Sunday, July 12, 2009

Friday/Saturday/Sunday July 10th-12th

It's been another great weekend with of course lots of visitors, good food and fun. Friday started off with some breakfast while hurrying to get to hand group. At hand group there were four of us gathered around the table in the canary room fighting for the championship title of the classic American game, UNO. The game went round and round, people throwing draw 4's, skips, left and right and somehow or another, Beverly pulls out this crazy win. No one saw it coming. Most Fridays the therapist try to make it fun and simple, giving us a little break. Truthfully I would rather they didn't and we just work on stuff that is as hard as possible, but nothing wrong with having a little fun too.

After hands group Kalli and I stayed in the canary room but moved to a different table to work on some E-stim together. After having a couple therapists look at my Uncle Paul's electro-therapy machine, we got the okay to go ahead and use it on our own. Kalli and I have a system down that seems to work really well. We mark my arms with a sharpie when we find a good spot for the electrodes to be placed. That way we save a lot of time looking for the right spot. Basically, we go through about 4 5-second cycles of electro-massage, then a 20-second break and then repeat this process for about ten minutes per hand. After I am done with the E-stim my hands feel really good, loose and functional.

After working on both of my hands, I headed to my next therapy, OT Exercise Group. One of the therapists, named Piper, was leading the group. It's interesting how every therapist has a very different approach to the OT Exercise. Some go faster with more reps and others slower with less reps but more control. Both are very effective and wear you out in different ways.

After sweating like a pig and working my muscles I was ready for some lunch. We ate lunch in the canary room and had three hours before my next therapy. So we took advantage of this nice long break to get some paperwork done. We posted up in the canary room with Kalli's laptop and my personal information binder we had put together here at RIC so we could start applying online for Social Security Disability. The application is much like a financial aid, hardcore, long as heck, asking more questions than you could ever believe type form. It was really a pretty interesting form to fill out because it made you explore and think about all the different ways this injury is affecting me for those are the type of questions they are asking. They want to know how my situation truly affects my ability to provide for myself financially. And, the way in which it will affect my performance.

As we were filling out the form, my mother's sister, my aunt Marge, arrived and joined us as the group worked on the form. Marge lives in Florida and her daughter Francee and her are visiting for two weeks. We got as much of the form done as we could without the assistance of my case manager Rose. (Portions of the form wanted to know who worked on me, what specifically they did...) Over this process there has been so many names and assessments, it would be difficult for us to get all of that correct.

Three o'clock presented itself quicker than I thought it would and it was time to join my last therapy of the day - psychology group with Dr. Wilson. There are large curtains that can be pulled across portions of the canary room to divide it up and create some privacy so that a section can be used for group or class while people can continue to enjoy the room. I rolled into this sectioned off portion of the room and realized I was extremely out numbered - in the room were about 8 power chairs. Three of the power chairs were on ventilators and eventually in rolled my roommate Maurice and one other gentleman as well. This made for a very diverse group to talk about different issues that were going on for each and every one of us. Dr. Wilson led a very interesting conversation encouraging people to reach out and explain their successes, failures, fears, and temptations that they have encountered over just the last week. We talked about all different types of issues from fear of leaving RIC and going out to eat to realizing that not only are some of us injured and it's difficult but we need to think about our spouses and significant others that are going through a difficult and much different life change as well. The conversation shifted continuously from heavy to light making for enlightening realizations learning from each others experiences. After we had all gone around and shared successes and difficulties we have experienced in the last week, Dr. Wilson led a meditation relaxation to finish up the hour.

