Work Hard, Play Hard! 

Happy May! Holy cow, where did the time go? They say time flies when you’re having fun! We have had so much fun the past couple of months. I guess  you can say it was somewhat of our ” breath of fresh air” since Paul’s injury. Here’s some stuff we accomplished and it all started with Coachella! 

Before the accident Paul and I always decided we were going to Coachella. Then we heard Guns N Roses was part of the line up, and we just couldn’t resist. Of course, we had our reservations about going because it was going to be a mission for Paul to get around. Since Paul is no stranger to tough challenges, we pulled the trigger and went! It was a blast. Paul used his wheelchair the first day so we could cover more ground faster, but the second and third day he was walking around with his sticks. I was really surprised to see how many people were aware of Paul’s unsteadiness. I have noticed now more than ever, people get moving so fast they don’t realize that accidentally bumping into Paul can be pretty dangerous. A lot of the people would hold their hands out to guard him from others. It was really beautiful. I was also really touched by how many people offered to help us. People would stop their golf carts in the middle of the street and yell ” hop on!” One of the coolest moments we had was after the Guns N Roses concert. We were fighting the crowds to get back to our car and all of the golf carts were full. We knew we had a long walk back when we heard, ” Hey you guys need a ride?” It was actor Eric Olsen!!! He was so down to earth and took us right to our car. He happily went out of his way to help Paul. Such a humble dude. We saw a ton of great bands and met some really cool people. It was a blast and we can’t wait to go again next year. 

Another really, really, really cool and my most favorite thing we did this month was participate in The Wings for Life World Run. Running for those who can’t, was such an honor. Wings for Life raised a little over 7 million dollars, all of which goes to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. Paul walked with canes an incredible 1 mile before the chaser car caught up to him. We had the best team ever! Thank you to those who joined the IRideforPaul team ( Aaron Lutze, Ivan Sanjuan Sanz , Jill Kintner, Amanda Abril, Scott Hart, Brandon Risk, Melissa Couch, Marc Cruz, Cam and Amanda Zink, Angeline Paule, Jiune Chiang, Nick Pavelka and the Harris Family)  As a team we covered 141.59 km. The energy was unbelievable. I was so inspired by the strength, courage, and determination by everyone who participated in this event. We can’t wait to do it again next year. You can go onto the Wings for Life website and register for next year now! It’s such a great cause. 

Work hard, play hard. In Pauls case, it’s been work harder, so he can play a little. I am always blown away by Paul, but the past couple of months have been really special to see how hard he’s been working. I am beginning to see that he’s not only working to get back on his feet again for himself, but he’s working hard for others. Everyday Paul is reaching out to someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury and asking how he can help with their struggles. He always mentions how he wishes he could help everyone in this similar situation. Paul does a really great job of transforming his internal thoughts and struggles into something positive. I see it like a wildfire inside of him. Wildfires are complex, and are fueled by a lot of different factors. When Paul’s fire is fueled by walking again, the spark ignites and it becomes fierce! We can all learn a lesson from this. Not all wildfires are uncontrolled, and they all may have different variables, so find what sparks yours and fight it with fierceness, whether it’s your job, your relationship, your life in general, never back down or become compliant. Live in the moment and live with purpose. I am so grateful to have learned this valuable lesson from my incredible man. 

Thank you all so much for the continued support and prayers. I promise all of your comments do not go unnoticed. We love to read them and they make us so happy. Much love to you all! 

Beating The Odds

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Happy March everyone! Again, I feel bad for not updating you more often. We are still very much on the grind. These past two months have been challenging but we have seen some improvement and progression! Although, to Paul his progress is slow and it’s hard for him to see just how much progressions is actually being made. With that being said, let me just brag about my incredible man. 

