Saturday, February 15, 2014

Out for a walk

It was such a nice day today that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go for a walk!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Justin (Part 3)

Part 1

At the time of my accident I weighed 155 pounds.  I was in very good shape with very little body fat.  As you can imagine after 9 days in a trauma ward and 2 days in an orthopedic ward I was not the same.  Not to mention all of the pain meds I was on were knocking my appetite right out.  Going into the rehabilitation center I was all of 130 pounds.  When you are 5'-11" and 155 lbs. you don't have much to lose to start with.
    I will say it again, therapy is tough!  Anyone who has been through physical therapy, that truly wanted to recover, will agree.  Along with P.T. I had to under go Occupational Therapy as well as a few visits with a Psychiatrist.
    Occupational therapy was just as difficult, if not more so, as P.T.  For those who don't know what O.T. is let me share my real world definition.  Occupational Therapy is learning how to go about your life with your newly "acquired" disability/limitation. As you can imagine O.T. takes a lot of retraining your brain to understand that you are not the same person physically.
    When I said that therapists are "well intentioned torturers" I meant it.  Don't get me wrong, I know they're good people.  I am just not sure that I have what it takes to do their job.  I broke down and cried through the pain of my therapy several times.
    I began to dislike my therapists until I witnessed an elderly patient crying through their therapy after hip replacement.  I think it was about 3 days after my arrival and I noticed a new face in the morning group warm up.  I didn't know how old the man was but he did look frail.  His therapist was coaching him to raise his leg off the mat just a couple of inches.  I remembered when they asked me to do the same thing and they had to push me until I complied.  Ohh it hurt!  Then again and again and with each repetition the pain seemed to dissipate.  Then I saw it, the man had hit bottom and tears began to flow.
    I imagined the same thoughts that ran  through my head were now running through his; Why am I so weak?, I used to be strong!, I can't take this pain!......etc.  Then it happened, his leg left the mat.
    All at once the atmosphere in his little corner of the room went from nightmarish to a family hug, tears of joy and all.   The people he once considered to be his captors were now his source of encouragement and strength.  It was this moment when I fully committed myself to my recovery.
    The next 18 days I put all I had into my therapy sessions.  I had so many motivators as well as a couple of setbacks.  Friends came to see me, letters of support were delivered and progress was being made.  I was getting stronger every day and learning how I was expected to get around and accomplish every day tasks.
    The decision had already been made for me to move in with my sister outside of Albuquerque and continue to get better.  After a while there I lived in Socorro for a few months then back in with my sister and brother-in-law.  I had to "wear" an external fixator  on my left leg for about 165 days.  This device is screwed directly into your bones.  I have been told they are usually taken out after 90 days max because of infection.  I also had several casts on my right leg  as well as the left once the ex-fix was removed.
    Not long after the ex-fix was removed I joined my family on a road trip to Seattle, WA. to visit my aunt and uncle.  I was now able to walk around on crutches or walker but I would still tucker out rather quickly.  So when I needed to move around a lot I still used the wheelchair.  We had a great time but I was still not sure how much I could ever truly recover.
    Before we left for the trip my dad had convinced me into getting my real estate license and make a new career for myself.  So as soon as we got back I was enrolled in a RE school.  I then started a career in real estate.  It was nice but my heart longed to be doing something with my hands and working outside.
    One year had past since my accident and I was now able to walk without any assistance.  Every step still hurt mind you, but I was happy to be unassisted again.  I was not doing as well in real estate as I had hoped, but that is to be expected when your heart isn't in it.  I needed to make some extra money so I applied for a part time job at Home Depot.  I was hired about 14 months after my accident.
    My first day on the job was excruciating!  I was sure I had made a mistake.  After and between shifts I was still working real estate and pushing myself pretty hard.  There were times I was not sure I could walk up the stairs to my apartment in Albuquerque after working.  I will say this, working at Home Depot made me realize that I was not that far from being able to do the work I loved to do again.
    The path I was on eventually lead me back to where I was before the accident.  Back home doing what I love.  Back to working with my hands!  When you love what you do the pain, for me, is worth it.
    My mother had convinced me to join our local VFD & EMS as a way for me to give back to those in our community who supported me in my time of need.  I have loved being able to serve my community this way.  I have been in these services going on 11 years now.
    Like anyone who goes through a traumatic event, change has taken place in my life.  I have tried to imagine what my life would be like had I not fallen, but that sort of imagining is best left to fiction writers.  When I look back on the accident and the recovery of it I realize I would not be who I am had I not been down that path.  I truly believe this.  Our past experiences make us who we are, for better or worse.  I remember my past but I don't live there.  I look to my future but I don't reside there either.  I embrace the present, because this is what matters.  What you did yesterday is done, right or wrong.  Who knows what will happen tomorrow!  The present is all that we are guaranteed.
    I thank my God and family for all they have given and done for me.

