Somehow Nick got stuck with the bitch job of cleaning all the equipment. He loved every second of it.
I can’t tell whether I’m dating Sam Adams or Grizzly Adams. He and Dan have been experimenting with brewing beer today. It’s a good thing, cause I’ll definitely be in the mood for a few brewski’s late next month. Actually, I love it. I love when Nick gets so fully engrossed in something that he doesn’t even feel his pain or realize he’s lost his legs.
This morning Jamon worked him so hard, he almost puked. High five to Jamon! You know it’s a good workout when the world starts spinning and your breakfast comes knocking at the base of your esophagus.
And lastly, yesterday we met “Anonymous” and even went out to dinner and spent the gift card he gave us. Of course we ate too much – because it was so damn delicious – and paid dearly for it on the way home from Carlsbad. Thank you TC!
The Dude is super sore after a mini-triathlon at the gym today.
15 minutes on the bike.
10 minutes walking on the treadmill.
30 minutes swimming laps with his new legs and mini-fins.
Of course he couldn’t do them in traditional order, that would be too difficult – and too normal.
The bike was a breeze. At the 10 minute mark, he decided to go for an extra 5, because, well, he totally forgot he was doing a triathlon and needed to pace himself.
By minute 6 on the treadmill he was certain he wouldn’t make it to 10. A friendly passerby even asked if he was okay and needed help. He dug deep and pushed hard to get through the last few minutes.
He then got into the pool by himself and swam for 30 minutes with the mini-fins. Guess who could barely move after that?
He’s training hard, just trying to get himself to a place of walking freely without crutches. He’s doing the work, as tough as it is, because that’s the only way he’ll get his life back.
If you’ve been slacking off or being lazy, get your butt outside, or to the gym, or in your garage and move your body. Break a sweat, fatigue your muscles, elevate your heart rate!
You’ll feel better, be happier, have pride in your actions, and maybe even look better or live longer. Now, go – Get Busy Moving!
Long Legs McGee figured out how to make himself taller. It’s the one benefit of losing your legs, if you don’t count your new status as a mistaken-for-military sex-symbol. Seriously, he’s now walking around with an extra inch (get your mind out of the gutter, will ya?) of height. It’s noticeable too.
“I want to go taller, but I can’t. This is the tallest they’ll go.” I love his gutsy curiosity. But the real question is: would you make yourself taller if you could?
Nicks first attempt at walking hand-in-hand with Bree at Project Walk. She has slick reflexes and caught him when he tripped. ‘Atta girl!
If you’re having trouble watching this video, click here.
Nick hasn’t been able to use his swim legs since he went in the pool to SCUBA over a week ago. Did I mention that his left leg got stuck on his leg and we had to pull it off. OUCH!
He got it fixed today, along with some water-proofing, and other minor adjustments. He had a two-hour appointment with his prosthetist. I swear the laundry-list of topics to address was over a dozen items long. Nobody warned us that prostheses would be so much work! Well, actually, one guy did. But only one guy out of a dozen amputees we’ve met. Ever since Nick has had legs again, they’ve been a constant work in progress; just like his RC truck!
I feel bad that Nick hasn’t raced his truck in over a week. Life gets in the way of fun all the time. It never used to be this way.
Sunday night we were at a friends house for dinner, and Nick decided to show off his sexy new one-crutch maneuver. While trucking down the hall, he lifted the crutch and took four good steps before needing the crutch again. Those weren’t punk-ass steps either. He was walking!
Everyday, Nicks excitement is growing as the realization that a life of freedom is right around the corner for him. “I’m so close,” he says. He’s right. He’s so damn close!
We’ve started planning the epic adventure of Nick’s first SCUBA dive. It’ll be the symbolic celebration of the one-year anniversary of his accident, on May 20th. Which boat, and where, are still critical unknowns, but at least we know the date.
This is an official open-invite to all of Nick’s friends, family, and fans to join us for this awesome celebration. If you’re interested in a killer day of SCUBA (or snorkeling) please let me know. We’ll be finalizing the details this week and will announce the final plans later. Save the date: Sunday May 20.
Hi! This is me, Lindsay, doing my own pre-photo-shoot photo-shoot.
A huge thank you to my fave girl Amanda Burgess. Nick and I had such a great time today posing for photos for my new blog site (and this one too, of course).
Nick got his exercise in, and even practiced standing unassisted with absolutely nothing around him to grab onto if he fell; we were in the middle of a road!
Looking forward to sharing the new pics soon.
Thank you Anonymous.
Your letter and generous gift made us so happy. That you went out of your way to hand-deliver it to Project Walk and still managed to remain anonymous is quite a feat. Thank You!
We’ve been blessed time after time by the generosity and kindness of others. It blows my mind. We’ll never be able to pay it back, but we can sure pay it forward!
Nick is seriously sore tonight. He rode a Spin bike at the gym for 35 minutes yesterday and could barely walk himself out to the car afterward.
Today he walked an entire lap around the Project Walk gym floor only using one crutch. Sweat was pouring down his face on the stair climber and while doing squat variations. He never used to work out this hard, except for the 90 day P90X challenge we did two years ago. Bet he never thought he’d be working this hard just to be able to put one foot in front of the other again.
Dude! Nick had the biggest breakthrough today – it brought me to tears.
He took 36 steps with only one crutch! He was walking with one crutch!
Seeing him walk while only relying on one crutch gave me the crisp visual of a Nick Fener with no crutches. It’s coming soon. I can feel it.
The elation of a mega breakthrough was quickly muffled by another phantom pain attack. In fact, it’s after midnight, and he’s still being attacked. He’s quietly battling it as I type, trying to “make it go away.” Knowing he’s in such excruciating pain is one of the most sickening and helpless feelings ever.
What a roller coaster of a day.
The other day I mentioned that Nick has been lending an ear to a new friend with a recent spinal cord injury. His name is Ke. He’s lucky. He has an incomplete spinal cord injury which means he has a real chance at walking again if he gets the right therapy. Currently he has some movement in his hips and quads – a promising sign!
Today Ke’s friends launched a donation site for him to raise funds to go to Project Walk. He’s a strong willed guy who doesn’t have a lot of help, but he’s determined to get his life back – just like Nick.
Please check out his site and pitch in if you can.
Thank you times a million!
Nick scuba diving, me snorkeling taking photos. The view wasn’t that great in a swimming pool, but the feeling was priceless!
The amputee adventures are a Go!
Nick’s first underwater experience as an amputee was wildly successful. First he practiced kicking with a traditional fin, which was too rigid, so he switched to a more modern split-fin design. The weakness in his right side was very obvious as he swam around the pool. Those fins create a lot of resistance and require a lot of leg strength to use.
We were all surprised to discover Nick’s buoyancy was fairly neutral, meaning he was able to keep his body parallel to the pool bottom without touching the ground.
He surfaced after 15 minutes, took off the fins, and put on a pair of webbed gloves. He liked this set up much better. He could swim faster and had more control using his arms and was less fatigued by not loading up his legs with resistance.
We were high all day from the experience. This was the first taste of familiar adventure Nick has had since his accident. The first attempt at a former hobby that he loves and longs for. Being weightless under water took his pain away and made him feel alive. No gravity weighing him down, no phantom pain, no stress – just calm, relaxed breathing, exploring the limits of his body. Soon, he’ll be exploring the ocean and all it’s majestic sea life.
A huge thank you to Bill and John at Sport Chalet in Menifee. They met with Nick before their shift started, for free, to help a broken man dive again. They were genuinely as excited as, if not more than, Nick and I. Wonderful, wonderful people. We’ll be diving with them soon!
Why am I blogging at 2:30am? Because my elevated heart rate won’t let me fall back asleep.
MIA dog just delivered this slobbery, dead creature into our bed while we slept. More specifically, she quietly set it in my hand, declaring her kill with pride.
Feeling the soft and soggy body was such an odd sensation, I jumped out of sleep screaming and onto my feet so fucking fast that the whole house was suddenly on alert.
