Friday, December 2, 2011

November Update

I am still in Atlanta doing the rehab thing--sowly getting stronger, I had some catching up to do since I missed six months with the leg fracture. The biggest thing I have been working on is trying to get this E-Stim unit, the stimulette den2x that came out about six months ago in Europe.  Since it is not yet FDA approved, it has not been easy to try to get but with the persistence of my dad and me, the wheels have finally begun to turn and I hope to finally begin using it before the end of the year.

My spinal cord injury is at the bottom of the cord where it branches off as the signals are sent to muscles in your lower body. When it comes to recovery it is actually a more complicated to be injured at that level. The E-stim in the US is not strong enough to benefit my type of injury.  The stimulette den2x is much stronger but it is really the unique special electrodes they designed that allow you to use such a strong current without damaging or burning your skin. I came across it in May and read all about it.  The device was based on a ten year study in six different countries in 20 different rehab facilities. The study went on to say that it not only builds muscle but even RESTORES muscles.  In the study, all the participants did was stim the quads for six months and a good number of people were able to stand independently in parallel bars for help with balance.
So after discovering this device, I knew I had to have it so I contacted the company that developed it and they told me that not only did it cost $8K but it also required a prescription from a US doctor or them signing off on supervising my use of it.  So I quickly made an appointment with my doctor at Shepherd and asked him to sign off on it.  Unfortunately, due to liability issues, he said no.

I moved here for therapy and also to be at what most people would call the most progressive research facility in the country so I decided to roll myself up to the research floor and talk to them about it.  I did this for weeks and eventually got a meeting with the Director of Research and he was actually very receptive to the idea. When I left we decided we were going to work towards doing a pilot study with the device and me as the lone participant. They just wanted to do their due diligence and make sure it was safe and worth doing. Unfortunately they are moving super slowly on this which has driven me crazy since they say the sooner you start using the device the quicker and better the results. I have been checking in once or twice each week and trying to balance being persistent with not being annoying.  I also asked my Dad to pressure them, since he can speak about science and research a little more fluidly then I.  Despite our efforts I may still have to end up paying for the device for the study but I am trying to get the developers to give it to us for free or at cost since it is for research and may help open the US market for them.

This device has probably the most potential of anything I have done since my accident and I actually expect more results then they had in the study since they only stimmed the quads and I will stim the gluts hams and calves as well.  I also recently had EMG testing done by the research staff in anticipation of a possible research study. The testing showed I have voluntary activation in my gluts, my quads (esp on the right), and even my right calf.  So, I am a little ahead of the people in the trial. In theory over time the device could restore all the muscles I have some activation.  I also will be combining the other weekly therapy with the stim so what might that lead to? I would expect even more gains.  
Like I said I will hopefully I will start this before the end of the year!

Well, as I mentioned in my last post I had quietly been looking at the possibility of returning to work and I am proud to say I started working last week. I am working at a domestic and international freight shipping company Team Worldwide.  I will be doing six months of training to learn the business, starting with support and inside sales work.  I am a little nervous because sitting in this chair is just painful, so doing it for so many hours a day will not be fun but it will be good to get back to working and there is a lot of room for growth with the company. This is also a bit of a relief to find work since I was worried about explaining the two and a half year gap in my resume.  They also are working around my therapy schedule which is very important.  I have to just thank my friend, Chris, for helping make this happen.  He has been in sales at the company for two to three years. Not only did he help me with this but if you remember, I lived with him and his family for about four months when I started therapy in Atlanta earlier this year.  I do not know how I will ever repay him!  I am going all in on this job so if you or anyone you know have any international or domestic shipping needs, please let me know.  We are good at what we do!

I have had to tweak my schedule a bit and also make a few decisions on how best to utilize my time for therapy. My weekday schedule is now pretty much like this:
Wake up 6 AM
Shepherd Therapy 8-11AM
Work 1-8 PM
Home Therapy 9-11 PM

I have added short video of the Wave Machine below, which is another routine I do regularly at Shepherd.  While performing squats, calf raises and other basic exercises, the vibration created by the machine produces a shaking movement in your legs. About 15 minutes of vibration exercise produces results similar to those achieved through one hour of conventional resistance training.  Moreover, the therapy increases bone density and muscle tone, while reducing muscle spasms.

