Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Update for the past few months...(Part 2)

A little bit of sleep, a little bit of rest and here we go again!

2-Legged Walking
On December 10, 2007, I was able to somewhat use the reflexors in both legs while supported by a harness to make both legs go forward in the walking motion at Precision Rehab. This was not the prettiest walking, but the important part is that both legs were responding and moving forward. There have been good therapy sessions since then, but I think this was my best time at Precision Rehab.

This is the treadmill/gait training that I do pretty much every time I go to Precision Rehabilitation on Mondays and Wednesdays.

After the treadmill, they have me walk over the ground supported by the harness. These two movies were my best session yet, right before Christmas.

Anointing of the Sick
On December 13, 2007, Ivette cooked a fabulous dinner for us and our special guest, the former pastor at St. Jude’s (where I went to grade school/junior high), Father Bill. I have maintained a good relationship with him, and he himself has overcome great medical problems and is doing great. On that night, I received another Catholic sacrament: the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Although he told me stories about people having a miraculous response to the sacrament, I was not one of those. I felt blessed to receive another sacrament in Catholic Church and feel that my faith, my prayers and the prayers of everyone else have really helped me cope with everything.

6-month Reevaluation at Craig Hospital
I was not sure what to expect at the reevaluation visit in December. My dad and Ivette came to support me. All it turned out to be was a simple check up to see what I had been up to and to see how I was doing. They ran a couple tests, but I feel like the reevaluation was more for them than for me. I have been going to lots of therapy and seeing many doctors, so the week there was somewhat moot. However, it was very weird being back in that environment. The first few days were ok and actually felt good to be at a place that helped me so much. Then the next few days I could not wait to leave because I did not like the hospital confinement feelings that were resurrected. Many memories flashed through my mind, and that is a part of my life that I wish did not have to happen. I lived in the hospital for 2 months. Ivette lived in the hospital for 2 months. My parents lived in the hospital for 1 month each. I loved seeing my former nurses and techs and therapists, but being back in that environment was strange.

Back doing the FES bike like old times with my dad...

Gino, a former police officer, was in the hospital the same time I was. He is doing unbelievable! He walks now using a walker for long periods of time. In this picture also are Ivette and Gino's wife, Tami. They are amazing people. I was able to finagle my way to standing as well!

My PT and friend, Alissa. She's awesome!

Some more favorites from Craig: Stephanie, Joaquin and Brea.

I was only in Colorado for about a week until Ivette and I headed to Washington State for Christmas. We had a very good time meeting with her family and relatives. Her aunt even re-did her whole front porch and added a ramp so that I could easily get into the house Unbelievable. Bella was with us the whole time and she was not the biggest fan of the cold snow to say the least. One thing that became very evident to me in the snow was that my hands and normal gloves would not suffice pushing the frozen metal wheels on the wheelchair. I needed thick, padded gloves to push my wheelchair because imagine constantly holding a piece of metal in your hand. Your hand would freeze!

Bella covered in snow!

She was so cold and such a baby about it!

The newly constructed porch with a ramp! It was beautiful.

Mama Flores, Papa Flores, Grandpa Gardner, Senorita Flores, Brother Flores

No Christmas Miracle
I know I have to be patient with this injury as it is a ridiculously slow healing process. Knowing this and because of this, I sort of implanted in my mind and the mind of others that I was waiting for a “Christmas Miracle” for myself. I lived in anticipation leading up to Christmas to see if I would be somewhat right. Christmas came and went and so did my spirits a little bit. I again realized that no matter how much I want to be better RIGHT NOW, God has His own plans. New Years Eve was similar in that I could not wait to put 2007 behind me and start a fresh, new, promising, hope-filled new year.

What better way to bring in the new year than with the woman I love (and dog)?

And some of my best friends...

Hand Cycle and LA Bike Marathon
Ivette’s family was so generous and gracious enough to buy me a hand-cycle for Christmas. This is the type of bike that I am sitting on on the website. I am so excited about it It arrived last week and I assembled it. Ivette and I have already gone on a couple rides. It is so much fun and so good for my cardio. It’s so cool because when we’re on the bike path, I fit in. Nobody know that I am a paraplegic; they just think I have a really cool bike. Anthony Lok proposed that we participate in the LA Bike Marathon, we looked into it, and Ivette and I are training for it along with other friends It is March 2, 2008 in LA. Navigate to ( here for more details.

Thank You for the Donations!
For those of you who have donated to help aid in my recovery efforts, thank you so so much May God shower you with blessings. My out of pocket expenses related to this injury is creeping up to $45,000. So far, with an appeal for donations, we have raised over $30,000!! However, with Project Walk at about $2000 to $3000 per month and other doctor visits, medicine, etc, the costs will continue to rise. Your support has been and is essential in helping me continue trying to get better.

