Click the picture for the story of Calypso, the Three Legged Green Sea Turtle, and why she's my symbol

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2 Years

This is the two year anniversary of my accident. Not quite as depressing as the first one, it still stirs up different emotions. I thank my family for providing me with distractions all day, making me forget until almost 9 o'clock in the evening that it was December 29th again.

For those who have missed the last two years, here is a quick recap. Click on the links below to view posts.

First Blog Post - Back Surgery 1, Arm Surgeries 1, 2, & 3
Back Surgeries 2 & 3  (excuse the typos, this was directly after surgery)
Arm Surgery 4
Year Anniversary of the Accident
Back Surgery 4

My life has changed more than I could have possibly imagined. I was told by one of my doctors:
"You will be ambulatory in a wheelchair but statistically you will never walk again."
 Here I am, two years later walking every single day. I remember that when I was first told that my spine was broken and would need to use a wheelchair for the rest of my life, I was in complete denial. I stated to my family that was in the room with me, "I will not be stuck in a wheelchair! And that is it." Though this turned out to be initial blind optimism the words have turned out to be oddly prophetic. I may be using canes and an ankle brace but if this is what it takes then it is worth it.

These past two years have been the most difficult years of my life. I have been challenged physically and emotionally, seeing my world change in unexpected ways. But this is life; whether I had perfectly working limbs or not the world refuses to stop for anyone. Friends move away, relationships come and go, and the sun continues to rise and to set.

Thank you everyone who has gotten me through the last two years. Thank you Mom, who has been there day in and day out since day one. Thank you Dad, who has supported me through all my best and worst decisions and loved me anyway. Thank you my brothers and sister, keeping giving me the support I need to keep going. Thanks to all my extended family, some of you opening up your homes, all of you sending goods hopes and wishes. Thank you Philip, Tony, Kelley, Kayla, Ozcur, Darlene, Steve, Cat and all the other friends who ignored me when I told them I couldn't do something and made me do it anyway. Thank you to my land therapists, my aquatherapists, to the entire staff of Kennedy Krieger, especially the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI). Thank you Meredith, Stephanie, Marjory, Moriah, and Brooke, all of you earning my respect and gratitude, most of you earning a permanent place in my head, reminding me of what I should be doing when I walk. Thank you to Mindy and Lynn, for reminding me what a pain I can be and exactly how far I've come. Thank you to YMCA, for giving the turtle a place to swim. Thank you Steve Ackerman, for helping me to get a handbike and getting me back out on the road. Tom McNally, for opening up your home so that I could continue with physical therapy. Thank you to all the orthotists who made the leg braces and ankle braces that are the tools that allow me to walk. Thank you to all of you who have been reading this blog, following me on facebook, or keeping track of my videos.

I can say honestly that I would not have made it this far if it were not for all of you. I hope everyone reading this will remember that no matter how lonely we can get we all have people behind us, helping us in ways big and small. "It takes a village" does not only apply to raising a child, it applies to every single one of us.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Post-Surgery Physical Therapy

Sorry I haven't written the whole last week. I've been so exhausted from PT every night that I was barely able to keep my eyes open. So here is the quick version of my week in PT.

The week of physical therapy following surgery was more intense for my legs than any normal sessions would have been. I have multiple back restrictions (no bending, no twisting, no lifting over 10 lbs) from my back surgery, making it harder to find activities I could do. Most of the activities I was able to do involved my legs, which meant that my legs got worked out 3 times as much as they usually do.

I did a lot of walking and standing balance activities. One of my goals was to increase the distance I could walk without getting completely exhausted. I'm not sure exactly how far I could walk before but my therapist set a distance of 1200 ft for my new goal. Needless to say by the end of the week I blew that goal out of the water. The balance activities included putting my feet at different elevations, on different surfaces, and standing with and without my AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis). My legs ended up feeling like jello after all of that.

 This exercise forces the weight onto my left leg, the one that still has considerable weakness. The small step was replaced with steps of varying heights, the tallest reaching about 6''.