Dan came running, he heard the killing only moments earlier. MIA dog, the boastful hunter, was now running around with her tail between her legs as I fumbled for the camera and a plastic bag. She’s an intuitive little shit, very aware of how upset I was, but too damn cute to get mad at.
Life is a marathon. Hardship either builds endurance or makes you quit.
Nick is getting stronger. Life is getting easier. I’m not only talking about physically. The emotional fatigue can make a 5K feel like an Ironman.
Today a woman walked up to Nick and thanked him for serving our country. That’s not the first time it’s happened. Nick always assumed it’s due to the camouflage on his legs, but this woman hadn’t even noticed. She admired his strength and attitude. She could tell he’s a warrior!
Tomorrow Nick goes to a SCUBA training pool to work out the specifics of bouyancy with prostheses.
Amputee Adventures start now!
On the eve of Nick’s 11 month accident-versary, I’ve written a few Haiku’s.
have passed us by.
Still no feet.
lucky to be here,
farts and all.
Life and love:
both are optional.
Fight like hell.
Be kind to others.
You never know what’s under
their pants. Two fake legs?
Choose to be happy.
Nothing in life is that bad.
At least you have feet.
Nick has found himself in quite the little pickle. A few weeks ago, he gave his phone number to some questionable online survey company. You know what that means: late night phone calls from Delaware or Kansas selling kitchen utensils and gold-plated windshield wipers. Awesome.
He got a good one today though. “Answer these five questions and you’ll get a free cruise to the Bahamas.”
The five questions were no big deal; it was the two hours he spent dodging their relentless up-selling that earned him the “free” cruise.
So, we’re going to the Bahamas! …sometime in the next 18 months. Thank you Nick for sacrificing your stretch time this morning to get us a free vacation.
Nick took a nasty spill on the way to his massage this evening. Couldn’t be better timing right? He’s okay; it didn’t hurt too bad. He got up from his chair, hooked his toe on something, tumbled forward across the floor, and rolled to his side. A graceful maneuver scoring him an impressive 9.5.
In less-exciting news, I’ve officially started writing my book. At last! It will be a collection of short stories of our experiences from the last year. I’ve written three so far, with many more to materialize. I’d like some suggestions. If there is something in particular you’d like me to write about in the book, let me know. I’m focusing on the humor and raw-ness of it all, so nothing is off-limits.
Oh my GOD! You’ve got to check out these sexy girls, living incredible lives with spinal cord injuries.
Inspiring, beautiful women! I love it!
Remember the last time he tried to walk on sand? Today he nailed it!
Nick is ridiculously blessed and he knows it. He says so every day, whether he’s referring to the fundraising done for him, or the love he shares with me, or the function he is regaining in his legs. Despite having a shitty year, he knows how incredibly lucky he is.
Nick is not fully healed, but he’s ready to give back. An injured jumper he’s never met has turned to Nick for advice, guidance, and a sympathetic ear. They’ve talked and texted a few times. Nick is finding meaning in his own life through helping another person.
Two days ago, Nick got a surprise call from his ER nurse at the County Hospital. Tommy was our favorite nurse, and the one who brought Nick and Yuri together for a visit. Nick wants to do peer-visits at hospitals and rehabs for new amputees and spinal cord injury patients, so Tommy is looking into finding a program for Nick to participate in. If there is no program, they might create one.
The support Nick received from other people with similar injuries is priceless. He turned to our friend Micah for advice about his spinal cord injury. We were visited several times by amputees. Jay, a double amputee for over 20 years, came to our home shortly after getting out of the hospital. I still find inspiration from that brief visit, harnessing the vision of living a life unaffected by our current emotional ups and downs.
If you know of someone with a recent spinal cord injury or amputation, please feel comfortable sending them our way. Nick would love the opportunity to serve.
I changed my mind. Women are good at that, aren’t we? I spent a brief 12 hours at the yoga fest and drove home at the end of the night. Torrential rains, a muddy parking lot, a new car, and port-o-potty’s are not a good combo. Besides, I had my fill of exploring the depths of my soul. I wanted to come home.
I had a wonderful experience, and I’m so glad I did that for myself. It reminded me that I need to do more activities that I love. We both do. As I write this, I’m, well, writing (which I love), and Nick is taking apart his RC truck and installing new shocks (which is fun for him, somehow). I mention this because we are taking time to do things we enjoy, just not often, and not epic.
As promised, I am beginning to publish short essays. In time, they will have their own home on the website, but for now, I’ll include them within the dated blog entries. Below is just a spoonful from my experience at the yoga festival yesterday.
12 Hours at a Yoga Festival
I don’t wear a turban. Due to my blatant turban-less-ness, I was outnumbered and out-of-place practicing Kundalini yoga at the Sat Nam Fest this weekend. (Sat Nam rhymes with hot mom.) The air was frigid in Joshua Tree. Suddenly wearing a turban seemed desirable, almost essential. The brewing storm clouds gave way to a ferociously chilly breeze, and eventually rain, which kept hundreds of festival-going yogi’s seeking shelter in a giant tent.
I knew no one, and actively participated in my nobody-knowing-ness. I wandered alone, I dined alone, and I yoga’d alone. I was basking in aloneness, contently sitting within 1 foot of people on either side, so close I could recognize what they ate for lunch. I uttered not a word, and shared not a glance. One man sat so close to me that I knew which nostril he was using to innocently serenade me with a tender little nostril-lullaby. The lack of obligation to pass the time with incessant chatter was refreshing to me. Certainly, there was ample chitchat all around; the tent hummed, but I sat in silence.
My body was still, but my mind jutted back and forth to thoughts of my Dad’s health, of the Dalai Lama’s gambling problem, and of the woman in front of me who shouldn’t wear white pants. I could compose a literary trilogy on women at this festival who shouldn’t wear white pants, but I won’t, mainly because that’s mean, and secondly because they are secure in their sense of self and don’t care what others think. The best part of them not caring was that while there, I didn’t have to care either. My 12 hours in Joshua Tree were freeing in a self exploratory, could’ve-gotten-away-with-white-pants kind of way.
Each Breath of Fire I engaged in cleansed my heart of suffering. Every mantra I chanted vibrated my energy to the moon. Each conscious moment with my eyes closed, I came closer to understanding why I was there.
I wasn’t there for the yoga (good thing, since we didn’t do much of it). I was there to be gently guided into the depths of my being. Yesterday I spent 12 healing hours by myself immersed into the repetitive rhythms of chant and etherial melodies. Today I emerged freshly motivated and ready to save the world.
If you’re still wondering about the Dalai Lama’s gambling problem, it’s nothing too serious, he just loves Tibet.
Tonight I am packing for a trip. A solo trip. This will be my first night away from home without Nick in almost a year. I’ll leave early Friday morning and drive to the majestic Joshua Tree National Forest where I will be camping in my car for a night (maybe two) while attending a Kundalini yoga event called Sat Nam Fest.
It feels so right!
There will be yoga, meditation, live music, and bountiful vegetarian meals. I can think of no better occasion to slip away for a few days and revitalize my sense of self.
I have no doubt that Nick will flourish during his inaugural night alone. He’s beyond ready, and it will be healthy for us both. I look forward to returning to his side on Saturday night (maybe Sunday morning) with a clear mind, open heart, and fresh panorama.
In other news…
Since I’ve switched to the new blog format at WordPress.com, I now have access to my site-view statistics.
In the last 7 days, NickFener.com has received 2,949 hits from the following countries:
USA, Canada, UK, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, France, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Poland, Cayman Islands, Israel, South Africa, Republic of South Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Chile, India, Azerbaijan, Greece and Spain.
And believe it or not, it’s been a slow week! Thank you friends for your continued support.
P.S. if you’re the lone dude in Azerbaijan, will you message me? I dream of one day taking a rail car through your part of the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new and improved Nick Fener on our hands. Since he began walking more often, he is confident, sure footed, happy, and motivated. He is making transitions that were nearly impossible a mere week ago. I believe he was capable of this sooner though. Physically ready, but perhaps not mentally. That’s the power of decision. When you’re ready to change something in your life, you must make the decision. A week ago, he was finally ready. He woke up and realized that he was making excuses for still using his wheelchair at times when he could very well use his crutches. He was trying to save his energy for the big workouts, which I understand, but he needed to be walking more often.
