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Dazed and Chartreuse

28 Aug

Hej snygga människor,

*there is a lot of senseless punctuation coming your way, and I am not sorry about it Flaherty.

I hope this message finds you well while sitting/standing on your phone/tablet/laptop. I’m guessing the desktop users represent a small enough percentage as to not qualify for a mention.

I am currently acting as cool as I can in one of the “hippest” areas in the world – a brunch coffee shop in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. I’m wearing an off-color flannel, exposing my tattoos, and am considering ordering avocado toast. Add on the fact I’m on a Windows computer, which everyone knows is the new Mac, and I’m on the cusp of fitting in.

 

I was hoping to write a face-muscle-tiring update bursting with joyful wit, but two weeks of traveling has taken its toll. I’m light-headed enough that the subtext of this writing will be less “try hard comedy” and more “Meandering stream of Consciousness”, but then again, I believe we are all used to that by now.  What really sucks about a UTI is the feeling you’re going to shoot stuff out both one and two at all times. Just goddamn discomfort every second, throw in a dash of public embarrassment and a pinch of inaccessible bathroom and POW, you got a stew going. That’s an Arrested Development reference not a literal description of what’s going on in my Levi’s.
Okay…so, you’ve been traveling for 2 weeks?

Yeah narrator Thomas, after an extremely interesting and knowledge solidifying internship at Medtronic this summer, I have been turning up the travel knob. I start my second year of MBA school at the Carlson School of Management next Tuesday. Thusly, I wanted to get out and do a little living before that final push to recruiting into a full-time job happening this fall.

Facilitating my travel is the new wheelchair I purchased a few weeks ago, only made possible through your deep generosity, thank you so much. Not only is this wheelchair super badass in a subtle yet confident cobalt blue, but I was also able to purchase a Freewheel extension allowing me to Offroad anywhere – especially in the ancient roads of Northern Europe where I’ll be studying this spring – as well as a power assist device called a smartDrive. The smartDrive acts as a cruise control for my manual chair helping me move alkmost anywhere, including the ungodly Steep and carpeted ramp leading to my summer office cafeteria. These three instruments combine to make me as capable as any human being in my situation could hope. You are all responsible for helping me to get to that place, and I’m forever indebted to you.  Thank you. I promise I use that equipment to do things that push my boundaries and in doing so hopefully help others who may not have had the opportunities I have to see what is possible. So I’ve been trying to pay it forward as best I can, as someone recently said to me, “I’m sick of all your hero posts on Instagram, I’m forced to like all of them.” That’s the best comment I’ve ever heard but the only way I am able to travel on my own or do anything really was by seeing other people do it, hence the hero post. And I’m trying to grow my brand, obviously.

 

Wow tight jean and semi-ironic twins hat wearing Thomas, what a poorly structured digression. Can we format that a little better for clarity?

Sure voice in my head born from a vigorous infection.

MBA school/internship: one year ago this week I began the pursuit of a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. It has been absolutely fantastic, though I always thought business classes were kind of b*******. After a first semester strategy class reading cases with real stakes I finally give some Credence to this whole “let’s think about what we do before we do it to be successful” thing. Throughout the year I was able to do many quite awesome things. Highlights include a Net Impact (a professional group for social and environmental responsibility) conference in Philly, placing second in a nationwide case competition for said Net Impact org and winning some pretty hard and clean cash (the 1st place team had a spread of European accents, we never had a chance), then taking that cash and spending a larger percentage of it in Aspen while shredding on a bi-unique ski in Breckenridge for a weekend. Skiing was mind-blowing, simply put – everything that I used to do is now incredibly frustrating and shitty because my body is so dumb. But skiing on Breck and absolutely shredding the mountain was the most enjoyable physical activity I have done post-injury. Jason Curry and I ripped that mountain into pieces and I now am addicted.

My first MBA year (of a 2 year program) culminated with the all-important summer internship. I was lucky enough to land a highly competitive internship at Medtronic, a massive medical device company based in Minneapolis. I was alongside some pretty dang smart people from Top Business Schools all of whom were sweet and provided for a fun summer. I was working in an Upstream marketing role within the neural stimulation business. Which, by intention, is the same business that creates the devices researches are using to restore function to peeps w/ spinal cord injury. I was able to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of the business and technology of therapies that will hopefully help people all f***** up like me. On top of that, my experience this summer crystallized a lot of the information I learned in school. My manager was awesome, everyone I worked with was rad, and it would have been a perfect summer, except…. Medtronic kind of kicked our intern class in the nethers and cancelled the full-time development program into which the internship was supposed to lead. Going into the internship I knew that if I performed well I would have been extended an offer by the end of the summer into a rotational program where I could have lived abroad for a year and then come back to the US for another 18 months in a different location. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect and that opportunity no longer exists. So as school begins next week I am back on the wagon identifying, reaching out to, and hopefully successfully interviewing with companies I find interesting. I hope to be at a midsize medical Tech firm working with meaningful devices or therapies while also having touch with Physicians and patients. Hopefully in 5 months when I write you again I’ll have good news that I’m working for a exciting and well-paying 200 person Healthcare data and device company in the Bay Area as a business development director. That’s totally going to happen.

 

Yet another radical thing, and I realize how lucky I am that I’m able to have multiple radical things going on, is my study abroad program in Stockholm, Sweden coming up this winter.  I’ll be studying at the Stockholm School of Economics from January to March and taking an epic trip through Iceland and Copenhagen on my way East to Stockholm. I’ll make sure to invite all of you who leave comments on my posts to my future wife Helga’s and my (that is correct grammar) wedding this summer. Helga comes from a Royal bloodline in Sweden but is super down-to-earth and into bald, fat, crippled guys. It’s going to be magical. Then I will return home in April and graduate May. By that time I hope to have a job offer that I would likely start in August after visiting Russia for some of the World Cup in June and July. But a few things need to happen between then and now, so keep your fingers crossed. Because I can’t cross my fingers. Well I can but I have to use my teeth and I’m in public right now.

Summer trips: as denim shirt and yerba mate sipping hipster-Thomas mentioned, I have been on a few righteous trips the past few weeks. Three weeks ago, I celebrated my main man Steve Stone’s upcoming nuptials at a bachelor party in Cabo. Only one thing needs to be said about that trip, infinity pool. The only challenge was the meeting us interns had with the CEO the day after I returned and the hour-long presentation I gave to my team three days after that. Fortunately, my years at CU prepared me to party epically and then Crush responsibly. My internship ended very well, but as the Whole Foods and J crew hating Thomas mentioned, that didn’t really matter because the full-time program was cancelled. A few days after returning from Cabo I headed out on a pretty serious Adventure up to the Canadian border in The Boundary Waters Wilderness canoe area. Me and 5 of my homies, one a paraplegic, manned up and sent it in three canoes for three nights and four days. There is a super badass dude from Rochester, Minnesota that makes equipment allowing me to sit upright in a canoe and grip a paddle to actually contribute to the transferring of energy from my shoulders through the paddle then back down my torso and into the boat.

 

The heroes of the trip are my friends who: carried my gimp ass on piggyback for a third of a mile over a pretty gnarly canoe Portage, baby carried me up the root terrorized path to our campsite, and helped me not explode in a campsite where the latrine was up what can be conservatively qualified as a JP1-level jungle pathway. The icing on the donut was our moose friend who came next to our campsite to bathe nightly. At one point she was diving down and doing her thing as a beaver swam past her, an eagle flew overhead, and a loon called out. It is the second most Minnesotan thing I’ve ever experienced. I was also able to tip the canoe. The quarter bottle of whiskey I drank may have given me the nerves but it was a great test to prove that if we do tip I’ll be totally okay. TomTom is going to become a big-time camping guy. Another shout-out to Sam, Nick, Alex, and Eric for allowing me to take on the BWCA.

 

Finally, as I’m sure you put together at this point, I am currently in New York City, New York, USA. Ostensibly I am here to catch a day session of the US Open tomorrow, but deep down I come to New York every year to get slices. Slices on slices. I got here Friday, two days after returning from The Boundary Waters, and have packed in as much fun as a relatively light headed and flat-tire-having-gimp can do. Comedy shows, a tremendously badass hip hop Festival in Brooklyn, and rooftop cocktails. Every time I come to New York my belief it is the greatest city in the world is further supported. At least top five.  So many different people and languages, and unlike most mid-westerners, who are very nice and I love, New Yorkers won’t force their way into helping you unless its a dire situation. Nobody’s going to stop in the middle of the road, get out of their car and grab my chair to “help” me get up the incline. I think the threshold is visible blood from the shoulders and above whilst lying on the ground. And that’s just the way it should be.

 

I wouldn’t be able to love and enjoy the city this much without the help of my sister, Eclo. From tracking down a tube to fix my flat to helping me pick out which slim fit short-sleeve button-up I should wear, her help is invaluable and she’s pretty fun to hang around. So thank you sister.  Also my cousin Jordan a.k.a. J$ is gracious af for letting my nasty ass crash at his place and for telling me where to go – thanks cuz.

Miscellaneous: I think those are the major stones on the wall of Thomas, my only hope is that an ice dragon doesn’t come by and melt/freeze-burn it down with blue fire. Life is good, though it still really really really really really sucks being injured like this. As always, the more you put yourself out there the more you realize what you can’t do. But the motto I tell people I say whenever I struggle, when in reality I never remember to, is it will always be easier the second time #hero. And that is one of the only things I know is always true. Be it sitting in a jerry-rigged adaptive canoe with a paddle I’ve never touched while pushing out into a Boundary Waters remote lake with wind in our face to trying to get onto Jordans freaking 6 ft High bed when I only have 20 minutes to get changed, it’s always easier the second time. I can’t even imagine what the 15th time will be like. I’m still dedicated to helping find a means to restore function (GUSU helped increase the MN grant program for SCI/TBI from $1M to $6M this session. I have stepped down my participation with GUSU but there are far more capable and talented people helping the org grow to be even more successful. My plan is to develop business skills necessary to bring an SCI therapy to Market. When it comes across in the next 10 years I can help deliver it to our tiny and not financially attractive population. That is unless I get a job at HBO as lead show water. Cuz I might take that career deviation for a few years for the greater good you know?

So I hope you all are well. I still need to finish my local dairy cow yogurt, sliced cantaloupe, honey from bees that receive positive affirmations every 10 minutes and walnuts grown with goat’s urine, so I must now go. Always remember this – Chaos is a ladder – unless your enemies are omnipotent. Game of Thrones reference.

Until next time

Peace out

TomTom

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.

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.

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

Just Cuz

29 May

Bon jour, my amigos
Its been a bit over a month since we last saw each other and as always, many little things have happened and the weeks go by ever more quickly. But on this night you, you **** fine people, need not read my hyperbolic sentiments. As you will soon see, my older cousin, Michael Drimel, is temporarily shifting his career to creative content creator.

Without further ado, Mr. Michael Drimel….

What up blogosphere. This is Mike Drimel (Thomas’s cousin). Thomas has allowed me to write an update on his behalf given it has been awhile since the last post and the man himself just had a birthday over Memorial Day weekend.

I was with Thomas when his original accident occurred last summer, saw him in January after he had first settled back in Minneapolis, and then again this past weekend. So given I’ve been around for a bit, I thought I’d share some updates on the progress I’ve witnessed as well as a story or two regarding the slammin’ party that was had at the Cloyd residence for the birthday boy.

When Thomas strolled into the house this past Friday afternoon, I could already see a difference from my last visit. First off, in January Thomas needed some assistance to make the uphill climb into the back entrance of the Cloyd residence in his manual wheelchair whereas on Friday he rolled in smoothly and confidently without assistance. He also spent about 90% of the weekend in his manual chair instead of the power chair, which was a complete 180* from back in January. He can now make transfers from his bed to his chair and can also transfer in and out of taxis (more on that in a second). Also, that booming Cokely voice that we all know and love has come back in full force as Thomas continues to regain use of his diaphragm.

These things all came out nicely when Thomas had people over for his birthday. The Cloyd house was alive and well with people socializing and eating an overabundance of Mexican cuisine. Thomas was in rare form telling outlandish tales and cracking jokes with no abandon. After we got our fill of food, stories and Uncle Cokely’s wine collection (just kidding), we headed out to the bars of Minneapolis. First stop was Psycho Suzy where the group sat at a lovely outdoor patio where the food and drink kept on a flowing. Then Thomas, who was in no mood to see the night end anywhere near 12am, forced some of the braver partygoers onto the next spot. This German pub turned dance party at night was a lot more rowdy and Thomas fit in nicely by making his own dance circle out on the floor. He in fact did close the place down and may have even got his dance on with a lady or two. We then all grabbed a cab home with Thomas perfecting his board slide technique from his chair to the cab and finished the last of the Mexican food before crashing for the night. The party was a huge success and it reminded me again no matter how hard I try, my cousin can always out party me (there I said it).

As Thomas has continued his recovery over the past year, one thing has remained constant-the dedication of his family. Cokely, Terri, and Elizabeth were all around for the birthday weekend and all had a hand in its success. I apologize in particular to Cokely and Terri for any of their possessions that may or may not have been destroyed at the party.

Keep on making moves cuz and I look forward to where you are headed to next.

-Mike D.

P.S. Don’t forget the golfing event of the century, the TC Classic, which is going down June 21-22th at the Monticello Country Club. Check Thomas website (www.tcloyd.com) for more details and see you there! Places in the golf tournament are going fast so register today.

Kick It

10 Apr

Hello everyone. It’s been many weeks since we last spoke (or many new episodes of Castle for those using the Fillion system). I hope this message finds you well.

For the Minnesotans, look out the window and compare what you see with 6 weeks ago. See how nothing has changed? The opposite of that degree of change has happened to me (for all non-Minnesotans we are predicted to get 6 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow. It’s April. My hands get dirty everytime I go through slosh. Get it together troposphere). This change, this ebbing and flowing change, has provided both ups and downs. On the positive ebb, last week I was able to independently move one of my legs; on the negative flow, my continued presence in, on, and around a wheelchair really pisses me off.

I pass my days with a structure of appointments and sessions. I tell myself that every second of every day I need to focus all my energies on getting better (not just walking again, but also using my hands and fingers, going to the bathroom on my own, regaining core strength, and deepening my knowledge of czarist era politics (I still can’t wrap my head around Rasputin)). The difference between promising a 100% effort and giving 100% effort is the same as telling yourself you will wake up early tomorrow and actually waking up early. This is what I struggle with most since I got hurt, feeling as if I’m not doing everything I can. That at some point in the future I will look back and regret that I let someone else roll me up a ramp rather than doing it myself. Not doing enough, but really isn’t that what we all worry about? I’m just in a position to complain about it to a wider audience, thankfully I have a few people willing to listen to me complain.

Beside those ancient cerebral fears only Frazier could work out, the thing that haunts me is the Imaginary Healing Deadline. Most physiatrists will say that 6-12 months is the primetime to regain function after a spinal cord injury. However, I’ve had physical therapists and other physicians tell me that one can regain function up to 2 years after an injury (these timelines are just what I’ve heard, they are officially non-sciency/research based. And as my typist ….father …. Dr. Cloyd just pointed out medical care and opinion often lags behind advances in science including rehabilitation research). Also in reality a person 5 years out from an injury can still recover a small degree of function. Based off this extensive research and hearsay, I have it locked in my mind that by 15 months I need to be on my two feet walking. I can be walking with a cane, walking with a walker, walking with pain, or walking like a stalker; but I need to be on my feet. Thus, the Imaginary Healing Deadline was created. As of today, I’m 9 months out from my injury. October 8 looms dark and foreboding in the distance like Mt. Doom from Weathertop or The Wall from Winterfell. That being on my mind so often does have a flip side, endless motivation to stand mfing up, which ends the dreary report and begins the happy….

As I mentioned before I moved my leg. You didn’t think I would mention that in passing and not elaborate did you? As you can see in the video located below, I’m lying sideways on a horizontal PT mat with my left leg even with my hips on what is called a powder board (low friction board). The metallic noise you hear is a wheeled skate that further reduces friction and the angelic one is that of my PCA and PIC, Casey. To summarize, I was using my glut and hamstring muscles to push my leg down. I’m able to push and pull with both legs, but this movement had the most flash and was begging to be on camera. So that’s really good and awesome and so is….

 

The TC Classic Golf Tournament that I’m hosting on June 21-22 in Monticello, MN. A delectable blend of music, comedy, booze, pig and golf to pay for the very therapy that is helping me move my legs (guilt trip). Please visit my website-www.tccloyd.com-or scroll up for more information. You don’t have to spend any money if you don’t want you, but my mom will probably cry if you don’t. And she is one of those criers who makes other people cry when they see her crying.

Thank you all so much for the consistent and shockingly tremendous help you have offered my family and me. I appreciate it all and swear that I will repay each and every one of you. I promise.

Yours in recovery mode,

Fire and Blood,

Thomas of House Targaryen

 

Salty, Sassy, and Sloppy

14 Feb

Hello everyone. Just to get it out of the way and to prove my sincerity, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so long. I would blame it on my inability to type; but actually, yes my inability to type is why I’ve not posted in such a long time.

Much has happened in the past 6 weeks: I began the ABLE program (Athletic Based Locomotor Exercise), which is spectacularly wonderful. I’m guinea pigging new electrical stimulation methods on the Locomat (a robotic walking machine); the salty grind of a Minnesota winter has joined the party; and I started eating breakfast. As one can assume, these monumental changes have upped my spirits, increased my energy level, and legitimize me lying down at 6 PM.

Before we safely jump into (no diving) the issues, I want to share with everyone a few things I miss to make doubly sure that they are appreciated. Not in any preachy kind of way, but in a kind way like when you see a little kid staring at a dirty window, and then you look at the dirty window and realize that it somewhat it looks like a bad piece of art, but you get it. The things I miss:

1) Tying winter boots in preparation for 3+ inch snowwalking. Being able to cinch up so many rows through the frictionless eyelets is really a great feeling, so enjoy that.

2) Writing with a really nice pen and, more specifically, signing your name on an important document with a really nice pen.

3) That’s it, those are the only two things that I really miss. Everything else I could give or take.

As of today, a true Minnesota winter has presented itself in full form including comically low wind chills and T-shirt deserving highs. What this creates, besides proof that the world is ending, is a sloppy, slippery, sassy quagmire that is discriminatory against wheelchairs. It is too difficult for me to use a manual chair except for plowed areas. My power wheelchair lacks the low-end torque to plow through anything that is too serious (but it does have the high-end speed to throw donuts and drift corners with only a light dusting). In reality I need only to move between my house, the minivan, and to a nearby building. I guess what I’m trying to say is I imagine my first wheelchair winter would be a complete and total ****; but it has proven manageable and only slightly cold, likely because I can’t feel any temperature below my chest (except for my feetsies)

Clever transition.

The ABLE program is an intensive exercise-based therapy with a focus on re-connecting signals from my brain to areas of my body that were affected by the cut to my spinal cord. It is three days a week, 2 and a half hours a day during which I spend 1 hour on a treadmill harness. That is in addition to my twice weekly physical and occupational therapy. During the ABLE treadmill session, alternating percentages of my weight (typically around 15-20%) is supported by a harness, while 2 fitness specialists initiate and lead my legs in a walking pattern. And here is the big news, 2 weeks ago I was able to left my foot from a planted position and initiate a step. I wasn’t able to lift my legs all the way through as my foot was dragging, but it was the first time I made my leg move. Have no fear, I know the word picture that I just tired to paint looks like a dirty window in your mind. I’ll put up some videos and pictures for the visual learners among you. The rest of the ABLE session is devoted to a range of exercises intended to reactivate and strengthening my core. The core, as it turns out, is pretty much used for everything the body does. As a result of my injury, I lost most of the control of my core muscles, both front and back. But now I have contractions and firing of those muscles-though they are still weak. This focus on the core and increased time on the treadmill have made me significantly stronger and I can now sense most of my core and leg muscles moving. It is a strange feeling to know that you are contracting your calf muscles, but not seeing a giant bulge below your knee. Basically, the ABLE program, combined with my outpatient therapy, combined with yoga, combined with acupuncture, combined with breakfast, and with a touch of stupid, impossible patience; I know I’m doing everything I can to walk again.

Thomas_Stands

 

Now that I’ve gotten paid for my ABLE promo, let’s get real and talk about tomorrow-Valentine’s Day. Who is joining me at the Highway 7 White Castle for a crave case? Honestly

, you have to make reservations there; White Castle has a huge Valentine Day thing-its ridiculous and awesome.

As always there is much more I would like to share and I will try to do so as soon as I can. But more importantly, I want to thank all of you for helping me through this FUBAR situation. I know that I wouldn’t be in the relatively good position I’m now in without the support you have given. As a thank you-Fringe, Science Channel, Fridays, 8 PM.

Chau for now.