I have been wanting to show more clips of me in therapy but a lot of it is repetitive.  For example, I use the Lokomat (robotic assisted treadmill walking) three times a week.  One of the concepts we work with is muscle memory, so the repetitive activities work within that strengthening that.

Hopefully next month I will be able to share that I have started the new muscle stim and am making some great gains.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Update

Recently a friend sent me a message one morning and I since my response took a few hours he replied back, “How many hours can you play XBOX?,” sort of implying I have a lot of free time.  First off, let me clear the record by saying that I have always been a PlayStation guy.  Second, I can say I do stay pretty busy.  This razzing gave me the idea to maybe share a little bit about my typical weekday schedule here in Atlanta:

6:45 AM: Wake Up/Eat/Shower and Dress-I was never a big breakfast eater but since I am trying to repair my body I usually do eat some cereal, an orange or apple and consume 35 g of protein between a protein bar and drinking a Boost.

9-11 AM: Therapy at Shepherd with staff-Activities like the Lokomat, crawling, spin bike and other stuff to work my core and move to try and further activate my legs.

12PM: Lunch- usually I just eat at Shepherd. The food is just okay but they do have a great salad bar.

1-4 PM: Pool workout by myself-I was never a big water person but I have grown to enjoy the water since it is the only time I am not in a bed, wheelchair or some other piece of equipment. I usually spend the first few minutes just floating and decompressing. I spend the final 90 minutes in the corner of the deep end where I follow a routine of ad & abducting my legs, trying to pull my knee to chest and other various leg movements. Like I have said before the buoyancy really helps me move them a good bit. I usually wear a great and only $9.95 waterproof watch I got at Walmart to help me thru my routine.

5-6:30 PM: Floor Exercises-I usually sit on a Bosu ball on the floor, use a medicine ball, weighted bar, and resistance bands to do a lot of core work.

6:30- 8PM: Stim Calves or Tibs/Dinner- I alternate which muscle I stim for 90 minutes a day. I can pretty much do anything while I stim, from making and eating dinner to just watching TV. I try to focus on pushing my foot down or up depending on what muscle I am stimming.

7-9:30PM- Stand in Standing Frame- While I stand I have electric stim on my gluts and quadriceps and try to engage them as much as possible as I stand.

11PM: Bed

*The stim I refer to above and have in other posts is Electrical Muscular Stimulation. It is a device that generates electrical impulses to elicit muscle contractions through electrodes placed on the skin. This device can build up and strengthen muscles in your body and for people with paralysis the hope is that strengthening the muscle will also help strengthen the signals sent from the brain to control the muscle. I have been using this type of device religiously for over a year and a half but unfortunately the type of injury I have requires a more intense stim not yet approved by the FDA for use in the US. The stim I have been using is only limiting the muscle atrophy that I have gone thru as a result of the injury. To have a better chance of strengthening the muscle signals I need a stronger impulse like the one in the European Stim I have been working really hard to bring to the United States.*

This is pretty much what I do everyday of the week, minus the pool on Monday since the water is cold. On the weekends I do sleep a tad later but still do my floor exercises and increase the time I use the standing frame.  Other then maybe going to a friend's or my cousin's to watch football on the weekend and church on Sunday at Passion City, this is what I have been doing since I moved to Atlanta.

October also marks a fairly significant month for me and not just because I turn yet another year old. After my accident, my family and I agreed to devote the majority of the first two years to rehab. October 29th marked the two-year point since I have been out of complete or partial bedrest from the long hospital stay and secondary issues at home. I also now have to factor in the unexpected five to six months my leg fracture cost, but soon it may be time for some change.

Quietly, I have been looking into the possibility of either getting back to work or getting some training or schooling that would help put me in a better position when that time comes. There are a few opportunities that may drastically change my days in the coming weeks. I am still working on the Shepherd doctors to help me finalize getting that European stim unit I mentioned above. I have been assured that it should happen but it is taking a lot longer then I would like and I admit it is VERY frustrating since it could possibly be the best tool I have used since the accident.

