People and Patience

Hey everyone! If you’re gonna be in front of a computer with an internet connection on Thursday, January 22nd, then tune into beterrific.com/live at 4P and you’ll be able to watch me on your computers! BeTerrific.com produces positive, original content and programming. They cover a variety of topics, including, sports, entertainment, technology, as well as human interest (like my story!). My friend (Michael) and my brother (Peter) are 2 of the creators behind this terrific (!) site. Michael will be interviewing me on Thursday. Grab a set of headphones and tune into beterrific.com/live on Thursday @ 4P if you can! Hopefully, I don’t look like a fool! Yikes.
Thanks for all the love in response to my last post. XOXO. I just want to let everyone know that I’m OK. I’m sorry if it sounded like I was whining or a crying for help. Yes, I was talking about how some days it feels very lonely when I’m at home with no actual interaction with the outside world and how it would be nice to have some company but I was also talking about another kind of loneliness. I realized I didn’t go into it…probably b/c it was getting to be a pretty lengthy post. The loneliness of not being able to share this burden adds onto the actual physical loneliness. I’m the only one that bears this burden and no matter how often I have company, how many dinners I go out to with friends and family, or how often I’m distracted…it’s still just me. With that being said, I just want to thank everyone, again, for the love.
I went to the movies last week (not my first time). It was one of those theaters where you choose/reserve your seats when you purchase the tickets. All the handicapped seats were already reserved so we chose 3 seats from the aisle that were 3 rows down from the handicapped seats. There’s usually a railing and I had Ben and my friend, Wade, with me..so I wasn’t worried about making it to the seats and I figured that if I was struggling people would see me and offer up the handicapped seats to us (assuming the people sitting in them weren’t handicapped). Well, I did struggle (it was a very steep decline) and nobody that was in the handicapped seats offered up their seats to us. Maybe they didn’t see me struggling (I wasn’t loud, but I definitely wasn’t whispering about the hard time I was having either.), but it didn’t seem like they were all “in need” of those seats. At one point, I was taking up the entire aisle because I had to reach over from the left to the right hand rail. The hand rail on the left ended and started up again on the right side. Two gentlemen, walked up behind me and said, “Excuse us..”, with a slight attitude. Granted, I knew I was taking up the entire aisle and causing a back-up due to the amount of time it was taking me to walk down 2 rows, but chill out…there was still 10 minutes until the movie would start. This is exactly why I make it a point to roll up my long pants when we go out. When people think I’m just on crutches, they don’t give me the same “leeway” as they do when they find out I’m on crutches b/c I have a pair of prosthesis on. Once they said excuse us, I replied with a sorry…and that’s when they saw my prosthesis and cut me off and said, “Oh! We’re so sorry! Take your time!” I said it’s fine and let them go first. They went ahead and then asked if I needed any help. I said no. They asked if I was sure. Yep, all good. It’s a funny thing…I want people to see that I have prosthesis on so they give me more space and are more patient towards my situation, but at the same time, I don’t want them to treat me like I’m incapable of doing something. Once I’m at the point where I no longer need the crutches and am 100% independent (I hope), I may no longer feel the need to have my prosthesis on display, but for now, I definitely do. This situation wasn’t exactly an example of that, but it just a little irritating when being handicapped with just crutches isn’t enough of a “disability” for people to be a little more patient. I’m not bashing those people, because I’m sure prior to the accident I would’ve been a little impatient back then too (We are NYers, after all.), but now that my eyes are open to different things, I’m just more aware. I think I freaked some people out after the movie ended too. When we sat down for the movie, most of our row was already filled up so only a few people had to walk past us. However, when the movie ended, half the row would need to walk past us in order to exit the row. Well, since I had a difficult time walking down the steep decline, I knew I was going to be slow going walking up the steep incline. So, since I knew I wasn’t going to be able to walk up the aisle with everyone else exiting and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to exit the row and then wait in the aisle for it to clear, I took off my left prosthesis and held onto it so people could exit the row without me having to get up. My right leg is a prosthetic from my thigh down so I can bend the prosthetic back so it’s not blocking the row, but my left leg is a prosthetic that’s below the knee and b/c my knee can’t bend more than 50 degrees, I can’t bend it back all the way, leaving it stretched out in the row. Most people stared as they walked out of the row. Fine, as expected. They stared and then went on their way. This one lady…stared as she walked out of the row and then when she got to the aisle, stopped and just stood there staring. Uh…ok. She stopped to put on her gloves and stare. After about a minute, Ben said something like, watch your back, to Wade, which got her attention and then she kept walking. I get it…it’s not something you see. I’d stare too. You probably have never seen it, expect for in the movies. But, either approach me and ask me something if you’re curious, or do a normal 5 second long stare, like everyone else, and then move it along!
I have to schedule my surgery this week. It’s so odd to be scheduling my own surgery. I never had any sort of surgery prior to the accident…closest would be my root canal..and when I was in the hospital, the doctors would just tell me when I would be going into the OR and then the nurses would just run all the necessary pre-op tests. But, to have to call up the doctor’s surgical coordinator and schedule my surgery..that’s just weird. Not to mention, all the questions I’m going to have about showing up to the hospital that day and other things a “normal” person wouldn’t ask. In the hospital…I was in bed 24/7, always in a hospital gown, IV already in…good to go for surgery all the time! Now….what do I wear coming into the hospital? Probably doesn’t matter since I’ll have to change into a hospital gown when I get there. I never had any underwear on under my hospital gown…do I keep it on or take it off upon changing into the gown? What’s wrong with me?!? Who thinks about these things when they’re about to have their leg cut open?!? Don’t worry…I’m thinking about all the things related to the actual operation as well. Unless you don’t know me or are new to reading this blog…you’d know that!
Sometimes there’s a big gap in between posts because I either, forget, or don’t feel I have anything “good enough” to post. So, if there’s anything any of you would like me to talk about, anything you’re curious about and would like to ask me, go for it! I’d be happy to write about it and don’t worry, if I’m not comfortable posting about it, I’ll let you know. But..doesn’t hurt to ask. IF you have something you want to ask me or want me to talk about on Thursday’s interview, let me know before Thursday and I will try and talk about it on the beterrific.com/live.
Plugging the site/show again….beterrific.com/live on Thursday, January 22nd @ 4P.

