Life is Not a Journey, Life is Now.

Guide Dog, Marra, hanging out with Tanya (Ice Staff and Friend) behind the counter.

Oh, my goodness its been a long time since I have blogged, but I did not abandon the project, just blogging about it. No time, mostly.

Let’s see. I took about 5 weeks off of skating in the summer to heal my shin splints. During that time, I did keep exercising and working on my ankle and knee/leg muscles.

Mostly what I did was Daily Burn 365. I kind of got addicted to it. I had done another program on Daily Burn called “True Beginner” which was prerecorded. Daily Burn 365 is a live show. Even though I rarely watch it live at 6am, I usually watch it a couple of hours later. So its almost live. You wouldn’t think the live aspect would be that big of deal, but it kind of is. The host and the fitness people are talking about current stuff and it corrosponds with people chatting live and on Facebook about things. People have babies, move into new houses, release books, change jobs, and you get to hear about it. There are weekly themes and guest speakers and its pretty much a community of sorts. Its kind of uplifting and has good messages.

In my past, I was pretty athletic. Not like, hugely talented or anything, but I could do almost anything exercisee-wise in say, two weeks time. So, if I started an aerobic class, the first two weeks might be kind of tiring and not full-out, but after that, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do to keep up. Now, I am always doing modifications and taking a more low-impact route. It doesn’t seem to improve.

Skating has been the same way.

Its been rather frustrating. I know I’m older now, I know I have chronic illness that affects things like blood pressure, balance, and muscle tone. I know those are the realities. Its been really hard to know how much to push and how much to not push to get myself to maybe improve, but avoid injuries and keep my overall functioning high. I’ve not had these wonderful revelations where people say after like 30 days or so that they feel great and have extra energy and all of this wonderful benefits of exercising. The tipping point between doing just enough to feel good and doing too much and having a lot of debilitating pain or fatigue has been really hard to find. It still is.

So, something kind of helped me from Daily Burn. They talked about how it is not a journey. You know how everyone says its the journey, not a destination? That has always kind of bugged me, because where are you going if there is no destination or if we don’t care about it? And what is the destination? Death? That’s where we all end up, right? But one of the trainers on DB said, “Its not a journey. You are here already.” Like, if you show up to do an athletic thing you are already an athlete. If I skate today, I am a skater. No, I’m not saying I’m a great skater, but I’m a skater. I skate. Skating is happening today. That is what matters.

So, like, my list of skills has been just going nowhere. I’ve had so much pain and fatigue that I don’t even think about my list because all I am thinking about is “Ok, I got here. I’m here. I’m just going to skate and whatever.” This counts. I’m a skater. I skate. Skating is happening today.

I think it is important because I have seen through others how the laws of inertia affect their lives. I do not want to stop, even if going ahead is not showing any appreciable results. Going ahead is still doing, moving, participating, being in it. If I stop, it will be exponentially hard to pick up and go again. I’m a skater. I’m an athlete. I get my body to do some things, the best it can do today. I show up. Things are happening today.

The Hooky Club members are largely older than I am. I see a woman in her late 70s who had a knee replacement. She took 6 weeks or so off. After two weeks, she did not skate but she came and hung out with us. After six weeks, she skated. After  a couple of months, she went to an adult skating camp and just last week I saw her doing pattern dances. Another woman had shoulder surgery and has had a couple of hip and knee replacements. Her husband still skates but she does not. She still comes most days and talks to us and walks around the mall. I like these ladies, if they can show up, so can I.

At a point I looked at the woman who had the knee replacement and how well she is doing and I decided that something is wrong with me. I’m not sure what it is or if it can be fixed. Whatever it is, it does not mean I can’t be a skater and show up, but it deserves some investigation. I should not be having this much trouble, when…look at her!

On a whim, I decided to experiment with my skates. I wore my old Reidells to skate in. I have not worn them since April and I have been working diligently to get used to my new Edeas.

Guess what?

Yup, this is both good and bad news. I think I have figured out (at least one) of the problems. Except that my toes were scrunched up, the Reidells felt fantastic. I had hardly any pain (except for my smushed toes.) I had more endurance than I have had in months. I was faster, more daring, more confident, more comfortable, and took way less breaks. Hmmm.

