Saturday, October 13, 2007

One step closer...

I have heard this joke before, but Ivette and I were watching “The Pursuit of Happyness” and they say it in there and I could really relate to it:

There was a man who was drowning, and a boat came, and the man on the boat said "Do you need help?" and the man said "God will save me". Then another boat came and he tried to help him, but he said "God will save me", then he drowned and went to Heaven. Then the man told God, "God, why didn't you save me?" and God said, "I sent you two boats!"

I feel like even though I am putting my faith and healing in God’s hands, that doesn’t mean I can sit back and wait for a miracle to happen. I am where I am but I refuse to accept it. God has blessed me so much with wonderful people and resources. I have to do everything in my power to get better and hope that God will take care of the rest. And that is exactly what I have been doing as you will learn throughout this entry.

Rehab 5 days per week

In an effort to do all that I can to get better, I now have a pretty strict regiment. I was going to Project Walk 3 days per week and have seen incredible improvements. I was recommended another rehab facility (Precision Rehab in Long Beach) and have started going there the other 2 days per week, so I now go to therapy 2 hours per day, 5 days a week. I am currently trying to finalize my schedule to include acupuncture 2 days a week and neuromuscular therapy 2 days a week. One thing I have been mindful of is whether my body can take all of the beating and bruising that I am doing. I think this is a perfect balance of therapy for me as Project Walk is a progressive and aggressive recovery center while Precision Rehab provides me with therapists who have an even more medical background and can assess my general health and well being including maintaining my upper body integrity and joints.

While I did acupuncture in the hospital in Colorado, I hadn’t done it for a while back here at home. So many people have told me of its benefits and I really wanted to do it again. I finally got a referral from my doctor to an acupuncturist, Dr. Said in Long Beach. She said to give her 12 sessions and we would see great things. So I started going to her at the beginning of September. It was amazing. It seemed like the therapy session after each acupuncture session seemed to go much better with greater signs of improvement. After the first acupuncture session, I had not told my trainer, and he said, “Did you take steroids last night?” And I just told him that I did acupuncture and he was amazed. So, since then, I have been going about twice per week and I have gone to 10 sessions so far. I feel great after Dr. Said does the treatments. She uses electrical stimulation and a hot lamp as well to further intensify the treatments.

Neuromuscular therapy
I will soon be starting neuromuscular therapy which includes a whole wide range of treatments from Reiki to Cranial Sacral therapy to Electrical Stimulation. More to come once I start these.

Father Fernando again
Father Fernando was again in Los Angeles at the beginning of September. Ivette and I went to see him, and we were both inspired by not only him and his faith, but the number of people that were there to celebrate the mass and healing. There were more people than I had ever seen in a church. There was literally NO room for anyone else. People were spilling onto the streets to receive Father Fernando’s healing touch. People were sitting around the altar to maximize the indoor space. Last time I saw him, I didn’t know what to expect and who he was. This time was different. I was completely ready and open to him and Jesus’ healing. After I was touched, I could not miraculously walk like others in the church, but I was again humbled and had a rush of peace. Everything will be alright in God’s time.

Hamstring (positional)

Another exciting improvement is that I can sort of do a hamstring curl! My hamstring control is all positional though. I can only do it if I sit with my legs hanging off of a table. Then if my leg is straightened out, I can pull down with my hamstring.

Stationary Bike
In addition to my last post about taking a step forward, this has been one of my most amazing progressions. I had been riding the stationary bike every few sessions at Project Walk with the trainers doing most of the pushing/most of the work. However, about 2 weeks ago, I was able to actually push a little bit on my own. Then, I was able to fully pedal on my own with minimal assistance. Now, I can pretty much ride the bike on my own, with a little assistance every now and then. On Monday of this week, I started pedaling and for the first time ever, the pedaling felt 100% normal for like 10 seconds; it was like I was riding a bike like before with all of the correct muscles and everything firing in coordination. The stationary bike has been an amazing tool incorporating cardio, coordination and hope for great things to come. How I ride a bike ok, but not walk...I don't know. Here is a video of one of my rides this week.

Total Gym pushes
The Total Gym machine allows me to do assisted inclined squats. I have been using this machine almost every session at Project Walk. I have shown significant improvement of the squats since I first started doing this. The idea is that even if I can only do 1% of the push and the trainer does the other 99%, hopefully next time I can do more, maybe 2% or 3%. Earlier this week, we added weight to make it more weight bearing on my feet and feel more like a full squat. My body responded really well. With the added weight on the machine, I was able to engage more muscles and connect better and push up voluntarily so much more. At one point, my trainer, Dave, even said that I did 100% of some of the pushes.

