Well, it’s been a little while! It was always my intention to keep this page going after Jesse got out of the hospital and throughout his recovery, but life has been busy and crazy and at times overwhelming and now it’s February, so here we are.
Here are a few of the updates since our last post in October. If you’d rather just look at photos, scroll on down to the bottom!
Jesse got out of the hospital on November 5th! A few days before that, he managed to buy a car, a 2015 Subaru Forester, which is a huge upgrade from his truck “Trusty Rusty.” We are now a 2-Subaru family.
On the morning of the 5th, after a few hours of packing up all the stuff that accumulates during a 2-month long hospital stay (including so, so many amazing cards and gifts from many of you!), we got picked up at Craig by the folks that installed the hand controls in Jesse’s car. After some adjustments and a brief driving lesson at their shop, Jesse drove us straight to the airport to pick up his friend Arizona Jeff (who, incidentally, is from Pennsylvania and lives in Oregon), and then from the airport, we went directly to Ikea for round one of outfitting our new apartment at Kent Place.
Our friends Keith and Micaela showed up the next day on their way back to Bozeman from a mountain biking road trip in Colorado. While I headed back to Ikea with them (and their Toyota Tundra!) for the big stuff. Jeff and Jesse went to NeuAbility for Jesse’s first appointment. NeuAbility, along with Craig, is one of the primary reasons we decided to stay in Denver for the year. NeuAbility serves the “broad paralysis community,” including those paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, strokes, MS, autoimmune diseases, and other causes, with adaptive exercise, integrative therapies, and open gym. What Jesse expected was going to be a short meet-and-greet and assessment turned into a full-blown therapy session. He came home really excited and optimistic, and since November, NeuAbility has been without question the best part of Jesse’s rehab. Between his time there, at Craig, and with the help of some other therapies, including chiropractic, massage, and stem cell injections, he’s made some amazing progress – but more on that later.
After a few months of pandemic-era hospital life it was awesome to have a few days with friends, drinking cocktails and deciphering Ikea instructions. Thanks to all the amazing help from our friends, both in the form of physical labor and financial support, we’ve really been able to make our new apartment comfortable and homey.
Moving into Kent Place has proven to be a great decision. Our apartment is awesome and has plenty of space for Jesse’s growing collection of rehab equipment and a home office for me, and because of our proximity to Craig and NeuAbility, we also have several neighbors and now friends who are also here because of their own or a family member’s spinal cord injury. It’s incredibly helpful to have a community that “gets it” and people we can call if we need help with anything. Additionally, one of our friends/neighbors is the mom of an 18-year old who was paralyzed in the 2017 Amtrak derailment in Washington. She has spent the last two years researching and advocating for everything related to spinal cord injury rehab and recovery and has been an amazing resource for us, pointing us in the right direction when it comes to some promising treatments and potential clinical trials. One of the things we learned about from her is the use of acute intermittent hypoxia in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Basically, an injured person uses a machine designed to deliver low-oxygen air and breathes in alternating cycles of low-oxygen air and normal air. So far, research has shown that acute intermittent hypoxia improves neuron plasticity allowing for some potential healing of the spinal cord and the associated improvements in motor function. We were able to buy a machine designed for high-altitude training so Jesse can do intermittent hypoxia therapy at home in combination with other rehab exercises.
On the whole, November and December were focused on rehab and finding a new sense of “normal” in Colorado. We spent a quiet Thanksgiving here and cooked an 18-pound turkey because we didn’t try to buy one until the day before the holiday – oops. We’d hoped to have Jesse’s mom and my dad and stepmom visit, but with COVID, that just seemed completely irresponsible. After Thanksgiving, I made my first trip back to Orcas and Jesse was on his own for 2 weeks while I did forestry field work in the San Juan Islands. I’m very thankful for the flexibility my job has offered and will continue to alternate several weeks of remote work in Colorado with trips back to Orcas. Despite a rough first few days for Jesse on his own for the first time, we both survived and I came back the week before Christmas to find that he put up a tree for us while I was gone.
Christmas and New Year’s were relatively quiet, but we did have a bunch of Zoom calls with family and friends. I was able to get a couple days of snowboarding in and we got to hang out with my college roommate and her family for the afternoon (outside) here at our apartment. It’s been a relatively mild early winter for Colorado, so I’m also still getting out mountain biking whenever I can. Compared to the usual darkness and rain of the Pacific northwest this time of year, I really can’t complain about all the Colorado sunshine!