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?