The Return Home and Apollo

Thursday, March 9th –  Saturday, March 11th

Thursday night and finally my first two days back home! So nice to be sleeping in my own bed. Got up to the restaurant for some pre-March Madness basketball…Forgot about fractured rib…PAIN. Hit first few sessions of physical therapy in the home. Got back to some normal life stuff but mainly back to Apollo, my pup 😊. Being back home with him is something that can’t be matched as far as being comfortable and at home. Again thank you to everyone that have and continues to reach out and support me and my family. Love y’all!

 

Thursday night ended up being my best night of sleep yet, felt like I finally earned a little of the rest after doing physical therapy, a mentality I would slowly have to adjust after being used to doing some much physical activity in a day – to almost a dead halt in activity.    It took me a day or two to realize how much energy the process of healing takes not only trying to heal a snapped femur but to accept this new addition of a metal rod into my body. Mentally the body needs rest as well so when I viewed it as a rest for both my body and mind, I understood how much of an opportunity I have that most people don’t get to have, especially for such an extended period of time. Yeah I’d be on crutches a lot of the time and would need a lot of help…but there are too many good things around to be that upset about a broken bone. For example: returning home to my best friend, to my bub, the one, the only: Apollo. He had a spend-the-night with my sister, Meghan and her dog, Alaulua (Ah-LOO-LAH) 😁 while I was in the hospital. Apollo was dropped off right before my Mom and I pulled up to home. He was so excited to see me until he saw how slowly I was moving getting out of the vehicle, so from barking behind the front entrance windows, ‘DAD! DAD! DAD!” and excitement it went to gently walking up to me, smelling, and being real docile “Hey Dad…are you okay?” Wouldn’t leave my right side when I was sitting down. So very curious, sniffing about and around the ‘weird skin-stickers that covered 3 of Dad’s metal-staple cuts’. Also, we have a lot of pets, animals that reside here that you will get to read about and see in the future… 3 cats. 2 dogs. 1 Max 🤣. So I think Apollo was hovering around that right side to be a little protective of anyone or thing getting too close. One thing that stinks the most about being one leg-down is not being to wrestle with the big dude. Soon enough.

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“Just loving life, laying with sliced-open-broken-metal-leg Dad…”

Nothing like being back home. I felt an immediate wave of relief getting into the house. Also, once I maneuvered and navigated through the entire downstairs and upstairs, I got a little more confidence and reassurance that: this is the least amount of weight I’ll be able to put on and range of motion I will have in that right leg. Another testament to Crossfit Charleston, among the family-community that is established there, is the actual programming and training of the body and mind. The mental conditioning from facing that “fight or flight” mechanism we get from just even showing up to the box to hit a wod or lift is something that makes day to day tasks very manageable. Combined with that “fight or flight” mechanism being engaged, the effort that’s poured out by anyone at any certain level of fitness not only helps the body and mind develop but most importantly , I believe what all exercise in any shape or form should push and grow: your heart and soul. For me in this current situation, that previous mental fortification has me looking forward to the challenges of moving around with crutches, getting in and out of vehicles, and hitting my physical therapy…Yeah it’s going to be tiresome and going to wear me out because I’m not used to doing it but it’s all for the improvement, that next day of being a little bit stronger mentally and a little bit better physically. One day at a time, one step at a time. For me that’s where the beauty and purpose of the crossfit ideology really lies and is really nailed on the head by the Crossfit Charleston community and coaches. Not to mention the obvious physical benefits the programming has provided me of my left leg, upper body and core being strong enough for me to maneuver on the crutches (very similar to locking out at the top of a ring-dip or muscle up). Also making my physical therapy on the legs a lot easier when I can apply as much pressure as I want when stepping and walking on that right leg and foot because of the control I have with arms, back and core.

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Three of “Doom’s” favorite things: Clemson Tigers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Budweiser. A little Christmas present from the kids this past year to Dad! Wild Wing Oakland has so much respect and love for Doom they let us hang the board over his corner booth.

