Monday, February 25, 2013

It Finally Happened!

I finally made it through Atlanta TSA airport security without a pat down!  Woo hoo!  When Lizzie and I arrived at the security area, there were two long lines. I approached one of the TSA agents and showed him my hidden disability card. Believe me, carrying three pounds of hardware in my spine definitely sets off  alarms. To minimize the drama, I asked to use the scanner machine which doesn't set off alarms like the step through metal detector.  In the past, this resulted in an agent giving me a pat down of my back area only, despite me warning them about my situation. So the agent read my card and directed me to follow her. She opened up a new lane just for me. I showed the agents at the machine my card again, stepped into the machine, and voilĂ !  The agent told me I was good and to have a nice trip. Wowza, wasn't expecting that.  My experiences with ATL TSA have been improving the past few flights.

Coming home from St. Louis, the agents there are really great and always get me to the right scanner as quickly as possible. Being a small airport helps too. I still had to have a back pat down in STL, but the agent asked me how long my fusion was. With my hand, I motioned from the base of my neck down to my hiney.  He said, "Oh wow!  I only have two fused at C4 and C5 (the neck)."

Lizzie and I flew in Tuesday evening, checked into the hotel connected to the hospital, and walked across the street to my favorite Mexican restaurant. I found myself getting very excited being in STL as this was the place God literally worked a miracle through Dr. Lenke's hands on November 28, 2011. It's an odd feeling being excited going to a hospital for a check up, much less the surgery itself. I remember being very excited the day of the surgery.

Anyhoo, I planned our return flight home at 10:30a which would have given me a three hour window for my appointment with Dr. Lenke including a 45 minute taxi ride to the airport. A couple of hiccups occurred. First, Delta rescheduled my flight to 9:59a a few weeks before my trip. Then I found out I actually wasn't the first patient of the morning, there were actually 5 patients ahead of me!  Lenke's nurse suggested if I arrive at the xray department before 6:30a and be first in line, there was a chance I could sneak in ahead of the other patients. That worked like a charm!  My appointment was 7:15a and 14 minutes later, my consultation with Dr. Lenke was done.

Funny little thing happened in the xray dressing room. I walked into the room after my xrays were done to change into my clothes and I saw an older woman standing in her hospital gown with a sad look on her face. She said, "Can you help me?  Oh, wait, you probably can't bend over either." I laughed and said, "You're right, I'm not able to bend over, but how can I help you?" She looked down at the floor and that's when I saw the lock laying on the floor. There are lockers in the dressing room where patients lock up their clothes while taking xrays and the woman dropped her lock.  I asked, "Are you a patient of Dr. Lenke's?" which she confirmed. I carefully got down on my knees and lowered my torso downward while keeping my back straight. Fortunately, my arms are long and I was able to grab the lock. Good thing there was a door next to me so I could hold onto it on my way up. She thanked me profusely and I said, "My pleasure." That was my good deed for the day. :)

Dr. Lenke showed me where fusion appeared on my xrays and what the new bone looks like. PRAISE GOD! 
6 month post op xray, no fusion

15 month post op xray, fusion!
These still freak me out:

I only had a few questions which is why my time with Dr. Lenke was so short. Obviously, the first question was about the fusion. Next, I wanted to know why I frequently feel as if there are bugs running up and down my spine. Sometimes, it is so bad that I have Jeremy or Lizzie look down my shirt. Of course, nothing is there; they must think I'm crazy. Dr. Lenke explained that my nerves are trying to regenerate. He said that if I don't regain feeling within the next few months, that most likely those areas will remain numb.  As of today, my numb areas are across my entire thoracic area, my lower back, most of the front of my left thigh and an area on my right thigh.  Since the surgery, I have an extreme sensitivity to cold temperatures.  This winter I frequently wear two pairs of socks, 2 shirts and a sweater and that is while I'm inside the house!  When I venture outside, I usually wear two jackets on top of everything else.  Dr. Lenke said this is common in his thin patients because of muscle atrophy.  I do everything I can to prevent shivering because shivering really torques my spine.  Dr. Lenke explained that because there is no more insulation from muscle, the hardware is close to the surface of the skin and is definitely impacted by external temperature.  If you wonder why I'm always bundled up and drinking hot water all day long, it's my desperate attempt to stay warm.

He said everything looks great was happy to hear I've been so active and doing archery. He asked, "Does it feel good to get back into archery?" I responded, "I never did archery before my surgery." "Really?," replied Dr. Lenke. I told him that as a result of the surgery I'm now able to live my life and try new things which includes archery. Dr. Lenke had a big smile on his face. God is good!

Dr. Lenke was very happy that my coach, Jim White, has experience with Para archers. Jim helped coach Lee Ford-Faherty to compete at the 2012 Paralympics. Lee has been very helpful and I'm glad she lives in Georgia. I've got the right team in place to safely train and support me.

I was able to score a great bow case that has wheels (I'm not able to carry a heavy case) and it will arrive in a couple of days.  Next two items at the top of my list are arrows and a quiver.  I have an appointment with a doctor in Kentucky who does classifications for Para archers. There is only one doctor in the US who does classifications so while we'll be in town for one of Lizzie's tourneys, I'll take care of the classification appointment.

I'm hoping one of GRIV's guys can set up my bow next week. Their shop has been hosting a lot of tourneys recently and they are pretty busy.  Every Friday night, GRIV hosts a Wounded Warriors shoot. Prett cool, huh?  Check out the Archery Learning Center in Snellville, GA.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Set Up

Shortly after we returned from Paris, I ordered my bow and was told it would arrive several weeks later because of the custom color I wanted. To my shock and the shop owner's surprise, it arrived less than 4 weeks later!

Super excited!
I'll be sure to keep my eyes open when actually shooting! :)

Here is the set up of my gear so far.

Bow:  Hoyt Matrix 30#-40#, but dropping it back to 25# for now, DL 28"
Arrow Rest: Limb Driver Pro V
Sight: Shibuya Ultimate CP 520 w/ scope and x4 lens
Release: Tru Ball Boss X

Next on my acquisition list:

Arrows: Easton A/C/C with 100 grain points
Quiver: Badlands
Case: SKB

Since we'll be busy with Lizzie's four tourneys, I won't have a chance for GRIV to set everything up onto my bow for a few weeks. In the mean time, I've been using my Morin trainer while holding my bow so I can start strengthening my bow arm. Below is a video using the Morin by itself and another video using the Morin with my bow.

Now that I've been holding my bow with the Morin, I have back spasms afterwards.  Waking up some sleeping muscles for sure!  I'm super jazzed to sling some arrows soon!