So, between the possible opportunities and getting the stim unit, my schedule may change dramatically to be much busier.  My devotion to get better physically will not really change, but I will be trying to use my time more efficiently and mixing it up with things that may help me other aspects of life, especially on a long term basis.

There you have it--a day in the life!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Update

Andrew & Myra's Wedding Sept 2011
I FINALLY get to relay some pretty good news! It has been about five months since I have had much good to say on the recovery front. I have finally gotten back into therapy, just a week or so ago. After a recent check up with my orthopedic surgeon, we decided that I was ready to start therapy and gradually increase my hours as long as the leg holds up. Though I may be a little limited it does feel good to get back to it. I have been very frustrated and I was starting to feel pretty weak physically. I feel like I have a lot catching up to do to get me back to where I was before my leg fracture. The plan is to work back up to nine hours a week with a trainer in addition to doing my own stuff at home and in the pool. If I could afford it and if they would allow me, I would work with a trainer four to five hours a day everyday, it makes such a difference.

I actually just made my first trip back to Raleigh since I moved to Atlanta for my sister Myra's wedding. I did not enjoy the six hour car ride and it made me appreciate how easy it was to get back to Raleigh when I lived in Charlotte. Despite the long drive overall it was actually a pretty good time despite having to put on a suit and wheel down an aisle. It was strange but good to see my tomboyish sister in a wedding dress. We all think she married a good guy and I enjoyed meeting his family for the first time. I also really enjoyed taking my nephew, Owen, to the Lego Store before I left on Sunday. It was not just that I love Legos but I enjoyed watching Owen pick out his belated 4th birthday present, since I missed his party in August. He loves his Legos and dominates sets meant for kids 2-3 times his age.

In therapy or not, my family & I, especially my dad, have been fighting so many battles since my accident. Battles with insurance companies, hospitals, vendors, and doctors--amongst others. It can be very exhausting at times and I cannot say we have won them all but we have done about as well as anyone can. You will hear people say that every SCI (spinal cord injury) is different. As time goes on I have found that the lower your injury is, the more limited you are in recovery options and treatments. I have a low injury at the T11 level, which would lead you to believe the lower the better--but this is not true in the world of SCI. I have what is called a LMN (lower motor neuron) injury, which is more damage to the roots at the the bottom of the spinal cord. In some ways it is very similar to the neurological issues that come with Lou Gehrig's disease. A LMN injury leads to flaccid muscles and atrophy, which is why I have such skinny legs and weigh maybe 25-30 lbs from what I did before my accident. This makes me sit on bone all day, which does not feel good and makes all my shorts not fit as they should.

The most frustrating part of a LMN injury is the exclusion I have from most of the research studies going on. Other then therapy, research was one of the main reasons it makes sense to be at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Currently they have nine research studies and I qualify for zero because my injury is too low. I cannot tell you how frustrating this is for me on a daily basis! I see the people in these studies daily and see the FREE therapy that they receive. One study in particular drives me crazy. It is pretty much the same nine hours of therapy a week that I do, except I think they wear heart monitors and I pay $96/hr!!!! This study is a six month study, which would save someone like me $21,000. That would take a lot of financial concern and pressure of my family and me, but the bottom line is I just do not meet the requirements.

A few months ago I became aware of a stim device designed specifically for my type of injury. I was excited when I saw this as I read comments from prominent US research doctors that the device could maintain and even RESTORE paralyzed muscles. Unfortunately, the device is not available in the USA and not approved by the FDA. The device is made in Austria and available in Europe. After  communicating with the developers of the device, they said I could get it if I got one of my doctors to sign off on it. So I quickly scheduled an appointment to ask my SCI doctor at Shepherd. Despite providing him with 30 pages of documented research and data that was done over a decade and in six different countries at 20 different Rehab Facilities that showed the benefits, I was told no. The reason behind the No from him and any other doctor is concerns over liability, which I have mixed understanding about. The no was not an answer I wanted to accept so I decided to wheel myself up to the research people at Shepherd. After dropping by unannounced a few times to plead my case, I actually got a meeting with the two doctors that head up research. I was pleasantly surprised how receptive they were to my hopes. We left the meeting with the hopes of doing my own small research trial with me using the device that we hope will benefit myself and eventually others. We just have to work out some logistics and a few other details and get things up and running.  This has probably been one of the most encouraging developments I've had in my therapy and road to recovery to quite some time.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I feel like I am due for some good. I have had to deal with a lot of complications from my SCI that a lot of people do not. Only a low percentage of people get SCI injuries. Along with my SCI has come heterotopic ossification, which only 15-20% of SCI injuries get. I have dealt with an unexplained leg fracture, which I had to have surgery on after it not healing. My surgeon told me that 95% of bones heal, so I guess I am in that special 5% minority also. I have to try not to focus on these things and remind myself how I am one of the minority of SCI victims that have had the support from family and friends like all of you to be at places like Shepherd and pay for all these things, since they are not cheap. So I am looking at getting back to therapy and taking steps to getting the stim unit as the beginning of good things to come over the next few months.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Overdue Update from Brian

