Committed to creating a positive change...
I grew up in a small town in central Kansas called Wilson. I have one sister that is six years older and a brother 18 months older than me. Growing up as the youngest made me to be a very competitive person. I never wanted to be left behind, so I worked very hard to keep up with my older siblings. As I grew older, I became very involved in many athletic activities. Some of which were water and snow skiing, baseball, basketball and football to name a few.
I became very interested in classic car restoration and working with my father and grandpa in the auto mechanics shop that had been in the family since the 1920s. My father taught me how to do auto body repair and my grandpa taught me everything there is to know about auto mechanics. I helped my dad restore many cars growing up and eventually building my own cars to drive to school and work when I got my drivers license.
High school was an exciting time in my life. I became very involved in sports that were offered at school and continued to work hard and focus on my future after high school. Some of my options were to attend college and play football or track on scholarship or enlist in the Air Force and become a pilot.
On March 3rd 1995, two months before my high school graduation I was involved in a car accident. I was riding with a friend; he lost control of his truck on a back road and flipped several times ejecting both of us from the vehicle. He suffered major head trauma and internal injuries and I had a C5-6 herniated disc. I become a quadriplegic instantly. The driver has since recovered.
The accident completely derailed my plans in life. Everything I worked for and developed growing up was leading to a career in something physical. I had to completely refocus my energy in a different direction. I had to change to something mentally in life since most of my body was now paralyzed. I struggled with finding new interests for a long time.
Right after my injury, I spent the next four months doing inpatient physical and occupational therapy. Then I did another four months attending outpatient therapy three times a week. I was very dedicated and never missed a session. I understood the importance of hard work and setting goals. It paid off in the long run. One of my first goals was to drive a car. Even though I cannot move my fingers or anything below my chest, I have been able to function in a manual wheelchair and transfer in and out of a car and drive independently. It took almost three years post injury to become totally independent and comfortable enough to go out on my own. Another goal was to get a college degree. I was able to attend the University of Kansas and attain a Bachelor of Science in Business, Business Administration. It took me the first two years to discover what my interests would be and I finely landed with a business major. I currently reside in the small town of Louisburg Kansas just outside of Kansas City. I work for a small substance abuse treatment center monitoring the finances and billing insurance.
Over the past 16 years post accident, there have been a number of struggles mentally and physically. There has been depression that I think many people in my situation have to deal with on a consistent level, and I have had physical illnesses to contend with as well. I have had my gull bladder and appendix removed over the years and struggled with a mild case of Crohn’s Disease. Luckily I have not had any broken bones, pressure sores or shoulder problems to contend with. In 2008, I went to Craig Hospital for a reevaluation of my health and discovered so many new therapies available. One of which was the E-stem bike. My physical therapist recommended it because of all the benefits. Since I do not live near Craig Hospital, I had to try to locate a rehab facility near my home that had one available for me to use. The only one I could find was in Kansas City an hour drive away. I was able to attend 12 sessions before my insurance stopped paying. The rehab had a policy that if I had someone to assist me to get set up on the bike, I could use it free of charge. I took them up on that policy and used it for six months straight, three times a week. My mother helped me and we would drive to the rehab one hour; spend two hours getting set up on it and riding, then drive one-hour home. The benefits were unbelievable. I stopped having problems with Crohn’s and was able to eliminate the medication that was costing me over $350.00 a month. My muscle spasms were subsiding so much, I was able to eliminate one of the two spasm medications I had been taking for years and cut back on another by a fourth. Being able to cut back and eliminate so much of the medication, I felt better physically and it saves damage to my kidneys in the long run. I could tell almost immediately I was more mentally alert throughout the day and I had more energy. I was able to lose some of my belly that develops on many quadriplegics over time and build muscle on my gluts where pressure sores are prone. I have a skinny backside and legs, so any extra cushion is very important to have. Unfortunately, I was unable to afford to continue to drive to the rehab location that provided the bike. The four hours it took to drive, get set up and ride was wearing out my mom since she also had to work eight hours a day once we returned home. I had to discontinue going. That is when I was looking for some help and found the Cindy Donald Dreams of Recovery Foundation. Cindy and I started communicating and I sent the foundation my application. I received a call from Cindy the beginning of March 2011 informing me that I was selected for a scholarship and they would purchase the electrical stimulation bicycle. I received delivery and setup on May 9th 2011.
I could not be happier with the way this E-stem bike is working. The first 15 days, I rode it every day for 30 minutes. A therapist was sent out by Restorative Therapies to assemble the bike and instruct me in the proper way to use it. Since I had not been exercising my legs for two years, they would need time for the strength to build back up. After the initial week, I was able to pedal the full half hour without any assistance. It only took one more week to build up to going the full hour with no assistance from the bike. I started out two to three miles per day and currently as of June 22nd; I am pedaling a distance of eight miles every other day. I do my exercising first thing in the morning. It only takes about an hour and 20 minutes to complete the routine. I already feel more motivated mentally and physically. My muscles are developing not only by the improvement in the distance I pedal, but there is already a noticeable buildup in size.
I cannot express the gratitude I have for Cindy and the members of the Dreams For Recovery program. This would never have been possible without their generosity and belief on how important exercise is for individuals in my condition. I want to thank them for making this possible.