Friday, November 28, 2014

Birthday/Ampuversary Celebration Announcement

Today is my birthday (the 24th that I've had thus far), and Sunday is my ampuversary.  To commemorate both occasions, tomorrow I'm getting together with Daniel and Destin, two great friends and training partners, to have a mock powerlifting meet of sorts.

I'll be doing bench press, deadlift, and overhead press. My goal numbers are 260lbs, 225lbs, and 155lbs, respectively. I would be doing squats, but I still have limited range in my knee, so that's out.

Before my accident, I had a competition best bench press of 260lbs, a competition best deadlift of 480lbs, and a 185lb strict overhead press.

I chose my bench press goal because it will tie my competition best. A 225lb deadlift is a nice milestone because it means two 45lb plates on each side of the bar. The overhead press goal just seemed like a nice number.

Considering that I was told I might not be walking until around this time, I'm really happy with how well my lifting has progressed. I've gone from weighing 167lbs when I came out of the hospital to being back at ~230lbs. My bench press has gone from a struggling 95lbs for 5 reps in March or April to 225lbs for 5 last week. I've pulled a 185lb deadlift for three reps. I've put a 145lb barbell and a 150lb log overhead. My confidence in hitting my goals tomorrow is pretty high.

Thanks for all the support everyone has given me. It's been quite the interesting year. I'm looking forward to updating everyone tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Water Leg Fundraiser

We've recently opened the pool for the summer, though I have yet to get it.  One of the things holding me back is that I can't wear my prosthesis in the pool because the pump could become damaged.  My prosthetist told me they can make me a leg I can wear in the pool or even in the ocean, but it will cost me $1500.

We can't use insurance to pay for this because they would consider it my leg and wouldn't pay for my main prosthesis this summer.  I've started a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise at least some of the money.

Click here if you would like to help by donating or would like to check the progress of the campaign.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A New Leg and a Beard Trim

Two days ago we went to Nashville for an appointment with my prosthetist.  I received my first leg, a training leg, and walked on it for the first time.  There's still a long way to go due to a lot of muscle weakness and a minimal range of motion in my knee, but this is a big step in the right direction.  Here's the video I took yesterday:


I finally realized the root cause of my apprehension leading into this appointment.  When I saw the leg for the first time it hit me: It feels real now.  Up until this point it has still felt like I would wake up and all of this would have been just a terrible dream.  Now it's very real to me.

Yesterday I wore my leg and went for a walk outside.  It wasn't very far, maybe 100 feet each way, but it felt good and didn't leave me as tired as it has before I got the prosthesis.  Walking is much easier now, though my pace has become rather snail-like.

Before


Other news is that my goal has been met.  I did not trim my beard until I received and walked on a new leg.

After













Now the beard is trimmed, and I feel ready heading into new adventures with a new leg.  My first new adventure was walking up the stairs, and I successfully completed it last night!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thoughts and Such

We're currently on our way to Nashville for an appointment that has been a long time coming.  Today is the day I finally get my new leg.

It's quite the emotional day for me, and this week has been a roller coaster of emotions.  I've been waiting so long for this day that I'm worried about disappointing myself.

I've had thoughts and dreams about this day. I've pictured putting the leg on and walking immediately, not having any learning curve with my new leg.

I've also been feeling broken. Everything is so difficult.  Just rolling over in bed takes an effort it never has before.  Before my accident I had achieved a point where I felt confident, I felt like I could do anything. Honestly, I felt invincible.

At the same time though, I had no idea what direction life was leading me in.  I was set to graduate next month, and I had no idea what was going to come next. All I had was a hope that it would work out. 

A wrench was definitely thrown in my plans. I had a plan for at least the next few months, but God had a different plan for me.

My pastor and I have been doing a study on suffering.  I still don't know why this happened to me, and I probably never will.  The comforting fact in all of this though is that there is a why, there is a reason for all that has happened.  It's still hard, it's still difficult to deal with and quite overwhelming at times. That will still take a lot of work, but maybe today will be a step in the right direction.  Maybe today I'll start to feel whole again, maybe I won't feel quite so broken.

I still hold no anger towards anyone. There's no reason for that. I made peace on that front easily early on.  I'm battling inner demons now.  I feel like today will be a turning point in the battle.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Big Updates!

Yesterday started off pretty rough (some days are much better than others), but by the end things were going much more smoothly.

