Sunday, December 20, 2009

Five Feet of Accomplishments


When I last wrote anything on this website, we were in a pretty tough spot. Dan was in the hospital again and feeling miserable. Since then he has improved so much every day that I can hardly keep up with him, let alone find time to update everyone on his progress. Thank you for your patience during the drought. Today we are barricaded into our apartment by a foot of snow, and so with nothing to do and nowhere to go, all of a sudden I have some time on my hands!

So many people commented on the photo of Dan climbing the rock wall. How amazing was that! We busted him outta the hospital that morning, and after 5 days of laying in the hospital bed, he decided that climbing a rock wall sans legs would be a nice accomplishment. It took him three tries - one of which caused me to almost pee my pants and pray that the floor underneath was cushy enough if the harness didn't hold - and on the third try he made it to the top! Dan has a fantastic occupational therapist who consistently pushes him outside of the box, allowing him to accomplish things that don't quite seem feasible.

Soon after the adventures in rock climbing, Dan's stubby legs became ready for use! When he went verticle for the first time, it was a pretty cool moment. Although I'll be honest, we both had to laugh a little because he was so short. We actually laughed a lot. With the stubbies on, Dan's about 4'8''. But his balance is perfect - due most likely to all the core strength he's developed over the past few months in physical therapy. We thought he would have more of a hip flexor contracture from sitting in the wheelchair for so many weeks, causing him to inadvertently bend forward at the hip when standing, but it was very minimal. He does so many good hip flexor stretches in PT, and also can sleep on his stomach now to stretch out, so his hips are in very good condition for standing up straight. He took some great first steps between parallel bars, while his prosthetist made the necessary adjustments to his sockets. When he first fitted Dan for sockets, Dan was seated in his wheelchair. Once he's standing, however, the fit changes a little inside the socket due to the shift in pressure direction. So the prosthetist re-measures everything while Dan's standing and makes better-fitting sockets from there. Dan's now on his second pair of stubby legs and is standing at about 5 feet tall. He's progressed from walking between parallel bars, to walking with a walker, to walking with two canes, to walking with one cane, to walking short distances with no cane at all! Of course these legs don't have knees, so all he's really working on right now is balance and getting the feel of the sockets. Knees will come in a month or so. Every day he walks a little further than the day before. We have to be very careful and almost obsessive about checking his skin after he takes his legs off. The H.O. growing on his left leg is really getting insane, and is about to pop through his skin graft. It is a bony pressure ulcer that is pressing up from the inside, and the additional pressure that comes with putting the leg in a socket is really going to cause some problems once the bone ulcerates through the graft. There really isn't anything we can do about it except take meticulous care of the area. The plan is to eventually cut the H.O. out surgically, but we have to wait about 6 months for the growth to run its course before that can happen.

In other exciting news - the debilitating bladder spasms, in combination with the severe intestinal malfunction - are no more! The second go-around at the hospital took care of these problems for what we hope is the rest of Dan's life. He is back to eating like a king and digesting beautifully. The bladder spasms that left him in tears multiple times a day have completely disappeared.

So we are in a pretty big "up phase" right now, and really enjoying it. Dan's doing better now than he ever has since his injury, and after all the recent setbacks, he's finally making all the progress and the accomplishments that he so deserves.

Dan, our mother, and I wish you all the very best over the holidays. The support that we continue to receive amazes us, and we could not imagine what our lives would be like without such exceptional friends surrounding us. Happy Holidays, and God bless you all.

17 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that Dan is still getting better, and already walking short distances without a cane?! That's awesome!

    Merry Christmas and God bless. And thanks for the updates, they are truly inspirational.

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  2. Dan, you are my hero and CERTAINLY a hero to your Grandma and Grandpa England!! I used to go to the Ozarks with the Millers and Woods to "play". Your grandparents always talked about you and Leslie. They were extremely proud of you serving for our country. I have followed your amazing story since you were injured. I also am interested in your progress because my brother had one leg amputated due to cancer. He eventually lost the cancer battle. I understand only half the amputation troubles/challenges you are going through. I wonder about phantom pains. I understand the whole prosthetic sores and working into legs that will be best for you. I know there are many, many things that people don't think about with amputations that you are dealing with. My brohter would talk about the little things that people don't think about. Anyway, I look at this blog every single day and sometimes many times a day. Thanks, Leslie, for sharing your brother with us. I can only imagine how close you and Dan have become through this whole process. Keep on climbing Dan!!!
    Carmel Steffen

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  3. Merry Christmas to your whole family... I pray that 2010 will be the best year ever for your family! It looks like things are going so much better-- I thank God for that, and always think what an awesome example Dan is setting for us all.

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  4. Sure glad you didn't call 5 feet tall short! But keep growing Dan...
    Elizabeth

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  5. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with possibilities and NO limitations!!

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  6. I love how no matter how many steps you end up falling back you continue to press forward and that is what makes all the difference. Focus on whats head and how to get back up, don't focus on the fall. Keep moving Dan. Merry Christmas to you and your family and Happy New Years as well, seem like this is the year for all kinds of new beginnings.

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  7. Thanks for showing us just how real you are and that not everything is easy but do-able. Luke from T-town

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  8. Dan,
    It's your favorite Angel from the capital of Texas! :) You are doing awesome!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! Tonya

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  9. I wish you all a Happy Holiday and I thank you for keeping us up on Dan.

    Thanks Dan. Thanks for everything.

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  10. Wow! no less than amazing! What a gift Dan's healing and progress are! And how timely to be hunkered down for a White Christnas! You all inspire us to work hard and reach for goals that we think might be out of our grasp...
    As we reflect on the gift of this Christmas season, we wish you all the best and warm family times, this team family sends you hugs and love...the garrett's

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  11. Dan, Leslie, and family
    Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
    What marvelous progress you are making, we pray for you every day. Lloyd and Carolyn

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  12. Dan, Leslie and Family-sending you our wishes for continued healing-you are surely on your way to a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Thinking of you all and continued prayers for your progress....the rock wall climb is AMAZING!!!! Happy Holidays to you all!

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  13. Just one last quick note...
    Happy Holidays to your family. (Leslie, take time to take care of yourself as well!!)
    Watching you is amazing, and seeing the grin on your face in the picture was worth a thousand words. I am so very glad you have continued to persevere. Your success prompts others to follow in your footsteps.
    Be proud of all that you accomplish!

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  14. Happy New Year! My thoughts and prayers are with you for much continutes success and accomplishment in the coming year. Blessings to you and your family.

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  15. HaPpY NeW yEaR! Great news all around! I'll pass on to Alex. You and your family continue to be in our daily prayers. You're amazing!

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  16. Leslie, what a marvelous post...I am so grateful to you for your time with Daniel and for inspiring so many with your powerful and moving accounts of his progress. Way to hang in there with everything and take time to share with so many others who are following Daniel's story. I am in awe of you both. God bless and love always, Mom

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