This is the official blog for the recovery of Carson Tueller. For now it is maintained by the person the family has assigned to give out information. The information on this page will the the most recent, updated information, and will be coming straight from the family. There is no need to ask for further updates. If you have questions you can send them to tuellercarson@gmail.com and we will try to get them answered. Please keep Carson in your prayers!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Dream Carson

As you all know, I hit my six-month mark of injury on June 30. I cannot believe it's been six months, and it seems like so much shorter… Like only yesterday that I was injured. Being at the half-year mark has caused me to reflect upon what I have or haven't accomplished in that amount of time, or how I have or haven't recovered.

In terms of physical recovery, I have much more feeling all over the right side of my torso and left foot. I have back muscles all along my spine and down to my pelvis that are working or firing, some obliques and abs, and some upper glutes. The back muscles are definitely stronger than before, while the others I mentioned are just coming on, or are barely twitching as I struggle to accomplish an exercise. Unfortunately, most of those muscles are not even close to being strong enough yet for functionality. Yet.

Emotionally speaking, I have to admit that I thought that things would have settled much more than they already have. I would have believed that over the course of six months some things would normalize, and that the emotional trauma of such a significant and negative life change would have faded some. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened the way I have wanted it to.

I had a text conversation with a friend about it just last night actually.

Me: "I wonder how many times I can feel it all over again just like it's brand new… My whole life? Well at least I don't have to think too much while I'm asleep. It's my only break."

Friend: "Yeah, what a way to live, right? Looking forward to sleep as an escape."

Me: "Yeah..."

Friend: "Sorry, I'm not helping. I hope you dream about something wonderful."

Dreams actually happen to be some of the only moments when I feel like I did before… let me explain. A few weeks ago I had a terribly difficult day, and went to bed pretty depressed. When I have feelings that are overwhelming, it helps me to write them down and so that's what I did that night. I debated for a while as to whether or not I would share it, but it adequately describes how I feel in some aspects, and especially how I have felt over these past months. I have been tempted to edit some of the things I wrote, but I have decided to share it as it is in my journal, with very few alterations. I'm constantly tempted to sugar-coat things in writing, but I want to stay as real and genuine as possible. 

Dream Carson:

"Despite reality, there still exists a Carson who is strong, tall, happy, and faith-filled. He lives on as he did before, just as passionate, hopeful, and loving as ever... he's happy. He's happy. But you will not find him at the home where he used to live because he no longer lives there. He's not at school and he's not at work... There's really only one place he can be found. This Carson only lives, only runs and dances through the temporary mists of sleep. He lives in dreams alone. The sight of him is glorious, as he is exactly as he should be. He is kind and funny. He cares about you and the light of life shines in his eyes. He is, of course, standing, but rarely standing still. He loves to run and leap and tumble through the meadows. This is the Carson of dreams. The true Carson, but one of the past. 

As quickly as he is to be found, he is to be lost, disappearing with rise of every sun. A sun which ushers in the morning, when wakefulness presents, yet again, the true nightmare of reality. The fading of the Dream Carson invites the existing Carson. Only, the existing one hardly seems Carson at all. He is none of the things the Carson of dreams is made of. In fact, it is as though they are opposites in so many ways.

This Carson is not happy. He has no hope. Not in life, not in himself, and not in God. He is a hostage to a broken life, haunted forever by the Carson of his dreams.  His life seems quite a tragedy. The tragedy is that he was once the Dream Carson . Born with gifts and passion to give, but crushed by the cruelty of life, injured in a brutal way. 

Opportunity and potential were his future, blessed with the tools to succeed... But success never came and he was thwarted in his life's mission. The simple mission to find peace and happiness. Unfulfilled dreams became his reality. As if given the desire to sing, but never the voice to do so; given the desire to soar, but never the wings to fly. The individual once filled with vitality and happiness slowly, and over time, faded away... The once ever present smile on his face is now marred by the permanent stains of despair. A voice once filled with laughter and joy is now replaced by wails, and pathetic sputtering sobs. Once grinning eyes are now lifeless, dark-circled and bloodshot. An immobile body lays in the place of a mobile one, crippled and atrified.

Hope is now hopelessness. Faith is now faithlessness. From trust to distrust, and from desire to apathy. Imploring to live replaced by the pleading to die. This is Carson of Life. He wanders aimlessly, miserably. He seeks in vain that which he cannot have, but so desperately wants. He goes day to day, hoping against hope to find Carson of dreams while the sun still shines. Could ever a human desire something so badly? He exhausts his strength and all resources in his search, but no matter the day or outcome, he is always left with a familiar sense of loss as the day slips into night... For Dream Carson only dances through the quiet of sleep, and is not found while the sun shines. Only when reality succumbs to dreamland, does he run through the grass again. He laughs until he cries. He plays the everlasting day away. He stands and he is happy... He is finally happy again, and the relief of finding him again in such a joyful state goes beyond expression.

But Dream Carson fades quickly alongside the mist of slumber, always evaporating with the impending arrival of the sun. A sun that brings pain. A sun that brings the execution of hope... A sun that brings Hell. For the sun brings with it dawn... and another day of the reality that murdered the Carson of my dreams."

Now, because I wondered if this were too much to share, I sent it to a few people for feedback before posting, and there are a couple of things that I wanted to explain. What I was really trying to express was that the Carson I used to know was happy, and the loss at feeling like that very Carson has been destroyed. These feeling stem in most part from my injury and the difficulty I have had in finding things that bring me happiness. I wasn't trying to say that I don't feel like I have worth, but that I long to feel inside like I used to. I still feel passionate about many things and I still care about and love people.  Admittedly, I was a bit worried that by posting this some would feel like I was fishing for certain comments or feedback. Not the case. 

These feelings have been the common theme of these first six months. I suppose that the reason I get up every morning is because I am determined to find that Carson again. It's similar to what I wrote about in my "Shattered Pearls" entry. I wake up every day hoping to find pieces to my shattered pearl. Sometimes I feel deeply that I seek an impossibility, but I still seek. I recognize that with time comes experience, recovery, and possibility. I also recognize that my happiness must come separately from my recovery. If my happiness relies on my physical recovery, then it is dependent upon something that is out of my control, and that simply cannot be. I must be the one in control of my happiness.

I hope that the next six months are more fruitful in recovery and purpose than the first, and you better believe that I'll do everything within my power to make that a reality. So, here's to the next chapter!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Million Thanks Would Never Be Enough (parents)

Steve:  Six months have passed since Carson's injury, and through this time the outpouring of support has been nothing short of incredible. Now that we are settling into a new and difficult long-term family rhythm, we have struggled to know how to thank everyone who has been involved in support since the accident, and have concluded that we simply can't thank everyone at the level we would like.  How does one thank people who have donated their time and money who wish to remain anonymous, and other unsung people who have been working in the shadows many hours to make events happen such as "Anything for a Friend"? The task would be overwhelming and we collectively feel inadequate in our effort to recognize everyone who has had a hand in helping our son. But we are grateful. We know the effort that goes into these events with all the organizing, coordination, and hours upon hours of preparation, taking away personal and family time from those involved. It makes us feel guilty in many regards. All the demands that have transpired over the past six months have been crushing. The myriad of things to worry about and coordinate have been nearly a full time job. At times we questioned our ability to get everything done that was needed and it has only been through the help of others that has kept our heads above the rising water. We do wish to call attention to the highlights of the support for our family.

MORE SAVING, MORE DOING; THAT'S THE POWER OF THE HOME DEPOT.......(no kidding!)


Before discharge from the hospital, certain modifications to the house were required. Occupational Therapists made several visits to the house with recommended changes. This was difficult because we really could not test or try out what was going to work because we didn't know what changes were going to happen with Carson's functioning. Shortly after the accident, representatives for "Anything for a Friend" presented Carson's case for consideration to Home Depot for possible assistance with home renovations. Home Depot has a program that partners with the United Way of Northern Utah to locate recipients for their efforts and resources.  In our specific case, not only did they respond to the needs of Carson, but also recognized we are a veteran military family. Very quickly, the two managers of the Riverdale and Layton Home Depot's (Andy Olsen and Derek Carver respectively) came to the home and began to make plans to renovate the basement bathroom and change the flooring in Carson's room and hallways. The amount of effort that took place in a incredibly short time was staggering. We had a small army of Home Depot personnel come to the house on a rainy day to get the major portions of the renovations completed.  They installed flooring and continued to work on bathroom/basement modifications.  Later, both store managers and the regional manager came in and finished off the cabinetry (see second photo below).  Of course, Ken Taylor (second from left in first picture below) may just as well have slept at our house he was putting in so many hours.


Before Renovation

After Renovation...... wheelchair accessible!

From L-R: Andy Olsen (Riverdale Home Depot), Derek Carver (Layton Home Depot), Joe Alvarez (Regional Manager), the ultimate workhorse, Ken Taylor (Riverdale), and Carson

EPITOME OF "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR"
Steve: In the midst of all of this I had to travel for business trips. When I left before this renovation project, my basement looked the same---like a storage room with sick green carpet that had been there a million years, old paint that came with the house, poor lighting etc. Five days later I hardly recognized the same basement. Carpet gone, new paint, and cabinets installed. I was dumfounded. Little did I know that half the neighborhood had been in the basement helping to paint, alter Carson's room to accommodate his wheel chair and a host of other things. In the ensuing nights, I would go down to the basement and find someone in there on their hands and knees painting baseboard or putting a second coating of paint on the wall etc. Many times people would let themselves in through the north entrance to the basement and I didn't even know they were down there. I still shudder to think what verbal family transactions they heard among the chaos. It was truly an "all hands on deck" effort.  We know that it took personal and family time away from these people and we felt truly blessed.

L-R: Linda Romney, Kathy Smith, Becky Taylor and Diane Austin
L-R: Frank Romney, Brent Florek and Judd Taylor

Camille: During the week that  Home Depot was working feverishly on the bathroom trying to finish in time for Carson's return home, we had neighbors come in who expressed a desire to help make the basement user-friendly for Carson. I listened to their ideas and then shared our thoughts of what we hoped to do to the basement. Unbeknownst to me, Ken Taylor (Riverdale Home Depot) had heard the conversation from the next room and came in and said, "I think we can make that happen." I couldn't believe it since we didn't really have the time and ability to take on a larger project on our own.  Ken talked with his manager the next day, they worked some numbers and he came back and said they could provide supplies for our neighbors to complete the work. I had several concerns and worries about pulling a makeover off that fast (one of them being my husband was gone), but they all pressed forward knowing it was now or never since Carson would soon come home. I was told "This neighborhood knows how to mobilize!" and they were right. They took it into their own hands and in about a week's period of time the majority of our basement had been renovated. I was so humbled watching these proactive, positive people that I posted a Chinese Proverb on the front door for all those who were coming and going. It read, "THOSE WHO SAY IT CAN'T BE DONE SHOULD GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THOSE WHO ARE DOING IT."   I didn't really need to have my faith restored in our community (especially after the wind storm of December 2011)  but I was impressed beyond words.  I had someone ask me if the additional chaos that comes with a major construction project was adding additional stress to our already upside down life. No.... it did just the opposite for me. I felt an amazing spirit of charity in our home that buoyed me up. When I would come home from the hospital at the end of a long day, I would see more progress in the basement and longed to know who had been there. Our home was blessed in more ways than one by these people! When Carson came home he was greeted to a neighborhood full of blue ribbons, "Welcome Home" signs and a newly remodeled  basement living arrangement. Knowing Carson would have difficulty coming home (which he did), the changes in his environment have made this transition easier.


"ANYTHING FOR A FRIEND"

Steve: Even though "Anything for a Friend" is the name of the formal fund raising organization, the name also encapsulates for us the remarkable generosity shown by people donating their time, money, individual talents and sacrifices for another person. These include the leaders of organizations, individuals, anonymous donors, friends who know Carson, and also incredibly, those who don't know him!   

Spinal Cord injuries are cruel. They leave the person intact intellectually and personality/character remains just as it has, but now without bodily functioning below the injury level. I knew from the outset of Carson's injury what the long term ramifications would be. This is not a terminal illness and the battle will rage for the next 50+? years. If statistics are any indication, the future is full of emotional and physical challenges, some of which can be life threatening. The cost of adaptive equipment has already been astounding without even entertaining the future of complicated medical issues that Carson has already written about. 

That being said, we would like to highlight the fundraising that has taken place, because quite frankly, it is the means to take care of the necessary demands of the injury. Those who have donated have anticipated this, and given generously of your hard earned money. Thank you! We know it is a sacrifice to give in tough economic times. It underscores the goodness of people, exemplifies charity, and represents everything that is good about human beings who have the capacity to love. Within days of the injury a neighbor set up a way to contribute to Carson through the blog site, herself having a disabled son and anticipating the costs involved. This, along with the movie event and amazing fundraiser efforts through "Anything for a Friend" that included many sponsors and donations of businesses and goods, filled us with amazement at people's generosity.