Before we go any further, I have been meaning to tell everyone another funny story about the fart machine. After two or three days of having my way with the entire 7th floor farting on them and playing them like puppets the staff finally became aware of the trick I was playing. My roommate was at the park with a recreation therapy group and overheard a group of therapists and volunteers talking about what they should do to get me somehelp for several people had complained and mentioned about how gassy I had been for the last two to three days. They were talking about getting a specialist involved, possibly putting me on some medication, but weren't sure how to approach it. My roommate, dying inside, finally felt as if he needed to inform them about what was going on. He didn't want it to go any further or get out of hand. So, he explained to them the situation. Immediately, all of them felt tricked as can be and wanted revenge. So, apparently, for the next several hours they all plotted as to how to get me back. The final result was the following. I am sitting in my bed and just had taken a nap, relaxing a little when in comes one of the doctors who actually happens to be in a wheelchair herself. She is a really nice lady and asked if I had a moment to talk. She said "Andrew, I know this is a little bit of an embarrassing subject but several people have noticed that you have had very heavy flatulence over the last several days. We are quite concerned about your situation and we have made a decision to give you a colonoscopy. We are going to bring you downstairs in just a couple moments on a bed so they can perform the procedure." I immediately looked up at her thinking, oh my gosh this is going a little too far. Now they are trying to stick things up my rear end for no reason! I said to her "okay, okay, about this gas it has all been a joke. I have this little machine and I have just been messing with everyone. Here I have it, I will show it to you." As soon as I fessed up in ran my therapist, my roommate, all laughing so hard saying "We got you! We got you! You son of a gun! We got you!" The whole situation was quite hilarious. They really did get me, for after the doctor had said it I was a little embarrassed thinking I had let it go that far. But, actually, this was the best way for the whole situation to end because had they not found out everyone would have continued to just think I was that stinky kid that could not hold his gas for the life of him. I mean, literally, no one was aware that it was a scam and I must have tricked thirty, forty people. So, for the rest of that day everyone on the floor began learning and there were jokes to be told every where I went.

Now that I got that great little story out we can continue on with the rest of Friday. I just felt that everyone needed to know how my little fart machine ended. So, after therapy group I went into the gym to pump some iron so I could get as buff as Arnold. After working like the Schwarzenegger it was time for dinner. My mom, Kalli, Aunt Marge, and I looked up a Thai restaurant nearby, made sure it was wheelchair accessible and headed there for dinner. The food was great. After we were done, we all went our own ways and I began my nightly routine.

Saturday morning I was running a little late, mainly because right before I was about to get out of bed I had the sudden urge to call my old roommate Joey to see how he was doing. I talked to him for a little while, jumped out of bed and got to hand group about ten minutes late. During the group I played with play-do, pulling little game pegs, kind of like the people pegs that you place in your car in the board game LIFE. After finding each of the people pegs, I then had a pile of beans in front of me and worked on picking them up and holding them in my hand as I picked up more and more, trying to keep the beans in my hand at the same time. I got to ten beans in my hand, then there was just no way I could pick up another one without having one fall out. You will all have to try it sometime it is pretty tricky. We had some good conversation around the table for it wasn't just patients. One of the other guys here, Anthony, had four of his buddies from out of town joining him for the day.

After hand group I headed to the gym to work out and once again pump some iron! After doing several exercises I left about ten minutes to cool down and catch my breath before OT Exercise Group. Exercise group was led by Kate on this fine Saturday. She is by far the most intense leader. Her style is fast and furious, balls to the walls, don't stop until you drop! I am now using four pound weights which has been an exciting improvement. Moving from twos to threes and now fours which is twice as much as what I started with. Today's exercise was no exception for Kate worked us to the point of dripping sweat and pure exhaustion.

Once she was done having her way with us, in came my entire posse. People must think I pay strangers to come and visit with me just so I look cool. For in walked Marge, Francee, Camilla, Margaret, Rose, and my Mom and Dad. They joined Kalli and I and we headed downstairs to the cafeteria to get some food for lunch. After eating we decided to break into groups and all enjoy the day running around downtown Chicago. The girls broke into two groups and my dad and I took off on our own for there were several things that I wanted to go and get, especially a birthday present for my little sweetheart Kalli Ann. So, once the girls all took off my Dad and I sat and looked up as many jewelry stores as we could up and down Michigan Ave. so that we weren't just running around like a chicken with our heads cut off. Him and I had a great time rolling up and down Michigan Ave. purchasing all the different things on my list. We probably went to eight or nine different jewelry shops, searching for that perfect promise ring that I wanted to get for Kalli. Her and I have been dating for four years and I love her so much but the hospital is no place to get engaged and there is just a lot going on in our lives right now but I wanted her to know how much I love her and appreciate everything she has been doing for me in these last four years.

After a long search my dad and I found ourselves at Tiffany & Co. one of the nicest jewelry shops on Michigan Ave. There, I found myself in love with a ring that shouted out promise ring and matched the beautiful pendant necklace that I had given Kalli about three years ago. I purchased it and headed to the Water Tower Plaza to pick up some of our last items on the list. On the way home, I was so excited to give the ring to Kalli and could barely wait or stop talking about it. The plan was to all meet back at the apartment around six o'clock for dinner. We pulled out several days of leftovers and covered the counter with a schmorgus board of options. Almost like a China Buffet right there in our apartment. After we ate, mainly due to my own excitement, I asked Kalli if she wanted to get her main birthday present now while everyone was still here to celebrate and that way my dad could also give my mom a neat ring that he found and purchased while we were out and about. For, she too, has given up so much in this last two months and my dad and I wanted to thank her with something. Knowing Kalli so well, I knew there was no way she would turn up the chance to open a present early. So, out of my backpack I pulled the beautiful little blue Tiffany bag which she never saw coming. My sister Margaret was just joking, saying "Kalli I think I saw them at Tiffany" as if there was no way she would really get something from there! She opened it up in front of all of us and you could tell that she really loved it. She gave me a big kiss and whispered in my ear "I love you so much".

We all talked as my sister Margaret trimmed people's hair and I lounged in a couch for I had transferred out of my chair for a change of pace. After a while, it was close to my curfew and it was time to go. I headed back to RIC to start my nightly routine.

Sunday morning came and it as time to just be lazy. I laid in bed until 10 or later and was basically forced out because everyone began arriving, piling up in my room, staring at me like "hey get out of bed, we are here to play". So we headed to the canary room and snacked on some fruit and other food that my mom brought while we just sat and chatted. I then got a haircut and we all decided to head outside and throw around the bean bag. The whole gang needed to be leaving around 1:30 which came quickly and they all said their goodbyes.

Kalli and I then headed to Tiffany & Co to go and get a different size for her hands were tinier than I thought. After that, we came home, took a nap, went to Chipotle for dinner and came home to blog.

Sundays are always kind of a just a nice cool down, lazy day getting you ready to bust your buns during the coming week! We came back to my room so that we could blog about the weekend and start my nightly routine. Over this last week we have made the decision to implement a strategy that we have been thinking about for a while. Basically, my insurance covers 60 days of in-patient rehab, so I am going to save two weeks of that coverage so that I can come back in a couple months without a neck brace and hopefully more leg movement than I have now and all around more healing simply due to time. With that being said, my discharge date it now July 23rd and I will be kicking it in high gear in order to take advantage of the little time that I have left. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the visitors and support that I have received over the last five weeks here but am going to encourage people for my remainder of my stay to possibly only come on the weekends. This way, I can take every moment in between therapy to work on the the handful of issues in which I need to improve in order to be independent when I leave this facility. By no means, do I want anyone to take that the wrong way, I just simply want to focus all my time and energy towards these tasks that I have to learn in order to go live with my buddy Mark. Which, by the way, is where I will be living - in Menasha Wisconsin, with my good friend Mark Lee.

Once again, it was a wonderful weekend and I look forward to celebrating Kalli's birthday tomorrow because she is going to be a whopping 24 years old!


  1. Can't wait Buddy! By the way, I totally want to play with that fart machine....

    Mark Lee

  2. I think it's great that you are going to live with Mark. Who would think that the fart machine would get so much attention. It's a great story.

    Katy Lee Connor

  3. This really is a book...a real life Real
    World...we are all so proud of you!
    Keep up the good work and know that you
    are in our prayers every day. You have many,
    many more people rooting for you than you can
    imagine.....!!! Strangers even!

  4. Andrew, you are such a sweetheart to Kalli and I couldn't have imagined a better guy for her. It is good to hear that you will be able to head out on your own so soon! I am always amazed at how much progress you make every day and you are truly an inspiration to everyone. Good luck with things in the next few weeks and I hope you have a smoothe transition back to the real world.



  5. hey hip,

    out of all your posts this is one of my favorite blogs to read. the story was hilarious and you're lucky the doctors have a good sense of humor. they could've got you back a whole lot worse :-) i'm sure they don't feel that laughter is the BEST medicine but i say keep em rollin on the 7th floor. i can't believe you're already planning a discharge date! even though it's not an ideal situation it's good to have those couple weeks for later on when you regain your sea legs. i talked to kalli earlier this morning, hopefully she told you a little bit about the golf outing and some things we got goin on. radios station, donations, etc.

