The condition my condition is in

11 May

Hey there, hope you’re doing well, it’s been too long — quick note, this post is 2700 words. I know, totally over the threshold of readability. And I included a full poem. So, sorry? Thanks for checking in though.

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

 

That is the poem Invictus, written by William Ernest Henley in 1875 while lying in a hospital bed contemplating a leg amputation and tuberculosis. I have these words tattooed on my right arm and shoulder. I got all inked up 1 year after I sliced my spinal cord, which I have since discovered is a typical response for those in the paralysis game i.e. get a tattoo on a part of your body of which you are still proud. In my case my cannonball delts are the only muscle that an Abercrombie and Fitch Executive would consider appealing.

Sometimes, but not often enough to consider myself introspective, I think about old William lying in that hospital bed 151 years ago, which I imagine is about as safe as lying in a hospital bed positioned in the middle of 394 after the first snow of the year. Here’s a dude, thinking he is going to die, writing all this inspiring BS, and 15% of a millennium later that same inspiring BS still fits just so damn well to my experience. Not just the concepts, but his specific words transcend time. From darn close to the Civil War to the rise of President Trump. I find that comforting, that while so much has changed, a part of me is the same as another guy who lived all the way back then, which by no coincidence, is directly related to suffering.

Phew… first off. Hello my good people. It has been an offensively long time since I last shared the status of my life. For that I’m sorry, but also happy, because living a busy life is the cause of my delayed update. I haven’t had time to commiserate on comparing what my life was to what it is now. But again sorry, because I wouldn’t be able to be where I am if not for all that you have done. I think that makes sense.

Secondly, I started with all that intense angst ridden teenager prose because I am going through some change, the most significant since I decided to dive off that f****** boat 44 months ago, and a bizarre mix of things are passing through my head. Much like any old person or redheaded Wildling will tell you, you know nothing when you are young.  And what I think Ygriette was telling Jon Snow is, you can’t know anything unless you have something with which to compare it (I will not be ending any sentences with a preposition today).  I just read over all of the posts since the week I got hurt, which may or may not have been a good idea. Looking back over the past 44 months I finally have some baseline data and trends I can make informed assumptions about. So, let me briefly summarize what I have been up to, what I plan to be doing, and why I believe Dwayne “TR” Johnson will be nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar within the decade. For those of you who don’t want to read on, I completely understand, this writing style is totally obnoxious, so..TL/DR –   I am going back to school to get an MBA this coming fall. There is a 95% chance it will be at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School Management after which I plan to reenter the medical healthcare field. I want to research and develop a means to help people who are medically effed using technology, but through business means because I am no engineer. I am mostly, typically, relatively happy, I am still not cooking enough but am looking forward to the #summerofThomas. I’ll travel back to D and NY C’s to get all political, engage in dance-offs at some great people’s weddings around the US, and hopefully build an electric powered front wheel for my wheelchair so I can drive it like a motorcycle.  Thanks for reading, enjoy your dinner.

 

For those of you deciding to stick around, you are braver than most. I will try to keep this succinct, because seriously, long blog posts are just the worst.

 

March 22, 2015 was the last time I posted an update. At that point I had just bought a manual, or self-powered, wheelchair and a snazzy Volkswagen GTI hatchback. That transition from my power wheelchair and minivan to a manual chair and regular car was profoundly difficult and transformative.  The physical strain involved with using a manual chair as opposed to a power are relatively obvious I assume, what was much more challenging, and frustrating, was relearning how to move around in the world (opening doors that sit on an incline without the 500 pound base of my wheelchair, get to the coffee shop next door over what is titled a road but is more so a collection of potholes with 80-year-old bricks tossed in at random, etc…) and struggling to deal with people trying to help. Now, I never want to sound like the affected and curmudgeonly cripple, but if you ever see somebody with a disability out in the day-to-day, always remember – THEY WILL ASK FOR HELP IF THEY NEED IT. People are constantly assuming I need help – grabbing my chair when getting in/out of my car, pushing me around (which is astoundingly ridiculous, what if someone came up behind you at the grocery store, grabbed your hips, and started pushing you because they thought you needed help getting there?), or just asking me if I need help in literally every aspect of my public life. The difficult part about this is people are only trying to help, to be nice. But when it happens to you three or four times a day, every day, it adds up. What I want to do is use this constant frustration and belittlement to empathize with others who similarly suffer constant unintentional marginalization, but I’m still not as sympathetic as I could be. I just wanted to get that out there, never walk up and help somebody unless they ask you (unless lying on floor, bleeding from head, unconscious).

So, I have been pushing around my everyday chair and driving my non-van for over a year. It’s been fantastic. Not having a 500-pound wheelchair is splendid, getting around tight spaces and door frames and being able to be lifted downstairs is great. A downside is I certainly tire faster and I can’t raise my head up so I can hear people in crowded spaces, but there’s no comparison, my manual chair has been a life changer.  Unfortunately, I did buy the chair out of pocket because, well, because many things I don’t need to get into, and it is somewhat ill-fitting. I have been trying to get a new chair through my insurance for one year, that’s right  – one GD year. Another thing I don’t need to get into, but it’s crazy how difficult it is to get supplies that you really need. And I am a dick and can advocate for myself, I have no idea how people with cognitive challenges manage these situations.

 

If only there was an organization that brought the paralyzed community together.

 

I am overjoyed to say that the nonprofit I helped found, GUSU – Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis (www.gusu2cure.org –  no shame in my game), is doing very well. Last session, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill funding a grant program that supports research for spinal cord injury (SCI) in Minnesota. Without getting too technical, and because I’ll probably say something untrue, the results of this bill are active clinical trials, in humans, that focus on restoring function.  Happening right now. In Minnesota. Boom. These trials are not investigating depression, pressure sores, or the effects of a low salt diet on chronic cervical spinal cord injured peoples. Tangible proof of interventions restoring lost physical function to people with SCI already exists. A study taking place in Louisville over the past two and a half years saw six of its six participants regain some level of function. The majority regained some portion of bowel and bladder control. Now, to be clear, none of these returns are quite functionable. I don’t know the level of bladder control these guys got back, the important thing is that these interventions affected the injury. Now we just need to find out how and go goddamn crazy on it. That’s my elevator pitch at least, picture an army of people in wheelchairs saying that and you can imagine the impact. So GUSU has been busy at the state capital, though this year we are more thanking and updating legislators, and are developing our organization. Currently I am the marketing director for GUSU, but I will likely take a step back in the beginning of skoo.

