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

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!