Woe is Me…

It’s funny the things that I missed after my accident. Yes, there are the obvious things: walking/running anywhere, yoga, driving…pretty much all the “active” things that involved using my legs. But, I missed doing things like: dishes, cooking, doing the laundry, etc…or maybe missed being able to do them is a more accurate statement. I was watching an episode of Dateline the other night and one of the segments focused on the Olympian, Amy Van Dyken. Van Dyken was in both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and won Gold in the 2000 Olympics. She was in an ATV accident in the summer of 2014 and suffered major spinal cord damage that led to her paralyzation. In her interview with Dateline, she talked about how she was very happy when she was able to go home from the hospital but that it wasn’t the same because she wasn’t able to do the dishes, cook, shower in her own bathroom, or any of the other “normal” things she used to be able to do in her own home. So, I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re a Gold Medal winning, Olympic swimmer, or little ol’ me…wanting to be able to do the ordinary, mundane chores of daily living after getting home from the hospital isn’t such a bizarre thing. I can now wash the dishes, cook dinner (hopefully without burning myself or the apartment down), and do the laundry (with help). Woohoo! Only I would get so excited over these “chores”. Hah. I think it’s more excitement of having some sense of independence back, as opposed to being excited over doing the chores themselves. But, there are still some things that I still can’t do…
I still can’t sit down on the floor (unless someone places me onto the floor) because my left knee doesn’t bend enough to allow me to do get down there or get back up. (See how much you actually bend your knees when you go to sit down on the floor from a standing position) I still need help going to the bathroom when we go out to places that don’t have a proper handicapped accessible bathroom, which means I have to have someone that is comfortable in helping me in case it’s necessary. Not being able to go to the bathroom solo is not the greatest thing in the world and it’s not like when girls go to the bathroom in pairs…this person has to actually help me sit down and get up from the toilet. Fun times. And the most difficult thing to deal with…I have yet to go anywhere completely on my own since the accident. I mean, if necessary, I can walk to the mailbox or even to the store, which are both about less than 2 blocks from the apartment. However, if I walked to the store by myself I’m probably not going to be buying anything that’s bigger than my pocket because if it can’t fit in my pocket…I’m not really going to be able to carry it and walk a the same time. I still need 2 forearm crutches to get around and it’s a bit difficult to carry things and attempt to walk, since it will throw me off balance. And I may have lost 2 legs, but I didn’t get any extra arms/hands. Sometimes, when I’m at home, I’ll practice walking using only a single crutch, but outside, still really nerve-wrecking. Once we get the new car, install the hand controls, and I learn how to use them, then I get gain a little bit more independence. I won’t be able to go everywhere on my own, but at least I can go to places where I’ll know what to expect on the other end. I.e..Therapy, my parent’s apartment or any family member’s apartment, places around the neighborhood, etc. Driving for the first time is going to be super nerve-wrecking as well…yikes.
Since getting my prosthesis, I definitely get out and about more, get in and out of the car a little easier (not to mention we don’t have to lug the wheelchair around), and obviously, I can walk around places. And of course, being a newbie on prosthesis means I still have plenty of issues to deal with, but for the most part, those issues are “better” than the issues that came with being in a wheelchair 24/7. Although I get out of the house and am out and about more, I’m still limited in the places I can go. For example…A few weeks ago, I met some of my friends for lunch. After lunch, we all talked about our plans for the rest of the day and nobody had any plans until later that day. Ok…what should we do? Should we go back to Sil’s house? She has a lot of steps leading up to her front door, doesn’t she? Yea..that’s not going to be easy for me. Ok…no then. Shopping? Oh, that’s a lot of walking for Teena. Nope..next. We can get some coffee from the coffee shop down the road. Ok, that works. I know my friends don’t care, but part of what’s going through my head is…Why don’t you guys just drop me off and go to Sil’s place or go shopping? I don’t want to be the reason you guys can’t do either of those things. But then, I’m also thinking…I don’t want to get dropped off and sit at home by myself while you guys continue to hang out. It sounds so pathetic.
I think sometimes people that don’t see me or talk to me on a somewhat regular basis, are under the assumption that now that I’m doing “better” and am walking around on my prosthesis, that I’m happier than I actually am. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m sad or depressed, by any means. I’m much happier since being freed from being in the wheelchair 24/7, but life still kind of sucks at times. I can now prepare a meal for myself, wash the dishes, and bathe myself..all pluses that don’t really come with any negatives. I can go out with friends..but only if it’s going to be a park the car and go right to the destination outing. IF it requires too much walking around, then I’m not quite there yet. And the biggest thing…I can spend the day at home, on my own. Just a few months ago, my mom would come over and spend the day with me and then when Ben would be headed home, my mom would head out because Ben would be taking the next “shift”. It’s great being able to take care of myself when I’m home, but it gets really lonely. I don’t have any human interaction all day. I might text, email, speak to people via IM, or make an occasional phone call, but if I don’t have an appointment or therapy, I have no human interaction. And you might not realize it..but that can get really hard to deal with. (Maybe that’s why I talk so much when I’m at therapy!) And prior to the accident I probably had days where I’d go into work and not really interact with people, but they were there if I wanted to. Commuting into work, being at work, going out to get lunch/coffee, commuting home…all opportunities to interact with people. They may not necessarily be deepest of interactions, but interaction nonetheless. Occasionally, I get the, “but you look so happy” comment. And I probably was at that moment. At that moment, I was probably having dinner with you, watching a movie with you, shooting the shit with you, etc…doing something/anything with you meant that I wasn’t sitting around by myself. I’m not saying that I need someone to keep me company or “entertain” me 24/7, but I guess I’m just trying to point out that just because I am happy when I’m with you (I am..when I’m with you), doesn’t me I’m “better” or always that way. None of those people see me when I’m crying at home over any number of things. This doesn’t happen as frequently as it used to or over as many things (I no longer have a mini breakdown whenever I drop something on the floor anymore), but it still happens every once in a while. Sometimes it just creates a feeling of being trapped. It’ll get better and I know this, but it’s tough. It’s not just the physical stuff, but the mental stuff is rough too.
And one last thing to touch on before I end this post. (Sorry if this post seemed like it was full of whining and complaining…hope it doesn’t turn you away from reading future posts!) One other thing I kind of had to adjust and deal with were the visitors. When I was in the hospital, I would have visitors all the time. Whether it was family who was always rotating around, or friends who would come by whenever I was up for visiting, I always had company. When I transferred over to NYU Rusk, I still had a good rotation of visitors, a little less, but I didn’t have my own room anymore and I had therapy to do during the day, so it was fine. After getting settled in at home, I had a steady amount of visitors come every weekend for a little while. We live in a part of Queens where the easiest way to get to us is either by car or the LIRR. IF not by those to modes of transportation, then it’s a subway to a bus. I totally understood the hassle that came along with visiting me. But after a couple of months or so, that steady stream dwindled down. You kind of go through a little bit of withdrawal. It’s werid. Obviously, I don’t blame people for not visiting me more. People have their own lives to live. Would I like it if they did? Of course!..but not ideal..I know. It’s such a odd thing…but it really is like I’m going through visitation withdrawal, or something.
Thanks for reading..til next time!

