Brandon's Recovery

Brandon's Recovery

From Jiun Chiang

We're raising money to help Brandon alleviate some of the financial burden associated with medical and rehab costs so he can focus on walking again! Anything you can help with is much appreciated.

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Recent Updates

Update #16

almost 2 years ago

Hello all! I hope this update finds you well. It's just over seven months ago that I started this journey, and I'm happy and thankful to write that I've recently accomplished a couple big milestones in my recovery. I know it's been a while since my last update, so I figured I'd recap a bit and let you know what's on the horizon.

To start, Angeline and I moved back to California the first week of January. I was shocked at how much stuff I accumulated over my 3 months in Colorado. All of Angeline's trips back and forth to CA when I'd ask, 'oh, can you grab X," really added up. I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee and we managed to fill every cubic inch of cargo space. It was a sight to behold! I'm sure the police officer who gave me a speeding ticket 2 hours into the drive was impressed.

I must say that it was hard to say goodbye to family and friends in CO. I don't think I've spent that much time with my family since I was in high school. I look for all of the sliver linings in this whole thing, and that is definitely one of them. (Great parking is another!) With all the time together, we had some great conversations and got to know each other that much more.

As hard as it was to say goodbye, I couldn't stay away from Southern Cal. We moved to a small apartment in Pasadena and live on the main drag, which ironically is called Colorado Blvd. Life in Pasadena is going to be nice and convenient for me; Angeline not so much. My apartment, physical therapist and DPR office are all within a mile radius. Angeline, who was the biggest proponent of us moving to Pasadena ended up getting an internship in Orange County shortly after we committed to the apartment. She says 'it's worth it' with a little bit less of a smile every day, but it's a smile nonetheless.

Therapy is still part of the daily routine and will continue to be for another year and a half at minimum. I've spent the last few months focusing almost exclusively on my back in hopes of getting rid of the chronic pain, which has been the biggest life-changing aspect of this whole thing. I'm barely able to push my legs to the limit before my back pain grows to a point where I can't handle it and need to sit down. I'm grateful for Angeline's patience with me and my lack thereof. I'm always the first one to ask to go home wherever we are, and my standing stamina at this point is pretty short. That said, I do feel there's been improvement in the pain, albeit a small amount, and my upright sitting stamina has increased from where it started. Since we spend so much time working on my back in therapy, my personal time has been more devoted to lower body and core exercises. I still walk with a cane and probably will for quite some time. Since I can't feel my legs much, I don't get a lot of the feedback you use for everyday balancing. Thus, if I walk around without a cane, I look like I spent a whole afternoon at the wine bar. My balance is almost exclusively controlled by my vision at this point. If I close my eyes while standing, I almost immediately fall over. My current record with eyes closed on one foot in therapy is about 5 seconds. There's some room for improvement there.

One of the biggest milestones I've had recently was getting back in the saddle and riding a bike again! Don't worry, I managed to keep it on two wheels this time. I went for a solo ride around the Rose Bowl and managed to put in a little 25 min ride. It was a bit of an emotional experience at first and really made me feel like this journey was coming closer to an end. The sunshine and fresh air was a welcomed change of pace from my living room stationary bike or the therapy gym. I don't have any plans to get back on a mountain bike yet but when I do I promise it won't be like before. No jump, drop or intense trail is worth going through this again.

The second milestone was returning to work. I started back at DPR the first week of April on a part-time basis. Working again is yet another step towards putting life back together. I enjoy lounging on the couch as much as the next guy, but I'd had enough. You can only watch so much TV and surf the Internet for so long. It's good to see my DPR family again and get back in the groove of things. It took a good week to get the rust off at work, but it's getting a little easier everyday. My back pain was my biggest concern with returning to work, and thankfully it hasn't been much of an issue at all. I fidget, stand and sit a lot, but it's all in the name of comfort, and I'm getting by just fine.

We still have a long journey ahead, but life feels like it's slowly getting back to normal. Angeline graduates from USC with her MBA in May. The application machine has started, and we'll see what changes her next job opportunity brings us.

If you're not doing anything at 4AM on Sunday, May 8th, you can come join us and a small team for the Wings For Life World Run in Santa Clarita, CA. It's a race that starts at the same time everywhere in the world, and all of the event proceeds go to spinal chord injury research. We'll be walking with another mountain biker I met at Craig Hospital and his crew of friends. If you happen to be interested, let me know, and I'll sign you up and happily cover your entry fee. I won't make it terribly far, but I'm just thankful I'll be walking in the race at all.

