps, where you need to land with a lot of support, but you can skate without ankle support.

This, apparently, is what you are supposed to do with the Edeas. Be like Maya Usova, said the skate pro guy. Apparently she wouldn’t even lace her skates up the hooks so she had more foot freedom. You are supposed to keep the toes loose, the bend of the ankle tight but not strangled, and the hooks loose.


Well, I was too chicken to do it at first, and I went around the whole rink with my feet hurting so bad, I couldn’t get off and unlace them fast enough. Then I decided to be brave. I laced them like they said, I walked to the ice as wobbly as a person wearing broken down rentals. And I skated! And that is what you see above. It feels quite weird, I can’t hardly pick up my feet. But I can tell that if I work on it, I will develop the muscles to do it. It started hurting different muscles after a while. Like my shins and quadriceps. But it was the kind of pain like, I’m sore because I haven’t used these muscles in awhile, not like I’m going to get gangrene. It was a pain I could handle. I can tell it puts me in a deeper knee bend in the skates, which is good for everything.

The blades weren’t that hard to get used to…yet. I mean, I’m not doing anything. So they aren’t really being tested. I can tell that they are different. I was trying 3-turns and Mohawks on the wall and I could tell that they are much more maneuverable than my old blades. So glad I’m going to relearn on these from the beginning now.

Another minor victory was that I was very sick that day and I went out anyway and still completed my goals. When you have a chronic illness, this is a constant management issue. How much do you push yourself when you feel lousy? I grew up thinking I was lazy and useless and I skipped a lot of school, so I have this constant thing in my head that if I don’t meet a commitment or show up for something it is because I am being lazy and taking the easy way out. But, then one day a long time ago, I was in my office job in such kidney pain from chronic kidney stones I was awaiting one of many surgeries on, and I was laying on my office floor doing work because it was the only position I could stand. And I thought, all those people who called me lazy NEVER went to work like this, and I do regularly. So screw them.

It was still a balance that was hard to find. I have always had orthostatic hypotension. Most of the time, its not a big deal. I manage it without anyone noticing several times a day, every day. But sometimes, when I have other stuff going on, it gets pretty bad. Once, I was in a meeting (with important outsider types) and I got up and was so dizzy and about to pass out that I slammed into a wall. Just a few minutes later, I was fine. But my co workers (after making sure I was ok) were really upset with me. They were saying how bad it looked and how I looked drunk and how I need to be responsible and stay home if I am that sick. But orthostatic hypotension is not really being ‘sick” I argued, its just a few minutes out of my day where I need to take a few seconds of  extra time. But you LOOK really sick, they said. Oh. So that is what counts. Got it.

Its hard to balance how you look, how you feel, what you could do in a different, less socially acceptable  position (laying down) or with a flexible schedule and short breaks. Its hard to be really honest with yourself and know when to push and when to stay home as to not get any worse. Its hard to commit to people when you don’t know from day to day if you will be able to meet the commitment. This is probably why I’ve arranged my life so that my schedule is very flexible and I can work from home and take on projects that I know I can do as they come up.

But sometimes I wonder, since I’ve been fortunate enough to make this flexible schedule for myself if I still can push through or if I’ve gotten too soft. I want to keep that muscle of being able to push through. And on this day, I did. I had hardly slept because I had a really bad headache to the point where I was nauseous, but I got up and went anyway, and it was difficult, but I accomplished my goal of getting over my fear of these skates.

Skating is a metaphor for pushing myself socially, physically, and emotionally outside of my comfort zone. And this was a day I did all of those things. Funnily enough, 2 other people there were breaking in new skates, too. I was having a really tough time communicating with them because the sicker I feel, the worse I see and hear, but we did manage to bond a bit over our silly little boot crises.

I have a lot of work ahead to build the muscles to get used to these boots, but this was a major hurdle, with a lot of tiny victories.


New Skates!

I knew that I was going to have to get new skates if I started skating regularly again. My feet have changed too much in 20 years with age and pregnancies and etc. The question was when and what and how much.

As a deaf blind person that takes public transit and walks with a guide dog, I need working feet. There is a risk to skating, namely orthopedic injuries that affect my ability to walk. I’ve had two major orthopedic injuries in my life. One was a skating injury in which I sprained some ligaments around my knee. I ended up wearing an immobilizer for several weeks, and although I could walk in it, it was laborious and made me feel even more disabled while trying to get around. The other was a (not skating related) broken foot a couple of years ago, when I was on crutches for a while. This brought my life to a complete standstill. I can’t walk on crutches without using a cane or guide dog and there is no way to do it with hands tied up in crutches. I did uber a few places but the whole thing was pretty limiting. (Now, I see that they have these hands-free leg braces that allow people with below the knee injuries to get around without crutches. This would have helped me a lot!)

