As I enter into my 5th month of camping things have never been better or worse at the same time. Each month when I do not think it can't get crazier it does. My legs continue to heal in new and interesting ways. Other sections adding to the cacophony. Camping is providing other challenges. And spiritually I had a breakthrough. I am healing, I am grateful, thank you!
As I am now deep in Appalachia I'm experiencing a beautifully quiet, introspective time. Soon I will return to the Smokies. I want to address a question I often get, which is: what about physical therapy on your trip? When trying to recover anything in your body the best way to do so is by the natural actions and movements of your body. By living solo and camping solo not only am i living my life as normal as possible but now I have added in a large number of other factors that one can be stressful and also very helpful for recovery. I am using my body in ways otherwise not used at a home. This causes other nerves to fire. The nerves that fire together wire together. Simply, camping is the best physical therapy I can have now. While in the woods I still do all the other things I was doing before, sometimes just on the lawn or possibly even on a cement pad as I am sleeping on one now. So camping across America solo in a wheelchair is not only nuts but healing it would appear too :)-
It is a funny balance, the motions and exercises one needs to heal to walk again, whilst camping, are helpful and hurtful at the same time. One big factor that plays into the equation is every couple weeks I change location. Each time I change the location every element of living injured changes as well. It can be a bit stressful and sometimes beat you down. Recently I felt like I was broken by my injury and had nowhere to go, or any further gas in my tank. Never in my life did I think I would run out of gas in any area, let alone mental and psychological. But a good friend reminded me that it took an inhuman act to knock me down and so it would most likely take an inhuman act to break me as well. And I would now add an inhuman solution to finally finding inner peace, heal, walk, run.
My legs, oh gosh, what more can I say about my legs. Just when I think most parts have healed another thing or area rears its head to let me know my road is still further. Ensure they have been going crazy in ways that even I could not have imagined previous. It started with my feet wanting to join each other as an ex while I slept, then that went to my knees, inner thighs, outer thighs, and now it is in my groin. Needless to say between that and BnB healing, it can make for an interesting day or night to do anything, including sitting, driving, or sleeping. The false positives can play on one's nerves. Pun intended. The injury dictates so much of my life it is unimaginable. I am healing, I am thankful.
My lower abdominal area continues to heal as well. Which also adds into the mix digestion issues and concerns. Some days I have to eat as if I am a performance monkey at a circus in order to get the food down. Other days I sit with my hand up like a student in class waiting for the teacher to call on him. As this area has progressed in its recovery I can feel more and more, including the food working its way down and doing what it does. Add that together with additional recovery in the groin and it can make for a very uncomfortable day or night. I do not want to come across as someone who is complaining, just plainly and boldly speaking factual. It is tough.
Each and every month recovery expenses differ. Most months there is a shortage however. They continued outpouring of love and support has truly humbled me. It has caused me to connect and realize other parts of my life inadvertently. It is a matter of consistency, inner oneness. One major area of Solace I am finding is in aligning the consistency of my thoughts and my actions. My whole life I have been one to give and help others but never gave much thought to the bigger picture and how it would play out. I am so incredibly thankful for all the donations, prayers, positive light, and words of encouragement I receive daily. Truly I am unable to do what I do to recover to walk and run again without the love and support of others. Thank you deep from within my heart. Have a safe and Happy Labor Day! Steven
PS - Fall has arrived here in the mountains. This beautiful leaf fell into my tent onto my chest whilst asleep.
