Monday, March 1, 2010

February 2010, Update from Brian

I recently decided I am going to try to post updates to this blog as close to a monthly basis as possible. I am little behind with this post since I was working through some computer issues...

I am so over the cold weather that is starting to feel like will never end. I have always hated the cold but I hate to admit that for a while I wanted it to stay cold because the warm weather just made me miss things I used to do with the warm weather.

I am still here in Mooresville and working out at Race To Walk five days a week. I am pretty much here in Mooresville on my own. I have family and a few friends in Charlotte but it is about a 45 minute drive for most of them. Not having friends or family here or a car has made for some quite memorable experiences. I take public transportation to Race To Walk every day. The transportation service is through Iredell County. They are scheduled to get me to Race To Walk at 11 am and pick me up at 5 pm. Apparently this means they can pick me up as early as 10 am and I have been picked up as late as 6:30 pm or not at all (and I live maybe 1.5 miles from Race To Walk).

I have had several interesting conversations with the Transportation Supervisor and have gotten a decent handle on the inconsistency but it has been a little frustrating at times. As annoying as it can be I am lucky to have it. It usually gets me where I need to be (Race To Walk) and it costs me $1 each way. Since I am doing my best to conserve funds for recovery, I do not know what I would do without it.

Since I use this about every day, I have gotten to know several of the drivers pretty well. Since I am usually the only passenger on the van, I talk with the drivers quite a bit. I remember the first day I used the service and how I got into a conversation with the driver about my accident and what I was doing at Race to Walk and how I never thought I would be living in Iredell County and riding public transportation. When I unloaded from the van the driver asked me how my first ride was and I jokingly responded that I felt like I was riding the short bus to school. Oops-- she quickly said, “You shouldn’t say that, my son is deaf and autistic and he rides one to school.” I felt bad (another lesson learned) but she wasn’t mad at me and has become my favorite driver.

I mentioned in my last post how slow physical progress is and how patient you have to make yourself be or I think you would just set yourself up for disappointment and drive yourself crazy. I can say that over the last few weeks I have actually noticed some improvements. My balance, due to increased core strength, has gotten better. I was in bed for so long that sadly even sitting up straight had become challenging. Most recently I can feel my glut/butt muscles starting to fire, which will be a pretty big deal if I can get them a lot stronger. I think back to being in the hospital and not being able to feel below my belly button and now I seem to maybe be on the verge of getting my glut muscles back.

It makes me feel good to see this progress and makes me remain thankful to everyone who has helped me have the opportunity to even be able to go after these gains, especially considering how these are entirely out of pocket treatments not covered by insurance (but that's another post for another day). It costs about $1600 a month to go after gains such as these, which is a lot of money, so I am encouraged that the investment seems to be showing some signs of payoff. I know I cannot do this forever but I hope to give it about as much of a shot as anyone can.

I know many of you have heard me or others talk about my plans to attend therapy programs at The Shepherd Center in Atlanta and I still may end up going but it looks like things are shaping up to have me attend a program in Baltimore, Maryland--Kennedy Krieger Institute, affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. I may be there as early as April. I should have more concrete details and info to pass along in my next post about what's next.

Until then, I will continue to work hard at Race To Walk and explore what options are available to me on all aspects of my recovery.

Again, I have to say that without each and everyone of your help, I wouldn't even be able to experience these recent encouragements in physical gains. Thanks again to all of you for your continued support.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Update from Brian

First, I just want to say I hope everyone had a good holiday and happy new year.

I know that time this year was better for my family; I can’t even imagine what it was like last year with me unconscious in the hospital. As my sister mentioned in a previous post, this December also marked the year-point since my accident. I do not remember much of anything that day, but it was a little tough that day when I thought about the physical issues I still face. I thought I would have been further along in my recovery then I am. I do try to remind myself of all the secondary injuries and issues I have faced, which all slowed my progress. I often forget I had broken bones and organ issues that have impeded my progress.

I am now three months or so into my time in Mooresville at Race to Walk. I go every weekday for about five hours each day. I do personal training three days a week and my own thing the other two days. Overall It has been a good change for me, I was almost bedridden until late September battling secondary issues and I feel like going to Race to Walk has given me a sense of purpose and made me feel like I am being proactive about things. I am trying to be as patient as possible because progress is SLOW and it can be a little frustrating. With my athletic background I am used to working out and pushing myself physically but this is a different type of working out. It is more mentally tiring and challenging then physically.