After I mentioned the soreness these exercises were causing my legs, we eventually switched it up. I was given several exercises that focused on my hamstrings (the muscles running behind the knee) and I experimented with the use of the biofeedback machine.

A bit of background: When I first started getting muscle contractions in my legs it used to take every ounce of concentration I had to get even one muscle firing. Now that I have significant use of much of my left leg I am having trouble turning some of these muscles back off again. My hamstrings, the group of muscles that together bend the leg at the knee, are being hindered by the fact that my quadriceps, the thigh muscles responsible for extending the leg, won't turn off. In essence I am fighting my own muscles every time I attempt to bend my leg. 

The biofeedback machine, the NeuroMove.

The biofeedback machine is connected to multiple electrodes that tell me when certain muscles are active. The particular model I used, the NeuroMove, sets measurable goals so that you are able to see when a muscle is moving. In this case, I was able to use it to show when my quadriceps were kicking in. This way I could consciously relax the muscles and see visible results on the screen. I achieved limited success with the machine, as far as machine measured results. What I did gain was the sensation of what it was like to have normal functioning muscles again, something I can attempt to repeat from now on.

The last noteworthy exercise I did was jumping on a mini-trampoline the Friday before I left. This was something my therapist had wanted to experiment with once she saw how high functioning my legs were. Harder than it looked at first, I had difficulty even bouncing gently. My main problem was that because I have greater weakness in my left leg it is hard to move both my legs in unison. Eventually I was able to get them both moving in a rhythm, even getting a small jump here and there. As easy as this sounds, this was one of the hardest workouts I got all week.

At the end of the week I was given a home program, a booklet with exercises and stretches handmade just for me, even though I'm not able to practice all of them yet because of my spinal restrictions. The exercises in the booklet focus on strengthening the muscles and areas that still have some weakness. I've received one after each round of therapy at Kennedy Krieger, each one with slightly different exercises based on how far my body has recovered. 

This was not where I was expecting to be after surgery, though I am pleased with the results. I'm only a step behind from where I was before surgery instead of the three I had been dreading. At the end of the day, I'm tired but I know I will be back to where I was and farther in no time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Freedom, Distance, and Limits

I'm finally out of the hospital! We've rented an apartment for a week while we're here. It's downtown, on the 23rd floor with a view of all of downtown Baltimore. Breathtaking!

I've been able to walk farther and farther each day. Yesterday I made it down the hall and back. We've estimated that the distance is about a block when I walk the whole length of the building. Today I pushed my limits: I walked down the hall, down to the mezzanine level where they had the business meeting rooms and a computer lab, down to the first floor lobby, and then up to the 23rd floor again, returning to the hallway outside the apartment.We've estimated that we walked a little over 2 blocks.

I figured since I made it that far I could keep going. I started walking to the end of the hall. Midway through I started feeling light headed. My mom, who was walking with me, said I was starting to look more and more pale. I realized that my walk was ending so beelined for the door. I made it before anything bad actually happened but I discovered the limit of my endurance.

It's actually really nice to know what my limits are. It's the only way you can set goals, the only way you can improve. When I go to PT they always ask what my goals are for my time with them. Tomorrow I'll be able to tell them that by the end of the week I want to be able to walk farther than those two block. I want to be able to recognize my new limits, which will be farther than the ones I have now. Limits are good once you recognize that it's possible to move beyond them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

One Foot Out The Door

I'm going to be released from the hospital tomorrow and am I ever ready to go. It hasn't been nearly as bad as some of my past stays but time in a hospital is never fun.

I'm at a better starting point than I was for my past surgeries. Before surgery I was able to walk short distances without canes and long distances with them. I'm not going to try walking without canes yet, lest I damage my back so early on but I know eventually I'll have that back. I have begun walking around the floor earlier in the week, walking to the nurses station, three or four doors down from mine. Today, accompanied by my mother, I walked past the nurses station to the end of the hall, kept walking until the floor looped around; I was gone for about 15 minutes walking a total distance of about a block. I'm not yet ready for the Boston marathon but I am getting stronger.