I am now going into my fourth month of camping and it is extremely challenging to say the least - and I am sure replete with rewards in the future but now it is hard to see past a day. More severe changes in my legs, abdominal, and even right hand now. Sleeping is hard and the pain is high - along with other fun parts of recovery. It is all needed, and good. Funny, after spending 30 days in the woods I come out to a bigger city (200k people) and all cellular was down - how apropos. And today I head back into the woods for 30 more days. I am looking forward to more time meditating and healing under the stars - God's orchestra, the joy of the cosmic vibration. Bigger news - my bladder is now healed, and a joy it is. However at the same time I can feel every single part of my digestion - all part of the lower abdominal recovery; and is it brutal. I had heard the devil was in the details, well, it is true. One never knows if something is moving due to digestion or other. I can say though it is quite a miracle to experience and feel every single part of my internal and external recovery, mind and spirit. My right hand has been improving from the 97% it already has recovered. It has been cramped, numb, and fingers a little wonky of late. My legs continue too - and now it appears it is my flex muscles on the move - it is near impossible for me to straighten my legs recently, whether in the day or at night whilst trying to get some rest. My legs like to stand up in a V, with knees up in air, as much as possible. So a step back to take two forward, pun intended. All with time. I am very grateful, thankful. So another great update to report. The ego is taking a beating, but spiritually I am taking a needed cleansing. The trip continues to present me situations more easily dealt with at a home, in AC, comfortable, but that would be too easy, and not how I would want it. I am a true believer in "no pain, no gain" - it has to get done, just as Doing the Dirty Dishes, either it gets done or it doesn't, but if you wish to get to the finish line you make the sacrifices to keep on the road to recovery. It is one heck of a tough road - and each time I think I am out of the woods I get knocked back down. I guess my lessons have not all arrived yet. My injury, as life, is a work in progress. And all you take a part in that recovery - in every way, every day. Thank you for your continued donations, prayers and positive light. They make all the difference in the world. Thank you! Have a great and safe summer. Steven
My journey has now brought me to the splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains. As my trip continues so does my recovery. New changes in freaky ways I never thought imaginable are happening: I can admit I am surprised sometimes, this is one of them. Once again I am in a deep and painful part of my recovery, more severe in more areas combined. My legs are acting wild of late, and there is some big news in my mid section. My adventure and the magic of the trail is performing its purpose: remove me from my comfort zone and initiate change; however, at what price. It is working its magic spiritually, through recovery and the bigger questions on life and living. My ego dreads the process, my spiritual side loves it.
The pains in my legs, hips, lower abdominal and lower back are incessant and bend over to take a breath severe. My inner groin muscles are returning, making it very hard to keep my legs straight even while sleeping or driving, which can be very dangerous on turns or other road conditions. They now try to cross each other at every opportunity, and when I sleep they are irascibly restless. While driving a few times they have gotten caught up in precarious positions bordering danger. The long drives are definitely pushing my limits in more ways than one. To say the trip, part III of recovery, is tough would be a massive understatement. However the new changes in my legs are also allowing me to support my body with my legs in new advantageous ways. For example, now I am able to lift my tooshie off the ground from different positions, such as when stretching them out the car door while on long drives and needing to readjust pants. I'm also able to lift things on a sideways angle more so now and sit up straighter and taller while driving.
The biggest news of the month is by far my lower abdominal section starting to recover. It's a sledgehammer, torches of fire at the base of my spine, and aches and pains of every sort or combined into one great spiritual gift. I often joked how one day two years ago it suddenly seemed myself pregnant since my belly muscles had released causing distention. So one day last week out of the wild blue by lower abdominal muscles decided to squeeze inward as if trying to pull stomach to spine, all without notice. And hence started that part of my recovery. Suddenly after 3.5 years I could feel my lower stomach muscles again. This is also adding to the larger picture of pain and discomfort, aside from what normally would come with such a recovery, it also greatly affects my lower back, breathing, and digestion. Yet another new set of puzzle pieces to put together. It seems forever an endless list sometimes. It is no doubt a tougher trip than I imagined - but I am eternally grateful. My ego hates the trip, my spirit wants more of it.
The trip continues, my spirits are high, though in severe pain and uneasy daily life. It is only when one is uncomfortable that one can initiate real change. It is not fun being in the fox hole on the front line, and it is taking every fiber I have mentally, psychologically and physically, but I forge onward the road to recovery. I chose to do this knowing when I come out on the other side I will be a changed man. And that keeps fuel in the tank of endless mental and psychological gas consumption. I am doing PT on local grass patches and in the woods - which makes for interesting comments to be included in a chapter later in book. All part of the journey of recovery, and life. Life is well, I am well. Thank you for your love and support, donations, prayers, positive rays and thoughts of light and love. They are very much appreciated. Thank you! Steven
Yet another journey of life has begun, and this chapter is off to a tough start - to be expected. Living outdoors is not easy in a wheelchair but would not want any other means to heal at this juncture in my recovery. Legs have been super active with nerve running and other new cool movements. Pool therapy starts this week. My lower back and lower abdominal sections continue to recover in new and interesting ways. And there are some thoughts of making a outdoor video series to help others injured.
