Monday, June 14, 2010

Working Hard in Atlanta, GA

Hello Everyone! Boy, it's been a long time. Time just seems to fly by when you are busting your butt to walk again. As many of you know, Kalli and I have been living in GA with some friends while attending a therapy study called NRN (Neurological Recovery Network). The program is going very well and they never cease to amaze me how many ways they can figure out to make you sweat. The program here has me up on a weight assisted treadmill five days a week along with guided over ground walking with new and more difficult devices than the loft strand crutches I am currently using.

Just recently we have switched up our therapist to a great guy named Brian. It has been a good experience for after 60 days we just needed a change of pace. It is amazing how every therapist has a new twist to throw into the therapy and our daily work out routine. This change gave me another positive surge of energy and renewed Kalli's and my excitement and determination to stay with the program for a longer period of time.

Even though it is harder than heck, I have been walking with loft strand crutches for two and a half months now for the most part everywhere I go. I guess the only way I could explain how it feels is like having a 500 pound gorilla on your back lugging him around everywhere you go. Luckily, this gorilla seems to be on some sort of diet plan and he keeps getting a little thinner and trimmer each month. The latest and most difficult walking device that we have tried in therapy has been a pair of downhill ski poles with little rubber stoppers on the bottom. They are more difficult because I am not able to put nearly as much weight through them as I can with my crutches. Attached is a video of me using them for the second time just this week.

An interesting thing that we are looking into this coming week is the possibilities or options that may be out there for my hands surgically. The Shepherd Center has a great specialist that works with spinal patients on achieving more functionality of their mitts through surgery. We don't know any information and have a consultation planned in the upcoming month to learn more to see if I am even a candidate. This has been something that I have been curious about and wanted to pursue. Even though my hands are continuing to get stronger, it is still very difficult for me to get complete extension and it seems as if this may be something that I could get help with surgically. Not only am I looking for something to help functionally, I also am hoping to find some relief of the pain I am often experiencing in my hands as a result of them being so tight.

Over the course of the last year an important part of our progress has been a wonderful ability to prepare for the next step. NRN has been a wonderful stepping stone where we have seen great progress but there will come a time when we will be ready to move away from this endeavor as well. I have applied to a program in California called Project Walk. This is a great spinal cord facility that is cutting edge and incredibly intensive. The program has been around for quite some time and consists of mainly personal trainers opposed to most facilities being more of a hospital setting with physical therapists and occupational therapists. The down side is that Project Walk does not have any studies to participate in, nor can you use any insurance to cover your sessions. At this point I don't have any insurance coverage for physical therapy left anyway since at the rate I was doing it I used up my sessions by the beginning of February. Since it is not billable through insurance, all sessions are charged by the hour and you can only imagine how expensive a specialty clinic such as this will run. We are incredibly excited for Project Walk and ready for the next step of this journey. One of the best things about Project Walk is that it is located only twenty-five minutes from our old apartment in San Diego. So, Kalli and I are thrilled to be quite close to picking life back up where it was so abruptly taken just over a year ago. Wow, it has been an entire year.

The next few months will be busy because not only will we be continuing therapy we also will be trying to plan our move back. Moving back will entail getting our stuff moved from GA to WI and then from WI to CA. We also need to start the apartment hunt, I need to go car shopping and Kalli needs to find a job. As overwhelming as all of this feels, the excitement to get back to life in CA gives us motivation to figure it all out. If anyone has any connections near San Diego to help Kalli find a teaching or nanny position please let us know!

In order to make my next step in this journey possible, my family and friends have decided to throw a Second Annual Golf Outing to help finance Project Walk. The only information I know of so far is it will be held at High Cliff on August 30th with a shotgun start at 10am. There will be more details soon. If you would like to sign up now please contact Mark Lee at or call him at xxx xxx xxxx. I really hope people will be able to make themselves available that day so I can strut my stuff with my new walk hopefully even more improved by then! Last years was so fun and much appreciated because it allowed Kalli and I to focus on therapy over the last year as our full-time jobs. I am truly excited to walk over to a golf cart, sit down, and ride away whereas last year around that time it took two people to lift me into the cart where I was then strapped in with belts in order to help me stay sitting up straight. Wow, how far I have come.

Can't wait to see all of you!