Brighter than the Sun

Oh, this is how it starts, lightning strikes the heart,
It goes off like a gun, brighter than the sun.
Oh, we could be the stars, falling from the sky,
Shining how we want, brighter than the sun.

Every Morning, I have to drag myself out of bed to kickstart my day with therapy.  As soon as I get to the basement, I crank up my iTunes and I hear this song, and I’m immediately uplifted.  After I get through my two miles, I’m ready to have a productive day.  I still daydream about my life pre-GBS, but I try not to look back, and only look forward.

Day 1, Bryn Mawr Rehab

When I was in therapy at Bryn Mawr Rehab, they had to re-teach me how to do everything.  Bending my toes, stand up out of a wheelchair, roll over in bed.  I was a blank slate and had to start over.

Once I got my confidence back, my therapists would teach me how to stand up on my toes, and I would say “oh, you mean in stiletto?”  His response?  “Uh, okay…. Whatever.”

Then, he would say, “now get into a squat”, and my response “do you mean, Wide Second?”

They would have me lean over and kick my leg up in the air while my hands are planted on the ground.  I said, “Oh, I’ve done this in Twiggy”.

Since I got so many quizzical looks from my therapy team, I gave them the news.  My name is Suzy, and I’m a “Lither”.

When I got sick, so many things went through my mind.  When will I be able to move my legs?  I miss my heels.  How long am I going to be in a wheelchair?  Boy, do I need mascara.  These slippy socks they make me wear are so not stylish.  When can I get back to Lithe?

I started “Lithing” back in late Spring, 2010.  The Lithe Method is a Cardio-Cheer-Sculpting exercise regimen.  When I found out that the founder is a former cheerleader and created her method based on some cheer principles, I knew I found my dream workout!  Classes are so much fun.  When you have classes called Skinny Jeans, Barlesque and Hipster, you know you are bound to get pushed to your limits.

I was terrible in the beginning.  My first class the teacher, Bari, had us at the Barre for a segment of the class.  I had to do 90 lunges, in stiletto (meaning on your tippie toes), on each leg while leaning back from the barre.  Yes, I said 90, you know, 10 less than 100!  It was 30 sets of three different types of lunges-standard lunge, curtsey lunge, sumo lunge.  Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  I did them, all 90 of them.

Did I feel it the next day?  I kid you not, I was walking bow-legged for at least three days.  I had hold onto the sides of chairs in order to lower myself to a seated position.  I winced every time I stood up from the couch.  I had a hell of a time getting a t-shirt over my head.  All you heard was “ow ow ow… ooh… Owwwww.”  Everything muscle in my body hurt.  Muscles hurt where I didn’t even know I had muscles.  Without fear, I went back to a second class, which turned into two classes a week.  Then, I was buying the monthly unlimited package.

When they closed the Main Line Studio in March of 2011, I was so committed, I started driving to the City every day for class.  In fact, I got so addicted, I would leave my house in the burbs at 5am for a 6am class, shower at the studio, so I could turn around and be at work in Plymouth Meeting by 8:30am.  Yes, that’s right.  I am Addicted to one of the healthiest possible thing a girl could be addicted to. It’s not chocolate, or Shopping (well maybe I’m a little shoe-addicted), or Alcohol (even though I do love Tequila)… I am addicted to Lithe.

Lithe Studio, January 2012!

One of my New Year’s resolutions (See Auld Lang Syne) was “#2 Get back to Lithe”!  Mission Accomplished!  I went back to my first class on January 17.  I was a bundle of nerves as I gimped into the studio after being gone for 5 months.  As soon as I walked down the corridor, cane in hand, I felt at home.  I went to a Beginner’s class, and didn’t know a soul except for the instructor.  When Krista saw me, I was engulfed in a huge hug. I felt like I just saw an old friend.  I ran into a few other Lithers that morning, and felt confident in my decision to come back, at this point in my recovery.  I had so much anxiety, and in a moment, I was relaxed.

Check out my Lunge!

After my first 101 class, a few days later, I braved a regular class, Wings!  It’s primarily an upper body class, and I thought that since my arms healed first, this was a class I could handle.  I was again greeted by another teacher, Steph, and another generous hug.  She walked me through all of the modifications for Wings, and we spent time after class talking through suggestions and next steps.  I went to another Lithe Class on Sunday, and Cori whipped me into shape by shouting out encouragement, and correcting my wobbly form.  The teachers really care about you at Lithe, as was reinforced these last few weeks.

I have a LONG way to go to my strength pre-GBS.  I am still struggling with my core, so I need alot of work, since it was the last part of my body that recovered from GBS.  Also, I have found that I still have serious weakness in my left side– push-ups are excruciating ( I get through 10 of 20), See-saw is very wobbly on my left side, and my balance is still off (I have to stabilize myself quite a bit on the barre).  But, considering that 5 months ago I was in the Neuro ICU, and four months ago I couldn’t even lift my legs from my wheelchair, I’d say that I’m kicking some serious ass!

The Lithe Method is a very special place.  It’s a place that is challenging, nurturing and loving.  It’s a sisterhood that I have found, that I feel very blessed to be a part of.  Since my diagnosis, I have heard from several teachers and students at Lithe, cheering me on and sending their love and well-wishes.  It’s a great feeling to be part of something healthy and supportive.  I have forged friendships there that extend outside of the studio.  I have learned so much at Lithe-  how to become a stronger woman,  to have more confidence in myself, and it’s okay to laugh and smile while you work out!

My name is Suzy, and I am so proud to be a “Lither”.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aimee on January 31, 2012 at 6:39 PM



  2. Posted by Pamela on January 31, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Congratulations—those lithers sound like special people!

    You realize you are doing more exercise than probably 80% of the population.


  3. Don’t forget your goal of a running race. Aunt Grace and I are waiting for lithe to get you to the starting line. Uncle Pete


  4. Posted by Cheryl Jarvis-Johnson on January 31, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Wow Suzy, you are absolutely amazing. I am so proud of you. God is Awesome in his power to heal the body!


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