Nature will bear the closest inspection; she invites us to lay our eye level with the smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. She has no interstices; every part is full of life. ["Natural History of Massachusetts"]
- Henry D. Thoreau
Camping is fun, nature is more fun, though tough and wrought with its own special circumstances and new challenges. The people you meet along the way are all part of the story as well. No doubt another book could be filled with the characters one meets on the magic trail of life. A background of extensive outdoors activities prepared me for daily life in the woods but nothing could have prepared me for doing it in a wheelchair. There may have been some underestimations but in the end it is all in the name of recovery. If one truly wants to recover their freedom, body, mind, life, it takes hard work: Doing the Dirty Dishes in life. There is no way around it, no shortcut, no phone call to be made. All the lessons one learns in nature translate into our 'reality' - which, of course, is what we make it. And I would not have it any other way; and so it goes your body follows what your mind tells it. Voila!
Life in the woods is spectacular, reconnecting with the healing energy of the earth, and the orchestra of nature, basis of all life in our cosmos. Many of the therapies used to help injured people heal is based on energies naturally found in the earth and from its natural resources. Earth can provide all you need in life to be healthy and happy - one must only first know where to look, or what questions to ask of the Universe. It is the bounty of life, truly. Just as I received PEMF treatments from a machine I now receive the same energy from the earth - not through osmosis from afar, simply put: being on the earth, feet in the soil, wind blowing, rain falling, trees rustling, and all the other parts of natures orchestra - all which are naturally healing. So my therapy has taken a turn to more holistic means. Either way there is a cost and so I continue to raise funds in order to heal, walk again, run a 5k race.
Since being back with nature my legs have done a 180 degree change, for the better, whilst continuing to improve each week. They have not once requested the walker to stand. They are healing in other ways at present, all of which I welcome and continue to look for new ways to recover. At some point I suspect I will be spending more time rolling and frolicking in the grasses of the beautiful fields of the US. The result of all this new activity and movement of my legs is threefold: 1. it is causing my muscles to work and fire in new ways (nerves that fire together, wire together); 2. the energy of the earth is affecting and improving my nerves in new ways - the nerve running has gotten much stronger, legs more reactive; and, 3. having to do four plus floor transfers a day has caused them to work more as an individual leg, pair of legs - this week they started assisting me in the transfer, to the relief of my arms and shoulders. Another 'aha' moment - and a small win to celebrate. Tonight I shall do this much.
The aforementioned goes for my lower back and middle to lower abdominal sections as well. They also are having to move in new ways, operate under different circumstances and conditions - all of which are healing in great ways. I always say there is no better way to recover than act as normal as possibly each day, and live your life treating your body as it were not injured. There is no replacing hard work in life - and there is no free ice cream either. I can already feel the difference in those sections and am able to move now in ways previous impossible. Being able to roll over, pull forward, balance your body - keep in mind all while on the ground - is huge! Makes so much difference in daily life, psychologically it is akin to winning the lottery. The game is life and I plan to win.
Thank you once again for all those who love and support me in their own ways. Donations are always greatly appreciated, as are your prayers, positive light and words of encouragement. Thank you! Steven
The craziness persists unobstructed: my legs continue to make strides in new ways; nerves relentlessly run a nightly marathon; lower back is healing in new ways; muscles soreness and pain uncease, and therapy carries on unabated.
Each day of the last two weeks my legs have gotten crazier. Yes, I have said such things before but there is really no other way to describe it easily. They change what they do each day - how they react, move, twitch, stretch, kick, etcetera - and keeps me guessing; as well others who work within ample receiving range. It can be annoying at times, especially since one of the biggest things I am trying to regain is consistency in my recovery, life again. But I chalk it up, as with most parts of my recovery, to getting better.
I truly believe in order to recover one must not only push himself beyond what he/she thought were their prior limits, but well beyond, to the precipice. My M.O. in life was always to get up to the edge and then peer over. Most would think myself a nut, and I might agree. During meditation the other night it occurred to me that the same crazy relentless attitude that helped lead me to this accident is the same bag of nutso that will get me to walk again. That's irony!
Such is the circle of life. Wherever you are going will get you there. You are where you are supposed to be.
As my cold laser and PEMF treatments increase so too the reactions in my legs. And as AquaTherapy is starting again I am curious to see how the combo do together. At night it feels as if a small toy truck is being run up and down my legs....and at the same time it feels like cable the size or the carotid artery being run continuously for hours on end, making even sitting on a couch a hard task. Or anything for that matter.
My lower back is healing again. People often ask me how I know what I know regarding my injury and recovery. It is simple, I am a doctor. A doctor love. Remember: the body WANTS to heal itself, you only need to give it the right conditions to do so, and it will. Each person has their own medicine, and most all times it does not require a RX bottle, or twelve. My body tells me what it needs and wants - I do not always listen however, usually being stubborn and pushing it to the limits, whereas some days I could not drive home without first waiting an hour to breathe regularly again, or having someone load my chair into my car for me. Oh, back to my body - yes, well the obvious reason I know this is because my neck muscles are sore. Every muscle in the whole body is interconnected - simple deduction that the neck is now overcompensating for some of the lower back going offline to heal properly. No need for an MD to tell me about my own body. One must study and learn their own body, then they can be their own best doc.
As always, your donations, love, support, prayers, and words of support are greatly appreciated. As Spring moves into full swing my therapy will just about double, so too will the expenses. Please consider a donation in 2015 this tax season. All are tax deductible as charitable contributions. I am so grateful for all I receive, for without your donations and love and support I cannot do what I do to heal.
I love you, I'm sorry, Please forgive me.
I am grateful. Thank you!!!
As Easter and Passover are upon us my pain is decreasing daily, and my energy improving slightly. More improvements in my recovery, more therapy changes, insurances changes, and other fun news to report. Otherwise Spring is off to a great start. I am thankful.
Since getting back into Lokomat sessions, walking each session a little over one mile, my body has been freaking out in a sense. The pieces of the puzzle are still coming together and so I am not sure my body is ready for those later phase movements just yet. It is a fickle process and the body does not speak in definitives necessarily. As insurance wants me to be running a marathon by now to continue paying for walking sessions - the PT staff cannot show enough improvement to the insurance company (they really do want unrealistic results - my results are consistently better each week, though not in all the areas 'they consider' most important to justify the expense - standing with walker not enough even, they want me to start timing with hands off (absurd)) in order to continue the therapy. And cash for that therapy is not in the budget this quarter. So the therapy stops. That is how insurance basically works. The best answer is to increase pool sessions, get to the insurance company's level of results, then start sessions again. Not for nothing it is worthy to note I am a dream insurance customer - take no Rx's, eat very healthy, exercise, rarely see doctors, understand the parts of the body and their function and role in my body, tall and handsome, getting better each week - but the system is not set up to reward the good we do to stay healthy and get better. It is backwards. But I digress....
My legs are in freaky zone now. At last report my leg strength was 96.5% - it has gone up a slight bit to 97%, They now have crazy nerve activity in both, more so left (as laggard in recovery), legs at all hours of the day and night. And when I am laying down in bed, especially at morning and night, they are stronger and more reactive than better. On Sunday after a little NCAA my legs were indifferently irascible unlike ever before - and when I went to stand with 4 point walker I was able to stand for about 2 or 2.5 minutes - it was yet another new change and this one had me more in amazement than most and so I lost track of the timing - was unimportant at that moment.
It feels as if the nuts and bolts are still tightening whilst starting to learn to function together again. My therapist was starting to introduce me to exercises one would start to do when one would want to test the ability of the body to initiate weight transfer between both legs - in able to walk once must be able to take his weight off one leg and foot whilst simultaneously transferring the same weight to the other leg. I am also starting to practice quadropad exercises - basically learning to crawl like a baby.
Other new changes: I am sitting differently once again, more straight and almost as if back being pressed against back surface - as more muscles come on and offline to repair and work together again they change your positions, how you shift weight, and areas of soreness; sometimes the warning is when it occurs. My body has been craving a ton of fuel of late. Muscle memory in legs is recovering, each week they know more movements, and execute them subconsciously - it is kind of when you sit in a car and your feet know what to do - that type of thing. I am able to lean in new ways - but also these past few weeks I have almost had a few headers when muscles gave way - sometimes the body doesn't warn me there is a new construction zone until close to too late. And once was in the shower, on the chair, a first. Recovery is a strange animal, fascinates me every day.