Screws holding plate (pictured below) from broken femur surgery.

Plate will remain permanently in my leg.
I have updated this a little less often then usual because admittedly I have not had much going on or much positive to say. Things have kinda been on hold dealing with the fracture of my leg and moving. Shortly after the golf event, I officially moved to Atlanta.  I have been here for a little over a month and have settled in fairly nicely. I had some much appreciated help from friends and family loading up in Charlotte and unloading in Atlanta. My mother and my soon to be brother-in-law, Andrew,  came down for a few days to help me get settled, I definitely have mixed feelings about this move. It is definitely the best place I can be to help me with my recovery goals but I will miss some friends and family from Charlotte and it puts me even further away from all of my immediate family in Raleigh.

Like I said and as most people know I have been dealing with an injury to my left leg. Earlier this year while I was temporarily in Atlanta for therapy I somehow managed to fracture the femur in my left leg. The femur is the large bone that runs from your hip to your knee. This recent injury has been super frustrating as it put an absolute hold on things in Atlanta and also since no one is exactly sure how it happened. I did not fall or do anything that would have been an obvious likely cause of the fracture. Just one night after therapy my leg started to swell and throb a little bit and I hoped and figured it would just go away but a day later it was still the same. I tried to hide it and continue to therapy but they noticed the swelling and made me go to ER where I heard the bad news. The X-rays showed a fracture and surprisingly it showed another fracture near this one that had healed, which I never knew about. I did take a lot of damage on the left side of my body and all we can conclude is that that side is weaker and more susceptible to further problems.

For about 3.5 months I have worn a brace on my left leg and have not been allowed to bear any weight on that leg. This has stopped all of my therapy and even physical activities in general. I have spent most of my time either laying down or sitting in the wheelchair just trying to stay off of it. I have been able to feel my body just getting weaker and weaker, especially my core and the strength and movement I have slowly been strengthening in my hip flexors and parts of my legs. Its funny in my world not being able to workout actually equals physical pain, my body just aches and aches all over.

Shortly after getting back to Atlanta I went to see my Ortho Doctor to check on how things were healing. While the new X-rays showed it was healing, it was not healing fast or strong enough and it would probably be another 3-4 months before it would be healed. My doctor, knowing how frustrated I was, decided to have me see a specialist that could perform a surgery that could get me back to bearing weight a couple of days after it. This definitely appealed to me and I went and saw this Doctor ASAP. After discussing the procedure with him and talking things over with a few people I decided that having the surgery was the thing to do.

So about 2 weeks ago I was put to sleep and had my leg opened and had to stay the night in the hospital. I hated being in a hospital bed again, it does not bring up the best memories and I have spent enough time in hospitals to last a few lifetimes. The surgery actually took my own bone marrow and injected it into the fracture and they also put a rod and screws as well as a plate in my leg to straighten and stabilize the fracture. I woke up with stitches and sutures in 3 incisions in my leg but was able to leave the hospital after one night. My father came down for a few days to help me with things and make sure I did not have any complications from the surgery. I left the hospital the next day and was cleared to actually partially bear weight the next day!