I had an appointment at the prosthetist's office and I was hoping for good news.  I used a walker to walk from the car to the elevator and into their office.  My goal was to get cast for my socket and my goal was met!

So now we've cast my leg and they will be creating the socket and building the prosthesis over the next week.  I have another appointment next Wednesday (4/9/2013) to try out the socket and prosthesis (at least, this is my understanding of what will happen).

Things are not going to change too drastically for now though.  Due to the fragility of my skin grafts, I'll have to follow a very regimented schedule of wearing my prosthesis.  For now, I'll only be allowed to wear it for 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon.

In other news, there is a team at Vanderbilt that has designed a powered ankle for below knee amputees and they need someone to test it that hasn't worn a prosthesis before.  My prosthetist told them about me and I'll be meeting the team next week at my appointment and we'll determine whether or not I'll be able to help with the research.  I  am a little excited to get to try something like this out.

Be on the lookout for videos next week!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

News Report On My Accident and Updates

Just one quick update: I drove home today after working out at the YMCA.  This was my first time behind the wheel since November, so I was pretty excited.  It felt good to be doing something I've previously derived so much joy from again.

In the interest of having a fairly complete log of everything about my accident and recovery, I thought I'd post this up here.  If anyone hasn't heard the story of what happened, here's a news report from right after my accident.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Updates, PT, and Training

I realized I hadn't updated in awhile, so I thought I'd get something posted so people can know where we are with things.

First off, let's talk prosthetics.  My last appointment with the prosthetist was last Monday.  Rachel was in town on spring break, so she went with us to the appointment.  Right now we're looking at another two weeks minimum before I get a prosthetic, and this is assuming we don't have any other setbacks.

The prosthetist wants me to get to a minimum level of fitness before he gives me a prosthetic, so that I'll be able to make use of it.  To give you an idea of where I'm at, I just did a few laps around the family room (around 60ft of walking) and it took me two and a half minutes.  Last week I did 145 feet at PT for a personal record, my furthest before that was only around 80 feet.  The prosthetist wants me to do 160 feet without being completely winded.

As long as I can hit the goal the prosthetist set, he'll cast for a prosthetic when I go in next Monday.  My beard is getting pretty long, and I've got a few more weeks to grow it out, but I'm about ready to trim it down.

In other news, I've had several wounds on my left leg that we've had to dress ever since I left the hospital.  The largest of these has finally closed, and I only have a couple small spots left on the end of my leg.

As for PT and training, I've been going to the physical therapist twice a week, usually on Tuesday and Thursday.  We work solely on my lower body and "core" (I'm not a fan of that word, haha) during these sessions.  My upper body training and extra lower body training is done on my own at the YMCA, and we try to go there twice a week, as well.

Right now my strength is an abysmally low level.  The heaviest bench press I've done is 95 for 5 reps, though I probably have more than that in me right now.  As far as lower body, I can't lift my own weight (or really any weight) with my calf, and I'm not able to leg press anywhere near even 100 pounds.  I have come a long way, as my calf was so far gone at one point that I couldn't even point my toes with the help of gravity, much less without.

Anytime I mention how much I miss doing heavy deadlifts or squats, people inevitably reply that I'll "get it back eventually.  I don't know if I'll ever be squatting over 400 pounds again, but I'm going to do everything I can to get there if I can.  While I'm not able to directly participate in my favorite sport, Strongman, I am currently handling the training for my best friend, Daniel.  Daniel went with me to Beast of the Bluegrass last year to compete in his first Strongman competition, and he loves it almost as much as I do (maybe as much, but I can't really speak for him).  I'm doing everything I can think of to get him as strong as possible for the Refuge Barbell Strongman Classic in August.

In addition to writing my own training program and Daniel's, I'm looking into getting a personal training certification so that I can train more people over the summer and when I get back to Oxford.  I love everything there is about weight training, powerlifting, and strongman, and I hope to be able to share that love with others through personal training.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's going on with the beard?

That's the question everyone has been asking me.  I'll get to it shortly, but first I have an update.

We traveled to Nashville today to visit my prosthetist.  While there I was fitted for a liner.  This liner is temporary, as they'll fit me with a tighter fitting liner at my next visit.  Right now we're trying to see how my skin grafts handle the liner.

It was also mentioned that we could end up getting a mold for a socket at my next appointment, and I'll likely have a prosthetic within a week or two after that.

Now back to the topic of this post.