That's all for this update. I know I'm repeating myself, but I can't say THANK YOU enough to each and every one of you for the support I've received and continue to receive. As odd as it sounds, if I had the option to do this all over again, I probably would. I can genuinely tell you that all the love and support I received overpowered any pain or worries I ever had. I can't imagine ever giving that up. I also want you all to know that I'm here for you if you ever need it.
I appreciate you all more than you'll ever know.

More Info

On Saturday, September 12, 2015 Brandon was mountain biking with several friends at Mammoth Mountain bike park when he accidentally overshot a jump down one of the runs. Sadly, this resulted in a crash that left him suffering from a broken collar bone, several cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, and fractures along his upper spine. This spinal injury has left him unable to walk with no feeling from the chest down.  After being examined at the Mammoth Hospital he was airlifted to Renown Medical Center in Reno where he underwent spinal surgery.  The surgeon was able to realign his fractured spine but he still has no feeling in his body from the chest down.  The specialists have high hopes that Brandon will walk again someday with intensive rehabilitation.  

Brandon will be kept under watch at Renown Hospital for a week, then transported to a rehabilitation center where he will undergo a long journey to recovery.  We are asking for any financial help you may be able to give to help fund the medical bills and this rehabilitation process.  It is only with all of your love and support that we can be sure Brandon gets the best care and physical therapy available to him.

Thank you so much for your time and donations.  Brandon and his loved ones really treasure and thank you for the support.

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
almost 2 years ago

Update #17

Hello all! I hope this update finds you well. It's just over seven months ago that I started this journey, and I'm happy and thankful to write that I've recently accomplished a couple big milestones in my recovery. I know it's been a while since my last update, so I figured I'd recap a bit and let you know what's on the horizon.

To start, Angeline and I moved back to California the first week of January. I was shocked at how much stuff I accumulated over my 3 months in Colorado. All of Angeline's trips back and forth to CA when I'd ask, 'oh, can you grab X," really added up. I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee and we managed to fill every cubic inch of cargo space. It was a sight to behold! I'm sure the police officer who gave me a speeding ticket 2 hours into the drive was impressed.

I must say that it was hard to say goodbye to family and friends in CO. I don't think I've spent that much time with my family since I was in high school. I look for all of the sliver linings in this whole thing, and that is definitely one of them. (Great parking is another!) With all the time together, we had some great conversations and got to know each other that much more.

As hard as it was to say goodbye, I couldn't stay away from Southern Cal. We moved to a small apartment in Pasadena and live on the main drag, which ironically is called Colorado Blvd. Life in Pasadena is going to be nice and convenient for me; Angeline not so much. My apartment, physical therapist and DPR office are all within a mile radius. Angeline, who was the biggest proponent of us moving to Pasadena ended up getting an internship in Orange County shortly after we committed to the apartment. She says 'it's worth it' with a little bit less of a smile every day, but it's a smile nonetheless.

Therapy is still part of the daily routine and will continue to be for another year and a half at minimum. I've spent the last few months focusing almost exclusively on my back in hopes of getting rid of the chronic pain, which has been the biggest life-changing aspect of this whole thing. I'm barely able to push my legs to the limit before my back pain grows to a point where I can't handle it and need to sit down. I'm grateful for Angeline's patience with me and my lack thereof. I'm always the first one to ask to go home wherever we are, and my standing stamina at this point is pretty short. That said, I do feel there's been improvement in the pain, albeit a small amount, and my upright sitting stamina has increased from where it started. Since we spend so much time working on my back in therapy, my personal time has been more devoted to lower body and core exercises. I still walk with a cane and probably will for quite some time. Since I can't feel my legs much, I don't get a lot of the feedback you use for everyday balancing. Thus, if I walk around without a cane, I look like I spent a whole afternoon at the wine bar. My balance is almost exclusively controlled by my vision at this point. If I close my eyes while standing, I almost immediately fall over. My current record with eyes closed on one foot in therapy is about 5 seconds. There's some room for improvement there.

One of the biggest milestones I've had recently was getting back in the saddle and riding a bike again! Don't worry, I managed to keep it on two wheels this time. I went for a solo ride around the Rose Bowl and managed to put in a little 25 min ride. It was a bit of an emotional experience at first and really made me feel like this journey was coming closer to an end. The sunshine and fresh air was a welcomed change of pace from my living room stationary bike or the therapy gym. I don't have any plans to get back on a mountain bike yet but when I do I promise it won't be like before. No jump, drop or intense trail is worth going through this again.

The second milestone was returning to work. I started back at DPR the first week of April on a part-time basis. Working again is yet another step towards putting life back together. I enjoy lounging on the couch as much as the next guy, but I'd had enough. You can only watch so much TV and surf the Internet for so long. It's good to see my DPR family again and get back in the groove of things. It took a good week to get the rust off at work, but it's getting a little easier everyday. My back pain was my biggest concern with returning to work, and thankfully it hasn't been much of an issue at all. I fidget, stand and sit a lot, but it's all in the name of comfort, and I'm getting by just fine.

We still have a long journey ahead, but life feels like it's slowly getting back to normal. Angeline graduates from USC with her MBA in May. The application machine has started, and we'll see what changes her next job opportunity brings us.

If you're not doing anything at 4AM on Sunday, May 8th, you can come join us and a small team for the Wings For Life World Run in Santa Clarita, CA. It's a race that starts at the same time everywhere in the world, and all of the event proceeds go to spinal chord injury research. We'll be walking with another mountain biker I met at Craig Hospital and his crew of friends. If you happen to be interested, let me know, and I'll sign you up and happily cover your entry fee. I won't make it terribly far, but I'm just thankful I'll be walking in the race at all.

That's all for this update. I know I'm repeating myself, but I can't say THANK YOU enough to each and every one of you for the support I've received and continue to receive. As odd as it sounds, if I had the option to do this all over again, I probably would. I can genuinely tell you that all the love and support I received overpowered any pain or worries I ever had. I can't imagine ever giving that up. I also want you all to know that I'm here for you if you ever need it.
I appreciate you all more than you'll ever know.

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #16

Watch Brandon walk on crutches: https://youtu.be/fDxFZG2BVzQ

Update from Brandon:

It's been a while since my last update, too long, and for that, I'm sorry. I don't really have a good excuse of why. I fell into a groove with rehab, and to be honest, when I get back to my room every night, I'm beat. I've also been lucky to have jam packed weekends with visitors and outings. All of which have distracted me from providing updates. I've received a lot of calls, texts and emails recently asking how things are going, which made me realize another update was overdue.

At the end of this post there is a section of my last post that was accidentally cut off, and we didn't realize it until just now. It foreshadowed my excuse for not posting…

I'm going to take a page from the great Jim Washburn's handbook and provide a long and short version of my post for my readers since I've learned I can get a bit wordy.

Short Version:

I'm walking on crutches a lot more, unfortunately I still can't really walk without some sort of stabilization though. I had my gait clinic where they analyzed my walk, but since I'm progressing so much and so fast they couldn't prescribe much for bracing without having to change it shortly after. I can feel parts of my legs. I've been cleared to drive a car without hand controls (stay off the roads!). My discharge date is still November 19th, and I'll be continuing outpatient therapy in CO until the end of the year at a minimum. Things are still progressing, and I feel so very fortunate for that. I will really miss working with my therapists here at Craig.

Long Version:

In one of the last posts Jiun put up you saw the early days of me walking using the Locomat robotic assistive treadmill. I've come a long way since that post. I've progressed from barely being able to stand to being able to walk about a thousand feet at a time using forearm crutches. Unfortunately, I still need some sort of support when I walk. The times I've tried walking without it, I barely make a step without having to catch myself. I was recently approved to use crutches in my room by myself, which is great, but it feels like I'm starting rehab all over again because of how challenging it is. Today I woke up, got out of bed, walked to the bathroom, showered, brushed my teeth and got dressed. All of that takes me at least an hour, and I have a pretty good sweat going at the end of it. I'm hopeful it gets easier quickly so home life goes a little smoother.

I had my gait clinic the other day, which is an hour long meeting where a group of therapists analyze my walk and collectively decide on bracing or other walking supports I may need. The result of my clinic was that the group can't decide on what to prescribe for me since I'm continuously progressing so much. So far my left leg has been the problem child and isn't working as well as my right. I've been using E-stim which is a Bluetooth electrical stimulus that knows when my foot is down or up and it shocks my hamstring and shin at the right time to help lift my foot and prevent all the toe drag I've had. I've also been using carbon fiber braces in my shoes and around my shin to help with the same thing. Unfortunately the carbon braces cause my leg to spasm due to the continuous deflection so I don't see those being a long term solution. I do have some sensation in my left leg so getting shocked every other step isn't exactly my favorite either.

Speaking of sensation… I continuously get the question 'can you feel your legs yet?' The answer is sort of. I recently went through sensory testing where they poke you with a needle and a dull stick on your cheek and then proceed to do the same all over my body and with my eyes closed I have to say whether it's sharp, dull or sharp different. The left side of my stomach has become hypersensitive and the needles really hurt and my right leg has nearly no feeling at all. My left leg is a bit spotty but has more sensation than my right. The lack of sensation makes walking difficult because if I'm not looking at my feet I don't know where they are and I get tripped up easier. I'm not sure when or if that sensation will ever return but from what I've learned that could take years to return if it does.

My discharge date is still set for November 19th. The current plan is to move to my sister's in Windsor, CO and stay there until the end of the year. I'll be taking Thanksgiving week off from therapy for a much needed break. After that, I'll start outpatient therapy 5 days a week here at Craig. At that point I'm hopeful I can decide if it's worth continuing therapy here in Colorado or if I can return to California and find an equally qualified facility.

I'll be driving nearly 45min to an hour each way from my sister's, and if you can believe it, I've been approved to drive a car WITHOUT hand controls! I haven't told a single person yet that doesn't respond with big eyes and says 'REALLY…that's greaaattt?!?!' Including my therapists here at the hospital. In my defense, the instructor tried pretty hard to fail me. To pass I started in a church parking lot continuously driving in a circle, and whenever she said break, I had to slam on the break as hard as I could. When we started, I had one miss and overshot the break because I lifted my leg up too high to slam on the break. After that I got the hang of it and a little more comfortable with driving even though I hadn't done it in nearly two months. To finish I had to drive for an hour in city traffic in the right lane, where I had to deal with more people getting in and out of traffic. Since I can't feel my right leg, it feels a little awkward driving, but I did fine and didn't have any close calls. SO, as scary as it sounds, don't fear; I'll be safe as will those around me. If I thought it wasn't, I wouldn't do it.

As tough as everything has been for me and everyone around me, I can't say enough how appreciative I am to be progressing like I am. I work out and talk with patients every day who don't have the motor function that I do and may never have it. Having the little bit of leg strength I do makes everyday life so much easier, and I can't imagine what it would be like if I didn't have it. Continuing to progress keeps my hope alive and helps energize me every day to keep working as hard as I have been. As weird as it sounds for me of all people to say it, man do I really want to go for a run. That's on the to-do list for this whole rehab process, and I look forward to the day it happens. :)

This update thank you shout out goes to my therapists here at Craig. Unfortunately, I get new therapists when I start outpatient, and I'm really going to miss working with my current team every day. I work with a great group of people that have really helped me and made my time here enjoyable. They push me when I need it and are also there to tell me to slow down and take a rest from time to time. I can think of several occasions when they asked me to do something and my response was, 'you want me to do what?? Are you serious?' In each case, the first attempt was a failure, but the second was a success.

Until the next update…

Now, here's the part of the last update that got cut off:

Pool therapy is nice since I only support 15-20% of my own body weight. Because of that, I'm able work on my motor skills and practice walking, standing and even swimming. They gave me a walker which I laughed at because I didn't think I would get one of those until I was 80. Now here I am, 30 years old, barely putzing around with a walker in a swimming pool. I can't wait to progress past that exercise for my mental health. That therapy is really helping with remembering how to walk and stretching too. I was never the most limber guy in the world, and now it's amplified significantly with all the time I've spent in bed.

This update thank you shout out goes to all the visitors I've had over the last two weeks here at Craig. Being in the hospital alone was challenging at first, and luckily, I almost never had to experience that. My hospital team has been amazed by all the new faces they see and meet. We've really pushed the “we welcome visitors” statement to the limit here at Craig, and my nurses and techs laugh at how popular I've been. Who knew I was so popular, surely not me. Apparently, my sarcasm hasn't worn down as many people as I figured it would have. :) Thank you to all who have help made my stay better by sending me gifts, cards, food or have spent time with me here. It's all made a difference.

Unfortunately, with things ramping up the way they are and difficulty in class increasing, I see my day visitors decreasing in the near future. With how difficult classes are, I'm barely able to find any time to talk, and now my visitors spend most of the day just watching me. My classes are also back to back, so there is minimal time to catch up then. You are all still welcome; I just feel bad about what you may get out of your time here with me. Please still reach out, and I can let you know the week of what my schedule will look like and if it's worth it.

My posts may also get a little more sporadic or at a minimum, they'll get shorter with some highlights from my therapy progress. I'll try to keep it up, but with therapy and my meds it's a bit difficult some days.

Love you all! Until next time.

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #15

Meet the Bionic Man.

https://youtu.be/RbmJF5HxxP0

Mariusz Kowalski commented on a blog post:
about 2 years ago
Please help financial and sharing on Facebook www.zrzutka.pl/wyjazd-nie-dla-likwidacji-gimnazjum

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #14

Diagnosis = Brandon to Kick some spinal injury butt!

https://youtu.be/p90zNs02u4I

Brenda Gabel commented on a blog post:
over 2 years ago
Way to go Brandon!!!!! Love ya!!

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #13

This update is from Brandon:

Those 6-7 classes a day I mentioned in my last post have begun! Many of the classes are physical which is taking some getting used to. So far I'm barely able to keep my eyes open come 5 o'clock each day.

https://youtu.be/MVSTJS98gU0

Yesterday I had 7 classes and was supposed to go to an archery activity from 4:30-6:30 at the end of the day. I had to pass because I was so beat from all the classes.

My schedule yesterday was as follows:
9:00-10:00AM FES Bike (a bike where they hook electrodes up to my legs and trigger my muscles at the right time to allow me to ride a bike - my legs were spasming from exhaustion after this class) 10:00-11:00AM Power Up (upper body workout consisting of weight lifting, hand cycles, resistant band workouts - my shirt was soaked after this class) 11:15-12:15PM Pool Therapy (Worked on standing, walking with a walker and swimming by kicking with my legs - a nice therapy to work through the motions since I'm only supporting 15-20% of my own weight in the water) 1:00-2:00PM Spinal Cord Injury Life Styles (a class teaching about different aspects of SCI and educating us about health aspects and incorporating the nuances into daily life) 2:00-3:00PM Combo Physical and Occupational Therapy Class (Worked on more advanced transfers out of my chair and pushed me on becoming more independent in my daily life. This has advanced quickly which is nice but is quickly becoming very difficult and challenging) 3:30-4:00PM Pharmacy Consultation (Learned more about all the meds I'm taking and starting to get quotes on costs and going through what insurance will cover and what I'll have to pay above and beyond for) 4:00-4:30PM Psych Appointment (Sit and talk about what makes Brandon tick...not really. She just wants to make sure I'm not going crazy being in the hospital all the time. All my visitors have made sure I'm not) 4:30-6:30PM Archery (I said no thank you since I was so exhausted from the day)

Oh, forgot to mention the blood work they drew at 5:45AM and the ultrasound I had at 7:00AM. All equals a long day.

Each day is close to this busy with some less and Friday's are always much calmer and weekends off. It's taking a bit to get used to working out this much but I'm trying to give it my all at each class to maximize my rehab while I'm here.

I head an unofficial discharge date from inpatient rehab of Nov 12th which feels extremely early in my opinion. I guess I'll get a chance to discuss that in more detail with my team during my conference on Oct 12th. I also unofficially heard that I'll be eligible to live in an on campus apartment for 4 weeks to continue my outpatient rehab. After that I'll have to find a place to live as I continue my outpatient rehab.

Therapy has progressed well and my motor function is coming back at a good rate considering my type of injury. I can tell my therapists are questioning the type of chair and equipment I would need when I leave because of my rate of progress. Motor function is coming back well but sensation is not. I've heard this will most likely be a 2 year journey to recovery and at that point I would most likely plateau into my normal lifestyle. Again, it's a giant unknown of what my sensation or motor function would be at that point.

Here's a video of my first stand from a mat which was a surprise to myself and my therapist.

https://youtu.be/CQteyb-yBNw

I did a couple other exercises well and she threw it out there if I wanted to try. I said absolutely! I was able to do it twice but we didn't record the second stand because we were so excited about being able to do it at all. My second was slightly better and I was able to tuck my hips a little better and stand a little straighter. It takes an unbelievable amount of brain power to make it happen and I can't really feel my legs working but I can feel my gluteus maximums working to thrust my pelvis out. Another sensation I didn't have a week or so ago.

Here is a link with some more photos of Brandon’s Recovery: https://dpr.box.com/s/rin2hnkgr1ge2kg3ro7wqhnnj1n4g3ky

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #12

This update is from Brandon:

Here's my latest update.

Therapy here at Craig is in full swing and wow is it difficult. I went from a professional desk jockey and weekend warrior to now needing to workout 5 days a week and it's taking some adjusting to say the least.

My therapy classes are limited to 2-3 hour sessions a day now but I'm told I'll get in the range of 6-7 here quickly. Right now the therapists are working on having me transfer myself in and out of my chair to a mat where we can progressively do more and more physical therapy (PT). It's been difficult due to the broken collar bone and my back muscles are extremely tight from compensating for all the other core muscles that decided to take a brief vacation. My doctors are currently trying to combat this with drugs but they're considering an acupuncture therapist that may be able to relax those muscles a little quicker. Having those at full capacity will drastically improve my performance in PT. As it stands right now I'm mostly a big winer that grunts and makes my therapists do all the work. Other than transitioning to and from the chair PT has mostly been stretching and working on core balancing. With my level of injury I've got to learn how to use those core muscles again and I've already seen some improvement in that since my days in the ICU.

I do find it amazing that I was injured a little over two weeks ago and I'm doing what I am doing. My injury is from my 6th thoracic vertebrae, T-6 which is about half way down my shoulder blades. When I had my surgery they fused 6 of my vertebrae together and to access my spine they had to put that hardware nearly 3 inches into my back through all my tissue.

It amazes me that I'm not in worse pain at the incision point or anywhere along my spine. In fact, my broken ribs, punctured lung and 12" long incision have caused me almost no pain. Reno and Craig Hospitals were both advocates of getting me up and active quickly and it's been helping.

Nerve pain is another thing I've learned about and experienced over the last week. As my spine comes out of spinal shock which can last up to 4 weeks, I experience new sensations or pains. Lately I've had the latter of the two. The nerve pain is exactly like an electrical shock and most of the time it comes out of nowhere. And yes, I do know what an electrical shock feels like for comparison, I had a brief incident with an old dryer, some standing water and a 220V circuit when I was 13. It didn't even phase me (no pun intended). Unfortunately the nerve pain does make things challenging and is another thing my team is working to manage with meds at the moment. The Dr's don't get overly excited about the nerve sensations because it doesn't necessarily translate to recovery.

I've learned that no two spinal injuries are alike. I've heard of people having horrific accidents where their spine is extremely injured and they go from being quadriplegics to walking out of craig. I've also heard of people getting small bruises on their spine and they permanently lose 75% of their motor function.

So I'm really not sure where I'll end up on the spectrum of recovery at this point.

I have a conference with all my therapists and doctors on Oct 12th and they should lay out more of a schedule and plan for me at that time.

Another positive update is that I no longer have to wear the brace I was so disappointed about in my last post! My doctor that prescribed the brace had a specialist look at my X-ray and he said I was ok to move without it. Unbelievably happy that got reversed.

I've slowly been trying to call and catch up with everyone. I've had a lot of great conversations and I enjoy talking with all of you. If you're worried about calling me, don't be! If I don't answer right away I will call you back as soon as I can. I'm hoping I can start getting through a single phone call without getting choked up about what everyone has been doing for me. So if I pause on the phone for a brief minute you'll know why.

This update shout out thank you goes to all those people who donated to help support myself and my family through this new journey. I'm absolutely blown away by everyone's generosity and unbelievably grateful for all that you've done. To be honest, I really don't know how to say thank you enough or put into words how appreciative I am. I've had such a wide range of people that I've met over my life that have donated. I hope I get to see you all again and personally thank you for this.

Here's a picture of one of my little wheel chair helpers (my 4yr old nephew). He can't exactly see where he's going but he sure loves pushing me. I'm going to have to run him through a few more training sessions before he gets full control.

Until the next update. Love you all!

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #11

9/25 Update:

As of this afternoon, we have raised our goal of over $30,000 in support for Brandon’s recovery and I know there are other donations yet to come in! When I created this fundraising page I didn’t think we would be able to raise the $30,000 which would have taken 600 people to donate $50 each . Thanks to all of you we have 151 donors with an average of $200 per donation! I’m still in shock at the amazing show of support. I just hope that the money we raised together will alleviate some of the future financial burden and allow Brandon to focus solely on recovery without having to worry about anything else.

I know he appreciates all of the calls, texts, donations and the support everyone has shown him and his family. This act of kindness gives me the added confidence to know that this support community will continue to send words of encouragement, surprise visits, etc. throughout the entire journey to recovery.

Some of you have asked if you could send stuff to Brandon. If you wanted to send anything to Brandon you can send it to him at:

3425 South Clarkson St. 4 West Rm 404
Englewood, CO 80113

Thanks!

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #10

This message is from Brandon:

Well I finally arrived at Craig Hospital yesterday. The flight nurses and crew arrived at about 8AM and loaded me up in my 10 point harness and took me in an ambulance to the air ambulance. Getting loaded into the plane was a little nerve racking because they had to fit me through a very small hatch at the front of the plane. If I wasn't strapped in so tightly I definitely would have fallen out of the gurney. The flight it's self was very smooth and quick. The ambulance rides to and from the airport were the rough parts. It felt like I was laying in the bed of a pickup the entire time.

Craig Hospital is very impressive. I've been almost overwhelmingly swarmed by doctors, nurses and techs to perform various tests, ask questions and start me on physical therapy and occupational therapy (Daily functions like showering and getting dressed. I never realized how many muscles you use when you brush your teeth.). I went through cat scans, more xrays, ultrasounds today and they performed an ASIA exam on me today. The ASIA test will baseline me against all other spinal injuries and they'll be able to use that to develop me rehab strategy. At this point I'm doing well on firing muscles but the feeling just isn't there yet.

I took a slight step back today after they looked at my x-rays. They found another fracture on my C6 vertebrae which can be more serious and now I'm stuck in a horrible neck brace for the next 6 weeks. It may force me to shave because of how this thing sits against my chin. I knew shaving would happen someday I just didn't think it would be under these terms. I'm sure it'll make Angeline happy.

I also don't know what to make of it yet but I've experienced a high volume of leg spasms and my legs feel like they're trying to wake up from falling asleep. It's a nerve pain I could do without but I'm hopeful it's a step in the right direction.

This update shout out goes to my sister and mom. My mom has been by my side since shortly after my surgery and she helped get me through the Craig transportation circus. She's also the one that has helped me do my stretches and sparked the first toe wiggle last week. She's been pushing me to get better and it's been helping.

Torrie has been a great energy to have around and I typically have to reprimand her about making me laugh to hard because it hurts. Anyone that knows my sister knows she's the most positive person you can come in contact with no matter what the situation is. People call me inspiring but I'm really just emulating her. I'm looking forward to my time in Colorado with her and the rest of my fam.

Thank you both for everything you've done and everything you will be doing.

I also can't thank everyone enough for the donations. They have already helped and will continue to help as new things seem to come up every day. I'm still in awe over how everyone reacted to this whole situation. I'll try not to finish all my posts like this but I'm truly grateful for everything everyone has done and feel so fortunate to have you all in my life.

Attached is a photo of the view from my room. I can see the sun come up each morning which I actually like. For those of you that work with me you know I'm not an early bird by any means. My thirst for pain meds has converted me to a morning person and I'm hopeful I can keep that going after I get out of here.

Hope you're all doing well.

Love,

-B

Brenda Gabel commented on a blog post:
over 2 years ago
Love ya Brandon!!!!!

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #9

This morning the nurses woke Brandon up at 8:15 am to get him ready for his transport from Reno over to Denver. In the afternoon they strapped him in the gurney and off he went to Craig hospital. He is now getting situated in his new room which luckily has a window with a view. Brandon will stay at Craig hospital for the next several months where he will begin his intensive rehabilitation process to get him back on his feet again.

I wanted to thank everyone for your support of Brandon’s recovery. Craig hospital is world renowned for its spinal cord injury rehabilitation program and your support helped get Brandon there. A good portion of money raised in this campaign paid for Brandon’s medical air flight to Craig Hospital which was not covered under insurance.

Info on Craig Hospital: https://craighospital.org/programs/spinal-cord-injury-rehabilitation

We’re all rooting for you Brandon!

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #8

This update/message is direct from Brandon:

I'm writing this update from a wheel chair today which feels pretty good actually. It's the most I've sat up since the accident. We used it to take me to physical therapy today which was the most intense session I've had yet. They pushed my toe wiggling skills to the limit and had me try to extend my legs, kick my foot up a bit and work my hips by moving my knees left and right. Apparently I was able to do all of those motions which adds to my hope for a full recovery. Unfortunately I can't feel any of what I'm doing. I compare it best to telekinesis. I concentrate very hard to will them to move and somehow they do.

My surgeon stopped in today to see how I was doing and we told him about the toe wiggle progress. He said with the added sensations I've had and quick recovering mobility that my odds of a full recovery drastically increase. He said initially I was in a single digit recovery percentile and after what he's seen I'm closer to the seventy five percentile range for a full recovery. He did say that the recovery may only be related to some increased mobility but I could still have lingering complications. Soooo, I have a mixed bag of news, some good, some bad. I'm really holding out until I get to Craig before I accept any diagnosis as a reality.

My thank you shout out for this update goes to my favorite person in the whole world, Angeline. She had to leave today to head back to So Cal so she can keep attending classes for her MBA at USC. I can't imagine what this experience has been like for her and she was hands down my favorite nurse over the last week and a half. We've been able to joke together and she's shown me nothing but unconditional love and support. Thank you so much babe for being you and doing all that you have. Also, if anyone is looking to buy a mountain bike I think Angeline is planning to sell one at a very low price.

I have a couple videos attached that I'd like to share.

The first is from Mahoney and the kids at TVT. I want any of the DPR engineers that work with him to know that Mahoney is a big softy no matter what he says to you or what nickname he gives you. The video is evidence of that. This was a great gift.

The other videos are from my rehab. One is of me flexing my leg out a bit and the other is of me attempting a stand up. according to the nurse I was able to do a bit of self supporting with the stand up. I wish I had more videos but turns out Mom hadn't run an iPhone camera before. :) She's a pro now and we'll keep the footage coming as the progress keeps coming.

Thanks again for everything everyone!!

Love,

B

Shawn Mahoney and TVT Kids: https://youtu.be/LGAa_f3P3As
Brandon’s Knee Exercises: https://youtu.be/gE2RZ5kV1aw
Brandon’s Standing Exercises: https://youtu.be/ezNfIijC45k

Brenda Gabel commented on a blog post:
over 2 years ago
That's awesome Brandon!

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #7

9/20 Update:

This morning I woke up to the most amazing text message from Angeline. See for yourself: https://youtu.be/bw9-TE-ZqjM

BRANDON! WE’RE ROOTING FOR YOU! All I can say is that I’m so happy right now!

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #6

9/19 Update:

Due to his stable condition, Brandon was taken off hyperperfusion blood pressure medication and IV yesterday and was moved from the ICU down to the neuro floor where care is less intensive and more about maintenance. I’m happy to say Brandon is now tube free and here in the neuro floor the nurses will monitor and maintain his condition and develop a pain management plan before he can head over to Craig hospital on Wednesday. Here is a picture of Brandon moving from the ICU to the neuro floor. Angeline now gets a cot vs a chair to sleep on as well.

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #5

This update is a message directly from Brandon Risk to everyone that has been supporting him through these tough times. Brandon writes:

I wanted to take the time to send out a personal update for all the great people in my life. The outpour of support for my family and me has been absolutely overwhelming. I've always known that I have great friends, but this incident has really reminded me how incredible you all are.

Yesterday was a big day for us because we pretty much confirmed that I'll be going to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado once I'm done with the ICU here in Reno. Craig is a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital that specializes in spinal injuries like mine. They sent a rep out to interview me yesterday, and at the end of it, I couldn't imagine going anywhere else. The organization focuses on both the physical and mental aspects of rehabilitation and dedicates itself to helping patients re-enter normal life.

Before I can head out to Craig, I need to remain in the ICU on increased blood pressure meds until the end of this week to help foster the hyperperfusion of my spine. The staff here at Renown has been great helping me along with my progress. Meeting them has been a silver lining to my unfortunate situation. It almost reminds me of the DPR family I left behind in SoCal. I know I have a long rehabilitation road ahead of me lasting anywhere from 30 to 120 days not including any outpatient therapy that will follow. Everyone’s continued love and support will surely help that time go by more quickly and get me back to my DPR family that I miss so much. I appreciate the time everyone has taken to reach out to me. I know firsthand how busy each of your schedules must be. The generosity you all have shown is already going to help me with my transport to Craig, which currently doesn’t appear to be covered under insurance. Without the donations I’ve already received, this would be another burden and stress to add to the list. The DPR family is doing all the right things so that Angeline and I only have to focus on recovery and nothing else.

I guess there are a lot of ways to say it, but THANK YOU ALL.

A very special shout out goes to Jiun Chiang. He was the first one to find me injured; he made time critical decisions to get me help, and he and Melissa followed us from Mammoth to Reno to ensure we were safe and taken care of. Jiun also made the difficult initial phone calls to friends and Angeline to break the news of my situation. I know those weren’t easy. On top of all that he and Melissa took the initiative to setup the update and donation website. I’ve always know he was an impressive individual, and this just cements it that much more. I’m so thankful that he is my friend.

There are many more people to thank, and I plan to do so in future updates and personal phone calls. I enjoy the phone and personal time with you all as it really recharges my batteries.

Brandon Risk

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #4

Things have been moving very well for Brandon. The doctors removed the chest and back tubes last night allowing him more freedom to move. His nurse took him outside onto the patio for some fresh air and to enjoy the view. It is looking like Brandon will be in the ICU until about the beginning of next week. The family will be meeting with a representative from a rehab facility today to explore options. Brandon is currently undergoing hyperperfusion to increase blood flow to the spine which helps speed up the healing process.

With the support of everyone, spirits remain high and Brandon is happy to be eating on his own again.

Again, THANK YOU ALL for your continuous support on Brandon’s long journey to recover.

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #3

THANK YOU EVERYONE for all of your love and support it has been huge in helping to keep spirits up. Together we have already raised over 10K in support for Brandon! So many have given what they could even when we all have issues of our own to overcome. We don’t know how to thank everyone enough…

Last night with minimal help from the nurses, Brandon was able to sit upright on his own using mostly his arms and core muscles!! Even though he wasn’t able to feel himself using his core muscles the nurses said that he was. He is back to eating solid food and is slowly regaining his appetite. Angeline and Brandon were able to share a couple slices of pizza last night just like old times.

Again, THANK YOU ALL for your continuous support on Brandon’s long journey to recover.

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Jiun Chiang posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #1

9/14 Update on Brandon Risk

During his routine "Feel" test this morning Brandon was able to feel something on the top of his feet which is GREAT NEWS! The doctors also determined that his neck was stable enough to remove the neck brace. Brandon is still unable to walk but this is a great step forward on his road to recovery.

Thank you again for all of the overwhelming love and support. Brandon and Angeline cherish and appreciate every bit of it. Brandon is a fighter and I know he'll make it through this.

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