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Revisiting the game of 'Twister'

Lately I’ve added physical therapy to a growing list of unplanned expenditures, both in time and money.

Before you think this is a rant against growing old and infirm, let me just say that challenges often arrive in wolf’s clothing, but when sheared, they’re actually Bighorn sheep — rugged survivors with superior balancing skills.

Did I take a Montana vacation, you wonder? What’s this sheep talk lately? Frankly, I don’t know. They keep wandering in and out through the cortex. Too much wool-gathering, I suspect, but that’s what writers sometimes get paid to do.

This column is not sheep oriented. Rather, it’s about not balking at taking on necessary challenges in life’s midwinter. Make that winter’s dawning.

I have the most dedicated, experienced and gifted physical therapist around. Her name is Lynn Reordan, and she works with her husband, Don, and son, Britt, at Jacksonville Physical Therapy. They’re a family of therapists who care deeply for the welfare of their clients. They maintain a lifestyle of fitness with energy to burn, or so it appears. That is why a bench warmer like myself must swallow a dose of pride before slothing through their door.

I’ve seen Lynn on a weekly basis for about a month. She’s helping to strengthen my core and rotate against the evil machinations of scoliosis. Lynn keeps detailed records on my progress and her findings. She has gradually, through feedback of movement and pain level, diagnosed my pretzel-like tendencies to arrive at a game plan. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was actually the game of “Twister.”

Last Wednesday, Lynn taught me how to lie down and insert a wedge-shaped pillow under my back while resting the bottom portion of my legs on a chair, squeezing an inflated ball between my knees, wearing a giant rubber band around my legs, and singing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Before trekking out on my own, Lynn draws clear diagrams of how I am to perform these exercises with the number of reps and sets per day. Then she throws a curve ball by adding diaphragmatic breathing into the mix — inhale when arm is up, exhale when arm comes down and through. Sometimes I concentrate so hard on doing the exercise that I forget about breathing altogether. My face must shade to blue as she reminds me to breathe.

I love lying on the comfy treatment table at their facility because I get to look at the ceiling and escape into the pretty pictures there. I can ignore my torqued torso and visit one of several nature-inspired happy places. It’s wonderful until I have to learn a new move. I’d rather lie there, glance at Crater Lake’s sparkling waters, and read “Watership Down.” But she is too kind to let me slack off and detour from the goal. Lynn applauds even small successes, and her can-do attitude tells me I can too. I believe her. Sometimes though, when I’m home alone in a room with my paraphernalia, I freeze. Then I study the diagrams and force my various and sundry parts to do what is counterintuitive and good for them. Since I’m already on the floor, if a good movie comes on the tube, I reason that a little more therapy time on the wedge can’t hurt. Lifting the unsuspecting core, removing the wedge, and regaining an upright position can be interesting as I come near to achieving a backward somersault at times.

I’m a book nerd, OK? Though I’ve made vain fitness attempts with spotty gym memberships and dance aerobics throughout the years, and I do enjoy walking, my bod has always defaulted to easy-does-it mode.

Lynn says we’ll be working up to planks and squats soon. I accept this as a cleverly disguised blessing. I asked if I might have been too long a veg to see improvement. She says she has a 75-year-old patient who is blowing her mind. I’m game.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach and stretch toward her at pcdover@hotmail.com.