I'm happy to report that all systems are working as they should. I written before on whether or not certain bodily functions should be social skills. This is a reminder to myself that my circumstances are changed from what they were before the accident if people are genuinly interested and concerned about certain bodily habits. But to all those who keep an eye on such things, all systems are go.

Things are going to be different tomorrow: I will not have a staff of nurses waiting on my needs, I will have to motivate myself, take care of all my needs myself or ask my parents for help, and remember to take all needed medications at their proper times. I am forced to grow up a little bit more each time I go through this. It's good for me in the end though I don't have to like it. It's time to go from the young adult turtle I started as and transform into the adult turtle I am. What this will look like I am not sure, but I can guarantee that it won't be boring. So stay tuned.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Other Side

So as you can tell I made it through surgery (click the link to read what I had done to my back) in one piece. They cut me open, took me apart and put me back together again. The picture first picture is from before surgery:

and after surgery:

I've been doing pretty well. My back is achy, not surprising since I just had back surgery. Otherwise I've got very little pain with a lot of mobility. It is looking like I may be released before the weekend or just after. 

Thanks for all the well wishing that I received before the surgery since it obviously got me through. Now I just have to make through another week of physical therapy and I get released to the place I really want to be: home. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Twas the Night Before Surgery and All Through The House Not A Creature Was Stirring Not Even A...

It is official, I'm going to be going in surgery tomorrow. I met with my surgeon and learned the details about what will be happening.

I already knew that the hardware that is in my back now, two long rods on either side of my spine, are going to be removed. In their place, the surgeon is going to put in two slightly shorter rods with thicker screws to attach it to the bone. The hope is that thicker screws will help the rods from dislodging again. To encourage the bones to heal around the screws, they will be taking a small amount of bone from my hip and using it as bone graft. The hip bone that they place in my spine will grow into any space that is left after the surgeons have done their work. If all goes well this should be my last back surgery.

The surgery should last for about 4 hours. I will be staying at Johns Hopkins for roughly around a week after the surgery. I will continue to do outpatient therapy for another week. We will be driving home the 23rd with just enough time to make it home for Christmas.

The bear sitting on a shelf in my surgeon's office.

Thank you for everyone who wished me good luck and kind wishes. Thank you for your support. Try not to worry, as I will be at the hands of one the world's finest spinal surgeons, a man who does this kind of thing every day. I've also got all my family, friends and *others behind me to help me tackle anything else that will come my way. I'll let all of know how things went from the other side.

*Others may include but are not limited to facebook friends, family friends, the people my friends and family may have told about me, the random people my mother has told my story to while shopping in the grocery story, and people who stumbled on to this website by accident.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Turtle Has Come Ashore

I have less than a week until I go in for surgery on my back. By this time next week I will already be recovering, most likely with new hardware installed.

I'm not going to worry and stress my self out. Not yet at least. Even though surgery always carries serious risks, I have a giant network of support behind me. I'm so lucky to have my amazing family and friends as well as all the faceless members of the facebook mob.

The upcoming surgery will change my life in a couple of ways, one of which being I can't use the pool while I have stitches in my back. The pool is one of my favorite parts of the week, a time when I can simply float there and be completely weightless and free. Or I can goof around and move faster than I could ever hope to on land. I am a completely different animal.

I do aquatherapy once a week and as I pulled myself out of the pool I had the image of a sea turtle coming ashore to lay eggs. This is kind of like that, my temporary hiatus from the water. I have been more maneuverable on land of late than in a long time, to be sure, but I will still miss the water. I'm not gone for good but I will have to sit on the sidelines for a little bit.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The 'Does it hurt HERE' game

For all of you out there I hope you had a happy turkey day. I usually look forward to the food centered coma that takes up most of my day. Unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy the time after Thanksgiving. Many of you know that I have a neurogenic bowel, meaning that the nerves to some of my intestines do not function. Some of you will remember me explaining the painful process of being FOS. Now thanks to a hearty turkey dinner (and an over-fondness for cheeseits) I am once again suffering from FOS. What this means in practical terms is that my ribs and back are extremely sore. That's about it.

I bring this up because whenever I am sore and have to explain this to my parents (both of whom have medical backgrounds) I have to show where it is that I am sore. This inevitably leads to the game I've named "Does it hurt HERE?" This leads to them poking me in the back in places that are almost guaranteed to be sore already. And now you want to poke them...

This game does have real practical uses. It helps doctors and nurses ascertain where the problem is and what can be done. The frustrating part is having to be told "well, it could be a lot of things...". UNHELPFUL!!! Why couldn't you have said that before you starting hitting the spots that are already uncomfortable?!?

Now, to change the tone of this post, here is a dancing lizard:

I hope that improved your day a little. It sure improved mine.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Surgery... Again

This December, when I visit Baltimore, I am going to undergo my 4th back surgery.

For anyone who missed 1-3, here's a quick recap:

After my accident in December 2009 I had two rods inserted into my back. These served to stabilize my spine, allowing my shattered vertebrae time to heal.

In April 2010
, scans of my back showed that the broken pieces of my spinal column were pressing on my spinal cord. I am lucky that that my spinal cord didn't get severed but the continued pressure on my cord kept my from nerves from operating correctly, leaving me mostly paralyzed. I went in for two surgeries, spaced out over a week. They reconstructed the shattered vertebrae, putting the broken pieces of bone in a metal framework and placing them back in my back. The broken pieces of spine grow into the shape of the metal cage, providing me essentially with replacement vertebrae. They also shaved off some of the bone of the vertebrae, which was putting pressure in other sections of the cord.

The end result was that the nerves in my spinal cord had more room to regrow. It is a commonly held myth that nerves do not regrow. Cranial nerves (the ones in your skull) don't regrow but others still have the ability to regenerate. Given enough time nerves will grow and reconnect to the entire body; mine have, just very slowly.

Thanks to surgeries 2 and 3 I have increased function of both right and left legs, allowing me to walk with a simple ankle brace or AFO.

In surgery one, the spinal rods were put in place by drilling the screws directly into the bone. After two years the screws have started to loosen up. This process has not been painful at all... yet. There is the possibility that when the screws completely separate that they could bounce around, causing internal injuries. Before this happens, the rods and screws will be removed and replaced by more stable, permanent hardware. This surgery, while sounding ominous, is only minimally invasive and will only set me back for a few weeks. I will still be allowed to walk and I will be able to start back in physical therapy the very next week.

I'm not really happy about being cut into again but it beats the alternatives. I was seriously scared before the last set of surgeries, which ended up returning more function than I ever thought possible. And at the end of the day, who is really surprised that Peter has a few screws loose?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I am a paraplegic

This site is devoted to the journey I've taken to start walking again. That being said I want to embrace the title I've been given: paraplegic.

Now once you've been injured you don't simply stop being one, your life is fundamentally altered. Now this doesn't mean your life gets worse, though some times it can seem that way. It means simply that how you viewed the world, how the world viewed you, and how you viewed your body is fundamentally different.

And you think you're cooler than this guy. REALLY?

My goal is to walk without the assistance of canes, to have the use of my ankle back, and to walk so that I can go once more into a crowd without being noticed. Even after accomplishing all this though, I will still be a paraplegic. It's kind of like being a marine, in that there is no such thing as an ex-paraplegic. (though we DO get better parking than most marines)

This being said I want to put the word out about, a spinal cord support group. I shied away from this kind of sight because it's still hard to look back and admit what I am. But I'm finally getting rid of that.
This site is for those with new spinal cord injuries, family and friends of SCI, and people who just want to learn more about what this entails.