During my stay in the hospital, I decided that my beard would remain untrimmed until I walked on two legs again.

This is the longest I've ever grown my beard, and I'm interested in seeing what it looks like when I'm done. It should be just a few more weeks now, since that's the timeline I was given for getting a prosthetic.

I'll likely still need crutches for a little while after getting the prosthetic, or a cane (I'm hoping I get to use a cane), something to give me some assistance.  That said, I'll be on two feet again, so I'll be trimming up at that time.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nashville Limb Loss Education Day

I spent today at the Amputee Coalition's event in Nashville called Limb Loss Education Day.  The goal of the event was to educate amputees and those around them.  Since my amputation, I've been learning quite a bit about amputations and prostheses.  It's almost like learning a new language, and as I've heard many people say, most people don't know enough to ask the questions they need to ask.  My goal has been to get to that level of knowledge and beyond.  Today's event helped with that goal.

My mom and I started the day off by running through Starbucks and Chick-fil-a for some breakfast (I love me some chicken mini's).  It was an earlier start to the day than we've had in a while.

We ate our breakfast on the way to Nashville, when we arrived we found the location pretty easily (thanks to modern technology, i.e. the magic box that tells us where to go).  What we didn't find so easily was a parking place.  You get a bunch of amputees together and all the handicap parking places get taken pretty quickly.

After registering and receiving our goody bags, we spent some time checking out the vendor booths.  We didn't make it far since the first stop was at my prosthetist's booth.  We spent some time talking and goofing off before the talks began.

I learned several things from the talks, most notably a good way to help deal with sweat in the socket: wear a sweatband for your head on your leg above your liner.  This and many other good tips made the trip well worth it, as well as the chance to meet other people who have experienced limb loss.  The vendors also taught me quite a lot about the different prostheses that are on the market.

At lunch time my prosthetist gave me some new shrinkers, then we decided to leave the event to get some lunch with my sister.  We ate at the cheesecake factory, and I probably ate much more than I should have (I was already over my calorie limit before I made it to the cheesecake...). Although, I did weigh in at less than 200 when I got home, so even after the huge lunch I'm back to being a little guy for the first time in five years.

Here's a quick video to give you a glimpse at my day.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Weekend

This weekend was full of more activity than any of my weekends has had in a while. Starting the weekend off, my girlfriend, Rachel, surprised me by coming home from school for the weekend. I was glad for the chance to see her, as I haven't seen her since the beginning of the semester. We watched a movie and just enjoyed each other's company Friday night.
Here's a funny "fisheye" picture of our cat Lucy.
This has no relevance to this blog post.
 On Saturday Rachel came back and brought me lunch.  We spent the afternoon together watching "The Croods."  I found the movie to be very well done and quite enjoyable, if you enjoy animated kids movies that is (fun fact: I do).  After the movie, Daniel came over, and we played quite a few games of Call of Duty: Black Ops II.  I tend to be a social gamer these days, so I only play when playing with others. If anyone is interested, add Thryah on Xbox live, and we can play sometime.
Here she is without the "fisheye" effect,
so you know she isn't huge.
Still no relevance to the blog post.
Last Sunday I got out of the house for church for the first time since my accident.  Today I did the same thing except we also had Rachel and my dad with us.  The people at the church remind me constantly that they are praying for me and supporting me.
My birthday was two days before me accident.  One of the gifts I received was a Smith & Wesson revolver with the initials "JM" engraved on it.  Now, unlike my Coonan .357, this wasn't customized for me. The "JM" is referring to the designer of the gun (It's still cool that it has my initials).  Since my accident happened so soon after my birthday, I never had a chance to shoot the gun.

Today we decided to change that.  I'm trying to spend more and more time out and about or at least just out of bed, and this was how I did that today.  It felt really good to be outside and enjoying this hobby with my dad.  The gun shot extremely well.  It may be contending for a top spot as one of my favorite guns to shoot.
We did run into the problem of mud, so I had to shoot from pretty far back.
Otherwise, this was a great outing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More Good News!

After weeks of things seeming like they were moving so slowly, the past week has been full of big steps and good news.

Today I started with an appointment with my plastic surgeon.  Last week, my orthopedic surgeon gave the go-ahead for working on prosthetics by saying I could bear weight on all limbs.  The only holdup since then has been waiting to see if plastics would also let us start work.

I'm happy to say that plastics gave the go-ahead for prosthetics today!  They also gave me a good report on the wound healing, and we're able to significantly simplify my wound dressings.

