In Part 1 of this article, we discussed Shlomo. After waking up one morning riddled with pain across his body, and after drugs for pain didn’t work, he became addicted to an non-prescribed substance that he obtained.  Shlomo was removed from his home and not allowed visitation with his wife and children.

My work with Shlomo

Shlomo and I started exercising and talking. Both aspects were of great value.  Shlomo’s ability to exercise was very limited from having been sedentary most of his life, and from weight gain and pain.  I created a program for him where his aerobic bouts were no more than 6-7 minutes at a time with moderate speed and low resistance on the recumbent bike.  We did some limited resistance training including modified push-ups, some abs and light weights.  We spent time on stretching which is extremely important for someone with fibromyalgia.

Every few sessions, I pushed Shlomo a little harder.  I knew that our time together was going to be limited since the court system was certainly going to send him on to a full rehabilitation program somewhere.  Also, because of his restrictions, he was not able to do outdoor walking in between our sessions.  So, while I had to be cautious with him, I also had to make sure he progressed enough to feel good results.

Improvements!

Each week, he did more than the week before.  During this time, we also worked on giving perspective to Shlomo’s situation. We spoke about how to looking forward instead of backward.  It was clear that sometimes Shlomo was uncomfortable talking about his plight. The fact that the immediate future was going to be determined by outsiders, brought uncertainty, more stress, and anxious feelings. Nevertheless, he was able to maintain a positive attitude.

Shlomo continued working hard. Given the restrictions of him leaving the half-way house alone, getting him to me sometimes was challenging. But he was determined to succeed and never wanted to miss a session. After 6 weeks of work, I asked him about his chronic pain.  The answer? “I don’t have any pain.  Since I started exercising with you, it was less and less and then it was finally gone.”

We finished our work together and through some connections, we helped Shlomo  move on to a rehabilitation program in an observant, Torah setting. He will be there for several months and then, IY”H will be cleared to return home and tackle the challenges of his renewed life.

Observations…

I have a couple of observations to make. First a general comment.

Many of you may be familiar with the universal problem of addiction to prescription pain medication.  Doctors are trying to help their patients that are in pain and very often have to prescribe medications that can become addictive.  Aware of this growing problem, the American Medical Association and other organizations have been recommending, as first line treatment, physical therapy or alternative treatments.  Alongside physical therapy is exercise.  According to the Harvard School for Public Medicine, limiting your movements can weaken muscles, compounding joint trouble, and affect your posture, setting off a cascade of further problems.

Anyone with acute, lower back pain who start a walking program  will tell you that within days or less, they start feeling relief.  So, before starting high-powered pain killers on a long-term basis, see a physical therapist or exercise specialist who deals in pain management.  If you are going to get addicted to something, make it exercise, not meds! 

Maintaining our focus

My second observation has to do with focus.  The last thing Shlomo thought would help him is exercise and movement.  It’s even counterintuitive!  But Shlomo didn’t give up — he put his all into improving his lot.  He decided to do whatever it would take to get his life back, to go back to his family, and be the husband and father he is capable of being. His pain is now greatly diminished and much of the time, he doesn’t feel it at all.  He has not taken any type of narcotic pain medication or substance in over 8 months.

My only question is how many other “Shlomo”s are out there? Who is out there needing the right kind of guidance and treatment yet not receiving it?  These people need to be identified and given the proper help.

Stay with it!

After watching this person not roll over and quit and after watching the monumental effort from all sides that he has made, I am truly inspired and encouraged. Shlomo has proven that if you have the determination and decide to take control of your life, the tools are available to bring you success.  DON’T EVER GIVE UP!

One doesn’t have to be in a desperate situation in order to benefit from a good exercise program both in a physiological and psychological way.  We can all learn from Shlomo.  No matter what adversity stands in the way of improving your health, whether you need to lose weight, lower you blood pressure or sugar, get your stress under control or in Shlomo’s case, take back your life, it can be done.  So be inspired and “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.” 

May we all work towards a happy and HEATLHY New Year.