"@paflytyer" Road to recovery after major back surgery (1 Viewer)

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Get out n explore!!!
Sep 5, 2011
Palm Springs, CA
UPDATE - 10/31/15

As some have heard Stan had some complications at the end of rehab and a second surgery was mandatory!

Well, it happened a couple days ago and below is his own words to describe it on his Facebook post! I just gotta say I'm proud to be rooting for this guy!

FRIDAY NIGHT UPDATE (long version)

I........ Am........Home

I am home and surrounded by my beautiful wife and children. Once again, I feel as though I came out of this stronger, smarter and more humble than when I went in. I have so much confidence in Dr Chad Prusmack that I refused a surgery from two other surgeons that advised me to allow them to operate immediately. Dr Chad and I spoke for about an hour about everything involved with my major surgery just over a month ago, to my rehab, to the surgery he was about to perform. He reassured me again that I absolutely made the right choice by waiting for him, and he would prove it within 2 hours after they wheeled me out of the operating room.

When I was whisked away by ambulance from Craig last week and told that I needed emergency surgery to repair and relieve dangerous pressure on my spinal cord, I absolutely refused. I told them they could take me home, take me to the hospital or leave me right at Craig, but no one was touching my spinal cord until Chad either looked at it first, and told me I made a mistake and now I'd never walk again, or he told me he'd fix that cord compression like it was nothing and I'd be back on my feet in no time. Thankfully, he said the latter. There's a reason you see him on Sunday's on the Broncos sidelines and you see him traveling around the world giving lectures on breakthroughs in SCI's and rehabilitation. And he was right. I woke up with movement and strength in both legs and feet. He believes it's because of his techniques and my unwavering desire to beat this that made it possible.

I was chosen to be part of a study he is conducting in an attempt to prove that spinal cord injuries can and will heal faster and stronger when a patient truly believes they can overcome the injury. When you truly know in your soul that you will walk again, despite what anyone else tells you. When that belief becomes the healing power and total focus during rehab, you're already healing. I knew right from the start that I would walk again. I knew I had the motivation, the support from friends and family, the desire, the will and the pride to never let failure even enter my mind.

Obviously, I started off in a much better spot than many others. My spinal cord was not severed and my 2-level fusion, while major in terms of an injury, was minor when compared to so many other patients at Craig. This actually became very beneficial to me and made me the perfect candidate for my 30 day stay there. Even though I arrived with no movement or feeling below my waist (slight LS movement) I always had a chance, and that chance gave me hope, and hope gave me motivation, and motivation gave me dedication, and dedication gave me strength, which gave me perseverance and perseverance combined with the love, support and encouragement from my friends and family enabled me to stand up for the first time. And then I knew I had it. Like a fighter who knows he's got the knockout, it's just a matter of when he chooses to deliver the final blow. That's never the time you drop your hands and walk away, it's when you shatter the jaw. And metaphorically speaking, I broke my hand shattering the jaw. I just got unlucky. It happens.

The disc at the t11/12 spot was injured during the original fall and when we fixed the major injury, it weakened this one enough to cause it to blow just as I was finishing rehab. The other surgeons wanted to open me up, cut through the muscle, replace the disc and fuse the area. Dr Chad operates on multi-million dollar athletes. Preserving the muscle and encouraging growth are part of what he believes are keys to quality rehab and an overall better outcome. Combine that with the power of a patient who knows, without question, that he or she will rehab and come back better, stronger and faster and all you see are bruised and beaten glass jaws ready to be broken or knocked out.

For all of those reasons mentioned above, I had a major surgery on my spine last night and ate dinner with my family at our kitchen table tonight. And I took a few steps too. Assisted with a spotter and forearm crutches, but under my power.

