Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday June 25th

It was another wonderful morning at the RIC. I woke up early, around 7 o’clock and my night PCT, Bonnie, helped me get dressed and even squirted a little cologne on me – got me smelling good for my upcoming day! My breakfast came like normal, around 8 o’clock and I sat with my mom and ate. Then she spotted me as I transferred into my chair and then we headed to hand group. We had a much different hand group than we usually do. They brought a couple buckets full of all kinds of different paint. They had printed out several logos of different baseball teams in which the patients each were rooting for. They knew that I was a Brewer’s fan so they had several different printout logos for me to choose from. Of course, I chose the throwback Brewer’s logo where they incorporate MB (Milwaukee Brewers) in a baseball mitt. That symbol is by far the best baseball logo ever made. I took the printout they had provided and had it taped to the window of the canary room. I then got set up outside the canary room so that I could paint the symbol right onto the window with the pattern behind it for me to trace. The logo turned out perfect and I strategically placed it right next to my roommate Joey’s stupid Chicago Cubs painting he had done the day before. My beautiful mitt made his Cubs logo look like weird children’s chicken scratch. The competition between teams here is fierce, but deep down everyone knows the brew crew will always come out on top.

After an hour of painting a majestic logo, we all gathered by the reception desk to head to the park to ride hand bikes on a nearby running track. Once everyone was gathered we headed to the park and when we got there they had two three-wheel hand bikes and four different sports chairs for us to try out. A good buddy of ours, Darnell and I hopped in the hand bikes first. The bikes are no joke – they run for over $3,000 and able to really get cruising. It took a little while to get it all fitted and sized to my body but once we were all set up I was able to really get cooking. By no means do I want you to think that this was just easy-peasy, for I would get about a third of the way around the track, find the closest area of shade and take a little break. I know my arms are getting stronger and stronger every day, but they aren’t quite there yet to take one of those bikes out for a full ride out on the town. The RIC coordinates the use of the bikes every two weeks for patients to try and play with. The bikes are also available, kind of like a book in a library, for you to just check out and take a ride once you feel confident. The way in which the RIC coordinates so many activities, showing you all the different things that you still can do, is one of the most amazing parts of the program. It is so important to continue to keep the mind set of look at all of the things that I can do. You really aren’t going to get yourself anywhere sitting around thinking about things you can’t do. From biking to sailing, even painting I can’t believe how many opportunities I have already had here at the RIC.

After sweating our butts off in ninety degree weather, we headed back. As soon as we returned my mom was waiting in the canary room for Kalli and I with food to start snacking on before my lunch came. I threw down some lunch quickly because I was pretty excited about a demonstration that was going to be put on at 12:00 down behind the building. A company from Europe was displaying a system in which they install into your car so that you can drive throttle and break with your hands while still steering your car. I have heard of all different systems and after talking with some of the people that had showed up as well that have different systems installed already – they were all really impressed with the set-up being displayed today. Basically, there is a smaller ring installed on top of the steering wheel that you press in with your thumbs while you are able to still hold the steering wheel and this becomes your throttle. Then, mounted on either the left of right side a couple inches away from the steering wheel is what looks like is a handle that looks like a shifter knob that you simply just grab and pull down on for the break. The system is about 12-14 thousand dollars to install into any automatic transmission vehicle. A little pricey, but it is hard to put a number on the freedom in which being able to drive your own car creates. The car that they brought with them, in order to model the system, was a top of the line Volkswagen with a 6.0 liter V12 engine in it, beautiful vehicle and boy must it go! I talked with the owner of the car and he was really happy with the system and he turned out to be a really neat guy and entrepreneur doing well for himself here in Chicago. After talking with him for a while, he gave me his business card and asked me to email him when I got all my stuff together and was done with rehab. Could be a great connection down the road.

After that, I had some time to blow so I organized my RIC binder with some of the stretches and handouts my therapists have given me over the last three weeks. Then, jumped into bed and Kalli did several of the stretches with me until Diane, my OT, came into my room for my last class of the day. She had asked me to be in bed when our class started so that we didn’t waste any time transferring and we could get started on seeing how well I could dress and undress myself this week. It seems so easy and we all take it for granted that we can very simply throw on our pants and quickly toss on a shirt, but for me now it is a drawn out and quite difficult task to get a pair of pants on. But, today, I really had a great improvement and am thoroughly excited about it. I was able to take off my pants, put them back on, take off my shirt and put it back on all in about 40 minutes. This may seem like an eternity for the rest of you, but for me a drastic improvement over last week. For last week, we did this same drill, trying to take my pants off and on and my shirt off and on and once we were done Diane rated me as being able to do only 25% of the task myself, meaning 75% assistance in order to dress myself. Today, I did it all myself and it was really an awesome feeling. I know that every day that I try I will save thirty seconds, or a minute, maybe even five minutes off those forty minutes and keep getting better and better at it. But, to simply be able to do it all myself is an amazing feeling at this point. Diane mentioned again, that it is incredible that I can even change myself this soon into the injury, at this level of injury and with wearing a neck brace. These words of encouragement really help me to continue to be that boy wonder ahead of the curve.

After the session was done Kalli and I sat and chatted and then figured out what we wanted to do for dinner. We came to the conclusion that this amazing accomplishment of being able to dress myself needed to be celebrated by ordering some sushi by delivery. We both love all different kinds of sushi rolls and were spoiled in San Diego with having ten, fifteen really good sushi places within walking distance of our house. So, we ordered a handful of rolls and enjoyed them very much. It was the perfect amount and delicious. After dinner, we did a little bloggin’ and then began my nightly routine. Tonight was a shower night so it takes a little longer.

Once again, just like yesterday with being able to go sailing, I was impressed by the RIC’s ability to put together an activity like being able to go biking, showing you that there is so much out there to help and assist us so as to live completely normal lives even with the challenges we may face.

PS: Thank you so much David and Joan Sier for the tickets to Six Flags. I can’t wait to skip to the front of every single line. It is going to be a blast! Also, I want to continue to say thank you, thank you, thank you to EVERYONE that has sent me a card. It is such a great feeling to come to my room and there is either a box, a card, a basket of cookies, something just showing me the overwhelming support that is out there, carrying me along the journey each and every day.

PPS: There will be a golf outing charity event on July 20th at Reid Golf Course in Appleton, WI in my name. I am so honored that again several individuals have taken it into their own hands to support me in this way. There are just no words to describe how loved I feel as people continue to go above and beyond to help me through this incredible hurdle in my life. I talked to my doctors this morning and told them it was very important to me to be able to attend this charity golf outing. I told them don’t worry I will have them duct tape me really tight to the golf cart and strap a three wood to my arm so that I don’t need to even leave the cart to participate. But in all seriousness, I am really excited to be able to get together with all of you that would like to attend. It is going to be a really fun day with lots of prizes and games from hole to hole. All of the details will hopefully be posted tomorrow and there are three different ways to hear about them. First, through a facebook group that has already been established, second, right here on the blog there will be a spot to click on the right side that will have details, and lastly, there will be an e-vite coordinated through Mark Lee. The e-vite will be the official way to register for the outing. Please stay tuned for more details. I can’t wait to see you all then! Remember, these kinds of events are only for fun and not even really recommended for any serious golfer. It will be done in a scramble where it doesn’t even matter if you can hit the ball; you just take the best of four players each hole. So please, don’t be discouraged to attend if you are not a golfer.


  1. Dear Wonder Boy,

    Darn it! I just posted my last comment only to find you've already updated your blog today!! As always, a step ahead of everyone else!

    I can relate to the feeling of freedom you felt at the promise of being able to drive again. I had foot surgery a couple months ago and was not able to drive until yesterday. That two months seemed like an eternity and having to rely on another driver felt much more limiting than it sounds.

    I am optimistic that you will be FAR more independent than what it may seem like right now. Your determination and positive attitude provide so much opportunity for success, and you've already given us all a view of the incredible ability you have to "beat the odds!"

    Here's praying for a hugely successful fundraiser...hope to see you then!!

    Love, Rose

  2. Hey Hip,
    Reading your blog continually confirms my thoughts that there are alot of wonderful people in this world...and you know a ton of them!
    I am happy to hear that you are able to get out and "live life"...the biking sounded great but you certainly didn't have a great day to do it! 90 degrees and high humidity keeps most of us slugs indoors, or in my case, at our cottage with minimally my big toe in the water! The lake water is like bath water right now so even I a confessed "water weenie" have been floating on a mattress dockside. I've even swam a few strokes...I'm still working on dunking my head. (It's a girl thing we just don't want to get the hair wet because it really slows down the "getting ready" process for the next event of the day)! Kalli understands, I'm sure.
    Sounds like you have another friend filled weekend ahead of you. I hope you can get out and check out some more Chicago sites and eateries.
    As always, love and prayers.

  3. Hey, Andrew...I just spent a long morning getting "updated"! I found your blog again and kind of took the journey with you! amazing is it! It was a blessing for me that I got to meet you and your Mom and Dad that Friday in Neenah before you headed to RIC. I look forward to seeing you on the 20TH! Prayers have followed you to Chicago and they continue.
    Dcn. Steve
    Hey...get some CUBS stuff!!!

  4. Andrew -

    I am researching the contact issue.... I am hitting walls all over the place. I have 2 institutes researching this as well - nothing so far.... Does anyone at RIC remember the manufacturer of the contact gadget or a real name for it??? I have called eye institutes too and no one knows anything.... I will not give up - but can you ask about the manufacturer? Thanks.

    Love you the greenest! Your Sister....TA

  5. I noticed the first comment on this post from Rose, that one is from the non-niece Rose. I'm the niece.

    So I read this blog religiously and just now I noticed that I have never commented on it. I can be kind of slow at times.
    It is phenominal all the things the RIC can do for you. I am so happy that I am able to come down to visit you with its short distance. Today my Mom and I were in Oshkosh at a park with Sam and right out on Lake Winnebago were probably about 15 sailboats with their gorgeous sails expanding in the wind, it made us so excited for you to get back to your boats and keep sailing.

    You're fiesty attitude proves to me that I get mine from our family. These people at the hospital, what are they thinking? Of course the brewers are gonna take it all the way! Joey needs a reality check here. :)

    I'll be down tomorrow and I'd really like to spend some time with you so you can show off all your new amazing talents. Jeez, I've been trying to avoid saying anything corny or cheesy on this comment, but I have just given up. Andrew, you have truely amazed me with everything you have done so far in your progress. Not only were you a wonder before, with all your accomplishments and the neverending appreciation you spread around to everyone you knew, but your positive attitude and ongoing smile is more than anyone can ask for. The other day when I heard you were coming into town with Kalli I invited you to my choir concert, and with the reputation of high school choir concerts and the zero attendence record, I didn't expect the answer you gave me. You actually wanted to switch flights in order to make it in time. Even though I didn't think it would work out, you trying so hard meant everything to me. I'm even crying right now because it meant so much.

    Basically, there are only 8 years between us and I think of you more as a brother than anything else. I love you Andrew.

    Shit, I just got sappy. I'll see you tomorrow with Kalli's parents. :)

    Oh, and Theresa and Paul Siewart are going to come and visit, they are friends of my parents who have met our family before and have kept up with your progress pretty darn well.


  6. Andrew, nice job continuing to show off! :) After reading todays post, I remembered when I went home after 4 months of inpatient therapy, it still took me 3 hours to shower and dress, and I'd be so worn out I'd have to take a nap.