Please consider a donation in 2015, sharing video to friends and family:
It is days like today that can test a man's resolve. The accident and recovery is partly yet mostly a spiritual journey of the mind and body - healing as one. Pains continue as does recovery in all areas, some more pleasant than others. My leg strength to stand is now at an amazing 96.5% I am thankful.
Imagine it is a beautiful Spring day, birds chirping, sun shining on your face, wind blowing in your hair, but you cannot get out of bed due to your body needing rest to recharge so you can get through the other part of the day. And once all that is settled, eat, and decide to get a shower - where it is an act of pain most days, very painful to sit with back straight to wall - immense strain on abdominal muscles I lack most. The act of shaving my pretty baby face is the same agony. And since my hips and pelvis are getting tighter it has also changed how I sit on the shower chair - adding to the fun today, whilst friends prepare for a green night out I dream of therapy this evening. A break, what is a break? And who ever knew showers could be so fun.
After one week of shoulder pain I realised I injured my left side - and for the last two weeks I rested it - also sidelining me from going anywhere since shoulders bear the brunt of wheelchair daily life. That also greatly affected my neck muscles, eventually making it down to my left toes. Which is funny since my left leg has been doing some amazing leg strength-and-progress gap closing of late. My left leg has been going nutso with major nerve runners (mostly 2am-4am), muscles and ligament connecting (night time), and joint tightening (mostly from 2pm 8pm - painful to sit when occurs). I am sure doctors would find it funny I can feel each part heal - but probably that is because that are not taught healing - but, in reality, we all possess this power within us, you only need to learn to listen and speak the language of your body. It is the same language of the universe: love.
One area I rarely touch on in this blog is the personal side. You can bet that every single side imaginable to a person and their personality has been thoroughly
vetted all the while the process of becoming a new man plays itself out on a stage for all to witness. That is an act of courage and vulnerability for me. I hope through writing the book on recovery to share and explore more of those areas, especially from a psychological perspective: combining the every-day practical fight with the psychology playing out behind the scenes, and how they combine to heal a person. Both areas will be defined and well explained.
Therapy continues to kick my backside. Weekly now I am walking one mile on the treadmill while strapped into a walking robot, at 2.7 mph (44 mins walking time). This has many benefits but the biggest being how the body gets to experience walking again, and all the nerves and muscles and miracles to do so - the nerves that fire together, wire together. The mind is a powerful tool with amazing healing powers.
As Spring comes into the mix my therapy frequency will be increased, as will the costs. Please consider sharing our fundraiser video as expenses each month continue to outweigh resources available. Please consider a tax deductible donation in 2015 too.
New Update - LEGS stronger once again! Now at 95% standing strength. The New Year is really delivering on its promise to be a big one! Other discomforts and severe pains continue as I try to rest body over the last three weeks. Body is better every day in every way, as am I. I am tremendously thankful.
I have said before that I knew there was always some more hard core pain to come. Well, surely then I am in the middle of that climb. It has been three weeks of bad pain - enough for me to comment - which tells you it is off the charts, as most pain doesn't register to me. My upper left back is in tremendous pain as well, especially in the scapula region. I am sure this region is in pain due to left leg recovery - late at night I can feel all the connections from top of body to bottom. On that subject, I can feel huge things happening in my left leg - nerve running, tendons connecting, muscle attaching and other 'I feel like I am growing as a baby in an adult's body' God like feelings - Amazing!
I am getting dizzy again when I move my body into different positions, mostly when switching between vertical or horizontal. I continue to be able to move into new positions, stretching forward and backward whilst in chair. I can also bend over to the floor in an easier fashion, making life in my chair a lil more convenient; also makes for cleaner flooring.
My arms and other muscles in abdominal region have been in severe pain this past week. Some nights when relaxing with a book, and I go to bend over to get something from the table, my body's muscles are weak and I almost do a header into the hard table - always make me smile. My elbow seems to have gotten bruised again in the whole shoulder and sore muscles malais. I feel as if these growing pains are on their way out - while others move in, naturally. All in the name of recovery.
I have been resting my body but would like to let you know the last time I did a locomotive session I was able to walk ONE MILE in the harness, while on the treadmill. It certainly shocked my body a bit. I like those types of shocks - almost still do not believe it.
