Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday August 12th - Week Three at Home

Thank you everyone for the wonderful responses about my needs for eventually getting a wheelchair accessible van. Many people have gone out of their way to locate local vans for sale. After going and seeing one of them and having been surrounded by constant pick-ups with wheelchair vans at RIC I now understand that it is going to be quite a learning process to figure out what the best set-up will be for me. It's going to take a lot of research to determine what is all available for there are many different set-ups on the market. I really need to determine what type of lift or ramp makes me feel the safest and most comfortable using it independently. This is going to be one of the most important aspects of the van. So, thank you to all who have been helping me on this search. I appreciate the help!

It really has been wonderful all of the meals that have been made and served to Kalli, Mark and myself. Saturday morning my cousins Josh and Bill Hippert and Josh's girlfriend came over and made one of the most amazing breakfast I have ever had served to me. Josh has his own chickens, so of course we had farm fresh eggs which were delicious. When I was at RIC I went 47 days in a row eating bacon, because I was able to choose each morning what I wanted to eat and it just appeared. Knowing this, Josh brought what I now know as the world's best bacon which is created at Newton Farms somewhere between Manitowoc and Kohler. This bacon is close to a quarter inch thick per slice and truly nothing but meat. One of the neatest things that they did that morning was bring a juicer that made delicious fruits and vegetables into a succulent nectar for us to partake in. They also put together some wonderful homestyle potatoes and cinnamon rolls. We had breakfast sandwiches, omlets, scrambled surprise and more! You would have thought there were over a dozen people eating in our kitchen but really it was just the six of us making complete pigs of ourselves! What a wonderful morning.

After partaking in possibly the best breakfast I have ever had we looked out onto the lake and noticed that on that particular morning it was almost glass. I had been wanting to get into Mark's ski boat for some time and it seemed like there was no better time than right then when the water was nice and we had three strong men to pick me up and put me in. So, we went down to the dock, wheeled me down the stairs to the lower section for Mark's dock is bi-level. From this lower area we then lined me up about 45 degree angle from the boat and assumed three positions. Mark down in the boat holding underneath my knees and around my legs, then Bill and Josh each around an arm, cupping me underneath the armpits. Between the three of them it was one of the very first times I really felt light. With everyone preparing for a massive load it made each person's around 65lb lift feather light. Each of the guys seemed to be looking at each other after I was placed in the boat saying "who had all the weight?" "that wasn't too bad". As we were moving me down into the boat Josh's girlfriend grabbed my roho cushion from my wheelchair and got it down into the boat so that I could sit on that for the ride. The cushion is by far the best in the industry and gives really great cushion support throughout your entire tush. After getting me comfortably positioned we all loaded into the Red Dragon, Mark's 15 1/2 foot tri-hull speed machine. We took a nice ride around the lake, looking at all of the beautiful houses and then headed back for we had a full day ahead of us of family events.

One of the best forms of therapy that I was able to do at RIC was getting into the water on the 12th floor in their pool. I really want to continue this therapeutic activity here in the valley. So, I looked into getting a YMCA membership in order to take advantage of all the pools in the area. Of course, once again with all the people that are supporting me Betsy Lee was able to step up and donate a six month membership to the area YMCA's. With my brother being a member it made it very easy for him and I to begin what will be our weekly swim night. So, Tuesday night my brother came and picked me up, along with my godson Sam, so that the three of us could get me signed up for my membership and take the first plunge. With the Heart of the Valley YMCA being the newest in the area it has the entire layout on one floor so to make it very easy for me to get around. All of the Y's in the area actually have lifts to put you in the water which is a crucial part of the whole process. So, we jumped in the pool, swam around for over an hour which was a really great way to move all of my new movement that I have gotten in the last couple of weeks. On a normal night, I get my leg to bend and pull up maybe four or five times and then the muscle is pretty much exhausted from its own weight. In the pool that evening I was able to bend my leg probably a good forty times which is truly unbelievable. Zero gravity of the water is really great for new incredibly weak muscle movement. I can't wait to go again next week and keep up the great progress!

Today Kalli and I were able to finally cross off our to-do list DMV. We have been meaning to go for probably two weeks to get a wheelchair parking sticker so that we can take advantage of all the great parking spots that are available. The new DMV was really quick and we were actually in and out of there in twenty minutes or so. While we were there we also learned that in order for me to drive again while in a wheelchair I am going to have to take a written test to get my temps, then take the driving test to prove that I can use my hand controls well enough. This was a little bit disappointing that I have to go through all of that in order to drive again but I understand where they are coming from and why they would need to make sure people are safe enough to be on the road.