    P.S. This was written on the 13th anniversary of my accident 2/5/14

To see what I do now, click a link.
Log Stick and Steel
Stool Bus
Fire Dept.

External Fixator

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Justin's, I Shouldn't Be Alive, Story (Part 1)

You would never know just by looking at Justin that he almost died 13 years ago. I have asked him to write up an account of what happened the day of his accident and the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, because it really is a miraculous story. Every time I hear the story I am truly amazed and thankful he survived. So with out further ado here is Justin's story.

"He may never walk again"

   "He may never walk again" is what the doctor told my parents as I laid in a hospital bed.
   Let's start at the beginning.  My sister, brother in law, my best friend Corey, and I had been planning this ski trip for some time now.  The week before we left several friends and family had told me "you better be careful".  My response was what most, if not all, 24 year old males would have been, "I'll be fine, don't worry".  In hind sight I really should have been more careful!
   The trip to the slopes was filled with laughs and more planning of what we would do first and what we would do that night after we had showed the mountain who was boss.  We stopped at a ski shop to get outfitted where my brother in law bought my sister a nice new 2 piece jacket, this will be important later.  Then it was up the mountain.
   It had been a great winter for the mountain.  The slopes had a 101" base, the most the mountain had seen in a very long time.  That being said, the conditions were not as good as they could have been.  The slopes were groomed but they were nice and icy.  Not the best conditions for trying to snow board for the first time.
   Up the lift we went.  What a beautiful day it was.  The sun was shining with little to no clouds and the wind was nonexistent.  As we rode the lift I looked all around noticing skiers swish, glide, zoom and fall down the slope.  I was now realizing I would, more than likely, be the latter of these people.  I also began to notice how uncomfortable the board hanging from my foot was.
   We had completed our first run without any major issues.  A few wrecks lots of laughs and a growing confidence in my newly found ability.  My sister was starting to overheat in her new jacket and I was also a bit too warm in my jacket.  She took out her liner and gave it to me to wear and I got rid of my jacket.  Then off for our next run.
   When we reached the top we stopped at the upper lodge for an adult beverage before careening down the mountain.  While we sat there joking and talking none of us had any clue what the day had in store.
   Our second run was even better than the first.  I was able to board much faster and still maintain control.  The day was just what I had expected, fun and exciting.  Once we had reached the bottom we made a plan to attack the mountain from a different lift.
   Our new plan required us to take a long lift ride.  The lift seemed to drag on and on.  My ankle was killing me from the board dangling from one foot.  I was trying to think of ways to alleviate the pain as we continued up.  I tried lifting the dangling weight with my free foot but that proved not to work very well.  So I decided I would adjust the binding just a little and that should fix it.
   There was no lap belt or bar on the chair lift, so I hooked my right arm through the armrest and bent forward reaching for my binding.  In retrospect my timing could have been better.  As I was bent forward the chair passed over a support column causing the chair to shutter.  Before I knew it I had slipped out of my seat and was now hanging by my arm that I had hooked in the armrest.  Corey looked at me and calmly asked " What are you doing?".  I calmly replied "just hanging out".
   It surprises me now at how calm and unconcerned we both were a that moment.  Corey thought he could just pull me back up in the seat.  He is a very strong guy and I would have thought he could do it as well.  When he started to pull up on me he started to slip out, so we abandoned that plan.  I say plan because we were planing our moves.  Like I said we were really calm.  So I began to remove my gloves and Corey did the same.  As my right arm was hooked in the chair I had to give Corey my left arm to grab onto with his right.  He was hooked in the chair with his left to avoid slipping out as well.  This put my back to him.  We knew that I could not be pulled up in this position with my arm still hooked in the chair.  With Corey gripping my left wrist and I his right wrist I unhooked my right arm from the chair and was now being held up solely by Corey.  At this point we began to realize the severity of our situation.  Corey once more tried to pull me back up but was unable to.  Out of options we decide to just simply hang on until we reached the top.
   Mean while we can see and hear people watching our predicament I had gotten us into.  Some watched in fear others thought we had done this on purpose for some stunt.  The loudest of the voices was that of my sister in the chair lift in front of us.  "What are you doing?!  Don't drop him!" were some of the things I remember hearing.  I was really trying to concentrate on hanging on.
  About now I started to think about how I should try and land if I did fall.  I was taught by my father, who is an army veteran, that if I jumped out of tree to tuck and roll rather than "stick" the landing in order to cushion the fall.  Hopefully avoiding a broken bone.
   To the best of my recollection I had been dangling for about 5 minutes by this point.  The mood had gone from "we got this" to "this might not end well".  Corey's and my grip was beginning to slip.  Our hands were sweating and I was slowly sliding down.
   Finally panic was setting in.  Corey said "you better try and grab onto something cause you're slipping".   I grabbed onto some strapping on the bottom of the chair with my right hand and held on tight.  But my arm had lost its strength doing the previous maneuvers and it fell to my side like it was asleep.  As I was now inevitably going to fall I made another attempt to grab the chair.  I grabbed it a couple of seconds before our grips finally slipped.
   When our grips failed I was unable to keep hold of the strap.  I fell.  You know how in the movies when a person is falling they let out a scream?  Yeah, only in the movies!  When I fell, my body sucked in all of the air it could hold.  What a "flight", short and fast.  Later I was told that I had fallen at the highest point of any of the lifts on the mountain, 75 feet. 