I'm still very weak, but both legs move. I still have no sensation of pain, temperature or light touch below the waist but I can feel pressure and that's what will allow me to walk. Guaranteeing sensation to comeback there is a little harder for me at this point, but I'm moving my feet along the bed as I write this to try and stimulate a reconnection between mind, cord and body. There is no throwing in the towel on this one either. I rub my legs constantly, I put ice on them, I put my bare feet on different surfaces and try to remember how that used to feel. It's not that it won't happen, it just hasn't happened yet. I refuse to let someone else tell me what is possible or not possible inside my body and mind. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I see everything that I am and all that I represent when they come in and draw blood from my veins. Some folks can't even watch the needle go in or the blood flow out. I watch it with pride. I know what it's made of and it gives me more strength to see it flow. Again, I know they can't see it, and to them it looks like everyone else's, but I know it's not.

So I'm ready. I'm ready to start again. I'll have to wait a week to allow this most recent surgery to heal for a little more, but then it's back to Craig Hospital as part of their outpatient program. I will spend 5 days per week there, coming home each night to receive the best medicine I can get. The laughter of my children and a smile from my wife. And two dogs that would chew through a wall for me.

I started at Craig knowing that I would walk out of the front doors of that place before this was over, and I intend to keep that promise. I will also figure out the best way to volunteer my time back at that facility helping others. I write down ideas almost daily. Most of them include ways to integrate the activities that I love in life, into the recreational programs there. There are outings almost every afternoon or night, weekend or weekday, but not enough that really focus on the outdoors. I'm confident that through my work with OutdoorX4 Magazine, all of my sponsors, our supporters and advertisers, I can create a program that long and short term SCI and TBI patients can enjoy and benefit from. And I can prove to them that fighting hard until you're spent, and then giving just a little bit more is what gets you back on your feet. Anyone can work hard until they feel the need to quit, it's going just a little bit harder for a little bit longer that make the most of their time and effort that day. I say it everyday on here ...... A man's greatest strides are made without taking a single step.

Have you ever seen the clips on TV of marathons where they show the winners break through the tape in some incredible time? (an amazing accomplishment) and the crowd is cheering........ And then they show the clip of someone from the middle of the pack whose legs just quit on them 100 yards from the finish-line. 100 strides from 26.2 miles and they've given everything they had and they collapse, but instead of laying on the ground, they start crawling for the finish. Scraping knees and leaving a blood trail on hot pavement and digging fingernails into concrete, that's the one that makes the crowd roar. That's the little bit more, the extra that comes from the blood left behind on the pavement.

That's what American Olympian Amy Van Dyken had when she walked a year after they told her she would die from her injury. Her spinal cord was completely severed. Torn in half and unconnected top to bottom. She was given zero chance, no hope whatsoever. It wasn't possible because there is no surgery, pill or rehab that can put your spinal cord back together. This is the same reason why we can't perform head transplants. But she vowed to walk again. She knew she would walk again. She used the same body suits that are available to Craig patients and she willed her cord and surrounding nerves to somehow find their old connections and start firing again. All the medical research in the world doesn't understand it. No one can explain it, but she knew it all along. Imagine if we all gave that little bit extra after we were spent? The guy trying to prove to the medical world that this happens inside a persons mind, heart and soul first, is my doctor. How lucky am I? My cord was never cut in two, just damaged. I have everything I need.


UPDATE - 10/8/15:
Mrs Hulk from TLCA/Rising Sun 4X Club of CO has put together a FUNDRAISER to allow those who want to assist the Wright family in this time of great pain and need. I'm updating this post a bit to bring folks up to speed on Stan's slow but awesome progress! If you follow him on Facebook then you most likely already read his most recent posts but there are also those who do not.

The text in red bellow is one of the first few he posted wile still at the facility where the surgery took place. Since then there have been ups and downs but the fight continues!
Stan has been transfered to Craig Hospital where he now endures the long road to rehabilitation. The main fight now is to get those feelings fully back on legs and feet.

This guy has a gift in writing and he has been able to open his soul (not an easy thing to do in hard times) and share his ups and downs with those following from far places like us!

Click here to support Stan Wright Support Fund by Toyota Land Cruiser Association

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Stan Wright, known here as paflytyer, organizer of 100s in the hills and involved with so many other Land Cruiser/Toyota events and publications has had a major spinal surgery last thursday and he's of right now going through crazy amounts of pain and meds waiting so he can learn to walk again!

He's still in the hospital, laying flat mostly with none to minimal feelings in his legs. What's keeping him fighting has been the support and love from those who have in one way or another reached to say hi and a few words of encouragement along with much needed and appreciated prayers!

If you have had the chance to meet him you know he's a great guy and deserves a couple minutes of our time to put down a few words following this post!

If you feel like reading up his last Facebook post I'm pasting it bellow. You'll find yourself reflecting more about your own life as well! If nothing else, say a prayer towards him today.

Lastly, here's what happened to me. On January 6 , 2015 I arrived at Denver TRACON for a 0545 shift of controlling airplanes in and out of the 5th busiest airport in the world. Something I am extreamly proud of and something that I truly have enjoyed for over 20 years. We had a typical few days of winter weather in Colorado. Snow, followed by 60+ degrees, followed by -15 on that particular morning. I drove my Land Cruiser to work that day and when I gathered all my things into my hands to bring into the building, I jumped out of my truck without holding on to anything. The snowmelt followed by the super cold temps left a layer of black ice on the parking lot that I couldn't see because it was still pitch black out. When I jumped down, both feet slipped out with a ferocity and quickness that I will never forget. I never even had a chance to brace myself. The back of my head slapped my slider (like a steel running board for protecting your doors and sides of the truck from ledges and rocks while offroad). That knocked me out and I most likely landed in a sitting position with my back muscles totally limp from the head smack. This is what I was told by the ER visit, x-rays and the confusion/headaches I had for the first few weeks.

Oddly enough, I was able to wake up and actually make it into the building. I still knew something wasn't right. (Besides the fact that I woke up literally frozen to the pavement by the 64oz iced tea I was carrying into work). My back and legs hurt but there was something odd about the tingle I had in my legs. I remember saying that something was wrong but I was walking and talking semi-normal. Over the next few days things started to deteriorate until I couldn't stand or walk. Because this accident happened on Federal property, I was somewhat at the mercy of the federal workers compensation program. They paid my salary for 45 days, then I was left on my own. It's not really a secret that federal air traffic controllers working at the busiest airports in the country make a very reasonable living. Going from that salary to absolutely zero income was a difficult transition. Michelle and I had set aside money for emergencies, but we were never expecting to go months with zero income. Needless to say, one month's cusion was not enough. It took me almost 8 weeks to transition from my normal salary to the Federal Workers Compensation Program. Even that was only about 60% of what I had been earning. And if I never walk again, the FAA finds me a suitable job, but I lose my air traffic salary and I lose my ability to retire in just less than 5 years. Find a lawyer, right? It's not as easy as it sounds. No one will touch a federal case.Suing the federal government is not the friendliest options. And to be honest, I don't want that. All I want to do is finish myhang up my headset after 20+ years of honest work and be proud of the product that I put on the ground day in and day out next to some of the most talented and dedicated people I have ever been around. Air traffic control is the ultimate rush and ultimate satisfaction. There is nothing else like it in the world and sometimes when I walk through the terminal at Denver International Airport, I can't believe that a C student whose only aspiration in high school was to backside kick-flip the big-7 stairs in New Paltz is now responsible for the safe and expedition travel of so many people on a day to day basis.

Back to reality.... My back got much worse. My neurosurgeon, Dr Chad Prusmack, (more on him in a second) was pretty concerned because the fall at work caused two pretty severe herniations. The bad one was at the T7/8 level. That is the thoracic region on your back, basically, nipple height. The severity of this was that normally, a disc would herniate off to the side. In my case, the disc herniated straight back and formed a kidney bean around my spinal cord. This made surgery extremely risky just based
On the proximity to the cord. One touch, even a breath or a breeze on the cord would paralyze me for life. Dr Chad wanted to try alternative methods to see if we could avoid surgery. For the next 5 months I tried everything. PT, spinal injections, light excersize.... Everything. Finally, surgery was the last resort. The FAA and Federal Workers Compensation Insurance was not in a hurry to approve something so drastic. We even attempted to use my Federal Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance (they finally said go ahead and do it and we will persue payment on our own) .... Great insurance company if you're a federal employee and ever considering making the change to BCBS Federal.