Paul has ditched the forearm crutches and is mostly using two canes. This was really exciting for us. He of course, is a little more guarded with the canes as his balance is still off. This will come, and is in my opinion, what Paul gets most frustrated with. His glutes are still weak so when he tries to stand on his own, his hips tend to twist which causes him to lose his balance. He’s unfortunately fallen a few times which shakes him up a bit, but he always gets up and learns from the mistake. He’s getting more nerve firing in his calves and is getting a little more movement in his feet. Paul’s left side is healing faster than his right side, which from what we have been told is normal. Although his gains seem minor to him, it’s progress and in my eyes he’s absolutely kicking this injury’s ass.

Since its been warm outside, Paul has been feeling a little anxious. Previously during this time of the year he’s usually outside sunup to sundown pushing dirt, digging, and riding. This is what initially made Paul happy. This was his identity so to speak. It fed his soul. Now, what feeds his soul is being able to reach out to others who are in similar positions with a spinal cord injury. We went to Renown ICU to visit a sweet kid who suffered a SCI. As much as it helped the patient, it also helped Paul to be able share his story and his hardships. 

After a hard work out it is not unsual for Paul to tell me how much he respects people who have gone through the struggle of a SCI. What blows my mind is the fact that he thinks of other people during this challenging time. You would think tunnel vision would set in, and the least of his worries would be other people, but it’s not the case. He’s truly incredible and so kind. He always says, “babe I have new heroes now”. 

With the loss of Paul’s good friend Kelly McGarry and the daily struggles of this major injury, he’s had his share of tears over the last couple of months. It’s been difficult for sure. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, God is good and Paul is a fighter. We will get through these hard times. Thank you again the continued support and prayers. We are so grateful #irideforpaul  

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I’m so sorry I haven’t posted much. We have been trying to get used to being home and establishing a productive routine. Paul is doing wonderful. His metal strength has been challenged, but his physical strength is on point. We have had a few set backs here and there, but his mental drive proves nothing can hold him back from getting on his feet again. We have found that creating structure and a tight schedule works best for us in this journey. Obviously, everything that used to be our first priorities comes secondary and we are truly focusing on daily gains for this injury. There is literally not a second during the day that isn’t spent getting Paul on his feet. 

The trophy room is slowly getting taken over by mats, exercise bands, balancing equipment, a vibration plate and a yoga stuff. We have 3 extra rooms for this stuff, but Paul insists on looking at all of his trophies, photos and accomplishments to motivate him.  It’s really inspiring to see. Not only did the trophies and photos take blood, sweat, and tears to earn, they are serving a parallel purpose, as the accomplishments that keep giving by motivating him to earn more someday. Paul is doing his PT with an amazing therapist at Spine Nevada who pushes him hard. He spends a total of about 6 hours a day working his booty off. By the end of the day, I usually find him in bed watching House of Cards and mentally preparing for his battle the next day. 

We have met some truly incredible people during this process and we continue to feel the love from all of you daily. I know I say it all the time, but we are Blessed, God is good, and Paul is a fighter. 

Lots and lots of loves to you all.  

 

What is home? 

Home used to be a structure that provided a comfortable living situation for Paul and I. We cooked meals in it, cleaned it, slept in it, and most importantly, and unfortunately took the home for granted.  It’s now something that is more than a structure. Our home is not in a specific location, but where our heart tells us it is. 

We are beyond blessed to call our current home Craig Hospital. The people here are some of the most beautiful individuals we have ever met. Their daily struggles outweigh any struggle I personally have ever had to comprehend. We have become comfortable here. Everyone is dealing with their own personal battle, yet there is a huge sense of community and so much positivity and love pouring into the halls here. Others have made Craig Hospital home as well. Which makes it even harder to leave. Here, everyone is equal. Yes, there are worse cases than others, but their hearts share the same passion to reach similar goals. I’d be lying if I said I fully understand each of their struggles, as I truly believe experiencing an injury of this magnitude is something most can’t understand, we can only empathize. As the discharge date gets closer, we feel we are almost relocating to a home that was once lived in through completely different eyes. 

