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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Return to Attensity as Senior Technical Writer

I returned to the my office at Attensity in Salt Lake City yesterday, after a long leave on medical disability. It was great to see everyone again, kind of like attending a family reunion. I really appreciated the warm welcome back from many of my coworkers. There sure were a lot of new faces.

It was nice to get reacquainted and get my office space cleaned up and dusted off. In the time I was away, 12 people have left, 1 person came and left that I didn't even meet! The CEO was replaced and much of the top management has moved on to bigger and better things.

I found the commute to work is a challenge. It is a 2 hour trip there and 2 hours back on the train and bus. In the commute, I walk/run up a hill for a mile, ride the bus to the train station and then when I'm dropped off at Salt Lake Central, I walk another mile to my office. While on the train, I can catch up on some rest, read or just stare out the window at the beautiful scenery passing by.

I like my job at Attensity. It provides enough challenge to keep me interested and I'm learning some cool technology like natural language processing (NLP). I document software like Attensity Q, which enables you to search social media sources like Twitter, Facebook and blogs for mentions using keywords.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Prone Superman is harder than it Looks!

Dr. Ashton, my physical therapist gave me some new physical therapy exercises. Prone Superman is one of the most challenging for me to complete. The picture shows that he is using a couple of pillows under the abdomen. While lying face down, squeeze your butt tight and lift your arms off the ground. Keep hamstrings relaxed and legs on the floor. Then lower slowly back to the ground. This stresses the muscles in the lumbar spine, (I have two fractured vertebrae). It made me think about flying as superman is drawn in comics and shown in movies. It is actually more difficult to hold than it looks. Superman makes it look easy. I tried swimming in the water with my hands extended and kicking for a few laps and found that it was not easy there either. In practicality, I question whether the man of steel actually would choose to fly with arms extended?
I also noticed that in the video demonstration for this pose, the model lifts his arms and legs. I tried this pose and I could only manage a few repetitions out of the 20 it recommends.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sports Massage Working out Emotions therapy has been critical to help my back heal and to release emotions. Paired with chiropractic treatment and physical therapy it has helped me immensely. I've been receiving deep tissue massage treatments since July, a little over two months. Bradley specializes in sports massage and works with athletes at UVU. He has a gift for knowing how hard to push and when to pull away. After each session, It takes some courage to keep returning; it is painful. I have noticed that the pain levels have reduced with each additional treatment. I feel a little sore but it passes quickly and I feel much better.

The mind body connection is apparent as many emotions come to the surface during treatment. I have worked through rage, sadness and apathy. This has also caused a noticeable effect on a tumor in my abdomen. I notice in the last 15 minutes of the session that the tumor will swell or enlarge a little bit and it will cause my back to ache. Sometimes, it feels like it is on fire and it makes my stomach feel queasy. I believe the massage is helping to heal the cancer.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Stand like a Man

Physical therapy focused on core strengthening today. One of the most helpful was the bracing sequence. The sequence is a 4 step process to help correct posture. The first step is to tighten the butt, then pull the belly in, third, pull your shoulders back and then let everything relax. I discovered that I could stand much longer with no pain. I practiced this several times as we used elastic bands to evaluate range of motion in my arms. I was impressed with the seemingly simple movements that could isolate a small muscle group and how it would fatigue quickly. The left side was difficult to move very much without pain and limited range of motion today. It holds the right side back. I was handed three pages describing range of motion exercises to help strengthen core muscles to correct the poor posture that has developed since two of my lumbar vertebrae were fractured by a tumor.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Vision Board

I started to lose hope that I would ever feel normal again. On a daily basis, I have had to deal with blood tests, doctors appointments, and therapy. I have struggled with anger and oppressive sorrow. I wondered if I would be able to continue endurance training. This is my vision board. I combed thorough a collection of old magazines to cut out a collage of images that correlate with activities that I enjoy doing.

I pasted these images up on a wall next to where I sleep and overlapped them in a manner that I found pleasing.  These images inspire and motivate me.

Here is a guided tour. There is a triathlon medal that I took a few years ago from the American Fork Ice Breaker Sprint Triathlon. I have a picture of Scott Jurek with the words "going the distance". There is a picture of midieval armor representing the full armor of God. The globe picture with the words, "In all things" represents that God is always there in all times and all places. A sailboat is crossing the waters and a kayak boat in bright orange. A cross country skier is keeping fit through the long, cold winter days. Yoda has always been a hero, his slight stature, unassuming attire and wisdom to overcome his enemies. The force is strong with this one. The humming bird watching and encouraging me to stay strong and keep the course. The triathlete with their special blend of clothing to handle a swim, jump on a bike and then run. The Triathlon polar watch that I hope to use in tracking my training while swimming, biking and running each day. The swimmer moving through the water. Swimming can be grueling when I had to force the pace to swim the 2 miles in the required time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. I have the guy jumping for joy, it makes me smile. The thrill of running the trails and biking in tight formation. The vegetables with the words, "On the safe side" represent my transition into eating organic vegetables and fruits to heal cancer. The article from Hammer Nutrition with the words "fueled by the heart" inspires me and how she overcame great odds to achieve her title of Ironman. There is a pair of hands with a gold wrapped present under the globe. This is the gift of life that I have been given after I received a death sentence from the surgeon.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cycle Training Wheels

I attended a spin class with my wife. I've been wondering if I would be able to ride a bicycle again. I got into the saddle and pedaled and did my best to follow along with the spin instructor. I definitely still have some aerobic issues, sometimes my lungs will start burning way earlier than I think they should. I had a little bit of back pain. The session lasted 45 minutes and I stayed to the end. My core is still a little weaker than I would like it to be. I tried the aero position and was able to maintain it for a few minutes with a little discomfort. Again, this inspires hope that I may indeed participate in an Ironman triathlon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Strength Training with Parralletes and Gymnastic Progressions

Bradley, the sports massage therapist, challenged me to set some goals, paste up a vision board and send a text message with my commitments that I talked about during our session. I sent the text message with a commitment to work out with an exercise ball, write a journal, read scriptures, walk, make a vision board and swim.

I started a vision board, cutting out pictures that represent an activity or achievement from some magazines I had around the house. This has already brought up some strong emotions; fears, doubts, anger and tears. Some of the dreams seem unreachable and I feel like why bother?!

I have a set of parralletes that I built a few years ago out in my living room again. I am taking up a workout regimen promoted by Coach Sommers and his training for gymnasts. I liked the program because it enables me to strengthen without adding a lot of weight. The program has hold positions in what are called gymnastic progressions. You start out with a simple pose, say holding yourself in a tuck position for a minute. If you can't do a minute, then do it for 10 seconds and then rest and then do it again 3 times. The workouts are short, requiring less than 30 minutes.

I started out with a frog stand until I could hold it for a full minute and then started the tuck planche which is holding your kness on your elbows. It is a little more difficult because of leverage. More of the body weight is displaced and each progression requires a little more effort to complete.

My first round, I was able to hold for 10 seconds. The next day, I was able to hold for 20 seconds. The third day I plateaued being able to barely replicate what I could before. I can really feel the muscles in my abdomen and back being pulled and stressed. It is a good burn.