    Look forward to that goal of the first time you are alone and driving again. Words cannot express what that independence feels like.

    Have a great weekend!

  7. Andrew I am so excited for the golf outing I hope to fill the courde PLEASE sign up for this event on the evite it is VERY important to have a solid number for the day of the event. We also could use prizes if your company would like to donate:)I would like to see this be an annual event and one day Andrew passing on the money to research come on guys lets get it going.... Jill

  8. hippert!!!

    i feel like it's been so long since i've posted here. i've been workin a few more days at the shop and "advertising" on craigslist as much as possible to make some extra dough but that's no excuse for no blogging.

    anyways i'm getting pretty pumped for monday, how early is too early for you cause i'm gonna be there a half hour before that. seriously it might be a little later if i have to catch a shuttle down to chitown but i'll slip the driver an extra $20 and tell him to step on it.

    hey man your sailing story was incredible to read, really it was absolutely fucking amazing and i loved reading every single word describing it. a perfect day of sailing :-) and you my friend are the ONLY person i know, i repeat ONLY ONLY ONLY person i know that can bust up their neck and back up and be offered a shot to be training for Olympics a few weeks later. but don't get a big head about it man, this is prett much about how i expected your first time out to go. actually to be honest i was expecting to wake up and read a story about the lakeside of chicago being pillaged and looted by a couple pirates on a 20' sail boat but let's save that for a future date.

    ok that's all out of me tonight, i'll hit you up tomorrow so keep checkin. oh yeah, how bout a little "Andrew speaks" or "from Andrew" posts one of these days??? just somethin for the suggestion box. see you soon man

  9. Hippert,
    Good work this week. I'm very happy and proud to hear of all your improvements. Amy and I are pretty sure we found a weekend to come and visit, but before I say anything for sure there are one or two loose ends to tie up. Keep up the good work and I'm glad to hear that you got use of the nerf gun. : ) Talk to you soon!

  10. mornin hip,

    one more day til im leavin on that jet plane man! i really can't wait to see all this progress your making, you weren't looking so hot the last time i saw you. not to say i haven't seen you looking worse but if you're already dressing yourself i think that definitely calls for a little sushi celebration. that's gotta be tough for a sushi lover to go from california to illinois but at least now you can get a friday fish fry and a beer chaser with your bloody mary. stupid californian bars.

    this car system you were talking about sounds pretty interesting, when's your first test drive??? i call shotgun for sure. for 12-14gs you think you'd get a transformer or something installed but that freedom to get around on your own really is priceless. keep up the good work and i can't wait to see you dress yourself in a few days!!! ;-)

    way to hold it down with the crew's logo. i'd have to agree with you on the M B glove being the best logo in all of sports. the old school nuggets one is tight but nothin can top the brewers

  11. Hey Hip,
    You're getting stingy with the updates....ok I'll cut you some slack, i assume you are being overwhelmed with visitors this weekend. I hope Ashley made it safely to you last night. (Mom's never stop worrying about these things).
    Can't wait to hear about your latest excursions.
    Have a great Saturday...
    as always love and prayers.

  12. The blog continues to be awesome, Andrew! If insurance is drying up, maybe a book deal or TLC special could help defray the costs. Yours is an awesome story, and especially compelling as we hear it from your perspective.

    Good luck with the golf outing. (Mark, contact me re: a product donation - my number is in my "decline" for the evite.) And keep up the great recovery!

    - Larry

  13. Andrew as I was thinking more about the outing what I meant by strong numbers is if a person has a team meaning a 4some they should put that on the evite as mine is jill plus 7 we have 2 foursome actually I think 4 but I will change it when confirmed:)they can get a team togehter from work etc it's a good way to play hooky for a good cause... we need 72 golfers hope we make it.


  14. Ha, Rose!!

    You may be a grown-up now, but I'm still "Big Rose" and you're still "Little Rose"....