Paul’s emotions are mixed. He’s excited to be out in the “real world” again, but his routine will be quite different. He keeps saying he will miss having the conversations with people here, but can’t wait to see the homies at home. Being in his own environment will be both healing and challenging. It will almost be like starting over again. Learning to step into our shower differently, fitting in the doorways differently, getting in and out of bed differently, sitting on the toilet differently, etc. While there is so much unknown when we leave Craig, two things are certain. 1. Paul will stare these challenges straight in the eye and kick some ass and 2. God only prepares the hardest challenges for the strongest soldiers. Paul WILL thrive in his new, old home 💪🏼. 

For those of you who have read these blogs and have prayed continuously for Pauls recovery, we ask another favor from you as the prayers and positive vibes have been heard. A dear friend of ours lost her mommy on Saturday during her graduation ceremony. A day that was supposed to be filled with happiness took a turn for the worst. Please pray for her and her family. It’s going to be a long journey for them, but you all clearly have the ability to help heal. They need your help as well. We love you all ❤️ 

 

Perspective

It is said, Perspective is the way we see things when we look at it from a certain distance.  We all have a different appreciation for what we consider true value. Being at Craig has been life changing in that we learned to pull ourselves out of a tragic event and see the true blessing right in front of our eyes. The amazing individuals we have crossed paths with here at Craig put life into perspective. All of the people here have lost something. Whether it be their ability to walk, their ability to breath on their own, their ability to eat or drink on their own, or their identity as a whole, these people are fighters. I am blessed enough to be dating one of the fighters. 

Paul has conquered one full week of intense physical therapy in this facility. A week flew by and with that came different emotions. The reality of this injury is starting to set in for both of us. It has been a little over three weeks since the injury, yet so much is still unknown and it’s too early to get a solid prognosis for the extent of Paul’s injury. We know which muscles work, which muscles are strong, and where he doesn’t have feeling, and yet somehow it’s still hard to wrap our brains around this injury. There are days when Paul wakes up and forgets he doesn’t have feeling below his knees and then the reality sets in. What blows my mind is the fact that although he wakes up devestated, he turns that into something powerful during his rehab sessions. 

Paul has successfully been able to pee a couple of times without having to cath himself, which is HUGE! This is another box we get to check off on the gains list. Some days it seems we take one step forward and two steps back. Mentally, Paul is exhausted and defeat spreads a crossed his face many times during the day. When he feels down, he likes to put his life into perspective and sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light at the end of this tunnel. 

Please continue to pray for Paul’s recovery. This man is a fighter with a huge heart and needs your support and kind words more than ever. 

#irideforpaul 

  

New Digs!

We are officially in Denver! Paul is continuing his rehab at Craig Hospital. It’s amazing. This facility specializes in Spinal Cord And Brain Injuries. Although he was doing fabulous at the other facility in Saint Geroge, he needed more. There are a ton of awesome machines including an antigravity treadmill, water treadmills, electro therapy, and the list goes on. We are beyond blessed to work with the amazing therapists here. They are all impressed by how much Paul has accomplished thus far since the injury. Because we got here yesterday, we haven’t had much time to work, and Paul is getting anxious to get up and moving. We are just getting used to the new place, the new faces, and a new routine. Here it is very structured, and those of you who know Paul understands how this is going to be a challenge for him 😉. Being outside of our comfort zone is a good thing, and we just keeping charging!  

 

Determination 

Will this be easy? Nope. Paul’s determination is both admirable and inspiring and he has quickly become somewhat of a hero in my eyes. There’s a quote that says, “hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed”. This could not be more fitting for Paul in a time like this. Paul knows he has to be strong, courageous, and fight through this road to recovery and he’s doing just that. Although I want to share all the positive stories, I want to make sure you know why I am so inspired by this man. The hardships he’s living with daily is more than some could handle in a lifetime, including myself. 

