Category Archives: Day to day

Everyday life experiences

Is This For Forever?

I don’t remember much from the Trauma Center at Miami Valley, just bits and pieces. I was only ‘all there’, well, ‘mostly there’ for the last three or four days. I was still partially out of it and feeling the effects from more drugs than any one person should ever be on. During these days, there was a lot of talk about what was next. I also know I asked a lot of questions about my paralysis: Why can’t I move my legs?.. This can’t be for forever, right?.. This can somehow be fixed, right?…. Tell me one more time, what in the FUCK even happened..??? I’ve never had an injury so serious — An injury that I had to ask the question, “will I ever get better?” I don’t exactly remember most of my questions, but I can vividly remember one conversation. It was on the last full day at the Trauma Center. I was talking to my mom, getting packed and prepared for our flight to Chicago the next morning. I was really nervous because at that time I could only sit upright for about a half hour (while on pain meds) without experiencing a lot of pain. My mother kept telling me because I kept asking, “Modern day technology has really been advancing. It’s possible it will be forever, but we’re going to stay optimistic. Stem cell research has shown some really promising results within the past few years.” She was being a comforting mother, doing a good job, too. I had only known about my paralysis for a few days and I was still in shock about everything, waking up in a hospital bed and hearing about everything that had happened (to me?) within the past couple of weeks. I didn’t believe it at all. I knew I couldn’t move my legs and that I was in a hospital bed all scarred up, but still. –Woah, waking up and after awhile casually looking down at my stomach was awholenother story of its own–Everything people told me about what happened sounded made up, it was just a bullshit story, I first thought to myself, “I very well might still be asleep, or maybe I got really drunk, got ahold of some hard drugs, and I overdosed on both crack and acid?” “Well, we’re going to the best SCI rehab hospitals in the world, right? Everything will probably be alright, and as far as the time that I am paralyzed, it will be a great life experience at least,” was my response. I knew that spinal cord injuries were rare and very few people had the ‘privilege’ of experiencing what paralysis is like (I later found out that about 0.003% of the people in the world have a SCI). “That’s a good attitude to have. We’ve got to stay optimistic,” mom replied. At this point, I didn’t at all see myself being paralyzed for the rest of my life, or fully believe that I was then for that matter.

When at RIC in Chicago, I got to meet a lot of fellow gimps. The majority of the patients were older, but there were a handful of young guys close to my age. Almost all of whom were quadriplegics, but we nonetheless had spinal cord injuries in common. Probably my closest buddy at the time was a quad named Jeffery. Jeffery was a year older than me, and he was a true veteran of RIC (he had been there for 8 months). I was really glad he was still there when I was, he showed me the ropes of RIC and gave me some SCI tips, he was a beast. Jeffery, as well as all of the doctors had told me that the lower the injury–the greater the chance of recovering. Doctors never told me this in the case that it wouldn’t happen, but Jeffery would frequently tell me, “Your injury is pretty low man. I wouldn’t worry too much about what you can’t do now, I bet you recover.” He wasn’t the only patient that told me this. There was a psychologist (also wheelchair bound from being a quadriplegic herself) that lead a meeting with SCI patients every Monday night. This is when people would share whatever is on their mind, provide stories of being out in the real world during day passes, or talk about what they worry when imagining their life after RIC once returning to reality. I had a lower injury level than most of the patients, and we were all supposed to be supportive and optimistic, but everyone there would tell me that I was going to recover. Anytime I raised my hand and spoke about any future worry, this really kind lady who recovered herself would say, “Honey you’re going to recover from this. You’re going to walk out of this hospital, I have no doubt.” I started to believe it after hearing it so many times.

There were several patients that were in the process of recovering, their therapy consisted of walking around the big loop formed by the hallway. Therapists would support them by holding their belts tightly to keep them steady, or follow them closely while they use a cane or walker. Haha, I just remembered something. One woman was paralyzed when she came, but gained all of her muscle function back within the first week, however she still needed an oxygen tank at times because her breathing still needed some recovering. Pressure breaks were a h-u-g-e deal at RIC; everyone was told to lift themselves up from their chair, or for the quads recline their power chairs back more than 45 degrees, and hold this for two minutes… every thirty minutes. During group therapies, every half hour that passed the therapist would say, “Okay time for a pressure break, does anyone need some water?” All of us gimps did our thang to relieve pressure from our asses that get next to no blood circulation, and the one lady (we’ll call her Kim, I don’t remember her name) would lean forward and stand right up. After chillin’ on her feet for a couple of minutes, she would sit back down in her wheelchair. I thought this was hilarious. I never once saw her maneuver her wheelchair with her hands on her wheels; she would push off the ground with her feet to gain momentum and drag her feet when she needed to slow down. I would also see her performing therapy in the hall around the floor, outside my door. While watching tv after my day of therapies, I would see Kim walking around the big circle, no limp, no cane, no signs of anything wrong, only the therapist following her and sometimes holding an oxygen tank. She walked like a normal person, like my mom walked when she would come watch my therapy sessions. I always joked around with my mom, “Saw Kim out there again. I overheard the therapist tell her that she’s past squat-thrusts, she has her running sprints now. Go look, she’s doing suicides down the hall. Daayum! A 40 in 5 flat, she’s fucking quick!”