Its not that the Edeas don’t fit right. The boot feels really good to slide your feet into. Its a difference in the height of the heal and the height of the boot. The heal is just about 1/2 inches higher and the boot is about 1/2 inch lower. This puts my foot and knee in a completely different position to skate on. I’ve been having serious shin and knee pain that did improve during my 5 week break but then started to return after, even though at that point I was only skating once a week. I don’t blame Jim, my skate fitter, because the skate itself fits great. Its just that I can’t skate like that. I think I need a lower heal and higher boot. More ankle support. I thought I would get used to it, but its been 4 months. I don’t know if I will.

So…what to do. Yes, its a lot of money. But it was such a big difference that its like, I feel like never wearing the Edeas again. I like the dance blade, and I can take that dance blade off and put it on my Reidells. I might be able to stretch the Reidells in the toes. I could look at getting new Reidells in the same exact model but with a bigger toe box. (Not gonna go that direction for a while, though. One pair of too expensive skates a year is quite enough. ) So, I’m going to go back to the skate experts and see what they can do. It sucks, but I took a risk with new skates that I could have not foreseen (I mean, 1/2 an inch? C’mon. How could it be such a big deal?) It might have been something that I could have adapted to when I was younger but can’t now. Because I’m a guide dog user and use my feet for tactile information so much, I rarely wear heals of any sort. I think I’m just not young enough to change. I think I can consign my boots and get a little money back for them, but I know it will be a loss. I like the Edeas, but am more happy that I may have found a solution to my ongoing skating issues.

It will be sad if I have to abandon my pretty Edea Overtures, but hopefully they will find a happy home.

But here is the funny thing. ..with the old skates, even though I had to recalibrate a bit and even though my toes were smushed, I wanted to get back to my list! I was like, back crossovers, 3-turns, MITF,  here I come! Feeling like I had some goals and could move forward. So, still not a journey, just more of an exploration of where to go next. Still a skater. I skate. Skating is happening.

So, I was skating ostensibly 2 times a week and doing DB 365 for 30 minutes and then another Daily Burn program like yoga or mobility for 30 minutes on my non skating days. But that was summer. School is in, convention season is here, work is happening, homeschool is happening.

That is the other bit of reality of this. I can’t do it all to the extent I want to do it. So, skating went down to one day a week. Boo hoo! Especially now that I might have solved a big issue. But I don’t get much done on those days and I can’t not get much done on 2 whole days a week. I also don’t have the luxury of an hour plus for exercis

e on most days, so I’ve cut back on DB and am trying to get 30 minutes in a day.

I’m getting in touch with a skate expert who will come to the rink and see about what can be done for my skates. That hasn’t been set up yet, but hopefully it will in the next couple of weeks. I decided not to participate in the Christmas show this time, as I’ve just had so many issues with pain and skating, but if I solve this thing and get back to my list, I think that maybe I could switch to doing Thursdays and taking the group lesson and then get back into that kind of stuff.

I think I have been confused a lot this summer about aging and health and how to manage it. All of this kind of got away from the anxiety thing, because it has caused a lot of additional anxiety in some ways. But I suppose these are good issues to work through. Showing up, whether its skating, DB or whatever, does help decrease anxiety. Bodies decline, some faster than others. We all have to come to terms with that. Aging happens. That is why this “life is a journey” stuff has felt so false to me. If it helps, others, great. But it bugged me. But if I think “life is today, and today I can skate, exercise, take a walk, read a book, help a client, write a letter to my senator, talk to a friend, all the other things my body can do,” then it makes so much more sense to me.


Death by Shin Splints

My 8 year-old helping me do my shin stretches today by holding a strip of theraband while I pull it with my foot. And yes, my house is atrociously messy because nothing got done this week and my husband’s guide dog sheds 4 medium sized dogs’ worth of hair a day.

Ok, you all may have surmised that I had a little trouble getting a coach who would take me. I started at Winterhawks and didn’t even get any “no” responses, I got completely ignored. Emails and calls went unanswered. Friendly “hellos” at the rink got nervously rushed away from. So, when Anthony agreed to work with me, I was very appreciative, and I always attempt to make the newbie comfortable with me with a combination of telling them what I need for it to work but not making it be too much that I need for it to work. I try to be competent and fun to work with (hopefully) and sprinkle any education about my disabilities over time as we go to not be too overwhelming.

Last week went well. But this week was crazy bad. It was not his fault, nor too much my fault. So, my kidney illness that makes me have to count spoons manifests itself with these symptoms: headaches, nausea, kidney pain, and a lot of fatigue, in various degrees and intensities. So for the past four days, I was struggling to manage headaches, a bit of nausea and trouble eating, and fatigue. But, even though I took some Tylenol at 2:00am, I was good to go on Monday morning.

