I was able to talk with the scheduler yesterday and asked for her to not put anything on my plate until 11 o'clock because visitors from Sheffield that were very important to me were coming around 10 o'clock and I wanted at least an hour to visit with them. So, I didn't have to really rush it much this morning. My usual french toast, bacon, 2% milk and orange juice, and three fruit cups came right around 8 o'clock. I got myself sitting upright in bed so I could start throwing it down. About half way through my breakfast Guillermo and Kalli came waltzing into my room ready and willing to get me dressed and going for the day. The two of them battled with my pants, ted hoes (basically, mens tights), and the whole shebang! Once dressed I was able to just sit up in bed and catch my bearings, like usual. I am still battling a little with dizziness, especially right in the morning. By 9:30 or so we began transferring me into my wheelchair so that I could brush my teeth, comb my hair a little, trim my beard and get myself looking spiffy. Then we headed to the canary room and dealt out a hand of golf. As soon as we had the cards dealt and our first two cards flipped in walked Sheffield's, the company I work for, president, vice president, and director of new product development. In town to visit me and see a couple clients. It was really an honor that these gentlemen took the time out of their busy schedules to sit and shoot the shit with me, listening to all of my stories, trials and tribulations, basically my day-to-day over the last three weeks. I had a few requests for these particular gentlemen. First off, a piece of polycarbonate to be sent to my dad to be crafted into a really cool slide board for transferring into my wheelchair. Second, and much more importantly, for them to investigate if there is anything humanly possible to be done with my insurance policy in regards to the amount of time I am covered for inpatient care here at RIC. My policy currently covers 60 days each year which would only give me two months here at RIC. I am so far ahead of the game and really would like to try to stay longer than that. This facility is top notch and I don't want to step back for one second. Dennis, the president of Sheffield, mentioned to me he was actually going to be meeting with the director of all of Bayer Material Science, which covers probably around ten billion dollars worth at Bayer that evening. He said he would try to corner him and see if there is anything he could do at his level as well. So what I am asking is for prayers from everyone. So many of you I know are praying for me, so lets get specific here and shoot some prayers directed completely at this issue. I need more time at RIC and I am sure God knows that. There must be a way to make it happen.
After having some fun conversation, mostly geared towards good rips on Brian Heine, I gave hugs all around and wished them best of luck in their meetings for the day and headed off to OT exercise group. Today I would say was by far my best OT exercise group performance yet. I would like to give a special shout out to Guillermo for being the FIRST and ONLY person so far to start and finish, with no breaks, an entire OT exercise group. More than a half dozen other people have started the exercise group with me, saying "oh yeah, no problem. That should be fun." and like I have mentioned in the past, come ten fifteen minutes, half an hour, Mark and Houli, all of a sudden they are no where to be found. They got an important phone call, they were sweating too much, or plain and simply just couldn't handle it. BUT, Guillermo, he stuck in there even though he started crying for a little bit, he made it. Even through the weights at the end he pounded it out. Unfortunately, I am guessing he will be a little sore tomorrow, but that kind of burn feels good, so he will enjoy.
After Guillermo and I rocked the shit out of exercise group we headed for the canary room and downed some lunch. Today during my lunch my OT, Diane, wanted to observe me to see what kinds of goals we could check off, as far as putting jam on crackers, eating soup, cutting my sandwich with my ninja knife, and several other small tasks that we all kind of just look over as daily actions while eating. I thought I did great and pretty much was able to accomplish every task she requested. Except for when I accidentally threw my crackers into my cup of apple juice, a pretty funny moment. I was so excited that I finally got that darn little cracker wrapper open I decided to throw the crackers in celebration, kind of like I used to do when I finished a beer, tossing it onto the floor.
After lunch I headed into the gym to thoroughly get my butt whooped by Carey with some good PT. Carey had me transferring from my chair, learning to lay down, roll over, pick up my legs off the ground, put my shoes on and off, seated push ups and much more that took just about everything I had out of me. It was a really encouraging PT session because I could literally feel how much stronger I had gotten in the last week. Many of the tasks were nearly impossible only a week ago and now quite achievable. After feeling like I had been in an UFC match against Shamrock I transferred back into my chair and Carey finished the session showing me how to use a really simple, but great piece of equipment for strengthening my triceps - which is a HUGE part of being able to move my body around. Many quads with my injury really don't have very good tricep strength but mine is all there and just needs to be rejuvenated back. That is something that really makes me quite excited and I am really glad to now have access and knowledge of this machine to keep building the goal of being able to do a full seated push-up, where I lift my butt completely off my chair while I am sitting. I am close right now, but just not quite there.
Another really great improvement that I noticed yesterday is realizing that I now have a small amount of non-wrist finger movement in my left hand. My left hand is far weaker and mobile than that of my right and it can be a little frustrating sometimes. The therapist call it my weak hand. The reason why I am so excited about this new discovery is in this next therapy now that I am experiencing small movement we are able to do the E-stim (electronic stimulation) on that hand as well. So I sat down with Diane and we hooked the electrodes up to my wrist and forearm to get my fingers moving with a little shock therapy. It is weird feeling, but for some reason or another, when I am done it makes my whole hand feel really good and I can almost see the improvement after each session. Oh yeah, Uncle Paul, I remember you purchased one of these a couple years ago and if you would be willing to borrow it to me I would love to use it for a little while. My mom is coming home this weekend and the therapists are very interested in taking a look at it and training me with is before I go and just start zapping myself without any guidance. So, if you don't mind I would love it if you could send it with my mom when she comes back on Monday.
After the session, my wheelchair needed a little air in the tires and a couple more small tweaks. You wouldn't believe how many things there are to adjust on a tricked out wheelchair like mine. While we were up on the 12th floor, where the wheelchair room is, we kind of snooped around and checked out all kinds of different rooms that seem to be hidden all over the floor. First, we discovered this incredible machine where a woman was being held in an adult sized johnny jumper and then what made her look like she had complete robotic legs that guided her into a perfect walking pace on a treadmill below her. This machine looked like something straight out of a science fiction or transformers movie and was so amazing. We poked our heads in and asked if we could watch. Of course, they had absolutely no problem and seemed kind of happy that we were curious about the machine. The machine was called a lokomat. The woman that was all geared up and walking with it said that this machine has changed her life and brought her so far in her ability to walk. We stared in awe and then continued on our hunt for the wheelchair room, in which has obviously changed locations several times since there are arrows that point for it to be all over the place. After finally finding the wheelchair room and getting my wheelchair tuned up, we then satisfied our curiosities about the RIC pool, which is also on the 12th floor. Again, we poked our heads in and the pool was a little bigger than we had imagined. People had mentioned it was just a small pool. It had a neat lift for getting you into the pool and got me excited about trying to get some pool time in my schedule as well. So, the 12th floor has a crazy robot walking machine, the wheelchair room, a 1992 Dodge Spirit car for practicing transfers, and a swimming pool, not to mention a mock full kitchen for learning different ways of cooking. I would say the 12th floor is pretty bad ass.
We headed back downstairs for the next set of visitors for the day, my boss John Skalla, his wife, Kelly and one of my counterparts, Brian Heine. We had another great visit with them in the canary room, also giving them a tour of the place, showing them all it had to offer. Heine said show me around a bit, I have been reading the blog, what is this canary room, where is the gym - you read the blog and you kind of make up your own mental image of what it all looks like, show us around. Bayer was putting on a huge dinner and event tonight where they rented out the entire House of Blues and also hired Frank Caliendo for an hour of stand-up, which the whole Sheffield crew were all going to attend this evening. So, they all needed to get on their way so they could get ready for the event. It was great seeing them and unfortunately, Chicago is part of Heine's territory so I will have to see more of him as well.
We walked them out for Kalli, Guillermo and I wanted to go down to Michigan Ave to look around and grab a bite to eat. We found a food court, slammed down some food and headed back for my nightly routine. I am actually really proud of this - so I am going to throw it on here - I pooped in only three minutes tonight! This is a new record and something for me to be really proud of. I hate to always end this thing on some sort of note about my poop, but that's just the way things are going right now and unfortunately we are all just going to have to deal with it that way. So, this is Andrew Hippert, checking out. Talk to you all soon.
PS: Thank you Jeremy for the poster, it really added some spice to my room. And, Mark Sier what an incredible book, Wind and Water, some of the photos are unbelievable. What incredible sailboats from all over the world - great choice! Lastly, I cannot thank all of you enough for the incredible support through get well cards. I have a basket that I put each and every one in after I read it and the basket isn't small. There are over 80 cards filling the basket now and I don't see any kind of slow down for every day there is a small handful to read. Truly amazing. Nick Wilz and Jenny, not to rate any of the cards, but you had the funniest one yet!
PPS: Tari, The Shake of the Day has been a great success. Two people have already won, Kalli won on Sunday and Guillermo won today! We upped the anti to fifty cents and are seriously thinking about making it a dollar.
PPPS: Luke Peters, the nerf gun sat in the basket for a while but today got some great use. We put a dollar out in the hall to bait people and then sat in here in my wheelchair loaded and ready as they came and found the dollar I would blast them when they went to reach for it. Absolutely hilarious! The amazing part is, even after I would shoot these doctors, nurses and volunteers almost every one of them grabbed the dart and gave it back to me, idiots!