With so much focus on my leg I kinda forgot about the fractured rib. So after a day of riding in a vehicle for the first time, we ended up going to Doom’s Corner (I’ll be referencing this spot in the future so I’ll explain it now to avoid confusion: My Dad’s fantasy football team name, also name of corner booth he always sits at👊🏼😎 in the Wild Wing Cafe @ Oakland ) – After laying in the hospital the last few days I couldn’t wait to just hang out and watch some basketball after all March Madness started in a week and these were all the conference championship tournaments being played, had to get some research-viewing in! It was great to hang out with Dad. Mallory and Mom headed to the store to get a few things we needed around the house. I could feel my rib on the way up to the restaurant, nothing more than just a slight point of really dull pressure. As time went on in the restaurant, I could feel that pressure building a little more – up against my lung as I was breathing. (Not really aware that the serious pain medication they had me hooked up to in the hospital was wearing off 😐)…After about two hours at Doom’s Corner, we headed home…by that time it was definitely more than pressure, the pain started showing up a tiny bit more with every breath. It seemed like laying down made it worse for a time, I was laying there in probably the most amount of pain I had been in since when they had to move my leg for the x-ray pre-surgery. After about 15 mins of real painful breathing, it started to dull and I was able to relax a little more and breathe a little deeper with each breath. Really freaked me out. I can deal with limb pain but pain when breathing is like a form of torture. From then on out: We  RESPECTED the fractured rib. I fell asleep thankful that night just to be able to breathe without pain.

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PT Session Day 2 Home! Crossover Symmetry seated to warm up shoulders, upper back, and arms for crutch-walks. Instagram 🎥!

Woke up the next morning feeling great! First night sleeping in my own bed, we have a very relaxing little setup in the bedroom. My sister Meghan lent me her essential oil diffuser and with the supplies of essential oils we have, there is a nice rotation of lavender oil to sooth and calm at night time and then lemon oil to wake up and breathe in the morning. Also had the thunderstorm sounds playing on youtube at night time, game-changer for resting. So I woke up and hit my physical therapy movements provided by my PT Mike upstairs and then came downstairs for upper body work and crutch-walks! It’s not an insane amount of work but the amount of energy it takes the body to heal is still surprising me, after the session I’m pretty darn tired. However it’s the best type of tired to feel.

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Sock game must remain on point. For this PT session: Darth Vader…after-all the dude got three of his limbs sliced off, burned up and was walking the next day. 😈

 

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CAT GRASS!, Mint, Sunflowers, Mini Roses, Parsley, Basil, and “Alicia” Aloe in that plastic terrarium

After my late morning of physical therapy, we put our little herb garden on the back patio and I posted up out there sitting next to them, trimming and watering the plants with the beautiful, warm low country sun radiating down…the outright highlight of the day. After being used to working outdoors for several hours a day every other day to going to almost no sunlight, it’s amazing how much that affects the psyche. After about 15-20 minutes I could feel my body and mind soaking up and enjoying the sun rays…similar to a thirsty person chugging a bottle of water, it felt like my body was doing the same with the sunlight. From here on out, 20 minutes minimum in the sun daily is required as part of my recovery plan. The human being is designed to be outside. Sweating and breathing the fresh air…Not sitting at a desk for 8 hours…in school or in the office. SO if you’re reading this and you’ve been sitting on your butt for more than an hour, stop reading. Get up. And go for a walk outside. “Pay now, or you will pay double later!” Plus it’ll make you that much more efficient  when you get back on the project or task you are working on or studying. Alright I’m off my soap box, done preaching. The only real negative thing that occurred Saturday was my stomach not being able to hold anything down. Threw up two different times trying to snack on relatively healthy food, a slice of ham and a sip of apple juice. Both came right back up 🤢. That was extremely frustrating, my love of food was being diminished by the pain medication…a necessary evil for now. To end on a positive note, at the very end of the night I was able to hold down a small bowl of chicken noodle soup and that made all the difference in the world.

The messages and the donations were still coming in throughout the Friday and Saturday, again the amount of support and love I am receiving is incredible. God is doing truly amazing things. I am so blessed and consider my self truly fortunate to be able to shine light on His love with this story of healing and recovery. Which wouldn’t be possible without people like y’all and my family, constantly pouring your prayers and love out for me. Just going to give a quick shoutout and inadequate Thank you to the following people…

These two giving within the first night!

  • Zan Elvington
  • Lindsay Coleman

Thank you so much for setting the tone and reaching out like that. The following day these friends and family reached out and gave:

  • Meg Taylor
  • T-Nic!
  • Gigi Collins
  • Sean Shevlino
  • Mary Kohlbeck
  • Brittany Dunne
  • Stephanie Corey
  • Brenda von Glahn
  • The Armstrong’s
  • Gigi Collins
  • Traynor’s
  • John Doble
  • Sandy Peabody

Again, this isn’t a big enough thank you but you all deserve a shoutout for be so unselfish and giving like you did…Another cluster of family and friends followed those days up:

  • Leslie Cole
  • Chris Harry
  • Michael Mitchell
  • Brookshire’s
  • Marci Mitchell
  • Davidson’s
  • Jessie Strozier
  • Mysterious Doner!

Some of you may have been strangers before this but now I just see this list as a combination of friends and family. If I missed anyone, I will catch it next post and won’t forget! To the one’s who personally messaged me with words and prayers, I look forward to continuing our conversations! This goes to everyone, reaching out and keeping me up and afloat, not just monetary wise but most importantly; spiritually and emotionally, something that you can’t put a price on. My family and myself would not be able to do this without all the help that y’all have provided. Like I said this is hardly thank you enough, but I just wanted each of y’all to know that, I know. And I’m going to do my best to contribute back the way y’all have contributed forward. So much love for this community. Thank you again, I look forward to it all with y’all.

 

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future… Because believing that the dots will  connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference… Your time is limited. So don’t waste it by living someone else’s life… Don’t be trapped by dogma: which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life. And the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work… and the only way to do great work: is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. ” -Steve Jobs-

 

Explosion of a Femur and a Year of Plans.

Just the beginning of March 2017, my year was real busy but going really smooth. Joined a kickball league about a year ago, on a team full of old and new friends that eventually grew into a little kickball team family. It was another beautiful night of Lowcountry weather, the game was real competitive and  fun, nothing unusual for a kickball night. It came down to the last play which ended up being my last play for a while. In a freak accident of sorts… I managed to break my femur, crack a rib, and partially collapse my lung.  Simultaneously making my year broken, my hope cracked and life  partially collapsed. However, all things heal, especially with help. This is the beginning of that story, the part that set the tone for the rest of this journey…

 

A normal start to a great week, headed out to the Elk’s lodge to have a fun and competitive night of kickball with some of my best friends. The game was a great one, close score all the way. Now it’s kickball but don’t let that diminish the fact that people are going all out while playing. I have had my fair share of diving, jumping, sprinting, throwing and cutting in the ground but that’s the thing about playing a sport or activity outside the normal positions that your body is used to getting into. This is why athletes train their bodies to the extreme but still injuries occur…So the last play of game came down to an out at home that involved me and a baserunner. The play was an all out sprint to home..the baserunner saw I was going to beat him to the plate and made a smart move to stop running and dodge my throw so going from full on sprint and tag, it was an extremely quick stop I had to make with my body in order to make a chest pass type throw at him from about 10 feet away, unfortunately I planted/SLAMMED my foot down, unknowingly, into an uneven spot on the ground, making my upper body rotate awkwardly  and causing my right leg to torque violently …the momentum from the sprint/force of my body all came stopping onto that one point on my femur. I felt something inside of my right leg explode,  paired with the momentum of the sprint still carrying me and my leg locked up immediately, my body launched into the air and onto my shoulders, ribcage and face where I came to a sliding halt. I rolled a few times in pain but once I stopped. The pain kind of vanished and the realization gathered, like fog over water, that something horrible happened to my body. I had to remain in the prone position, laying on my belly because I couldn’t move my right leg. The kickball teams nearby slowly gathered around me, my team first. Chris was the first one to me and he knew something right away. I couldn’t really feel any pain but knew something was really wrong…

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This is where and how I landed. Obviously right leg is cranked oddly and aggressively to the right side. I forget her name but she was really kind! Sock game was on point.

Laying still face down in the hospital bed after a relatively smooth ride with a cool first responder I was transferred to a hospital bed and setup in one of the front ER rooms….the Xray machine was setup with the screen at the doorway where Mallory, the nurse aid and technician were standing. I was expecting to hear news along the lines that I dislocated my hip…the technician takes the first picture and a moment later as it pops up on the screen that I hear, “Oh no honey, what did you do?” from the Tech and a gasp from Mallory. My femur was broken. Bad.

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Pre-Surgery X-ray…Those two parts should be aligned..Definitely not a dislocated hip.

I felt the explosion of my year of plans happen immediately; certain goals I wanted to achieve with my body physically, plans to go on my first airplane flight to one of my brother’s, Michael Mitchell’s bachelor party in Houston in 2 weeks that no longer was an option, financial goals that I wanted to achieve, coaching and training with my Crossfit Charleston family ..the list went on. So just like when I hit the ground and rolled a few times after the femur breaking, the news and negative thinking only lasted for a time.  From a previous experience in my life, I learned many things. One of them being that, once you receive bad news in your life, you immediately have to change your thinking from, “Man, what the f**k did I do?” to “Alright, what can I do?” So I just asked God to help get my thinking focused on that. Not the financial issues. Not the amount of work I wasn’t going to be able to do. None of the negative. Only the positive. It wasn’t and still isn’t easy but that’s why you ask God for help. Suddenly and subtly I started thinking of the opportunities this created for me; Mainly, the climb back to full health with God’s love being the driving force behind it all. Another example, I have so many books that I have wanted to read, so boom, huge opportunity to expand my mind and rest my body. Learn things that I otherwise wouldn’t take the time for because I would either be working, training, coaching, etc…

Still in first ER room, these thoughts got me through the rolling over onto my back screaming at the top of my lungs in the most pain that I have ever felt in my life, WHOOOOOOAAA WOWZAH STOP. Then the first good news arrived, my kickball team captain and one of my oldest friends Wendy, had already asked me if she could create a GoFundMe campaign to help me face the financial burdens to come. This was within hours of the injury happening. Blessed. People started donating money immediately, strangers first. Blessed. Meanwhile, my head Crossfit Charleston coach brother, Josh was already texting with Mallory telling her that the Crossfit Charleston family had my back and was here to support me. Blessed. Then my parents arrived and the third good news arrived, my part-time land-surveying boss and my Dad had already spoken and worked out a situation where I will be learning how to use computer software to draw the field work my Dad would be doing. Blessed. Still in the ER bed downstairs ..Surrounded by family. My mind surrounded with the great news and my heart full of love..I was fully ready for the challenges ahead. Again I must thank every single one of you that reached out that first night within those first hours, you will never know how much of an impact you had on the way I was able to mentally approach the coming challenges. Day Zero was over and I was ready for Day One: surgery to fix the femur to come.

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Oxygen to help my lung after the fractured rib partially collapsed it. So happy to be done with the roll-over-to- back part. WOW OUCH.

The following day was some what of a short one for me cause I slept the majority of the day off and on, however around 10:30am Josh comes rocking and rolling in with chick fila for milady Mallory who was and has been amazing this entire time.  He and I had a conversation, the dude had already planned a fundraiser workout for me at the box, he had emailed the Crossfit Charleston family and linked my Venmo and GoFundMe campaign to it, and mainly he had ideas about how to get me back in the box , how to keep me moving forward, again using computer software to help the box on social media, opportunities. “No man left behind”is something he really meant. And it was one of the things that helped me start feeling like a human again. Instead of directing thoughts on the negative I was able to focus on these positive projects. One thing that had been universally suggested was a recovery-blog…document everything, tell the story as it happens, be honest, demonstrate discipline and stay focused. Not just to tell a story but also keep people that I don’t talk to everyday that have helped me so much informed on how I am doing. At first I was hesitant because I didn’t know where to begin when creating a website nor how the hell to even type one up. Again, an opportunity to learn. So I just told Mallory to start taking pictures and videos of everything from there on out.

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Josh Hartzell…truly one of the greatest people I know. Mentor. Coach. Brother. Friend. Thank You.

After Josh’s very uplifting visit it was back to sleep. Dr. Merrill was great through the whole day before surgery. He visited me and said he had a plan A and a plan B for when he got into my leg and that surgery was going to be later that night. It was my first major surgery, first time under anesthesia, but honestly I was just ready to get to the next step in the healing process. They rolled me out of the waiting room of surgery, high-fiving my family was the last thing I remembered until I woke up after the surgery. Plan A worked. Rod from top of femur all the way to right above to about 3 inches from end of femur. Blessed. Again without the fuel and fire of the words and prayers of the community and God’s love…I would not have been as mentally prepared or hungry for the next day…

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Post-Surgery X-rays Top 😳
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Post Surgery X-Rays Bottom 😶

To be continued, up next Day 3 through Day 5…

“After all, few could climb Mt. Everest tomorrow, though virtually all could begin preparing.”