I’m having trouble forming an intelligent sentence out of the words I’d like to use to describe my first impression of Project Walk. Amazing, incredible, thorough, welcoming, class act, genuine, confident, inclusive, affirming, young-hearted, happy, and supportive. From the moment we walked through the door, we were treated like royalty, personally guided through the orientation process. We felt wanted and significant, and that Nick’s recovery is truly important to every person on their staff. It was a young crowd, both staff and patients. What a welcome change! We spent quite a bit of time with one of the co-founders, met many different therapists (most of whom Nick will never even work with), three different schedulers, and Nick’s client services coordinator. They took video and pictures of his session, and had two to three “specialists” with him at all times. We heard stories of quads and paras who eventually walked out of there, and saw many people with similar injuries working very hard.
It turns out Nick is the first ever amputee they’ve worked with. Because it’s specifically a spinal cord injury place, they only accept people with that injury. And I guess it’s fairly rare for people to have both SCI and amputations. Lucky Nick! The staff was fascinated with him. It was really cool to see.
They ran him through a testing process to measure his current level of function. I know his work with Jamon at the gym has paid off immensely, because those tests were easy for him. The co-founder even commented, “Are we sure he’s even paralyzed?” They see a lot of patients with very severe spinal cord injuries who have very limited mobility. Nick is coming to them with a lot of function compared to many others. He really IS lucky. They didn’t say he’d be an “easy” case, but his specialist did say she is excited to work with him because he’s going to get much faster results than normal. She said it’s a bit of instant gratification for her. We can live with that!
When he got on the walker and started trucking along without help, we were both so surprised. But really, our first clue should have been the other day when he walked with the hand crutches. And just because he could get up with the walker on day one, doesn’t mean that the road will be easy. It’ll be a lot of hard work, but absolutely do-able. We gained a lot of confidence from Project Walk today. We left there knowing, without a doubt, that it’s not a matter of “if” Nick gets his life back, it’s a matter of “when.”
His specialist Bree decided it would be most beneficial for Nick to come everyday (Monday – Friday) for the next few weeks. He’ll start this Friday, which also happens to be Nick’s birthday. She said that daily appointments will allow her to quickly work through some of the minor issues Nick is having. After a few weeks, he’ll be going there three times a week, and continuing for however long it takes for him to walk unassisted.
I think it’s pretty clear that we were truly impressed today. The facility is enormous, with three industrial sized rolling doors they keep open to let fresh air in. The whole place felt open and airy, bright and inviting. The equipment is plentiful and absolutely state of the art. It’s roomy, with tons of therapy tables, so you never feel like you’re on top of the other patients. There are mens and women’s locker rooms with full showers, lockers and changing areas. They even have an in-house massage therapist and acupuncturist who specializes in spinal cord injuries. His specialty is in bowel/bladder/sexual function. Nick will hopefully be seeing him this Friday, but for sure next week. We’ve been looking for a massage therapist for him, so I hope he’s as good as they say. With the intensity of this therapy, a weekly massage is definitely warranted, and long overdue.
Starting Project Walk today feels so right. It was just like coming home. This is the next chapter in Nick’s recovery and the beginning of his new life. We have no idea how long this chapter will last, and really don’t care. We refuse to have unrealistic expectations get us down the way they did when Nick first got his legs. We’re in this for the long haul, and we’re prepared to do the work. Bring it!