Therapy is an attempt to reconnect signals in my body, which makes me feel like my nervous system is going haywire 24/7. It is not the best feeling in the world but it does make me feel like my body is trying. The hope is that the signals bust through the injured area or re-route themselves. My body kind of just hurts, especially my hips and lower back but I kind of expected some pain in muscles and parts of my body I have not been able to really use since 2008. The idea is that you have to strengthen things in a cascading manner; hence, a lot of the focus is on my core and my hips. They were very weak when we started therapy but I do feel them slowly getting stronger.

Mentally, I remain strong but I cannot pretend that this stuff is not tough. Like most people, I did not know all the things that accompany a spinal cord injury. I had no idea that paralyzed limbs were just the tip of the iceberg. This stuff just sometimes makes no sense, for example someone with a high injury may be able to regain the ability to walk but cannot move their fingers. I am trying to remain as positive as possible but it is hard some days. Some days I think, I survived a near fatal accident for this??? I go to sleep to wake up to sit down???

I miss being active, before my accident I lifted 3-4 times a week and played basketball once or twice….man I miss that badly. I do not know how sometimes but I remain quietly confident that all this is a temporary and I do expect this nightmare to end. Sometimes I just get mad, I get mad that there are no more medical advances but mostly mad that I let this happen. I have no idea why but even when I was in the hospital I just expected to get past all these things much more quickly.

I do have another few months in Mooresville and after that it is on to Atlanta or possibly somewhere else for another attempt at therapy. In the meantime, I will just stay with it and do what I can to improve. I am continually thankful for the help I have received, without it and my supportive family I do not know what I would be doing. Your kind contributions help pay for this therapy and in turn, give me some hope as I continue to process life in this different body. I know I cannot focus on this forever and life has to go on but I can say that I feel better about things now than I did four months ago.

Another hopeful development I have been researching, I am about to start taking a non FDA approved drug called 4-AP, available through compound pharmacies and found to benefit about 30% of spinal cord injuries. I would say it is like putting the signals in your body on steroids, so I am hoping will benefit me but I will not know for several weeks.

Again, thank you all for your support and concern. We will continue to try and keep you updated with periodic postings. Again, thank you all for your support and concern. We will continue to try and keep you updated with periodic postings. Hopefully I will do another post in the not too distant future where I will be able to mention some significant improvements. Historically I keep things to myself so I do not talk much about this stuff but I feel the need to open up sometimes, especially given all of your support. All I know is I still refuse to live like this, I am not sure exactly what that means but I know some changes will be made.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cary High Scrimmage Benefit This Tuesday

We just wanted to let everyone know that this Tuesday, November 10th, Brian's (and his three sisters') alma mater, Cary High School, will be playing their first men's varsity basketball scrimmage of the season. The ever-supportive network of CHS parents, families, friends, and staff, known as the Imp Club, have helped organized a "Brian Keeter Benefit" around this event.

(And who knew that when Sports Illustrated earlier this year ranked the top 15 most unique mascots for high schools and the Cary Imp came in #4!)

Unfortunately, Brian will be unable to attend due to therapy appointments in Mooresville, but we all look forward to being there to cheer on CHS basketball and to thank you all for your ongoing prayers, love, and support.

We'll see you at Cary High at 6:00!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Thank You from Brian

First of all, I want to thank everyone that attended the Red Rally basketball event a few weeks ago. It was good to see a lot of folks that I had not seen face-to-face in quite a while. Admittedly, I was very nervous about attending, as I am still trying to adjust to my new appearance and the way I have to get around for now. It all can be pretty overwhelming, honestly.

One major adjustment for me is being so low to the ground--and a few former teammates who came out to show their support sure did not help me feel any better about it that night! However, the night went well and I am glad I was able to come. It was great seeing all of you and being able to show a little bit of thanks to all the people who have been so supportive.

I also wanted to come in order to show NC State my appreciation for their help. To date, I am told that the Red Rally raised approximately $1,800 to help pay for direct medical and therapy expenses not covered by my insurance, in addition to insurance co-pays and deductibles.

Again, I am so fortunate to have such great support from all of my family and friends and I am encouraged by the recent efforts of NC State on behalf--including some very supportive emails and letters received from people I do not even really know personally. I thank all of you for your support. I truly feel like the more support I get the more motivation and momentum I carry into my upcoming recovery efforts.

About a week ago, we completed my move from Charlotte to Mooresville to began the recovery efforts I have been looking forward to starting for a quite sometime. I will be here for the next five to six months, spending most of my days at Race to Walk. Simply beginning this phase of the journey has already really made me feel better about things--I am finally able to be proactive and see what can happen with some hard work. In a few weeks I will have better idea of the type of training program I will be following and I will be sure to share how things are going with all of you.

My new address is:

175 Carriage Club Drive

Apt. 3-105

Mooresville, NC 28117



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Few Words from Brian

A GREAT article, Keeter Time, by Dave Pond is a featured story this month on website. Please be sure to check it out.

Also, some of you may have received the below message from Brian in an email. We thought those not on his contact list might like to hear from him too so we've posted it below:

Hey Everybody!
I want again to thank everyone that has & continues to reach out to me following my accident. I continue to be amazed by the tremendous amount of support I receive from family & friends.

Unable to be proactive in my recovery has been very tough both mentally & physically. I am extremely excited that I have finally recovered from secondary issues that have prevented me from taking a very aggressive & proactive route in my recovery. I am ready to get started & confident that nobody will work harder then me at the therapies I am about to begin!

October is going to be a busy & exciting month. I will be moving about 25 miles or so north of Charlotte to be close to the Race to Walk therapy gym in Mooresville. At Race to Walk, I plan on building strength working with therapists & on my own 4-5 days a week. I hope to build up as much strength as I can & make as many gains as possible to maximize the time spent at my next stop at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The Shepherd Center has a wonderfully renowned outpatient therapy program, Beyond Therapy, which helps people with injuries like mine attempt to recover function. They have many success stories from people with injuries similar to mine. My father got me admitted & on the waiting list shortly after getting injured. He also toured the facility a few months ago. There was an eight month wait when I signed up & I anticipate beginning there in early 2010.

As most of you know, NC State has offered to help raise money to cover the tremendous out-of-pocket expenses associated with spinal cord injury therapy & recoveries that are not covered by insurance. I invite & encourage everyone to attend the Red Rally this Friday, October 16th. I definitely plan to come out in support of NC State family & hope also to see many of you there.

With the Red Rally coming up, I thought I should address one concern. Some people inquiring about donating to NTAF on my behalf have expressed some confusion regarding where the monies go. Just to be clear, approximately 98% of tax-deductible donations received in my honor go into my personal NTAF account to be used towards paying for progressive therapies such as Race to Walk & Shepherd Center, modifications to a vehicle so that I can begin driving again, & other vital expenses that insurance does not cover (The other 2% goes towards administrative costs & salaried patient fund coordinators.).

I appreciate everyone that has donated & please know that every little bit helps so much. I know times are tough for a lot of people but I cannot tell you how the small donations from many add up to be such a tremendous help to my family & me.

Again, I look forward to seeing you all at Reynolds Coliseum this Friday!

Brian Keeter

As always, thank you so much to all the family, friends, & supporters who continue to encourage & assist Brian & our family through this!

Monday, October 12, 2009

NCSU Red Rally @ Reynolds

Come out in support NC State Athletics & Brian!

Truly Good News

As you may recall, Brian was facing three planned surgeries to address secondary injuries associated with SCI. While the first surgery did not yield the results we had hope to receive, the genuine great news to be shared is an unexpected and dramatic healing of Brian’s once dangerous pressure wound. It was only five weeks ago that we had made a special trip back home to arrange for reconstructive plastic surgery at Duke’s Raleigh Hospital. It was to be the second of three planned surgeries for various problems. Brian’s persistent pressure wound had shown little signs of healing during its six months of existence, despite one therapeutic approach after another. The wound prevented Brian from doing much of anything, except for infrequent short outings from the apartment. Too little face to face social interaction was taking a toll. Even a loner like me was finding it more and more difficult to take. Therapy dog “Rocco”, all 110 lbs of him, was a big help. In my humble view, dogs are one of God’s most wonderful creations (I guess that is why our family has spent a life time having them; we currently have seven dogs in our extended family, assuming that Brian’s sister, Leah, has not rescued yet another one.).

We are truly blessed to have this unexpected healing of such a persistent pressure wound. We initially had been told that surgery should be done as quickly possible with little to no hope offered that the wound would otherwise heal. Moreover, successful healing from surgery could not be guaranteed. I can't recall exactly why, but Brian opted to wait another few weeks. Yes, there were a few changes in treatment strategies, but there were also earnest prayers, specifically asking for this wound to heal.

What to make of it all? Each of us will have an answer, even if it is simply – who knows. As for me, the dad, here’s what it means to me (And it took a dear friend to help me with this. Mike C., I do thank you.): It means that I should continue to work hard, but have the confidence that God will take care of me and mine. Can you understand what that means to someone like me, someone who is so unwilling to let go? I’ve got to go hard and try, but being more confident that God is there taking care of us all, that I can do. In fact, I have already learned to let go to the point that there are now some moments of rest and peace. And I do so very much thank God for that, and I will strive to find the right balance that He wants from me.

In closing, I thank you for taking time to read this blog, and for your support and concern for Brian. And thank you NC State, for providing Brian with a fund-raising opportunity at the RED Rally Event in Reynolds.