Thursday, July 29, 2010

Giving 100%

Guy: So are you still in therapy?
Me: No.
Guy: How long were you in therapy?
Me: Several months.
Guy: How many months?
Me: About 7-8 months.
Guy: So 8 months?
Me: Yes, about.
Guy: Why did you stop?
Me: Because insurance only pays for a certain amount of time.
Guy: Did you see any improvement or are you still the same?
Me: Well, yes and no. Um, I got a lot stronger. And um, I wasn’t able to lift up my right arm at all. Now it’s almost back to normal.
Guy: Can you write with your right hand?
Me: Um, yes.
Guy: Do you feel like going to therapy was worth it or do you think you would have gotten those things on your own over time?
Me: Yes, I think it helped and it was worth it.

Haha, that’s a conversation I had the other day with a guy at a friend’s graduation party. I had never met this guy before and I wasn’t friends with him. I think I may have seen him around somewhere, but that’s all. He kept asking me questions and they kept getting more and more personal. I answered him with short, annoyed responses after a while. He then stopped asking me questions and started asking my brother, who saved us both by saying that we had to leave.

This morning, I was thinking about the conversation I had with this guy and the way he was prodding me about therapy.

I actually have another blog as well. It was started a few years ago and I used it at first to just copy and paste tidbits of health, nutrition, and fitness articles that I had found worthwhile on the internet. It’s a private blog and I used it also to make little notes to myself. I stopped posting to myself in that blog after my accident, until my friend said something really great two weeks ago. I then wrote the first and only post on there in over a year.

One post that I written four months before my accident was titled “Giving 100%, 100% of the time”. It was after I had watched a football movie and I had noticed that the young players, in order to overcome the shortcomings that they had, had to muster every ounce of strength that they had for the duration of the whole football game. That got me thinking about how easy it is for us to go full force in the beginning, yet back it off once the going gets tough. I asked myself, “What does it take to give 100%, 100% of the time?”

I had noted in this post from January 2009 that this question has implications in almost all areas of life. Sports, working out, school, and even relationships are just a few areas. Giving it your all will certainly yield pleasing results. And if they don’t, at least you know you didn’t hold back.

Then I started thinking about a time in my life when “giving it my all” just wasn’t good enough, it seemed. That’s why the annoying guy continued to prod me with questions about therapy and if I felt it was worth it. Spinal cord injuries are not like almost all other things in life where working extremely hard will yield satisfying results. What annoyed me about this guy was that he was asking me these questions in a condescending tone, implying that I probably didn’t work hard enough or long enough and that is why I was still in a wheelchair. This isn’t like slipping a disk or breaking multiple bones—as displayed in movies, TV shows, books, and told in stories—where through grinding teeth and overcoming pain one can pick themselves up from the broken pieces and then recover himself, achieving the admiration and hearts of those around him. This is something where every day for months and months one can give 100%, with the results being not what one would expect.

Do I feel like working hard in therapy was a waste? Heck no. The physical (and mental?) strength that I gained is something that made it all worth it. Sure, the results weren’t what I expected and I wasn’t sprinting like Usain Bolt out of the hospital after a few months, but at least I can rest knowing that I gave it my all, no matter what other people think. I hope I can say the same with everything else in my life.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wheelchair pullups video #3

(From the description):
Someone asked me the other day if I was keeping up with pullups. Yes, I told him. I do them now at the beginning of my back workout. Here's just a quick video my brother shot when we were at the gym on June 3, 2010. I found this on my phone the other day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Birthday 2009, my most memorable birthday ever

This is a post just to remind myself of my birthday last year. It's so I don't forget and so I stay grateful.

I told my close friend about a month ago how my birthday last year was probably the best I've ever had. He looked at me as if I was crazy. I had to explain myself.

The following are just a few notes/memories from last year:

  • I spent my birthday in the hospital. I had not left the hospital (except to be transferred to the Shepherd Center from the MCG hospital while I was unconscious) since May 23, 2009.
  • In the morning, my parents made me clean up a little. I didn't want to do anything that day and I didn't have anyone to impress. My self-confidence was shot and I didn't care how horrible I looked.
  • I had to wear an oversized button-up shirt because my right brachial plexus (nerve) injury, in addition to the right scapula fracture, still prevented me from lifting up my right arm on my own. When the nurses would dress me, large button-up shirts allowed for the least amount of movement because anything more than that would give me intense pain.
  • A day before, I was finally allowed to eat solid foods and drink normal fluids. I went from having water dropped in my mouth drip-by-drip by an eye dropper, to eating mashed food with thickened water, to finally being able to eat solid foods and fluids of normal thickness. I had to drink thickened liquids so it would go down my throat slowly. If I drank more than a very, very small sip—especially if the liquid was not thickened—then the liquid could go to my lungs and I could get pneumonia… again. That's the number one cause of death for spinal cord injury patients and I already had it once right after the accident and once when I was a child.
  • The food services from the hospital had given me a free slice of cake from the cafeteria, and it just happened to be coconut cream pie—my favorite.
  • My parents had me go down to the hospital cafeteria. I knew something was going on because after dinner, the empty cafeteria stays open and that's where we would go if more people came than what would fit in my hospital room.
  • A lot of my friends had come to surprise me, including a few childhood friends and a few people who became close to me post-accident because they visited me a lot. That really touched me. My birthdays are usually pretty crappy and I had never been surprised by so many people like this.
  • In addition to the birthday balloons that I received, one friend gave me a balloon that said, "Congrats!" because it was on sale, she said. A lot of people saw that and thought that whoever gave that to me must be crazy. It was great.
  • My parents had gotten me Pizza Hut. During my days of eating mashed hospital food, I would always tell my family and friends how I was craving some hot Pizza Hut. I would think about it all the time and I would just close my eyes and remember the taste of the cheese and the buttery crust.
  • Even the presents my friends gave me were great. I received numerous DVD's to help save me from the boredom of the hospital room.
  • In the picture, I am wearing the neck brace and chest brace that I had to wear every day. The chest brace was the most uncomfortable thing ever. The neck brace just cramped my neck into one position, but the metal chest brace dug into my chest and caused me significant pain all day.
  • I had not gotten a haircut or shaved since before the accident. My beard was so long and dirty around my neck that it had formed knots, as if it was in the process of forming dreadlocks. The hair covered up the nasty scars I had.
  • The last time this many people wrote on my wall was on my birthday in 2009, and the messages were usually, "Happy Birthday! I hope you are feeling a lot better!"