Long time no see…Goodbye 2014. Hello 2015.

Sorry for the delay everyone. I wanted to wait until after all of my appointments before I put up a post…
In the last 3 weeks I’ve seen 2 Orthopedic Specialists, a Plastic Surgeon, had 2 separate X-Ray appointments, and 1 CAT scan appointment. And upon leaving the Orthopedist Specialist today, I have an MRI appointment to schedule. Once I’ve had the MRI, the docs will review the images, we’ll (docs, prosthetist, and myself) discuss, and then schedule my surgery. That’s one way to start the new year…
The surgery will be on my left leg. The goal of the surgery is to increase my range of motion. I’m currently at about 55 degrees of flexion (bending) and hopefully the surgery will increase that to about 90 degrees. The proposed plan is to cut me open on the lateral side of my leg (outside part of my left leg, near my knee), remove the 3cm sized bone (heterotopic ossification)* in that area, that may be restricting my range of motion, break apart some scar tissue, fix the neuroma* that’s behind my leg, and remove some of the extra tissue that’s on the medial* bone near my knee. I think that’s it. If I have to be cut open, I might as well get everything done in one shot. Recovery will be about 6 weeks, which means I’ll be out of commission and won’t be able to wear the prosthesis for 6 weeks. Not great, but hopefully it will be worth it. If after all of that and my range of motion does not increase then Plan B is to have a treatment/procedure called external fixation. The simple explanation for external fixation is that holes are drilled into my bone, screws/pins are then put into the holes, and then a circular frame is put around my leg and attached to the screws/pins. The screws/pins are then turned in order to “lengthen” the bone. I’d have to wear this for at least 6 weeks, 24/7. In those 6 weeks I wouldn’t be able to wear my prosthesis and could possibly lose some degrees of extension (straightening my leg), which I wouldn’t be able to get back…and that would be a big problem. The surgery could also lead to an infection. Since the bottom half of my left leg consists mostly of skin grafts and other issues, I may be more prone to infection after surgery as well. But, the doc says that that could easily be managed. I hope. Obviously, the biggest problem could be that there are issues with the surgery and then I wake up with no knee and am a bilateral, AK (above knee) amputee. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Loooooord…..
So, I have to schedule my MRI, have the docs review the images, have all parties involved devise a surgery plan, coordinate everyone’s schedule, then schedule surgery…possibly end of January. Schedule #13. I’m not looking forward to it, but want to schedule it as soon as possible so that we can get it taken care of and move on. On the bright side, or maybe I should say on the dim side…being out of commission in the heart of winter isn’t the end of the world.
So, that’s the biggest/latest medical update.
Five days ago was the 1 year anniversary of my accident. “Observed” it by hosting a dinner in the city with some special people. Dinner and the company was great and I made it home without getting hit by a train, or a car for that matter. So, I guess, the night of December 26, 2014 ended better than the night of December 26, 2013. And I guess December 27, 2014 was better than December 27, 2013 for my friends and family.
Even though 2014 was filled with many milestones, I still feel like it was an unproductive year for me. Yes, I know…I’m coocoo. I realize that if I didn’t get into this accident, it’s not like I would have spent 2014 bringing peace to the world, feeding starving children, or anything else of that magnitude, but me being the psycho that I am, it felt unproductive. Irrational? Yes. Well aware. But all the “milestones” I had this year were only milestones because of the accident. Ok, that’s all with the negativity. I’ll get over it. I know I accomplished a lot this year. And I want to thank everyone for the support and love they’ve given me along the way. It is much appreciated. Let’s hope surgery goes well and that once I recover from it, I’ll be back on track and 2015 will be filled with even more milestones.
I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. Ben and I didn’t get each other anything for Chrismukkah this year. We’ve ordered our new car…that was our gift to each other. Once the car is in, I’ll have to send it off to have hand controls installed. Car won’t be in until early February and then the installation of the hand controls will take a few weeks. Ben, or anyone else, will still be able to drive the car even though it will have hand controls. He can drive it with the foot pedals or choose to use the hand controls. It’ll be great when I can drive myself around. Scary and nervous as hell, but the independence will be awesome. Although I’m sure Ben is going to miss driving me around all over the place! Ha! =)
What else has been happening? Oh!..Ben and I went to the mall, without my wheelchair. That was exhausting. We only needed to go one store so I didn’t think it would be too bad. Boy, was I wrong! Going to the mall involves A LOT of walking. I never thought about how much walking one actually does when they go to the mall. Why would I? Walking wasn’t an issue. Going to the mall is good exercise for your legs and wallet. I had to walk through the parking lot, walk through the mall to the elevator (riding an escalator isn’t in my barrel of tricks yet), walk from the elevator to the store, and then walk around the actual store, except by the time I got to the store I was so exhausted I had to find a spot to sit down and rest so that I could actually walk out of the store. I popped a squat in the store and took a little rest while Ben returned the item in the store for me. Luckily, I mustered up enough energy to make it out of the mall, slowly but surely. Looks like I should still to online shopping for a little longer..or stick to small strip malls!
I’m sure there have been some other little things, but this is what I get for waiting so long to post something! Hopefully I’ll get better in 2015 with this. Sorry! I’ll need to write things down to ensure I don’t miss anything for you guys.
I hope everyone has fun tonight on NYE, whatever you might be doing. HAPPY 2015!!!

*Heterotopic Ossification – the presence of bone in soft tissue where bone normally does not exist.
*Neuroma – growth or tumor of nerve tissue.
*Medial – Pertaining to the middle; in or toward the middle; nearer the middle of the body. Medial is as opposed to lateral. For example, the medial side of the knee is the side closest to the other knee whereas the lateral side of the knee is the outside of the knee.

The Latest…

First off, I want to wish everyone safe travels on this nasty day and even if you’re not traveling anywhere for the Holiday..be careful! Luckily, I didn’t have anywhere to go today. Heard it’s really slippery out there. Yikes. Looks like I may have to switch to my winter footwear sooner than expected. Although winter boots and workout shorts (generally my bottom apparel of choice) are gonna look mighty odd…but I guess booty shorts in the winter in itself is odd. Oh well…
So, the latest…
I had some x-rays taken of both my right and left legs a couple of weeks ago and they revealed some good and bad news. Bad news – I’m probably going to need more surgery (on my left leg). FML. Good news – the surgery will probably help improve my range of motion and reduce some of the discomfort I’m experiencing in my leg. And it looks like my right side is ok.
Surgery isn’t confirmed yet as I haven’t seen an orthopedist. But, according to the opinion of my prosthetist, who has reviewed my x-rays, it’s very likely. Based on what he saw in the x-rays, part of my knee cap may have to get shaved down since part of it is sticking out…not like it’s poking through my skin or anything like that, but it doesn’t have as much skin graft covering that particular part so it’s more “exposed”. And it looks like there some sort of bone or something behind my knee that will probably have to be removed. It’s about 3cm in size, almost an inch..which is pretty big for something that you have to get taken out of your body. It looks as if that may be a big cause to why I can’t get my knee to bend more than 40-45 degrees. Now, having that removed may not give me full range of motion of my knee, which would be 180 degrees (I think), but if it will help get it to 90 degrees or even increase over 45 degrees, then it will be worth it. It’s extremely difficult to walk up down stairs when your knee doesn’t bend. Try it.
ASA has reached out to the orthopedist that they’d like me to see and once they hear back from him I’ll schedule and appointment, assuming he takes my case. And then we’ll go from there…I’ll update everyone as I find out more information.
In one month, it will be a year since the accident. One year. Guess I’ve come along way in a year…so I’m told. It’s true…I’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s still so much more to accomplish. Even though surgery will be a minor set back, hopefully the result of it will be 2 steps forward…
I try and go out now without my wheelchair. The last time I took my wheelchair with me on an outing was probably a few weeks ago and it probably stayed in the car. I use it less and less. Mostly just when I get up in the morning and in the evening when I’m preparing to shower and getting ready for bed. I’m proud of myself for being able to get around and not needing the wheelchair as a “crutch”, but it definitely leads me to push myself.
Funny story – we took a trip to Target last week after an appointment at ASA. I didn’t have the wheelchair, just my forearm crutches. I walked into Target and then we found one of those electric carts that I could sit in and drive myself around Target. I had spent 10 minutes on the treadmill during my appointment at ASA and this was probably going to be an hour or longer visit at Target, so I didn’t have the energy or strength to walk this time around. I got myself into the cart and Ben and I started perusing the aisles. We entered the Hanukkah aisle and then it happened…my cart broke down. I had turned into the aisle, stopped to look at something, then pushed the button to start moving again, and nothing. Uh…Ben,..I think we have a problem. What? I think I’m stuck… Forward, backward, nothing. I wasn’t moving. He asked if he could pull me while I pushed the forward button (like having a car in neutral)…nope. What do you do when you’re stuck in the Hanukkah aisle of Target and don’t have the energy to walk all the way through Target and back to the front in order to get a new cart?…Send your husband to get a new one and drive it to you, of course. After about 10 minutes of me just sitting in the Hanukkah aisle, blocking anyone from entering, (Sorry!..I’m constantly holding people up or in their way..it’s my thing, apparently.) Ben drives up in a working cart. “Oh my gosh, old people walking were passing me left and right..this thing moves so slowly!”, he says to me. Hah.
That’s all for now.
Oh, if you haven’t seen this yet…check it out!

http://jetblueflyingitforward.com/#!/teenas-trip

http://jetblueflyingitforward.com/

Hope everyone has a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Be safe!
Happy Thanksgiving

Week of 11-10-14

Usually, I go to PT at A Step Ahead twice a week but last week I only had one appointment. So, since my supervised exercises were cut in half, I thought I needed to take it upon myself to make up for that. In order accomplish that, I decided to attempt to walk to the nearest Chase with my mom, without my wheelchair and with just my crutches in tow. Naturally, I googled what the distance was from the apartment to the bank and how long it would “normally” take to walk there. 0.3 miles each way and about 7 minutes to get there. So, a roundtrip is 0.6 miles and should take about 14 minutes. My mom kept asking me if I was sure I didn’t want to take the wheelchair and if I’d be ok to walk that distance without being able to take a break in the chair. I said yes, but with a little bit of hesitation. After all, if I walked to the bank and back, successfully, this would be the longest distance, without a break (except for when I needed to cross the street), that I will have walked with my crutches. So, my mom and I were off. There were some slight nerve-wrecking moments getting off the sloped curbs in order to cross the street, but I made it to the bank in 32 minutes. I took care of what I needed to at the bank and then took a 5 minute rest in front of the bank in order to power up for the walk back home. It took 30 minutes to make it back home. The last half block home was a bit strenuous, but I was a trooper. I may have cut through Rite Aid to shave off those 2 minutes. However, I don’t think cutting through Rite Aid shortened the distance, but it did allow me to pick up the pace because walking indoors on linoleum is much easier than walking outside on cracked pavement. 0.6 miles in 1 hour and 2 minutes. It wasn’t easy though. I was exhausted and my hands, arms, back, legs, and butt sore were all sore. The sun was still out when we left the apartment and had almost fully set by the time we made it back, but, we made it back…and without needing the wheelchair to rescue me.
On Tuesday, I was still a little sore…but no slacking off allowed. I didn’t think I could do such a long walk 2 days in a row, so I decided to walk to the mailbox since I had to mail some cards. I made the walk to the mailbox this time without having to take any breaks. A few weeks ago when I did the walk, I had to stop twice before making it to the mailbox. Improvement. After sticking the cards in the mailbox, my mom asked me if I wanted to turn around and go back the way we came or if I wanted to circle the block and go back the long way. Sure, why not..I completed my version of a marathon yesterday, a walk around the block is nothing. It was a little warmer out this day than it was on Monday, so by the time I made it back to the house I was sweating all over the place, mind you…I had taken off my sweatshirt when we got to the mailbox and all I was wearing was a pair of short shorts and a t-shirt. My mom was in jeans, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a light jacket. Sigh.
Another successful walk in the books.
On Wednesday, I went to my appointment at the plastic surgeon. This was a follow-up to my last appointment, which was a few months ago. We discussed how my skin has healed, how it’s still healing, and what my options are for trouble options that I currently have, and what my options will be if they continue to cause me trouble. When my legs are fully exposed, no shrinkers or liners, I’m generally very gentle, but sometimes when I’m at A Step Ahead or seeing any of my doctors, I feel like they’re manhandling me. I’ve gotten much better, but it still gives me a bit of anxiety…Gentle, people! There’s nothing that has to be done right now in terms of surgery, but we discussed what kinds of surgery that could/would be done, if necessary. We’ll try to address everything prosthetically at first, and if that doesn’t work then we’ll look into surgery options. Surgery would be the last resort because after 12 major surgeries, I’m not electing to have any operations or procedures and because any procedure would likely put me out of commission for at least a week, which at this point in my recovery would be a MAJOR step back.
On Thursday, I had an appointment for a “driver’s evaluation” at Abilities/The Viscardi Center, a non-profit organization that provides services for children and adults with disabilities. I wasn’t quite sure what the $250, hour long evaluation was for, since it’s pretty obvious to me that I need hand controls in order to drive a car, but off we went since it was necessary to complete this appointment before signing up for driving lessons. This is basically how the appointment went..showed up, the gentleman filled out paperwork for about 15 minutes in silence (with us sitting across from him), then he finally spoke and introduced himself. We then spoke about different types of hand controls and Ben and I asked some questions. After about 30 minutes or so in his office, we headed outside so that I could get into a learning car and see the hand controls in person. He and I got into the car and then he proceeded to tell me about how to operate the type of hand controls in that car. I asked questions and we sat in the car for about 20 minutes and then my “evaluation” was over. We exited the car and then he asked me if I was told about the payment. I said yes but didn’t have it with me so he told me I could just mail a check. I left still not quite sure why that hour was worth $250. So, the next day, prior to mailing out the check, I sent him an email asking what exactly the $250 covered. It covered the interview (interview?..ok.), the in-car evaluation (if that’s considered an evaluation), and my first driving lesson (ok..that works for me). Driving lessons cost $90. So basically $160 to sit in an office for 30 minutes and talk about why I was amputated, if I’m a right/left-handed, about hand controls, and then 20 minutes in a car. At the end of the day..it is what it is and everyone needs to get paid for providing a service…but I don’t know…$250 for not a lot just seemed a little offensive…
It took me a little longer than expected to get last week’s events in so stay tuned for a post on this week’s happenings…hopefully….

Picking Up The Pace…

Well, I got on the treadmill the other day while I was at A Step Ahead. Yes…the treadmill. Just walking…no running, obviously. I walked at a speed of 1.0 for 5 minutes. We had it set to 1.2 for a hot second, but that was too fast…The difference 0.2 makes. Sigh. I thought I’d catch a break and get to rest for the remainder of that appointment, since after all, I did just walk on the treadmill for the first time, and for 5 minutes straight..but my PT wasn’t having it. I was allowed to rest for 2 minutes and then we were gonna do some exercises. Following my first 5 minutes (first time ever since getting the prosthesis) on the treadmill, I did some squats (half squats since I can’t fully bend my knee), and lifted some 5 pound weights…3 sets of each. Not much of a workout, but enough to make my left leg and hip sore! What the hell is that about?!? And to top it off…I think I pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder/arm from holding on too tight while walking on the treadmill for fear of falling off. Really?!? Mental note – stretch next time. Click on the link below to check out the video of me on the treadmill.
Walking on Treadmill_11-3-14
I have to kick my walking into high gear. With the winter slowly approaching and the potential of the conditions outside becoming “unfriendly” to me, I have to get as much practice in as I can so that I’m prepared for those conditions. Rain, snow, sleet, slush…all unfriendly and potentially dangerous conditions. I have to practice on my stamina and endurance. I’ve started to either leave the wheelchair at home or leave it in the car (under certain situations) in order to try and force myself to walk more. I need to practice on my speed too. I walked 1.0 on the treadmill, but “normal” walking pace is 2.5-3.5, probably closer to 3.5 as a New Yorker. Maybe I need to move…hah. Aside from practicing on my speed in order to get to normal walking pace, I need to practice so that I can make it to the bathroom when I need to pee really bad or so that I don’t get run over by a car when I’m crossing the street and the light has turned green while I’m still trying to get across! Yikes. I also have to start timing myself to see how long I can “last” before I NEED To sit down and take a rest. I need to get myself a stop watch. =)
With the coupling of my recent progress and the NYC Marathon, I’ve gotten a lot of people telling me that I’ll be able to run the Marathon next year. People – I love and appreciate all the support and confidence you have in me, but let’s be honest, it’s probably not going to happen. I had no desire to run the NYC Marathon or any marathon prior to the accident and I have no desire to run it now. Whether I will be able to or not is one thing. Whether or not I want to, is an entirely different story. 5K was my max prior to the accident and it will probably stay that way. I want to get back to taking yoga & pilates classes, playing volleyball & softball, taking trapeze classes, etc. Is it possible that my tune may change?…Perhaps, but unlikely. But thanks to everyone for believing that I can do it.
I made an appointment for adaptive equipment (hand controls) training for driving. However, before I’m able to start taking lessons they need me to go through an evaluation, which costs $250. I’m not quite sure what the evaluation is for or what it will entail, but I think I can complete their evaluation for them. It would go something like this…I don’t have either of my legs. I wear prosthetics for both my legs. I need hand controls in order to drive. Now, teach me how to drive with hand controls. Thanks. Can we get started now? Appointment is next Thursday. Stay tuned for how that goes. With me moving forward with this, Ben and I really need to decide on what new car we want to buy. Once I’m “trained” on how to drive with hand controls, I’m going to want to drive, I think. I may be too freaked out, but hopefully not. Without the new car that the hand controls will be installed in, no driving for me. So…Ben and I need to get on that. We’ve narrowed it down to a few models, but just need to check out a couple more of them in person. Anyone have any connections to car dealerships?
It’s been quite a while since I’ve added to the Teenaisms page. I’d forgotten about them since coming home, but trust me, they still occur. I think I just didn’t notice them as much since leaving the hospital and returning back to the real world. With that being said…I’ve put up 2 new ones.
As always, thanks for reading this.

10 Months and 1 Week

Since my last post, I’ve been practicing walking without crutches (still on a leash though) when I’m at therapy and taking on the challenge of stairs (only if it’s 2-3 steps though) when out and about. Walking without crutches, even if the safety blanket of the leash is attached to me, is still very nerve-wrecking. Stairs are really difficult as well. And my left knee (my actual knee) has some issues that make walking without crutches and walking up/down stairs difficult. One of the issues is that my knee doesn’t fully bend. We won’t make a decision on if I’ll need surgery for this problem until I’ve been walking on the prosthetics for at least 6 months. I really hope I won’t need another surgery..but if I do…then I guess I’ll deal with it then. What’s another surgery when I’ve already been through 12, right?…The other issue, is part of my knee cap, on that same knee. My prosthetist has tried a few different ways to try and relieve or alleviate the pain on my knee, but it seems like it may not be a prosthetic problem. So, my prosthetist said that I should bring it up with my plastic surgeon. I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon in 2 weeks and we’ll see what he has to say…whether he can address it or if I’ll have to visit a orthopedist. Ugh..hopefully no surgery. Surgeries…not a fan.
So, remember that trip to Seattle I went on last month? The program is officially live! Check out the below links to watch! First link is about the program. Second link is about “my story”.

http://jetblueflyitforward.com/?utm_source=TripShare#!/teenas-trip

The Mullen Agency did a really great job of putting this together. They were a really great crew!

Together with my friends, Doug and Wade, we put together a fundraiser a few days ago. On 10-30-14, we had “A Nice Night for a Walk”. We held the event at Doug’s office space. There was an outdoor space and an indoor space, which contained a bar, a ping pong table, a shuffle board table, an indoor basketball hoop arcade game, and TVs. Awesome. We had a really great turnout and sold almost all the auction items. It was a really successful night, all around. Thank you Doug and Wade for helping to put everything together. We were a pretty good team! Thank you to everyone that made it to the event, to those that donated items for the auction, to those that bid on the auction items, to Doug’s staff for all the help, to my family and friends who helped out at the event, and to those that donated but were unable to make it out that night. Here are a few pics. My PT (Phil) helping me walk without crutches, me trying to shoot some hoops (with my brother standing watch, in case I fall…), and me taking a break. =)
Walking with Phil
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Taking a break
Last night, my cousin (Annie) and I went to see the 50 Shades Musical Parody of 50 Shades of Grey. My PT’s girlfriend had the winning bid on the tickets but was unable to use the tickets, so she offered them to me (Thanks Dana!). With the horrible, wet, and rainy weather, I decided to leave the wheelchair at home…very brave of me. I figured since we had door-to-door drop pick-up and drop-off (THANKS Danny!), I’d leave the wheelchair at home and just take my crutches. Rainy weather and wheelchair do not go together so well. Annie just had to walk next to me with an umbrella and be patient…We experienced a slight hiccup once we were at the theater, but stopped to figure it out, and dealt with it successfully. I knew I was going to end up at destinations where I’d be able to sit and rest, so it all worked out in the end. My next step at therapy is to show up without my wheelchair…so I figured I’d better start getting used to not taking my wheelchair around all the time. Big step for me.
Annie and I
50 Shades!
Show was very funny. You need to know a little about the book and characters in order to appreciate all the jokes from the show. And yes, there were men in the audience. It was a good laugh and the show was short and sweet.

Some more firsts…

I had a physical therapy session today and had a few firsts. Before I get into the firsts, let me just say that I got a new liner for my right side. When I can get my brother to help me again, I’ll shoot a new video showing both the liner and me putting the prosthesis on. This new liner is still custom but not as custom as my previous one. My prosthetist said that since my skin was doing well, we were going to try this new liner. The new liner is a little thicker and softer. If anyone is curious in seeing what the liner looks like before I get around to making another video, below is a link to a picture of my new liner. It comes at that length but it’s ordered in my size and then cut down so that it’s shortened for me.