After my visit to the DMV we rushed over to the Neuroscience Group's new building out off CB for my first follow-up appointment with Dr. Yazbek. We showed up just on time, checked in with the receptionist at the front desk, and then waited very briefly to be x-rayed. After being x-rayed we went over a couple questions with a nurse and then met with Dr. Yazbek. He reviewed the x-rays, letting us know that they looked great and there was nothing wrong with them, for he was really checking to make sure there were no major problems because it is really too early yet to be really checking for full fusion. We went over several aspects of the surgery and learned more about what actually went on that crazy night under the knife. Dr. Yazbek is a great guy, easy to talk to and very down to earth. We met for maybe fifteen minutes then he was off to another meeting. Then we quickly met with the scheduling nurse and headed on our way. One of the coolest things that we learned when going over the surgery with Dr. Yazbek was that the bone that they used to replace and fill in my C7 vertebra was actually a piece of fibula from a clinic down south. The fibula is a very strong and hard bone that works great for this type of procedure. Crazy.

Everyday, along with all of these great adventures, I also have continued a constant regiment of exercises and muscle therapies on my own. Thedacare at Home is providing great in-home PT's and OT's that also continue to come two and three times a week. Most days are non-stop from morning to night filled with muscle building therapy. It is really exciting seeing constant improvement in my hand strength, leg and feet movement along with continual improvement in my daily activities such as showers and my morning routine.

I am going to keep on fighting day in and day out to rebuild and teach each and every muscle in my body so that I can simply just walk in to that DMV and get a new license without them telling me due to your wheelchair you will now need to retake all of your testing. How is that for a goal?


  1. Hi Andrew! Margaret is a friend of mine and we have been keeping up with your recovery through this blog. I am a certified massage therapist with a license with the state of WI. I don't do insurance work, but I do have a rate that will probably work into your budget. I have had 2 surgeries this summer, the most recent on being August 3rd ... so I won't be back to work until mid September or early October. I have been a therapist for almost 14 years and I trained in Colorado. (I'm just telling you all this to help you make a decision!). If you are interested, Margaret has my phone number. I work well with doctors and PT's. I don't mind instructions if if helps everyone feel better. I specialize in a style that combines Swedish, Deep Therapy and Sports massage into one session. I do some trigger point work also if my client wants it. Regardless of if you need my help or even want it, I want you to know my family has been praying for you. We are really excited for you about all the progress you have made! :)

  2. Through God and your faith--all things are
    possible! Seek and ye shall find :-)

  3. It was nice talking to you today Andrew. You are a good person. You have always been very positive and a lot of fun. Don't worry, I'm sure by the time you are back on your feet I still won't have caught a fish, we'll have to go out again whenever you make it to San Diego. I wish you a speedy and efficient recovery. Positive thoughts really help, and I know you are a positive guy!

    Erik Raaum

  4. hey hip!

    it's been awhile man, great to read all the progress that's been happenin. it's awesome that new y is there for you to take advantage of. between that and the lions club and the sweet tv deal with the bed you've been making out pretty well since the move back. sucks about the dmv though. i bet you never thought you'd have to take the written drivers test again when you were getting your license back in the day. was that when you were 16 or 17? well played with the id man, so brilliant in its simplicity. wish i could make it to the gig, that's gonna be a fun party. tell everyone what up for me and i'll be back in december to catch up with you guys. flights are hella cheap right now so i think heather and i are gonna come back before it's mid January and -40. i think we're gonna go the the packers vs seahwawks game on december 27 so maybe keep that date open....

    talk to you soon man and keep workin out those legs. later hip

  5. hey buddy. its unbelievable to read and hear about your progress every day. im delighted to see that youre with Dr. Yazbek at Neuroscience. he is a friend of my familys and you couldnt be in better hands. i was also happy you got to go out on a boat. i know how much you enjoy the water. hopefully i'll be able to visit with you in person one of these days. keep up the hard work bro! we're all still praying for you.

  6. Hello... was reading your blog and thought I should mention... The Lions club you spoke of... Ask them about a van. They also have those turned in/donated, or usually have a list of people selling them. Hope that helps!

  7. Hey Hip,
    It's been so awesome to read about all the leg movement you are having. I can only imagine how great it must feel getting those legs moving even more in the water.
    Glad to hear that you were able to get out and do some boating. You are so fortunate to have a lake in your back yard and wonderful friends to help you in and out of the boat. God does provide, doesn't He?
    I can empathize with your having to retake the written test for your drivers license. I can understand their wanting you to show them you are capable of driving the van with your hands but why you would need to take the written part is beyond me. I'm all for your walking into the DMV next time and avoiding the entire issue altogether. A great goal!
    Love and endless prayers,

  8. It's great to read about more and more movement in your legs :) keep it comin'
    hey 2 more outdoor concerts this summer at houdini square downtown - next wk is vic ferrari (OOOOOOOHH! jk) anyway, it's a fun time, you should head either this Thurs or next (or both)! Let me know if you plan to :) if not......gimme a buzz sometime and we'll do something else.
    bytheway- I hope you don't mind, I work w/ Jason Revolinski and let him know your positive comments about him. It's always nice to get good feedback, he was glad to hear it.

  9. Andrew and Kalli: Just dropping by to catch up on your adventures and to let you know you're in our thoughts and prayers. Amazing progress! XXOO Betsy Licklider

  10. Hi Andrew ... just want to wish you luck tomorrow with your visit to Chicago. Have fun seeing your old pals and therapists at the RIC! Looking forward to knowing how things turn out.

    Love, Maureen