Please, do yourself a favor: Take five minutes of your time and educate yourself. Find out something you didn't know about paraplegics and quadriplegics. I've had countless people say to me, "I can't imagine what you must have gone through." If you want a glimpse visit this site.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


My therapy has taken a new route. While I will still be working on strengthening the various muscles I use for walking, I'm now going to be focusing more on the walking itself.

Anyone who has followed this blog will remember boot camp and my walking on the therastride. The harness system kept my weight in check and let me walk when my muscles were not strong enough to hold me up. Now that I can the harness is out the window. I'm walking using my AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) and my own determination.

This started because I requested at PT that I could use more practice walking without my canes. Since I have no timeframe for when I'll be able to walk without my ankle brace my next step will be to stop using my canes. So I'm walking on the treadmill, one that has bars on either side in case I need them.

My first ever video of walking without canes, I walked for about a minute and that was using my KAFO(Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis), which supported my leg to the hip. Now I'm walking for about 15 minutes, which leaves me completely exhausted. The muscles supporting me are still very weak, causing me to weave back and forth. I cannot walk a straight line to save my life. My favorite new saying:
I weeble and wobble... and I might fall down. But I get back up!

All this walking will be a step in the right direction. I keep improving but there's still a long road ahead. Walking metaphors irritate me when walking is the problem in the first place. Ah well, such is life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

Ice Cream Cake:
I went into my normal physical therapy session last Thursday; I was asked by my therapist if I knew that this was my 100th Session. I had no idea. I have enough trouble remembering what day of the week it is. She smiled mischievously and the session continued. At the end of the session I attempted to pack and up and leave but she stopped me in my tracks. She disappeared for a second and reappeared with cake and balloons.

For those who are unaware, your average physical therapy patient never reaches 100 sessions, with the average recovery time for a basic injury being around 6 weeks. So to have seen someone make the type of gains that I have is quite rare.

Needless to say I dug into my ice cream cake and shared it with the rest of the clinic. I was glad that had decided to at least wait until after my PT session to bring out the ice cream. I think me hurling up the nice cake would slightly ruin the mood.

Those who follow The Turtle Walks will know that I have been making significant strides toward normal walking recently, shedding my leg brace and switching to the lower AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis). These type of gains can only be made by an accompanying gain in muscle mass.

For all of 2010 and large sections of 2011, I wheeled myself around everywhere using my wheelchair. While this did lead to an increase in the size of my arms it caused the muscles in my legs to atrophy. Now finally I am starting to see some return of muscle mass to my legs. The right leg, the better working one, has been slowly gaining mass since late last year. Now that I've given up the leg brace the left has decided to join the team.

Metaphorical Cake:
Inspired by a blog called Therapy, Thoughts, and Learning I've been thinking of my life as a cake, baking in the oven.

Sometimes my life can feel a bit like this cake... Candy Mountain Charlie!

I know that all the ingredients I need to become a complete fulfilled individual are already inside me. I just need to let them sit and let the pressure do it's work, forming me into something I've been craving for. Right now my cake is only half baked but I hope that in time I'll be something I'm happy with. But no point dwelling on it too long. After all, if you watch the cake too long it'll never finish baking! So best just to get on with life and see how things turn out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Accidents

Last weekend an accident happened that would shoot me to the next level of ambulation. While walking around with a friend a wire on my leg brace broke. There is a wire on each side of the leg brace so I was able to make it back to my car without too much trouble but it became clear that I needed to have my leg brace fixed.

I gave the broken brace to my orthotist, who sent it off for a tune up from the manufacturer. I attempted to use Roboleg, the computer controlled leg brace, in the mean time. I soon remembered why I stopped using Roboleg: the brace is heavy, clunky, and difficult to control. I was quickly getting more and more frustrated.

I had used my AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis), the ankle brace, in therapy and at the pool but I had yet to use it for any length of time out in the real world. After only one day with Roboleg, I decided to put on my AFO and try wearing it while my leg brace was being fixed.

I trialed out the AFO on a school day, with great results. I expected to feel more tired than usual, which I did. Other than this I didn't suffer any great consequences from the switch. As I continued to wear it throughout the week I felt more comfortable, stronger, and more mobile. Every day my endurance improved and I was able to walk farther. An added bonus is that the AFO can be hidden under my jeans, making me a little less obvious (though the canes end up giving me away).

Me walking without canes with the AFO. I can only do this for short bursts right now, but this is my future.

These experiences spurred on the inevitable epiphany:
I don't need my leg brace any more!
I knew this day was coming but until this week I didn't realize that the time had already come. This accident caused me to move onto greater devices of mobility. I have pure chance to thank for huge improvements to my walking. I can use a brace that has no wires that can break, no computers that can malfunction, and is powered by my own muscles.

I have my leg back again!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Blast From The Past: Learning Wheelies

This is the video of me after I first learned to do wheelies.

Friday, September 16, 2011

One small step for man...

In case you missed the article, Peter Exner can walk!!! For the article in the Daily Advance, I showed off walking around with one cane and my AFO(ankle foot orthosis) or lower leg brace. But now... I can walk without canes!!! I need the ankle brace to keep my foot from rolling out but otherwise I'm walking completely under my own power again.

When I arrived at PT I just wanted to test this out, see where my leg was and if I'd be able to hold my own weight at all. Unlike the full leg brace which I normally use this brace does not hold the knee at all. Needless to say my therapist was ecstatic when I was able to walk back and forth without using the bars! The video doesn't show my best attempts but is a record of what I can do now.

I got excited and tried to see how fast I could go; this of course led to me falling on the ground. While it was a little harder to get up than normal, I got back on my feet and kept going. Obviously this isn't ready for fulltime but this is a sign of where I am going. One day I will be walking around, without a wheelchair, without a leg brace, without canes, and maybe even without the AFO/ankle leg brace. I guess we'll see.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Encounters With The Press

Robert Kelly-goss of Elizabeth City's own Daily Advance wrote an article on yours truly. The article summarizes in a few paragraphs what it has taken me 20 months to realize, putting into focus the struggles, trials, and accomplishments of this long journey.

We met at the one coffee shop in town, Muddy Waters, where we met before physical therapy. I knew already him from my time working with Encore Theater Company, the local theater company here in town. He said that he had had the idea for a story on my life since first meeting me, when he saw me go from using my wheelchair one day to my leg brace the next.

I gave him the synopsis of my story: D.C. beltway to University of Maryland Shock Trauma, to the nursing home, to Kennedy Krieger, to here... with a few things in between. I knew it was coming but I didn't really know what to tell him when he asked "What was going through your mind when..." So much of these past 20 months have been a blur. I remember looking forward and thinking about how long it would be until I reached the year mark and now it's going to be 2 years this December.

The thing I emphasized the most and he put in the article was that I didn't get here by myself, the support network behind me got me this far. I have an amazing family, a core of friends that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, and a network of relations, acquaintances, and strangers all supporting me from around the globe. It's daunting but you'd be surprised just how many people care for you until you see them all before you. Rob was right, that it does get annoying when six people in a row come up to me and tell me what an inspiration I am, though to be fair I do realize how cool my story does sound.

We ended by going to my physical therapy session where photographer Brett Clark was there to take tons of pictures while I strolled around using only the one cane and AFO(ankle foot orthosis). The picture at the top of this page is the best photo I have of myself, or at least it's my favorite. Read the article here:

Peter Exner Can Walk

By Robert Kelly-goss
The Daily Advance
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cripple On A Roller Coaster or Why To Always Reknot Your Laces

On Sunday of Labor Day weekend two friends and I decided to visit Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. It was a trip we had had in the works since the early summer. With a note from my PT, voucher for a motorized wheelchair in hand, and a sense of excitement at riding my first roller coasters since the accident, I was ready.

After the long ride up through Virginia we made it to the park. Then the fun really began. I had to get a wristband and a piece of paper saying which rides I was allowed ride, i.e. all of them. The girl working was reluctant to grant me access; she apologized that it was her job and she could get fired if she let me in and something happened. I kindly handed her my note and assured her that I had enough control of my leg that I would be safe. After conferring with her boss she relented, granting me my pass to all the rides on the park.

The first ride was Apollo's Chariot, a coaster with lots of loops. I was slightly anxious what it would feel like to be subjected to these G forces but I needn't have worried; there were zero problems with my back, leg, or brace.

The second ride went off without a hitch. We rode Moche Tower, a drop tower which takes you up 10 stories and drops you to ground, braking right before the end. I left the leg brace on because the attendants at the ride didn't ask. There were no problems with the ride whatsoever. I have a fear of heights which cause my endorphins to go off like Christmas lights. I fight with my fear and get rewarded in process; totally worth it. The line for the ride was one of the few times that being disabled was a real asset, as they scooted us to the front. The jealous people we passed stared daggers at our backs.

The problem we ran into was my shoe, on Alpengeist. The attendant noticed me wearing the leg brace and made me take it off. I, not thinking, put my shoe right back on after removing the brace. BIG MISTAKE. I noticed that the shoe was loose about halfway through the ride. A little while later, after bouts of yelling and whooping, I noticed that the shoe was completely gone.

I hope that my missing shoe, wherever it is, didn't hit anyone. Or if it did that they're alright. And if they're alright I hope that it was hilarious. I would've found it hilarious if a falling shoe hit me out of nowhere.

They gave me a pair of flip-flops at the end ride so I wouldn't have to go barefoot. The left flip-flop wouldn't stay on my limp left foot so I gave up on it and just wore my sock around all day. All in all it was actually a pretty good deal, to get a free pair of $30 flip-flops for one old worn out shoe. The rest of the day I spent limping without my leg brace, in one sock and one flip-flop. I was the epitome of cool.

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful, if you don't count all the water rides, roller coasters, and arcade games. It was a blast. It was a long day and near the end of the day I began to become more and more sore. I rode the Lock Ness Monster, an old ride from when the park first opened. Its uncomfortable seats and multiple loops made me start to feel uncomfortable so I avoided that ride from then on. I didn't have any other problems the rest of the day.

When I got home I was extremely tired but filled with a sense of accomplishment. I'd grabbed a piece of my old life back and integrated it into my new gimp persona. I felt like after today, there's nothing I can't do. I am gimp, hear me roar!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A New Spring In My Step

As should be evident from the fact that I'm writing this, I survived Irene. And what an interesting storm she was. I did end up walking outside, mostly just to say I could. The wind was not as much of a problem as I thought it would be. It knocked me around a little but not enough to floor me. So all in all a good experience. And now I can say I've walked through a hurricane.

Things are looking bright. In PT I noticed that my AFO (ankle foot orthosis), or lower leg brace, gives me a little extra push that I hadn't noticed before. The AFO braces my ankle, keeping it at 90 degrees. When I walk through my ankle stays in the same position regardless of where the leg is; the force I put downward at the toe transfers to the support on my calf, springing my leg forward. I have a new spring in my step!

Other positives have happened as well. In the pool I've been learning how to jump again. We've started this off by practicing bouncing over the giant lines on the bottom of the pool. It's rather fun, like I'm playing a giant game of hopscotch. Well at least when I'm forced to a high stakes hopscotch match I'll be ready.

Now I'm feeling pretty darn good at the moment. This is thanks to a number of people who surround me. I didn't get where I am on my own. These are the people who get me out of the house, get me to walk down trails I never would have seen, get me to swing on a swing set again, the ones who pick me up of the ground when I fall, and give me a shoulder to lean on when I need one. Thank you for taking me this far. I'm strong and I'm getting stronger but no one ever really gets somewhere on their own, not really. We all need support and someone to lean on occasionally.

Lean on me - Glee from JJavito on Vimeo.