Thursday, October 27, 2011

Coronado Shark Fest Pictures

A bit late... but here are some photos from the Shark Fest in Coronado (San Diego) back on October 9th.
Joel Swartz took me down and I was able to see Mike Mitchell and the Oak Street Gang, which as always, nearly swept the awards portion of the event.

"The top 1%"

I've never considered myself the top 1/% in ANY group, but this is exactly where my prosthetist says my right arm is in terms of recovery. For those of you who might not know what a prosthetist is - he's the guy who will build and fit me for my new cool arms. This was very good news because I've been getting conflicting reports as to its status.

So, how did I get this news? I met Jonathan of Hanger Prosthetics at the CAF event last weekend and was convinced that this guy was going to get me back in the water. Today was my first appointment with him and we checked muscle strength and my ability to send discreet signals from my bicep and tricep muscles. These signals will allow me to use myoelectric arms - like the iLimb that I have previously posted a video for.

We also talked about a swim arm- an attachment to my right arm that will flare out when I enter the water and retract during the recovery of my stroke. He told me without the correct adjustments I would favor this arm because of its better "catch". Who would have thought my right arm could be a cheater? Maybe I'll still be able to ditch the swim buoy.

Super excited about getting a new stable of arms! But... Jonathan says the focus needs to be on my left hand recovery because that is what is going to help me get in and out of my right arm. So, my next meeting with him will be in December.

Scheduled an out-patient hand surgery for November 8th. The doctor will open up and manipulate my middle finger and frozen knuckle. Hopefully this will allow my finger to recover completely so that I have full range of motion.

Of course I can't take the easy route for anything - so I've scheduled a two day training at the OCWD (Orange County Water District- my "old" job) for the SCVWD (Santa Clara Valley Water District- my new contract). Luckily, the people at OCWD have promised to prop me up if I fall down.

If you've read this far... it's time for a break.
jc (with help from jd)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The iLimb

Very cool!!!! I think I want this.


Today I went down to La Jolla with my mom and dad to watch part of the San Diego Tri which is put on by CAF. The full tri- was 1mi swim - 44 bike - 10 run, but there were lots of options/modifications including relays. I really wanted to see some one-armed swimmers, but was blown away by the full field of athletes. Except for a few brief moments, I have not stopped looking forward to getting back to swimming, riding...and just becoming independent again, but the memory of watching a man missing both legs work his way up the stairs at the Cove with a young, double amputee on his back and the many kids under 10 bouncing around on sets of blades getting ready for the run will definitely keep me on the right path.

Hug your family and friends and be thankful for having this day.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Busy Monday

John here... with Jen typing :)

Another big day. PT this morning at 8am - with only 10 minutes on the bike because I didn't want to get up so early. PT Jennifer really put the hurt on me, but I made some big gains in finger range of motion. Lunch out on the back patio (see photo left) - no, I am not at "the club" - note dog in
background :) - and then off to see my hand surgeon, Dr. Chao (see photo right).
On the way, I made a phone call to Jill from CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation) and SCOPE (orthotics & prosthetics) - they have trademarked the phrase "making dreams happen". Nice.
Jill has already found someone for me to talk to is in a similar..... she's missing both arms... I'm excited to speak with her. Jill has also dropped off VIP tickets for the San Diego Triathlon & Tour of the Cove- both sponsored by CAF. That event is this Sunday in La Jolla, and I am looking forward to cheering on the one-armed swimmers!
At Dr. Chao's office, I got a chance to meet Dr. Beasley (no photo of him. apologies to the plastic surgeon nerds). He is "the father of hand surgery" and he trained Dr. Chao back in New York. The two of them both were happy with my progress and were amazed at how far I have come in such a short time, which was encouraging. Several times Dr. Beasley pointed out that "it didn't get your head" This was not lost on me. It looks like I am going to have a out-patient surgery coming up soon to see if they can get my middle finger going, and accelerate the recovery of my final wound site/ skin graft.
Ann Casey has just rolled in to town from Scottsdale (her first trip away from her kids ?) to help out my sister and come visit. I can only hope I am easier to take care of than 4 children under the age of 14!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Riding the Bike

Here's John on his *new* bike that Aunt Cheryl brought down from Palos Verdes.
We've got it outside - under a shade structure- it's a pretty sweet set up.



Friday, October 7, 2011

what do you do all day?

People keep asking John what he does all day.... my friends ask me what I'm doing all day....
the simple answer is this: nothing - and everything. All the little tasks we two-handed folk take for granted take John more time - and sometimes even MORE time, if I'm being pulled in multiple directions (kids need help with homework/ trash needs to be emptied/ laundry is calling...) We really have no idea where out time goes - only that it does...
shower/ brush teeth/ change dressing/ get dressed/ breakfast/ check email/ meds/ talk with someone on phone/ get in and out of car/ PT appointment/ doctor appointment/ nap/ at-home PT exercises/ massage/ watch HULU movies/ listen to music/ check blogs- surf web/ lunch/ read mail/ walk dog/meds/ get kids from school/ sporting events/ dishwasher/ laundry/ dinner/ meds/ watch TV/ brush teeth/ get ready for bed/ bed/ meds... rinse & repeat. Each day brings something new - good and/ or bad: more movement in the fingers (good!)... more scabs falling off (good!)... John turning pages in a magazine (good!)... John fastening his shoes (good!).... and pain (bad!)

Highlights include when people have come to visit:
Scot flew home with John and spent the weekend... Hank came for dinner... Bernadette spent a day... Mike, Lynne & Ronnie came by for an afternoon... Chris, Kathy & Kaitlin came for the weekend... Christopher, Nicole & Nicholas came for the day... John came for a visit on his way home from a cruise!.... Tim & Diane came for the day... Brian came for PT and lunch... Aunt Cheryl came for the afternoon and brought a bicycle... Mom and Dad come down for days or weekends often... a steady stream of Jen & Brian's friends come by daily bringing dinner... Bertie... Kathy... Jeff...

call him - or send him a note/ email... or find a time to come visit... Half Moon Bay/ Bay Area folks: John will be at his house for about 10 days around Thanksgiving - he'd love to see you up there!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kaitlin visits uncle John

This past weekend, we made the trip to San Diego to hang out with John. Kaitlin had really missed him and asks about him often. I think she really liked seeing John!

We still haven't figured this one out but Kaitlin would look at John's amputation site and say, "pop". She was not afraid of it and fully expected John to still be able to read her a book. It was a test for him but he was able to hold the book and turn pages and read to Kaitlin. John usually reads to Kaitlin whenever he sees her so I think she figured this was how she'd find out if they would be able to continue with their routine. I think it made John happy too to see that he could continue with their bonding routine. It always makes me smile to see John and Kaitlin interacting. He truly is her uncle.....

There were other times where it was at it always has been... John, Kathy, Kaitlin and I taking a dog (Lucky--Jen's family dog) on a walk and chatting about all sorts of stuff. Many of you have been victims of John's long hikes/walks and I am certain that there will be many marches in everyone's future.

We also spent some time down at the playground in Jen's neighborhood. John tested his balance by walking a roughly 8 inch wide plank which is suspended in the air by cables and thus has a bit of, "movement" to it. Kaitlin was walking it while holding my hand and although I was next to John when he walked it, I am not sure I could have caught him! At about the middle of the plank, John realized that this was probably not a wise thing for him to do but he finished anyway. As challenging as it was for John, I hope that he continues to work on his new balance because I am looking forward to snowboarding more with him!

The other highlight of the weekend was spending time with Christopher, Nicole and Nicholas. They came to visit on Saturday and the whole crew had a blast sharing stories, laughing and watching Nicholas and Kaitlin run around the Dorsey house with their toys.

It was a great treat for us to be able to spend a little time with our friend and we hope our visit wasn't too disruptive. We'd love for this to be the first of more visits to San Diego, but until then, we're looking forward to more updates on the blog to keep us posted on how things are going.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Double Header

John had a double header on Monday: PT and the hand surgeon.
I dropped him off with Jen at PT at 9:00 int he morning... and picked him up at 10:30- hot and sweaty. She really works him hard: manipulating his fingers (bending and extending them) and moving the swelling (edema) out of his fingers and hand. It's not as easy as it sounds because of the scar tissue. We work on this at home, too. Think intense, painful hand massage. When she finishes, he rides the bike at PT for 45 minutes to "feel like I did something" - ???!!!
Quite the adventure getting to the hand surgeon... lovely traffic caused by some crazy person shooting at people from a car on the freeway (we didn't see anything except tail lights). The hand surgeon and vascular surgeon spent the first 10 minutes of the appointment trying to out-do each other with their vast med school vocabulary- completely ignoring us. Once they had exhausted their "medicalese", they turned to us and shifted in to English. Here's the gist: They explained that giving John a thumb is a little like building a house... and they need to get the plumbing and electrical to the site before beginning construction. The first (of two) surgeries will be to re-route some of John's veins/arteries from his arm to the thumb area... and also to check on/ move the existing nerves to the site. During that surgery, he will also have a "look-see" at the inside of John's hand.. and do some manipulations on his middle finger. The darkest cloud over the visit was when he told us that if John's middle finger doesn't respond to the PT and/ or the manipulations under anesthesia, he will remove the finger and use it (instead of a toe) to make John a thumb. This is a way off... lots of time for lots of things to happen.... the first surgery will happen (at the soonest) in 2 months.
John's wounds are healing really well. Lots of scabs! I love to pick scabs - so it's all I can do to NOT pick them. Gross, I know - but I bet some of you are scab-pickers, too! :)
Keep the cards/ emails/ phone calls coming - they are the HIGHEST points of John's days!