Hello again everyone. A lot of things have been going on in the last couple of weeks, so it is time for me to get back on the old blog and get everyone updated. So after my last evaluation at RIC both Dr. Kim and my therapist felt that I was ready for their second look program where I come back and really start working on walking. So RIC went ahead and sent in to my insurance the recommendation to be readmitted to the seventh floor for the last two weeks of my inpatient coverage. Blue cross blue shield then seemed as if it was really taking its time to get RIC an answer. RIC was holding a bed for me for this past Wednesday and needed an answer by then. So, I called up insurance to see what the hold up was and they informed me that nursing normally makes the decision on thisbut they didn't feel as if they were qualified in my case. So, the nurse had to send the case to be athorizedby a doctor instead. Then, later on, Wednesday night Margaret from the admissions office at RIC called me lettingme know that the physician from Blue Cross had denied RIC's request. Thoroughly dissasspointed andfrustrated
to say the least I immediately got on the phone with Theda Clark looking to get started with an out patient program here in the valley. They were able to get me in the next day for an OT and PT evaluation which was great and went really well.
While I was sitting with the PT from Theda Clark doing my evaluation RIC's admitting office called back letting me know that Kim my OT and Dr. Kim my physician at RIC went to bat for me and appealed the initial denial for inpatient rehab. They got on a conference call with Blue Cross Blue Shields physician and convinced him that it was necessary for me to come back to RIC. I was so thrilled and excited it was hard to even finish my evaluation with Theda Clark. They too were excited for me for they know how experienced RIC is and she even mentioned that in medical school they referenced it quite a bit. The main reasons I really wanted to get back to RIC were to take a ride on that giant johnny jumper called the Lokomat for they are the only facility in the area that has one. And also, Theda Clark does not even have an orthodics department so I would have had to go to some small local clinic to get my leg braces made. Kim, my therapist called me on Friday letting me know that they had tried their hardest but not heard back from the insurance yet. I was able to let her know that admitting had already called me and I was going to be coming this Sunday so lets get the balls rolling! She was so excited on the phone that the appeal had worked she started telling other people around her that were walking by in the halls "hey Andrew is coming back, he is coming back on Sunday!"
This felt good because it reminded me how much they cared and wanted to see me succeed. So, one more weekend here at home and then we will be packing our bags early Sunday morning for a noon check-in for what I think will be a two week stay at RIC.
So, it was really nice to have gotten the evaluations out of the way at Theda Clark so that when I am finished at RIC I get home and jump right into therpay with the new therapists at Theda.
The next really good news/blessing that happened this week was another jackpot win at The Lions Club. Tuesday, Kalli and I had a few things that we wanted to get from the Lions Club, a walker and a back rest for my commode. So, we headed out to Larson to see my good buddies out at the shed. As soon as we got there, they remembered me right away saying "boy are you looking good!" and "you must be having some great progress if you are asking for a walker."
While we were there, I decided to also take a stab at a little wish list that I had been thinking about and sure enough they had the two machines that I had on my mind. A standing frame and a assisted pedal bike. Collecitng dust in the back of the shop was this beauitful standing frame with a hydraulic arm that picks you up and straps you into position so that you can safely stand and begin teaching your legs to withstand some good pressure. The unit didn't have a harness with it which I obviously didn't see as a road block and just planned on creating my own, but before I left I asked them to go check the back shelf where I had seen a couple hoire harnesses and maybe there would be something that would work. Sure enough, there was a standing frame harness that they brought over to me, not even knowing what it was, saying
"Hey, I think this might work." I flipped the harness over and sure enough it was exactly what we were looking for but just for a different model. Again, another blessing. Next, we were about to leave for Kalli's dad ran over with his truck so that we would be able to bring the standing frame home and one of the Lions Club memebrs goes "Alright, before you leave maybe we can get you to take one more thing." I look behind me and sure enough what do I see but a pedal bike with an assist, made specifically for a wheelchair to roll up onto, strap in your feet, and pedal away with hand pedals in which you can assist the feet with. Again, probably a couple thousand bucks new. Besides these two amazing finds of course they had a walker and a back rest which were my initial reasons for heading out there. Just another crazy successful day out at the Lions Club I guess. So, with the Hippert and Lee Gym continuing to grow we needed to make room for expansion. So, I called up one of my buddies, Trout, who I knew had recently purchased a small farm and had a few barns that would probably have space for Mark's wonderful red Jeep Cherokee that lives in our garage. Trout immediately was more than willing to help out and store the jeep in order to make my expansion dreams a reality. Thank you very
much Trout, it really means a lot.
