Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another tiring day...

Today was another tiring day in therapy, starting with the nurses waking me up early in the morning and then heading out to classes.

Here were today's classes:
9am to 10am - Chair class. This class focuses mainly on developing skills while in a wheelchair. The first day in class, I had to learn to do a wheelie in the wheelchair. The thought of doing this was very scary at first, but now I do them with ease. Besides being able to show off my cool wheelie skills, wheelies are actually very functional on a day-to-day basis. We also learn how to ascend/descend stairs in the wheelchair, build wheelchair endurance and navigate various physical obstacles that we will encounter while being in a wheelchair.

10am to 11am - Mat class. This class focuses on stretching, building core strength and learning how to manage getting from a wheelchair to other surfaces (ground, other chairs, etc.). We start the class by stretching and then proceed to exercises for strength and mobility keeping safety and technique in mind.

11:15am to 12pm - Swimming pool. There is a 96-degree pool that goes 5-feet deep here at the hospital. As the pool offers buoyancy, my body easily floats and I do not have to fight gravity. I still cannot move my lower body in the water, but it is a lot easier to manage. We work on other strength and core exercises. Ivette and my dad have even come in the pool with me!

12pm to 1pm - Lunch. Although the food here is pretty good, it really isn't that healthy. That is contrary to what I would have thought at a hospital. I figure, it's a hospital, so it should have healthy food. Wrong! A lot of it is greasy and fatty, so it's really a challenge sometimes to eat healthy. But the one-hour lunch break is a nice break nonetheless.

1pm to 2pm - Physical therapy. I have a 1-hour personal physical therapy session every day with the same physical therapist, Alissa. We work on all sorts of things from strength, balance, daily life practicalities, etc. Today we worked on ascending and descending a staircase without a wheelchair, but by lifting me and the wheelchair up each step. It was quite a challenge, but so are most things the first time around. It took an hour to go up and down 10 steps.

2pm to 3pm - Rare break. Ever since I got to the hospital, I have rarely had any breaks between 8am and 4pm. This is one of them (as well as 8am to 9am this morning). My sister, Judy, arrived today (until Tuesday!), so I was able to give her a tour of the hospital.

3pm to 4pm - Fit class. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we hit the gym and lift weights only for the upper body. On Tuesday, there is a clinic on the basketball court with various stations to build strength and endurance. Each station is timed/counted and tracked week-to-week to track improvements. Thursday is game day. Today we learned to play wheelchair basketball. Judy and Ivette played too!

6pm to 7pm - Acupuncture. This was my 3rd acupuncture session and I can actually feel my body reacting to the needles. It's really weird when they insert the needles into my body as you can imagine it's not a very natural feeling. They even put an electronic stimulator to help make the treatment even more powerful. Although weird, it feels like I'm getting good results out of it.

7pm to 7:30pm - Dinner. Finally! I ate my dinner that was delivered to my room. However, the kitchen closed at 6:15pm, so my food was already cold. :( But c'est le vie...there are worse things in life than cold food...

8pm to 8:30pm - Facial. I know, I know... Like scuba diving, this was one of the additional recreational activities. Through this whole process, I've come to appreciate volunteers. Whether it be someone helping in the swimming pool or someone offering free scuba instruction or someone offering free facials, it really does make me smile for everything they are doing that they do not have to in order to make us patients happy in a not so happy time of our lives.

8:30pm to 11pm
- Watching Lakers beat the Suns (in progress). Let's go Lakers!!!

Other classes/activities that I have but not today:
Occupational therapy. This class teaches other functional things for daily life, such as dressing in bed and the wheelchair, grocery shopping and cooking, vacuuming and cleaning.

FES bike. For this class, the therapists attach electrodes to my quads, hamstrings and gluts and digitally stimulate the muscles to help me ride a standstill bike. This really helps with my incredible ;) muscle tone and endurance.

Psychology. Each patient has a psychologist assigned to them. We have a meeting once a week just as a checkpoint to talk about anything and everything.

Driving class. I've had 2 driving lessons. For paraplegics, there is something called hand controls that we use for the gas and brake. We obviously do not use our legs. I've had 2 sessions and did well. We did everything from parking lot driving to freeway driving. I had to drive one of those really cool cars that said "Student Driver" and I felt like I was in driver's education again. When I get home, I need to have someone install the hand controls on my car.

Standing frame. I sometimes use the standing frame when I can. It does as advertised. It's a contraption that stabilizes my legs and allows me to stand vertically while supported. It's really cool because whenever I use it, I realize how tall I really am since now, I always look up at people from the chair.

Massage. I've had 2 therapeutic massages. It sounds cool, but actually kind of hurts. They said that because of all of the additional stress that I impose on my upper body because of the injury, I am extremely tight and I need a lot of work for maintenance and fluid mobility.

Cold-laser treatment. I've gone a few times to try an unproven treatment called cold-laser therapy. This is conducted by a doctor off-site and we actually have to drive 30 minutes to see him. They are simply lasers aimed at my head, back and legs that supposedly have very good therapeutic results in cell regeneration. Although I've gone a few times, I have not felt any changes or improvements directly related to the treatment.

Reiki therapy. I had this done twice in Hawaii and plan to have it done again here in Colorado. This is a very spiritual healing that channels energy throughout the body to heal. We also found out that Ivette's grandma was a Reiki master (performed Reiki). This is supposedly a very powerful healing treatment. When the Reiki master came in Hawaii, she also worked on Ivette's cut and her cut was visibly improved.

So, that's a brief synopsis of my daily life. I do my best to find time to rest in all of the craziness. I'm usually exhausted at the end of the day, but I fight through it. Here are a few more pictures. More to come!

My first week in the hospital... Since I was bed-ridden from Monday, March 12 through Friday, March 16, my lungs were really weak and I had to exercise them using this breathing toy.

This is at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Hawaii. Since Ivette and I were supposed to be in Hawaii on vacation, I wasn't about to let my injury stop me! So I prepared an ice cream date for her and me at the hospital and dressed up and everything.

My parents and me with some of the flowers sent to me in Hawaii.

When I arrived in Colorado, one of my best friends, Anthony, coincidentally had a layover my first weekend there. So we picked him up at the airport for a few hours, went to Outback for desserts and then dropped him off again.

Here's us at Outback. When we came to Colorado from Hawaii, my mom and Ivette came directly here with me. My dad stopped at home in LA for about a week to take care of some things and then he drove up the following week in Ivette's car with my brother, James. When I was traveling from Hawaii to Colorado (commercially), I actually had a layover in LA and was able to see my Uncle Joel and my brother and sisters and their families, including my nieces and nephews! Thanks so much to my cousin, Efren, an LAX security officer who helped coordinate everything there.


At April 26, 2007 at 11:55 PM , Blogger mhnayeri said...

God bless you Joe. I'm rooting for you buddy. Just know your friends are back here and will support you in whatever you do. Take care of your self and holla at your boy when you get back.

At April 27, 2007 at 7:34 AM , Blogger Katie said...

Hi Joe - Haven't talked to you in a while, but I want you to know I'm thinking about you. I'm sending good thoughts all the way from Boston, and I'll be sending them every day. =)
Love, Katie Thomas

At April 28, 2007 at 11:57 AM , Blogger SheryllK said...

Hey Joe,

Just read your blog..Thanks for sharing insight on your daily life there in Colorado. Just know that you are in our thoughts and prayers always! Stay strong!


At April 29, 2007 at 9:42 AM , Blogger Darren said...

we'll go to the 2nd round games when you get back here! and of course, if we win~ haha.

At May 2, 2007 at 8:16 AM , Anonymous Karyn said...

Hi Joe! I'm so glad you've put up this blog. It's great to hear how and what you're doing. It's wonderful that there are facilities and people who can help teach you a ton of new skills! Keep up the great work! You're in my thoughts and prayers. ~Karyn Murphy

At May 3, 2007 at 4:36 PM , Blogger Poma said...

Hi Joe!

I'm glad to hear that you're staying the strong, motivated, smiling person who led my retreat all those years ago. I'm back in LA now, just graduated! Got any advice? Belive me, I'm rooting for you and my Lakers too! Take good care...


At May 3, 2007 at 11:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joe - Don't think for a moment that I have forgotten you. Ever since I saw Anthony at church I have been wanting to speak to you, but nevertheless keep praying for your recovery at morning prayer at the Nade. I told the kids about you and how you brought back from Rome the St. Francis of Assisi Crucifix for me.
Now that I have your blog I'll keep in touch more often. You blog is great and I get exhausted just reading about the different activities that you are doing.
AP Calculus Exams are next week, and the kids are getting nervous.
Hope you stay hopeful. Keep blogging.
Mr. Chin


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