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Robert Kyler - Journal

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Posted 2019-06-13T20:35:29Z

Final Entry

Just a brief update for those of you who are still interested in my progress.

I've continued to work full-time, and it's still going well. It's actually become more enjoyable than it was prior to my accident, strangely enough, but it's hard to put in words exactly why this is. I've talked about this in prior posts, but am not sure I want to dissect it further for fear of somehow detracting from - or jinxing - it. In any case, it's confirmed for me that retirement is not something I can see in my immediate future, and certainly not before I find something even close to as meaningful as I now find my work. I also see teaching or mentoring as something that I'd like to incorporate into my practice at some point.[...]

Posted 2019-03-31T01:02:00Z

So it goes...

It's been far longer than I intended since my last entry, although I honestly had a post ready to go about ten days ago, but i somehow lost the draft and was so disgusted that I put off starting another one until now. A more current version of "the dog ate my homework" excuse I'll admit, but it's true. Anyway, since it's been over two months since my last post, there's been quite a bit to report on.[...]

Posted 2019-01-21T03:31:19Z

Physician, wheel thyself.

As hoped, I succeeded in returning to full time work as of mid-December. The gradual ramp up over the preceding month helped me in building up my physical and mental stamina, but I was still unprepared for the sense of fulfillment I experienced at the end of the first compete week of work. It truly felt like a homecoming (but without the part where you don't recognize half of your old classmates) thanks to my patients and co-workers. I have a fair number of patients who have completed treatment and now come back for a checkup every six months. Many of the patients I saw in June just prior to the three week vacation that started with my mother's unexpected death and ended with my accident, were the very patients I saw again during the first month of my return. Almost all of them knew of my accident, and their concern for my wellbeing and pleasure at seeing me back at work was touching beyond words. It was almost as though they had come to check up on me rather than to be checked on. All expressed that they'd been praying for me or thinking about me, were proud of me, and wished me well in my ongoing recovery. To say that I've gotten more out of these encounters than my patients have would embarrass even Dr. Obvious, so I'll just say that it's been very gratifying. [...]

Posted 2018-12-17T03:34:52Z

In case you're still interested......

We're finally back in our home in Staunton, but aren't quite settled yet, as the final touches of renovations wind down. It has been so nice to be back home, to see old friends and neighbors, to cuddle up with our canine and feline landlords, and try to step back in to our old lives. But, of course, we'll never get our old lives back for obvious reasons. Even so, a new life for us seems to be emerging, no better or worse than our old one, but different. "They" say that the first year after a spinal cord injury is the toughest, and I suppose the truth of that is obvious, but "they" never really get much more specific than that. The hardest thing for me at the moment is the utter dependence on others (i.e. Nancy) for so many of my needs. Yes, I can get into and out of bed, on and off the toilet, into and out of the car, and I can shave, brush my teeth, and even dress, but most of these activities take much longer than they used to. What I can't do (yet) includes helping with laundry, taking out the garbage, bringing firewood in, and grocery shopping, to name just a few. But depending on others for transportation is probably the most difficult to bear, and I now understand why this loss is one that many of my patients grieve the most. Fortunately, driving is likely to be one of the first of these to cross off the list, as I'm scheduled to have hand controls installed this week, and for a driving test as the DMV shortly thereafter. So look out Staunton/Waynesboro/Augusta County, there's a new driver on the road![...]

Posted 2018-11-01T22:06:52Z

Three, two, one.........

Well, it's official: yesterday was my last day of out-patient rehab. I was given another certificate attesting to my diligence over the past six weeks and am now a member of the fraternity of Shepherd alumni. The last week and a half since my last post were spent honing the skills described in previous posts, and I'm happy to say that the depression transfer has finally clicked for me. It isn't 100% reliable, but when it happens it's a thing of beauty: head drops low in the opposite direction, extension of the near arm/shoulder/back followed by liftoff of the pelvis coupled with a pivot toward the landing zone. The physics of why it works still eludes me, but I'm okay with that. It's allowed me to get up from low couches, ascend the distance between my w/c and the seat of an SUV, and to boardlessly transfer to and from the toilet, shower and bed. So, yeah, I'm kinda stoked.[...]