6th month mark

The 6 month mark (September 12) was a difficult day. It was a day of shock and surprise at how fast time had gone by and how different life is now. It was a tough day because of what it represented. Ivette has really helped me through these tough days and the 6th month anniversary day was no exception. She always lends her ear and drops anything that she’s doing to be there for me. I have never met a more selfless, loving, caring person as can be seen by all of her actions and sacrifices. I don’t even have to say or do anything; she just knows when there’s something wrong. Wow she’s been amazing… Even though it was 6 months since my injury, she has been going through EVERYTHING that I’ve been going through too for those 6 months and holding my hand (literally and figuratively) and has been so strong throughout the whole thing. I thank God so much that she’s been such a great support, such a great friend, such a great girlfriend.

Thank you so much to Ivette for spearheading the fundraising efforts. The total out of pocket cost this injury has burdened us with so far is greater than $25,000. Thank you so much to all who have donated. Please realize that since we are going through an outside organization (NTAF), there is a time lag for the donations to go through. But seriously, thank you so much for your generosity so far. I promise you, I’m doing 110% of all that I can do to get better so that I can walk, and even run again!

Simple Things Hard: Starbucks, Bank
Just another reflective moment on how life is much more complicated and difficult being in a wheelchair. As you already know, I got my car modified so I am relatively independent. I can go anywhere I want, anytime I want, just like before. But in doing so, I have to transfer from my chair to the car and then disassemble my chair and bring it into the car. This can get quite cumbersome and tiring and running simple errands turns into a great expulsion of energy. For example, there is no drive-thru ATM close to me, so every time I want to go to the bank, I have to transfer to my car, disassemble my chair, drive to the bank, assemble the chair, go to the ATM, go back to my car, disassemble the chair, go back home, reassemble the chair and I’m on my way. Same goes with getting a simple latte or something from Starbucks. One challenge is the whole assembling/disassembling part. Another challenge with drinks is balancing the cup in between my legs, when I have no control over my legs.

Reiki on my picture
Ivette’s brother, Kennett, is in school for massage therapy in Tulum, Mexico and included is a class in Reiki healing, which I wrote about before. One of his assignments was to perform Reiki on a picture of someone and he chose me. Thanks Kennett! I don’t know when you started doing this, but I definitely have had lots of improvements this past week.

Three Kings
My sister, Jen, whom I’m very proud of, got a Fulbright scholarship to study in Spain to earn her MBA in 13 months at a very prestigious international university. In her travels in Europe, she told me this week that she lit a candle for me at the church where the 3 Kings remains are held. My birthday is January 6, the Epiphany, the feast of the 3 Kings! (miss you sis)

Notre Dame!
We finally won our first game at UCLA last week! Thanks so much to Justin Liu for getting tickets (accessible seats nonetheless!) for Ivette and me. We had so much fun, especially since we won! This is the last day I can savor the win as we play #4 Boston College I am very positive that we have a chance of pulling off the upset, but we need to play a good full 4 quarters. GO IRISH! Quick shoutout to my boys at Fisher Hall. I was an RA when these guys were freshmen and they’re great guys. I spoke with my rector and he said that they include me in their weekly intentions at hall mass on Sunday nights at 10:30pm (I miss those…).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My first steps…again!

I have so much to write about for the past two months and I’m so sorry for not being more vigilant in updates. I will try to have a more detailed post in the next few days. However, something happened today that I am so super excited about; I don’t want to wait to let the world know.

I’m about to mention things that are new since the last blog and I’ll go into more detail about them later, but here’s the exciting news: I took my second first steps!!! I am going to therapy 5 days a week right now; 3 days at Project Walk in San Diego (actually Carlsbad) and 2 days at Precision Rehab in Long Beach.

Today, I went to Precision Rehab. I was locked into a harness and the therapists were manually moving my legs on a treadmill. I was instructed to not think of anything they were doing but imagine myself at the beach or something. The first few reps were a big struggle for them, but the third rep went really well. They got me into a nice, fluid movement and I was on the treadmill for about 5 minutes straight (with them manually moving my legs).

Then we moved off of the treadmill and tried to walk on the ground (while I was still supported by the harness). So there were still 2 therapists manually moving my legs in the walking motion, but then, something amazing happened…

As I was dangling from the harness and half paying attention to them moving my legs, they planted my left leg, and then my right lunged forward by itself in stride! My body was remembering! The therapists again had to wrestle my legs to get them to walk for the next couple steps, but every so often, I was able to somewhat control the movement of walking forward. It was incredible. I was thinking about bringing my leg/foot forward to walk, and for the first time since March, I was sometimes getting a positive response!

Man, when I lunged forward for the first time…I don’t know what thoughts went through my head. I was just in shock and disbelief, sort of like, did you guys see that? Did I just do that? I’m very much looking forward to future sessions and trying this out to see what other improvements may come. I will try to video some of this so that you can sort of see what I’m talking about.

In the meantime, God bless and I’ll update with lots more soon!!!