Then one day he decided to make the change.
He was ready to stop making excuses.
As an able-bodied person, it’s easy to make excuses for not taking care of ourselves the way we should, for not working out daily, or for grabbing a quick burger instead of cooking a healthy dinner. We make excuses for all sorts of bad habits and negative behaviors.
It isn’t easy to identify Nick’s excuses, because he has a legitimate reason much of the time: he is in a lot of pain. But him spending too much time resting is a negative behavior akin to any other bad habit. His healing body needs to move to grow. He can’t afford NOT to push himself.
There are times when he still needs his chair, and that’s okay. But the new Nick Fener only uses it when he absolutely has to. No more excuses!
I’ve been buzzing with excitement for the past week, and it’s finally time to announce why. A few weeks ago I signed up for an online writing course called How to Write Better that’s taking place during the month of April. One of my favorite writers, Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists is hosting the one month course. We’re in the thick of week one, and I’m already making progress.
Besides improving my grammar and style, I’m developing a powerful daily writing habit. I’ve been updating this blog almost everyday for 10 months, but many of those days I can hardly consider it writing. Often I succumb to obligatory content uploading just to get something out there. And honestly, I’m embarrassed by this. Lying in my bed, typing on my iPhone at midnight is NOT a constructive process to create anything worthwhile. Since the start of this class, I have purchased a simple desk (an office with a view!) and begun spending time at it. Our most difficult assignment is to spend 2 hours everyday “in the chair.” So far, I’ve spent more than 2 hours on most days, working it in when I can.
My creativity is flowing constantly now. When I’m away from my desk, I find myself typing notes on my phone as an essay begins to build in my head. I’m brainstorming future writing projects as my mind comes out of sleep in the mornings. I can’t stop thinking about it; I’m obsessed. (Just now, I fulfilled another homework assignment: tell 5 friends about my new passion for writing. I’m sure telling 700 of my readers will suffice.)
Last year I decided I would write a book. Now, I am in the right head-space and finally working on it. I have more than one book in my head, so I had better get busy. I’m also making some huge changes to this website very soon. I am honored (and astonished, really) by how many people continue to tune into NickFener.com daily. But I’m bored only writing “what we did today”, and like I said before, I’m embarrassed by many of my throw-together posts. My goal is to keep our family, friends and fans updated on Nick’s daily progress, while offering value to their reading experience. This means I may no longer post written updates every single day. I want to post daily, but have decided that I will only hit “publish” if I feel I’m putting out my best work possible. This is my new challenge, and I hope to keep your attention and create value for you. In my future blog entries, I am committed to weaving the unique life lessons created by Nick’s accident into the excitement of Nick’s recovery. In essence, there’s some awesome stuff coming down the pipes!
The theme of this website will be gradually shifting as well. Now that Nick’s healing is accelerating at light speeds, we are planning our next few adventures. This recovery blog will slowly mold and take the shape of an adventure and giving-back blog. For example, on the one year anniversary of his accident we will be celebrating by taking this double amputee SCUBA diving. For the one year anniversary of his final surgery, we will be returning to the sky to jump out of a plane together. And there are many, many more adventurous obstacles Nick wants to overcome. Just this morning he handed me a flier for a marathon and said, “Let’s do it.” (We already put ourselves through the misery of running one half-marathon. At the time, I declared the only way I’d do it again is for a good story. I shouldn’t have jinxed myself!) Stay tuned for his stories of struggle and bravery, contribution and triumph.
Lastly, I have finally finished writing the story about Nick’s defective parachute and how the manufacturer tried to cover it up. I’m in the last phase of editing it and will be posting it shortly, along with some interesting references. I’m relieved to be done with that painful ordeal and feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest.
Through love and creation ~ Lindsay
We had the pleasure of meeting this man in February at Project Walk.
This is truly one of the saddest, yet most inspirational stories of human triumph I’ve ever seen. It’s a long article, but will make you reevaluate the perceived severity of the challenges you are currently facing.
It’s never too late to hit the mental reset button and DECIDE that “life ain’t that bad.”
(As an aside, I’m currently writing an essay on this very topic. Look for it soon.)
… or Bah Humbunnies, if you’re like me.
Nick and I had a wonderful Easter holiday with my family. I really enjoyed myself. Believe it or not, this was not only the first time in a long time that I’ve seen most of my family, but the first time ever that we’ve all gathered with Jennifer at her house. A very unique and memorable experience for the whole family. Dad was particularly thrilled. It felt good to reconnect with my people; it had been way too long.
I’m happy to report that Nick was out and about all day today and didn’t use his wheelchair once. First time ever! I knew this day was coming soon. I am so proud of him (like a soccer Mom whose son’s first ever goal won the championship game). Or something like that.
Well, to be totally honest and fair, I have to confess that Nick actually jumped out of bed and into his wheelchair in a flurry at midnight… The washing machine broke and was flooding the laundry room, and even though there was nothing he could do, he had to investigate the source of the problem. But that was after midnight, once he had already gone to bed, so it didn’t count.
Wheelchair-less Day #1 – Check!
I’m really enjoying going to Project Walk with Nick. I get 3 days a week of quality time with him and with myself. We get an hour of conversation each way. Sometimes we use that time to plan and day dream. Other times (like today) we use it to make necessary phone calls. I drop him off 30-40 minutes before his session starts and head straight for the beach. After an hour of sprints, lunges, stairs, and some of my most inspired thinking, I go back to see the second half of Nick’s work out. I find great value in watching his journey with therapy. I’m living it! Ten months ago I all but lost my own legs, I’m so invested.
We were having a wonderful day until we got home at 3PM. It turns out Nick’s phantom pain has been unusually persistent for the past week, but it never got brought up. What a thoughtful guy. He hates complaining and being negative, so he just kept it to himself. Well, this afternoon it was just too much for him to bear.
It’s amazing how therapeutic and healing deep breathing is. He started his quest to feel better by drawing in some slow, deep breaths; exhaling into relaxation and allowing his weary body to sink into the bed. Full-lung breathing is phenomenal, but touch is far more healing. The iPod played soothing Indian sitar music while I massaged his back and legs for 40 minutes. The painful, throbbing sensations weren’t gone, but he surmounted the heavy emotions and helplessness so deeply rooted in his phantom pains.
Moments like these happen more often than I write about, but it’s the methods we use to heal and overcome such heartache that I am most proud of. I recall some of my worst moments since Nick’s accident being alleviated by a hug, shoulder rub, or caress on my hand. Human touch is powerful beyond words. In fact one of Nick’s favorite emotional diffusers over the years has been to reach out and touch my hand. My anger or frustration always melts away and I instantly know that love transcends those negative, painful emotions.
A pivotal shift has finally occurred in Fener Land. This adjustment has been weeks in the making (we’ve had the same discussion many, many times). The crutches will now be taking the wheelchair’s place as Nick’s main mode of transportation. Not on long treks, but definitely all the short ones.
His constant tailbone pain has been holding him back from making this necessary switch, and honestly, his pain level hasn’t calmed down much. What has changed is Nick’s attitude about it: he realizes he has a choice. Either he steps up his game now despite the pain, or he waits for the pain to subside before going to the next level (which isn’t guaranteed to happen). In typical Fener fashion, he has wisely chosen to work through the pain, suck it up, and get to walkin’.
So from now on, if you see Fener in his wheelchair, it’ll be for good reason (like his pain is elevated, he has a great distance to travel, or a 5-year-old needs a ride). Otherwise, He Be Crutchin’.
It’s important to cherish the simple things in life: a good song, perfect weather, a warm hug, fresh fruit, a fart that doesn’t smell. So often we zoom through our day without taking time to appreciate the subtle gifts so easily overlooked. This afternoon gave us the most perfect weather I could imagine, so Nick and I sat together briefly on the front porch to enjoy it. There was no reason to be perched out there other than to experience the sunshine and warm breeze.
In that transient moment, life was perfect.
When was the last time you turned an ordinary moment into something extraordinary just by deciding to do so? Imagine how much richer our days would be if we sought to see the beauty in the boring? -the humor in the humdrum? -the delight in the dull? -the terrific in the tedious? Do it right now; commit, that is, to allowing yourself to enjoy moments of your life that would normally pass by without notice. I’m doing it – at this very moment – because writing this blog feels so good.
I knew it was coming, I just never knew when. Yet as it was finally happening, I became a stone statue, unable to move or respond. Nick didn’t just fall down, he created his own dance moves as he was trying to catch himself. Picture this: we are walking toward the door at Project Walk, approaching an obstacle “ladder” laid out on the ground that the trainers are working out with. They step aside, allowing Nick to pass. Instead of walking through, Nick begins side stepping through the ladder – with his crutches – lifting his knees to the beat of the music. I still can’t figure out when the joking around ended and the panic began. In fact, none of us could. He fought hard to keep from falling; feet stomping, crutches flailing, and not a sound from his mouth. Then… he was on his ass, laughter erupting all around. Ouch. He won’t be messing around like that for a while.
After only a few hours by the pool yesterday, Nicks sunburned skin is as red as a pomegranate. His stomach and back are the only burned parts though, because those areas obviously didn’t need sun block. Obviously. Ouch again.
Unfortunately his training session was cancelled today, but Fener and I went to the gym anyway. After only 6 minutes on the treadmill, he was on fire. Pain was pulsing down his back, butt, and legs. Motivated by his August 18th skydiving deadline, he pushed himself to walk a total of 15 minutes. That’s sheer awesomeness! I’m so proud of that man. Whether he is physically ready to jump by August 18th or not, if he keeps up the hard work, he will be so much closer a normal life than he is now. I’m rooting for him to jump, but I’m not attached to it. It will happen when he’s ready.
The lesson I’ve extracted from this weekend is to release the pain. We can’t hold on forever. There comes a moment – sometimes it’s a symbolic moment – when it’s not only okay, but it’s the absolute perfect moment to let go.
We are in San Diego for the weekend with some friends to celebrate the life of a good friend and join together to recognize the 1-year anniversary of his passing. In doing so, we are releasing him and letting go of the pain of losing him. Symbolically, in a casual ceremony-like gathering, we set free dozens of live butterflies in memory of Pat. That beautiful, unifying moment was so healing.
Enjoying a brief mini-break this weekend after enduring a rougher than average week is just what I needed to clear my head. I have too much stuff bouncing around in this noggin of mine, accompanied by lack of direction and not enough focus. Getting out of my element allows me to dream and play again; my two favorite pastimes that I’ve all but forgotten how to enjoy recently.
The lesson of letting go went straight to my core. I’ve been holding onto the pain of our lives being torn apart. There have even been times recently when I felt paralyzed. That’s the pain of loss. Well I’m tired of hurting, and I crave to move forward and push through it. Essentially it’s time to suck it up and Get Busy Living. I feel like I made huge emotional progress this weekend. Thanks Pat!
Nick brought his new water legs to San Diego and tried them out yesterday in the hotel pool. The test swim was brief because it was cold and the pool was crowded. He was given a “waterproof” sleeve that slides from mid-socket (mid-calf) up above his regular liners (mid-thigh) to keep water from getting in the sockets. It turns out their definition of waterproof differs greatly from ours. His liners and socks were soaked after he got out. We can’t quite figure this one out… how come they’re not waterproof? Will be calling the prosthetist on Tuesday.
Enjoying life again. I’ve missed this feeling.
Yesterday the doctor sent us home with a prescription for GoLightly, the drink commonly used prior to colonoscopies. Well, that stuff works. Fast. But now Nick is feeling really sick – hot, cold, hot, cold. And he’s just all around miserable, with his stomach pains still peaking.
What a terrible day. It’s hard to be positive when this shit is going on.
Maybe – just maybe – he will sleep it off and feel like $640,000 bucks tomorrow.
I need a vacation. I bet Fener could use one too. There are dozens of historically rich and exotic locations I long to experience, and not nearly enough time, money, (and now mobility) to see them all. I’ve had hours of prime daydreaming time today while sitting and squirming on an uncomfortable plastic chair in the hospital emergency room.
Yes, the ER.
We woke to a worsening of the pain in Nicks abdomen, and decided we couldn’t afford to wait another day. A trip to the ER assures prompt attention to a potentially dangerous situation. We didn’t know if his intestines were blocking up again, or if something more serious was developing. After some blood work, a few x-rays and hours of waiting, the doctor confirmed what we have suspected all along: Nick Fener is full of shit.
I’m shocked but relieved. I feel like we’ve been doing everything right; his diet is healthful and promotes elimination, he “goes” 2-3 times per day, he’s more active than he used to be, and he’s taking all the right supplements to keep things moving.
I know y’all don’t care to know about Nicks turds, and honestly I’m not sure why I’m sharing all this. I’ll spare the details of what the solution to Nicks stomach woes will consist of; but I can mention that the adventures in NickFenerland will continue first thing tomorrow morning per doctors orders, so he will be missing his session at Project Walk.
After keeping Nick company for a brief ten hours in the ER, I am elated to be home. Home, and taking a few moments to release the events of the day and digest the new Facts of Life around here. A few minor tweaks and changes to his already-healthy dietary habits and he should be golden. I wonder if he will be a slave to an ultra strict diet for the rest of his life or if this is a necessity only during his time of healing. It doesn’t matter; he’s willing to do whatever it takes.
getting back to that vacation…
We experienced an awesome walking accomplishment this morning when Nick ran two errands (by himself) with only his walking crutches. He said it felt great to be walking with a goal – instead of just in circles. He drove down to Murrieta to pick up a few prescriptions from his doctor, then went to Target to drop them off at the pharmacy. To most people these errands are no big deal, but for Nick, they offered him the chance to get out and accomplish something on his own. It took him a little more than an hour to go and get back, and once he got home we only had twenty minutes to spare before leaving for Project Walk. He climbed in the backseat of the CrV with three pillows and immediately passed out, sleeping soundly until we were less than a mile from our destination. It’s amazing how quickly his body becomes taxed from simple everyday activities. He’s getting stronger though; he can handle so much more action than just a few weeks ago.
He’s still having unexplainable pain in his abdomen so we made an appointment with his doctor for Monday. Then at some point this afternoon we realized that Monday is too far away. I got them to squeeze him in on Friday morning instead. This means we’ll miss going to Project Walk – but finding the source of his pain is much more important.
I’m sad tonight. Just had my last dinner with two of my absolute favorite people, including one of my best friends and #1 go-to-girl for all my physical and emotional needs. I guess it wasn’t our last dinner with Bart and Kim, but since they are moving away to the east coast this weekend, it was a time of goodbyes. I don’t want to say goodbye. Having Bart and Kim around the corner was so much fun these past few years. But during this last year, I would have absolutely crumbled without Kim by my side. I leaned heavily on her and have developed a sisterly closeness that is priceless to me. Although she wasn’t a lone soldier in the Fenwalter Army, she does deserve the Medal of Honor. I’m really going to miss those two.
Nick got his new legs today. They fit much better than before and he is so happy. We are also eager to try his new water legs – either in a pool or shower, whichever comes first.
We also had our annual tax appointment this afternoon. I was dreadfully unprepared (big surprise) but we walked away extremely relieved.
For three days now Nick has had unexplainable abdominal pain. We are becoming concerned and just might have to do something about it. The fun just won’t stop!
What a beautiful day March 26th is. We’ve been celebrating our 7 year anniversary today. I can’t believe we’ve been together so long, but at the same time, I can’t remember life without him. We didn’t do anything spectacular to celebrate other than have a nice dinner after his session at Project Walk. I was looking forward to the most delicious seared ahi tuna salad all day, just as Nick couldn’t wait to devour his favorite apple and blueberry cobbler for dessert.
There was plenty of talk today about how we’ve made it so long, and how it has never felt as though we’ve had to “stick it out”. We’ve been through a lot together in such a short time; my broken leg when we first started dating, several career changes, my Mom dying, his folks parting ways, my Dad’s quadruple bypass and two knee replacements, a failed business venture together, buying a house, many friends dying, and now his disabling injury. We’ve done more than just survive, we had thrived. We’re closer and more in love now than ever, despite some of our new physical limitations.
I was not initially attracted to Nick. In fact, it took months for me to “give in” after he expressed interest in me. But once I gave him a chance, I never looked back. We dove right into a serious commitment, and then slowly began building a life together. I’m grateful that we had six amazing years together before he got hurt. I wonder if I would have been so strong and unwavering if this had happened within the first few years. Thank God we weren’t tested with this sooner.
I truly believe we’ve made it through the worst of it and that life is getting better everyday. He receives his next set of legs tomorrow which means he won’t have to wear three thick socks on each leg anymore. These legs should last for several years. It’s a strange thought to consider that he will require artificial limbs for the rest of his life in order to walk or even stand up. Like me and my chapstick, Nick will be totally reliant upon those carbon fiber legs.
Nick had another hour-plus phantom attack this morning. I am so over this ridiculous bullshit. I witnessed him wake up to the attack. He was asleep when suddenly his body began to curl up, his face started to grimace and he jolted awake in excruciating pain. It felt like someone was stabbing his foot with a knife – for over an hour!
He missed his gym training appointment. This sucks because he will be missing Tuesday as well. But at least the attack went away eventually and he was able to carry on with the day.
I wish we could find a way to flip the switch in his brain. I don’t know how, and I don’t know anyone who does. These attacks are getting more frequent. They’re unpredictable and completely debilitating. We can’t even wrap our brains around it. Why? Why is this happening? Has he not suffered enough? Let’s just keep pushing him to see how long it takes for him to break. I wish we could blame it on something, but we can’t. There is no common denominator between the handful of attacks he’s had. For now we’re at the mercy of those dead feet coming back to haunt him, almost a year later. Maybe they’re pissed about the whole amputation thing. The ghosts of Nicks feet are having separation anxiety. Imagine that!
Project Walk! Oh how I love thee!
Nick tried some new moves again today. I delight in the fact that Project Walk provides a secure environment for Nick to grow and flourish, try and fail, and push himself safely to exhaustion. Since he learned to walk holding Eric’s arm on Wednesday, today he did more of the same before taking it up a notch. The next level of independence will be to walk freely with only one crutch. So, that’s exactly what they tried. He charged a few laps with only one crutch, all the while securely fastened into the hanging harness. The concensus is that Nick is not ready for this yet. He was wobbly, losing his balance, and falling into the harness. We think it’s due to the single point of contact of the crutch to the ground. It rotates as he puts his weight on it, causing him to lose his balance. Eric mentioned that a four-point cane (like old ladies use) would likely keep Nick from rotating around the crutch.
Nick was also “practicing for landing” at therapy today. In a harness, he held onto a bar and did squat jumps in preparation to land a parachute one day. It wasn’t a completely accurate simulation of a parachute landing, but was exciting all the same. He really got into it; I could tell he was visualizing coming in for landing on the grass. The impact on his joints and spine didn’t seem to bother him at all either, which is a major bonus.
The workout was rough on him though. We got home around 3PM, and he’s been in bed ever since – only getting up for dinner and toileting. The dude is worn out. His workouts are getting harder, his muscles are waking up more, and he is still healing. At six hardcore workouts a week (1-2 hours in length), coupled with all the “everyday” energy he exerts just to survive, it’s no wonder he is knackered! His pain meds make him loopy and groggy as well, which never helps. But despite his extreme fatigue this evening, I’m proud of his determination to keep pushing forward. Proud, because I realize how easy it could be for someone to chose the alternative.
Not much can top yesterday’s news, so why even try? I think I’ve watched that video over 30 times today, and I’m still not tired of it yet. Really excited about therapy at Project Walk tomorrow. With a break through as sizable as the one he had on Wednesday, there’s no telling what will happen next.
Today we rearranged one appointment to make room for another. And after all that, the appointment got cancelled. It was not a big deal for us, but just one more less-than-smooth situation we found ourselves in. If it’s something necessary that we must deal with in our world, then there is usually some level of friction. A strange phenomenon that I’m not used to, but am coming to expect on a regular basis.
We are both worn out tonight. He was asleep the second his head touched the pillow. Preparing for tomorrow; an early morning and another intense workout with Eric.
AMAZING progress at Project Walk.
(If you’re having difficulty watching the video below, click here)
The physical progress we’ve seen with Nick over the past one month is astonishing. Yesterday was the 10 month mark since his accident, so we spent time talking about how far he’s come since the 9 month mark. Exactly one month ago Nick got his ankles adjusted and started standing without aid. That evening he was able to use his hand crutches for the first time. Over the course of the next few weeks, he became very comfortable and stable with the hand crutches. He learned to use them in public and on uneven surfaces. He walked up and down slopes and curbs and even opened and closed doors while using them. He completely abandoned the walker and rarely uses the parallel bars anymore – even though he should utilize them more often, as there are many useful exercises he could be doing on them.
But today, Nick made his biggest stride of all. After trying for a month now to rise from sitting to standing without assistance, he finally did it! He had the harness on, but the tension was slack, and he just stood on up. In fact, he stood up multiple times; they practiced it over and over again.
That’s not all. For the last month Nick repeatedly attempted to walk with only one crutch, or by only holding the rail with one hand, but was never able to take a single step. Both legs have been too weak to hold his weight long enough to allow the other foot to pass through and step down in front. Until today! Something clicked in Nick’s body today. First he took one step while holding onto Eric with one hand. Then he took three steps. Three became five, and soon he was walking back and forth across the floor while only using one hand for support. We were all completely blown away by his sudden leap of progress. He had quite a bit of weight in the one arm, but his gait was smooth and he was in control. Such a beautiful sight inspired me to jump up and down while incessently repeating “Oh My God”. My smile burst through my cheeks! In a flash I had a vivid day dream in which I was whisked away to our wedding day, set on a breathtaking private beach, free of wheelchairs and crutches. We were walking hand in hand as husband and wife.
He tried on his test sockets today. They’re clear in order to see any adjustments that are needed. This time they changed a few things. Nick also got a peek at his articulating feet. There is a button in the ankle that he will push to move his foot into a pointed-toe position, and a neoprene sleeve to keep the water out. The anticipation is killing him, especially since he has to wait another week for them to be done.
Nick and I are drained, frazzled and out of gas – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
No wait, that’s just me. Nick is fine.
Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. To love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.
Wide awake at 5am as Nick finally decides to get out of bed and walk around.
We’ve been awake for hours because of intense phantom pain.
Burning, electrocuting, cramping, shocking, completely intolerable pain on a part of his body that’s not even there.
He has no feet!!
I can not describe the frustration and bewilderment we’ve been experiencing because of this. Poor Nick.
I don’t say that often, but when he has these random attacks I feel terrible for him. I hurt for him. It’s just like being attacked. A mental mugging leaving him emotionally battered and physically exhausted. His body wretches and tightens with every pulsing pain, making it harder and harder to relax or fall back asleep. The longer it goes on, the more the intensity compounds.
It’s a dirty, dirty trick that we refuse to see the good in.
I don’t have much to say tonight. In fact, this feels a wee bit forced laddie (my best leprechaun impression??).
But what I can say is that I’m feeling even better today. Still a little strange, but more myself.
Nick is really beginning to acknowledge how far he’s come. Reminiscing, he mentioned that just a month or two ago he was dreaming of the time when he could truck along with his hand crutches. And he’s there now. Next we’re looking forward to him doing certain tasks without the wheelchair and eventually going a whole day without needing it. I’m sure that we’ll just wake up one morning and realize we’re already there.
On the way to Project Walk we spoke A LOT about the logistics of getting him underwater and scuba diving again. Engaging in a brainstorming conversation about one of our favorite hobbies, and feeling like it’s going to be do-able again soon, was exhilarating! I got pumped up from it!! Love that!
I’m starting to feel a little bit better, and I think things are starting to work themselves out in my head. You see, I was so focused on Nick’s recovery for 9 months, ensuring that nothing got in our way, that I completely ignored my feelings. If I seemed like Super Woman -as many of you have told me- that’s because I was. I completely lost touch with my human, emotional side in order to give 100% of my energy to my healing honey.
It’s something that just happened – losing myself. It wasn’t a choice, it was an unconscious reaction. Like the Mom who lifts a car off her child. It was natural, easy, sometimes painful, but never a burden. I spent the last 9 months doing what needed to be done, without spending much time thinking about anything else. My dedication has paid off tremendously. I wouldn’t change it at all. I believe Nick’s miraculous progress and recovery is definitely due to our team work, his sweat, and our friends and family’s support.
He has made incredible strides with his healing over the past month. He is enjoying the fruits of his new independence, including showering and toileting on his own now. I’m still needed, but just not as much. This is great! But it’s also allowed me to connect to the buried emotions of losing life as we once knew it.
I think that’s what I’m most hurt by. Life changed instantly. It was no subtle change; everything changed. A 180 degree change.
Our life together was so bitchin! And then… it wasn’t. It isn’t. But I guess we’re just in the long process of redefining what “bitchin” means to us. Like today, he came home from visiting two different Hobby Shops (after going to the gym) and said he had “so much fun just chatting around with the guys.” That would have been an ordinary experience in our past life. But today it made him feel alive and happy.
I know we will build an awesome life together again. We’ve already begun. I’ve realized that isn’t the issue in my head. I’m not worried about the future. I’m starting to create my future again. I’m still processing the loss of what our future was going to be. I know this now, and just by knowing it, I’m feeling a little better. There were several days over the past few weeks that I had to force myself to smile. And some days I couldn’t even force it. There were days that I didn’t leave the house or answer the phone because I just couldn’t stand to interact with anyone. I was in a cave of mourning, and had no desire to scratch my way out.
But that was then. I woke today with a bit of a spring to my step. I’m not done grieving, but I see the next transition is near. I miss the happy, smiley Lindsay that sees the positive in everything. But I know that taking the time, in my own time, to deal with my junk, is the healthiest, most beneficial thing I could do for myself. I know I’ll emerge a better person. The kind of person who deserves to partner with an incredible man like Nick.
I want to take a moment and thank all of our friends and family who have stuck by our sides during these last 9 months. The ups and downs are enough to wear anyone out. We (by we, I mean me) have been selfish and absent a lot of the time, so thank you for allowing us to run the course of our emotions. It hasn’t been easy. Without you all, we would be crushed, broke and alone during a very painful time in our lives. But you wouldn’t let that happen. Thank you friends for your undying support! Thank you family for being our crutch. We really appreciate everything, and never want to overlook or take any of it for granted. We are blessed and we know it! Thank you!
Another long day. It started slow though. Nick was in a lot of pain and totally exhausted this morning. He missed his morning workout with Jamon. I hate it when that happens, but I also know it’s important for him to honor his body and rest when he needs it. Six days a week of hardcore working out is intense, especially for someone recovering from an injury like Nick’s. In fact, he couldn’t fully wake up until we had to actually leave for his prosthetist appointment.
He got fitted for new legs today. The legs he has now were only supposed to be for the first 3-6 months while his stumps were still shrinking. The ones he got fitted for today will last for the next 3-4 years. The coolest part is that he is getting “water legs”. The ankles will articulate so he can swim with them on. And they’ll be his legs for showering too, when he can stand on his own. They’ll be putting the new, smaller sockets onto the feet he currently has, and moving the current, too-big sockets onto the swim feet. He’ll be set for a while. We are so excited!
Remember the picture of Nick’s feet on backward? Well here’s the video!
(If you’re having difficulty watching the video below, click here)
Long day! And it began so sweetly too. As we were leaving the house and loading into the car this morning, I watched in admiration as Nick opened the front door and closed it behind him while walking with the crutches. Then he walked on the gravel and let himself into the car. I normally open doors for him, but now that he is getting so steady on the hand crutches, he’s ready for more challenges. See, it’s one thing to walk straight, on a flat surface with lots of space. It’s another thing to walk while carrying on with the basic, everyday tasks we all perform, like opening a door, getting a glass of water, picking something up off the floor, or carrying a jar across the kitchen. It’s activities like this that keep Nicks wheelchair a vital part of his life still.
So as Nick got into the car this morning, I thought out loud, “Nick, you’re going to get your life back. All of it.” And I just loved his reply. Made my day! He said, “Going to? I’ve already GOT my life back!” Ahhh, he certainly is manifesting positive outcomes in his life now, isn’t he? He has such a great outlook on life, I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Project Walk was incredible too. Today was the start of his seventh week at Project Walk, and he’s got his sights on being able to walk with only one crutch, within the next two weeks! Wow, that’s ambitious, and he knows it. But after mentioning it to Bri, they began working toward it today. He got in the safety harness and practiced trying to walk while only relying on one of the crutches. It was so difficult. And only once did I see him step down without immediately going to his crutch. But just once was enough. It felt so good to see.
He walked a lot, and is feeling it tonight. His pain meds aren’t working and he is just miserable. You’d think we’d have this figured out by now, but we don’t. Like he was telling Eric today, if his tailbone didn’t hurt so bad, then pain really wouldn’t be an issue. The tailbone is what messes with him the most frequently and intensely. He didn’t even break his tailbone. We are so frustrated by this.
I love quiet Sundays to sleep in, then wake to be greeted by my Dad, cook a healthy breakfast, lounge outside, do chores, watch a movie… ya know, just chill out.
Tomorrow is no joke though. We start first thing in the morning and head to Riverside to get the hand controls permanently installed on the Honda. It’s been a long process getting to this point. I’d say we’ve been given a bit of the run around, honestly. But after the four hour installation (while you wait) it will make life more convenient for us. Then we’re off to Project Walk for his late work out of the week. Looking forward to seeing what they throw at him tomorrow.
I just realized today that I’ve been going through some sort of mourning. Now that things are normalizing a bit, and Nick is gaining more independence, I’ve naturally had more time and space to process things. Here, I’ve just spent the last two weeks thinking I was in a “funk” but actually I’m grieving. Grieving what was, and processing what is. And its not like I’m upset or sad or angry, I’m just withdrawn and craving solitude. This chapter of my life has been interesting. Really, really interesting. Thankfully I have Nick here to support me while I’m figuring myself out again. I’m a very lucky girl.
In other news, Nick did three sets of stairs at our house this evening, using just his hands on the hand rails, no crutch. He’s really excited about this because now that forces him to use his legs more. He needs to be using his right leg more than his left. It’s noticeably smaller and significantly weaker.
Nick Fener was up and at ’em early today. In fact, he was out of bed before I was. That’s a first! He got to the gym early and hopped on the treadmill for an 8 minute warm up. At a brisk 1 MPH, he was putting a lot of weight on his arms and tired quickly. Perhaps if he went just a little slower, he could concentrate on maintaining posture, placing his feet, and not using his arms. But after 8 minutes, at 1 mile an hour, the machine said he went about an eighth of a mile. Not too shabby!
Of course, the early rising had its cost. He took a two hour nap this afternoon. See, I knew it was too good to be true this morning. The dude needs his rest. Still. Especially now. He’s working so hard everyday, his body is constantly breaking itself down and repairing again.
For a girl who used to burn water, I’m really getting quite comfortable in the kitchen. Tonight I made a healthy meal of fresh asparagus and salmon crusted with a home made mixture of walnuts, pecans, pistachio nuts and cajun spices. It was seriously delicious!
I’ve also been juicing a lot, so we’ve been having fresh green vegetable juice to drink everyday. This weeks mixture was kale, collard greens, spinach, green beans, cucumber, carrots, apples, lemon, and ginger. We drink a big ol’ glass every morning. It’s a great way to kick start the day!
This is just a mere sampling of what Nick is up to at Project Walk. Check it out!
For some reason, I can’t get this video to play smooth on the blog page, but it plays perfectly on the YouTube page. Please click here to see it on the YouTube page. Thanks!
Nick and I had an intense conversation on the drive home from Project Walk this evening. We were both getting a little heated, but certainly not at each other. We were talking about the times when his doctors and surgeons told me he would “never walk again.” We’ve talked about it before, but tonight was the first time Nicks gotten even mildly angry about it.
How dare they tell his family something so definite on the very first night of his injury? And furthermore, once he was awake, each time they tested his feet for sensation or movement, they told us that whatever returns in the first three weeks is it; that’s all he’s going to get back. Then after several weeks, they changed it to three months. Either way, it’s complete bullshit! These doctors are putting ideas and expectations into their patients brains. Maybe they should be a little more aware of the facts before trying to educate the patients’ families.
Since we’ve been in the spinal cord injury world, we’ve learned that the window of maximum recovery is much longer than 3 weeks (more like 2 years), and varies greatly based on the individual. I wonder how much feeling and function might have returned in Nicks feet had they not been amputated? I only say that because his glutes, hamstrings and abductors are slowly waking up after 8 months. I am not implying that either of us are having second thoughts about cutting his feet off. Not at all! They were so badly broken, that even if sensation returned, they would have been unusable. I just wonder about it, that’s all.
Nick can’t wait until his next neurosurgeon appointment. He’s going to walk right in there and tell them, “Thanks a lot for telling my family that I’d never walk again. I’m glad we didn’t listen!” …or something like that. He has a few months to practice and get it right.
“My legs are feeling more like my legs. I feel more connected to them now. They used to feel like they were in a vice grip all the time, and now they feel much lighter”
This was part of a conversation I had with Nick this morning. He also told me how good it felt when a friend and fellow client at Project Walk seriously asked him yesterday if he actually had a spinal cord injury. Less than a year ago his spine surgeons told me he would never walk again, and now he’s being asked if he even has a spinal cord injury. That feels good!
Speaking of feeling good. Nick got a 90 minute massage today. Again, why isn’t he doing this more often? I have massaged him quite a bit over the last few months, but not nearly enough. And today was the first paid massage he’s had in a long time that he felt was exceptional. I’m pretty sure he’ll be seeing her again soon.
Nick is beginning to get a really sensitive spot at the bottom of his right stump. He says it feels like the bone is going to poke through the skin. Now, we’ve been monitoring it, and it’s not going to poke through; it just feels that way to him. How his prosthetist explained it to us is that the severed bone is still growing, trying to attach to another piece of bone. It’s the same exact healing process our bodies go through when we break a bone. So the tip of the bone in his stump has actually grown a bit. You can feel it when you touch it. That uneven piece of bone growth is poking his skin and scar tissue just the right way to make it super sensitive. Thankfully he doesn’t notice it when he’s standing. If he ever does, that’s when something will have to be done. For now, it’s ok, but it’s just weird!
It’s March already? Wow, time passes quickly. Life happens fast. I just remembered this evening that I’m 31 now instead of 30. I’m grateful for my youth still, but wonder where all the time went. Regarding the last nine and a half months, I’m glad the time has passed. I feel like a different person now. And Nick IS a different person now. But when will we be the people who are just going about living life again? Instead of the people recovering from a traumatic life event? I look forward to that shift. It’s closer now than its ever been. I can feel it coming.
Well I wasn’t going to blog about this, but I just can’t help it. I’m excited, and so is Nick. He is particularly stoked. I am writing this to make sure our young friends Sydney and Tiernan know that Nick beat them. They may be cuter than Nick, but he won the contest. He got done with wearing diapers first, just like he threatened that he would. It’s been about two weeks of experimenting now, and he’s found a great solution that doesn’t require the bulky, uncomfortable, embarrassing purple diapers. YAY!!!!! We’ve done a lot of joking about the “purple board shorts,” but I will never discount that needing to wear them as an adult could make anyone depressed. Nick handled the situation with grace and a smile, keeping his dignity in tact and never being too hard on himself. Again, another reason why I love him. We are so happy to be done with that phase. Shoot, I’m just happy it was a phase, and not a permanent thing. Sweet relief!!
This weekend was all about renewal for me, and exploration for Fener. I stayed home and hibernated while Nick was out and about.
After his training on Saturday we visited Mom. But before we went up to the house we decided to use the flat road as a pathway for a little walking. But wouldn’t you know, in the span of fifteen minutes of walking down the street in front of his Moms house, we ran into three(!) separate people Nick knows. I couldn’t believe it. And not just acquaintances either. He ran into two old buddies who were once great friends, but who he just hasn’t seen since the accident. It was all so very random and awesome!
When we got home from Moms, Nick literally walked from one car to the other and drove away to a friends house, leaving his wheelchair behind! The wheelchair and I stayed home and watched TV together while Nick was out experimenting with his own personal limits. Not only did he navigate a few various slopes and steps with the hand crutches, he sorted out the logistics of using the restroom without the convenience of being in a wheelchair. These are huge confidence builders for him, and me. Even though he still needs a spotter when on an uneven surface or steps, he is getting stronger, more stable and a lot more capable of anticipating balance issues. I only had to catch him once when he attempted to go up Moms stairs without the handrail, using crutches only. We immediately decided that was a bad idea though an had a pleasantly uneventful rest of the climb.
Video Footage from Nick’s latest therapy session at Project Walk. March 2, 2012
Thank God Project Walk is such a professional operation. Their lovely scheduler called us at 8am to let us know his primary therapist was out sick today (hope you feel better soon Bri), and that his other therapist Eric would be covering for her. We also discovered that we thought his therapy was later in the day, when it was really an early session. Good on them for being so thorough. Maybe we’ll get ourselves straight one of these days!
It’s a good thing Nick napped on the way down to Carlsbad, because he had a very intense workout. I think that’s the most I’ve seen him sweat at Project Walk. Eric said something I really liked today too. He said that as long as Nick is in their doors, he needs to be walking with the crutches. That’s a great idea. As exhausting as it is, he needs to begin developing the habit of reaching for the crutches rather than the wheelchair. Because at some point, it will truly be a matter of habit and comfort level, not ability. I don’t see him giving up the wheelchair completely any time soon, but the more he can get used to maneuvering around without it, the better. The only down side is that it’s impossible for him to do anything but just walk. So, he can’t carry anything or open doors, and he tires very easily. He’ll just have to work on it daily, and build slowly in order to get out of the chair entirely.
Nick loves working out with Eric. Here, they were practicing standing from a seated position, without using his arms. But it didn’t quite end the way Eric was planning.
Spent a lot of time these past few days working on the Recovery Gallery page, and also on an up-coming Acknowledgements page (been working on that for weeks). I’m wanting to create a space with this blog that documents our whole story. I’m building something here. I don’t know what yet, but I’m building something.
About five months ago, we thought we would be ready to conquer the world by now. We had dreams of joining our friends at the skydiving boogie in Nicaragua this month. When I told Nick that the boogie starts tomorrow, he said he wished I hadn’t told him. The realization that life is moving so slowly for us is hard to swallow. Yet he’s healing so rapidly for the extent of his injuries. There’s just such a conflict of emotion here. I’ve been feeling pretty down this week. Maybe a little overwhelmed, maybe tired, but definitely not my positive, happy self. It’s okay though, because I am enjoying the quiet time I’m purposefully creating. And Nick, well Nick is just powering through all my shit like a true warrior. We really do make a great team.
If you’re not interested to know about mine and Nicks love life, then don’t read this post.
If you’re my Dad, don’t read this post!
Okay, I’ve warned you.
So Nick and I have essentially lost our sex life. It’s gone. A spinal cord injury will do that to ya. He has no physical feelings of the sexual nature what so ever. And it’s something we’ve pretty much been ignoring. Since we’ve been home for the past seven months, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve attempted to “fool around.” And with each endeavor, it’s always the same outcome: submitting to the current fact that the spinal cord injury has robbed him of this basic human function. But today was a little different. Last week we talked to his doctor and got a few pill samples. You know, the stuff Bob Dole makes commercials about? I wish with all my might that I could say it worked, but it didn’t.
