I had some follow up appointments at the Charlotte hospital where I was four months or so following the accident. I try to get in and out of there as fast as possible. That place is just depressing. I hate it there and I have no idea how so many people visited me there so frequently. It is not so much that I was there for so long but it is seeing the people at the hospital, so many are just so beat down looking and I can't help but even wonder what they even like about life.
I remember being told by so many staff while there that I had one of the best attitudes of any patient they had ever had. I guess it was because I never really complained and did everything they asked of me with pretty good effort. I do not think I had an exceptional attitude, I was just doing what I felt I should be doing--my parents raised me to be respectful and I figured what good was not getting out of bed to do rehab going to do? I guess a lot of other patients would refuse to participate or even get out of bed. Not that I blame anyone, I was in shock as well with what was going on and many days it would have made plenty of sense to stay in bed. I guess my involvement in athletics makes me unable to understand how you could think any other way though.
I remember just passing by people and seeing them just randomly break down crying hysterically. I admitted before that I cried once or twice but I am very good at keeping a calm demeanor and holding things inside and it was tough to see how upset so many people were.
The last few months I was there I did everything for myself. I would not let anyone help me get up in the mornings because that is just how I am. I like doing things for myself and I struggle accepting and getting help of any kind. I remember the staff even running out of things for me to do in therapy because I had already done everything they cover. I think that is why the slow progress with my recovery efforts is getting to me because I kind of expected to get better and be ahead of everyone else. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees with this stuff and every injury is so different that it isn't worth comparing yourself to others but I can't help myself. I hope that this type of stubborn attitude does payoff at some point.
I do like living by myself and even being by myself but sometimes I think being alone so much just makes me think about things too much. One idea I jokingly just think about it is just becoming the "crazy wheelchair guy." This would mean just embracing and accepting this "life" (note parentheses here because I'm just not going to call this living right now). I am thinking to do this maybe I should get a power wheelchair, wear some short shorts, velcro shoes, and a fanny pack. Also getting hair as white as my father's and maybe even wearing a headband would make sense. I could just go live in a 200 square foot studio apartment, eat canned food (that's about all you can eat with social security), write poetry, speak gibberish, and scare people by talking to myself. I guess I'm not quite ready to go there yet though!
I am sure in a future blog I will go into how I have an almost full-time job fighting with insurance on a pretty much every other day basis. As much as I get frustrated with my provider, I am thankful they consider the Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, "in network." Without insurance, two to three weeks of therapy would cost $30,000. With my insurance it will cost around $5,500, though I am still exploring financially reasonable accommodation options. I am excited about going and it looks like I'll be headed there in May following the golf tournament being hosted for my benefit and to help pay for this trip by some great friends.
This therapy trip will get me in front of another set of eyes, a set of eyes that are renowned experts in this field and are about as confident as anyone that you can work to get back function. They worked a lot with Christopher Reeve, who had about as bad an injury as you could have, but before he died they assert that through intensive therapies he recovered 70% of his sensation and 25% of his motor function. This, of course, does not happen quickly but the goal is to develop a plan to continue at your home base, so I will look forward to their collaboration with Race To Walk to see what we can do.
I continue to be blessed and amazed with the support I have gotten. Without the help, I have no idea what I would be doing with myself. I have tried to reach out to everyone personally but I never think I am showing enough thanks. I hesitate to say that I can credit everyone of you with preventing me from becoming "crazy wheelchair guy," simply because I know so many of my friends want to see it (though temporarily), but again, thank you.
I'll be sure to keep you posted on how things are going next month and look forward to seeing many of you at the golf course on May 19th.