My one year anniversary reflection of Todd’s accident:
This time last November, I was an adventure travel writer, author, wife, mother, and friend. But since my husband Todd fell off the roof last year on Black Friday, broke his neck which turned him into a quadriplegic in a matter of seconds, I have become so much more. A nurse, urologist, podiatrist, physiatrist, psychologist, chauffeur, secretary, farm hand, researcher, energy worker, work out coach and personal trainer, and on. My entire existence right now is helping my husband recover, get his mobility and his life back. He would be doing the same for me. The pace has been brutal for both of us. But we have another solid year of boot-camp rehab to put in before we dial it back.
The doctor in the hospital said Todd would never walk again. I completely dismissed that. His physiatrist said that he would only have 6-9 months for his upper body to recover and 9-12 months for his lower. I knew that was bullshit too. It’s been 12 months since he broke his neck and paralyzed him, but he is now walking 170 feet at a time with a walker, and walking on the treadmill for 23 minutes straight. We have learned that much of a spinal cord injured person’s recovery has to do with the amount of work they are willing to put in. The nerves in Todd’s spinal cord that were severely injured may not be able to perform their job any longer, but the ones next to it, if forced to do a movement over and over, can learn new jobs. That is why we are doing rehab on steroids.
In one week, Todd has about a dozen different people coming into the home to help him. Stretchers, work out/trainers, reflexologists, massage therapists, cranial sacral energy workers. Sometimes 4 in a day. There are also chiropractors and acupuncturists. I pay almost everyone. Some are friends who donate their time and learn how to be a help. This is besides the three full days of therapy at Allentown’s Good Shepherd rehab center- where he does occupational therapy, physical therapy, works out in the gym on weight machines, has a personal trainer, rides a stimulation bike and has aquatic therapy in the pool. That’s all he pretty much does except I take him to a concert here and there, a dance performance, the theater, to enrich his soul. When he is sitting in the audience in his power chair, he forgets he has limbs that do not move the way the rest of ours does. He is the same as he used to be.
This is where your generous contributions went and are going. A big chunk went towards the $75,000 adaptive 4-wheel van that we needed to get up and down our snowy 1/2 mile driveway in the winter so we can get Todd to the rehab center and to doctor’s appointments. But besides therapy, I invest in equipment and supplies to get him better.
Anyone that knows Todd and I knows that we are NOT consumers. We lead a simple life. But I don’t know what I’d do without Amazon helping my husband recover. I’m going to share the items I’ve needed in just the last two months. It amazes me how expensive spinal cord injury life is. Listen to this: finger exerciser/strengthener, case of unsweetened cranberry juice, case of iodine swabs, rehab robot glove, urinary tract infection test strips, hand bed rail, protein powder, transfer belt with handles, Lions Mane mushroom supplement, Upeasy lifting cushion, Miralax, collagen, vitamin D, sports foot stretcher, stretching strap with loops, shoulder exercise pully, men’s adaptive long pants, mattress topper for twin bed, wedge pillow, hand brace, bolster pillow, bed furniture risers, massage gun, one handed steak knife, Betadine, slippers, urinal, aqua socks, room radiator, absorbent guards for underwear, cotton briefs, Depends, mattress waterproof protector…and on and on. So your contributions are very needed.
The biggest gift through this whole ordeal, has been the outpouring of kindness and generosity of mankind, both friends and strangers, in this last year. In the form of time offered up to help, meals cooked and delivered, grass mowed, floors washed, monies donated to help with his expensive recovery, prayers and good thoughts. It has been incredibly empowering for Todd to know that so many people, a whole huge community of folks around the country and even the world, are following his progress and supporting him. It is amazing to him that they/you care, and of course, it makes him want to work harder to recover.
Todd has evolved from an introvert to developing his extrovert side. He loves all the people who come into our home to help him, and stretching can be intimate work. This PA Dutch boy now thoroughly enjoys people touching him and moving his body. And he talks to them, about his hopes and dreams and fears and accomplishments. All huge examples of his personal growth through this whole tragic ordeal.
We have had some incredibly low, sad, hard times in the past year, lots of tears have been shed, many sleepless nights of spasms and anxious scary thoughts. But we didn’t quit and we aren’t going to. We both want as much of our life back as we can get.
I have a new mission. Besides getting my husband better, I have been made aware of the incredibly challenging life disabled people have to deal with. I write every night in my journal, recording this amazing and difficult journey, as well as do daily posts on Facebook. (We have always taken long, challenging journeys our whole life, even with our children, but this one takes the cake!) I suppose everything we have done and accomplished in our lives has prepared us for this. I plan to write a book about this Road to Recovery, in hopes that other disabled people might benefit from what we have learned. That your recovery, in great part (if you are an incomplete SCI like Todd, not a complete) has to do with you, and what you want in your life, and what you want to reteach your nerves to do- just like every other goal and dream you pursue. And it has to do with your community of people and who will step up and help. Because it takes even more than a village to get a paralyzed patient to walk again- it takes a metropolis. I want us to cycle on rail-trails around the country and build awareness of how disabled people can be mobile again, write magazine stories, speak as we travel, get more disabled people out of their protective, safe, limiting confides of their home, and back into the world, in nature, moving, and hence fill their lives with more joy, because we all deserve to be happy.
It has been shocking to witness the people coming through the rehab center, all ages, all kinds of accidents, all kinds of injuries and its impact on their bodies. It could happen to anyone at any time, no matter how careful you live. It has taught us and many who know us, how to live with more awareness and gratitude and in the present, because right now is all we are sure of.
We have another year of this insane pace of round the clock therapy and exercise. Then they say, after the two-year mark, healing and progress goes much slower. We are racing a time clock and need as much help and encouragement as we can get from you all out there, so we can maintain it. If you can find a way to pitch in, let us know. We promise to pay it forward in life and help thousands more through this whole ordeal. You can depend on us. We know what we were put here to do- help and inspire others- and we plan on accomplishing it.
Thank you from the whole family- from the bottom of our hearts!
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