Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday June 26th

I want to start off by apologizing to my many fans for the delayed posting of the last two days. Things have been busy with visitors and activities.

Friday morning was the first time my mother had finally taken time for herself and planned a trip to head for home. It has been four straight weeks basically since the moment of the accident that she has dropped completely unselfishly every activity in her own life to dedicate her time and energy towards my rehabilitation. I can't thank you enough Mom for all you have been doing for me over the last several weeks. Her good friends were going to be swinging through so they had plans to stop by around noon to grab my mom for a ride home. Because she is not going to be with me all weekend she made a point of coming right away around 8 o'clock that morning to help me with breakfast and hang out before she left.

My mom and I were talking about how it has been really great how much time we have been able to spend together due to the accident because really, since the day I graduated high school I've totally flown the coup. That first summer I moved to Sturgeon Bay to run the sailing school with Mark, then off to college for five and a half years and I didn't miss a beat not more than a month after college I moved to San Diego. So, really besides family events, holidays, and visits to the cabin I've been gone more than any of my other siblings over the past seven years. So being able to hang out with my mom every day has been awesome.

So, once I piled my food down my throat and we got me into my chair, we headed to hands group. The therapists were all ready to get us rockin' and rollin' for fun Friday. Basically, fun Friday means we play cards instead of with children's toys, nuts and bolts, or women's wallets. This week, one of the other patients, Martel, was hell-bent on playing his favorite game, King's Corners. King's Corners is a fairly fun game when you are playing one-on-one, but in a group setting its a little slow when you spend most of the time sitting there. Truthfully, not the best therapy game, but Martel won the first game and then I robbed the second game, just dominating. We got half way through a third game and the time was up.

After hand group I had some free time from 10-11 so I had my mom grab a white towel for me to do a little independent therapy that I learned from Diane. Basically, you lay the towel on the table in front of you and you place your hands on it and slide forward onto the table using your trunk to pull you back up. You continue to do this in all different angles across the table. It is a great way to strengthen your core and get your abdominal muscles going.l

After doing this for a while I was ready for my next therapy which was Exercise group from 11-12, but while heading over there my PT, Carey, came over and said "hey I don't have anything going on right now, can I steal you from exercise group and we work on the tilt table again?" I said hell yea! I have been wanting to get on the tilt table again because when working in a lot of my other activities I could physically tell that my blood pressure control was getting better and better every day. I used to get a bit dizzy and need to take breaks when working different PT exercises on the mat. Now, I can go almost an entire hour rolling around and pretending to be a monkey without any breaks at all. So, we strapped me to the tilt table and began the process of elevating and tilting me about every five minutes. Five, ten degrees at a time. Normally we would hook me up to a blood pressure machine to monitor how low my blood pressure would drop as we raised me higher and higher. At a certain point I will pass out if my blood pressure gets too low. But, I told Carey you know it is very simple and easy for me to tell exactly how low my blood pressure is getting. Here are the symptoms I experience every time I put my blood pressure to the test: first, I feel slightly light headed. Next, my hearing goes to about 50%. Third, I get tunnel vision and slight spots. Fourth, complete whiteout. Fifth, I wake up with thirty people around me because out (only got to this stage once, in the ICU). So with having a good understanding of how much I can handle we decided we didn't need to hook me up to the machine and I would just monitor it with my wonderful five step symptom guide. Carey brought me up again and again and we reached all the way up to 90 degrees, which is standing straight up! I was so fricking excited by the time we got to that point, but also tuckered out beyond belief. It seems like it would be easy to just lay on a table and get tilted up but controlling that blood pressure by working my arms, and breathing properly is like running an entire marathon within that hour. After we got me up to that position and I held it for a little while the entire hour had passed and my t-shirt was ready to be rung out with sweat. We headed back to my room to get me a fresh shirt and lunchtime had arrived. One of the important parts about the tilt table is that is basically the first stepping stone for me to use the lokomat, the crazy johnny jumper, robotic treadmill machine I have mentioned in the past. My goal for next week is for me to stay at 90 degrees for ten minutes. The following week I am hoping to have a goal of 20 minutes, because that is the requirement in order to use the lokomat - standing at 90 degrees on the tilt table for twenty minutes. This could also be added to people's prayer list because it is no easy task and boy do I want to get in that johnny jumper.

We ate lunch in the canary room and shortly after Diane, my OT, came over and we headed to my room to work on my contacts. I tried and tried to get them out of my eyes but for some reason or another, and mainly due to my weak grip, I could not peal them off my eyeballs. Kalli took them out of my eyes for me so that I could try to at least see if I could put them in. After about two or three attempts I was able to put my contacts in, but still I am looking for suggestions or tools to help me get them out by myself. Sounds like Lasik would also be a very interesting option as well, but with as much as I have going on right now the last thing I need to do is add to the list. So, that may be an option down the road. After poking my eyes for a good twenty minutes Diane and I headed back to the canary room to do some arm exercises with a variety of different colored bands, which represent levels of stretch strength that each has. We stepped me up a color for I am getting buff as can be and began several different arm stretches that work on strengthening all different parts of my body. I also talked to Diane about how tight and sore my shoulders were getting after all the different kinds of weight lifting and exercises I was doing for strength training. She advised me that there is a heat pad that only the doctor can order for me to use during these situations. While I was with her she could go and grab a heat pad to throw on my shoulders. So, while we did the stretches I wore a fairly large heat pad across my neck and shoulders. I didn't even seem to notice the heat pad that much besides just an overall warm sensation while I was working out. But, amazingly at the end of our session when she took the pad off, my shoulders were as loose and a goose and completely pain free. So, I am really excited to receive the heat pad from the doctor in which I can use when I experience that kind of tightness in my shoulders.

After working with Diane for what was supposed to be an hour and turned into about an hour and forty-five minutes (which shows the incredible dedication the therapists have here any time they can help) I headed to the gym for my second set of PT with Carey. We decided to hook me up to a bike that they have in the gym that is motorized and really makes me feel like I am pedaling myself. We had an awesome conversation with Carey while I biked away for an hour and forty-five minutes, again WAY over the scheduled time in which I was allotted to work with Carey. We were only scheduled for a half hour and again, another one of my therapists went above and beyond on a Friday when I was the last person they had for the day. Carey had a hot date all planned out with her husband and she still took the extra time to sit and work with me to get my legs moving.

At about quarter to five, Kalli and I decided we wanted to go and see if we could find a Jamba Juice. We were told it was in the bottom of the John Hancock building, just a handful of blocks away. After battling the sidewalks, bump after bump, we found Jamba Juice right where they said it would be. Kalli went and got a peach smoothie while I explored this really neat courtyard area that Jamba Juice was located in. Right next to it was a Best Buy which was perfect for I wanted to purchase a flash drive to fill with pictures of our stay here and all the activities that we have done to give to my roommate Joey. Joey is leaving on Thursday of next week, the second of July, and boy I am going to miss him. We have become really good friends and he has been an unbelievable resource for me as I go through all of these new challenges. Every time I run into something that doesn't make sense or I feel like, boy there must be a better way, I bounce it off Joey and sure enough he has a tip, or a whole new way of doing it. Now, not all of his tips are free - for the other day, I had to trade him a bag of chips for a really great pooping tip. Don't think I am just going to give it away to all of you, I'm looking to get a little something out of it as well before I pass it on to just anybody. As we walked back home to the RIC, a good friend of mine, Jaci Skalla was just a few blocks away to visit.

We met Jaci and her boyfriend Rick shortly after we got back. I hadn't seen Jaci in a while and it was really great to catch up with her and her new boy toy. Rick seemed like a really nice guy, not shy or bashful but easy going and I enjoyed our visit thoroughly. After they left I started my nightly routine where I had really great results - an extra large and a medium, to be exact. Since my mom was gone, a great friend of Kalli's and mine, Ashley Wilhelms, came down from Milwaukee to spend the night with Kalli. They went out to dinner and watched a movie, sounds like they had a great girls night.

More to come about Saturday!


  1. Hello Andrew,
    No need to apologize for delayed postings. It's great that you are staying busy. It was wonderful of you to say those kind words of your Mom. Keep up the good work.
    Katy Connor

  2. Andrew-It was good to see your Mom, she gave us all an update about how things are going. We had a tilt table at work for a couple of our people so I am familiar with them. That is great you did so well, I hope it continues. So I am leaving today to go camping with a lady I work for. She is about my age and had a brain infection about 14 years ago. She has a camper which is really nice, and I am going to hang out with her for a week with at a campground. I often have to help her do stretches and at times has difficulty walking and uses a wheelchair, so I help her get around. I will have to let you know how my week went.
    Stay Strong Andrew!

    Jenny Laird (shorty)