Our Journey To Recovery

Our Journey To Recovery

Friday, June 13, 2014

May 31st

We have had a very exciting and sad few weeks.We had to lay to rest one of our sweet dogs, Buster. Jake and Buster came into out family 14 years ago, purchased through the Lab Rescue Program the two brothers were together until the end. Rest in Peace Buster, you gave us many years of joy and happiness.

Photo: Today we had to lay to rest a great friend and companion. Buster you are loved and will be missed.
The Lassiter Trojan Baseball team made it to the playoffs again, Christopher and I made the trip to Lawrenceville, to watch them play a double header against the Mountain View Bears. The Bears just happened to be the number one seed in the division. We had a great night, everyone was excited to have Christopher there, calling him their good luck charm. Well it worked out well we won the first game 1-0 and the second game 5-0. Mountain View were 22-4 in the regular season and we just stunned them, shutting them out both games. Great job Trojans!

Sorry to say the next round wasn't quite as pleasant, Johns Creek took us down in two. We had a great night anyway, thanks everyone for a making us welcome. Go Trojans!

Several weeks ago Tyler Seaman contacted me regarding a friend of his Rachel Kendig, wanting to do a fundraiser for Christopher. Rachel is a student at the University of South Carolina, she and her Chi O sisters, family and friends all got together to raise money to contribute to Christopher's rehabilitation fund.

On May 16th Rachel and Tyler came by the house to see Christopher and present us a check. We are so grateful, yes for the contribution, but more for the spirit in which it was delivered. The thoughts and prayers continue to motivate and keep our spirits high. We thank you Rachel for your kindness and generosity. We continue to find new avenues to explore in Christopher's recovery and the donation will be used to help defray the cost.

Rachel and Tyler with Christopher at Lassiter High School
Christopher has made the news yet again, thanks to Cathy and Gary Zingler. Christopher has a been going to the football field to throw the ball and watch the spring football practice with Gary. So Coach Irwin and Gary got together and made plans to bring Christopher onto the field during the Spring Football game to run a play in for a touchdown. After Cathy contacted Channel 11 to see if they would like to televise the event, everything started to get crazy. We ended up having both Channel 11 and Channel 2 there to interview us and televise the play. Marietta Daily Journal also ran a story to update Christopher's progress.
Photo: Cathy, Gary and Christopher. Some special people. Thank you for all you do.Photo: Christopher Heitzman gets an opportunity to get back on the football field at the Lassiter High School spring game. Here he is at the 1 yard line going in to score. Thank you Cathy and Gary Zingler, Coach Jep Irwin, Davis and everyone for making this happen. What a wonderful night. Great job Christopher.
Cathy and Gary with Christopher, the smiles say it all!             Here's Christopher, Gary and Davis
Christopher was so excited, the crowd in the stands were on their feet cheering him on, many of them with signs made for him. Unbeknownst to us, a great number of the the fans in the stands were students that graduated with Christopher who came back to see him take the field one more time.

So happy I got to see Chris tonight and even happier I got to see him run in a touchdown for the Trojans! Your hard work inspires us every day!Marley Fiveash's photo.Love my boys

Thank you all for making this a wonderful night, one to be remembered for many years to come.

Oh Yeah, Christopher turned 20 on the 19th May

We have started new therapy sessions at Shepherd Pathways one of the many apparatuses Christopher is using is the Lokomat. It is a combination of treadmill, zero gravity harness and robotics to help retrain Christopher to walk properly. Check out the video, it's pretty cool.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29th, 2014

This has been a fun filled month, beginning with a milestone birthday for me 60 years young. Wow

Here we are April 8th at the H.O.G. Dinner honoring Jamie Durio. Our speaker host Bob Kelly is at the microphone with Christopher hugging him after walking up to greet him in front of the group. Jamie and Christopher both graduated from Lassiter High School. Christopher was honored by the group last year. Bob has had a huge influence on Christopher before the accident and since.

Helping One Guy is the brain child of Bob and several of his friends and has been honoring "a guy" in our community who has recently experienced an irreplaceable or catastrophic loss or injury since its inception in 2012. The numbers of the group are steadily growing, each honoree becomes one of the newest HOG members. This is a great group, doing whatever they can to help.

There has been so much going on this month, the weather continues to be crazy. We are fighting to stay warm one day and then shedding clothes to stay cool the next. The plants in the yard don't know what to do.

April 9th, our guest arrive, ready for a wonderful visit with several of our friends from Australia, Vicki and Sandra are childhood friends of Debbie's. They all went to school together, all the way through nursing school. So we had Vicki and Sandra, Allan, Vicki's husband, Katie, Sandra's daughter and Robert. Below you can see us all at the Ritz.

The Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee, Vicki's birthday.
During their visit we have venture to Savannah, ate at Paula Deans. Headed to Memphis to visit the King at Graceland, eat a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich at the Arcade and see the ducks at the Peabody. Then off to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry, back through Chattanooga and then down to the lake to rest up. They shopped wherever we stopped. Great time had by all.

Peabody ducks
Say cheese
Walking with Katie and Debbie at Opryland
Picture of our restaurant, great atmosphere
Christopher showing off his unassisted walking skills
April 23rd gathering for our goodbyes before they leave for home 
Sandra, Davis, Coleman, Vicki, Debbie and Katie

Frances Halvorson and Maureen Gucky
taking Christopher on a little excursion to Paradise

April 25th Marley's Senior Dance Solo
GA Tech Ferst Center for the Arts
Christopher's latest attempt at walking on his own

April Fools Day 2014

We have been very busy over the past few weeks, Christopher continues to make progress. It doesn't always come as quick as we would like but once again he is making progress. We have been back and forth to see Dan who is one of the therapist with Georgia Hand. He has been improvising a (their is no other way to say it) Home Depot marvel to help stretch Christopher's wrist.

       One big toggle bolt, an angle brace and a few nuts and bolts does the trick.   
We have continued to work in the pool with Jeanne and have been going to Lifetime Fitness as much as possible. Christopher's walking is definitely getting better. He still looks like the crooked man in the nursery rhythms. But we are making him walk as much as we can in and out of the pool. He has been doing about twenty laps up and down in the pool with me and has been able to walk up the slope to the mushroom fountain. He loves sitting under the water as it cascades down over him.
Here he is kneeling in the pool with Jeanne. We are still trying, unsuccessfully so far, to get him on both knee.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tuesday March 11th

Christopher continues to amaze us, two weeks ago Dr. Seiler injected Christopher's left arm and wrist with Botox once again. Dr. Seiler and the staff at Georgia Hand are so wonderful. We went in for the pre-op visit on a Monday and they did the procedure on the Wednesday.

We were met by Doug and Dennis (pre-op & post-op nurses) on arrival at the new facility, on Peachtree Rd. just down from the Shepherd Center. Dennis and Doug used to work with me at Piedmont a few years ago, they also cared for Christopher during the first procedure Dr. Seiler preformed last year.

Another familiar face was that of Dr. Jim Beatty who monitored the anesthesia for Christopher. Dr. Beatty and I worked together on the Perioperative Governance Committee at Piedmont Hospital. He is a great guy, ask for him if you are having surgery at Piedmont Hospital, he is a great person and even better anesthesiologist.

Most of y'all know Christopher has continued to have issues with his left arm and wrist. He still has very limited use of his fingers. We are trying the Botox again because we are just not ready to have him undergo another surgery at this time. Also if he does have to have surgery to correct the spasticity, he will most probably lose any chance at regaining the use of his hand and fingers. So we are trying everything possible before making that decision.

The injections in the past have helped some. So far, we are seeing better results than before. His range of motion has been increasing, it seems daily, and he is so proud. I have been trying to encourage him while we are riding in the car by getting him to try and put his hand out the sunroof as we are going down the road. He thinks that is so funny.

This past Monday night we were all sitting in the living room talking and watching TV. Christopher was showing us how he could raise his hand above his head. All of a sudden I heard Debbie say " do it again, do it again, show me your fingers". He was able to wiggle his fingers on his left hand. This is the first time he has been able to do this in over a year and a half. So exciting.

Tuesday morning during his speech therapy session, I was showing Jenna (his speech therapist) how Christopher was doing with the horn exercises, both Jenna and Cathy Zingler (teacher at Lassiter High School) have been working with him on. He has homework each day practicing to close his lips around the horn mouthpiece, once he can do that he will progress to blow the horn. He has to be able to blow the horn 25 times to move on to the next horn. The progression through the various horns will help strengthen his tongue and lips, and help him to eventually talk.

Well sorry or rambling on, to much information. The exciting thing was, while trying to get him to close his lips, he stuck his tongue all the way out of his mouth, this is another first. He got so excited because we were excited. He just laughed, we were pretty much done with the session after that. He had to show everyone. We even drove down to Debbie's office to show her his new trick.

Christopher's walking continues to get better, I was able to get a new walker for him to use at home. He continues to get stronger, we joined the local Lifetime Gym to help with his strength and conditioning. They also have an indoor pool which has been great for him.

I have included a short video of him walking with the new walker below, I hope you can see the improvements he is making.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Feburary 2014

Our therapy sessions at Shepherd Pathways are coming to an end. We have already had our last OT session and we will be finishing up with PT and the pool sessions soon. Between Jeanne, Brian and the snow and ice we have still been able to have two pool sessions most weeks.