A nurse walks in every two hours during the night to scan Paul’s bladder. Since they took the Cath out, he has to self Cath every 4-6 hours, or as often as his bladder fills up. If you have never seen a catheter, consider yourself lucky. These are no joke and it’s super painful. It usually takes Paul about 25 minutes to work himself up enough to do it.  People with spinal cord injuries are at risk for kidney issues because the bladder can’t release the urine like it used to, so it send the urine back up the ureters and into the kidneys. This is a very serious problem, and he may or may not regain function of his bladder. Paul is also getting a blood thinner shot in his belly every 8 hours around the clock so he doesn’t develop a blood clot. So, between the shots, the Caths, the emotional and physical stress, and the pain, Paul is lucky to get a couple hours of sleep a night. Functioning on a couple hours of sleep is hard for someone who isn’t suffering from a major injury, let alone someone who is. What blows my mind about this is, he never complains. When things get tough, he fights harder. 

Please don’t give up on prayers and good vibes for Paul, they are being answered. We love you and we are unbelievably grateful  ❤️

 

Progress

Paul is getting so much more self sufficient! He is able to take showers on his own as of this morning. Paul doesn’t like asking for help, so it’s been difficult for him to wait for someone to help him with the basic tasks he used to do on his own. He is starting to get muscle spasms in his lower back from using the same muscle groups (quads and hamstrings) and these can set him back for a couple of minutes, But he has learned breathing techniques to help get through the spasms. He was in heaven yesterday during PT when he got to lay on his belly for the first time since the injury. The process of getting to his belly is not easy for him, but he said it’s totally worth it for a couple seconds of peace. His catheter came out yesterday, so he’s obviously super stoked on that. He worked really hard on the parallel bars yesterday. His focus was on standing up . Today, with the help of Cam Zink and KC Dean he was taking steps with the parallel bars (you can watch the video on my insta).  He felt like a million bucks.  Life as we know it is beautiful. 

Sunshine and Good Company 

Paul did amazing this morning with transferring from his chair to the bed/shower.  Tasks that were once easy are more of a challenge these days. Everything is a process. The therapists are teaching him ways to utilize the muscles he has to help him walk. An example of this is engaging his core muscles to target his quads and hamstrings, which is allowing him to stand. He’s learning a “Butt -Head” technique to move/stand. The theory of this technique states the butt and head move opposite of each other. Paul has a habit of bringing his chin to his chest when he stands, so his butt goes back, and since he doesn’t have control of his knees and ankles yet he is top heavy. Although this worked for him before the injury, he can’t do this and effectively target his strong muscles. The therapists want to make sure he has proper technique literally in EVERY movement he makes so he doesn’t create bad habits. Paul is a perfectionist so he’s getting a mental workout as well as a physical workout, which in most cases leads to an emotional workout. Today was a really special day because his family showed up wearing #irideforpaul T-shirts. He had no idea they were coming. The look on his face was priceless. Paul’s childhood inspiration, Matt Buyten also surprised him. These special people create some normalcy in this journey. Each day is a blessing. 
  

Rehab

All I have to say is….WOW! Paul has quickly become a favorite in this rehab facility! The therapists and doctors thus far have been on YouTube checking out all of his videos, so they know the importance of getting him back on his feet, and back on the bike (although I cringe at the thought). First day of true rehab is no joke. They have been working him hard. It is a balance of keeping his pain controlled, but not giving him too many pain medications. Let’s be honest, Paul is a lightweight, so it doesn’t take much medication to make him feel loopy! So this has been a challenge. People who suffer spinal cord injuries deal with a problem called Orthostatic Hypotension. Essentially, this means his blood pressure gets extremely low when he sits up. He gets lightheaded and it’s very hard for him to focus. He fights through this like a champ. He has incredible drive. His days spent here will be some of the most challenging seconds, minutes, hours, days of his life. Please pray for Pauls ability to do something that frightens him and overcome it like the amazing person we all know he is. 

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow”