I woke up in the morning and one of my favorite nurses, Maggie, went and hand wrote out my schedule for me because the person that normally delivers them never came. To my surprise, on a Saturday, I had two PT groups on the schedule. So, I began to eat breakfast and Kalli and Ashley showed up around 9 o'clock. The three of us talked and began getting me dressed so I would be ready for my first PT at 10. I transferred out of bed and headed for the lobby to ask where this PT would be held. One of the PT's, that I very rarely work with, named Kristin, was there gathering our group to go outside. She had a pretty intense hour planned for us. Now, I have been over to Treasure Island, the grocery store in the 680 building across the street, before but pretty much was always pushed there by Kalli or some visitor. Kristin had in mind for us to all push ourselves there and then practice going up and down the ramp that is built in to the back of the building to get inside. It is really a beautiful, humungous building that has not only a grocery store, but a hardware store, pharmacy, laundromat, and most importantly it is Playboy's corporate office. So, we headed over pushing ourselves, which on an angled sidewalk, which most of it was, is really way more difficult than you think. Basically, when it is angled the chair really wants to veer towards the downhill side of the angle, so that arm is working really hard and the other one is actually almost pulling backwards on the wheel to counterbalance the twisting as well. It is thoroughly annoying and difficult enough to make you stop and take a break every 100 feet or so.
On our way over to the ramp, JT had just pulled up. He is one of my really good buddies from San Diego who is also Swedish and heading home to Sweden shortly after his visit with me. JT had with him a check for $1,300.00 which was raised at the cookout fundraiser that him and Guillermo and I am sure several other of our friends in San Diego all planned and hosted at our apartment complex last weekend. We took turns one at a time going up the fairly large ramp in the back of the 680 building. When it became my turn I hauled ass into the ramp, getting most of the way up but then when I got to the steepest and last part of the ramp with only about 6 to 8 feet left it brought me to a stand still. JT started saying "you want this $1300 bucks you better go 8 more feet, otherwise I'm taking it home with me! Come on! 6 more feet and this money is all yours! You can do it!" harrassingly/encouragingly he chanted. Slowly, I inched, push by push to the top where I practically collapsed into my chair as I made it over the last inch of incline. The money was mine and I did it! I made it up a good sized wheelchair ramp for the first time. It showed me that I have a lot of strength yet that I need to build and there is definitely no stopping now with the weights and exercises if I want to be able to get around by myself.
At the top, we took a minute to take a breath. Then, it was time to try a whole new ball of wax and head down this curvy ramp. Basically, where my hand function is at now, I just have to push as hard as I can against my side wheels with the rubber gripper section of my gloves and try my hardest to evenly slow down the wheelchair. With my left hand being quite a bit weaker than my right, it's difficult for me to get an even grip to slow myself down. Trying my hardest, I couldn't quite control it well enough to do it on my own. So, the therapist helped me stop in the middle of the ramp because I was getting off to one side too much and about to hit the railing. The therapist then began to explain to me how I should have even pressure on each side and if I want to go right, I should push harder on the right side and if I want to go left, push harder on the left side as if I didn't understand the mechanics of how this would work. This was a bit frustrating to me because the way she was saying it was as if I didn't understand how to control the chair, when in all reality I was trying my hardest and it just came down to I wasn't quite there yet with my left hand, strength wise. That is one of the only things that can be frustrating, is when people talk to you like you are a child or as if you don't understand what you are trying to accomplish, when really it is the physical disability that is holding you back. It is difficult to get frustrated with them because I know they are trying their hardest and they don't realize how they are talking to you, or even that they are frustrating you, with their inflection or unnecessary instruction.
While I was writing this, Kalli brought up a good point. This kind of frustration usually only happens when I am working with someone that isn't one of my two primary therapists. They simply just don't have the hours with you and don't know you as well as your primaries do.
We headed back to RIC, which is about two and a half, or three blocks away, again battling the slanted sidewalks. Once we got there there was a parking lot right next to the front doors. In this parking lot are two curbs that create one of those gated entrances for the lot. These little island sections of curb are perfect for practicing curb jumping with your wheelchair. So, the second half of the session, or I should say the last ten minutes or so consisted of learning the techniques in which to jump and drop off of a curb. Now these ones were fairly short, maybe three inches tall, and I was able to get up on top of it and then hop down with really not too much trouble at all. In fact, I wish we would have had more time and I would have tried a little taller curb, because truthfully it was kind of fun. Something that I have forgotten to mention and is kind of a big deal, and Mark is going to be pretty excited, that's for sure, is that I have now learned how to do a pretty mean pop-a-wheelie! I can't sit and hold it and ride the back tires, but I can definitely get the front ones probably six inches off the ground. It is crazy because not more than a week ago I couldn't get them off the ground to save my life.
So after the PT session we came up for some lunch and Kalli's mom and dad, my niece Rose, and some really good friends of my brother Tim and sister-in-law Lori, and JT and I all sat in the canary room and chatted as I ate my lunch. The meal provided for lunch today was a BLT sandwich, which has always been one of my favorites. I wolfed it down and headed to my next session, another PT, in the gym with Adella, a weekend fill-in PT. I started out by pumping some iron with my triceps on this great machine in the corner of the gym. I put more weight on there than I have ever tried before and really put her to the test. After four sets of fifteen I wheeled over to the mat and decided to practice sitting up and getting my legs onto the mat. After a true battle of slowly easing each of my legs up onto the mat, I straightened out and Kalli proceeded to do a series of stretches to get my legs all loosened up.
After the stretches I worked on spinning to my side and getting myself sitting up on the mat. Once I got myself sitting I proceeded to move my legs off the mat so as to be sitting on the side of the mat with my feet on the floor. Then I transferred into my chair and we all headed outside. The mat was quite hilarious because Joey and I were both on it together, trying to share half and half. Every time one of us would slide or scoot towards the middle we would end up super close and start taking cheap shots, punching each other in the belly, side, or arm whenever we had a chance. I don't think therapy is supposed to be that fun but it sure did make all of us laugh.
Once we got downstairs and outside, we began throwing around my favorite little maroon hacky sac. Darnell, Joey and I created a triangle and threw the bean bag from person to person. After about a half hour of working the arms and coordination, it was time to head out and go grab a drink at this neat bar and bowling alley, called Lucky Strike, just a couple blocks away. Lucky Strike is in the same building as the AMC theater we went to last weekend. The nine of us, Kalli, her mom and dad, Rose, Maeghan, Ashley, Darnell, Joey and I, found a booth for the six walkers to sit in and the three of us wheelchair fellas pulled up on the outside. Our waitress came and we ordered some drinks. We had a great time sitting and chatting but before we knew it, it was time to start getting dinner ready. So, Kalli, her mom, and Rose left the bar a little bit ahead of the rest of us to go start getting a deluxe taco dinner ready.
The rest of us finished our drinks and slowly headed to the apartment. Mike Lord, a good friend of mine, met us at the apartment. When we got to there the girls had everything ready for us. They served up some wonderful tacos, guacamole and chips. After stuffing two huge tacos into my stomach, which is actually getting smaller and smaller, for I have lost 17 lbs since the accident (I weighed a beefy 215 when I jumped into that pool and now weigh 197 pounds), we decided it was time to get back to RIC in order to take my medicine. Kalli's mom's tacos combined with Rose's guac was probably one of the most enjoyable meals I have had since Marsel outdid himself in San Diego with an incredible surf and turf.
Upon arriving at the RIC I was exhausted so I took my meds and jumped into bed. Shortly there after, one of my best friends, Anthony Wilhelms, who's wedding I was best man in, showed up. So Kalli, Ashely, Anthony, Maeghan, Mike, Rose and I all sat and chatted while I relaxed in bed. They all wanted to go out that evening so the girls took off a little early to get ready while Anth, Mike and I sat and talked a little longer. Around 8:30 the boys realized they better get going or they would be in trouble with the ladies and as they were leaving in walked my ex-ex-ex girlfriend's mother and sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Walters. She had with her one of her friends and colleagues. The three of us chatted for a while. I gave her several hugs to share with her daughters. It was getting late so they headed out.
After everyone left it was time for me to start my nightly routine, it was shower night. What a day full of fun and visitors and even a beer! My first beer since the accident.