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.