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.