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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

First Time Walking With Crutches

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.