    oh by the way, why you gotta show up all the other guys who have a wife, girlfriend, or girl on the side who are reading this blog? i'm sure a lot of the fellas are going to hear "well andrew got kalli something from tiffanys for HER birthday......." heather's is august 7th so just wanted to say thanks a whole lot man, great timing. you set the bar pretty high for the rest of us :-)

    hope you got to see a little of the home run derby tonight. it was big PRINCE FIELDER who took the crown!!!! man it was great to watch it happen in the cardinals stadium. he was crushin them further than everyone else. his longest was 497 ft!!! i predict a big second half push by the crew and with a little pitching help it's on the world series!

    well i hope your monday wasn't too rough and you're able to keep your strength up the last few weeks. it's gonna be an intense schedule but finish strong hip. i know can do it, you got a whole lot of captain in you :-)

  6. oh yeah prince's longest was 503ft, not 497! and i think now i'm beating tari in the blogoff

  7. Hey Hippert,
    Sorry its been a while since I've wrote. I just got all caught up on the blog. Amy and I are very excited to see you in a few weeks. I'll talk to mark to see if there is anything I can help him prep for.. as I'll be in appleton right around the 23rd or 24th. But yes, glad to hear you are working hard and I'l talk to you soon!

  8. I am so excited to see you and Kalli on monday!! You two are the best!!

  9. fron Aunt Mary
    Andrew, These posts are such a great record of this incredible journey you are on. I think you are writing a future book! In case you haven't thought about this, you need some photos to document what you are describing. Each little bit of progress is such a milestone. I keep thinking about you in the pool for the first time and your description of sitting in the loveseat for the first time. Your book will need a photo section. Your experience will inspire lots of people. I also keep wondering if this experience will take you to a new career.

  10. Andrew the golf outing is coming along great talked to Mark Monday night we need to let all know who are coming that registration is at 9am so we can start at 10am I am excited your at Marks we are going to bring the JillyBean over to his dock and set the lift up so you can still come to the tie-ups. i'll get the chicken:) I will be out all day with the donation letter trying to retrive more prizes. Hope everyone brings lots of money that day we have great things in store.

    see ya soon
    the longs

  11. Hey Hipdawg!

    Happy to hear your doing good!
    A big Happy Birthday to Kalli!!!
    Haven't been able to write earlier since I went to a buddies house up north with no internet!
    I'm really glad you have such a sweet girl that is there for you bro.

    Cool that you finally got to go in the pool!
    Sounds awesome, make them throw you in there more often!

    I gotta say I really miss SD n all of you guys, Sweden is expensive as ****! Once you leave SD u realize how much fun stuff you can do for almost no cost!

    Take care brother!


  12. yo hip,

    happy hump day brother!!! u feeling the burn yet from your intense push to the finish? i hope those goals are being crossed off at record pace. i completely understand if the blog falls behind this week, no hard feeling man.

    oh yeah i forgot to tell you before, our new roomate jenniffer (the twins cousin) is going to a surfing event in Malibu on saturday. not just any surfing event, it's for spinal chord injury patients and anyone in a wheelchair who wants to learn how to surf!!! now i have no idea what this entails and i'm sure the picture i have in my head is grossly incorrect, misinformed, and probably politically incorect so i might go check it out and see for myself. at the very least i'll grab some info and contacts for you. is it wrong that i'm really curious as to how this is going to go down? i don't want to ask her a bunch of questions and sound like an ignorant jackass but i guess i do that without asking anything sometimes so i might give it a shot. i'll keep you updated.

    also, i can't wait to see you out here in october. this came up when i was talking to kalli the other day and i appreciate the lion king ticket offer when i was visiting you but i would much rather have you two come see it yourself. california needs more wisconites!!! actually it may just need less californians, i think both would be good for the state.

    one last thing,
    i was watching the news last night and they had some reporter down at the harbor in Marina Del Rey waiting for that high school kid who was sailing around the world to come in. i only caught the tail end of it but they were inviting people to come down and celebrate with the family and party it up with this guy. wish you were out here, we woulda had a great time :-)

    keep up the strong finish and start thinking of housewarming gifts you and mark might need? maybe you need a nice house ______ fill in the blank there and i can make it happen. talk to you soon brother,


  13. ps

    i noticed a couple grammatical errors in my previous posts. please don't think any less of me for them. i know punctuation isn't necessarily vital to blogging, IMing, emailing, etc. but when you miss a letter or an entire word here and there it really does make you sound like an undereducated fool. i'm only a sophomore in college, i do my best for you :-)