As you all know, my brohter Tim and I have been going to the Appleton YMCA every Tuesday since I have been home.This week was no exception to the rest, another measurement of continual improvment was presented for I swam twelve laps, compared to seven the week before, increased my standing time and ability by probably double and began swimming face first all the way down to the bottom of what is probably a twelve to fourteen foot deep olympic swimming pool. It is so crazy to me for just eight or nine weeks earlier I was timid as can be, wearing a life jacket, and nervous in three feet of water, to completely let go of the edge. Now, I am swimming a pool length in under a minute, diving into the deep, and standing in four feet of water like it is nobody's business. So, I can't thank my big brother Tim enough for setting aside that time - every week - to help me reach my goal.
And last, but not least, the best part of all, is new movement. As you also probably all know I do a vigorous routine every morning before I get out of bed and night before I go to sleep of exercising and stretching different parts of my body. Just recently, as part of my routine, I began doing three sets of ten, wishing and squeezing my glutes to get my butt working. Like a slap in the dark, completely out of the blue, I went to do that same butt squeeze that I have been doing for a couple of weeks and like making a fist, both my left and right came firing in, truly showing they were alive! I began squeezing them again and again until they wouldn't squeeze anymore. So excited for last time I had the evaluation at RIC they had expressed how important it was to get my glutes working in order to walk properly. Next, probably a week after that I was doing what they call some prone exercises where you lay flat on your stomach and hold your arms down towards your feet and up in the air pulling your chin off the bed as high as you can. Again, out of no where, my chest and head raised a good two, three inches higher than I had felt in months. Two very distinct muscles in my lower back were pulsing and twitching, showing their presence, screaming like little kids that wanted attention. Again, I too was excited as can be having to push and shove Kalli saying "wake up! some new muscles in my back are working" "look at how high I can go". She hugged me and we enjoyed breakfast more than ever, celebrating the muscles that joined the show. Sure enough, ever since a lot of the pain in my lower back has gone away, probably due to those darn two not pulling their weight this whole time. Along with the glutes and back my right leg, which is my weaker of the two, has showed good improvement, being able to kick it outwards, slightly pull it up in bed, and continue to move the ankle. And, so slowly, but surely, my hands continue to show progress as they strengthen and straighten showing extensor strength day by day. I was just on the phone the other day with my old roommate Maurice who was a great encourager when I was living at RIC. He was so interested in how I was doing and what all was new. He said to me "Andrew, how are the hands?" And it made me realize wow, when I left RIC to do exercises with my arms I was wearing three pound wrist weights that velcroed on because I could not even hold a two pound dumbell with my hand. And, just ten minutes before I talked with Reece, I had been doing curls holding ten pound dumbells in each hand. What an amazing improvement in such a short time. But, unless you look back, and think about where you were and how you used to do things it is so hard to tell any improvement from day to day and easy to take it for granted.
So, I am here at RIC, just getting ready to go to bed. As I had mentioned earlier, I had just talked to Reece, who lives here in Chicago letting him know that I would be back. Being the good friend that he is, he said when do you get here? I said around noon on Sunday. He said "alright, good. I will see you at six for dinner." So, him, Abby (his wife), Kalli and I
walked down to the Water Tower on Michigan Avenue and ate dinner together telling stories and catching up over the last couple months. I am actually down on the sixth floor for they don't have a bed right now on seven but as soon as one opens they will move me up to keep me close to the action. It is good to be back again where you know the therapists truly care for surprisingly, around four o'clock we were sitting in our room waiting for Maurice and his wife when out of nowhere Colleen, one of the first PT's that I had last time I was here, came down knowing I was here asking if I wanted to get in a quick session before she left for the day. Thrilled and anxious to get going we ran upstairs where she, as excited as I was wanted to see me stand with all the incredible progress I have had in my legs since I left was just a wiggle in my left toe. We did about three or four reps of sitting and standing between the parallel bars, followed by a half hour on a motorized bike. This bike is really unique and a little more sophisticated than mine for it can tell you exactly how much you are helping and how much the computer is pushing. Wonderfully, the screen read that my left leg was doing 98% of the work and the right leg was doing 29% of the work. This was so exciting and made me want to push harder and harder knowing soon that both would be reading 100%.
I should be back here for about two weeks and Kalli and I will blog periodically, letting you know how things are going and about all of my new adventures with the new equipment I never got a chance to touch since my legs weren't really working dring my last stay. Continue the prayers because they are obviously working and my wonderful prayer group I will have to think a little bit more about that wish list and get back to you soon.