The minute things tend to go wrong, the first reaction is usually one wondering with exasperation why difficulties always present themselves in the most inopportune times. It was no different the night before phase 2 of my adventures was about to begin. Saturday evening my parents and I finished packing the last remains of our clothing and supplies which would last my dad and I six weeks during our stay in Atlanta. I went to bed that night excited about the trip to come and unfortunately anxious to get a good nights sleep. Most of the time when I’m anxious to sleep well, it usually ends in me not sleeping well at all. I eventually fell into a slumber but began tossing and turning not far into the night. As morning light crept ever closer, I fully realized that a good nights sleep would not be had. Lack of sleep then became my least concern as those annoying bladder spasms attacked me suddenly. I catheterized and only had a very small volume, not a good sign for the health of my bladder. A larger volume with spasms, usually means that I just had to go, while spasms in accordance with a small volume probably means that bacteria has something to do with it. My theory anyways.
The spasms were slightly relieved for a short while but in a moments notice they came back. I ignored them for a while, struggling to maintain relaxation while a constant feeling of peeing the bed persisted. Not being able to take it any longer I decided to cath once again. I called my mom and had her sit me up in bed while I placed my arms behind me. The intensity of the spasms increased as I did my breathing exercises, remaining somewhat calm as I waited for my mom to get supplies. This was not a good start at all to the beginning of my trip and I was already imagining the conflicts a UTI would present. Of course, directly after the thought occurred things turned worse as an outpour of urine erupted, spraying upward in a small stream, and landing on my stomach. I yelled for my dad through the intercom to help us.
Redeyed, and half-asleep my dad lumbered into the room, saw the situation and threw up his arms in disbelief. Why do things always go wrong before we go on a trip!”, he hollered. It did seem like a big coincidence that I would start peeing myself, hours before we were to hit the road. After a short emotional flare up, we all calmed down and dealt with the situation. The rest of the morning I felt as if I was in an exhausted state of hallucinations, as I could barely function from lack of sleep. The important thing however, is that I was no longer urinating on myself and the spasms somehow disappeared. Driving down the road to Atlanta, the situation was quite comical wondering why after months of no problems with leaking, I suddenly had to create the problem right when I didn’t need it. I have got to do something about this subconscious of mine. We seriously need to reach some sort of agreement to work together.
That first night of trouble did not foretell horrible occurrences for our trip but it has been a testing first week. I have not had any more leaking, but my bladder continues to cause me some trouble somehow getting irritated when there is not enough fluid in the bladder. I have had to be conscious about drinking enough to keep it filled but then again not over drinking. It’s a tough balance. Meanwhile my dad came down with a bad cold. On top of that, he once again has a full load of responsibilities, including grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, putting in hours for work, plus doing everything that I need. Needless to say, the load can be rather stressful.
I myself can say that during this week I have maintained a level of peace which I’ve not felt in quite some time. The last time I can remember feeling this way is probably a few days into our trip to San Diego. The past couple of months, I have not focused much on the spiritual side of my life for some reason or another. After getting back from California I almost felt as if I needed a break from looking into the fathomless depths of the beyond and searching my inner soul for answers. Every once in awhile I would look inward for true peace but it was without devotion and took place only to feel less guilty.
I made a point at the beginning of our trip to once again look within for the true self and discover the everlasting peace which is present there. As in the past I’ve started reading books which uplift the spirit, challenge the scrambled thoughts of the mind, and evoke a determination to continually search for the answers which cannot be found. By this I mean when one looks within, they are looking for God, and the question of God cannot be truly answered, it can only be experienced. How does one experience God? Experiencing God can be understood through the practice of meditation. Meditation releases you from the erratic confusion of thoughts which plague the mind ceaselessly, releasing you from your earthly identity, and opening the door for the true spiritual self to come forth. I am not this body, I am not this mind, I am an eternal Spirit who is one with God and all of creation. To experience this you must understand that there is no duality, there is no earth and sky, space and time or God and us. There is only God.
Speaking in these terms makes me different, it makes me an outsider to the Western world. It also puts me far beyond my years. At times this alienation bothers me but at this point I have decided that my circumstances call for it, as well as my desire, and I have no choice. Some people recover from spinal cord injuries because biologically they are able to. Biologically I have not gotten better and possibly my biological anatomy will allow me to get better but I believe that divine power may be necessary here. Grabbing ahold of that divine power is completely up to me and the desire, willpower, and devotion I wish to put forth. I’ve learned recently that God grants every desire to those who are truly devoted to Him. My devotion is being put forth through meditation and turning away from the earthly desires which inevitably cause pain, and looking within to discover the divine power which is present there. God does not necessarily want us to find Him, but he does want us to search for Him.
Coming back to earth, I have now spent one week here in Atlanta. Three of those days I have spent at the Beyond Therapy program at the Shepherd center and on Friday I made a brief visit to Center IMT and had a brief consultation with the head therapist there. Getting back into an intensive exercise program has felt absolutely wonderful. The past couple weeks I have felt especially antsy as sensations seem to vibrate through my thighs and down into my feet begging me to get up and start running down the street. I am not quite able to run down the street yet, but my first day of the program I was able to get strapped into the Lokomat system. For those who don’t remember, this is the gait training device which suspends me over a treadmill and uses robotic arms to put me in the perfect gait pattern of walking. As I walk over the treadmill I focus on pushing the weight through my feet and trying to reconnect with the neural patterns of walking which are stored in the spinal cord. My posture was much better compared to the last trip to Atlanta and the biofeedback on the computer shows that almost every muscle group is active throughout my legs.
If you all remember my last trip to Atlanta, I was actually placed in front of a walker and practiced taking steps. Once again on Thursday, I stood up in front of a walker and walked across the gym floor. I was being heavily assisted by the therapists but what a feeling to be actually trying to walk again! To acknowledge the feeling that yes, this is possible! As I struggled to try and bring each foot in front of the other, it felt nothing like the act of walking used to. While on the Lokomat the activity seems very familiar to me but when actually trying to walk under my own power, everything about it is strange. Disappointingly, I actually feel as if I did much better with the walker back in September. My muscle coordination and movement still tends to be very erratic and depends heavily on how much tone and spasms are present in my legs. It is my hope that with time my movement will become much more consistent.
Overall, my experience at the Shepherd center has been good. The basic ideas and overall goal is much the same as Project Walk but at the same time very different. Surprisingly being exposed to the various methods of spinal cord recovery is not frustrating but very refreshing and it’s given me much to think about and absorb. My Center IMT appointment on Friday increased my exposure to the various methods even more so and has given me an outlook on recovery which I’ve yet to be exposed to. As I talked with head therapist and general manager Sue Leger, she wanted to know everything about me from the time I was born to that very moment. She explained that breaking my neck was not necessarily a freak accident but that my overall bone structure and medical history could have played a big role. Through the conversation I realized how much trouble I used to have with the muscles in my neck and the various injuries which had already taken place there. As we talked further she explained to me the holistic approach they take to spinal cord injuries. She explained that all the cells in the body repair themselves and there is no reason why I should not be up and walking around. Therefore there must be something within the body preventing me from getting better and through their methods they would find out what that is and send me down the path and recovery. There was no doubt in her mind. They will look at the structure, biology, and physiology of the body bringing the entire system into balance and once again creating perfect harmony within my body. Seems like the perfect partner along with my spiritual healer. I still do not fully understand but I’m really looking forward to working with them.
Check out my you tube account for new videos of me learning to walk and on the lokomat.
I also would like to persuade everyone to check out the online book “Autobiography of a Yogi” which has enthralled me over the past few days with its spiritual wisdom and eye-opening experiences of God’s divine work on this earth.