Ashley and Patricia Barson made 2,400 bracelets for Carson's Event....over 400 hours!
Talk about doing  anything for a friend  :) 
Weeks prior to the event  Teena Stucki and Lori Florek  organized  a very hard working
"Team Carson."
The race begins!
The food was generously catered by the Cottam Family/Bella's Fresh Mexican Grill
The Kid's Corner
Dinner and Auction Pavilion
Final balloon launch!
Becky Anderson (director of Anything For A Friend) w/ Carson @ Lorraine's Event

Camille:  Carson's event was amazing... a day we will never forget. In some ways it was hard to take it all in and we struggled to comprehend such generosity. We were able to relate to what past recipients of "Anything For a Friend" have expressed when they said they felt embarrassed and  unworthy.  For our family we just wanted to see the event go well for those who had put in so many hard working hours on behalf of Carson and our family. I know the greatest desire of the organizers of this fundraiser was wanting people to come and feel the spirit of the day. We felt it. We saw a community unite in goodwill hoping to make a difference in someone's life. This time it happened to be our son, for which we are eternally grateful. Now that we are 6 months out from Carson's accident we can look back and count literally hundreds of acts of service of every kind. We have felt every positive vibe you have sent our way and we have survived because of your love and support. We know we will continue to struggle to help Carson through his  hard times, but we are not alone in this battle. We have friends.   

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Five Firsts

Over the last month or so, I have experienced a lot of firsts that I've wanted to share. Some are things that have happened for the first time since I've been injured, and others are things that have happened for the first time in my life. There are many other firsts that I haven't placed on this list, many of which are not uplifting, but I decided to include a bit of everything.

The 1st First: Swimming in open water

I know I have showed some videos of swimming before, but I've only recently been able to swim in the open water for the first time and work towards getting faster times without any assistive devices. When we first talked about me getting into the cold water at a normal swimming pool, we were worried as to how my blood pressure and spasticity would be affected… I am happy to say that neither were a concern (for the most part). Every once in a while I will have a muscles spasm throughout my quads and core that throws my stroke off off, but it's something that I can definitely work with.


In Paralympic swimming, there are classifications for every level of disability. This makes it fair for people who have different levels of disability to compete against each other. I haven't been classified officially yet, but the times I am shooting for are probably between 1:03 and 1:07 to qualify for a national meet in the 50 m backstroke. The first time I swam, I swam a 50 m backstroke in 1:44. My second time in the water (one week later) I swam the same distance in 1:21, and the third time in 1:16. I am excited that progression has occurred in so short a period of time and with so little training, so we will see how things continue! Dallas has been an incredible help to me since he's been home, and is especially useful in the pool.

The 2nd First: Hand cycling

The University of Utah has an amazing program that gives people with SCIs the ability to participate in recreational sports. So, I decided to go down on a Thursday and try it out! It was both fun and difficult, and I have to admit that my shoulders were burning the entire time. I was able to take the hand cycle home for a week and it's been fun to pedal around the neighborhood with my family on their bikes.


The 3rd First: Overheating because I can't sweat
Warning: The photo below may be deemed"inappropriate" by some (my mom ;))

I continue to make new discoveries about my injury... Especially dealing with learning about things I can and can't do safely… and I had one of those "blessed" experiences this week. It was Friday in the afternoon, and I was getting home from therapy and thought that I would get a little extra cardio in. I asked Annie if she would run next to me while I was on the hand cycle, and apparently she hadn't exercised for the day yet, so off we went! It was much hotter than either of us expected, and I think we both exercised a bit beyond our comfort zone. We were both exhausted, but the difference was that she was both hot and sweaty, and I was just hot. I CAN'T SWEAT.

Now this is not news to me, but I didn't know what the consequences would be like if I actually overheated. As Annie started cooling off (thanks to her sweat), my breathing continued at a fast pace, and I began to get even more lightheaded than I normally am. Over the course of three short minutes I began to pass out, while my hands and face started to tingle in a not-so-good way. We agreed to that I was overheating, so we took immediate action to get me as cooled off as soon as possible! That being said, we stripped me down and threw me in a freezing cold shower which took care of the overheating pretty quickly. Thanks to Ann, everything turned out fine. Who needs in-home hospice when you have such a quick-thinking little sister to take care of you?

Ann and I thought this was such an exciting event that we had to take a quick snapshot.
(Don't judge my lack of abs (or anything else), I promise I had some before)

The 4th First: Standing in a walker

I just have to make it absolutely clear that this does not mean that I am walking! I'm not stepping, I'm not kicking, and I can't even wiggle a toe! I currently have no movement in my legs or feet. The reason this exercise was exciting for me, was because I was able to sustain an upright position using my core and minimal assistance. In the picture below, my therapist is blocking my knees to make sure my legs don't give out, as well as pulling me forward by a belt behind my rear. The therapist behind me is there just in case I fall backwards, but he almost never had to help me during this exercise. Throughout the exercise I was to let go of the walker as much as possible and lift one arm at a time and stabilize myself only using my core. I have to admit, I was pretty encouraged. A good friend of mine reminded me that the small victories are the victories worth recognizing. We all have our eyes on walking, but what we need to focus on are the small improvements that improve the quality of our lives. My core may not be strong enough to sustain me in most functional things, but if it even allows me to pick up something off the ground easier, or get out of bed easier, than that's something I need to recognize. Admittedly, this is definitely one of my weak points. I have been notorious for trying to eat the elephant in one bite, if you know what I mean.


The 5th First: Questioning my ability to succeed

Like everyone else in this world, I have found barriers along the way of any path to success. Whether it is in the realm of things spiritual, social, or physical, I have found things that get in my way as I try to achieve anything worthwhile. Some of these obstacles in my life's path have been smaller or greater than others, but while I'm not exactly sure why, I have always been absolutely certain that I could overcome any obstacle that threatened my ability to succeed. Even through some monumental difficulties or conflicts, like finding reconciliation of my beliefs and sexual orientation, I was sure that I would come out on top and beat the barrier to my happiness. This is the first time in my life that I have genuinely questioned whether or not I can do something. This is the first time in my life that I seriously question whether or not I will come out on top. There are mornings when I wake up and see little or no purpose to my getting out of bed and facing a new day with all of its brutalities. There are many times and moments when I feel like all of my effort and struggle is in vain, and has no effect on my journey to find happiness… and it scares me. It scares me to think that I might be bitter after all of this is through, or that I'll be angry at all of the cruelties of life. What scares me more than anything, is fearing that the Carson I once knew is no longer. That the Carson who felt so confident about who he was and what he wanted somehow died with the introduction of this new injury.

 I wish so badly that I could believe and feel that a future existed for me that could give me what I now long for. What I am grateful for, is that there are others who have gone before me with spinal cord injuries, and have expressed that happiness exists in life after the injury. I admit that, because of my frequent feelings of hopelessness, it sometimes feels impossible that that could be true. At the end of the day, I still recognize that any efforts put into recovery has a direct return to me. I am the benefactor of any of my hard work... I also recognize that I have been the worst at predicting the future throughout my life! I suppose I should try and learn my lesson and understand that the game isn't over yet, and that I don't know the outcome. There are outcomes and doors that will open for me that are yet unseen. So I wait. And along with waiting, hope that there are better days to come.

A funny moment: The packaging of my catheters is made of some sort of metallic material, and while trying to open one I accidentally cut myself. My little sister, Kate (9 years old), somehow heard of the incident and later in the week said out of the blue, "You know, Carson... you should think about using your catheters as spears." Mmm hmmm... I laughed pretty hard.









Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Video

Friends,

This is a video that I have been wanting to post for a long time. It's an overview of everything that has happened over the last five months. I got to see this movie for the first time with tons of other people during the fundraiser. I have to admit that it was difficult to relive many of the events portrayed in the video, but I thought that it was so well done. Not gonna lie though, I cried all the way through! Thanks to the two friends of mine who helped put this all together. Click on the following link and enjoy.

The Video: Carson Tueller

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Event

It finally happened! I've been meaning to give the recap on everything that happened during my Anything For A Friend Event. It was surely a life-changing event for me. One can try to imagine or envision everything will take place in an event like this, but that was just not possible for me. I could never have imagined the amount of love, support, and outreach that I received. For the first time in a few years my whole family was together, including Braun and Bethany (older brother and sister-in-law) who flew in from D.C..

When we first drove up to the venue where this event was held, I was amazed by the set up, but also felt a bit sheepish at seeing my face at every turn. The colors I had chosen, blue and white, were all around the pavilion, and were seen in the balloons, T-shirts, and other decorations. The event started out with the Star-Spangled Banner, sung by the men in my family, which was then followed by the beginning of the 5K race. I was lucky to have some wheelchairs donated to me so that I was not the only one doing the race in a chair. In fact, most members of my family and even some friends were able to do some of the race with their own wheels rolling along my side. With those in the wheelchairs at the front of the crowd, we all started down the road for the route of the 5K, which led us on a path all around Layton park.



















The run was such a blast for me, and I was able to do a lot of it by myself. We had tons of runners come, and have some amazing footage thanks to Jackie and Cathy. As you can see in the photo below, they had a pretty sweet setup to get some great pics. One drives, while the other shoots. :)








The 5K finished with Dallas, my younger brother who just returned from his LDS mission, running me through the finish line. Through the 5K I thought, "Alright, this is all good… I think I might leave this place tear free." Boy was I wrong. 

Some very tender feelings and moments were shared, including a reminder of how this organization originated. Many thanks were given to those who had spent so much time and effort organizing. One of my favorite parts was a presentation of a large trifold poster-board covered with dozens of little glittering stars. Each one of the stars represented the kind donations from some individual. The amazing thing about all of this, was that the idea was all thought of and carried out by children, and one young boy in particular. I was amazed and humbled. Now unfortunately, there are many unsung heroes that participated in a monumental way. I wish to express my thanks to all of those that helped in some way, but may not have received the proper thanks. In all sincerity, thank you.

Following the auctions, we had one of my favorite parts of the whole event. The balloon launch. It's a time when what seems like hundreds of balloons are released into the sky, representing hope and rising above our challenges. I had the opportunity to play a little bit of Be Still, My Soul, on the flute. It was the one thing I thought like I could give to say thank you to all those who have helped me and changed my life for the better.

Even in reviewing everything that I've written so far, it feels inadequate and like a foolish attempt at some of my feelings. I was talking with a friend that told be something that demonstrated her understanding of my situation. She said, "This has all been amazing, and I'm sure it has changed the lives of those who have come to it... but at the end of the day we all get up and continue on our way, and you stay here, with your situation remaining the same." She did not by any means imply or mean to say that I am on my own from here on out, but that my battle will continue.

And continue it does... and painfully. I thought I knew what suffering was like before this injury. I thought I knew what it meant to be tested. But I continue to be astounded at the relentless opposition that I face on a daily level. Some of you may have noticed that my writing has slowed down a bit… I realize that I have been hesitant to write because I have been frequently down and feel like I have nothing positive to say. But I guess it doesn't do much if I only talk about the good of my life. I want to be real, and share my journey in the most genuine way. I commit to doing so! Thanks again to all who read this, or send small messages, or say even the most simple prayers on my behalf. I continue to thrive off of the love and friendship of those around me. God bless each of you for your kindness towards me and my family.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Love In Action

I've recently (somewhat recently, at least) participated in several activities put on by anything for a friend, one was for myself, and the other was for recipient Angie Jones, whose event I attended.
April 21st was my first event with Anything For A Friend. The event was held at the Centerville Megaplex theater, where we watched Captain America 2. Like all of the events for Anything For A Friend, each can be preregistered for online. The night before this event, there were relatively few people who had preregistered for the movie, but to everyone's  surprise the theater of 500+ seats was nearly completely filled by the time the movie actually began! I was astounded.


I have to admit, it was a very humbling experience to have so many people there supporting me. I saw people from both high school and college, people from my neighborhood and church, and many people that I had never met before. Before the movie started, I was asked to say a few words, which is always difficult because I have to have something to say on the spot... So, I just said exactly what I felt, which was a lot of gratitude, and a lot of feelings that were difficult to express to 500 people who have been following your progress with so much love and support. Seriously though, what do you say? Thank you? Well I did, and a few more things that I'm sure no one else remembers, but I hope it came across that I was extremely grateful. I do remember saying that just like it takes a village to raise a child (as the saying goes), it takes a community to help someone like me recover and find life again. I expressed that I knew that I would be successful because of the incredible community that supports me.


Did you see this picture of all these beautiful women? They, along with many others, spent incredible time and effort to organize this event. But that's not all. They continue to spend hours and hours organizing in preparation for my main event on May 31. I've been amazed by their love and dedication, and am so thankful for the way they change the community around them through their service. I am ecstatic for my own event that is coming up so quickly. I have been able to see just a few of the things that people are putting together for the event, and I'm stoked! 

It's been almost 5 months since my injury, and the support has been amazing. Especially during the first few months, there was an outpouring of letters, visits, and support and love of every type. I've often been at a loss as to how I could effectively thank everyone who has helped, especially through this blog. I hope that my upcoming event will be an opportunity for me to personally thank everyone who has helped me, or is still helping me through this. It's finally my own chance to say thank you, and I hope you will be there to hear it!

 I got a taste for what an Anything For A Friend for a friend event can be like when I went to Angie Jones event ...and it's beyond what I thought it would be! I was expecting just a fundraiser.

I attended Angie's event and met her for the first time there. This is the picture of our first meeting together. 


We both felt an immediate connection to each other and I our first conversation was somewhat refreshing for me.

Me: "I am Carson, it's great to meet you. How are you doing?"

Angie: "I'm good" (Then with a smile) "Well...You know how it is."

Me: "Yeah... I do know how it is..."

Boom. BFFs on the spot. We were able to talk more, but not too much more. I was, however, able to witness all of the love that surrounds Angie and her family. 


The picture above was immediately after the balloon launch, where what seems like hundreds of balloons are released into the sky by everyone present, as an expression of release and freedom from whatever burden one may be facing. While the feeling at the balloon launch was especially tender, The feeling throughout the entire event was one that came totally unexpected to me. There was so much gratitude, love, camaraderie, and even excitement as we all came together for the benefit of Angie's family. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

What I Didn't Know About Spinal Cord Injuries

I have a lot of people who ask me, "Carson, what does a normal day look like for you?" As I answered this question many times, I realized that my life has become quite task oriented. Most of these tasks exist as a result of many secondary effects of my SCI (spinal cord injury). These are the parts of being paralyzed that I didn't expect, and that are very difficult for me. So, I thought I would walk you through the day in the life of Carson. I've decided to be quite candid and open in my comments, including things like bowel and bladder care. I promise not to be too explicit, but you've been warned! I will list the activities of the day, followed by some explanation of how the secondary effects of SCI affect me.

2:00 AM
I usually start the day very early in the morning with catheterization. Bladder care right off the bat! Some of you may already know that loss of function from an SCI also means loss of bowel and bladder function, but this is something that I didn't know about before my injury. This is a very significant secondary effect of an SCI, and requires a lot of attention. I have heard people say that they would rather have bowel and bladder control back than walk! This obviously means that I have to catheterize several times during the day. Initially, this was very distressing for me, not only because of how much time it consumed, but also because of the risk of urinary tract infections. UTIs are a common enemy of people with SCI, and let me tell you, they are not enjoyable. So why 2 o'clock in the morning? A bladder can hold enough to get through the night, right? Well, because most of my body is sedentary, my tissue absorbs much of the liquid I take in during the day. The liquid is then reabsorbed during the nighttime as I am on my back. This effect is exaggerated since I'm tall, simply because being tall means more tissue to absorb more liquid. So, I usually either have to wake up in the night to catheterize, or risk having an accident. It is also harmful to the bladder to allow so much liquid in because it stretches the muscle out too much.

7:30/8:00 AM
My morning regiment begins! This is without a doubt, the most painful, depressing and difficult part of my day. My mornings are so difficult for several reasons: Incredibly low blood pressure and intense nerve pain (both of which are the worst in the mornings), and the fact that I am not independent in my bowel care (yet). People with SCI in the cervical (neck) region lose a great amount of blood pressure regulation, which contributes to an overall poor feeling. For me, I often feel faint, nauseated, and just ill in general. Low pressure causes me to feel depressed, disabled, and incredibly fatigued, whereas with higher pressure I feel more optimistic, energetic, and ready to go to work. Blood pressure has been one of the most difficult things for me to deal with through all of my injury up to this point. Whether or not I've had a good day or a bad day is sometimes determined simply by my blood pressure. Unfortunately, the majority of my day is spent in the low blood pressure range. In order to fight pressure problems, I wear compression socks, an abdominal binder, and take blood pressure medication throughout the day. Just like some of my bladder problems, my pressure problems are exaggerated because of my height.

So, my mom or dad comes in to help me prepare for the day. The first order of the day is bowel care. I try to get up slowly so as not to upset my blood pressure, and then I transfer into a shower chair. The whole process of bowel care and showering is still impossible to do by myself. My parents help wheel me in my shower chair (which is too heavy for me to maneuver by myself) into the bathroom where it rolls conveniently over a toilet.

As I mentioned above, people with SCI do not have bowel control. In order to compensate for the lack of bowel control, we are put on a predictable cycle in order to avoid accidents. In order to have a bowel movement, the bowel wall itself needs to be manually agitated or stimulated to get things moving (we are talking the bowel/rectal wall itself, and we all know there is only one way to get there…). This is where things get a little personal. This is a pretty invasive process whether you do it yourself or have someone else help you. For someone who doesn't have strong enough fingers to take care of this bowel stimulation, it requires the help of someone else. This just happens to be my predicament, and the predicament of many other quadriplegics. There maybe other methods of inducing a bowel movement as a quadriplegic, but I believe this is the most common. There is really nothing that keeps this from being a downer, to say the least. When this all started, I told myself that I could either hate my life every single morning, or I could get over it and not make it a big deal. I tried to choose the latter, but as a 23-year-old man, I can tell you that it's still a little bit demoralizing to need help with such a personal thing. The whole process of bowel care can easily take up to an hour, which is mostly comprised of waiting. This is then followed by a shower, which I can mostly do by myself now. My mom or dad usually stays near enough to me to hear if I call, just in case I begin to pass out because of low blood pressure (which has happened before).

After showering my mom or dad wheels me back into my room where I transfer back onto the bed and do the rest of my morning regiment. I take my medication, brush my teeth, and get the help I need getting dressed. I can do most of my dressing by myself, but need help with my compression stockings and abdominal binder. I am literally incapable of getting ready for the day without the immediate help of my parents. To get out of bed and upstairs to breakfast takes an average of an hour and a half.

10:00-4:00
This is my favorite part of the day, and really what I live for now. That is, physical and occupational therapy. I go to physical therapy at Neuroworx, which is in South Jordan. Neuroworx specializes in SCI or other similar disabilities. I spend as much as I can possible in physical therapy to get the best workout that I can. I go to PT four days a week, and OT two times a week, which means that I have to double up on one of the days. At PT I work to get stronger where I already have function, as well as work to maximize the possibility of gaining back more function where I don't have it (yet). I am spending a lot of time on my core muscles, and use two days of PT for swimming. Swimming has proven to be some of the best therapy that I could have asked for. It works my core muscles as well as gives me the opportunity to do something that I love. At OT, I focus on strengthening my hands and learn other functional skills, like driving.

5:00-Evening
The rest of the day I spend with my family  at home, or try to get out with friends for some kind of activity. Most evenings I stay home because I feel too poor to leave the house by the end of the day, again thanks to blood pressure, but also because of fatigue from therapy. I love simply spending time with my family and friends, and sometimes go on walks around the block with a brother or sister if it's warm enough.

Bedtime
Bedtime is another long process, and still takes about an hour. I do the normal things like brush my teeth, catheterize, fill up a water bottle, and take my meds, but I spend most of that time getting situated in my bed so as to avoid pressure sores and nerve pain. Those without SCI will toss and turn during the night when a certain part of the body is not getting enough blood flow. If there's not enough circulation, that part of the body will go numb, which is a sign that you need to reposition. If the situation remains the same, the tissue will die. Bed sores are a serious thing to consider, so I have to take careful measures to ensure that no one part of my body is susceptible to extra pressure... I usually have to be especially careful with my heels. As I mentioned before, nerve pain is also a major source of concern for me. I experience nerve pain in nearly every part of my body that is paralyzed, so almost everywhere. This is not necessarily the case for everyone with SCI, but it is for me. The nerve pain is especially intense when I am touching anything. That being said, the soles of my feet, my bottom and thighs, and my forearms experience the most pain. My nerve pain ranges between 3 and an 8 on the scale from 1 to 10, and usually stays consistently between a 4 and 6. Unfortunately, all of my nerve pain is intensified when on my back, which can make sleeping very uncomfortable. Using a body pillow to tilt me on to one side can usually alleviate some of the pressure off of my spine. Once I have checked that my alarm is set for my midnight catheterization, and checked the intercom that connects to my parents room, I am ready to sleep! Mission complete.

So that's a day for me! I recognize that I am still only four months out from my initial injury, which is a very short time for someone who has had an SCI. Some of these secondary problems may resolve themselves, like my blood pressure, neck pain, or needing to catheterize in the middle of the night. Others most likely never will, like bladder and bowel issues. Everyone who has an SCI may experience something different when it comes to secondary side effects, but none of them are usually too enjoyable.

I have heard others say it, and I echo their sentiments when I say that being paralyzed is the easiest part of being paralyzed. If I only had to worry about mobility and not walking, my life would be so much easier. It's the constant pain, the feeling of always wanting to pass out, and the bowel problems that seriously get me down. It's all of these other side effects that make life so task oriented and somewhat robotic. When I first had my SCI, I was devastated at how much time it took for me to do every single thing. I used to live my life on the go, and would simplify anything that took too long to do. Now life seems to have simplified me. Rather than graduating or working on a career, I work on wiggling a finger. While others progress in relationships or achieve great things, I'm just trying not to have an accident that day.

I continue to work on adjusting my perspective on my situation to feel like there is purpose behind this, but it has proven to be very difficult. I hold on to the belief that good things come to those who wait, to those who work hard, and to those who force purpose into their life. Do I wish I had a "normal" life experience? Yes. Would I go back to December 30th if I could, and stop myself from jumping into that foam pit? In a heartbeat. But what's done is done, and I can only make the best out of the remains. One time I had a friend who made me think of something in a way that gave me some hope. She said something like, "Carson, you don't have a normal life like everyone else, and it's hard. Really hard. But you know, I think because of this, God has something in store for you that is better than normal." The gist of her comment was not that I am better than normal, but that experiences that are especially difficult can teach us especially unique and powerful things. I believe that. And as I wait for those experiences, I will do what is in my power to improve, learn, overcome the obstacles in my path, and defy the odds.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Worth of a Depreciated Soul

As many of you know, the phrase "Defy The Odds" is a motto that I have chosen to help me through my journey with paralysis. It motivates me and gives me vision as to the opposition I face, as well as the courage I'll need to overcome that opposition. I suppose that in the beginning, I was thinking solely about defying the odds in physical recovery. However, as every day passes by, and as I learn more about myself and my physical injury, I realize that I've neglected to address an equally, if not more tragic wound received on the day of my accident. This wound is potentially more life-altering and more threatening to my well being than even my physical paralysis. It's one that deals with my deepest and most personal feelings of being and self-perception... The recovery I long for, and realize I am in most need of, is a recovery from feelings of depreciation and lessened worth as a human being. The odds that need most defying, are the high odds that I don't recover from this ordeal in an emotional way.



I realize that shortly after my injury, I began to perceive myself differently. There were countless circumstances and subsequent feelings that brought me to recognize the changes in the way I viewed myself As I looked in the mirror for the first time at the crippled and diminishing Carson sitting in a power chair, I was embarrassed of the person I saw in the mirror. I was sickened at the sight of myself, and fought the tears welling up in my eyes. During my first few outings into the community with occupational therapy, I saw that people looked at me differently than they did before, or completely avoided eye contact altogether. I realized that to some degree I was viewed as abnormal, and in my mind that meant less than normal, or less than human. Sub-human. 

Before, I used to take time to make sure I felt well groomed and presentable, but after my injury I found myself feeling like that was a waste of time, not because I thought it was unimportant, but because I thought it was a waste of time on someone like me. The thoughts, "It doesn't matter, I'm in a wheelchair anyway" filled my head. In essence, I began to feel like I had less value as a human being, and the respect I had for myself was quickly dwindling. I used to be happy to present myself to others and was pleased with the person others saw in me… And now I fight feelings of embarrassment when people I know see me rolling around in my wheelchair, or sitting reclined on a couch. Always sitting. These feelings are devastating to me, especially because it is so unlike me to feel such negative things about myself.

These feelings of depreciated self-worth began to make me believe that happiness was outside my reach. Like an ever-reoccurring nightmare, I constantly wonder if I will ever feel whole again in my lifetime. I wonder if I will ever feel like the true Carson again. While it is difficult to fathom the possibility, I hope with everything I have that happiness is still within my grasp, and that I can feel complete again, even as a quadriplegic. More than anything, I long to feel whole... But one thing is for sure. Happiness is not guaranteed just through my mobility. Without a doubt, all of us know individuals, perhaps even ourselves, who seem to have everything one could ask for, but are completely unhappy. In understanding this, I have recognized that I must have misunderstood happiness to some degree, and that there is something about it that I must learn. Happiness is not some emotion that waxes and wanes, or simply comes and goes with the luck of the day. It's something deeper.

I am reminded of a passage from Jesus the Christ, by James E Talmage, referring to happiness:

“Happiness is not akin with levity, nor is it one with light-minded mirth. It springs from the deeper fountains of the soul, and is not infrequently accompanied by tears. Have you never been so happy that you have had to weep? I have.”

So, my priorities have shifted slightly. My first quest must be to secure happiness in the now, and in my current circumstances. I do not need, nor should I wait to be happy once I'm walking. This requires a lot of emotional effort for me, since I so desperately yearn for that which I had before. Even the thought of never regaining that wholeness brings a surge of anguish and despair... But I reluctantly acknowledge that the time of adaptation has arrived. I feel intense hesitance and resentment at the prospect of accepting the now, but something inside, something from God, tells me it is the solution to finding peace... to find the happiness that is independent of any other external source, an invincible happiness that radiates from the deepest part of who I am.

Just like necessity is the mother of invention, negative and harmful feelings have always been the mother of the learning of new principles for me. These feelings motivated me to ask some questions. Since much of my unfulfillment and unhappiness comes from a feeling of lessened worth, I have been prompted to ask, What makes Carson valuable? Or for that matter, what makes any human being valuable? Was I more valuable before only because I could run and walk and jump? I doubt it. Was I more valuable because I was independent and self-reliant? Again, doubt it. I decided that that simply couldn't be the case.

There is more to me than my mobility.

Our world defines value in an inaccurate way. The world puts the highest prices on external beauty, physical attraction, popularity, talents, ability, education, money and power, just to name a few. If you have one or any of these in great abundance, you have a good amount of value according to our society. Now, I want to make it clear that I believe that many of these things are beneficial. It's good to take care of yourself, it's good to have an education, it's good to be successful and make money, as well as hone our skills and abilities, but what I'm saying is that this is not where true value lies. If value were to lie in any of those things, then ironically value would be cheap, value would be transient and dependent. I have found that a misunderstanding of where true value exists usually leads to unhappiness. 

I believe that value is independent of any external source or influence. It lies in the things that neither accident nor time or circumstance can never change. The only aspects of our person that can never change are things having to do with the character we have developed. There are things that, for better or for worse, are woven into the material of who we are. Regardless of where life takes us, we carry with us that fabric we have woven throughout our lives. There is peace for me in knowing that neither heaven nor hell can take from me what matters most. A businessman whose life is his career, can lose his business, and therefore his wealth. A world-class athlete may have a tragic accident that terminates his or her career. Movie stars and celebrities can fall victim to cancer or any other number of human illnesses. I guess the point I'm making to myself is that life will take it's toll on each of us, and at the end of the day the only thing that any of us can count on retaining is the character we have developed throughout our lives. Now that's stability. 

I would never undermine the value of the lives of people who have made important contributions to others and society, but I would argue that personal value lies in kindness and integrity, in compassion and sympathy, in service and generosity, and in true, unadulterated love, among other qualities. Love is the greatest of all virtues, and is the greatest defining characteristic of God. In our attempts to become like him or his Son, doing so without focusing on love is an attempt in vain. I think about the individuals that have influenced me most throughout my life. Without a doubt, I knew each of these people had love for me, and a love for all people in general. Couldn't most of us say the same? Love is the diamond of all valuable qualities.

 I suppose I have been forced to think about these lessons because of my accident. I have lost many of those things that the world puts a high price on. I've lost my physical stature, and most of the abilities I worked hard to obtain. I suppose that in the eyes of the world I might have lost the things that matter most, but I strive to reinforce the understanding that what truly matters most is yet within my reach, perhaps even more than ever before. 

Happiness won't bring my legs back... It won't give me what I had before... but thank God that there is more to life and worth, than what simply meets the eye.






Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Anything For A Friend

Friend's and family,

I am happy to officially present the organization, "Anything For A Friend"! While I was in the hospital still, some friends and family suggested that we apply for this magnificent fundraiser. I am happy to say that I was approved for the fundraiser, and couldn't be more grateful... Anything For A Friend has changed lives and communities because of  an amazing purpose geared towards uniting communities and individuals in love. The AFAF homepage says it best:

"Anything For A Friend is a simple concept about human beings and our interconnection. We believe that humans have an innate desire to connect and help each other when someone is in need. However, most are unsure as to how to provide such help. Anything For A Friend seeks to provide an avenue through which family, friends and the community of someone dealing with personal tragedy can band together to show support. We believe that through the organization of a community fundraiser, both the friends and the benefactor are able to minimize much of the fear and anxiety related to personal tragedy and find satisfaction through such an event, ultimately benefiting the entire community."

Becky Anderson is the founder of Anything For A Friend, and benefitted from the love and support of her own community and loved ones during her bout with cancer. Now, she generously shares the love and pays it forward through this organization.  My mom wrote a letter of thanks to Becky and the organization. It echoes my own gratitude and that of my family. I wanted to share it.

"Dear Becky,  

We feel incredibly blessed that Carson has been chosen to be a recipient of "Anything For A Friend". Having not heard of this organization before, I was in tears looking at the website for the first time. I know from what we have already experienced, that this is what Carson is going to need to help him get through. It was the outpouring of love and support from extended family, friends, neighbors and even strangers that got us through the initial traumatic stages of this ordeal. Now that Carson is home, we are facing the realities of this life-changing experience. The strain on our family has come in emotional, emotional, and financial levels that we could not have anticipated. We have wondered, "How can we do this?"  We can't... at least, not alone. I have learned through all of this, that the kind service we receive comes from the goodness of those who are instruments in God's hands, answering prayers we haven't even asked for! The mission of "Anything for a Friend" is incredible. I felt great hope as I read about communities coming together to serve those in need. What was even more remarkable to me was to see past recipients "pay it forward" to others in need, through their kind acts of service. It increased my awareness of the many different ways we can serve each other. It was a new picture I had not imagined. There are lessons to be learned and I am first in line to be taught. Thank you!"
-Camille


Every recipient of this fundraiser is asked to come up with a unique motto, so in the beginning stages of the organzing, the committee asked me to propose one that would symbolize my journey. This was a difficult task for me, but I finally came up with one. I chose the following motto and logo:


This motto and logo is so meaningful to me for many reasons. It is significant to me because the odds of recovery are not so highly in my favor. For anyone with a spinal cord injury, recovery is serious business, and takes years with little progress at times. I speak not only of physical recovery, but emotional and spiritual recovery as well. To me, it has always seemed like the road to recovery was a daunting one, with the odds of recovery seeming overwhelmingly small. The person who designed this logo explained why she chose to present the motto this way. She depicted the word "odds" as being smaller then the word "defy", for symbolic reasons. It is symbolic in that the odds of our success over certain challenges are small at times (especially in my case), but our ability to overcome them can be greater.  The word "defy" seems to overshadow and even crush the odds. Through miracles, hard work, prayers of family and friends, and the support of an incredible community, I hope to defy the odds in every positive way. I plan to maximize my recovery in every aspect and live a full life of happiness. I still do not know how that will happen, and at times I doubt I can do it. I am very far from achieving this goal still, but I know that it must be possible. I have to do it...

One thing that I have learned about a spinal cord injury and other great difficulties, is that the ripple effect is enormous. In fact, I wouldn't call them ripples, I would call them tidal waves, washing over the family and, at times, even the community of the loved one, affecting all who exist in his or her surroundings. This has been a difficult but necessary lesson for me to learn. If I could suffer alone, I would. If I could be the only one to suffer emotionally, physically, spiritually or otherwise, that would be my choice. Watching my family and especially my parents suffer with me has been overwhelming, and an aspect of my injury that has been as hard to bear as any. It destroys me to see their strugglings and know that they are born from my injury. I I don't want them to hurt like I do...but no matter how I wish this wouldn't affect others, it does, and I simply cannot do this by myself. No matter my willpower, no matter my strivings for independence, I have to rely on the constant support and help of others. Before, there were very few things that I felt I could not do. I was able and capable in every way, and felt that I could overcome and find solutions to my challenges by myself. Now, I humbly implore the help of all who surround me.

So, I humbly and happily invite all of you to this magnificent community event, Anything For A Friend. Hope to see you there. 

Here's the info: Mark your calendars! As you can see, some events you can preregister for, which I suggest doing.

Date: May 31, 2014 (10:00 AM - 2:00 PM)

Location: Layton Commons Park Bowery
                  403 N. Wasatch Dr.
                  Layton, UT 84041

Activities
I am indebted forever to all of you who have already helped, supported, and loved me... I could never repay you for what you've already done for me and my family. Thank you for helping me defy the odds of my injury.

My sincerest love and gratitude,

Carson T.






Monday, April 7, 2014

Some Bad News... And A Bit Of Good News

A spinal cord injury is a gift that keeps on giving, and on Saturday night I received yet another one of it's gifts. Throughout the day, I usually find that my legs have a lot of swelling. This is because I am sitting down for most of the day, and am unable to move and contract my muscles. However, when I go to sleep and wake up the next morning, the swelling has usually disappeared. For a few days I realized that my left foot was still swollen in the morning, but I didn't think much of it until Saturday. I noticed that the swelling had worsened and that it had continued up into my calf. I had been told in the hospital that people with a SCI (spinal cord injury) are at much higher risk for blood clots, so we suspected such was the case. We went into the emergency room that night where it was confirmed that I have a DVT (blood clot) in my left calf. I know, great. DVTs can be extremely dangerous if they are not found early on. If left unchecked, the clot can be dislodged and move to the lungs where it can be fatal.

(in the hospital with my celebrating-my-DVT face)

So what does this mean? It means that I will have to be on Coumadin, a blood thinner, for the next six months. I will also be on Lovenox shots twice a day until my INR is stabilized. To be honest, I'm still not exactly sure what that all means, but that's what they tell me. I will also need to go into the doctor frequently for blood draws. I found out today as well that I won't be able to continue physical therapy in the same rigorous way until I am off Lovenox! So, I will be finding other little ways to improve while I wait for everything to stabilize.

To be honest, this was all very discouraging to me. I keep thinking, if I could only deal with paralysis alone, this would be so much easier. If I only had to worry about the fact that I couldn't walk anymore, I would do so much better. It's all of the secondary problems of an SCI that keep me down. The blood pressure, the nerve pain, the catheterizations and bowel care, and now the DVT (though, I am sure this is not the end). I look forward to the day when some of this hopefully regulates itself. It's no guarantee that any of it will get better, but we can always hope, right? This is still just the beginning. 

Now for the better news...

One thing that did go well was that I started swimming a little bit again during therapy! Since my injury, I had been very curious as to how I would do in the water, and how much swimming would be affected because of my injury. I obviously knew that I had no core and knew that that alone would greatly affect my ability to swim, but I got in the water and tried it out. I was slightly apprehensive that swimming would end up being unfulfilling since I had enjoyed competitive swimming for a very long time before my accident.

Jan (my physical therapist) warned me that swimming is usually extremely frustrating for quadriplegics because of the reasons  previously mentioned. No core. In fact, she said she has had no one use stroke swimming as therapy. I first started with backstroke (because it requires less core strength) and realized that this would be tricky. I initially realized that because my hands are still so weak, I don't have the strength to cup them to pull the water in a way that allows me good form as I swim. Afterward, I tried swimming butterfly and came to the same conclusion. So, we found a pair of gloves for swimming and it made a huge difference. 

To make a long story short, I realized that swimming still felt like swimming to me, which was the greatest relief. I actually felt like I had retained something from my injury. It's obviously not the same, I mean, I still currently have to wear a device that floats me slightly, but it was a happy discovery. I swim in a pool that creates a current that I can swim into so I can stay stationary.

Now I have to make a few disclaimers to make. It has been three months since I have done any kind of cardiovascular activity, not to mention that for the first few weeks of my injury, I couldn't even lift my arms up. I am still working on building strength and all the muscle I lost in the hospital. You will see that my form quickly deteriorates throughout the exercise! Don't judge. :)


This is just a quick clip of me working on some butterfly when I finally got my hand gloves on.


This is a clip of a 2 minute exercise that Jan had me do. I am alternating between backstroke for 20 seconds and butterfly for 10 seconds (video says breaststroke on accident). This was a super hard workout for me and I kinda wanted to puke after. No kidding.


I heard that some of you are unable to view the videos on the blog, so if you can't, go ahead and click on the link the below that will take you to youtube. The quality is better anyway!

The two-minute swim

Butterfly