I’ve also had ongoing plantar facsiitis problems related to skating. This has required me to use orthotic inserts in my shoes and sometimes wear shoes all the time in the house. I haven’t had this in years, but as I started skating in my old boots, guess what? Its back.

All this is to say that my mobility is extremely important to me and I have to balance that with the inherent risk of skating. I was going to wait longer to get new skates, but with the plantar issue flaring, the old skates causing issues and every single skating person in the know and their DOG telling me I was stupid to wait, relearn my skills, then have to start all over again, I decided to go ahead and get new skates. The choice was really to get new skates now or quit this project all together.

So, I went for Edea Overtures with a Reidell Eclipse Dance blade. This is a big difference and so the time to do something big and different is NOW, not later. This combo costed about $550. Yes. I know. But honestly, I was being economical in my purchase. Skating is an expensive sport. My original covet was Edea Flamenco Dance boots with an MK Dance blade. That would have ran me about $1200 and would have definitely been overdoing it for my level.

I chose Edea over the Reidells because of the promise of easier break in and the reports of quality and longevity. I chose the Eclipse because they were about $250 cheaper than almost all MK or Wilson blades. I don’t pretend that skates are anything but a frivolous hobby purchase. But if I am going to do a frivolous hobby, I need to do it comfortably and with reduced risk of injury. You know, I’ve  never bought a car, I’ve never bought a single piece of clothing over about $200. I’ve never bought more than about $1000 worth of furniture or home improvements at any time. My kids are well fed and clothed and have enough extra for some extracurriculars. We go on one or maybe two small, close by vacations every year. My husband and I work hard. I’m not going to feel too badly about this. If it sounds like I’m defending this purchase, I am. But I know the comments I will get. And, yes, I suppose this could all be a bust and I could get a major injury next week and my “skating career reboot” would end in a bang and a whimper, but I’d rather say that I tried my best and it didn’t work out and I’m out some money than not ever try anything at all. I have found that if you try something, you will get some level of success and value out of it in some way, even if its not what you expected.

My plantar issue is bad enough this week that with it and the new skates and some other work I need to do, I’ve decided to take a week off of skating, continue doing my stretching and pilates, work out my feet and wear shoes constantly to recover from the foot pain, and wear the skates around the house a bit each day.

I can already tell from just wearing the boots around the house that this is going to be a Really Big Deal. Like, I see frustration and failure in my future with these. Skaters have been telling me their horror stories of tears on the ice and their need for counseling sessions after getting new skates. I’m hoping it won’t come to THAT, but I’m prepping emotionally for a restart and a lot of woes and blows posts. I’m getting advice to only go out with them with a pro initially, since I idon’thave one, I don’t know if thats realistic, but its setting me up to expect failure and frustration for a while and that this is going to take TIME.

Here is a total geek out video of me describing my new skates.

New Skate Geek-Out from Lisa Ferris on Vimeo.

The second I took my skates off the towel, my guide dog decided it was her personal bed. LOL.





Weekly Wrap-Up 4

A lot has happened this week! Both good and not so good. But I met all but one of my goals for Week 4, I tried to make up for that today, and it ‘kinda” worked.

So, to jump right in, on Monday I skated with the hooky club. I really liked that and the people and staff were nice and with the exception of that small rink, it is a very good deal for me. I enjoy people who just try their best to improve themselves, have a good time, make and achieve some goals, no matter what their age or disability or whatever. I am not the only visually impaired person there (Nik: should I send some brochures with you? Our company provides blindness skills training.) Anyway, one of them is working on dance, moves in the field, etc like I want to. Of course she is way ahead of me, but it gives me something to aspire to.

I also learned that they do a group lesson on Thursdays, some of them take private lessons during that time, and they skate all through the summer! This may be my saving grace for summer, since I thought that I might be screwed with kids out of school. But they buy the ice time, so they are the only ones on the ice. On Monday, I think there was about ten people, and once they get to know me a bit better, they will all figure out the best way to stay out of my way or tell me they are coming so I will have an easier time keeping track of where people are. They all skate fairly well to very good. Its the best ice time deal that I have found.

I’ve tried getting a pro at valley but I’ve been completely ignored. I get it on a level. I’m just some old person that is not going to advance their careers or anything. I will not pay their mortgage but I could buy them a nice dinner once or twice a month, right? Or maybe they just can’t take on any more students. In any case, just telling me a polite “no” would be appreciated. But I’ getting the complete brush off. They let me skate there, but they otherwise completely ignore me. Its fine. I was happy to see that Lloyd has pros that work with some of the older students.

Also, I skated at Valley on Friday, and although I totally knew there was no school on Friday in relation to my kids, it didn’t register what that would mean on the ice. Dumb, dumb, dumb. So, I got up to go to Valley on Friday and although I skated, it was a lot of kids and it was difficult. I did not get to start on anything, really. But I stayed to wait until the pro shop opened, so I got about an hour in.

I decided that for the time being, I am going to do both days at Lloyd with the hooky club and pretty much drop valley. I may still skate there sometimes when I need a skate sharpening or something. I like the guy in the pro shop. Or I may come back later when my skills are better, but for now I will stay in Little Lloyd with the Little Ladies.

I did track my food, I lost a small amount of weight, I did exercise all of the other days. But I missed pilates. This time it was my fault, not theirs. I had been working on a sore throat all week and felt like I was getting sick. So I took the day off from heavy exercise. I did take a walk that day, and today I tried a yoga class to make up for it. But my yoga class (called restorative yoga) was a little TOO restorative. It was basically taking a nap in different positions. Oh, I know it was really meditation, and I see its place. But it was not a workout.

So I did 3 hrs and 53 minutes of working out. This is not counting the yoga class from today. Tracking food went well and it was also good for me to see that I have stayed within my protein limits. BP is fine. My biggest challenge for the week ahead is….

I got new skates! And I’m scared to death to try them out! I’ve just been wearing them around the house. Its a big change but I needed to do something because I was getting a flare up of my plantar fasciitis of old. This week is going to be a bit weird, so I don’t have a firm plan yet. It might just be letting my feet heal while wearing the new boots a bit every day. Its a set back that I hope will work out for the best in the long run. I will write more about my new skates later, but for now…here is a funny preview one of my kids took of me wearing my new skates in the living room after coming home from yoga today.

Goals: Week 4

This is a new thing I am aiming to do; to commit to some goals for the coming week. Here we go:


  1. Skate Monday with the Hooky Club. My only thing here will be to just go with the flow and see if this is a good fit for me. It sounds like it. They say there are six to eight adults on the ice, no jumps or spins allowed. They get the whole rink to themselves for 1:30. I’ve been invited to try it out and have talked to the main organizer. My only concern is that I want to work out, not socialize too much. I liked hanging out with adult skaters before. I was fine with a bit of small talk or helping each other spot or give advice on an element we were working on. I enjoyed going to coffee afterwards with them. But I hated it when all they wanted to do was stand around on the ice and chit chat. So, I’m hoping that is at a reasonable level. But I get two “tryouts”to decide if it is a good fit, and I’ll just go with the flow for now.
  2. Group Pilates Reformer on Wednesday. Crossing fingers to hope this works out at my gym. They have a poor record with me here. If, for some reason its another bust, I will work on TRX or swim or something else there.
  3. Skate Friday at Valley and actually start working on things. I’ll be starting with going through the Adult Basic series that USFSA provides. Adult 1 is, getting up after a fall, forward marching, forward two-foot glide, forward swizzles, rocking horse, Dip, and snowplow stops. I can do all of this already, but I will just go through the list and prove it to myself. I’ll also start working on establishing a workout routine.
  4. Staying awake after skating, even if I just come home and veg.
  5. Track my food
  6. Do StretchIt and/or Fitbit Coach on my off days. (10-20 minutes)

I’ve had a lot of guilt for taking so much time to myself with this, but I relieved that by making my husband also join a sport. Ha! Canceled out guilt! He also needs to relieve stress, get exercise and work on his blood pressure. So, he is going to try dragon boating, which is super big around here. He’s been kind of a snob about it, because when he lived in Toronto he started Blind Sailing Canada and sailing is better than rowing, blah, blah, blah. But he likes being on the water, rowing would be really good exercise, he likes hanging out with other people, so he is going to try that. There are a bunch of blind dragon boating teams, but he actually found one that has one other blind person but its not a “blind team.” This way, they already know how to accommodate a blind team member, but it isn’t blind people 24/7 for him (because he works with blind people all day.) A good balance. So, I’m excited that he is going to try this out. It happens in the evenings, so schedule-wise, it works. And the kids will deal….: )

Weekly Wrap-Up 3

All in all a good week. Goals of getting to both rinks and getting comfortable with them were met. My total exercise time was 3:30, with something done all seven days. Two skating sessions, 4 Stretch-It Sessions and 3 Fitbit Coach Sessions. Blood pressure was in the 117/75 area, which is good. My weight continues to rise at a bit of an alarming rate. Its not as if I’m pigging out or anything. So I’m going to go one more week and start tracking my food again. I would have to take this data to the doctor anyway, so I’ll get a week or so down and then see where I am next week.

I can’t be building all this muscle weight, can I? LOL. By the way, the only restriction I have on fitness as far as being a kidney patient is that I can’t lift weights. I have about a 25 lb. “everyday lifting” limit, which is just what you can carry around. I still drag around 40lb bags of dog food but I try to drag them or push them rather than dead lift anything that heavy. It has more to do with the restriction of proteins and that my muscles have more trouble repairing themselves after a sudden “trauma” which is what heavy weight lifting really is at the muscular level. My kidneys spill protein and I also have a 20% (of my daily calories) restriction on eating protein, so that is the kidney concern, that the burden on my muscles to rebuild cannot be too much, too fast. Also there is concern about inflammation and my back. So, that is it. I can do “body weight” exercises, like TRX or Pilates, where I am lifting my own weight. But it is a matter of pacing and not increasing the exercises too much too quickly. But no bench presses or leg presses on the big machines. Otherwise, exercise is good for kidney patients.

This is why my stretching and fit coach apps are only 10 to 15 minute things. They are just enough to get my body and circulation moving, get all the kinks out, but not over stress me for the longer workouts like skating or an hour long yoga class (after walking a mile to the gym.)

As far as anxiety, I was laughing when I was on the train going to skating because I was having such anxiety about skating but skating was supposed to be helping my anxiety. I was like, I just got my skates sharpened! Am I going to crash and die? Am I going to bumble around and smash into someone and something? How will I know when to get off the ice when its zamboni time If I can’t hear the PA and don’t notice the others leaving? Will I be able to find the bathrooms? The lockers? Will the lockers be accessible? Will the staff help me if they aren’t? Am I going to look ridiculous (probably)? Am I going to get treated badly by the staff? Why am I even doing this? I have other things I need to do! But both times, after I got out there and skated for about 5 or 10 minutes, my anxiety went away. So, hopefully, the on the train to the rink anxiety will go away as it becomes more routine.

In any case, this was the week that this blog started actually being a SkateTherapy blog and I actually got out on the ice.


Rink B Trial

One of the pictures of the back of me.

Another good day skating. I went to Valley today and skated for about an hour. This is a real rink that took less energy to figure out because the size and shape felt very familiar and its bigger so more forgiving.

Still I just skated around, did a bit of backwards skating, but that was about it. Just trying to acclimate and get familiar with the rink. I did not get a chance to talk to staff, because they seemed to all be out coaching skaters. They sort of use this public session as a freestyle session, so it isn’t busy but you have to watch for fast moving skaters doing doubles. I’m not ever going to do doubles, but I did see a lot of skaters working on stuff I used to work on, and there was even an older gentleman getting coached. I liked his coach, so I think I found out who she is and I emailed her. I kind of use coaches and private coaching as guides. Group lessons don’t work well for me anymore, and if I am going to have to pay someone to guide me, they might as well coach me while they are at it. I don’t really need a guide every second, but to practice some things, I think I will need a guide.

My son came with me, and I asked him to take some video of me just to get a beginning baseline. But I should have given him more direction because he just took a bunch of pictures of my backside and took a bit of video that I didn’t know he was taking (I tried to do some nice stroking but by the time he took video, I thought he was DONE taking video.!) Anyway, I felt good and skated longer today.

I still came home exhausted and slept for 2 hours. This is a weird side effect I hadn’t planned on. Its not like…taking a walk for an hour will make me that tired, or even going and taking a class at the gym. So I’m not sure what gives? Its a level of tired where I can’t function unless I just go to sleep for a while. I’m thinking it is more about the mental work more than the physical work. I’ll maybe try getting to bed earlier the night before skate days or hopefully when I get more comfortable it will get better. When I get off the ice it is more that I can’t think anymore than that my legs are tired or I’m out of breath or anything. Weird.

So, my tentative plan now is to try hooky club at Lloyd on Mondays and then skate Valley on Fridays and see how that works.

Some bad news I just heard today, though, is that a local rink (too far for me but in the metro area) is closing at the end of August. This is bad because all of those skaters will have to be redistributed around and it makes for busier, more crowded rinks. Its also sad, just because, even though I’d never been to that rink before, a lot of people I knew went there when my old rink closed and now its another shrinking of the available ice. There should always be LOTS of ICE!!!

Return to Skating 4/6/2018 from Lisa Ferris on Vimeo.

And, Finally…

…I went skating. By myself. Then came home and collapsed and slept for three hours.

I was too scared to try to take video out on the ice, so here is proof that I actually skated today. It shows my skates with the rink in the background.

But I feel pretty good about it. I went to Lloyd and skated for about 45 minutes. All I did was skate forward and try to get used to that weird-shaped rink. I talked to the staff and they are all good with me. They will stash my dog next time and were very friendly and encouraged me to try “hooky club” and they gave me info about that.

I got off about a half hour later than I had planned, but I had to get three kids out and going this morning, first. But I settled on the train with a book and the ride does not seem that long if I’m occupied. I travel without my dog and with a cane on occasion, its not as if I can’t do it, but it takes a lot more work and concentration. Just stuff like, it took me forever to find the thingy that scans your fare card at the train station. With my guide dog, I just tell her to find it and she walks over and stands next to it and “points” at it with her nose. So it was constant little stuff like that.

Concentration would be the word for today. A tremendous amount of energy and focus was needed. I haven’t been to Lloyd for….I’m going to say about 7 years. Its still a pretty active mall, its not dead. Its both the same and different as when I used to skate there often. I kept waiting for steps and fountains and other key things that I used to use as a guide that don’t seem to be there anymore. But it was also very familiar. I walked around the whole new skating area/benches/locker/restrooms for a bit, just to get used to it. All of this with my cane, before I went up and paid for my public session. When I got there, there was only about 3 or 4 people on the ice and they were all decent skaters, but soon, little kids and families came who could not skate. Always more trouble for me are little kids who can’t skate. They are so short and unpredictable! I guess for some districts, it is still Spring Break they said. So there were not a huge amount of people, but more than usual.

Skating in the oval was weird. At first, I just swizzled around the outside edge to get a feel for it while holding on to the rails. The boards are shorter and see-through. Its a challenge. I can’t really see the boards at all unless I am right next to them. I started using some of the things I could see and hear as guides. There was a red light, which I believe was the star logo for Macy’s. There was one of those island store carts with a blue light on it. There was a block off of light from where an escalator was. There was the zamboni garage thingy, which was not really a visual thing but an auditory or sensory one. It did not feel so open there. There was a speaker that was playing music, much louder on one side than the other. After a few times around holding the boards, I started to get the pattern and placement of these things to keep me oriented.

Once I got my speed up a bit, I really felt the smallness of the rink, though. You don’t get too far on the straightaway and there is no crossway to speak of. You go down the length of the ice and you pretty much have to come right back. The oval shape was somewhat disorienting. I kept trying to go backwards, but between the little kids (who won’t always be there) and the short width, it feels like you constantly have to think about turning and where you are on the ice.

Still, it felt like old times. The vibe there was familiar. The rink was warm and bright, like I remember. And I could run a lot of errands while there, or grab a bite to eat with someone. I ended up meeting my husband, Nik, downtown for lunch after I skated.

As for my skills, its hard to say where I am at because so much of today was just concentrating on orienting. My feet hurt the first 20 minutes as usual. I felt ok skating forward and doing a little slaloming, but not much else. I noticed that my left leg is much stronger than my right, probably because I always have a guide dog on my left. Nik says the same thing when he lifts weights with his legs. The left is much stronger and he also uses his guide dog on his left.

I’m a little sore, but that is also because I stepped up other training as well in the last three weeks. Right now, I feel like I could go to Valley on Friday, but I’ll have to see where everything is. I can go skating in the AM after setting the kids up, but sleeping for three hours when I come home makes skating take the whole day, and that will make me too behind on my job/kids/other responsibilities. So, the first item on the training agenda might be to improve my stamina.

However, much of this exhaustion is from having to mentally focus so hard on traveling with a cane, talking to people, and skating. I’m hoping after I acclimate a bit more (and take my dog next time!) that this level of energy will decrease and get easier.