Sounds like a TV show, right? Well most of you already know that we don’t have television in our home (the conventional channels, we only have dvd players and internet of course). Even so somehow I am abreast of titles of TV shows; i.e. ‘Extreme Home Makeover’. And when I read today’s posting title, that television show comes to mind (though I know nothing more of it than its name implies). Why no television? For the most part we have made that choice because life in itself is already an adventure filled with tragedy, comedy, and plenty of drama! Allow me to serve up a healthy portion…
Cole is doing remarkably well! In addition to having one-on-one physical therapy, three times per week, he has begun to work out in the wet and dry, adaptive kinesiology program at our local college, Saddleback. He begins on Tuesday by getting in the pool at noon. He works out for about an hour and then moves to the adaptive gym where they have all kinds of equipment for every possible physical disability. He works out in the Saddleback gym on Friday afternoon’s as well. Yesterday, he was swimming in the rain. As he put it, “Yes, I was swimming. Underwater, with goggles that actually work!” He then gave me a look of accusation for not providing him adequate equipment here at home…he is quite expressive for a guy who has lost use of his facial muscles!!
During Cole’s first meeting at the gym he was introduced to a man named, Fermin. Fermin had a stroke 8 years ago leaving him fully paralyzed on his right side, yet he now races in triathlons! So Fermin took to Cole right away, seeing in him a drive (in all honesty, I would like to use the word ‘acceleration’ instead of drive. It feels more accurate in describing Cole, but the English language confines me, currently, to the word ‘drive’–but keep in mind I am meaning it to reflect ‘forward motion’). So Fermin showed Cole his recumbent bike, used for racing (and getting around); and offered to allow Cole a try at it around the running track there at the college. Cole accepted the offer and we set a date for last Friday. Brian came and our neighbor and good friend, Harry, met us. Brian helped Cole into the bike and off he went…down the track, full speed ahead! He hadn’t even gotten his helmet on (as Brian and I were quick to notice, while biting our nails). Man-o-man, he raced that bike on that track like he had no disability whatsoever! His Saddleback instructor, Pam, was also present and then invited Cole to tag along with her to a disability expo happening the next day. Cole accepted the invitation and spent all day Saturday experiencing a new world of, “I can”. He kayaked, climbed rocks, did pull-ups, met new people, and tried out different types of apparatuses. He met a VA counselor there who asked Cole how long it had been since his surgery. When Cole replied with, “six months”, the counselor said, “man, that’s it…if you are doing this well at 6 months, what is stopping me?!” I said, “wow Cole, you counseled the counselor!” He said, “oh yeah…” When he returned home in the early evening he was wiped out. But it wasn’t as he puts it, “neurological fatigue”. In other words, he felt great and tired too!
Now backing up some, on that Friday at the college track Harry met us with a purpose. You see, a few years ago Harry lost his legs to diabetes. And when he received his prosthesis legs, he and his wife walked around the track. At that time Fermin bestowed upon Harry a triathlon medal he had won. The sentiment was that it would be a traveling medal, bestowed to a person the bearer of the medal feels exhibits characteristics of a hero. So Fermin gave it to Harry and that day at the track Harry gave it to Cole. It was very touching for us watching, and all of it has touched Cole deeply.
For the first time, post surgery, Cole is future focused. Not that he didn’t see the future before, I mean he spoke of traveling (still does), but he “feels” the future. For the first time he isn’t concerned about having disabilities. He is going to overcome them… Riding around the track gave him hope for driving a car again. Meeting Fermin and people at the expo who are not letting their physical (or mental) challenges thwart their progress spoke volumes to him. Being entrusted with a ‘hero’s medal’ from a man he admires, encourages his soul. He is so on his way!
And then, yes there is more…the Orange County Register actually contacted me to do a story (based off of the letter in my previous post). The reporter came yesterday and the story just might be in print by this coming weekend or next week (scary–you never know how one will interpret something). Then on Sunday Cole had another set of MRI’s. We picked up the report yesterday and all looks good; no changes. YAY!! Now with all of this news, you can understand better my title.