Anyway, after months of fighting, OWCP finally approved the surgery and Dr Prusmack brought me in immediately. He went above and beyond to get me relief early on and came out of his own pocket more than once to help with my care. Watch a Broncos game sometime, the first guy on the field when player takes a head or neck stinger, is him. He lived less than 2 blocks from Michelle and I when we lived in Manhattan. He was at Harvard when Michelle was at Boston College and then was at Columbia Med School the same time that Michelle was there. His father was a fullback for the NY Jets and played with Namath. Like me, he's a New Yorker that grew up a diehard Jets fan. He's called me at all hours of the night and gave me his personal cell number in case I ever needed anything. He's called my wife more than once this week to check on her and had his PA call her to reassure her that I will walk again. He's texted me just prior to getting on the Broncos charter flight to Detroit prior to this past weekends game. If that doesn't explain the type of person and neurosergon he is, I don't know what would. He could be talking to Von Miller, Demerius Thomas, Emanual Sanders and Peyton Manning..... Instead, he's texting a punk kid from the old neighborhood. What do I say to that and how could I ever thank him for what that means to me? He is the top neurosurgeon in the world for his field, but he's just as happy to talk about sports, fantasy football (he can't play because of his association with the Broncos), or anything that 2 regular guys in their early 40s would talk about. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, except after their on, he can operate on spinal cords and brains.

So, I have two incisions on each side of my spinal cord. He had to move from one side of the table to the other to get a good angle at the disc he was trying to remove. He said the piece was way larger than the MRI showed and eventually it would have paralyzed me. I have been in the hospital for almost a week and will be moving to the Craig Spinal Rehab Facility. It's the top facility in the USA (and likely the world) for spinal cord injuries and is where Amy Van Dyken spent her entire rehab. I will be the least famous person to ever walk through the doors of such an accomplished facility, but I will walk out of there on my own. Put money down on that. A rep came to visit me yesterday and treated me like I was just as important as anyone else in the place.

No visitors from 8-5 each day after I arrive, as that is considered work hours. Non-stop physical therapy and care during that time. After 5pm, I can see friends and family. Chances are, I will be so tired that I won't want to do a lot of socializing, but please don't hesitate to check in. My pain levels remain pretty high and I am beyond tired of taking the barrage of pills and meds. It's difficult to get comfortable with the cathader and as gross as it sounds, my spinal cord still will not send signals to my bladder or bowels. I won't even mention how that process works, but I will say that the nurses in this hospital are beyond saints. I have no idea how they do what they do and I have more respect for their work than maybe any other profession I have ever heard of. Whatever their pay scale is, it's not even close to what they deserve. Debbie Lynn and Shannon Marie Fox (the two nurses I know personally from home) ..... I want you guys to know that what you do changes people's lives. It takes a special person to do it time and time again. I thank my nurses 100 times a day. I am so embarrassed and humiliated by how they see me and they just keep saying it's no big deal and they see much worse.
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Gotta get outta here...
Sep 20, 2003
Stan, wishing you a quick recovery! Happy to read you have good people there with you and I know you have more than enough strength to beat this! See you at HIH next year!
Mar 1, 2012
I don't really know you, but my wife is going through back issues as well. I hope you are on your feet in no time and back to doing all the things you love! Good luck and a speedy recovery.
Jun 5, 2012
austin TX
Stan, I don't know you personally but I'm praying with my family for a good recovery and for your family.
I'm very excited that I'm going to meet you at HIH 2016.

Jun 13, 2014
We've never met, but praying for a full recovery so you can get back to work and back out on the trails!
May 1, 2015
Don't know you Stan, but you seems like the type of guy everyone wants to meet and get to know. Your letter was well written and touching, wishing you a speedy recovery keep up the great attitude you'll be up in no time.

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