My body craves the loco machine now, a first.
One other really neat development to report on. The other night, late, I was doing some standing exercises. And once again something had changed. This time when I stood with the 4 point stander I could feel all the moving parts coming together, stretching, pulling, tightening, loosening - and all the other miraculous things that have to happen in order for us to stand. I was in pure and utter amazement. What an astonishing cacophony of feelings to experience. It was very moving, and telling of so much. I am healing, every day, in every way. I am thankful for my body and its ability to heal.
Thank you too to all those who continue to support and love me, give donations for my therapy and recovery, and whom send positive light and words of encouragement. They each and all make a difference.
Leg strength has increased once again. Pain persists in ways unheard of previous. Muscles, nerves, tendons continue to heal at a rapid rate. Life is good, I am grateful, thankful and humbled.
I have taken another 1/2 week of therapy, holding off on the more demanding exercises. I have a new area of bad pain - my deltoid muscle area of my left shoulder. I can barely lift my left arm let alone transfer from chair to anywhere. As the whole body is interconnected I would guess the pains in neck and shoulder on left side are related to recovery of my left leg. Left leg has been on a tear of late - with nerves most active from 4pm-10pm. I am happy to report sitting has become bearable again - I no longer feel like bending spine backwards out of my back.
When I get up and down, in any direction, I get light headed - reminds me of being vertical first days of my rehab at Magee Hospital (which were fun btw). My leg reactions are more severe in bed too - enough to break your nose if you do not move out of the way of the incoming knee bomb. They hurt, and do damage. Also now when on my crystal mat my nerves in both legs go crazy. Most of the pain has left the hip and pelvis region, moving right into the legs, where else would it go? Logical in my recovery book. Late at night, 2am to 5am the nerve runners are most active. These are the heavyweights of nerve runners, moving the big boys - as I can feel each and every one.
The big news this week, and the last few: my legs continue to get stronger. The other night when standing at 2am they jumped up 2.5%, so my leg strength to stand is now at 92.5% It now feels as if the upper area, hips and pelvis, are strong like steel - working together as parts, with my lower region, knees to toes, feeling like light styrofoam. That would put my overall body recovery at 82.5% - and I could not be happier.
Oh, and last week, I walked a mile on the treadmill, harnessed in. Soon dress rehearsal will be over.
This past week has been another pain filled week - all in the name of recovery. My legs continue to get stronger, as do other parts of my body heal and get me closer to standing full time. And the first chapter of the book is complete. Oh, it is cold outside too (finally).
As I have stated before, I knew the hardest part was yet to come. I am clearly there now. Somehow I do not think learning to walk again can be nearly as painful as recovering all the required parts to walk again. This past week has been very bad for my neck. I remember in past updates I mentioned how it felt as if the bone in my neck, surgery area, was regrowing (and it was, right around the surgery) - well, that feeling has returned. But this time it is much worse, a ton more painful. It feels as if the tendons and muscles and bone are all regrowing and repairing. This mainly happens at night, but the last few weeks it has been during the day as well, leaving me at home mostly since it is too painful to go anywhere, or ever have enough energy to do so. I took off from one therapy today and allowed the snow to be the culprit, when in reality my body is just too tired to go. I am finally learning that resting is also a big part of healing and recovering one's body. And partly why I think I know some of the things I do, I do not rest as much as I should and so therefore get to experience some of these recovery mechanisms while fully awake. I always compare to what it must feel like as a baby growing, but with an adult mind and comprehension.
The pains in the hips and pelvic region are still there but do bother nearly as much as my neck. There is just not enough pain to go around to make me mad. I take no medications for pain, have not for 2.5 years. Sure, not a fan of pain, but mostly ignore it. Those regions now have tightened up and I suspect are still wiring and connecting hardware needed to walk.
When I stand it is yet a new feeling. Now it feels as if I have my legs again, just they are weaker and less able to support me (used to be a recurring dream, nightmare scenario of mine). At night I can feel crazy never before felt sensations in my legs. Also, the other night, I felt little pops in my neck. A good friend told me it was the discs popping back into place - as I ran my finger down the back of my neck. I do not know what is exactly happening, though I do get pretty darn close, closer than doctors, to my body at all times. It is a weekly puzzle but I have gotten good at solving. Which is what others who are trying to heal need to do as well. No one is your biggest advocate for recovery other than you.