The calendar year changed, it was officially 2013. New years eve was ridiculous. I turned 21 less than a week prior, so me, Jeffery, and a couple of other guys played a game of poker and got trashed up in my room.. Yeahright. Instead I had zero sips of alcohol because I felt like hell (much like my 21st five days earlier), watched a couple of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ reruns on tv and fell asleep before 9 o’clock. It wasn’t all bad though, they gave us the day off therapy for new years! After throwing up my breakfast again, I didn’t have to drag myself to the workout room!

Anyways, I was released from RIC January 10th and my mom and I went home. I don’t think I had been home since I started school in August, so I hadn’t been home in five months. I quickly started to alter my everyday activities to accommodate with being all paralyzed and everything. I had to. I mean, they had been altered already from living in the hospitals, but now I was home. It was like, real life. After being back a few weeks, it started to hit me harder and I knew everything was definitely real, “Well fuck, I guess this is what life is now? I’m functioning the exact same way I was months ago back when I woke up at Miami Valley..” This was definitely the biggest reality check that I had, well have had even up to right now really. I was told there is still a chance of recovery up to two years post injury, sometimes even past that. The greatest chance by far was during the beginning of rehab though, like within the first six months after the injury. No percentages were ever given, only stories of other people, but from everything I had heard the way I saw it — First month: 10%, 3-6 months: 5%, 6-12 months: 2%, 1+ year <1%. Three months had passed awhile ago, before being released from hospitals. Six months came and passed. One year came and passed. I’m down to a fraction of a single percent at this point, but I stopped thinking about recovering a long time ago. Not long after my big reality check did I have another, also pretty big. About five months post injury, I started hearing from some of my old friends from the RIC days (most of which were 1+ year post injury at this point). All of their bodily function was virtually the same. Through spring and summertime, I was lucky enough to meet a handful of paraplegics in the area whose injuries ranged from 2 years-40 years ago. I think this was at one point late spring-early summer, I was tired from my workout at ‘Xcel’, but I couldn’t fall asleep my mind was racing, “There were a few people that recovered within their first month at RIC. Nobody else that I’ve met has recovered. Why should I be any different from them? I’m well past my first month.. Apparently you can continue on with your path… this is gonna be an interesting life.”

One year later..

(If you don’t like seeing choice words written in my posts, wait for the next one)

I am fucking amped! Today is so big for me! It may not be my birthday, but it is my “re” birthday, and it’s way bigger for me than my birthday. My actual birthday is Dec 26, so when it rolls around, it’s just christmas. Maybe I’ll change it to Oct 6, I don’t know if you can even do that.

Anyways, today should be a terrible day. For starters, I should be dead. Everyone that I’m close to would have it in the back of their minds that I’m gone the whole day. The date would remind them. Today should be a day of mourning. But it’s not! “The Kid” is alive! “The Truth” is still out there getting HIS! Fuckin’ jackass thinks he can take me out. Thinks if he gets his SUV up to 50 mph that it’ll do it. Fuckin’ idiot; “ME dog?? You think that’ll take ME out?? Forget about it kid. Gonna need something bigger than an SUV to take ME out.” If you can’t tell, I’m stoked today. Matter a fact, I cannot remember the last time I was this stoked. Haha I’m laughing while I’m typing, I’m just gonna have fun with this one.

What a year, right? Holy shit, that’s so weird to say. Amazing it’s been a year already, but at the same time it feels like it has been f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I’ve been through as much this year than I have the rest of my life, grown more than I have in years put together, matured five times more than any other year. Anyone else would have been the same way, and they would have done what they had to do like I have. You’re just not given a choice. I mean you could kill yourself, I guess you do still have a choice, but hell no I’m not going to kill myself. Tell me what I gotta do, I’m young, I’m getting back out there like now. Call me ASAP Rocky, because Im’a make it real quick. Matter a fact, bitches call me ASAP Hunter because I’m always ahead of the game, on top of the shit I gotta do. They don’t really though.