But here’s how we turned today’s experience into a win for us… We had fun. Now, I won’t go into any details, but I will say that we just enjoyed each others company, without the usual disappointments or bad feelings. We hope his functioning will return, but we’re starting to find more acceptance in what “is” for right now. I’m not saying we’re giving up hope. In fact, we haven’t even scratched the surface of possible solutions to this problem. We’re just getting started to explore the possibilities. I love him no matter what. This is the saddest part about Nicks injuries, but I refuse to sing a sad song about it because at least I still have him by my side. And even though we are currently limited in the bedroom, our relationship and bond is stronger than ever. Now THAT is a successful love life, if you ask me.
At Project Walk, Nick got a killer workout with Bri. She had him rolling back and forth on his back, and then coming up to standing, using his momentum. It hurt his tailbone, but was incredibly useful for strengthening his balance. He was also walking sideways and backward with the hand crutches, while attached to the walking harness. His legs are getting so much more muscular now because he’s doing weighted exercises at every visit. After only a few short weeks, he’s really kicking ass.
Nick missed his gym training this morning. He slept poorly and felt bad. What a bummer. The day got better though after I fed him some caffeine. Since the dude never drinks coffee, a Starbucks treat really perked him right up. We continued on to have a quiet yet productive day together. I was grateful for some time to be at home without people here. Life’s been quite hectic for us lately.
While enjoying our yummy coffee drinks, we spent a lot of time talking about the shape of our lives to come. What do we want to create? What are our goals? Well, we didn’t really decide on anything. I realize that we’re both entirely too wrapped up in the moment to begin thinking big picture yet. Too much is riding on his recovery. EVERYTHING is riding on his recovery. I do have some pretty awesome ideas though, it’s just too soon to even entertain them.
Today was my first day going to work again. It just didn’t feel right. I didn’t actually get to jump because it was too windy and rainy, but I was there all day. I’m still sorting my feelings about it, so I’ll wait to elaborate. It was an emotional experience for me though. I did not like kissing Nick good bye this morning and leaving him to himself. But even though I didn’t like it, he did great. He had a very productive morning until it was time to leave for Project Walk with his friend Bandito. At this point, even though Nick can drive, he still needs to be driven to therapy. More than an hour in each direction, with a two hour work out in between, is just too much for him. Maybe one day soon, but not now.
Today Bri put a table in front of him and a table behind him, had him stand between them and toss a ball back and forth. He said he could do about six tosses before losing his balance. And he explained that it was every ounce of strength and strain within him to hold his body up. I’m so bummed that I missed it. When he got home tonight, he was in a great mood. He felt good and said he had a great day.
He’s said a few times lately that “he wouldn’t do it again.” Meaning that if he had to re-do this nine month experience (or something similar) that he just wouldn’t do it. I’m not sure how I feel about that statement, but I can at least pull one positive thing from it. When he has said it, he says it in a way that alludes to the experience being over. Like he’s past the experience. And I think he feels that way a little bit. Even though he’s not completely rehabilitated, and has a long way to go, he’s past the hard part. He says the first 6 months were absolute hell, and that it’s been getting better ever since. I can sense it in him too. He is making huge strides daily. He’s incredible to me. Now, if I could just get him to trim that damn beard.
Days like today make my heart smile. Nick really shined today as an independent person. He went to the gym on his own and got a killer work out. He says Jamon shows him no mercy, and he loves it! I even heard him tell a friend, “working out is fun.” I’m very grateful that he’s enjoying it, because he has no other choice if he wants to get his life back.
After his workout he went to Lowe’s to get a part to repair his hand controls. Then he went to Target to get a few items. He got a body pillow to help him sleep better. (From the sound of it, it’s working well!) He painted a picture of himself wheeling around Target with this huge pillow across his lap, with several other items tucked between his legs. I wish I could’ve seen it. He also stopped and pumped his own gas. I know it seems like he does this all day, everyday, but he was actually putting it in the car this time.
As if that wasn’t enough, he came home and showered on his own! He has needed my help to shower this whole time. But today I couldn’t be here, so I laid out his towels and clean clothes in advance, and he did the rest. What an amazing feeling for him to be experiencing some of the most basic tasks in life, independently. We take for granted our ability to just quickly hop in the shower and then move on with our day. A shower for him is a long process. And now to do it successfully on his own is a huge step forward! Again, I am so extremely proud! How could I not be? He’s amazing.
Nick finally found a new hobby, that has nothing to do with rehabilitation, and nothing to do with any previous hobbies he’s had. And I’m thrilled! I’ve been encouraging him to find something fun to do for a while now. So last week he bought a remote control off-road truck. It flips and rolls and jumps, and makes Nick so incredibly happy. He says when he’s driving it, he doesn’t even notice his pain. The only down side is that it takes two people to operate it, so he can’t just go outside and mob it around on his own. He needs a second person to put it back on its wheels when it flips over. Other than that, it’s bad ass! He raced it around our property this morning before we left for Project Walk.
Nick had his best therapy session ever today! He walked A LOT! Bri put him in the hanging harness, and he walked with his hand crutches. The harness allowed him to experiment with using his arms less, without the fear of falling. He was using his hips more to follow through with each step. But the best part about today was the shift in pain. He said something “clicked” with his body. His mid back wasn’t doing all the work to hold him up. He was having a difficult time explaining it, but basically he walked lap after lap without needing to sit down. And afterward, his middle back wasn’t burning like it usually does. Some other part of his body is kicking in and deciding to contribute to this walking thing. Finally!
And what Friday evening would be complete without a 4 hour trip to the emergency vet clinic? MIA dog was really sick when we got home from Project Walk. Normally I would have waited a few hours and monitored her myself. But tonight was different. She looked half way gone. I only had to imagine the possible consequences of waiting too long to treat her. Nick was worried too, so we agreed that getting immediate treatment would be the best thing for her. We’re still not sure what happened, but she’s feeling significantly better. Not quite 100% though. They ruled out several very serious issues and let me bring her home.
Nick and MIA are currently cuddled up in a warm blanket, having a snoring contest.
Poor guy. He’s really sore today from all that walking yesterday. He walked a lot in the morning, did two hours of therapy, then went straight to dinner where he walked into and out of the restaurant without getting to rest at all. I gave him a nice massage before shipping him off to the gym this morning. His mid back is doing a lot of the work to hold him up. I can’t even imagine how painful this whole process must be for him. I really take his lack of complaining for granted. I don’t see him as a man who lost his legs. I see him as an athlete training for the Olympics.
Tonight as we were leaving a restaurant with friends, Nick zoomed ahead of us to go to an ATM in the parking lot. As I came out the door, I looked up and saw Nick laying on the ground with his wheelchair tipped over on its side. Of course, the one moment I don’t have the video camera rolling he falls out of his chair. He took a curb too fast, popped the wheelie too soon, and tumbled right out of the chair sideways. He landed on his butt cheek, not his tailbone, thank God! He’s ok, but when we got in the car, he said he twisted his ankle. The fall triggered a phantom feeling in his left ankle. He said it felt bruised and twisted. That’s so weird!!!
Talk about the highs and lows of life. This weekend I could barely get out of bed; today I couldn’t stop dancing and singing! I felt happy to the depths of my soul today. I felt good on so many levels. Helping Nick get independent on his hand crutches this morning was the highlight of my day. We did one practice run, through the whole house. I spotted him the entire way and was totally useless. He was solid. So I grabbed my camera for the next lap. He impresses the hell out of me. The drive he has, and the way he pushes himself through pain and exhaustion is a testament to his commitment to succeed. There is no way he would be this far already, if it wasn’t for his sheer will.
At Project Walk, he walked across the therapy floor while just holding onto Bri’s forearms. No harness, no walker. And when he got to his destination, the parallel bars, he didn’t need to stop and sit. He kept going on the bars. Incredible!
UnFrickenBelievable! Three weeks at Project Walk combined with some hardware adjustments on his legs…and… Voila!!!