Part 2

Monday, February 3, 2014

Family Memories

It seems like months since I wrote my last post. We have been busy! Jameson had a birthday. He is one now! He is our earliest and best walker. He had incredible balance. It seems like every time I turn around he is trying to scale something. He is such a happy boy, and quite the little dancer. We love him so much!
This is the first time he had this much sugar at once.

Such a good walker!

Last weekend we decided to take an impromptu trip into town. While there we took the kids to the aquarium and kids science museum. We had such a nice relaxing trip. It was the kids first trip to the science museum, and they really seemed to enjoy it. Justin's sister came with us to the aquarium. The kids were super excited to see her. We ended the trip with a delicious dinner prepared by Justin's sister and brother in law. It was so nice to get away. I don't think I had left the house in a month.

Watching the trains, which happens to be Josiah's most favorite thing to do at the botanical gardens too.

They were giving out train magazines while we were watching the model trains, and you can see Josiah loved it. He still has it.

This and the bubbles were their favorite things at the museum.

Jameson really wanted to step through the glass to the other side. He tried so hard to get through. I was too cute.

The day after we returned home is when it struck. Juliet came down with a runny nose, followed by everybody eles. A nasty cough accompanied the runny nose. The kids are finally doing better, except Jameson. He is still coughing quite a bit at night. Poor little guy. He still sleeps in our room so I am able to comfort him right when he starts coughing. Justin got hit pretty hard. He is still down as of today, and today just so happens to be our seventh anniversary! Oh how I love him. Words truly cannot express how much I love him.

These two are finally getting along. They like to snuggle and play dolls together. Even though Juliet can dress herself, Jada loves helping her. It is so sweet.

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