 

Another important part of my participation in the SCI community has been peer mentoring. I recently met a dude with SCI, who I am sure doesn’t want to be talked about, but meeting and hopefully helping him as I’ve been helped by others with SCI has had a powerful influence on my mental state. SCI is a brother and sisterhood, the only reason I am able to live ~nearly~ independently, get dressed in the morning, or take a shower on my own, is through meeting, learning, and clowning with other SCI peeps.  I am grateful I now have the opportunity to show others what I have learned.

 

What I just mentioned about learning so much from others with SCI is directly related to quad rugby. Quad, or wheelchair, rugby, is a great form of physical fitness. And it’s actually quite strategic and fun to play. But what I think is the most beneficial is the normalcy it spreads.  I would not be pushing a manual chair, driving a normal car, or traveling independently if it weren’t for the dudes I met in rugby. Seeing a guy with similar function holding a job, starting a family, and not having a PCA put on his Lil’ Wayne influenced supra hightops was so positively impactful I don’t believe I can convey it with words. Just know this, we always hear about how important community is, how important it is to feel like you fit in, and for me that is mightily true – but please do not tell my teammates how much I appreciate them, I could never grant those SOB’s the satisfaction. We just played the national tournament in Houston two weeks ago. We placed fifth. Out of eight teams. In the lowest division. But, I got a lot of clock and learned a whole bunch. And Houston jumped up a few spots in my global city rankings. So you know, that’s cool.

 

The third point in my triangle of consistency is fitness. I continue to work out aggressively to develop, maintain, and protect the muscles I do have and to keep my body as physically fit as possible so as to be ready when a means to restore function comes. It eats up a lot of time and money, but as I move forward and become even more busy I will maintain this focus. Plus it gives me a legitimate reason to have CrossFit shoes, talk about CrossFit to strangers, and complain about how sore I am from doing CrossFit.

 

Beyond that, I am still living in my apartment near the Twins Stadium in Minneapolis, still see a bunch of subpar/par movies, go out and drink too much beer, and go grocery shopping with my mom every other week. I have done some freelance work with a few start ups, shout out to Wellthy, as an advisor on care coordination. I also have what may be a burgeoning business on my hands as an informative speaker for disability insurance. Last week I gave a presentation to a crowd of 40 people in the industry to great fanfare. I made a joke about the spelling of Massachusetts, it killed, you totally should’ve been there.  Beyond that, life marches on, my continued focus is to become fully independent. I am 90% there, there’s only one thing I can’t do on my own. I want to share what it is, but let’s just say I still can’t travel for more than two days alone without the ability to pinch. That’s another thing, I’ve learned I need to set tangible goals, Which in my case is easy because everything is so physical. When I switched to my manual wheelchair I kind of just did it, thought about it, but literally hopped in the chair and figured stuff out. I think that might be my approach to life. You can plan and plan, but maybe the best way to do something is to eat a burrito and do it.

 

So, the future, or, El Futuro. As I said earlier I will pursue my MBA this coming fall, most likely at the Carlson school of Management here at the University of Minnesota.  I want to reenter the medical technology industry and eventually make my way into the research and development of neurological devices.  The idea being with a presence in that area I can influence the focus on spinal cord restoration. Make things happened from the inside, you know? I am extremely excited, I’ve met a few of my potential classmates at the U and everybody is abundantly smart, dedicated, and interesting. Though it is strange, and embarrassing, meeting a whole new group of people as a quad. I have a handshake like the gold fish that died in your kitchen 20 years ago, I cant self-serve at a buffet (which apparently is a B-school standard), and when I open the door to leave the classroom everybody’s going to stare and not know if they should get up and help. But, as I have come to learn, you just do it and eventually everyone gets used to it. I also mentioned I’ll be returning to Washington DC this summer on behalf of the Minnesota Spinal Cord Injury Association to meet with my state legislators.  To be honest, I’m not sure what the specifics of our advocacy will be at the federal level this year, but having Al Franken in your back pocket is definitely a good thing.

So that’s it.. Some days I’m down, but not very often. Easy to feel sorry for yourself when you have such a blatant thing to look at as a reminder, but I’m lucky to be able to do what I can do, for which I’m thankful ( told you). Whenever I sit and ponder, as I have today, this altered storyline, I am reminded of all the people in my life and the incredible sacrifices they have made. From my friends whom I assume are okay with me being late, having to lift me up curbs, and allow me to sporadically freak out when somebody touches my chair, to my parents and sister whom I constantly rely on for unquestioned help and assistance in the most uncomfortable and untimely of circumstances, to everybody I know that his given money, prayers, or words of support to me and my family.  I am grateful, I don’t always recognize it, but I am truly grateful.

 

To all of you, thank you. I love most of you, and I probably like all of you.

 

Hopefully I will update you again sooner rather than later. Oh, and global warming is terrifying, nothing really does matter cause the earth will be a giant pit of boiling water and lava in 50 years anyway.

Das Auto

23 Mar

Guten Morgen Shotsis (poorly executed German for – Good morning sweeties),

Hello to all those sitting down. To those standing up, watch where you are walking, it’s a dangerous world out there.

It’s been a few months since we last spoke, and as I’m sure you can imagine, and as I’m sure you experience, things are ebbing ‘n flowing as life is known to do. I don’t know about you, but this passage of time thing really blows my mind. Not only that I’m nearly three years from injuring my spinal cord, but that it’s 16 years since MIB 2 came out. One of my former PCA’s daughter was 2 when I first met her in 2012, now that girl rocks, talks, and selects the most aesthetically pleasing sweatshirt for me in the morning. Kids, real cray, but that’s another story.

