Friday, February 21, 2014

Guest Blogger: Greg Brown

Greg is a former police officer from Nashville, North Carolina. His inspiring story shows the power of strength, determination and family support.

To me, Get Back Up means empowerment and courage - the courage to take on a disability and show others that it can't keep me or you down. I feel I have become part of a special group of people that can use this disability as a learning tool to keep moving forward.

My story begins nine years ago, when I was a Police Officer for the City of Rocky Mount, NC. On September 09, 2005, I answered a call that would change my life forever. To keep a long story short, during that call I was shot in line of duty. After the shooting, I had to retire on medical disability from the injuries I sustained. One significant injury I received was where the bullet shattered L4, L5 and the right sciatic nerve being severed, which resulted in foot drop.

The next several years were very hard on my family and me because I was left with a disability that really hindered my way life. It not only involved me but my wife and children as well. I gained a lot weight because of the medication I was taking for the pain and injury to my nerves. I was physically not able to do the things I once was able to do and it was also a trying time mentally. My family deserved better, especially my wife because she had gone through so much with having to care of my children and me.

Over the years I tried several different braces from off the shelf braces to custom-made braces. Then I was fitted with Blue Rocker from Allard and the difference it made was amazing. I was able to walk with a better gait, and I decided it was time for a change.

I joined my local YMCA three years ago and with the help from my Blue Rocker brace I was able to start my path to a better life. I started off very slow and it took well over two years to get the strength back in my upper and lower body with weight training, but I have lost over 40lbs over this time. As painful as it may be sometimes, I try to work out every day and do not feel right if I cannot. Because I have been able to get out and start doing things again, I have began coaching football and softball at my children's school, and I speak with individuals about my disability, which has helped in the healing process mentally and physically. I will also be doing my first Spartan Race in March.

I continue to have no dorsiflexion or planterfexion in my left foot, my left leg has atrophied a great deal and I have constant nerve pain but I have to keep pushing forward, so hopefully it will show others that even with a disability you may not be able to do a lot but you can do something.

I trust in my Blue Rocker because it has given me the ability to move forward in life and I would just like to thank everyone at Allard USA because without it, I would not be where I am today.

Embrace the pain, because it only makes you stronger!
-Greg Brown

Monday, February 3, 2014

Guest Blogger: Todd Hart

Todd hails from Copley, Ohio and shares his thoughts on what Get Back Up means to him:

Get Back Up

Three simple words.  But when put together, they convey a very strong message. Our “community” – those of us who have, and continue to battle, neurological conditions, cancer, etc., feel a connection and bond that many times is difficult to articulate. It is however, much easier to appreciate the challenges others have faced. And understanding those challenges validates one’s acceptance into this “community.”  

My story – which is humble compared to many people I now cross paths with, begins five years ago with melanoma cancer, three surgeries, including removal of lymph sack from groin, loss of a femoral nerve, relocating muscles, then chemo – lovely interferon. Re-learned to walk straight, and then started running. Then dystonia onset in foot of the same leg. It took six months before a correct diagnosis was made. Dystonia is permanent and painful. I now take a series of three botox shots every twelve weeks in my calf to eliminate the nerves firing the foot muscles. Re-learned to walk straight, and then started running - again! This time with the aid of the Allard ToeOFF orthotic. After filling a closet with numerous other useless orthotics, the ToeOFF was spot-on. It provides comfort, control, and confidence – and I can’t begin to put a price on those, especially during rehab.

Although my walking and running now consists of being able to push off using only one foot, I still compete in numerous triathlons and running events each year – I’m just not as fast.  But being “fast” is no longer important. Priorities now consist of enjoying the abilities I still have, and reaching out and encouraging others in our “community” with methods and means to remain active. As many of you reading this know, it’s not uncommon for the physical disabilities to take a back seat the mental challenges faced, as a result of those disabilities. That’s why having the support of the “community” and efforts such as “Get Back Up” are crucial for maintaining a rich quality of life.
-Todd Hart
Beth and Todd at the Cleveland Rock 'n' Roll, October 2013