If you happen to be reading this blog for the first time, read this post first, explaining my story.
(If anyone wants to see how things have changed you can check out my First Post After The Accident, Year 1, and Year 2)
This year has been one of continuing progress. I've had 2 different leg braces, ending the year using the Allard Toe-OFF AFO, an ankle brace that makes use of carbon fiber to make it durable and light. This is my smallest and lightest brace yet, compensating for the lack of ankle movement in my left leg.
Some of my old braces took about 5 minutes or more to get on. This takes about a minute.
I've still had my share of medical issues. I've had multiple surgeries for an ongoing infection that's gotten all the way down to the metal in my back. Once metal hardware is infected (especially necessary hardware that you can't remove) it's very hard to get rid of. Precautions have been taken and every measure is being taken to try and eradicate the bug in my back.
Read my 5 Insights From the ER
I finished another semester, leaving me only one more until I graduate with my bachelor's degree in biology. I'm already applying to graduate schools for next fall, where I'll study bioinformatics (a combination biology and computer programming).
I've been continuing to explore my new found passion for painting. This year I painted my Christmas gifts for people, coming up with a few really great ones. Some are better than others but I had fun painting each and every one of them.
The tabernacle of a church, painted for my mother.
The Four Seasons, for Q. Try looking at it upside-down.
The final painting turned out really well, though this picture didn't do it justice.
The Nightmare Before Christmas, for Kayla.
Batman Celtic Knot, for Philip.
The Sun Over Lake Michigan, for my aunt.
Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings, for my dad.
My friend Cat asked for a picture of me and I painted her this.
There are still a couple of others in the mail that I won't post. Needless to say I've been spending countless hours working on these. The best part is that from all my brainstorming sessions of what to paint for people, I have a giant stack of painting ideas and sketches that I can still use.
Lastly I want to thank everyone who's helped me along this past year. I've worked hard but no one gets anywhere without some from help of those around them (family or friends). I first want to thank my Mom and Dad, who've been there to kick my butt over the years when I'd already given up. Dad, thank you for being there for advice, counsel, and a fresh pair of eyes. Mom, you've been there since since the beginning and have carried me kicking and screaming down the road to recovery; I love you both more than words can convey. To my siblings, thanks for being there to dish out the family gossip, to commiserate, to give me a patient ear when I've needed it, and helping to keep my life in perspective. Thanks Philip, a true friend through anything. Thanks Kelley, my amazing faghag, who helped keep me sane no matter what was going on in my life. Thanks Tony, for reminding me to relax and enjoy life and not to take things so seriously. Thanks Kayla and Eli, the cutest family I know, for reminding me what's important in life. Thanks all the staff of Coastal Rehab (though especially Mindy and Lynn) for tireless working to keep me improving. Thanks to all the staff up at the Kennedy Kreiger Institute and The International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (Kristin, Meredith, Brooke, Stephanie, Marjorie, and so many more) who've been the driving force in my rehab since I was first injured. Thanks to all the doctors (there's dozens), nurses (hundreds), and other staff who've helped me with my ever climbing number of medical visits. Thank you to the orthotists who've worked tirelessly to make sure I have a working leg brace, without which I wouldn't be walking at all. Thank you to all the people who've read my blog, followed me on facebook, tumblr, etc; though this may be just a way to pass time for you, the support I've received from all of you has kept me going for all these years.
I'm currently up in Baltimore for Boot Camp again, so expect updates to follow in the next few days.