After plastics we grabbed some lunch in the hospital cafeteria.  My second appointment of the day was with trauma.  I wasn't sure what this appointment would entail.  It turned out to be just to get some closure and see if I had any questions or problems.  I won't be having to see them anymore, so that's one less appointment to worry about.

Since plastics gave me such good news, we went to the prosthetist's office after trauma.  After sharing the news with them I was fitted with a shrinker.  I saw they had parallel bars in the room we were in and said that I wanted to stand up again today before we left.  After standing a few times the prosthetist told me to try and make my way down the bars.  I wasn't sure I would be able to do it, but here's the result:


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hospital Tales: The Handshake

The day after my accident, my best friend Daniel (and many other members of my family and friends) came to see me. After he arrived and was told he could go back to where I was, Daniel came up, and I stuck my right hand out for a handshake. Daniel lightly took my hand and shook it. I responded by saying, "Don't shake my hand like a girl. I just got hit by a truck, don't give me a girly handshake." Daniel said "Okay then" and shook my hand again. "That's more like it," I assured him.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Milestone: Standing Up for the First Time

Since I was given weight bearing status yesterday by my orthopedic doctor, I've been excited to try to stand up. My physical therapist came today, and he was just as excited for me to try it.  He had a walker with him, so I tried it and succeeded!  I still have a long way to go before I'd be ready to do any more, as standing for one minute was all I could do.  That said, this was a huge step and a goal I can mark as accomplished.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Video Update




And for the "too long; didn't watch" (TL;DW) crowd:
  • I had my cast removed
  • My orthopedic surgeon gave the go-ahead to start working on prosthetics
  • He also gave me full weight bearing status on all my limbs
  • We went to Nashville Prosthetics, and I'm now officially in their system. I learned quite a bit while there and I'm very excited to work with them.
  • This was the biggest day I've had since leaving the hospital. It has left me exhausted. Next week will be even longer, but it is all leading to progress in the end.

Monday, February 3, 2014

GT500 Friends



I've received tons of letters from people wishing me a quick and successful recovery.  A huge percentage of the letters are from people I've never met and who don't know me.  These people were told my story by a man from my girlfriend Rachel's church (I'll leave his name out since I'm not sure if he would want it here).  This man and I have something in common, we both drive Shelby GT500s.  From what I've been told, he posted my story on an online forum and the response has been phenomenal.

I've appreciated every letter and message I've received, and these letters from complete strangers are no different.  While the only thing we might have in common is driving the same car, these people took the time out of their day to write me and give me encouragement and this means so much to me.

Thanks to everyone for the support, and happy birthday to my GT500 friend that got my story out there.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Beaten Up But Not Giving Up

So, it's that time again where I try to make a return to blogging.  I plan on writing more about day to day activities now and throw in videos and other things I work on.

That said, here's some big updates on what's been happening in my life.

Last year I bought my first motorcycle, and I fell in love with motorcycles.  Unfortunately, on November 30th I was out for a pleasure ride and was hit by a pickup truck.  My left leg was severed below the knee during the accident, and I sustained many other breaks and injuries.  Luckily someone stopped and put a tourniquet around my leg and kept me awake until medical personnel arrived.  They flew me to Vanderbilt Hospital in a helicopter (I don't remember much of this, blood loss caused me to lose consciousness).  I spent around thirty hours in various surgeries while they worked to get me put back together.

The hospital was home until Christmas Eve, when I moved to Stallworth Rehabilitation Center.  I had a great Christmas with my family and girlfriend there in the rehab hospital.  While there, I had some great therapists that worked to help me regain strength and mobility.  We left Stallworth on the 9th and returned home.

Since being home, my strength and mobility have improved greatly.  I have therapists that come to the house to work with me, and I'm currently undergoing treatment in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber at Jennie Stuart Medical Center.  This treatment has greatly sped up the healing process of the flesh wounds on my left leg.

I have many challenges to face in the future, and I feel well equipped to face them.  The doctors told me that my strongman training saved my life, and I know that it will help with regaining my strength in the coming months.  In addition, I have an amazingly supportive family, without whom I would not be as far as I am today.  Lastly, the outpouring of support from around the country and world has been huge and immensely appreciated.  Thanks to everyone for everything.  I'm getting stronger everyday, and with your support I will continue to do so.

I'll end this post with a video I made of a trip to the Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment.