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

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.

A Poem From Home

10 Jan

Hola mis amigos, como se van?

I want to toss out two things quickly and concisely:
1. I’m very sorry that its been more than a month and a half since my last post. As daylight lessens, so does my ability to not lie in bed and watch on-demand Showtime and roam the interweb with my iPad (in all honesty I ‘m sorry for not letting you know what’s been going on).

1.5. That #1 was pretty inconcise.

2. This post will be devastatingly brief. Sliding past the details, this week has been stupid busy and when I speak with you I want to be able to sit down and have a meaningful conversation.

“A Briefing in Verse”

Over the past six weeks, my world has been improvin’
By the grace of God and friends, I can feel my hip flexors and gluts a movin’
I began the ABLE program, which is inspired and nearly proven
Though the answer to staying awake I still find quite pertubin’

Ironic it was to find a TC article yesterday,
For it was 6 months before when I dove into too shallow a bay
Now with the help of the heralded and renowned Star Tribune,
For future boat side divers, to an SCI they will be immune

Though this poetic form is forced and truly quite obscene,
I’m glad to share with you again, to let you know how I’ve been

Until next week, much love and thanks to all.

Thomas

Started the ABLE program, acupuncture and continued my therapies and can’t produce the deserved times to communicate with you tonight.

I found this new ASIAn place…

28 Nov

Hello to all and to all hello- A holiday greeting for our holiday meeting.

As required by my Post-master general, I will begin this message as so many of my other have. “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time………”

Now as required by my heart and brains, I will begin the second part of this message with immense and delightful thanks to everyone in my life. In the previous and superiorly written post, Audra covered much of what she was thankful for. So I feel no need to produce my list since redundancy is a fallacy. ***but secretly, thanks to my mom and dad for all of they have sacrificed***

When thinking about the structure of this post, I didn’t know whether I wanted a linear story, a roller coaster of emotion, or a 142 character description of my inner feelings. What my muse (Alex Falenczykowski (typist)) and I have decided is to rip this thing wide open with some kick ass news! As of August 30th 2012, my injury status was measured and defined as a C5 vertebrae complete injury with an ASIA (American Spinal Injury Association) score of A. Now I’m gonna get Bill Nye all up this. What we have here are two different measurements of my spinal cord status. 1. The vertical level of my injury, which determines what function and motor ability I have (shoulders, triceps, fingers, etc.), was originally C5 meaning that the 5th of 8 vertebrae in the cervical section of my spine was crushed. This in turn severed my spinal cord. Hoorah, this flawlessly segways us in my next point. 2. My ASIA score, based off a physician performed exam. ASIA scores help determine the completeness of the slice through the spinal cord by determining the full level of sensory ability over the entire body. Basically a doctor takes a safety pin, opens it, and pokes you with the sharp and dull side in key areas from head to toe. My responses to dull, sharp, and location are measured to determine an ASIA level. You’re every day Ernesto will have an E score meaning normal motor and sensory function. I started with an A score meaning a complete injury, no motor or sensory function below the injury site. *Any and all medical knowledge pompously stated in these posts can and will be either completely accurate or devastatingly inaccurate.

As of today, November 28th 2012, I have officially been moved up the ladder or down the spine…….. to a C6 ASIA C. This is cause to be happy and is significant for a few a few reasons. The first is in recovering both spinal cord cells and cervical health at all means that I can heal. The floodgates work. Now its just a matter of cranking them open super wide. The other cool thing about this is that I’ve jumped this far in only 4 months. The timeframe of recovery and healing for a young male is primarily in the first year with smaller pieces coming back in up to five years. Having gone this far in just 4 months is promising that I’ll continue to move farther in the coming months. When I say “is promising,” I mean that its definitally going to happen.

Thomas with a C5 ASIA A= 15-17% chance of walking
Thomas with a C6 ASIA C= 45-47% chance of walking
Thomas with a C6 ASIA C with the awesomeness and passion of his peeps and fam= 45-47% chance of walking…… but feels like 100%

Now to me, 45% isn’t enough, but the small victories build the castle……or something like that. What I’m doing to increase the likehood are things including: accupuncture, adaptive Yoga in and out of my wheelchair, a Locomat machine (which puts me on a treadmill and attaches my legs to robotic arms which walk my legs while being in a harness holding a certain amount of my body weight. This aligns my brain, spinal cord, and legs to encourage my nerves to relearn how to walk), a gluten free lifestyle, and many other things to come.

While all of these things are insanely exciting and progressing me towards walking, all of the increased activity in leg motion leaves me in pain by the end of the day. Its kind of a catch 22 that I’m doing this all so that I can walk and get around again. As of right now, after 5:00 I’m bedridden. But don’t feel to bad as this is definitely the good kind of pain.

Thank you to Alex Falenczykowski for helping me with this post.

Thanks to each and everyone of you for any thought, word, joke, or poetry you have produced for me because I will need them now more than ever as winter is coming, as is HBO’s runaway hit Game of Thrones.

Much Love. Hopefully talk to you sooner than later.
T-Bone

Happy Thanksgiving

25 Nov

This guest post comes from a resident east coaster.  I realize that most people reading this blog are from MN, but for the people who do not hail from this great state I need to clarify two things.  One, for anyone who rags on Minnesota (I empathize, I’m from NJ) – It’s not true, Minnesnowta is pretty cool, and it snowed on Thanksgiving. Second, people from the Midwest really are that nice. I’m about to expand with some evidence to back that up.

I’ve spent the last few days at the Cloyd residence celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday; something I was also lucky enough to do in 2004 and 2005. I don’t want to deny the fact that every day here is stressful. Every morning brings a new obstacle and a new unforeseen challenge. That being said Terri still remains one of the most beautiful and intelligent women I’ve ever met (second only to my mom). Cokely is still one of the wittiest and smartest people I know- I learn something new (actually many things) every day that I spend with him. Elizabeth still keeps the energy level high, bouncing in and out of every room. (Thank you Art Glickstein for the coining the term bouncing for Elizabeth, it’s perfect)… and despite everything, Thomas still has his amazing sense of humor and talks about all the things he would normally… chest hair, puffy vests, mustaches, and other pleasantries that will remain unmentioned. In the past, whenever I described the Cloyds to friends, I said they were the most brilliant, quick-witted, loving family I’ve ever met. (I’m running out of hyperbolic superlatives) They even come with an adorable snow covered home on Maple Rd with a tree swing in the front yard. (Albeit now replaced with a U of M flag).  I’m happy to report that none of that has changed.

On to the Midwest stereotype… it’s true. They really are as nice as people say and because we’re all celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m going to give a shout out (maybe inappropriately) to all the things I’ve seen that the Cloyds are thankful for. Cliché, but true, we are all so lucky to be surrounded by the most loving friends and family.

It was great to see the Glicksteins again. When I said earlier that Cokely was the smartest man I had ever met, that was until I was reintroduced to Jed and Scott… and Sophie, Lilly and Sidney.  Sorry Cokely, your reign is over. (The Glicksteins also win the award for best cheese spread.) Another great help for the Cloyds is the MealTrain program, organized by Sidney Glickstein. Friday night we had a traditional day-after-thanksgiving-leftover-dinner mixed with some amazing dishes provided by MealTrain. As a guest in the Cloyd house I can attest to the culinary delight of the MealTrain home chefs. There are so many things for Thomas, Terri, and Cokely to think about during the day. Not having to worry about what they’re having for dinner is something I know the Cloyds are thankful for. Through Elizabeth’s stories I have come to know the entire Cloyd and Bowman families. I was not disappointed when I met Uncle John and Aunt Sue- they lived up to the hype. Uncle John’s new infatuation with after dinner drinks is sure to lead to many more good family tales. Thomas is certainly enjoying his creative and thoughtful care packages- every letter and box received gives him a lift. The winner for the best care package goes to four girls whom I’ve never met. They made the most neon, collaged, stuffed care package I’ve witnessed. It even included socks… some that may have disappeared into Elizabeth’s suitcase- that’s how cool they are. Lastly, I just went through the box of leftovers from the McCoy’s event. Wow. The donations, friends, and pictures that were a result of the event are truly impressive. These are just some of the positive highlights from my visit. If I covered everything in this post, you all would stop reading (hopefully you haven’t already).

The outpouring of love I’ve witnessed in the past few days is overwhelming. At an incredibly challenging time for the Cloyds, every care package, meal, card and visit helps. Please keep the love coming.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to everyone.
-Audra

 

To contribute to the MealTrain program please e-mail tcandtheneck@gmail.com for more information.

You can send Thomas a care package at:
4820 Maple Rd
Edina, MN

PS- Please take a look at the latest post on the events page. For any NY friends of Thomas we have a fundraiser coming up on 12/12/12. Come get funky for a good friend and a good cause.

Tic Toc

15 Oct

Hello All,

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the fall colors and smells. Last week I rolled around Lake Harriet with power assist wheels and in between nearly striking children and running over small dogs I was able to inhale the fresh autumn scents (my power assist wheels were aligned horribly).

As I have done in the past, today I will allow someone other than myself to populate your screen. This person, having championed a mix of both physical and mental puzzles of my design, now owns his rightful place in these annals.

This person is Michael Hromadka, a good friend from college and a bueno amigo de Argentina. He spent his fall break from the University of Tennessee Law School visiting my new digs in Minnesota and being the rigorous documenteur that he is. On Friday, he followed my daily routine to the minute and will now share it with you.
In all sincerity, I truly appreciate my best friend coming to see me and sharing parts of my life that I tend to overlook, even though he’s a Brad. Now open the open door and take a step into my life . . .

Friday October 12, 2012

8:56 am – Jackie arrives. Jackie is one of Thomas’ PCAs, or Personal Care Assistants, who helps him with personal, physical mobility, and therapeutic care on a daily basis. Jackie is young and easygoing, two traits that mesh well with Thomas. Thomas only requested young female PCAs from his PCA provider. He assures his family that the reason for the request is that young female PCAs are superb caregivers. His family suspects that there might be ulterior motives.

9:02 – “Cathing” begins. Thomas uses a catheter to drain his bladder. It’s not fun, but Thomas is pushing a lot of liquids as his body recovers. He gets especially thirsty after strenuous exercise and therapy sessions.

9:12 – Stretching begins. Jackie stretches Thomas to improve his flexibility, mobility, blood flow, and muscularity. She starts with his ankles, then moves to his hamstrings and quads. The stretch routine is a combination of pushing, pulling, rubbing, turning, and repeating. It resembles a yoga session combined with a pre-football game warm up. Jackie then massages Thomas’ shoulders and hands. The massage is largely therapeutic, since Thomas is experiencing some muscle pain now that he is exercising rigorously in therapy and trying to master his manual wheelchair. Thomas is working on improving his muscularity even when he is in bed by performing upper body stretching and flexing exercises while watching his super awesome, brand new HD TV.

10:17 – Breakfast is served. Thomas’ choice: two strawberry Pop-Tarts, one sliced banana, one blueberry muffin, and one pineapple orange juice.

10:53 – Daily mid-morning bathroom break.

12:00 – Thomas takes his noon meds. The drugs include antispasticity, muscle relaxers, and neuropathic pain control.

12:16 – Thomas transfers from his bed to his wheelchair. Thomas sometimes uses a hydraulic sling lift called a Hoyer to make the transfer.

12:18 – Thomas gets dizzy from the transfer. He immediately reclines in his wheelchair to alleviate the sudden change in blood pressure.

12:26 – Second cath.

12:46 – Thomas loads up in his wheelchair accessible van. The red Chrysler Town and Country van has a retractable ramp and no middle seats so that Thomas can cruise in and out with ease. An added bonus in the van is that Thomas always rides shotgun.

12:55 – Thomas navigates Jackie to the hospital for his physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) appointments. He gives directions while texting his high school buddies about the horror movie they all went to see last night.

1:05 – Thomas starts his PT session on the electrical stimulation bike. Riding the bike starts with the physical therapist attaching small pads to Thomas’ quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Small electrical pulses are sent through the pads to the leg muscles to stimulate the nerves and cause certain patterns of motion. The electrical pulses force his legs to pedal while prodding nerve cells that have been asleep since the accident to start firing again. This exercise will rebuild muscle Thomas has lost since the accident.

1:51 – Thomas gets off the bike.

2:02 – Thomas heads across the rehab gym to start OT. OT is therapy that encourages rehabilitation by performing the activities of daily life. During this particular session, Thomas works on bed to chair transfers and taking his shoes off.

Thomas shines during OT. Anyone who knows Thomas knows that he works hard. Nowhere is that work ethic more apparent than during OT.
Taking off one’s shoes requires maximum effort three months after a major spinal cord injury. The occupational therapist on this day had only worked with Thomas once before, and he did not expect Thomas to be able to successfully take off both shoes after completing a strenuous chair to mat transfer. After all, Thomas has lost a lot of muscle since the accident.

Thomas completes the chair to mat transfer quickly. The occupational therapist is bewildered; Thomas completes the task much quicker than expected. Now on the mat, Thomas turns to taking off his shoes. His arms shake and flex as he places his hands palm down on the mat behind his back to support his upper body. He walks his hands up to his waist as he leans his body forward. He slips his hands into leg loops which are wrapped around his ankles. These legs loops will allow him to move his legs as he pleases. He takes his right leg and bends it over his left leg which is extended. He then slips his right shoe off.

Thomas is working hard and his muscles fatigue quickly. You can see his triceps flex as he walks his hands along the mat, shaking as he seeks his balance. Two occupational therapists comment that his strength is improving; one informs him that she is impressed with how his triceps are coming along. Thomas is happy to hear this news. Anyone who knows Thomas knows how much he loves his triceps.

As fatigue sets in, the left shoe is harder to take off. After a couple of minutes, the therapist asks Thomas if he would like to move on to something else. He says no because he wants to finish what he started. Thomas’ muscles aren’t used to this much action for a prolonged period of time.

Finally, he takes the second shoe off. Task completed.
Thomas uses his remaining strength to lift himself up for the transfer back to the chair. Both the occupational therapist and an observing intern tell Thomas that he worked hard and will be tired later. And they both say that he looks like he is getting stronger.

3:03 – Thomas gets back in the van to head home.

3:21 – Everyone stops for malts from the Convention Grill in Edina. Thomas orders a large Butterscotch Oreo malt. I pay for it because I lost a bet.

3:46 – Everyone arrives home.

3:55 – Third cath.

3:59 – Thomas sorts through his mail.

4:54 – Thomas watches the end of the movie Prometheus while dozing off.

6:46 – Thomas sits down to a hearty bowl of cheddar soup with toast on the side for dipping. He manages finishing dinner while texting high school and college buddies about the movie he saw last night, fantasy football, and other important topics.

7:46 – Thomas’ mom gives him a therapeutic massage. Thomas is sore and in pain from his earlier therapy sessions. He is also frequently in some pain and discomfort on days he does not have therapy, since pain is a natural symptom of his body waking up from the injury. A good massage and strong analgesics help reduce the pain.

9:03 – Thomas starts watching the movie War Horse while stretching and moving around in bed. Thomas works on repositioning himself in bed often in order to shift the pressure he puts on any one side of his body.

10:21 – Final cath.

11:34 – Bedtime. Thomas gets ready to wake up early the next morning to go see the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers take on Northwestern University at TCF Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
I’m not a Brad; Thomas is a Brad.

Saturday October 13, 2012

6:47 pm – Thomas completes dictation to Michael. He stresses his thanks to everyone for all that they’ve done in making his life easier.

6:51 – Thomas tells Michael to hit the post button.

Reality…sort of…bites

2 Oct

Good evening everyone. I hope this post finds you well. The Fifth Element just came on AMC, so god knows I’m well.

I want to issue a warning; the following post will be slightly off my typical path of go lucky excitement and pure positive review. It may at times delve into the negative or macabre.

I don’t consider myself to be an unappreciative person or one to complain when things are good. But I’m shocked at the power this injury, both physical and psychological aspects, to overcome all of the good that I’ve received since I broke my neck. My day-to-day life is not mine. To get up in the morning requires the assistance of a caregiver, takes 2 hours, and to the average person would be humiliating. Be it the doors I can’t open, the stairs I can’t ascend (or descend), or the fresh air I no longer have a desire to meet; the effects of my injury have evolved into a new beast entirely. In the hospital, I was ok; I even enjoyed my time there. In the hospital, its expected for one to have a medical problem. But once you leave the hospital, its assumed that you have gotten better and you can return to your normal life. Once I left the hospital, the life I encountered was far from normal. Its frustrating to be in a place that I’ve known my whole life and with which I interacted my whole life; but to see it from such a perspective (such a limited perspective). It’s like watching ….

(Here is where I’ve struggled to find a fitting analogy)

Its kind of like being handcuffed-I’m wait I’m handcuffed.

Beyond the physical restraints are the psychological effects I’m now experiencing. Again, my hospital stay had an end date; I knew when I would be discharged. For some reason, I thought that date would be the beginning of the end. In actuality, it was the beginning of the long beginning. Its that notion-the long road ahead without a map or timeline that gets me. But…..

Its not all bad. Every message, letter, text, visit, phone call, or mental image I receive reminds me I’m still alive and that I’m still me. Though it sucks pretty bad, it could always be worse. I could be fighting this alone-and without a 60” TV. For every morning that I wake up feeling blue, there are 4 afternoons or evenings spending time with my friends that make my journey less difficult. Instead of staring down this hypothetical road that I love to cite so often with all of its speed bumps and lack of Taco Bells, being with my friends or thinking about all the great times I shared with people in my life (Snowpa) elevates me beyond the road and returns me to being a regular (hilarious) dude.

Ok, now that I’ve got you guys teary eyed and depressed; I’m going to hit you with some positive action. The first is that I used my legs yesterday; I rode a fricking bike for 15 minutes with electric stimulation going into my quads and gluts. This is the first step in the process of my returning to the world of daywalkers. Its quite exciting to see my legs moving on their own, albeit if I’m not telling them to do so (picture coming soon). The thing that I find most exciting (now keep this very down low-don’t talk, don’t think, don’t even whisper about it as the slightest breeze could blow it away; but I wiggled my left ring finger a couple of days ago and continue to do so. Its hard to tell what this means because I’m no physiatrist; but it definitely means I’m getting my fingers back soon. Being that its my left ring finger, it may be the rehab equivalent of catching the bouquet at a wedding…. Ladies beware.

I apologize for being a little dark earlier in this post, but I think its important to keep it real. As always, thank you for everything. Each of you amaze me with your dedication, creativity, and hilarity. It blows my blues away.

Adios-boludos.

T Bone.

Hello Minnesnowta

23 Sep

Hello friends,

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? As proof of my dedication to all of you, I am writing this post during the Vikings’ inspiring, but inevitably heartbreaking game against the 49ers.

First and foremost, as my Catholic education has taught me, the thank yous.

-Thank you to the Triggs/Wallerius families for their hospitality and generosity in our time of transition. Since apparently it takes more than three weeks to completely renovate and adapt the first floor of a house, having a fantastic apartment three blocks from our home while construction was taking place was a God send.

-The UW hospital 4th floor rehab staff (I think now that I have left your care you can finally see this website). You guys are all amazing and I wish I could hang out with each of you, but in a setting where I am not naked half the time.

-To John Henry Hunter whose fancy fingers are typing this post. Thanks for the help in moving, you’ll receive your paycheck via mail, I promise.

-Thanks to the transition team that got the house ready for renovation (especially EClo and KJ- your sweat and blood never goes unappreciated) and helped move us back once construction was done.

-And finally to the two people without whom none of this would be possible, including that one time that I broke my neck: Dr. James C. Cloyd III and Mrs. Therese Bowman Cloyd, my loving parents. Both of you have been amazing, inspiring, frustrating, and unconditionally loving supporters throughout this entire crazy experience. Though this injury is terrible and I wish it never happened, it has brought our family closer together (but mom I don’t need to wear my seatbelt in the shower, I’m not going anywhere).

Phew, now that we’re done with the required thanking stuff, we can get to the real story. This will be formatted in more chronological order beginning with me leaving the hospital and ending with me in my new, amazing room at 4820 Maple Road eating sour skittles.

(to enter a midstory gem, I no longer have to wear my neck brace, making my everyday life roughly 750% better.)

On August 30th I was discharged from the UW-Madison Hospital. I was hoping to roll through a gauntlet of high-fives from all the staff who had undoubtedly grown to love me over the 8 weeks I was there; unfortunately I was not able to create enough force on the wheel chair to roll through more than 1 high-five at a time. Next came the death van ride provided by Uncomfortable Industries. For the 4 hour ride from Madison to Minneapolis (it’s definitely 4 hours, anyone that says its more, to you I say nay) I imagined the helicopter to be furnished with steak sandwiches and Blackberry Izzies. But the helicopter must have been double booked. Now, I’m not a big complainer and if you were to ask my mom to tell this story she might even use the word “suck”, but I’m going to complain about this van ride. After a few hours of keeping my head free from sharp, malicious objects; the relentless radiating bumps of the road began to affect me. Apparently 5 weeks after a spinal surgery, 4 hours packed into the rear of a ten-year old mini van is contraindicated. I could go into detail about the pain and discomfort of the ride, the claustrophobic nature of being in the van “trunk” (no vents), wearing a neck brace and two seat belts on my power chair, and, lastly, the disappointment of not easily being able to go into the gas station and get a 99 cent rib sandwich… I could complain but I won’t.

As noted above, the first floor of my parents home has been redesigned to make it wheelchair and Thomas accessible. This includes many awesome things: a expanded and redesigned bathroom with a roll-in shower (complete with sand-toned tile for a calming effect), a personalized brick sidewalk into the house, widened and automatic operated doors, and a taken over living room (you know that room in your house that no one ever goes into? That’s the room I’m in). Though I have no formal training in home construction and design, it apparently takes more than three weeks to redo an entire house with the amenities as described above. We stayed in an apartment for 12 days while the construction was completed. Many episodes of NCIS were watched in the apartment (Thanks again Triggs/Wallerius families).

After my comfortable stay in the apartment, my parents and I moved back to our home on Sept 12 to a buzzing hive of activity as the builders rushed to finish construction. A lot has happened since then including starting PT and OT at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, adjusting to my life with a spinal cord injury (I hate the term “handicap”, it sounds permanent), adapting to the reality of my limitations in such familiar surroundings, which has proven to be challenging and disheartening.

Given the length of this post and the closeness of the Viking’s game, I am closing for the time being, but expect more details sooner rather than later.

As always, thanks to everyone who reads, thinks, prays, or vibes my way. I’m just now realizing how long my road will be. So please keep it coming, the vibes help.

 

Click here to see comments from Thomas’s orignal blog post on Care Pages.