A faulty office chair reminds me to always look for opportunities

ALS has taught me to meet challenges with patience and ingenuity

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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Who knew that a malfunctioning office chair could actually be a helpful addition to my daily ALS-focused exercises? I certainly didn’t. But now that I’ve grown accustomed to its sneaky ways, I want to keep my chair just the way it is.

I type on a laptop placed on our dining table while sitting on an office chair with wheels, and I keep the chair at its highest setting, which is perfect for me. However, over the past few years, the chair’s pneumatic tube has developed a tendency to lose its pressure. It’s not one of those slow leaks that happen over the course of the day, but at random, irregular times. I’ll feel a downward motion, and suddenly, I’m typing at the height of a toddler. If my chair had a voice, it would be saying, “Hey, lady, the ride’s over!”

So I have to stop, push back from the table, and fix the problem.

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Here’s how I use a chair to safely do floor exercises

My special routine

I swivel to face my nearby rollator, and then, with one hand on the table and the other on my rollator’s handle, lean way forward and heave-ho myself up to standing. But I’m not finished yet. Next, I bend my knees into a semi-squat position and carefully reach back to tap a handle located under the seat. The seat finally pops up, and I return to a stand.

Of course, I realize that most folks in the same situation would simply buy a new chair. Eventually, I know I’ll have to do that. But, in the meantime, because maintaining my muscle strength is a priority, I appreciate the daily interruption.

The hidden lesson

That’s the thing about my ALS: Living with the condition motivates me to look for opportunities in every situation. For example, this one has morphed into a reminder to take a break from too much sitting; to stand up, hold an isometric squat, breathe, and notice my surroundings. Plus, I can augment my daily squats routine and avoid disuse atrophy from inactivity. So far, it’s a win-win for me.

If you find yourself sitting in a faulty chair, don’t despair. Meet the challenge and think of it as a chance to exercise your patience, humor, and ingenuity. For me, it’s all part of learning to live well while living with ALS.

Oops, it’s happening again. Faulty chair break time.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Gail Wells avatar

Gail Wells

Thank you for your encouraging story pointing toward looking for opportunities to increase one's health instead of becoming discouraged and impatient. I have taken every medication the doctor has suggested for me to possibly prolong my life and have been encouraged to exercise, especially to stretch, but find it difficult to summon time and energy to exercise. Sometimes I think maybe it's not helpful for me because I can already see a big increase in my symptoms. What is your advice for feeling motivated to add exercise to my schedule?

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Hello Gail, I find that doing my exercise sessions in short bouts (10-15 min each) throughout the day is best for my body and energy level. For example, one session is first hing in AM while I'm lying in bed, then later inthe morning sitting in a chair, then afternoon standing with my rollatoe, and finally after dinner. I wrote a post about it here: https://alsandwellness.blogspot.com/2022/03/my-tricks-for-adding-movement-to-my-day.html

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