Posted 2018-10-22T01:36:10Z

Home Stretch

I realize now that it's been two weeks since my last entry, so I feel obligated to post an update even if there haven't been a lot of milestones in the interim. I continue to work on improving my strength and endurance along with my transfer skills, and find myself fairly whipped by the end of each afternoon. One activity I've been getting to do a bit more often is bringing my body into an upright position with the aid of a standing frame. This allows me to get as close to standing as possible without falling, and gives the bones of my lower body the opportunity to do a bit of weight bearing, in addition to adjusting to the hemodynamic challenges of standing. The main obstacle to mastering this until just recently had been the pull of gravity on the contents of my lower GI tract, but my last attempt was finally accomplished without a Code Brown having to be called. Hey, you gotta cherish even the smallest of victories.[...]

Posted 2018-10-10T01:55:36Z


Tuesday was a big day for moving toward one of my foremost goals, that of driving behind the wheel of a large automobile. I reported to the appointed place at nine o'clock and was escorted to the driver's ed office by a very serious but good-natured fellow. He proceeded to test my vision, reflexes, manual dexterity, cognitive reasoning, grip strength, scrotal symmetry, and what else I can't remember. Seemingly satisfied with my performance, he gave me a two-minute explanation of how the hand controls work, and off we went to the garage. There awaited a Chrysler 300 into which I cleanly transferred. Another brief tutorial regarding the controls, and off we went to cruise the mean streets of Buckhead, Peachtree Road, and I-75.  Although it felt a bit awkward at first, it became surprisingly easy fairly quickly, and by the end of the 90 minutes or so I felt very comfortable behind the wheel (although I did see his foot near the override brake twitch a couple of times). "So now I have the driving thing down", or so I thought. Unfortunately, there's still that thing where, after an immaculate transfer from the w/c to the car, one still has to disassemble, place into the car, and then reassemble said w/c before performing another pristine transfer back into w/c at one's destination. Since that morning I've had three grueling sessions practicing that second part, and it does indeed appear that driving with hand controls is the easy part. It is doubtful that I'll ever be able to make this look as effortless as the you-tube videos I've watched, but I am hopeful that, with three more weeks to work on this, it will become something I can do without people staring, laughing, or running to my aid.[...]

Posted 2018-10-01T21:36:00Z

Yet another addendum

I was remiss in my last post with the omission of some additional  visitors who also came from quite a distance in order to brighten our week. Kathy and Gary Shomo, Bijou Clinger and Allison Marthinsen, besties of ours from Chautauqua, provided several much-needed outings for Nancy, giving her a temporary break from her laundry, nursing, housekeeping, and other duties (Honey, will you be home soon?). Allison spent an extra day here and was privileged to witness my floundering on the mat  like a dying carp during physical therapy We are also indebted to Tim and Leslie Renjillian, Atlanta-based Chautauquans, who have been so generous to us in opening their home, arranging for meals, and helping us to feel more at home here. The moral support and love from everyone has made this trying time much easier to bear.[...]

Posted 2018-09-30T02:14:43Z

Getting back on the horse.......

Roughly 20 of us in the outpatient program were treated to an outing to Piedmont Park yesterday, and were provided with opportunities to engage in various outdoor activities, none of which are worth mentioning other than riding a hand cycle. I was first in line to be saddled up onto one of the sleek machines and, before I knew it, was breezing around the park with my physical therapist in tow ("try to keep up" I cockily told him as we set out). What a feeling! The wind in my face, the sweat on my back, and a huge smile on my face. Until, that is, I encountered the first hill, whereupon my pace slowed such that my chaperone dismounted and walked slowly to keep pace with me. To call it a hill would be something of an exaggeration....a slight rise would be more accurate. I thus made the firsthand observation that the muscles of the arms, shoulders and back do not compare favorably to those of the legs in terms of their locomotive capacity. In any case, I was not discouraged, and managed to eventually reach the summit, and enjoyed a lovely downhill coast. With each subsequent lap I got more used to the gearing and figured out how to bring more of the back into my arm strokes, and became a bit more capable (though still quite slow) on the uphills, and more confident on the downhills. After 90 minutes or so I reluctantly dismounted and was returned to my wheelchair, which, by comparison to the bike, felt like an old rusty wheelbarrow. [...]