Earrings. The ones she wore for our meeting were inconspicuous silver balls. Fitting easily in your palm, earrings – especially a favorite pair – have the power to make a person feel confident, beautiful, powerful, stylish, but when you’ve broken your ulna (the largest bone in your forearm that includes the pointy part of your elbow) putting on earrings is impossible. So, her husband Danny did it for her.
Brenda Gail Wall is a runner. She was a runner before it was cool to be a runner. It would be underestimating to call running her hobby, and it would be cliché to call running her passion. Running is an integral part of who she is.
So, the woman who smilingly proclaims, “Running is my lifestyle. I started running forty years ago, in 1977 at the Albany YMCA.”, was told there would be surgery and no running for the foreseeable future. She would certainly not be running a Thanksgiving Day race that was tradition for her and Danny.
Facing a hard truth can change people. If you know Brenda Wall, you know that not running is not an acceptable option. When asked if she has advice for others facing similar challenges she says, “You can’t go back to what has been. No regrets.”
In November of 2017, Brenda and Danny were registered to run in the Butler Community 5K. While picking up their running bibs, Brenda tripped over a piece of broken concrete and fell. At first, she didn’t think she’d injured herself too badly. It was only after she ran the race that she realized something was badly wrong. When she tried to sign her name on her timecard, “It’s hardly legible anyway, but this time I couldn’t do it at all. I went straight to the doctor. I needed surgery. I wouldn’t be able to race.”
Right after surgery, Brenda began physical therapy with FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers in Albany. Her primary goal was to get back to running; however, her secondary goal was to be able to use her push mower. “In terms of determination and drive, she is unlike anyone I have ever met,” says Lacey Smith, PTA, “she set specific goals and made it clear she was going to do the work to get there.”
And work she did. Brenda never missed a physical therapy appointment, and she did her homework. Lacey created a specifically designed home therapy exercise program that Brenda could work on between appointments to help speed her healing process. “I’m a retired speech-language pathologist and knew how much my recovery depended on the therapy I did at home,” Brenda added.
In only a few weeks, she began to see improvement, “Lacey took range of motion and grip strength measurements at every appointment. Once I could see the numbers changing, it was a real motivator.”
In order for Brenda to use her push-mower, she would need to be able to push about 150 pounds. So, on May 10th as part of her discharge, Brenda simulated mowing the yard by successfully pushing PTA Josh Hughes, who weighs approximately 150 pounds, around the office on a rolling cart. Unconventional? Sure. Necessary? Absolutely.
“After my injury, so many things became more difficult, or impossible – like putting on my earrings, transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, eating and writing. I just had to go with the flow. I made modifications and adapted. I feel I’m at 90% now, but I’m going to keep doing the therapy Lacey and I put together, and I know it will continue to get better.”
Good luck catching Brenda to ask her about her success story. She’s got a 5K this weekend.