I recently hit a few milestones in my new life. As I’ve inferred before, regaining your habits and livelihood after injury is similar to restarting as a newborn. Wow, I really missed out on a transition there, I guess that’s where editing is valuable, but thats for suckers, it’s 2015, all about that live stream of conscious right? Anyway, I have become comfortable with the function of my new body in terms of knowing what I can and cannot grab, knowing what Reactions my body produces, and, most important, knowing that I can’t rely on my body in any way. For example – maintaining a consistent schedule is pretty difficult when you can’t control your bowels. When you sit upon the mighty pearl throne, you could be 10 minutes or two hours. Having that kind of floating schedule makes punctuality difficult. Not to mention when you get hit in your rugby chair and you s your p’s. Sitting on a stench of last night’s Chipotle is typically frowned upon in most business settings. Well, I could see having an organic TC aroma benefiting some negotiating circumstances. So, what I’m trying to say is, you can adapt and gain comfort to a certain extent, but the very nature of having no control of your body means you can’t predict certain things. Which sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. Sorry I just talked about poo that long. I’m now quite uncomfortable.

Milestones. We were talking about milestones.

First milestone– I bought a new manual, or everyday, or push, wheelchair. It was pretty spendy, but the benefits of having a manual chair that fits are countless. For a layperson looking at my new chair compared to my old, you notice it is about 70% the size of the first and it is murdered out. To somebody who sits in a chair most of their life, you notice it is 4” skinner, 6” shorter, and 12lbs lighter. I sit 5 inches closer to the ground and I can collapse the chair on my own. This is like leaving your dog in a kennel all day vs being off leash in an Irish sheep farm. The reason, beyond increased freedom and gaining strength by pushing my soul everywhere, this chair allows me to transfer into the driver seat of most cars, take off the wheels, lift the chair over me, and place it in the car. So what I’m saying is, the Red Viper, the 2004 Chrysler Town & Country minivan I was blessed with and have been driving for the past two years, has a mere two days left as my road companion.

Second milestone– Today I bought a Volkswagen (hence the German greeting) GTI. It’s a four-door hatchback that will fit both my rugby and every day chair. So now instead of relying on a power chair that: weighs 500 pounds, has 15 different manufactured components, and who’s electric power I rely on far too much, I will be using my manual chair 100% of the time. I will still use hand controls to drive, but there will be no other mods to the sexy car. Basically I am simplifying, which me like. Starting Tuesday I’ll push myself around everywhere in a sleek manual chair. I am now closer to being as full functioning a C-5 as I possibly can be.

Third milestone – I know I said I only had two, but this one is pretty sweet. For the past four months, the nonprofit with which I am associated, Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis Foundation– www.facebook.com/gusucure – www.gusu2cure.org – has been working diligently to pass a research grant bill funding curative therapies for traumatic brain and spinal cord injury (that sounds far more convoluted than I intended). We’ve visited the capital weekly, participated in committee hearings, and met with countless state legislators. I’m excited that we have passed through all committees as of yet, and are now hoping to get on the general omnibus bill for the Higher Ed committee. We still have miles to go before we reap…the benefits…, but this is the farthest the bill has passed and it is encouraging to see advocacy work. Especially when that advocacy could assist me in not s’ing my p’s. You can check out our Facebook page or website to see the details of what we have done and to stay informed about our progress. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Thanks for reading guys, and especial thanks to my family for all the help. Shout out to mom and dad for helping me get dressed all fancy to be with politicians. Much appreciated I’ll post some pics of my new ride and wheelchair in the coming days. Oh yeah, and in two weeks the Minnesota Wheelchair Rugby Club will begin our run for the national championship in Louisville. I’ll post some video and pics as well.

Stay true, stay real.

Much love– T daddy

Happy Honda Days

9 Dec

Hey All,

I’m waiting on hold with Medica right now. After stumbling through an explanation which I think I can now summarize as – needing an authorization for my non-PT fitness and health Program at Courage Kenny – I’ve¬ been placed on hold for about 20 minutes. Because it is not traditional physical therapy – I’m not working with a physical therapist – It is not historically covered by insurance. This is my first month on Medica, so hopefully they will flip the script and hook it up. Again, I’m on hold right now so if I have to abruptly stop, I do …….

~~~~82 minutes later~~~~

Wow, I know there’s no way to verify or corroborate, but I Homeboy who put me on hold just picked back up when I was Voice-to-texting that.

I know it’s en vogue to throw shade at health insurance companies right now, and I certainly was transferred three times to different siloed departments where I explained my story of need, told it was understood, then transferred to another person without any record of who I spoke with before. But. I expect that. On my last callback I reached somebody in the Prior Auth department who went beyond her duties to help me out. Nothing was resolved, but it sounds as if she is going to champion my cause. At least until 4:36 when she closes everything but her email and hopes she doesn’t get any more calls until five, but I can’t hate on that.

Okay, enough of the cuttingly honest malarkey.

There might be a few more typos in this post than in the past. I am using my new laptop + Dragon dictate (thank you cousin), but this is a learning computer, so it needs to form an ear for my specific flow, which is understandable. Much like when you first witnessed Die Hard, you didn’t fully grasp what it was. Not until your 10th to 18th viewing did you fully appreciate the genius.

My life is still a fairly tumultuous existence of up and downs. The strange thing about a traumatic and unwanted life changing event, and I always struggle to explain this clearly, is the inherent challenges and obstacles in attempting new things. With every step I take towards more independence I naturally run into increasingly difficult situations which then make me want to turn back. I’m sure there is some psychosocial term for this paradox, but it’s basically like a baby learning how to live on its own. Or a quad grocery shopping and struggling to be cordial to the 20 people that ask if they need help…I’m not helpless people, I’m just hungry. I really have made bounding leaps in terms of just being a regular dude again: I put myself to bed whenever I want, I don’t need to wait around trying to coordinate a PCA, even little things such as fixing my rugby or manual chair. I now, at least attempt to do on my own where a few months ago I would automatically ask for help.

Digression dive.

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There are two things I never thought about or possibly believed that I commonly said before I got awulll messed up. The first is that the only way to learn is to do – It sounds so obvious, but really, you can explain something to Joe Bag O’Doughnuts 15 times but unless Joe puts his head out and does it for himself, there is no way anything is getting done (Also a free TDaddy parenting tip). The second is that you need to work to make yourself better every day. Now, I know you already read that in some fancy script displayed on a teenage girls Instagram, but now that life is more of a struggle, I really see the need in working to be a better person. Consciously thinking every day to be more patient, more empathetic… basically less of a dick. The one sticking part for this is when it comes time to be a dick, you are not really thinking about that cutesy little ode you made that morning, you are thinking about the most cutting thing you can possibly say to the person that just offended you.

So, besides being an early American (working on independence), you can see I have had time to think about things.

I have also begun to throw my tentacles out in search of fulfilling employment. My desire is to get back into the electronic medical records/healthcare IT game. It is the work I did before I was injured, and it will allow for the past two and a half years of my life to be beneficial work experience. I have run the gambit of the healthcare industry, from demanding the A-teaM neurosurgeon at 2 AM a.m. on a Sunday to sitting on the phone with Medica for three hours to get some prior authorization form for an investigational health program. This has been quite exciting, the thought of making fat stacks and being a reliable and beneficial member of society really gets my blood flowing. This thought about work has also gotten my travel appendage tingling; I love Minneapolis, but the snow and cold are quite literally a roadblock in my day-to-day life. I’m not sure where, but I feel a permanent residence relocation down the relatively relaxed road. Damn. Forced alliteration.

I have also placed myself as a potential candidate for a few clinical studies around the country, testing how best to restore function. I can’t get into specifics, and I haven’t heard anything back, but there are a few studies going on as we speak that have had tangible success in bringing back function to a spinal cord injured person. The most famous, the implanted electrode study In Louisville, saw all six of the patients regain some sort of function. I don’t know the specifics or the levels of that restoration, so it could be nothing..but it’s not. I am more confident than ever that I will at least be able to pee and do all other bathroom/bedroom stuff by the time I want to have kids. Because I don’t think my highly talented and smoking hot wife will want to change a newborn’s diaper along with one of a bald, bearded, ridiculously good-looking, grown man.

I wish all you the happiest of holidays, and try to not take for granted being happy. Happiness in the now is better than any kind of potential happiness in the future. You never know what will happen, at least probably that’s the case. I’m pretty clueless about stuff.

T Storm

The Golf of Monticello

18 Aug

Before I dive, and only into where I know it’s deep, into the spectacular details of both Friday and Saturday’s TC Classic events in June, I need to do the deserved, and apologetically, late,thing.

When one has to repeat thank you’s to the same people, I think it’s impossible to convey the sincerity every time. Something to do with the exponential dilution of emotion through repeated action. I really just made that up in a coffee shop right now, but with the right backing we can get that to be a course in the Sociology Department at the University of Colorado. Anywho, what I want to do right now is thank all of you who have touched my life since I took a severe right turn from my life trajectory.

Especially to those who gave, showed up, volunteered, wrote me letters, wrote me poems, drew me pictures, bought me drinks, made me smile, let me ****, drove me around, endured my dirty bed (I actually said endured my dirty van, but voice recognition isn’t perfect; however that typo certainly was), picked up my wallet, literally picked me up, and so many, many, many other things; I say with complete shock and honesty, thank you. Shock because the generosity and compassion all of you have shown, and continue to show, surprises me. Not because I thought you were selfish jackasses before, just that I never knew human beings could be so consistently unselfish. Someday somebody will say that it’s typical for people to want to only serve themselves, if you’re near that person on that day think what you have done for me or others in need and then multiply it by thousands. The world is a good place because of people, and those people are all of you. So, again, I thank you not just from the deepest places of my heart, but from my mind and my body. Not only have you helped me tangibly with your resources and gifts, you’ve helped me spiritually? Mystically? Morally? Aesthetically?

Actually definitely not that last one, there is another word that sounds like that I wanted to use, so if you know it, you know what I’m talking about.

The Friday night fundraiser night 7 weeks ago raised enough money to pay for my continuing fitness therapy, personal care attendants (PCAs), a wheelchair that fits me, and myriad of other things. This therapy, ABLE, not only has increased my muscle function and overall health; but the more in shape and healthy I am, the more likely I am to be selected for any future research studies. Such studies are totally happening, and totally realistic, but more on that later. The check for the fitness program (ABlE) was cut and it was only cut because you gave me the stuff to make it cuttable.

Okay, now that I got all of your hearts a’beatin and your brains a’thinkin, I’ll give you a brief rundown of the fantastical adventures of the TC Classic-part deux.

It was a warm Friday evening in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. A June 20th never felt so deserved as a more brutal winter my 27 year old eyes have not seen. And as June rolled around it was still melting from our neurons. So we did what any self-respecting, cold-weather dweller does during the summer-put the keg on ice, buy a beer pong table, pickup some super good pasta salads, and have ourselves a good little fundraising party. With the generous help of many local businesses and people, we had a fat spread of breezy and refreshing summer wines; fresh, tongue snapping beer; and sweet, sweet fireball cinnamon whiskey. Next was the beer pong table and tournament bracket; and, finally, the people. Many friends from far and wide showed up to say hello. I was able to show off my apartment without actually having to clean it. My community room and pool area are shared space so the room is already clean-a pretty sweet deal. We had a great time and conversed until the early late hours.

For those who had elected, the following day would be a brutal challenge setting man and women against ball and nature.

Saturday, June 21, broke with an easy, gentle breeze. Maternally prodding golfers and conscientious non-golfers alike awoke from their slumber and prepared for the single most fantastic day of their lives. And by God, that morning breeze did not disappoint. In contrast to the devastating monochromatic winter I earlier described, that Saturday was as blue, green, brown and vitalizing as mother nature can get. Once again we looked out with perfect golfing weather on a weekend day. We had around 85 golfers all starting off with a shotgun start at noon, playing 18 holes. Others kicked it on the patio, shooting the breeze with greater ease than those shooting from rough up to their knees. I had the distinct fortune to be chauffered around the course in a golf cart, able to say hello to everyone and judge harshly everyone’s swing. Don’t worry, I only let those with the mental fortitude to withstand it know that their follow-through needed work. This actually worked out great, last year I wasn’t able to transfer into a cart very easily so I wasn’t able to see everybody play; but again, because of all of you and my ability to continue therapy, this year I was able to easily transfer into a cart and hold myself up throughout the ride on the flat golf course.

By 5 PM most players were done, as was gorgeous George, the large male pig that had been spit roasting for 10 hours.(see images? Where?) Delicious pork, beans, and potato salad was shared by everyone, and fortunately those who finished last had to walk with an air of shame and pride to the buffet in front of all those who had successfully finished before them, also known as beating them I believe (Then again I’m not a golfer so I don’t know if it’s a race).

Throughout the day and the dinner people bid on a select few items and enter the raffle for some others. Everybody was beyond generous and once again I was amazed by everyone’s willingness to help out. Some good people want some good stuff and it worked out well. Is everybody finished up dinner I was able to say hello, thank them, and share the dealio about wings for life (http://www.wingsforlife.com/en/). The powerful charitable organization created by Redbull. Hopefully I’ve communicated to all of you the importance and realistic drive of this charity, but if I have failed to communicate that, as I failed to communicate so many things, please check out their website. If you know me, then I think you will be pleased to see such a well put together group focusing on CURATIVE means for spinal? cord injury. As you can see by all of the capital letters, I’m quite passionate about this topic. And actually in other news I am now a member of nonprofit – Get Up Stand to Cure Paralysis – focusing on bringing curative research to Minnesota. like most things on the Internet, if I spoke about the bow it would involve into incoherent ramblings and too many links for one browser to handle. I will follow up this post with specifics soon.

All in all the Second Annual TCClassic-part deux II, was an excuse for me to see all of the people that have built my new life. And you, yes you person who wasn’t able to make it, I appreciate what you have done for me with equal force. All the things I am saying I say to everyone, but I just like saying “the TC classic,”kind of like seeing your name on an office door or something. Anyway, I truly hate asking people for help, and even truelier hate asking people for money. And that’s what this was all about, but once again my family and friends came through to help me where I couldn’t help myself. Those closest to me not only organized this event but all the others who participated helped me. So, thank you. Alright that is the last one, citing some super genius, I know that saying thank you multiple times denigrates the meaning of said thank exponentially.

P.S – even today when I think about writing something I picture myself writing by hand or typing the words, kind of like the pictures of people performing actions to help define a verb in a different language. But now that I use voice recognition for 88% of my writing, I realize it’s really just ideas and thinking. So it’s not actually writing, but talking, talking the ideas out of your head. Just thought that was interesting and I wanted to talk out the interesting from my head to you.

Golf Anyone?

7 Jun

Buen Dia mis amigos,

I hope you are all doing as well as this morning is. 72 degrees, low humidity, and just enough breeze to kick out those floating little cotton-but-not-actually-cotton floating eye destroyers.

I’m sitting at a corner coffee shop hydrating on $10 of blended coffee, Naked Juice, and lemonade. I believe hydration cures everything while preparing you for a functional and effective day. But you know this, you intelligent and physiologically sound reader, so I need not delve deeper into my unintelligible policies of healthy living.

-Insert Game of Thrones reference to sound relevant

What I really need to do, or so says the extremely helpful organizing team I have behind me, is get all of you wonderful people to sign up to come and party with me and/or play golf in front of me. You can sign up on my website at www.tcloyd.com. The 2nd annual TC classic is going down June 20th and 21st.

Friday night starting at 7 p.m. my apartment will host an extremely classy shindig complete with beer pong and bean bag tournaments, all you can eat food and all you can consume libations. The winner of the beer pong tournament will win a righteous celebrity signed gift donated by Red Bull , no hints, but the celebrity may or may not have stared in “Field of Dreams” and “The Body Gaurd”.

If you cannot make the golf tournament, don’t like golf, hate golf, or simply don’t want to drive out to Monticello, you are welcome to attend this gathering of a large and diverse group of good people. For more details on the party and to purchase tickets visit my website – www.tcloyd.com, unless you’re reading this on my website in which case look up and to the right.

The flagship event will be held Saturday June 21st at Monticello Country Club. The golf tournament will be similar to last year with foursomes playing 18 holes starting at noon, with a pig roast and raffle to close up the evening. Again, those who don’t see themselves as a Rory or Daly are welcome to come and simply enjoy some GnT’s on the deck while watching your friends get frustrated at 75 yard drives. We had a great time last year and plan to have an even better time this year.

Everyone is welcome and as before, the info is on my website – www.tcloyd.com.

Life is trending up for me. I recently received my new rugby chair (thanks to the amazing help of the OLG student council..more on that later) which allows me to really kick ass on the court and almost more importantly I now can push around my neighborhood and down the river pathways for some good cardio exercise. Though I still don’t know the appropriateness of my pushing a sports chair shirtless through Edina neighborhoods with a tattoo and the weird faces I make when struggling to push up hill. I think people might consider me a sickly, deranged, and definitely psychotic individual. Actually, yesterday was my first time going on a legitimate bike path and it was very normalizing keeping up with other people running and actually exercising without others staring thinking I need help. Granted, people still stare, probably because I’m moving around in what looks like an assisted device fabricated by Tina Turner in the Thunderdome. In addition to the shirtless weird face situation, I can’t blame them, just as long as they don’t pity me.

*pro-tip* don’t offer to help or try to help a person in a wheelchair unless they ask you. Especially if they look like they’re prepared for the situation at hand.

Thank you to everybody who has donated, volunteered, and told me what to do to make this event a success. We are already doing well but I’d love to see more people come out to the party and/or golf tournament. Any questions you can email me through the contact info on my website, or send a raven to my apartment.

Okay, that covers the necessities for now. I hope all of you are watching Fargo on FX and Penny Dreadful on Showtime. Both are phenomenal shows on a cinematographic and awesomeness level. Catchup on both and we’ll talk about them next time.

#chau4now

Cheers

A Little Help From My Friends

26 Apr

Hello Friends and Family,

Well hot damn. Seventy degrees this past Sunday and Famous Dave’s barbeque for Easter, rock solid stuff.

I hope these words find you all well.  Spring has finally sprung and with it the bikers, outdoor seating, and 2:30 a.m. walks around the city have arrived. I have lived in my new apartment for about 6 weeks, but will truly take advantage of its location and awesomeness now that I can get outside to enjoy everything Minneapple has to offer.

I will update you with more in depth chronicles of my hand cycling and independent living in the coming weeks, but today I have to do what I hate the most-ask for help. You have all been more than humanly generous to me and my family and I don’t expect anything more than what I have received, but the realities of my life require at least an attempt. If you don’t want to be pandered to, stop reading here, and thank you for all you have done.  What follows is my request:

After suffering a high spinal cord injury from a diving accident in the summer of 2012, my life has changed. Well, I guess that statement is about as unsurprising as they come. The change in my life has been severe, challenging, and, to be quite honest, terrible.  I am not asking for pity though, just for you to clearly understand my situation.

Many of you participated in my fundraising event last year and, without the inspired kindness and generosity from hundreds of you, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The money you give me last year has funded my participation in the ABLE rehabilitation program. Through this program I have continued to regain function throughout my body, including my thighs and hip flexors, but most specifically in my core. Twelve months ago I was not able to sit up on my own; today I can sit up indefinitely which allows me to exercise, bathe, dress, (well half dress) independently. The importance of those things can’t be overstated.  Another area of my life dramatically improved through the generosity of others is the purchase of a wheelchair rugby chair for my participation with the Minnesota Steelheads. Lastly, your contributions helped defray the cost of my personal care attendants (PCAs), which is not covered by health insurance.  To all of those who helped make these things possible, thank you, thank you, thank you.

The central challenges I face are an inability to efficiently live my life. This obstacle is not a permanent one; every day I push myself to become more independent, and almost as important, becoming more independent in a timely manner. Taking three hours to dress myself in the morning becomes quite an impediment to working a normal job or maintaining a professional schedule. And that is exactly what I intend to do-regain a fully fruitful, fantastical future.

But I am not there yet, and that is why I need your help.

This year has been one of transition, moving from the comfort and ease of my parents’ house to my own apartment.  I’ve begun the search for work and am discovering inspiration in my new life.  During this time I still require a lot of assistance from my PCAs. Combined with the costs of medical supplies and continued ABLE rehab, my cost-of-living outpaces my financial means.  The generosity of those in my life has been a true window to the greatness of humanity, and I struggle asking for continued support. But, as I continue to learn in my new physical state, sometimes the only way to move forward is by being lifted up by those around you. (Wow, I need to get a trademark on that phrase).

So, in summing up of my previous words, any donation or support you provide me and my family is not only appreciated beyond any words I can write; it allows me to begin creating a new life for myself and support a continued, ferocious dedication to get me standing on my 2 feet and shaking your hand in thanks.

For your previous thoughts, prayers, jokes, help, everything, but especially for reading this letter; I thank you as deeply and completely as one person can through the written word.  I know I will walk again and I know I will repay all the kindness I have received back to others who need it.  As a first step in this intention we will donate a portion of the monies raised to the inspired and relentless charity Wings for Life – www.wingsforlife.com <http://www.wingsforlife.com>.  Their mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury by funding innovative research projects throughout the world.  A cure to spinal cord injury-that is the greatest help, for those already hurt and those undeserving that will be hurt in the future.

Grazi
Thomas Cloyd

100% Gaurantee

14 Mar

I read my most recent post and finished with quite a defeatist tang in my mouth…..

I will **** walk again.

My time tables have shifted not my passion or certainty.

Peace out.
T Daddy

Winter Has Come

5 Feb

Well, well, my longtime fellow reader. I sense you there on that computer/phone/tablet screens. (It would be very interesting to see the breakdown of reader’s choice of viewing device. We have a large, diverse reading demographic, so the sample size would be statistically significant. I¹m saying 30% phone, 30% tablet, and 40% computer. I’m about 80% phone, 20% tablet, but that¹s because the shinny brass in the all powerful keyboard regime are racist against the quadriplegic)

A long time its been, and many things have happened. I will try to be both entertaining and succinct, but this post may be quite long. Or quite short, I really just talk until my dad gets tired.

Also, its been almost 6 months since my last blog post. How the hell did that happen? This is definitely a long post. Or, again, it may not be.

• I’m now a badass wheelchair rugby player
• I’m about to take my first trip on a plane to a rugby tournament in Phoenix this weekend
• I went monoskiing last week
• I’m moving into a warehouse district apartment next month
• I’m moving into a warehouse district apartment next month, where my parents will not be living.
• I’m planning on writing a biopic book, estimated to be 60-70% factually Based
• Have had many friends come to visit and have successfully maintained my awesomeness to hang out with
• Continued progression in the ABLE program with most successful return in lower core muscles
• ATK (Alex, Thomas, and Kevin make beer) Brewery brewed its first beer. A rebellious, but contained, American Pale Ale.
• Mired and painful acceptance I won’t walk without outside medical/technological help

And, oh, I won my fantasy regular season and lost by just 6 points in the championship. So everyone else in my league can eat it.

Man, wouldn¹t it be so easy to end there. That’s what all the pro writers are doing now. If you can¹t read it on one screen, don¹t type it. Alas, 6 months bottled so many words I can do nothing to stop their bubbly outspringing.

I¹ll begin with what seems the worst bullet point. As of January, its been18 months since I broke my neck and injured my spinal cord. The majority of recovery comes in the first year, with diminishing returns after that. So everyday that goes by and I’m not doing significantly better, the less likely I will do better the next day. It is this logic and my yearly work up with my doctor and therapists (which happened a few weeks ago) that I now know I won¹t heal completely by my own body and will. As much as I hate to rely on an outside force, I will require some kind of technological assistance. That assistance will most likely be in the form of one of my own stem cells, treated, then injected into the injured section of my spine, combined with rigorous therapy and a few blood/animal sacrifices. Here is where I would post links, but basically the US is just entering the stem cell game and unfortunately spinal cord injuries don¹t sit with the cool kids such a heart disease, Alzheimer¹s, and cancer. But then again, as with any tech, after you break the barrier things improve and develop exponentially, and I guess it would be good to cure heart disease, Alzheimer¹s, and cancer. I’m guessing that we are at least 5 years out, so my long term game plan (LTGP) is to stay/increase my fitness level so that I’m a prime candidate for trials and/or rogue scientists.

I wish there was a career where one could set his/her own hours, write off d-rate film watching, b-rate apocalypse themed book reading, and garner the kind of media fame of Richard Castle. For those of you who don¹t watch ABC¹s long time and always original hit, Castle, he is a writer. But I’m still drawing a blank as to what I can do to meet those previously stated requirements.

Wheelchair rugby a.k.a quadruby is really fun. I started playing November, practice once or twice a week, and even traveled with the team to Milwaukee to dominate a tournament and score 2 goals. Because I’m really classy, I won’t disclose the score of the game in which I scored the 2 goals, but can say my offensive prowess brought us to 52 points, which was 19 points more than the team that lost. The best way to understand the game is to watch the documentary ³Murder Ball², streaming on Netflix…. and that¹s pretty much the only place (I think there is still a market for video stores; specializing in movies not found on Netflix/Hulu/Redbox etc. If anyone has the capital, I¹ve got the spare time). Forgoing a breakdown of the game, another huge benefit is the communal knowledge of a 10 man team full of quadriplegics who have lived their lives for as long as 40 years after their injuries. Basically, I return from every practice with a least 2 handi-hacks. For example, just squeeze the toothpaste into your mouth instead of placing it on a toothbrush. The unexpected piece of returning to competitive sport is learning how much my new body blows a competing at sports. Its very weird to throw and catch a ball for 26 years, implanting your ability in your noodle, then trying to do it with only 20% of your body working normally. Catching, throwing, turning your head, picking up a ball, yelling, drinking water, playing sports is still very fun, but I think it will be a couple of years before I am comfortable in my new, still very athletic, damaged skin. As I said, I’m going to Phoenix this weekend for a competitive D1 tournament. I will post some pictures and post-tournament stats next week. Go Northstars-actually we are the Minnesota Steelheads because the Northstars wouldn’t let us use their name.

The list above was not chronological, but based on another system-can you guess it.

At the end of this month, I’m moving into a 2 bedroom loft with my good pal Kevin Flaherty. The North Loop, or the warehouse district, borders downtown Murderapolis and is a burgeoning area for cool people and hot babes. My only complaint is the egregious overuse of the term ‘loft’ in the 12 buildings that have gone up over that last years. In my book, a loft requires a 2nd level space only accessible by a ladder. I’m beyond excited to be on my own, especially with a good friend and in a cool area. I look forward to using my manual chair to navigate the streets and hopping on the bus for 50¢. I know I will encounter a lot of difficult situations, but as long as I run at them head first in full speed, there will be absolutely no problems. There will be more on this in a few weeks. Probably.

Cokely just looked at his watch and exhaled. We are all running out of time.

Let us close with the announcement of an opening. The 2nd annual TC Classic or the TC SuperClassico 2014 is going down. Its going down on Saturday, June 21 and you are all are cordially invited. Except you Flaherty, a lot of lifetime bans can develop in 3 months. I will also be hosting a welcoming shindig on Friday, June 20. Live music, booze, good food and a hot tub. So mark your calendars, these dates are hard. More information to follow. Last year you all, and many more who are not reading, blew mine and my family’s collective mind with your generosity. The money raised paid directly to my continued participation in ABLE, which is directly responsible for me regaining muscle function, PCAs to help me out when I need it, and every other little piece charged by having a disability. This year, I will donate a % of the money raised to a charity/NGO focused on spinal injury cures. Clearly, I¹m not disclosing all of this yet because I need to vet all of that which needs to be vetted.

And huge thanks again to everyone who helped make TC Classic 2013 such a huge success.

For those who like to go against their bodies¹ will and run long distance, the Wings for Life Foundation (NGO that funds research for SCI cures founded by Red Bull CEO) is holding an interesting fund-raising run this May 4. Check out the website (www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com)-35 cities around the world all starting the race at the same time, last person running is the victor. One hundred percent of proceeds go to funding research. I will be wheeling in Denver for those who want to join me, look for a Facebook group in the next few weeks. Alright, that¹s it.

Its been a pleasure re-connecting with you all, its been far too long.

Hasta la proxima. Tbone.
Thomas Cloyd

A Midsummer’s Nights Dream – Part 2 of 2

18 Aug

Hello again everyone.

I hope everyone is doing as well as I; salmon, broccollini, and teriyaki sauce qualifies as doing well, I do believe.

I will try to be more concise and more informative than the fluff that was Tuesday’s post. Because, as we all know, you can never keep it too real.

The first milestone of this summer was the one-year anniversary of my accident-July 8 around 1 AM. For those who don’t know or have forgotten, I was on Lake Muskego north of Milwaukee and was quite literally saved from drowning and brain damage by some very special people. Now, I’m impressively bad at keeping dates (I forgot my 23rd birthday) and even this date, which one would assume holds some significance in my life, I didn’t realize was occurring until the day before. My thoughts on the anniversary of the accident are of the same tone as those on my general situation overall–only focused on the 2 inches in front of you. I can generally control that. Everyday and every inch I am progressing (I have quarterly assessments with the ABLE program that tangibly document the increase in my core strength, balance, and leg muscles); But the key here is “inches”, because goddammit inches aren’t very far, especially when…a hhhhhhh…. You have a really far way to go.

I am not at the level of function that I thought I be 13 months out, but then again I have, and I don’t know if this is good or bad, set my only real goal as being able to walk. So some things I should celebrate, I simply cruise past with my eyes on the prize (while sculpting my thighs). July 8 milestone–complete.

One of these celebration points was me getting my driver’s license and adapting my van so I can push the whip myself. This only happenrd a week ago, so the streets are still getting used to having T-daddy as their guardian. The importance of this ability I cannot understate. The independence is so heavy, I have an orated speech from Bill Pullman, unfortunately his royalty demands were just too high. Whereas I had to inconvenience at least one person, if not more; now its just me, TC. Even more incredibly I can sit alone in the van listening to the radio and eating a quarter pounder with cheese. No Terri, no Cokely; just me and processed beef. Priceless. Milestone #2 self sufficient transportation–complete.

But really, if anyone sees a 2005 Town and Country, give it some space. The driver has a 3 inch metal rod in his neck.

In what we will call “c2”, in this Pythagorean theorem of moments, is my new found ability to relieve myself. Again, this ability is nigh a week old, so the full benefits I have yet to experience; but let’s just say that my independence/freedom is a combination of Independence Day, Braveheart and the feeling of getting work around 1:30 on a Friday. But, and this is where those smart people who can read into actions and feelings really well can interpret, the more I utilize adapted equipment (which certainly makes me more independent and creates an aura of my life before the accident), the more handicapped I feel. Its as if somebody says you are a mermaid, but don’t believe him/her until you see yourself sitting on a rock seranding sailors. Whereas before you saw yourself as someone just swimming around a bit, and not necessarily a mer-creature; now that you are singing to that seafarer, you are definitely a mermaid… Its merman.

So, with that feeling in mind I’m both happy to dip to Dairy Queen whenever I want; but I’m also deeply at odds with accepting my actual condition. Anybody ever see the TV series “Twin Peaks” from the early 90s? No, you didn’t? Well, there was a quirky FBI agent named Dale Cooper, who (SPOILER ALERT) at the end of the first season gets shot 2 times in a bullet proof vest and once in his gut. First episode, season 2 a few hours after Dale is shot he attempts to get up from his hospital bed. The Twin Peaks sheriff pulls him down and tells him he needs to rest. Dale Cooper then blurts out possibly the world’s most inspiring quote “When the will is involved, the human body can do miraculous things” (at least I think I think that’s way he said, my Netflix gets a little jumpy). I feel that way 4-6 days out of the week, and goddammit if Dale Cooper got out of bed to chase down James and Laura Flynn Boyle, so can I. Milestone 3 Automous living–in progress.

Through my therapy, the focus is now on being able to rotate my pelvis while standing and squat 20* on the Chuck Norris sled. We will see if I’m there the next time we chat.

Hope you guys have a great rest of the summer. Make sure to enjoy those refreshing dips in the water, because they are irreplaceable.

Hasta luego. Thomas

A Mid Summers Night – Part 1 of 2

14 Aug

Bonjour (I was going to say bienvenue, but that means welcome. Who am I to welcome you to the vast expense that is the internet? Not Al Gore that’s for sure.).

But seriously, hello everyone. I hope you are doing well.

I want to apologize to the Sun Current intern for missing the interview at Caribou. I hope yet to sit down together.

I would start this post in my cherished tradition of apologizing for my infrequent communiqués, but I’ve been reading a medley of blogs lately and it seems that inconsistency is an inherent trait in on-line musings. So I’m not sorry. Boom.

We last spoke in April, meaning that summer has come, lasted for a while, disappeared, and now has returned. It truly is amazing how time floats by. To think that it was more than 2.5 months since my last post makes all the days in between a montage. But we all know and can relate to the acceleration of time as we age, let’s talk about stuff we all might not know about.

During these past few months, I’ve hit a few milestones which I will share with you in this and a subsequent post. None yet the keystone, but significant stones nonetheless. I would probably call them rubies or sapphires, pretty awesome, but no unobtainium. Here is something interesting about the coming of summer: I can’t sweat anywhere but my feet. This means that all the heat in my body remains inside, so I just get very cranky and basically look like a cartoon character where he/she gets angry (body red, mercury in thermometer quickly rising). But my feet still sweat, so that’s good if you want to think about it that way. Ironically, I use to be ashamed of my perspiration issues, so much so that I wouldn’t raise my hand in class if I were wearing a gray shirt. Oh how I long for those days of robust skin water.

Moving on……

Jason Curry visited my fair city in the beginning of June. It was then that he paid witness to my daily routine, my severe and loveless relationship with poor quality television, and my guiding hope that is the ABLE therapy program. He and my Iphone 5 accompanied me for three days to observe me smashing iron, medicine balls; treadmills; and peoples’ expectations of guys wearing sleeveless shirts. With his great skill and ferocious emo-ness, he put together a video depicting a typical day of therapy. Check it out here-(vimeo.com/69206779 ). Nice work Jabba.

I’m never one to let a paragraph just to come into being. I love segueways so much I adorned one of those terrible helmets and rode one. In honor of that sacrifice here is thin grammatical transition riding…. Speaking of Jason, his dad come up to Minnesota three weeks after Jason to play in the inaugural TC Classic held June 21-22. You can check out pictures of the Classic on my website ( www.tcloyd.com). But because of the Classic’s shear magnitude of success and overwhelming support, allow me to share the highlight reel. Actually before we begin, I want to thank everybody for participating, assisting, donating, playing, drinking, eating, dancing, biding, and most importantly for being a part of my life. Everybody played a part, large or small; and my family and I can never truly express our gratitude for all that you have done to support us. Thank you.

Now close eyes… Actually you will have to open them to read what is below. After you have read what’s below, close your eyes and imagine the stuff you have just read.

Open on golf course clubhouse with daunting storm clouds approaching.

Interior shot of main room: an impressive spread of silent auction items all generously donated, a fine sampling of Minnesota appetizers, and many friends meeting new people.

Fast forward three hours.

Ten-15 well groomed individuals dancing heroically to the live band’s (Bob Manning and the Real Deal) cover of Sublime’s “What I Got”, torrential downpour beating against the windows and ceiling as if a musical instrument, the faces of the crowd expressing the entire range of known human emotions as they observed the majesty on the dance floor.

I would like to keep going in screenplay form, but I think we all know that is not a good idea. As the storm subsided, the band shut down and people started leaving, there was an air of excitement not unlike the day after Thanksgiving when you are preparing a sandwich of leftovers, because everyone knew that the next day there was golf to be played.

The next morning was as beautiful as one could ask-low humidity and clear skies. We had about 100 golfers playing on all 18 holes with athletes ranging from grade school friends to my father’s colleagues and everybody in between and the same number of fans at the clubhouse. I was able to tool around in a golf cart and witness to the shear altheletism of my friends. Nobody got a hole in one to win the Chevrolet Malibu, but I’m guessing that those who attempted did not noticed the Saran wrap that I put over the hole. After 5 hrs on the links, the players came in; we roasted a pig, and golfers and fans raised enough money to cover my medical expenses for the next year. Hell yeah.

The tournament was known as the inaugural TC Classic, where inaugural infers that there are more to come. In coming years, I’m going to try effing hard to raise money for others; because I won’t have none of them medical expenses.

And thus ends Part I of the two part series “A Midsummer Nights Dream 2-by Thomas Cloyd” . With the exciting conclusion to be delivered Thursday, sometime before the Colbert Report.

à bientôt