However, transit was not good to go with me.

It was fleet week in the lovely PDX area, and I skate across the river. The Willamette River, on Monday morning, was saying good bye to a bunch of navy ships that had been docked there. To do that, it needs to close down and lift up a ton of bridges. It took me two hours to get to the rink, and I ended up walking onto the ice in a hurry just one minute before my lesson was supposed to start.

Remember how last week I was happy because I took ten days off skating and thought my shin splints had all but healed? Well, without warming up both off and on the ice for my usual 45 minutes, they decided to come back with a vengeance. So, I had a trace headache, I had taken some tylenol and that always makes me woozy, I hadn’t been up in 4 or so days, I can’t see functionally at all when I skate with Anthony, and I had the worst shin splints I’d had in maybe…ever, after we started skating.

Do you know what your tylenoled, 4 days of no activity hungover, blind brain does when its being manhandled around the ice while in sharp pain? It panics and stops working altogether. He was telling me steps and left foot right foot and I was just like, “Wha?? Ow, ow, ow. Feet? Ow. Ow. Trip on toe pick, scrape, lose balance, ow.”

Here is what a smart person would have done. A) Asked the woman who has lessons after me if she would have switched times with me so I could warm up. She was RIGHT THERE, I could have asked… or B) told my coach to forget it, I’d pay him for the lesson but we either needed to quit or slow way down and just work on some really easy, basic stuff.

But instead, I just kept going in a blur of brain panic and blinding (ha!) pain because I didn’t want to be wimpy and have my needs be too overly “special” (barf) and so thus reignited my stupid shin splint pain. After the lesson, I had to get off the ice immediately and recover with skates off. I thought I would just take a break and maybe go pay for a public session so I could skate past the Hooky Club time, but when I got back on the ice, the pain was still dizzying. I even almost contemplated Uber-ing home because I thought I may die on the walk, but the billion dollar price tag encouraged me to tough out the walk. I ended up just getting back on the train after almost maybe 40 minutes of skating.

Ok, but WTF, Shins? Can’t we be friends again? I know at 47, I am not going to do as well as I used to. I know that it is more important to warm up and all that. But, really? I can’t let my illustrious ice skating career be killed by shin splints, can I? How stupid. Here is a video of a 95 year old man that skates twice a week. If he can do this, I should be able to do this, right? I’m nearly half his age! (Seriously, this is pretty cool, though.)

So, I’ve iced them. I stayed off of them for the rest of the day yesterday. Today, I went back to the Dr. Jo videos and did those series of stretches and exercises. They have improved a lot today. But I’m wondering if its something more. My skates? My orthotics? A more mechanical injury?  Should I stop with lessons for a while? Should I stop skating for a while? I am completely confused as to whether I am over or under doing it. Do I actually have to go to the doctor over this? Annoying. I did go to a podiatrist years ago for my plantar fasciitis issue (which seems to be no longer a problem once I put orthotics in my skates) but I never had this much of a shin splint issue before. Someone said to try compression sleeves? I’m getting very high maintenance in my old age.

Dr. Jo (I have been using her videos a lot, lately.)

Spoons, Spoons, Skates and Spoons

This is a graphic that explains Spoon Theory a bit by categorizing different tasks into how many spoons they might take up for a person.

I thought I would write a little about chronic illness management, because it has come up this week and it seems to be such a tough subject for people to understand. I did not skate on Thursday because I was sick. I was not so desperately sick that I couldn’t have done it if I really wanted to, but its an issue of pacing and management and where skating sits on the priority of my life.

So, you may have heard of “Spoon Theory.” If you haven’t, it may help to go read this.

I’ll wait.

So, yeah. Only I think it is more complicated than even she makes it because for me, I don’t know how many spoons I will get a day. It could be anywhere for 5 to 50. Also,when I refer to chronic illness, I am referring to my kidney disease However, my dual sensory loss also plays a role in spoon management.  The same task may vary greatly in amount of spoons it takes based on how well my vision and hearing is accommodated. Say I go to a social event. It is an event with a bunch of blind people so all my blindness needs are met, and since they are disability savvy, they are better than average but not perfect about my hearing. That event will take much less spoons than an event that is not disability aware, just everyday people. In this event, NO ONE is going to tell me who they are, where the food is, what is going on, they will point and say things like “over there, ” I will have to go to them because most will be too afraid to talk to me, and when I do, I will have to answer a bunch of monotonous questions about disability and go into “education” mode even though I would much rather talk about other things. This event will take maybe triple or quadruple the spoons of the disability aware event. The other thing that is more complex is that I don’t necessarily start with a fresh supply of spoons every morning. If I used too many spoons yesterday, I may have less today. If I decide to use too many today, I may be borrowing them from tomorrow. Its complicated.

Here are some of the things I do to try to make sure spoon management is more of a physical thing to deal with than an emotional stressor:

  • I put things into categories. I’m lucky that I rarely have too many days where I can do absolutely nothing. So, I can arrange to do things from a less demanding category or a more demanding one based on my level of energy. For example, most desk work, I can do unless I feel so shitty I can’t concentrate. So, there is always something I can usually do to make myself more productive at home.
  • I don’t think of sick days as days where I am just waiting it out getting better. I know that there will be a time when there is no more “waiting it out.” This is it. I don’t waste days being sick. So, I have a running list of tasks in all different spoon categories. There are always low spoon tasks. And even if I can’t do a whole day of low spoon tasks, I could do one…or two, or three. At the very least, I can hug my kid or my dog or my husband and try to be a good family member for a few minutes. Then I have not wasted a day.
  • I have back up plans and more back up plans. Life for myself, nor my kids or others should not stop if I’m sick. It may be rearranged, but there should be no wait around to get better type of things.
  • This is important when making commitments which is almost impossible to do when you have a chronic illness. Its scary. So, I give people advance warning and I tell them what my back up plans are. For example, every term I have to volunteer for 4 hours for my kid’s school to get a tuition break. I tell them upfront about my situation. I pick three things on three different days to do. I prepare substitutes for myself. And then I will be able to get one of those days done without too much letting people down. In college, I would talk to professors at the beginning of the term and say I may be here for ever class or I may miss too many classes. Lets negotiate what I can do if I miss too many. How many is too many? What alternative assignments or learning can I do to make up for missed days? It worked so much better to do that upfront.
  • If I do commit to something that absolutely cannot be changed. There is about an 85% chance that I can push through it no matter what. But then I make sure that there is recovery time both before and afterwards. I would schedule easy days around it.
  • I don’t listen to any kind of talk about my being “not sick enough” or “too lazy” or any of that shit. I and only I decide what I am well enough to do. No one else can judge me. I see what other people call “sick” and its bullshit. People who are well all year and then get a cold and take off a week and whine about it. The same holds true if they say “You are too sick to participate.” Chronic Kidney Disease is not contagious. Only I decide if I’m too sick to participate in something.  I know I’ve done way more sick than they’ve ever done, so its just impossible for others to judge you appropriately. I try to do my part to lessen any impact on others if I can’t do something, but that is where my responsibility ends.
  • I also have a responsibility to take care of my health and try to work at as full capacity as possible whether that means going to the doctor, eating the right foods or understanding how to use Braille with a computer or finding a communication method that works. But I also understand that these things are ever changing, my body is ever changing, science is ever changing, and there is no way to always know the best way to take care of and manage my disabilities at all times. I do my best to keep up with it all, I’m not perfect, and I’m not going to feel bad about not being perfect.
  • I understand and appreciate the concept of partial participation. With skating, I know that I cannot skate every day, do every class, competition, test, etc. I appreciate what I can do and don’t have an all or nothing attitude about anything. I try my best and measure myself against that and not what others can do. Doing a part of something is better than doing nothing at all.
  • I prioritize based on my own priorities as much as possible, not others. Its not always possible. There are some bullshit things you have to do in life, like paying my water bill every two months by hand because the stupid water company won’t let me set up auto billing. Its stupid, but no water in the house is a very bad thing, so I do it, (fortunately its on my easy list.) But many, many other things do not have to be done, nor done by ME. This sometimes means my house is messy or the kids are eating McDonalds food. But my priority is that my kids get fed, healthcared,  educated, and feel included and loved at home. How I do that is sometimes fantastic and sometimes (McDonalds) just getting by.
  • I am extremely lucky to have been able to set up a very flexible schedule for myself where we still earn enough money for the necessities of life (largely thanks to my husband, who is a workhorse and entirely supportive of me.) I know that this is difficult and not everyone can do this. But more and more work is getting more flexible and things like telecommuting, gig economy, work-life balance programs can help with this. As much as humanly possible, I’ve tried to build a life where my disabilities and illness are not obstacles but can be used as strengths. I am lucky to have several outlets where I can help my husband earn money, help other people, be creative and have a meaningful life even with disability and sickness. There are sacrifices to this. I could have had a more prestigious career, made more money, etc. But really? Perhaps not if I was always failing because I was sick all the time or unaccommodated and killing myself to make it in a full-time working world.
  • I know that life is precious, at any time an instant could change your whole life, and there is only so much in my control. I try to make the best of what I have control over and forget the rest. I have a good inner core about who I am and what I can do. I don’t get concerned with who I am not or what I can’t do. I try to just expand upon what I can do and who I am. We are all in a decline, I know that there will be day I can no longer skate or remember who I am or fill-in-the-blank here. I can’t be scared about that. I can take advantage of what I can do today.
  • Whining is extremely irritating to me. I try not to do it (much.)

None of this ever works perfectly nor do I always have the perfect attitude about it. But it tends to balance out in the end. I come back to this core. I was disappointed to have missed Thursday skating, I would have rather gone and done my group lesson (Its been three weeks!) But I did some other things and that day is done. I can’t get hung up on it. And I plan to go back Monday and so I am still a skater.

I’ve often said, oh-big deal about being Deafblind, but CKD is kicking me in the ass and making me feel like I can’t be who I want to be. It has been what feels like an “impairment” vs. the other stuff which just felt like an identity that has brought me more good than bad. I’ve often wondered why I can’t seem to look at CKD in the same light as my sensory disabilities. And…I finally think I’m starting to a bit more. This is who I am. I can do this today. I can’t do this today, maybe tomorrow. I’m not going to feel bad about it or apologize to anyone for it. I’m doing as much as I can and that’s enough. That’s me.


Ten Day Absence Made the Heart Grow Fonder

I have a confession. I was so unmotivated and disappointed by the skate I did at Winterhawks on 5/25 that I just wanted to quit this whole thing. I was in constant pain, I look like shit. The Winterhawks people seem to barely tolerate my existence. I have a busy life which is filled with work, kids, a loving husband and friends. Why am I making more problems for myself when my whole point in this was to feel better. Here is some video from that session which i did not want to show, but why not? (Someday I will actually show improvement and this will be the sad “before”….I hope?)

Winterhawks 5-24-18 from Lisa Ferris on Vimeo.

So last week I did nothing. I did not skate for ten days. I think I might have done 1 Daily Burn and maybe a few walks and only worked out for like, 2:30 hours. Then, I remembered that I have two paid skating sessions left with the Hooky Club as well as an appointment with my new coach. I should keep the appointment, use my last two sessions, and see how it goes.

It went great! First of all, I think the ten days off helped my shin splints heal. I had almost NO pain today. I did not even take off my skates and they felt pretty good. It was really the first time that throughout the whole session, I didn’t have pain. I did feel a bit out of breath, but that was probably more to do with the fact that I literally did almost nothing for ten days physically.

OK, so coaching. My coach was a dancer, and he almost immediately launched in to teaching me the dutch waltz. Which we did in parts together with the Killian hold. Except for that one time I practiced with a precision team, this was the first time I skated with another human where I have to keep together with him. Now, He was giving me A LOT of support, and I’m sure I looked just as bad as that video if not worse. But! I felt the familiar edges, The muscle memory of some of those steps started kicking in, I don’t have the muscle and balance ability to hold those positions on my own, but with his support I was able to get the feel for them. It was challenging and fun.

And a bit scary. Speed has always been a problem, and although I am sure he was slowing way down for me, I was going his speed. Visually it was a bit overwhelming. I could not orient myself at that speed. Then he would say stuff like, “left foot toward the center or the wall” and I would be like, “I have no idea where I am in space and time, I don’t know where the wall is!” I think that will get better when I’m not so freaked out about thinking about what steps I am doing, keeping balanced, and going so fast. Although I could still see a bit of light and color, that was really skating blind. Everything was just whipping by in a blur that I could not cognitively/visually interpret.

So, if I skate with a partner, I suppose that would be the easiest way to accommodate this. As a kid, I knew that I could never compete because of figures. I couldn’t see them. I did test in freestyle a bit, but that was it. Back then, it never occurred to me to try pairs or ice dance. That was for older adults. And Ice Dance, well, it was for Russians! There was not ice dance in the US (I thought). Although clearly JoAnn Schneider Farris proves me wrong, she was totally ice dancing then with a whole US team at the Broadmoor. In my twenties, I wanted to learn ice dance but I could not find a coach or partner. Partners for women are rare, especially for ones who are already in their twenties and just starting. The adult competitive scene was just getting started then and was not developed as it is now.

So now, I just figured I would learn solo dance because that has developed a lot in adult in the past twenty years. But now I recently found out that at the lower levels, you can dance with your coach as partner. Hmmmm, maybe this is the way to get past my speed problem. Dancing with your coach is expensive, as you have to pay all the expenses instead of splitting them, but it might be something to think about.

My husband, Nik, said he wants to learn ice dance with me. And although he CAN skate–he is Swedish Canadian so he was practically born with skates on–he is totally blind so would not be able to serve that role as guide. We could do it, and we might just for fun. But the bigger problem is that he really doesn’t get how much work and dedication it takes and he doesn’t have the time when ice is available. Besides, my plot to get him on the water in his own sport seems to be working. He is really liking rowing. (Here is a video of him on the dragon boat. He is the very last rower in the boat in the forefront that is moving ahead.)

So, I think I have recovered from my funk. And I think it might have been a good thing to take the time off. I had been skating in pain for over two months. Maybe things just needed time to heal. So, this week the plan is to skate today and Thursday, Finish up the last of my “Daily Burn: True Beginner 8 week program” which has taken me significantly longer than 8 weeks, and work up to heading back to the gym. This week and next week have lots of end of school year obligations and event for the kids and then we have dragon boat races on the weekend to go to! (He trains for 6 weeks and he already gets to race in a top-tier boat! I spend 12 weeks just trying to get my skates to feel ok. Ice Skating is a hard sport, you guys.)


I’ve been feeling blah about skating since Friday when I skated at Winterhawks for likely the last time until fall. They don’t offer that morning session in the summer and they were not very forthcoming towards working with me on any other possibilities. (I mean, maybe there aren’t really any, which is fine, but it would be nice if my questions were answered.) That rink! It seems to have such a tense and no fun atmosphere and people tend to be really territorial. Its like no other rink I’ve skated at, which all have their little quirks. I haven’t really been there that much, so maybe if I went a different time it would be more lively, but WOW people don’t seem very friendly there. I mean, even if you think I am a lousy, non-serious skater that takes up space, my kid and I are still paying customers and could be brought in to take classes, find a coach, join the skating club, volunteer, etc. Its just night and day different from the atmosphere at Lloyd or the old Clackamas. I wonder how much of this has to do with the lack of ice in this town. People may just feel really pressured to make use of the ice when they have it? I mean, I don’t expect social hour, I’m there to work, too. But a friendly hello would go a long way. There have been a few people there who have been friendly, but there are some that go out of their way to avoid us.

Now, I’m not blaming the rink for this, but I was absolutely terrible on the ice that day. I figure I was about 30% worse than I am at Lloyd. I have a snippet of video that I don’t even want to put up because I look timid, awkward and SLOOOOW. So, so very slow. Part of it is that I think because of the cold it takes longer to warm up there for me (and in general it takes longer to warm up now that I’m old.) The ice is colder, hockey ice so it feels different, and also–and this is probably most to blame–I’m so intimidated there! I know that there are about 6 people there skating around at top speed who basically are going to do a triple on my face before they adjust course for me. I do, I really do try to stay out of their way. I try to stay to the outside, give them the right of way, etc. But its very difficult. Since they treat the public session like a freestyle session, they aren’t staying to the middle like I would have in my day. The coaches station themselves around the penalty boxes, and the students come and go to them. I’m more used to the coaches coming to the middle with you and not having this horizontal disruption in the flow of traffic. Back and forth, back and forth. I love the space there and the standard ice size, but its hard going for me. I feel like I”m constantly having to slow down or not even get started on anything because it is so intimidating.

In better news, I have a potential coach at Lloyd! We will call him A. I don’t start with him for another week yet but he was a senior national level ice dancer in the early 90s, so I am excited that I found someone with a dance background. The other person I was looking at, R, I knew from before a bit. I think she is a great coach, all business, goal oriented, and very talented, but I remember her not really knowing dance. She was a freestyle skater. So, I’d be happy with either one, but I am going to try A and see if it is a good fit. My Mondays at Lloyd were feeling a bit wasted, and I wanted to pick it up a notch. Although I have said many times that I don’t have delusions of grandeur, I also don’t plan to skate around in endless circles, either. I don’t know how far I  can really go, but I am going somewhere. I need goals to work toward…testing, skills, local competitions, something.

So, I did meet all of my goals this week. My total exercise time was 6 hours and 40 minutes. I skated two days and worked out the other days, did my outside walks, and 3 Daily Burns and also skating specific off-ice workouts. The only thing I did not accomplish was the renal dietitian because she doesn’t work there anymore and they don’t have a new one yet. So instead I went back to the DaVita site (I’m not the biggest fan of the for-profit DaVita. I always kind of feel like they might steer me wrong so that I get on dialysis sooner. But it is kind of the only game in town.) Anyway, DaVita has a lot of meal planning, recipes and health tracker for people with CKD, and its always good to review and refresh.

This made me happy: Midori Ito, 1992 Olympic silver medalist, skated at the ISU Adult International competition in Germany last month. I got my description of her performance via Dave Lease (from The Skating Lesson) and he was…not so complementary about her. Her spins traveled, no extension, no jumps, etc. But (except for the jumps) that was kind of how she always skated, wasn’t it? Anyway, She is a year older than me and Dave’s Co-host, Jonathan Beyer, complimented her on her obvious exuberance for the sport and her joy in being there. She always seemed like a nice, fun person. So, I’m happy to see that she skated in the Adult competition (Master Elite II, which is senior level skaters with past national and international medals who are between 40-50, I think??? The Adult categories are complex.) The camaraderie around adult skating has always been fun for me, as long as you are out there doing your best, people are happy for you, and so I’m happy for Midori.


Weekly Wrap Up Week 8/Goals Week 9

My guide dog looking sad and lonely at the Valley rink. She is tied up to a bench and has her harness on. She much prefers her friends behind the counter at Lloyd.

I’m pushing nearly 50 and I have kidney disease. As annoying as that is, that is my reality that I have to accept. Its ok, I was never under delusions of grandeur, here. (Ok, after seeing stuff on Facebook about USFS Adult Nationals, I did secretly want to go…but even if I skated well enough for that, then we get into both money and time. You have to FLY to both sectionals and if you make it, nationals and pay for hotel rooms, your coach, etc. Again, reality is annoying. But it does look like they have a lot of fun.)

All this is to say that I’ve hit a bit of a wall and it will not stop me, but it has slowed me down. It hasn’t even slowed me down…its just slowed my expectations down. So, its more accurate to say that my skating didn’t really hit a wall, my brain did. This is a management and strategy issue, as are most things related to getting shit done while disabled.  I’m still improving, just at a much, much slower level than I expected. By seven or 8 weeks, I thought I’d have a lot of things back already. Nope. Still working on boot comfort and stroking.

This week, I decided to not skate Monday because I wanted to go to the pro shop on Friday and get my blades mounted the rest of the way and talk about boot adjustments. So, the pro shop is next to the Valley rink, and I can only skate there on Fridays. So, I did Pilates Tuesday, then skated with a group lesson on Thursday (lessons always make me work harder) and then skated again on Friday. By Friday, my legs were literally going to stop working. I had to take more breaks than I wanted to.

This leg fatigue I’ve never had before quite like this. Its a CKD thing. Its when the large muscles in your legs don’t get enough oxygen and protein to recover and they literally shut down. I would stop about 5 minutes before they had me splayed on the ice requiring me to slither off like a floppy fish in shame, but its a weird feeling. Its like, you can tell your legs to move, and they ain’t gonna do it. They just don’t have the juice. When skating, your legs are in a continuous squat or lunge type position since everything in skating is done with bent knees. I’ve been doing basically constant squats for up to two hours at a time. When I skated two days in a row, my legs couldn’t take it. They just started to shut down. After I dumped my skates off, I didn’t even think I could go home if I wanted to. So, I went to a nearby Italian place and had a big piece of chicken and some vegetables. Then I sat in the rink and rested and drank lots of water and watched the hockey guys practice for a bit. By that time, I could make it home, but was still pretty tired. I did nothing on Saturday except I did have to walk a bit at an event my kids wanted to go to. It didn’t feel great. Today I did nothing but stretched a bit.

I haven’t slept at home after working out, but some days I’m really just pushing myself to stay awake and I don’t get much done. So, this week and for the next few weeks, I will be “dialing it back.”

So this week, here is the tentative plan:

I’m no longer going to do Pilates Reformer. Its not just the class, its the whole trip. I may go back to it later, but for now, I’m putting it aside.

I’m going to skate for just an hour two days this week, and not two days in a row!  The light rail is a mess this week, so I’m not yet sure which days. I can avoid the light rail mess if I go to valley. And there is no group lesson this Thursday. Also, I’m noticing a bit more friendliness at valley as I show up more and put my time in. Nothing to get too excited about, but people are saying “hi” to me a bit more now. Besides, I like that rink in many ways, its big enough to get some work done.

I need to warm up and stretch before getting on the ice. Duh. But it didn’t feel like I was doing all that much before to warm up for. But I am hoping that warm up will help.

I will concentrate on low/no weight cardio and stretching at home this week.

I will try to front .load more protein at breakfast before I skate. I have trouble eating in the mornings, so I’m not sure how well this will go, but I can usually do smoothies and “drink” my breakfast so I’ll try that.

As far as skating itself…I AM improving, just very slowly. I can skate on one foot on both sides with much more control, but stroking is getting better. In group class, I worked on edges and stops. (I can do a right foot snowplow and hockey stop just fine. I can probably even do a T-stop just fine. But I’m week on the left side.) I’ve worked on the adult basic stuff like dips and front back swizzles and marching and all that. I even worked a bit on front crossovers, but was not successful because by then I was getting major leg fatigue. I continue to work on getting used to my boots (the blades are a nonissue thus far) and am going to try some superfeet inserts this week.

Here is the score card I’ve been keeping. This isn’t very accessible and I’m going to come up with something else, because its not ideal for me either. But basically, its the Adult Basic Curriculum. If I can do something satisfactorily, it shows a + for that skill. If I can do it but it needs work, it has a -. If I can’t do it or have never worked on it yet, it is left blank.

A laminated card that shows Adult Basic Skills. I will figure out how to improve this.


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.

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.

A Set Back at the Get Go

My debut on the ice has been postponed for the second week in a row. Last week, I had forgotten that my 13 year old had a previously scheduled field trip with a group of kids. I had already agreed to it. This week, same son was sick and snotty this week and wanted to work on…schoolwork he was behind on. So, I postponed again.

It made me mad beyond all reasonableness. Not at him, of course. It would have been gross and mean to take a snot-infested kid to a cold rink when he had a slight fever. And of course, how can I get mad at a kid who wants to do MORE schoolwork?

It just made me both mad and sad that it felt like I can never, ever, ever do anything for myself. Anything I want is always on the backburner and its constantly other people’s needs all the time…as well as…geez, I need a 13 year old to take me skating! I really don’t, but it is a political thing. Its helpful at first, but not necessary. Its mostly that my chances are so much higher to actually be able to get on the ice, actually have any staff around see that I CAN skate safely. It will be so much easier to come in and do that first before I talk to them. With another person, I will get on the ice before talking to them. If I go by myself, I risk the chance of them freaking out and kicking me out before I can begin. Its better to have a buffer person at first. Its stupid, but these things can be delicate and I’ve been here before. I know how it works.

The buffer person does not have to be my son, of course, but I don’t know that many other adults who can (and would be willing to) skate well enough to help me out during the daytime sessions. So, I’ll keep trying.

But, it likely won’t be next week, either. Because next week is Spring break and there are kids camps and stuff at the rinks. So…it just feels like I am completely being ridiculously unrealistic and its never really going to be possible.  I was so mad that (in private) I was having a stomp cry and I just went back to bed for like an hour and felt miserable. My strong reaction kind of surprised me and it made me feel like, wow! I REALLY need to get out more. This was pretty much the thing I’ve been looking forward to for the past two weeks. Yeesh.

So, I was looking at my skates, and I’m thinking in this wait time, and to further my commitment, I will work on equipment issues in the next week. More on that in a future post, but suffice to say that my skate blades need some work.

But this experience and reaction also made me lean harder towards my rink A option. Its farther away, but the times are much more flexible and my schedule is too varied and unpredictable to just be limited to Fridays at 9:00am. I still may try both rinks, or maybe come up with a combo schedule, but I’m leaning hard towards the old mall rink in its new incarnation.

Coming up tomorrow: pilates reformer and maybe a visit to the skate pro shop to talk blades. Either new or repairs.