HelpHOPELive Southwest Spinal Cord Injury Fund
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Update and 4th annual Walk-a-Thon and Ice Cream Social September 12th
Dear family and friends,
I hope you are all doing well and finding a way to keep cool in this triple digit heat.
Before I get started I would like to announce our 4th annual Walk-a-Thon and Ice Cream Social on the 12th of September. Please save the date and details will follow.
Since I wrote last a lot has happened which keeps me perpetually busy. The more I try to get done the more there seems to be to do. But this is a good thing. Though my life has accelerated, I am quite excited about all the new developments.
After finishing a long semester at ARC my mother and I took a trip through San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, and San Diego. We visited nine universities where we were able to speak with professors and deans of the mechanical engineering departments as well as take tours of their laboratories. Although I did not find the “school of my dreams” we learned a lot and found several that I am interested in. Out of the schools I saw, my favorites are UC Riverside, University of San Diego, San Diego State University, and UC Merced. I liked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo but the terrain would be quite difficult for me to get around on. We stayed with my aunt Lori and Uncle Mike in LA and my cousin Peter and his family came up so we got to see their 3 small children which was fun. At the end of our trip Marsha joined us, and helped to break up the driving for my mom.
Shortly after we returned home my e-motion power assist wheels arrived. These are the wheels I had been debating about ordering for the past two years and finally ordered this spring. The wheels fit on my regular everyday wheelchair and have motors with batteries in each individual hub to make the wheelchair easier to push. I still push them like a regular wheelchair. There are just sensors in the hand rims so that when I push, the motors engage to help me. They are fully adjustable so that I can increase or decrease the amount of assistance they provide so I can go faster outdoors and not crash into things inside. I like them because I still get a workout but can significantly increase the range I can travel. Just today I took them on their longest trip about 3 miles to and from breakfast through hilly Fair Oaks. I have also used them several times to get to the bus and light rail stations, to go downtown and visit my brother or watch World Cup games. These wheels have given me the confidence that if I get stuck or tired I can just turn up the assistance level and power through or around any obstacle. Though my prior lack of mobility was self-imposed by my refusal to be in a power wheelchair, this moderate compromise has given me a whole new world of freedom. Although I still get a workout and the battery seems to last quite a while it came at a high price. After some negotiating I was able to bring the price down $1,200 but they still cost $6,000. Thanks to your continual support and my persistence this possibility was made a reality. Thank you!
Another personal advancement has been me learning to get undressed and into bed on my own. With a continuous daily workout routine which also includes three to four days a week of personal training/physical therapy I’m proud to say I’m the strongest I’ve been since my injury. After 3 1/2 years of physical therapy and countless therapists I was still unable to transfer. But now with my new strength, mechanical brainstorming, and the help of friends I found a way meet and exceed my goals of transferring. Although I’ve been physically able to get my butt from chair to bed since November it was not until mid-May that I was able to go from brushing my teeth to sleeping with no assistance. In June Bryce, one of my much appreciated caregivers who stayed with me two years, moved away to go to nursing school. With my new ability I have not replaced him and put myself to bed at night although I still have a caregiver who comes three nights a week to perform other tasks. It still takes me an hour and a half to get to bed which is more than if I was to have help, but a little less than the four hours it took the first time.
Yet advancement is that the van that was purchased to transport me is now being equipped so that I can drive it. The company that is doing it is taking longer than expected but we should have the van back in two weeks so that I can start relearning to drive. Once again I have not chosen to do it the easiest or most straightforward way but I believe that I will benefit from it in the long run. I have chosen to transfer and drive from a modified drivers seat rather than from my wheelchair which will be more challenging but once I get it I will not only improve my transferring skills but be able to drive from a safer seat which others can also drive from. I will be driving with a standard gas and break hand control and use the steering wheel, although all of those will have increased sensitivity. I expect that this will also be a challenge to build coordination and endurance but once again by learning this I will be able to do more and save an additional $15-$20,000 in adaptations. I look forward to the new freedoms driving will allow. I look forward to being able to go to the store, school, doctors appointment, or just out for fun without having to ask my parents for a ride, or figure out who can pick me up and put me in a car, or forgetting to schedule a Para transit ride and missing my doctors appointments. I won’t have to feel guilty for bothering my parents on their rare time off or worry that I can’t go on a date by myself because I am uncomfortable making the girl pick me up by my pants and shove me in her car the first time we hang out. These are all reasons why I am so excited that you all have contributed to making this $14,000 additional adaptation to the van a real possibility.
With that I would like to announce our fourth annual ice cream social and walk-a-thon on the 12th of September. I will let you know the time and place soon once it is set in stone. Please come and celebrate with me in my new life and continued progress. I know that times are tough financially, but I truly enjoy seeing all of you and appreciate any contributions you are willing to make, whether it is a head of lettuce, a cucumber, or $5,000, it all helps.
I truly thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for providing me with such opportunities to enrich my quality of life through these drastic changes. I have met many quadriplegics in the hospital or at rugby tournaments but none have spoken of such a supporting and loving community as you have provided me.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
All my love,
PS. My newest motto: “The only limitations man faces are those which he himself creates or allows to exist.”
August 21, 2010
Hi Drew, Just read about all your progress and news. Congratulations on all your achievements! We are excited for you and wish you the very best on your continuing journey. Much love to you and your family!
Debira and Dwight, Fort Bragg, CA
August 10, 2010
Cool website Drew, congratulations on your many accomplishments! Looking forward to the walk-a-thon. See you soon.
Susan Gutierrez (Ana B.'s mom), Carmichael, CA
August 7, 2007
Drew, you are always in my thoughts. So glad I found you in this random magazine I picked up, and I will see you on 8/19.
Allison Buck, Roseville CA
June 15, 2007
Hi Drew, Like the new photo! Take care & be safe. See you when you get back. Ciao, Pam Burton
March 2, 2007
Hey, drew, nice soul patch. Maybe you'll remember me as the one who fell on her butt (gracefully, though) as she attempted to get into an inflatble kayak in the sea of cortez, en baja california. I think of you more than you might imagine. you and yoko were such a big reason why the trip went well. i was sorry to hear of your accident. i am impressed by your goals and want very much for you to get that bike you need.
Gale Petersen (galepetersen at charter dot net) Madison, WI
February 8, 2007
hay just seeing what happens
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