I just had my 2 week follow up and so far everything looks good. They took out the stitches and sutures and the X-rays showed all the hardware was in place correctly and the healing has been accelerated. It was a little crazy to see what I know have inside my body. They also cleared me to fully bear weight and get back into the pool and in another 3-4 weeks I should be 100% cleared to get back into the Beyond Therapy program at the Shepherd Center here in Atlanta. Hopefully things will continue to heal and stay on track for me to get back to work on my body. I am trying to be patient and not get too frustrated with the setbacks I have had. I wish I could of gotten this surgery a few months ago but I am sure the insurance companies would not approve this until you gave it time to heal in a less costly manner, which is frustrating but I have learned to be the norm in this health care industry.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

2nd Annual Hope to Walk Photos!

There are a ton of absolutely amazing pictures (So many action shots, team pictures, captured moments & artistic shots!) done by the lovely, super-talented Renee Sprink.  They are all available for viewing & free downloading on her website.

Just click on Client Galleries & look for the Hope to Walk/Brian Keeter gallery.  Clicking on the download icon above the individual picture will deliver a huge, beautiful jpeg ready for printing immediately to you!

Thank you so much, Renee!

Friday, May 27, 2011

May Update from Brian

It has been a pretty busy last few weeks. After about 3 ½ months in Atlanta, I moved my stuff out of my friend Chris's house and came back to Charlotte.  Most people know the last 30 days or so of my time in Atlanta I did not get to do much due to the fracture I sustained in my left leg.  This was definitely frustrating because I was getting stronger in the therapy that I was doing and it put a halt to everything.  The good new is that my fracture is healing.  The swelling is going down and the throbbing has calmed down. I think it will probably be another 30 days before I am cleared to get back to bearing weight.

Overall I had a good time in Atlanta, not only with some productive therapy but just in general.  I really enjoyed my time with Chris and his wife Dana and had fun getting to know their 18 month old son, Graham.  Not only was it good to be around his family, I also actually did more there then I ever did at home in Charlotte. We went to the Georgia Aquarium, which was pretty amazing and I also went to a number of Atlanta Braves baseball games. I may not the biggest baseball fan but I had a good time going and got to always take Chris, who loves baseball, and some others on several occasions. I also got to see some other old friends I have in that part of the country and also became friends with a lot of the staff and other people I met at Shepherd.

While I was there I actually decided that it would make sense for me to move to Atlanta full time. The Shepherd Center is probably the best place in the country I can be for therapy and also a place where you are more likely to learn about or even get involved in emerging therapies and upcoming trials.  I am moving there because recovery is still my top priority but it is also my hope to take on some part time work and even looking into some potential career training while I have some time.  I am scheduled to move into an apartment in Buckhead by the middle of June. While I am excited about the move it is a little further away then I would like to be from my family and friends in Raleigh. At this time it does make sense for my goals.

A few weeks ago also brought about the time for the second annual Hope To Walk Classic in Raleigh. The fund-raising activities were great and I had a good time.  While nobody probably ever knows how to feel and act when you have so many people doing so much for you, I can say that this year I was mostly just looking forward to it.  We had an unbelievable turn out and I do not know how to thank everybody  involved.  Once again, Dave McGee did another amazing job organizing the event and my sisters and parents showed great support as well.  Those couple of days serve as a great reminder how lucky I am despite facing some tough circumstances. Not only is there a need for the financial help I have received, but it also serves as motivation on some of the tougher days to be motivated and stick with things.

I hope to be moved to Atlanta by the middle of June and be cleared from the fracture to restart therapy and see what kind of progress I can make at the Shepherd Center.  I am excited and hopeful about the future and I cannot thank each and everyone of you enough.  Without your time, your efforts, your donations, and your support, in no way would the progress I've made and the progress I'm hopeful is to come ever be possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thank You All!

I just wanted to thank & update everyone who participated in the many ways, shapes, & forms of fund raising & support events we had for Brian!

The golf tournament, once again, was a wonderful time & huge success.  Read a great article highlighting the event here...We love you Dave & everyone else who volunteered, donated auction items, & provided all the awesome food & drinks for everyone who came out.

The events surrounding the golf tournament also went well. 

The Saturday bake sale was HUGE & all said & done raised almost $600 for Brian.  We've also started to garner repeat customers in addition to a lot of new business--I had a couple folks come out to buy items who said they came because of how good the items were from last year!

Bowling at the Alley was fun--my two kids literally bowled till they dropped.  It was great seeing so many supportive bowlers come out!

Again, we just cannot thank you all enough--there are so many individuals, businesses, & more to mention!

Please look for a post from Brian in the near future giving a little more detailed recap of the events & giving you all an update on where he is headed from here.

Can't wait to see you all again next year!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Don't Forget!

Hi Everyone!

Just a reminder that we are having a HUGE bake sale as part of the Kingsland Woods neighborhood-wide yard sale tomorrow morning.

Kingsland Woods is a small subdivision off of Leesville Road in NW Raleigh.

There are tons of cakes, breads, pies, muffins, brownies, bars, cookies, & more--even made from scratch cinnamon rolls!  Really!

Please come out & buy some goodies for Brian & thanks so much to all of you who contributed your baking expertise & time this year!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Therapies: TRX

I am taking some of the free time I have with my broken leg to reflect on some of the therapies I have been doing at Shepherd and deciding along with the staff what I want to prioritize once the fracture in my left leg I thought I would share some of those therapies and equipment I use with you here in the meantime.

One piece of equipment I really have enjoyed using is the TRX.  The TRX is a portable muscle sculpting and strength building tool that can be used to workout your entire body.  Some of you may remember the video of me doing some atomic push ups--where I start in a push up and as I come up I try to pull my knees to chest, which really works the core and for my injury, helps try to activate the muscles in my legs.

I have used the TRX quite a few times at Shepherd.  I use it mainly to work my core and try to help me activate the paralyzed limbs I am trying to overcome.  For someone injured like myself, we modify some of the exercises and I need a little more help getting set up and into the TRX, depending on which exercise I am doing. There are so many more exercises I can do that I plan on recording and posting more video of, along with some of the other therapies I am using, once I get over the leg fracture which has me frustratingly sidelined for now.

The TRX was not designed specifically for spinal cord injury therapy but how much I benefit from its strengthening shows how versatile a piece of training equipment it is. The TRX website shows you a ton of exercises that you can do on your own and the best is all you need is a door or any other sturdy anchor point to temporarily hook it on to get going.  In fact, my sister and her husband love it and use it regularly as part of their fitness.  Kara wouldn't leave me alone about it once she saw the video.

So, again, here's another example of the training & therapy I have been doing to regain function in my legs.  I'll try to get some more posts up about the other stuff I do over the next couple of weeks as well. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Help Brian by Eating Pizza!

Just wanted to let everyone know that all day Monday, May 9th & Tuesday, May10th, Ruckus Pizza in Cary is donating 15% of all purchases (lunch, dinner, dine-in, & take out) to benefit Brian.

All you need to do is show up with a printed copy of the pictured flier & have some yummy food!  They also have some great daily drink & lunch specials.

Please share this with your friends!

UPDATE: We just had lunch there today--it was WONDERFUL seeing some great friends & support out for Brian!  Not to mention--the food was yummy, very reasonably priced, & we found Ruckus to be a very friendly & clean place to eat--which really helps when you have two crazy toddlers who like to run around, roll on the floor, & eat, repeat process.  Being able to play a few rounds of corn hole while waiting didn't hurt either!  Thanks again to Ruckus & to all of you who came out for lunch today...for those who haven't--please print a flier & check it out!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bake Sale/Yard Sale to Benefit Brian

Hi Everyone:

Just wanted to let you know that in addition to the May 16th Hope to Walk Classic & the May 15th Bowling for Brian, we will also be having the bake sale for him once again this year. 

The bake sale is a part of my neighborhood yard sale, which is (gasp) Saturday, May it's going to be a busy weekend!

If any of you are in the Cary/Raleigh area, like to bake, & are interested in participating, please send an email to 

We also are considering taking any donated items to be a part of the yard sale, with proceeds to benefit Brian as well, but have very limited space & means to store them prior to the sale.

Thanks for your interest & support!

Kara (one of Brian's three [poor guy, I know] sisters)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Set Back

Unfortunately, I have hit a setback here in Atlanta. A couple of weekends ago my left knee was swollen and throbbing. Like usual I assumed it was not a big deal and figured it would just go away. Unfortunately it was still about the same Monday morning as I went to therapy at Shepherd and since I knew I could not hide the swelled appearance I brought it up to the therapist and after 9 hours of fun in ER I learned I had broken the femur in my left leg. How this happened I have no idea. I did not fall or or have a moment of extreme stress on my leg that I remember. After follow up with an orthopedist I got confirmation of the fracture and also learned I had a previous fracture located near the new one that I never knew about that but had already healed. I did take more of a beating in my accident on the left side so maybe it is a little more susceptible to injury.

All I know is that I am not allowed to put any weight on it for 30 days and that it will probably take 3-4 months to heal, I am wearing a pretty big brace on my left leg to stabilize it. As if my mobility was not challenged enough I guess I decided to add a fractured leg to the mix (see lovely picture below). So, right now I am just trying to collect my thoughts and figure out what to do in terms of rehabbing my newly fractured leg and getting back to my recovery efforts. I knew that this journey is and full of ups and down but this is definitely frustrating. I would say that most people with spinal cord injuries have some secondary issues and I know that I continue to have more then my fair share but I will get through it.

Thanks again for all your interest and support.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Update from Brian

I am here in my second month in Atlanta and I am just trying to stick with it everyday and trying to do my best. I always heard and read how Shepherd was just an amazing place and it is good to be here right now. The staff are all really nice and helpful and try to push me as much as they can. I am really trying not to get impatient with the slow progress but it is hard. The stuff I see at this hospital on a weekly basis just takes you through an array of emotions. One day I will meet a guy here all the way from Australia who has been here for over a year and tells me he could not even lift up his arms before he was in this program. Next, I met a guy in the elevator who's tells me his wife is here and has been a coma for over 60 days. We ran into each other a few days later and exchanged stories and even blogs. The way he spoke about his wife was tough. It was not just his words but his tone and the hurt in his eyes. You could tell his wife is just his world and he would just be so lost without her. She had an unexplained stroke and they do not know when and if she will wake up and if she does what function she may or may not lose. I did not know how to even react or what to even say to him, all I could do was wish him the best and tell him I would pray for her to recover.

I have definitely seen that tragedy like this does not care about your race, gender, age, or social status. I see all types of people here suffering from various neurological disorders, some that cannot do much for themselves.  It is tough knowing the people I see are someone's grandparent, parent, child or sibling. I will never understand why some of these things happen to these people. One of the worst stories I have heard here is about a girl I met whom a few years ago was paralyzed from the chest down. She was just at home laying in her driveway trying to get some sun and fell asleep and her father did not see her as he arrived home and ran over her. I cannot imagine the guilt her father must carry. So many people working hard and just wanting to be as close to normal as possible. I do not know what I can do but I wish I could just fix everyone. As hard as it to consider myself lucky sometimes, here I do get constant reminders of how my injury could be far worse and I could not be making any progress at all like so many others.

The Shepherd Center is often the stop for many people soon after their accidents. So the care they receive may be just trying to save their life and get them over the initial trauma. This is your more typical insurance covered care. I am in the program true to its name, Beyond Therapy. I am here because I want to and expect to get better and have all of your support to allow me this opportunity. Many of you have already seen or been sent stuff about the second annual golf charity event in May that I am so fortunate to receive. This year it has been expanded a bit with a bowling event the night before the golf tournament.  Since I started my recovery attempt on October, 29 2009, I get constant reminders of how fortunate I am and there is not a bigger reminder then this event that shows me in some ways just how lucky I am to have the support to even take advantage of some of these opportunities. Last year I was just overwhelmed by it all but this year I can honestly say I am looking forward to it.

I have been a little slack with taking some video but I have tried to include some of the work I do here in Atlanta. You will see me doing some core work and some more biking and some crawling.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brian: February Update

I have been at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for about a month. I was stressing about finding an economical place to stay and got really lucky to be staying with my friend Chris and his wife Dana. I was hesitant to take them up on the offer since it was not just for a few days but after they insisted, even telling me not to be stupid and they were glad to help. It has really been a blessing and cut my fixed cost down from $6,000 to $4,500 a month. It has been fun and I hope they have not gotten tired of me yet and if they have, they hide it very well.

I went down to Atlanta not knowing if the house was accessible even though Chris sent me plenty of pics and I bought a portable ramp for $250 to get in and out of the house. After arriving we realized the ramp was a little too steep, though the folks I ordered it from told me I would be okay. We managed the first few days and after finding out that going up in ramp size just a couple of feet brought the cost to about $1000 (No idea how they justify that), Chris enrolled his father to come build one. He selflessly drove two hours to get here and spent the whole day putting together an amazing ramp. I do not know how I will ever repay or thank any of them. Just a few more reminders that I have some amazing friends and a great support system and I do not know what I would do without it.

The first two weeks at Shepherd was a lot of testing and evaluations. They needed to find out what I could do and what are my strengths and weaknesses. After the initial evaluations they learned that I had full use and strength of all my abs, some use of my gluts, and some flickers of life in my quads and tibialis anterior (the muscle you use to point your foot towards your head) When I began this recovery journey I had some slight use of my lower abs and nothing below it. I am most excited about the flickers in my quads. I had similar feelings before the activation of my gluts came back and if I could get those quads fully firing that would be huge. I have also again been told that I am very strong and that they are able to do things with me that they do not typically do with others. This is due to my strong core and upper body. I have been told this every place I have been and it is great but it gets a little frustrating because I am so focused on my legs and have a hard time understanding why they are taking so long to come back. I mean I know the “medical” reasons and I guess it is the severity of my injury but I have fully expected them to get better since I awoke in the hospital.

I knew going into this that the gains would be slow and small. I have also learned that the nature of the game is often you plateau for long periods of little visible results. I have been plateauing for a while and feel like I am due for something good. I have kind of expected something to happen during my time in Atlanta. I am trying very carefully not to put too much pressure into it but I figured the combo of timing and doing things I have not done before would lead to something.

I am at Shepherd every day other than Sunday, since they are closed.  I am there from about 10 am to 6 pm everyday.  I have three days of mandatory workouts which include the pool, lokomat and other activities with staff. The other days I do my own thing, ranging from standing in the standing frame to lifting weights, to riding various exercise bikes and starting my own sessions of pool exercises. I am trying to make the best of the therapy time I do have here in Atlanta.

I will take some more video but I wanted to include some of me on the Locomat. It is a very expensive machine and there are only under thirty of them in the entire US. I am hopeful that a few months of using it will benefit me in some ways.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 2011 Update from Brian

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a good time over the holidays.  I spent a couple of nights in Raleigh with my family.  It was a good trip & definitely better than last Christmas.  I was in a lot better & stronger physical shape than the Christmas before.  These days our Christmas revolves around my niece & nephew.  It is so much fun watching how excited they get over the gifts & visitors.  For the first time, I got to watch my nephew, Owen, ride his bike.  It was unbelievable to watch him pedal as fast as he could on a bike without any training wheels & just regular pedals.  He is amazing!  He is only 3 years old & has been able to ride for months.  I think you need to see it to believe it so here is Owen biking...

I am typing this update as I am stuck inside due to the snow in Charlotte.  I have always hated the cold & disliked the snow.  I stayed in Raleigh over Christmas an extra day due to the snow & ice.  I wish it was 85 degrees or warmer.  I have always disliked snow but even more so these days, once you throw a wheelchair into the equation.  Pushing through snow & ice is not easy & it also makes keeping the floors & carpets clean more challenging.  I put snow right up there with rain & stairs as Wheelchair Brian's top enemies.  I hope it warms up quickly!

I am finally leaving January 23rd for a three month stay in Atlanta for therapy at the Shepherd Center.  Like I have said before, I am excited & nervous about this trip.  I am excited because I have been on the waiting list for over a year and a half and it is supposed to be one of the best facilities in the country.  They also have a few types of therapies I have not had access to in the past.  I am nervous because this is by far the largest financial investment made in my recovery attempts.  I do expect some great stuff to come out of my time in Atlanta but I am trying to be careful and not build it up too much & set myself up for disappointment.  I plan on updating everyone with some videos of my experience at Shepherd. 

I do not get much into New Years Resolutions but I am hoping that 2011 is a big year of improvement for me and that I make great strides in recovery.

Thanks, as always, for all of your ongoing interest & support.  The additional financial help I received over the holidays also goes a long way to helping me on this journey.