Parents, too busy caring to get to the gym? Children, have you overheard people telling your parents what a burden you must be and how you take, take, take, without giving back?
I have the answer. A fitness programme for parents, where the child gets to be the coach. It's the Special Parent Olympics.
Some suggested routines.
Child, position yourself in line of sight, but preferable separated from your parent by a stack of dirty washing, a puddle of spilt milk, assorted furniture and a small pet. Turn blue.
For added variety, return to your usual colour as your parent reaches you, and smile sweetly. Allow your mother to return to to her previous position, then choke. Repeat as necessary; seizures, spasms, screams, and trapping your head between wheelchair and headrest will serve to prevent boredom.
Child, aim a projectile vomit so that it lands in a giant puddle separating you from your parent. Then choke. For a bonus point, ensure your mother's slippers are your side of the puddle.
Child, aim your projectile vomit upwards (a good thorough vent/decompression via gastrostomy tube will serve this purpose too) and ensure it is sticky enough to stain the ceiling.
It is best to be outside for this one. Wait until your mother has temporarily let go of the handles of your wheelchair, then jump to get the chair rolling again. Shout just seconds before you are due to hit the hedge at the bottom of the path.
Alternatively, ensure your parent is out of sight, then make a variety of suspicious noises.
So many possibilities. Losing the ability to self-wind, ensuring that the parent must lift you to their shoulder and jiggle repeatedly is a good start.
Break the hoist, or, if you can, roll out of reach of the ceiling track.
Slide down in bed, wrapping yourself around the duvet and under the mattress to ensure the parent gets a good stretch in place whilst trying to disentangle you, lifting you and mattress at the same time. If you can kick your sleeping system onto the floor this will ensure the parent gets a good chance of lifting at a lower level too.
If you have a power chair, arranging for this to cut out in the middle of the road just as the little green man disappears can be quite effective too.
Active participation in your physiotherapy programme will help your parents with this. Push back as they attempt to manipulate your limbs, the occasional spasm mid-stretch will help with their reaction times too.
Dressing and intimate personal care are other particularly effective times to enable your parents to work on this. Cross your legs at the knees and stay clenched, no matter what. This will work their hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back. Point toes at all times, unless parents are attempting to put your socks on, in which case a bend and wiggle is most effective. Keeping your fists clenched will facilitate their thumb workouts. Remember at all times to relax the limb not being actively worked on, save your own strength to put into the arm currently being pushed into a sleeve or leg into trousers. Throwing an arm out and to the side will give you good leverage to push back when your parents attempt to roll you over - this again will give them a good arm and back workout.
Speed and reaction training.
Develop a 2 second warning routine before any sneeze, vomit, choke or bowel movement. This will ensure your parents come running but will also mostly ensure that they have the ability to work on their resistance training as outlined in the previous paragraph too. The timing is crucial; no warning, and they will avoid the speed training, instead pausing to gather clean up tools before approaching you. Too much warning and they will instead avoid the resistance training follow up.
This is easier if you can team up with a sibling. Position yourselves in different rooms, then one of you needs to have a seizure, whilst the other needs to dislodge their ventilator. Standard variations (seizures, spasms, vomits, smearing) allowed.
For a cross country relay, ensure that your professionals schedule appointments at consecutive times but at opposite ends of the same hospital. Some children have attempted to manage this with separate hospitals, but have found parents avoid the exercise and instead drive from one to the next.
An in-patient variation of the relay may be acheived by releasing your parent to go to the canteen. Time your next medical emergency for the moment your parent reaches the tills to pay for their food. Timing is crucial - too late and the parent will return with food in hand, too soon and the parent will simply abandon the idea of food. The perfect timing includes a panicked phonecall from the ward at the very moment the parent is paying for the food. With practice, this should ensure the parent abandons their handbag and purse at the till, thus requiring them to run back to the canteen once they have run back to the ward to discover that your crisis was not life-threatening.
Have yourself admitted to a hospital which prevents parents from eating or drinking on the ward, and then remain too unwell for the parents to leave your bedside. For variety, see suggestions for relay above.
As an outpatient, your best time for this workout is at night. Wait quietly until you hear your parent turn out their bedside light. Cry loudly and inconsolably. Resist sleep until you have been rocked and patted and sung to for at least an hour. Close your eyes eventually and if you can manage to relax all your body tone so your parent is forced to hold you tight against their body and waddle back to the bedroom, so much the better. Keep those eyes closed as the parent puts you into bed, turns off the light, and stumbles back into their own bed. Allow the parent two minutes and forty two seconds of rest, before crying loudly and inconsolably again. NB this may be combined with the relay, if your sibling is cooperative.
It's best to combine this with being too ill for school or your parent may not benefit from the full 24 hour experience.
Require suctioning and venting simultaneously.
Kick out to dislodge your feed pump whilst having a nose bleed.
Lose all head control during each and every manual transfer.
Insist on your parent holding you at all times, especially when trying to talk on the telephone and have a drink.
Collude with siblings or cats to ensure your parent always has more than one living object to hold.
When out and about, refuse to push your own wheelchair, forcing your parent to push two wheelchairs at once. For added variety, insist on bringing your own doll's pram and then stop pushing that halfway home.
Arrange for one handlebar to collapse repeatedly at unexpected intervals. This is especially effective when being bumped up or down kerbs or past parked cars.
Tell all your friends to invite you to visit, but omit to inform your parents that they live in a 2nd floor flat with no lift.
Get into the swimming pool, then bribe the lifeguard