Tuesday morning started as every day does with my entire routine of stretches and exercises that I do in bed. As I was in the middle of my morning stretches in popped Carey to let me know that I had the lokomat scheduled for 9:00 since it was not printed on my schedule for some reason. So, at 9:00 I headed upstairs to meet up with Carey and together Carey, Kalli and I went up to the 12th floor where this amazing machine lives. Once again, Kalli assumed the position and pulled out the camera for this was truly a photo worthy event. Carey began measuring me in order to calibrate the machine and strap me in for the ride of my life. Once again, the lokomat is a million dollar machine that I call a giant johnny jumper placed over a treadmill which also has robotic legs that you strap on in order to magically walk all on your own. As wonderful as the harness feels digging in to your groin and abdomen it truly feels exactly like a natural walking stride. As I get stronger we will continue to increase the amount of weight in which is put on my legs while I walk. For some reason or another I kept saying "Here I go, I am just walking to go get a doughnut." It was quite funny and Kalli, Carey, and I had a blast as I walked along for a good 45 minutes. Amazingly, my blood pressure is 100% under control and I didn't once get light headed while using the lokomat.
After the lokomat we headed back downstairs where I had leg slings with Adrian. This is where you lay down on the mat and hook up ropes, pulleys, and slings from the ceiling in order to do zero gravity exercises with your legs. This is exactly what I have rigged over my bed which my dad, and Todd, Kalli's dad, helped me create at home.
After slings, I was with Carey again where we put on braces and went into the hall to do some more walking with assistance and a walker. Although my legs were tired we had a good session of walking which brought us into lunch.
Right after lunch, I didn't have anything so Adrian again asked me if I wanted to work with her where we did some more slings. After the slings, I got on a bike and did some pedaling and then I went throughout the entire gym from machine to machine and worked out until two o'clock where once again another therapist, Piper, jumped in and grabbed me because her schedule was open. Piper and I worked on two really great exercises. One being mat to floor and floor to mat transfers which got me sweating like a pig and two, sitting and balancing on a giant work out ball which is not easy at all. While we were sitting on the ball Piper had said she had actually never seen anyone balance on a ball as well as I was. This is really an amazing comment since these girls see hundreds and hundreds of spinal patients week in and week out.
After working with Piper for an hour I then had on my schedule a 3:00 psychology group. Dr. Wilson, a wonderful psychologist, had asked me on Tuesday if I would be willing even though I didn't need it, to sit in on a psychology group and tell my story in order to motivate and inspire others that she was working with. The group was a table of about 8 people of all different levels of injury both power chairs and manual. Dr. Wilson asked me to start out the group and explain a little about myself and what all I have been doing for therapy rehab. I probably talked for fifteen or twenty minutes trying to explain and inspire the others in our group to work hard both physically and mentally as they go through this very difficult experience. I explained to them how important work out routines, reaching out to the community, and staying positive is to getting return and good results. Everyone seemed very interested and happy that I had shared my experiences for a lot of questions came out of the group from what I had shared.
This stay at RIC has been very different than that of others, mainly due to the fact that now that I have returned I am realizing how far along I have gotten and how strong I really am. I remember when I had my roommate Maurice who was a twenty year spinal injury strong as an ox, benching 315 lbs, and moving around like he wasn't injured at all. I remember the way in which everyone looked up to him, thinking and feeling I hope I can be like that someday. Strangely enough, that is exactly how I feel now as all the other new patients ask me questions, and make comments about my recovery. This sounds really arrogant but there was one point where Mac, a fairly high level spinal patient, was sitting next to me while the therapist came over to him and said "Mac, we need to go downstairs you have a lifecenter class on the first floor." He looked at her and said: "No, I just want to get on the bike in the gym so I can be like Andrew and get out of this chair." I looked at him and said "Don't worry Mac, you just have to keep on working and you will be, but you should really go down there. They are going to teach you all about different ways of re-entering into the community, how to modify your home, get wheelchair parking passes, and find ways for financial assistance." He immediately changed his attitude about the lifecenter and went right down with her. It really made me feel good, showing me that the second time around I am almost like a role model to a lot of these kids and I have to work even harder so I don't let them down either.
So, Kalli and I quickly ate some dinner, came down to the room and got ready to head north of town where we were going to meet up with my old roommate Maurice who is on the RIC wheelchair basketball team. The team was having a scrimmage against another team in Chicago for the season had just begun two weeks before. We went to the game which was absolutely amazing how quick and athletic all of the players were even with being stuck in a wheelchair. We headed home, Kalli went to her friends house where she is staying and I headed to bed so I could get some sleep for I knew I was going to have another full day tomorrow.