Thursday, October 25, 2012

What has Team JC been up to this year?

What an exciting and busy time it has been for team JC since last summer. We have made great strides, JC has worked tirelessly to reach his goals that were set for him after we finished Project walk last august! We have slowly acquired the equipment necessary for him to continue a program that is similar to what they have at Project Walk. JC continues to work 7 days a week with an intense exercise program that is not for the faint hearted. We made his dream of going back home to India a reality, he raced along side us at the Testaverde Race this year pushing himself in his power assisted chair, and 4 years later we were able to give back to the people that saved his life at the trauma center at Westchester Medical Center. 

The goals that we wanted to reach before going back to project walk are all being achieved one at a time. JC is able to roll with bending one leg over the other now, and is now working on independent log rolling. He is able go from (prone) laying on his belly to quadruped (on his knees and forearms) this takes a lot of coordination from his core and legs, and truly such an amazing thing to see.

JC is still going strong with the e-stim  bike, firing up his core and getting signals all the way down his legs.  At Athlete Evolution the program continues to be intense and progressive! He is able to do the spin life bike for 45 minutes now without assistance, he is standing with moderate assistance, and continues to improve each and every day. Please enjoy our stories about these experiences and our slide shows that depict JC's amazing progress!!


In January 2012, Team JC decided to pursue ayurvedic treatment in India. JC and the family were planning to go in December of 2008, but because of the accident were not able to go. At that time, we never imagined that he would be able to go ever again. However, by his pure determination, faith, and the love and support of all of you, JC returned home this past January, after nearly 7 years, to see his mother, brothers and family.

It was not going to be an easy trip, he would have to travel for 22 hours, be transferred multiple times in a plane and car, which is not something he had done here often. He would need to tolerate being in a manual wheelchair everyday, as there was no way to bring his power wheelchair. He would also have to endure transfers up and down multiple stairs and unlevel surfaces. Additionally, a new team of caretakers would have to be trained! We would have to figure out how to complete all our routines there, without many of the resources so readily available to us here. JC would also have to continue with all the exercises and manage the crowds of people that were eagerly awaiting his arrival!

The plan was for JC to spend 2 weeks at home and 4 weeks at the Rajah Beach Ayurvedic Center. For 2 weeks, JC spent time at his home in Muvattupuzha, Kerala, traveled around the area and went to visit family in Champakulam. He also traveled to his wife’s home in Palai, which was not an easy journey or one that very few expected him to make, but he was determined, despite how many people told him not to. In his words, “I want to go see Amachie, go see Sebastian Achen, go to see P.S. John, and then go see Mini Auntie’s mom at Caritas Hospital. Then from there we will go to Palai.” I said, “Sure boss, if you want to, then I will find a way.” So with boys from Team JC - India Edition (Gibin, Jobin, and Thomachen) we planned a schedule. It was not going to be the easiest journey, but they said “koripam illa. . .sheri aki tharam.” In other words, “no worries…we will make it all work.” So the next day we set out to put JC’s plan to work and our champion of champions did amazing! After 13 hours, 12 car transfers, 6 stops, 300 kilometers later, and an added stop at Bharananganam to St. Alphonsa’s Church, we accomplished all that he had wanted… and then some!

During our time in India, we also consulted Dr. P.S. John, a pioneer in stem cell treatment for Spinal Cord Injury. He has been administering stem cells with incredible results. He is a quiet, reserved man, and brilliant doctor, who was impressed by JC’s progress thus far. He gave us our options for the long process of stem cells transplantation and ordered urodynamic tests to be done. He also prescribed medicine, to aid in nerve regeneration. However this medicine could not be combined with ayurvedic treatment. At this time, we were at a crossroad and decided that we should try the ayruvedic treatment first and then start taking the medicine. Unfortunately, as the two weeks at home were ending, JC got sick. He had a UTI (urinary tract infection) that required hospitalization. Although this was a setback, it did not deter him. After several courses of antibiotics and a stressful few weeks, JC recovered and they continued on to pursue the ayurvedic treatment. For one week JC underwent therapy at the ayurvedic center and showed some improvements in muscle strength, length and flexibility.

After all this, we had learned, and JC had proven to us that: where there is a will, there is a way. With love, faith, and determination, anything is possible. To be honest, this journey to India, at times seemed daunting and almost impossible, similar to how a person with a complete spinal cord injury feels to walking again. However, JC has proven every such medical theory wrong and we are SURE he will continue to do so.    

JC returned home to the US with a firm resolve to continue to improve, with new ayurvedic massage techniques to add to our routine. Soon after his return, JC started his program once again. Ayurvedic massage was added 2X week to his current therapy program which includes:

Standing frame + glider: 7 days a week for 1-2 hrs

E-stim bike: 2-3 days a week for 1hr

Athlete evolution program: 2 days a week for 3 hrs

Total gym and pilates reformer: 1X week

By God’s grace, an incredible team, and an amazing captain, our trip to India went relatively smoothly. There were a few challenges along the way, but the memories created and lessons learned in that trip will stay with us forever. Every car transfer, daily shower, bathroom routine, and long journey went smoothly. The trip was filled with amazing moments of love, family, well wishers, and people who were in similar situations that came to see JC - inspired by his strength, determination and positive outlook. He continues to pursue our miracle with determination, love, and an unwavering faith. Let’s keep going….

Testaverde Race

On the morning of April 22, 2012, Team JC rallied together for the third time to participate in the annual Testaverde Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury 5K Run/Walk. Once again, family members and friends of all ages, came to show their support for our captain and for the Testaverde family. This family, as we have mentioned in past blogs, have been an unwavering support system for JC and our family. Always ready to offer their advice, encouragement, and equipment to help JC in his road to recovery, the 5K race has been our way of showing our gratitude and appreciation for all this family has done for us and other families also affected by SCI.
This year however, was different than the past two years. This year, our superhero, would “run” alongside 400+ race participants, propelling himself in his wheelchair, from start to finish. Through the cold, bundled in layers to stay warm, and even racing through the rain, JC never gave up and was determined to push, as much as he could, to make it to the finish line. With the use of his new power-assisted wheelchair, JC was able to push himself while also receiving moderate assistance from the power wheels. Throughout the race he was followed by, his wife, aid, and members of Team JC, who helped push him along the way when he fatigued. After 52 minutes and 42 seconds, JC completed 3.1 miles!!! 

Trauma Race at Westchester Medical Center!

Donned in running shoes and black T-shirts adorned with letters spelling out “Team JC!” we embarked on an adventure that would prove to be every bit as grueling and messy as it was fun and rewarding. On September 23, 2012 Team JC took part in the Westchester Medical Center “Trauma Run.”  This 5K obstacle course was organized to help raise funds for the Joel A. Halpern Regional Trauma Center, which is the facility JC was taken to after he suffered a spinal cord injury.

Without the dedication and hard work of the medical personnel at this facility, JC would not have made it through those first few weeks after his injury.  In the end, the trauma team did much more than just help JC survive a spinal cord injury; they gave him the ability to DEFY it.  With each day’s progress in JC’s recovery, we are ever grateful for the gift the trauma team has given us. We are also poignantly aware of the need for continued funding to allow the trauma center to bestow this gift of defiance onto other patients.

Inspired to give back to an organization that gave us so much, Team JC rallied together to run in this demanding 5K adventure race that took our team dashing through woods, crawling through tunnels, sloshing around in mud pits, catapulting over obstacles, teetering on top of rope nets, dangling between tire swings, and sprinting up & down fire towers.  With JC cheering us on along the sidelines, we ran a collective distance of over 50K and raised over $2,000, which was the event’s 3rd largest contribution!

As with so many of the events we are involved in throughout the year, we could not have made such an impact without the love, encouragement, and prayers of our extended family – the supporters of Team JC. Thank you! 
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