http://assets.ossur.com/library/34645/proc/6

Now onto today’s firsts…
1. I walked into A Step Ahead today. My physical therapist (Phil) saw us as we were parking the car and was busting my chops about not getting into the wheelchair in order to enter the office. But, since I didn’t have my crutches with me, I couldn’t fully walk into the office. So, I transferred from the car into the wheelchair, wheeled up to the stairs, stood up, and then walked up the 3 steps, and then into the office. It reads much easier than it was to accomplish. I held onto the railing with my left hand and onto Ben’s had with my right hand. I’ve practiced a little bit since our first attempt so I knew what to expect, but walking up stairs still requires grunting noises from me, like a tennis player. Once I got to the top of the stairs, I was frozen. I didn’t have crutches and I didn’t have a railing to hold onto anymore. At that point, Phil came out grabbed one of my hands and said, “Come on. Let’s go!” I said, “Huh? What?!?” No.” But it had to be done. Gotta soldier on. So, I grabbed his hand and walked into the office and into a room. I made it. Whew. Gotta try…won’t know if you can/can’t until you try. It may not be pretty at first, but you gotta try.
2. I got up from a chair without the assistance of a crutch or another person. We practiced getting up and sitting down from a chair without assistance.
3. I walked around the office with just one crutch. Scary.
4. If I thought #3 was scary. I was petrified for #4…I walked without any crutches! But don’t get too excited folks, I wasn’t completely on my own..I was on a “leash”. I was tethered around my waist, while Phil held onto the strap part from behind me. They strapped me in and then told me to start walking. My reaction, the usual reaction when they have me do something new and terrifying, “Uh, what? No!” But, then I eventually do it. I said, “I don’t think I can. I think my feet are glued to the ground.” Mentally, I wasn’t able to get going if I wasn’t holding onto something, even if it was with the lightest touch. I didn’t have the “security blanket” of my crutches, the parallel bars, or someone’s hand. So, we started with Phil holding the strap while standing behind me and Erik barely holding onto my hands, just so I could get started. All three of us took a few steps together and then Erik let go of my hands and I was walking on my own, with Phil still holding on in case I wobbled, which I did. And then, they told me to swing my arms. Come on!! I don’t usually swing my arms because swinging my arms, although it makes the walking more “natural” means my body is more loose. I tend to hold my arm up and have it tensed up, like the rest of my body needs to be, so that I can balance and stay upright. I would switch from tense to swinging, but after a few back and forths, I took a bunch of steps while fully swinging my arms. Those were probably the most natural steps and the most natural feeling I experienced since I started walking with the prosthetics. Weird, exciting, and scary all at the same time. After doing one loop around the office like that, I was beat. It doesn’t take much to get me exhausted when it comes to walking right now. I sat down and we all took a break.
5. Then, we started talking about how to fall and how to get up if I fall. Do this with your left leg. Do that with your right leg. Do this with your arms. I’m good. I just won’t fall guys. So, they put the mat out and put me on the ground. #5 – first time sitting on the ground (with or without legs) since the accident. And now that I was on the ground, it was time to show me how I would get up. This is difficult because I don’t have full range of motion with my left leg/knee. I can’t get it to fully bend. When you’re sitting in a chair, your legs are at 90 degrees. My leg doesn’t do that. My knee can only bend to about 40-45 degrees right now so when I’m sitting it’s extended out a little.
So, how to get up from the floor. Roll over onto my stomach, then get into a plank position and walk my left leg out (so now I’m kind of in a Y position), and now try and bring my left leg to the side of me. Stop. Because I can’t get my left leg to fully bend, I couldn’t really do that one and because the frame/socket on my right was digging into my lady parts. Next. Get back into “Y” position. Now, try and walk your hands back and then once you’re hands are at your feet try and stand up. Nope. My left knee isn’t strong enough. Ok, last option. Grab onto the chair and pull yourself up to the chair and then climb on. I don’t know if I couldn’t do this one because I was already exhausted from the walking and trying the other 2 methods or if I just couldn’t do it. The right leg is basically dead weight so I literally have to drag it. Unsuccessful. 0-3. The guys pulled me up and I sat down. Feeling defeated now. Luckily, I laughed throughout all three attempts so I didn’t feel as bad. I’m good at laughing at myself. And apparently, they found it amusing as well. =) Lesson here…don’t fall. As much as I would like to not fall, it’s not so realistic. So, until my knee can bend more, in a worst case scenario, if I’m by myself and I fall, I’ll have to take the prosthetics off, get myself off the floor (much easier to “pick myself up” without the weight of the prosthetics”) and then put the prosthetics back on. Not the most ideal, but it’ll have to do for now.

Thanks for reading! ‘Til next time…

(Revised) Journey to Seattle! (Original to be back up later)

I know it’s been a while since my last post so I have a lot of catching up to do. In terms of rehab and therapy, I’m still going to PT at A Step Ahead and practicing how to walk on the prosthesis. When I walk, I walk with crutches. We’ve tried stairs once, just so I could get a sense of what to expect and feel. It’s hard and scary. Walking up is a little painful, mainly because my left leg is still unable to fully bend and walking down is nerve-wrecking because I feel like I’m going to fall on my face. We’ve started to practice walking outside, also scary. I only have a couple of months to practice walking outside because once the snow starts to fall it’s probably going to be extremely difficult to do. So, I have to get myself motivated and practice, practice, practice.
Now onto the title of this blog…Journey to Seattle! Ben and I just came back from a trip to Seattle. Why’d we go to Seattle? Did I plan this trip to a place I’d never been to pre-accident? A place that I knew nothing of and didn’t know if it would be easy or difficult to get around in…of course not. I “won” a free round trip airfare for myself and Ben to anywhere that JetBlue flies to in the continental U.S. I never win anything. Yet another example of how losing my legs in a traumatic accident has brought about “good” things. I kid. So, how exactly did I come to win this flight?
A few months back, a lovely woman named Lisa Colombari, who works for JetBlue, sent me a donation and a hand-written note. I sent her a thank you email. Then, a couple of months later, when I was arranging my travel to LA, I reached out to Lisa to ask her some questions I had regarding traveling. The LA trip was my first time flying since the accident. I didn’t know what to expect. A month following that, she reached out to ask me about my LA trip. In that same note, she also asked if I would accept her nomination of me for JetBlue’s new program called Fly It Forward. JetBlue is launching a new program called Fly It Forward, a play off of Pay It Forward, that awards “deserving” people with a free roundtrip flight to anywhere in the continental U.S. that JetBlue flies to and she wanted to nominate me. I was humbled and honored, not only by her nomination, but that she remembered me. I told Ben about it and then emailed her back to tell her that we would gladly accept the nomination.
We were scheduled to fly out on Thursday, September 25th. On Tuesday, September 23rd, I met the “crew” and they filmed me during my PT appointment at A Step Ahead. The following day, they came over to our apartment to get some footage of me doing everyday things around the apartment and to interview both Ben and I. Our JFK to SEA flight on the 25th was departing at about 8:45A and the crew asked that we meet them at JFK at around 6:30A. Ugh. They wanted to film me arriving at the airport, checking-in, obtaining our boarding passes, etc. Being up and out of the house at 6:30 in the morning is its own struggle, but to be filmed too…Oy! My brother picked us up at around 6A and we headed out to JFK. Upon arriving at JFK, the entire crew was there and ready to “capture” me getting out of the car. So much pressure! After getting our boarding passes, going through security and getting my pat down (always lovely), we headed towards our gate in the JetBlue terminal. As Ben pushed me into the main rotunda of the JetBlue terminal, I see the camera guys and a woman standing in the middle with a bouquet of roses. What is going on?!? It was Lisa! She and I had never met before. It was a wonderful surprise. We hugged, talked about the process, and then she started to get emotional on me. I had to quickly stop her and tell her it was way to early in the morning to get all emotional and start crying. =) She introduced me to her lovely daughter and then we all walked to the gate together. We chatted for a bit, took some pictures, and then she and her daughter had to be on their way to catch their flight to Vermont. She is awesome and without her nomination, we wouldn’t have even been considered for the program. Thank You Lisa.
It was now time to board the plane. With crutches in tow, I was preparing myself to walk onto the plane. Did I forget to mention that this was my first time flying with my prosthesis and that I was going to attempt to walk onto the plane. No? Well, now you know! So, I wheeled myself down to the plane and once there, Ben lifted me and the chair up the little step from the jetway onto the plane itself. He handed me my crutches, I stood up from the chair, and walked myself over to my seat and sat down. Success. Whew! I was so anxious. Luckily we were in the first row. And not only did I successfully board the plane by walking to my seat, I also walked myself to the bathroom and back 3 times, and walked of the plane. And let me tell you, walking on prosthetics on a moving plane, with an unsteady floor, not easy.
And then another surprise. Once we were off the plane and in the airport, I was greeted with cheers, applause, and balloons by the gate agents, as well as the awaiting passengers who were waiting to board the flight that we had just deplaned from. How embarrassing. And naturally my first thought is, “Oh, am I the reason that’s keeping these people from getting on their flight?…Great.” The cycle just continues. I’ve moved on from from delaying subway passengers to now delaying plane passengers. So, after the cheering and balloons, I was presented with a personalized “Fly It Forward” luggage tag. So cute.
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After all the pomp and circumstance, we left the airport to head over to the hotel to check-in, settle in, and then head over to Pike Place Market. I caught a fish! Twice! See pic below. Possible video later.
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We wheeled around the Market for a bit, grabbed some snacks, checked out the vendors, and then headed across the street to grab some clam chowder. Side note – In case any of you are wondering…prosthetics, coupled with the wheelchair, rolling on cobblestone…NOT a good match. Every few “bumps” I had to pull both my feet back (with my hands) because they kept bouncing off the feet rests. As I was saying…chowder. Ben and I split a bowl from the famous, Pike Place Chowder. Delicious.

Ben chowing down

Ben chowing down


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After grabbing the chowder, we made a quick stop at the original Starbucks and then headed back to the hotel. It had been a long day and we had to be up early for the next day’s activities.
The plan for Friday was to head to the Space Needle in the morning and then take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island in the afternoon. The Space Needle opens up at 10A but since we were filming, they let us in at 9A. Perks of having a film crew with you…a V.I.P tour of the Space Needle.
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View from the observation deck of the Space Needle

View from the observation deck of the Space Needle


Crazy Hair

Crazy Hair


Stood up to take this picture but needed Ben to hold me so I wouldn't get blown away!

Stood up to take this picture but needed Ben to hold me so I wouldn’t get blown away!


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After getting our tour and learning all about the Needle, we had lunch with the crew at SkyCity, the rotating restaurant one level below the observation deck of the Needle.
Space Needle Restaurant
Once we finished lunch, we took a little break before heading to the pier to board the ferry that takes you to Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge Island is an island/city off of Seattle that’s located in the Puget Sound. It’s a really lovely and quaint island. The crew conducted their final interview with me on the island. After we “wrapped”, Ben and I drove around and explored the island.
Ferry Ride

Ferry Ride


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On Saturday, we met up with one of my friends who happened to be visiting from LA for the weekend. Such a nice coincidence! We met up for breakfast at a restaurant called Geraldine’s Counter in a part of Seattle called Columbia City. Another delicious meal. After breakfast, Ben and I went to check out the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum. It’s a museum dedicated to popular culture. It was definitely a fun museum. See pics below!
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My creeper of a husband. Stalk much?

My creeper of a husband. Stalk much?


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That night, we decided to go to a seafood restaurant. We were in Seattle, after all. We had some amazing oysters at Shuckers restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel.
The plan for Sunday was to go check out the Museum of Flight. Prior to heading to the museum, we went for brunch at The Butcher and The Baker. The museum was awesome, but slightly overwhelming. So many planes all in one place. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do the Boeing tour portion of the museum. It wasn’t handicapped accessible. Boo. They also had a few planes displayed in an airfield across from the museum. Of these planes, a few were open to the public. However, I was unable to check these out also, as a long flight of stairs needed to be climbed first in order to board them. But, Ben got to check out the interior of a former Air Force One plane and a Concorde. I was able to check out the inside of a cut up old U.S. Airways plane. At least I got to do that…
The Butcher and The Baker

The Butcher and The Baker


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Ben deplaning Air Force One

Ben deplaning Air Force One


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On our last full day in Seattle, which happened to also be the only day where we got stuck with a full day of rain, we just took it easy. We slept in and decided to go for ramen for lunch. After lunch, we went back to Pike Place Market to do some souvenir shopping. That night, we met up with an old high school friend of mine who had moved out to Seattle earlier in the year to take a job with Microsoft for dinner. And with that dinner, our trip in Seattle was coming to an end.
We had a good time in Seattle and overall, getting around wasn’t too bad. As usual, I was very anxious and paranoid about traveling, but even more so because I had never even been to Seattle prior to losing my legs so I had no idea what to expect. What did I learn? It wasn’t as bad I was expecting. If I came across an “obstacle”, I conquered it…or at least tried my best to and if I didn’t, then I didn’t. But I at least I gave it a try. Traveling on my own right now? Impossible. Too many things to carry. Remember, I need both hands to wheel and/or walk (crutches). Hills in Seattle are not my friend, nor is the cobblestone. Rain? Messy and annoying, but at least my legs are waterproof. Hah. So, the most difficult part of the travel was probably schlepping the bags around. But once the bags were checked, we were ok. With each time, it gets easier…
Thanks JetBlue. Fly It Forward.