This is actually a post begun last year. I came across it just now, and was shamed by the optimism. Everything I wrote here is true. It just hasn’t happened for a while. By now everyone knows Owen loves plastic and trash collecting walks….
But what about when the great outdoors just doesn’t cooperate for walking? I can’t let the winter season pass without paying tribute to one organization that helps Owen keep walking no matter what the weather brings us. Our gym.
Owen has his own membership, and can take a guest. The manager and staff of Planet fitness in Bowie have come to know him, and to know us through him, as people tend to do. After he walks for his 20-30 minutes, rumpling a piece of plastic (the plastic is important!) he is done. I might be able to get him to sit down on a weight bench and wait for me to do my shoulder exercises. Maybe. Then we might wander a few doors up to My Organic Market to select a treat. (Artfully dodging the Tootsie Roll bucket on the Planet Fitness counter.)
I’m not sure why Owen is willing to walk like this on a treadmill for me, but I’m glad he is.
The biggest challenge Owen has with using the gym is…us. Neither Edward nor I like going to the gym too much. We would rather work outside even in bad weather, which means Owen stands ignored (and frozen) while we rake or prune or weed or plant. And since dogs get left out of the gym equation, we are more likely to take that walk – even though Owen isn’t into it. But as I read this old post of mine, and look at the pictures, I am reminded of how valuable this gym thing is for Owen. How good to walk along and have me or dad standing there saying bravo.
He could use some more of that these days. Owen has been grumpy and difficult lately. He seems kind of explosive. I think the problem may be that the kindly man who is Owen’s one-to-one aide at his day program is not a good match. It is hard to say why these things happen – but individuals with disabilities are individuals, with tastes. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there.
When Owen’s aide tries taking him to the gym, it doesn’t work at all. Owen ran away and ate Tootsie Rolls, the man wrote in the communication book, twice, he said. Owen came home with a big red ring of irritated skin around his eye. Owen walks nicely for me, and his dad, and for his sitter Kathie. It seems that being directed by this kindly older gentleman just irritates Owen. It may be mutual. Everyday lately he seems to come home pricklier and pricklier. What is it, I wonder? There so many possibilities. Is he bored? Not sleeping well? Constipated? Bothered by the weird winter? Allergies? Gut hurting from more garbage food grabbed on the sly? Luckily for Owen, the supervisors of his program are already on the hunt for a new one-to-one aide. And Owen’s mom has not given up on finding some kind of employment for him – everyone is happier when they have a job they have to do.
Meanwhile, maybe we need to get back to the gym. Movement can help most things feel better.
Yeah — Owen knows how to use the Big Red Stop Button too. Nothing like being in control of your own environment. Bravo Owen.
And thanks, Planet Fitness Bowie, for YOUR support and encouragement —
We all need all the help we can get!