Swimming is on hold, while my body adjusts to the walking program. Last week I hit a new speed record - are you sitting down, wait, wait - 2.8 miles per hour. I walked for one mile on the treadmill - a BIG FIRST for moi. Needless to say it has shocked my body just a tad bit. As a result it is taking my body longer to acclimate and recover so I can hit the ground running for more therapy. Also part of my recovery maturing process - realizing what modalities, and how often for each, to do and when it is time for rest. Well, since I speak so well with my body the answers come more quickly.
The book project officially kicked off last week. Chapter one has now been submitted, and the structure, annotated index, chapter breakdown are all in the works. I think it is going to be a tremendously popular book - for injured and non injured alike. We hope it is an interesting read that helps provoke the inner spirit in those fighting to win over an illness or injury. And we hope to experience their successes as well. Bright things to come in the near future!
After enjoying a night out with friends in Philadelphia , Christmas week 2011, I hailed a taxi to go home. That was my last recollection before suffering an attack where I was left for dead in a city alley. Many facts are unknown but investigators determined that I was most likely struck across the back with a heavy, blunt piece of metal three different times blindly from behind, causing various injuries to my body and spinal cord. Soon after I was found on train tracks with further severe injuries from the fall and damage from the train hitting me. The police investigated but were unable to find the attacker(s) or any other information as to the accident.
Everyone always hears of tragic accidents but no one ever expects they will be the victim. The reality that I was a victim became known to me as I drifted in and out of consciousness in the trauma unit with doctors over my body , tubes and wires, and a priest at my side. It did not become clear what had happened until the priest spoke with me, and I realized I could not move anything below shoulders from paralysis. Emergency surgery awaited me as I was facing the rest of my life in a wheelchair with a 10% chance of recovery to walk. I knew this would be the greatest fight of my life.
I spent 6 grueling months in Trauma, ICU, step-down units, and at a rehabilitation hospital - filled with struggle, frustration, anger, support, love, and the thought of never walking again. I was released home and it is then that I realized that without the help of full time nurses and doctors at my side my real fight would begin. My first weekend home was both sweet and bitter, I knew it was going to be incredibly tough and take every ounce of my mental, physical and spiritual strength to get through this injury. But I would beat it.
These physical, psychological, and emotional elements in and of themselves are daunting, scary, and overwhelming; but they are only part of the battle. The other critical part is the cost of care to treat my injury and recovery. The hospital and rehabilitation costs were just the beginning of a long, arduous process of dealing with insurance to cover and continue to pay for therapy that is essential to my walking again. It is estimated that the cost of the first year's care to treat a Quad spinal injury at one million dollars, $1,000,000. Subsequent years can cost on average $175,000.
Five days a week I am in Physical Therapy, both at an out-patient facility and home. My schedule is relentlessly tough and I give no breaks to myself no matter how much pain I am in or how easy it is to skip my exercises, weights, standing frame, stimulation bike, stretching, or other treatments. Now, 28 months since my injury, 21 months into therapy, I am able to move both my legs on my own (right stronger at present - but left will catch up), proving to myself and to the amazement of doctors that a full recovery is possible with the right support, love, and hard work. To date I have worked relentlessly to recover 75% of what the accident took away.
Until now I have relied on insurance and immediate family for help. I have hit many of the maximum limits with insurance. The personal funds I had available to pay these costs have been depleted. I am humbly asking for your generous donation to help with medical and related expenses such as: continued medical treatment, aqua rehab, exercise equipment, home healthcare, and hospital and doctors fees. Your donation, no matter how big or small, will be greatly appreciated to defray these costs. My goal is to raise $40,000, biggest components are a stimulation bike which costs $16,800, and to pay for further Locomotor Training (see video w treadmill) sessions which cost $400/hour 3 times a week.
Today I am a changed man physically, mentally and spiritually. This accident has been the greatest gift in disguise, replete with lessons on life that forever have made me a better person. With your help I also will become a changed man. With your donations, my guts and determination, the support and love of family and friends, and through prayer, I will walk again.
Each week I will provide update(s) on my recovery and what changes have occurred as a result of your donations - until I post a picture of myself completing a 5K race. Thank you!!!