By Larry Kidder | Judy Frost (left), long-time community member at Loma Linda University Drayson Center and client of lead personal trainer Lyn Berlingeri (right), has been working with Lyn for going on five years and four months. In that time, Judy has regained the use of her left arm, which was virtually immobile due to injuries and medical surgeries.
Drayson Center member Judy Frost is especially thankful during the 2022 holiday season for the restored use of her left arm. Yes, she still has progress to make, but she has experienced an amazing comeback from virtual immobilization.
The following story, in her own words, was written in April of 2019. She has continued her physical progress since, losing weight and regaining use of her left arm—with the continued help and support of Lyn.
Today, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, I was able to lift my left arm above my shoulder for the first time in 12 years! To understand why that is such a huge achievement, let me set the stage with a bit of history.
My left arm has been compromised because of two lumpectomy surgeries and a mastectomy, followed by chest radiation, a shattered shoulder requiring shoulder replacement, lymphedema, and within a year a second break of the same arm.
Judy works out on a machine in the Cardio Room at Drayson Center.
No one wanted to touch my arm after the second [break], so treatment was limited to immobilizing my arm for two months and hoping that it would heal. After two months of not moving my arm and shoulder, I was told I probably wouldn't have any movement in that arm. I was able to move it a little, which was far and above expectations, so my doctors felt they could do no more and told me to 'just keep doing what you're doing.' I wasn't even sent for physical therapy. My arm also hurt whenever I tried to lift it, but I kept trying anyway.
Fast-forward 11 years. A friend impressed me with her health improvements, so I met with Lyn [her personal trainer] at Drayson Center. Lyn is a very knowledgeable and competent personal trainer. She agreed to try and help me. Remember: no one has been willing to help me or touch my arm for 11 years. I was overweight and out of shape. I was a mess, and I know Lyn wasn't sure how much she could help me out—but she was willing to try.
By the time of my first session, I had managed to lose 10 pounds, which gave us both some hope. I was so impressed with Lyn's knowledge as a personal trainer. Lyn was able to adapt moves and exercises to my limitations, and we started slowly—neither of us wanted to do any further damage to my arm.
Progress was slow, but we both kept trying. Lyn was amazingly inventive, and I was motivated. In the beginning, Lyn had to physically move my arm when I couldn't. My muscles had to remember how to work before they could be taught to work again and then be strengthened.
Two months into working with Lyn, we added medical massages. From my first massage with Christine Shanahan, I could feel the difference. Christine started with lymphatic massages on my arm and loosening tight chest adhesions. Later, Christine progressed to helping loosen my shoulder and arm muscles to allow tight muscles to start working again.
Today [April 30, 2019] marks eight months of hard work, but today I lifted my arm! It's not straight and there is more work to do, but it's such a huge step forward—actually upward. My arm doesn't hurt like it constantly did, and I'm down 25 pounds and two clothing sizes. I can reach my arm out the car window to use the bank teller machine, I can lift a stack of linens and put them away in the closet, I can open an upper cupboard door, and I can put my arms on my hips. And I'm getting closer to reaching the top of my head to style my hair—all simple things, but ones I haven't been able to do.
It's taken teamwork to get me to this level. Lyn led the way, Christine added her magic, and I added my determination.
I never thought today would be possible.Today I can lift my arm. Today Lyn cried with me as we were both overwhelmed with the simple achievement of lifting my arm.
Drayson Center offers a variety of fitness and wellness services designed to help members progress toward better mobility, endurance, strength, balance, and more in order to enjoy their lives to the fullest. To explore possibilities, click on "Health & Wellness" and discover the ways we can help. To sign up for sessions and services, visit mydrayson.llu.edu.