Waiting to get in the pool.
The water at the Aquatic Center is like bath water, at the Shepherd Center it has what I will call, a refreshing quality. Christopher has really been enjoying the sessions with both Jeanne and Brian.

Today we were able to get Christopher to float on his back while kicking his legs.
Stretching out his left arm.
I wish I had some photos of Christopher in the snow. I took him outside to throw some snowballs, he thought that was hilarious, he laughed and laughed, especially when I let him throw some at me.

What a beautiful day.
If you compare this video with his first pool session look at the difference in the amount of support Christopher needs to walk up the ramp. Here Jeanne is walking behind him with just an arm on him at times to steady him. Notice that ever present smile.

Winter is finally coming to an end and the spring sports are underway, we have made it to several baseball games to watch Lassiter play and to the first couple lacrosse games to support Davis.

Dancing to the music at lacrosse halftime, sorry about the angles, not sure what I was doing. All I know is Christopher was having a good time. We were getting killed in the game, but the music was great.

January 2014

The holidays have been so good, the weather has been so crazy. Debbie has been outside chipping ice out of the birdfeeders to be able to put out seed. The birds are having a party at the Heitzman house.

Notice all the tracks on the deck, between the birds, dogs and squirrels it has been a party.

Sporting new shirt received for Christmas
Christopher has continued working with the therapist at Shepherd Pathways and with Jenna the speech therapist at Dynamic Therapies. He is still making progress, ever so slow for Debbie and I. But it is miraculous the progress he continues make. 
We are so blessed to have such a wonderful group of people who continue to support him. Our strength continues to grow each day through the your love and prayers. We THANK YOU.
On January 10th we were finally able to meet with Jeanne Green regarding getting Christopher in the pool for some aqua therapy. Jeanne is the aunt of Tyler Seaman and has been interested in getting Christopher in the water for months. We are so thankful for this opportunity. I believe he will really benefit greatly from this type of therapy.
Posing for the camera.
On January 16th Christopher finally got in the pool with Jeanne at the Mountain View Aquatic Center. He did very well, he walked down the ramp into the pool where Jeanne worked with him for over an hour. The activities she is working on will help to strengthen his core and his balance. As you can see in the video below he was able to walk up the ramp, of course he was showing of for the
camera the whole way. 

One of the best thing this month is Christopher will finally be getting out of the heavy walking boots he has had to wear since the first week in Dec. He was been fitted for his AFO's (Ankle-Foot Orthotics) at Shepherd Pathways, they will take two weeks to custom make the braces. He will were them during the day while walking and exercising.
AFOs finally arrive, high tech carbon fiber. He was so excited, he could finally wear his new shoes.
Here is a better picture of his shoes.
Well he has definitely fallen in love with the ability to wear his new shoes, it is one of the first things he is asking for each mornings. He was in casts or some type of orthotic shoe for nearly 3 months. So now he is back to making a fashion statement again.
We are continuing to build his leg strength by using the standing frame. While he sometimes spends over and hour or two in the frame, we very often listen to music. During these times we encourage him to shift his weight back and forth, from his right leg to his left. He still is not very confident in putting weight on his right leg, so the music has been a great way to get him move his hips and shift his weight.
He has such a great time with the music, but I am sure he is going to kill me for putting this to video. Sorry Christopher, it is just too cute not to share.

There are so many things starting to happen right now, Since we have started with Jeanne in the pool we have also started pool therapy at the Shepherd Center pool with Brian one of the PTs who has been working with Christopher since the surgery.

We have also seen Dr. Seiler regarding the contractures in his wrist and spasticity in his left arm. He has recommended we try another round of Botox injections before we think about surgery. We will be scheduling this in the next few weeks, either with Dr. Beniga at Shepherd or back with Dr. Seiler.
Making progress, THANK YOU LORD!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Years Eve 2013

Over the next several days we have continued to work and stay out of the cold. Debbie and Robert have been putting in some late days in the office.

Christopher has been working hard to get stronger. He is walking each day with me as much as he can. He still needs support, I'm not sure he is confident enough to put his full weight on his right leg yet. I know he can do it, it is just getting him to believe he can do it.

One night this week we were all sitting in the family room watching TV when Debbie started teasing Christopher. She was trying to get him to nod and shake his head for yes and no, we were laughing so hard we forgot to video it. Here is a little clip I was able to get a couple days later, he is concentrating so hard he is cracking himself up.

Here we are sitting at the kitchen table.
We have been trying to get him to do this for over a year now, this is remarkable. Something new to keep us going, thank you Lord, for reminding us our work is not done.

Debbie, Robert and I decided last minute to go out for dinner tonight. We were able to get into the Stem which has just opened as part of the restaurant Seed. They have a seven course meal, with wine and champagne to celebrate the New Year.

I have to say food was great, the atmosphere was awesome, the night was frigid. Still a great night. HERE'S WISHING YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR.