Sunday, June 27, 2010

Andre' says: "Stross is getting his pump on!"

Stross has been working out weekly his entire life. That is not an exaggeration. Within months of his birth, a physical therapist began regularly coming to our home to teach us exercises for him. The intent was for us to help him develop the muscles he could use while looking for ways to compensate for ones he could not.

Our mini mighty man soon wowed us with his ability to use his upper body to pull himself the entire length of our living room floor using a baby-sized army crawl. Then he learned to throw his body from side-to-side while standing in an apparatus called a parapodium as he began to comprehend what it meant to "walk." His actual walking lessons were intense therapy sessions twice each week all through his toddler and preschool years.

The list of other physical feats is endless for our oldest son. In recent years, as little by little he has grown past his capacity to do some of the things that we (Stross, his father and I, and countless physical therapists) worked so hard to accomplish, we have had to shift gears. We are now focused on maintaining what we can of his physical abilities for as long as we can, working toward a quality of life that keeps him as independent as possible.

His exercise is no longer considered "physical therapy." Insurance is no longer willing to pay for sessions that are not building toward something that looks like restoration or rehabilitation. Maintenance of physical health is something we all have to do, and therefore, an insurance company makes no exceptions. But, make no mistake, the risks of losing range of motion and muscle strength are higher for Stross. Consequently, the need to maintain the abilities he has is as vital as it is difficult. That's why Mark and I have done what can to get Stross the help he needs without the help of insurance. We aren't exercise experts, but we can connect him with people who are. Sometimes he connects himself.

This past year Andre' Franco, Stross' workout buddy, has been a blessing. As a future personal trainer, Andre' couldn't have been better. Unfortunately, Andre' had the audacity to graduate and get married in May. (You can check out his and Eva's wedding here.) Now he plans to move away, and that means we will be searching again.

I am once more doing my best Scarlett O'Hara - planning to think of it another day. After all, we've got a bit of time. Andre and Stross still have some great summer workout sessions ahead, "getting his pump on," as Andre' says. And my son is inspiring me to get my pump on too, in my own Menopausal Momma way. I have bone health to consider; my body can't do what it used to either.

Part of me wants to believe that if I were Super Mom, I'd become Stross' workout buddy. But, then again, that really isn't the same, is it? I'm pretty sure Stross prefers working out with a cool guy named Andre' who he considers a really great friend. And that's the way life probably is supposed to be.

So, thanks, Andre' - from Stross, Mark and me. You've given us a wonderful model to follow. We will be forever grateful as we keep moving and building our collective muscles - together.

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