Non-Profit Surfer’s Myelopathy Awareness Organization
Ivette and some of her friends from the USC Masters in Public Health program (Katie, Pegah and Tamar) have taken it upon themselves to battle surfer’s myelopathy and to encourage education of the injury and raise awareness of the risks involved with surfing. This is a truly amazing task and I will keep you posted on how it is going and how you can help

Here are some more videos from my training at Project Walk.

Here I am balancing on a rubber bouncy ball throwing a weighted ball, using the core strength that I have preserved.

Here I am riding a stationary bike again. I posted another video of me riding a stationary bike, but this one is more recent and if you compare the two, you can see definite improvement.

Here I am doing squats completely by myself on the "Power Plate" machine. It essentially vibrates like crazy which activates my muscles to fire. Although not all of the respective muscles are contracting and I am using some of my arms, this is still very good.

Here I am struggling crawling upright. This takes a lot of core strength and hip control/stability.

Here I am again walking with a walker. You can compare this to last time as well; this time seems to be a lot better :)

Also, in case you haven't figured it out, you can find all of these videos on YouTube (!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update for the past few months...(Part 1)

Sorry for the delay in the update. There have been lots of good things happening over the past few months. Although there have been lots of good things, I am still so far from my ultimate goal. The recovery from a spinal cord injury is not an easy one nor is it a quick one. My best hope is for an overnight miracle. As quickly and unexpectedly this injury took me over, I hope and pray that as quickly and unexpectedly it can go away.

Late November, Early December

Before going to Mexico for Ivette’s cousin’s wedding, I stopped by a shop and got a pedicure. I figured it would be good for the health and wellness of my feet. However, I didn’t expect it to be one of the most stressful experiences of my life! It started off ok. I had to do a really awkward transfer from my wheelchair to their humongous special foot Jacuzzi chair. Then when she started working on my feet, my legs were spasmed out so it was extremely difficult to move/bend them. Once we finagled my legs to cooperate and she started working on them, I really got stressed because my leg was bent, right in front of her face. If I got a random spasm, then she probably would have flown across the room. Although I tried to communicate with her to be careful, etc, she did not speak English very well and the message was lost in translation, so I just sat there, hoping and praying that my legs did not misbehave. Anyways, everything turned out fine and my feet were beautiful.

Guadalajara, Mexico Trip
I knew that traveling to another country in a wheelchair would be interesting. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I have been all over the world and don’t intend to stop just because I am in the chair. When Ivette and I arrived in Mexico, they had escalators for everyone to get to baggage claim and a single elevator for those with large luggage, wheelchairs, etc. This oasis of an elevator had the incredible capacity of…1 wheelchair. Even for someone to go down with the wheelchair they had to suck in their gut and avoid getting slammed by the closing elevator door. Needless to say, it took about 30 minutes from deplaning to finally use the elevator. Navigating Mexico in a chair was not that bad, only because I had Ivette with me. The streets were super uneven and there was rarely a curb with a ramp. Places that did have ramps though made a good effort but fell far short from being useful. The ramps were always extremely steep and nobody in a wheelchair could grace the incline by themselves. The wedding was beautiful yet crazy at some points, with people in costumes running around on stilts! The dinner started at 11pm and we partied all night long. On our way out of Mexico, we entered the plane via the stairs as the plane was not taxied at a jetway. So, how do I get in a plane with stairs? They carried me! I thought this would be ok because I had been carried before, but before I knew it, two guys were lifting me and my chair up the narrow stairs. They almost slipped a couple times and in hoisting me up each step, I could clear the sides of the stairs. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I survived and now have a cool story to tell.

Hanging out in Tlaquepaque, Mexico...

Cruisin' down the cobblestone was fun but took a little more concentration so that I didn't hit a rivet and fly out of my chair...

Another alternative treatment I have been receiving in addition to the Acupuncture and Neuromuscular Massage/Chiropractics is called Acuscope/Myopulse. Here is a brief explanation:

“The Electro Acuscope / Myopulse is a sophisticated electro-therapy unit that introduces a low voltage micro-current through injured tissue and accelerates the healing process. The Electro Acuscope / Myopulse is different from conventional forms of electrical stimulation (i.e. T.E.N.s, Interferential therapy, and Galvinic stim.) in that it facilitates tissue repair and promotes cell regeneration at an accelerated rate.” (thanks

That's all for now. I'm really tired and am going to bed. There's lots more to post, but here's just a little dose. I'll try to finish up on the update tomorrow with pictures and videos as well.