Last night I had a party here at Miami and today I’m having a party at my parent’s house in Tipp. The party last night was super badass. Me and most everybody else I know here kicked it. We kicked it hard, too, it was good times at it’s best.. The only thing about that is, it hasn’t actually happened yet. I mean, it has, but I’m typing this early in the day Saturday, so for me right now it hasn’t even happened yet. Haha, but I know it will be incredible, nothing could make it not. I won’t pretend like the Tipp City party happened yet because I’m planning on posting this right before I leave Miami Sunday. I’m really pumped for that, too! About to see some friendly faces I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s supposed to rain, which I’m not particularly happy about, but fuck it, we’ll make the best of it. Like I said, nothing can make it not incredible. Not this weekend. As long as I live through the weekend, it’s going to be a celebration no matter what goes down. Hopefully I do live through the weekend, I may go so hard that I don’t make it, I really don’t know yet, we’ll see. I’m kidding, I’ll make it. Probably.

Thanks for reading! Until next time!

I Want My Chair Back.

The other week, I realized something was off with my wheelchair. If I leaned to the right side, my front left caster wheel would be off the ground. If I leaned to the left side, my rear right wheel would be off the ground. I transferred to my couch and looked my chair over for awhile. I couldn’t figure out what was up, so I called D Mer (my dad) and he offered to drive down after work and check it out. He got here a few hours later, and I hopped back on the couch. It only took him a few minutes to realize what it was:  one of the front forks that holds the caster (The piece that holds the front wheel) no longer fit snug into the frame, it was loose. The aluminum frame was warped from the repeated stress from rolling over crack after crack.

The next day, I called the company I got my chair from (New Motion) and explained what was wrong. They then called the manufacturer of my chair. They said it was under warranty and whatever was wrong could be fixed, the chair just had to be shipped to the company. The only problem is, it would take them a few weeks and if they have my chair, I don’t. Without a chair, I’m totally useless. I can’t even get to the kitchen from my room. The customer service person at New Motion told me it would be at least 2 weeks until they could get a loaner chair for me during this repair process. Luckily, D Mer helped me get my chair into tolerable condition to hold me off until then.

On Monday, when they finally got me a loaner, I was really excited to get the ball rolling on this process. I didn’t know how many more days my chair would have been useable. Then I was shown the chair that I would be in for the next 2-3 weeks. It was actually the same model as my chair, but this one was not custom fit to my dimensions like my chair was. The guy who dropped it off made a few quick changes to the chair to better accommodate me, then he left back to his office, and I left for class. It wasn’t until I left my apartment than I realized everything that needed to be changed. It was terrible; my feet would fall from the footplate and drag after riding over two or three cracks, and the back was reclined a lot, having me totally thrown off balance. I had a ride to class, but even making it to the right classroom was a pain. It was hard to concentrate in class, all I could think about was how fucked I was for the next two to three weeks.

I always go home myself from class, but there was just no way that was going to happen with this chair. I called transit and had them pick me up, but I was not about to have to do that everyday for three weeks. When I got home, I grabbed my toolbox, hopped back on the couch, and flipped my chair upside down. I really didn’t want to have to call my dad; “I’m going to have to start figuring this shit out myself eventually. D Mer isn’t always gonna be there,” I thought. The footplate was the biggest problem. I looked at it for a good 15 minutes; “Okay, two screws here. Turning them either way doesn’t seem to do anything. Uhh, two more screws here, they’re already tightened, loosening them wouldn’t do anything,” thinking aloud. “Fuck, I’m going to have to call him.” I called him and he said he could make another trip down after work. I hung up, but was still determined to figure it out. “Ahhhh, this is how you do it!” I say out of excitement. I call him back and tell him that he doesn’t need to come after all, I got this one.

The footplate was good now, but the back still was not. “Christ, there are like 20 screws that it could be,” I say pretty worried. I glance it over a few more minutes and I think I have it figured out. I take a few screws out of slots from either side and move them to other slots. I’m kind of worried because I could be fucking it all up if I’m wrong. About 30 minutes later, I hop in the chair, and it actually feels pretty good! I fixed exactly what I needed to fix. I was feeling like a pretty bad dude at this point. D Mer must be rubbing off on me, because he does that shit everyday with various things.

The chair isn’t so bad anymore, but the frame still is not sized up to my body. It will definitely work for now, but I’m still really looking forward to getting MY chair back.

Kings Island

There were a few experiences that are now past experiences I wanted to write about. This is one of those experiences. I believe it was back in May because my cousin Nick was out of college, but high school was still in session. We decided to make a trip down to Kings Island because for one I hadn’t  gone on any eventful trips since being home and I wanted to go do something fun, and for two we thought Kings Island would be badasss because we would be able to jump all of the lines since I was in a chair.

My mom was all worried because she thought riding roller-coasters would be too hard on my back at the time. Being a mom. However, she actually got me worried about it, too. The last thing I wanted to do was take a step backward in my recovery process. She ended up calling the surgeon who did my back surgery and he said Kings Island was going to be fine and I should go enjoy myself. That made my mom feel better, but I was still a little worried. I was determined to get back to my old self and move on from the mess I had been in. “Eh I’ll be fine,” is what I eventually told myself. We ended up making the trek to Mason to go to King’s Island the next morning. We got there and figured out how the whole skipping the lines thing worked. I was to show the ride staff this piece of paper and they would clear the way to the front of the line. It got me feeling pretty big. The only thing was that high school was still in session, and so the park was pretty empty. Skipping the line might have helped on some rides, but we would have walked right onto at least half of them anyways.

The first ride I wanted to ride was Diamondback. King Island’s biggest and fastest roller-coaster. It had been my favorite ride ever since it opened back in 2009. So we approach Diamondback and of course jump the line. The staff worker asked us where we wanted to seat. “We sit wherever we want? We definitely want the front then,” I said. Getting into all of the rides was basically impossible for me alone; there’s a gap between the platform and the coaster seat, as well as a big height drop. Nick would squat down in front of my chair and I would latch onto his back then he would then sit me down in the seat for me.  We got loaded up and I was so excited. The car cranks up to the top and we start tilting over into the first drop. It was a blast, but then it starts making all of these sudden turns and ups and down. This roller-coaster only had a lap bar to keep you in, and my idiot self never thought of how terrible that would be for me. I can’t feel my lap, therefore it felt to me like nothing was keeping me in the car. “OH FUCK!” I started yelling, and bracing myself on anything that I could grab. I held on so tightly to the seat that I was in; not that it would have helped anything, all of the G force was much stronger than the grip from my hands. Of course Diamond back is one of the longest rides there. I was totally convinced I was going to fly out of the car and die, right then. “Well, this is it. I lived through some pretty heavy stuff, but it ends here,” I kept thinking to myself.

The car comes to a stop, and I’m still alive. Somehow. Nick is laughing because of everything I was yelling and my facial expressions through it all. “Dude, it isn’t funny, I’m terrified, I thought I was a goner for sure,” I said. This was the scariest experience of my life I’m pretty sure. From then on we only rode rides with over the shoulder ‘strap ins’. We only rode like three more rides and then I was done. I was in no mood to keep riding roller-coasters. I had boughten a two day pass from Kroger before coming. I just let the second pass go to waste: “fuck Kings Island.”

I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T. Do You Know What That Means?!

Whether they be strangers or my best friends, people everywhere are offering me help with everyday tasks. The help is always much appreciated, but I rarely accept. Some things, well just about everything, is much harder than it used to be. But the truth is, I hate receiving help with anything. My parents are the only ones so far that know that, get that, and understand that. If someone just starts assisting me with something and my mom is near, she’ll say, “No no, he’s got it,” because she knows how much it aggravates me.

I had a summer internship in Cleveland over the summer, which was a 4 hour drive from home. I would make the drive once a week and stay in a hotel for three nights before making the return trip. The first couple of weeks I would tip a bell hop boy to one, park my car, two, carry my bags in, and three, carry my bags back out before leaving — that’s a lot of commas, is that right? –The third week when it was time for me to check out, I asked the bell hop to come help me with my bags in about five minutes because I was finishing packing up. About 12 minutes had passed and I realized he wasn’t coming. He must have forgotten, but I sure as hell wasn’t about to ask again. Most men probably feel me on that. “Fuck it, I don’t need help anyway,” I thought, although unsure at the time. I had three book bags, one regular bag, and my dress clothes on hangers (three shirts and two pants). The three doors before getting to my car were making me a little uneasy. I loaded two of the book bags on the back of my chair, and balanced the remaining bags and clothes on my lap as I pushed myself to my car. The bags and arms of my shirts were getting caught in my wheels, it was pretty sloppy, plus the things from my lap fell and hit the ground more than once while getting through the exit doors. It took me a little more time, but hey, I made it. I was pretty impressed with myself, and it gave me a bigger head than I already had. From that point on, I no longer wasted my tip money on the bell hop boys, and I was determined that I could live my life just fine without receiving any help.

I have more stories relating to this, maybe I’ll turn one into a post in the future. Most of the para’s I have met seem to share very similar feelings when it comes to striving to be independent. We have this sense of pride and believe we can still do (virtually) everything we used to be able to before our “accidents”. That’s how I feel at least. I guess the moral of the story is, if you know someone in a wheelchair, whether it be me or someone else, don’t start giving them a hand with something without asking. Asking if they need, or would like help with something is fine. In fact it is almost always much appreciated.

My next post will tie into this a little. It will be on a similar subject, but will show more of the opposite side of the spectrum. That post will be coming sometime during the week.