A wii bit of physical therapy

I’m all about technology.

You know that during my cancer battle, I blogged almost every day, to keep in touch with friends and family, and to keep my spirits up. You all were my daily compatriots during my cancer fight, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

With a borrowed blackberry (and a whole lot of pain medication), I twittered my mastectomy.

With the help of some new friends, I traveled to BlogHer 07 in Second Life, since in real life I was stuck in bed.

But get this. I’ve found a way to incorporate new technology into my physical rehab during my recovery as well.

As you may remember, I now have lymphedema in my right arm (thanks, mastectomy!). That means that the arm and hand swell up frequently, sometimes to the point where I can’t use my hand or bend my wrist or elbow easily. I have to do special exercises every day (wall crawl, anyone?), manually move my lymph around, and see my lymphedema physical therapist a couple times a month to get the scar tissue stretched out and the lymph moved through the scars and back into my torso.

I also wear a lymphedema sleeve, which makes it look like I have a disability. But I’m okay with that … now. Because, really? Sometimes I do. When my lymphedema flares up, I can’t carry my laptop or bag on that arm or hand — and really, I’m not supposed to at any time, to prevent flareups. I can’t carry too much weight in my left hand, either, then, since that throws my back off-kilter. Lovely, eh?

It also makes it hard to open heavy automatic doors sometimes, to pick up my kids, to carry the laundry basket downstairs, and to do some of the other things I really need to do every day.  Oh, and it hurts to shake hands if my hand is swollen.  (I’m the dork waving hi to you from two feet away, desperately hoping that we can hug or skip the handshake.)

But I’m adapting.

I’m learning to do most of the household chores and play left-handed. I’ve got most of them down by now, however rough and awkward they may be. (Note to self: only attempt to pitch wiffle balls to preschooler when baby is out of range.  Far out of range.)

This weekend, though, I discovered a new tool. I bought my husband a wii for his birthday (Happy Birthday, honey!), and, you know what? I use it now too. I play the games left-handed, to strengthen the muscles and hone the use of my left hand and arm. At first, it was more frustrating than not, but I’m getting better.

And that means I’m getting better at using my left arm offline as well.

All I needed was a wii bit of physical therapy.


18 Responses to A wii bit of physical therapy

  1. patriciaspage says:

    I loved the pun you included in the last sentence of this post! I have been reading your blog for months but have “lurked” & never leaving a comment. Today I am the first to comment so perhaps that was the difference?

    I applaud the education you gave to those around you, just by blogging about some of the less-known side effects of cancer and treatment. Like the lymphedema.

    It is delightful news about how well you are doing.
    I became interested in your blog before your cancer was diagnosed; I hadn`t come across a woman with a career such as yours but also a blogger. I wondered whether or not your topics of conversation and narration would be above the head of the general public (ie, average housewife, mother & office worker).

    Stereotyping perhaps… but your blog is very readable and you appear to be approachable.

    I just popped in for a moment to let you know that I hope no one I know ever needs the information you have linked for cancer, but that I will point everyone in your direction.

  2. creativecrocheter says:

    And maybe there’s a wii game that gives the same effect as, but is more fun than, a wall crawl? If there isn’t, what might that look like and who has contacts with wii game developers? 🙂

  3. how cool is that. Hopefully wii will get one soon, I really want one.

    Happy birthday to your hubby!

  4. bcjenster says:

    All I needed was a wii bit of physical therapy.


  5. Christy says:

    Lots of PT/OT facilities are incorporating use of the Wii as part of their. I’m using it for hand-eye coordination training with my toddler. She LOVES the Wii Play games.

  6. Nancy says:

    Yay! I hadn’t had a chance to respond to your comment about the Wii, but we do really love it — and I’ve found in about a month of using it, it has really helped me to improve my balance and coordination. It’s quite a fun family activity too. 🙂

  7. Bon says:

    i love that you’re doing this, and optimizing the possibilities of tech and leisure for healing. you are very cool, Susan. 🙂

    i’ve been thinking that after the baby comes, a wii might help me build back some muscle. then i think i’m just being silly. but see…you’re validating me.

  8. mandi says:

    I have heard wii is great and how wonderful you can have some fun while strengthening your arm!

  9. I love that your post ended with a pun.

  10. Lisa says:

    You are too funny!
    My Uncle and Dad about threw out their shoulders/backs a few weeks ago playing tennis with my sister and brother-in-law’s Wii. I can’t wait to try one out as I think they are a great workout!

  11. Kate says:

    Ain’t technology grand?!? I’m thinking of getting a Wii for my husband and I. Cheaper than joining a gym

  12. m says:

    I bought the Wii Fit game (with the balance board) for our Wii, which includes strength exercises and yoga poses as well as the more “fun” stuff (balance and aerobic ‘games’). My kids and I have been having a lot of fun with it, and I’m feeling aches in muscles that haven’t been used in too long. Highly recommended!

  13. D says:

    Hi Susan, I just read the feature on you in Health magazine. I am even happier to read how well your recovery is going on your blog. The unforeseen power that the support of a blog can give remarkable. I set up a blog for my sister when her baby was diagnosed with a birth defect and she, too, has found a group of friends in similar situations that she would have never known otherwise. Best of luck in your continued recovery!

  14. Susan K says:

    If you don’t have it yet, get Boom Blocks – from the master himself, Steven Spielberg. It is great fun!

    And be careful!! Wii may be great fun and good exercise, and just what you need, but you can hurt yourself! (golf anyone?)

  15. NoRegrets says:

    That’s great! And it’s a wonder if they haven’t started using them in rehab places. They need to develop a game for senior citizens…

  16. Susan K says:

    I understand that Wii is very popular in retirement homes. A lot of the games are easy for folks with limited mobility to play – bowling, many of the “carnival games”, golf, tennis etc.

  17. Amy says:

    I’m trying to figure out how to contact you off-line and can’t. Can you e-mail me please? There is a local event that you may be very interested in and I wanted to share it with you.

  18. […] Mine is. Where once we had quiet dinners and cozy evenings reading together, now we have family dinners and after-dinner matchbox races, miniature train extravaganzas, backyard expeditions to hunt for fireflies, and wii sports championships. […]

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