So how's married life, anyways?

Happy Snow Day, friends!

Lately, I’ve been a lot of the same questions over and over again (mostly, because I haven’t been talking about any of them on Social Media at all), so I thought now would be a good time for a little life update around here.

Because I just know you’ve been DYING to know all about my life. Probably just sitting around, twiddling your thumbs, waiting for me to post again…

Just kidding! If you’re reading, thank you. I’m sharing because ya’ll have been in this with me for a long time, and have followed along with all our craziness, and this week I wanted to fill you on how things are going.

Particularly, I’m going to answer the three big questions I keep getting (and rightfully so!):

  • How’s married life?

  • How’s Joe?

  • When are you moving to Colorado?

So let’s dive right in and I’ll spill all the deets.

HOW’S MARRIED LIFE?

Truth is, I wouldn’t really know! We haven’t lived together for more than a week or so at a time since we’ve been married. Granted, we lived together for a long time before we actually got married, so it’s not like I’m waiting for some big marriage secret to be revealed or anything. It was just unfortunate timing that as soon as we got married, Joe went right back into competition mode and I just don’t have much to compare this ‘married life’ to, other than we already felt married before we were actually married.

That said though, it’s been a long winter after a very long 2018…and we’ve still got a ways to go. I suppose the one thing I have learned about being married is that this year we’ve been having a much harder time being apart than we did last year. I can’t explain why it’s harder this year than last year, other than the fact that we are married this year? I suppose that is a pretty big thing… but I do know that I’m just ready to not be apart anymore.

HOW’S JOE?

Two weeks out from Canada, Joe had his follow up doctor appointment for his shoulder. We weren’t really sure what they were going to say. They were either going to say yes, you’re good to go, or no you’re not and you need more time. We were definitely mentally prepared for the latter (getting told no) and we had decided before that that Joe would be competing no matter what.

And before you make judgment on him competing regardless of his injury (unless you know Joe, in which case you wouldn’t be surprised at all), here’s why: Joe really had 3 options at that point: 1. he doesn’t compete at all and he essentially forfeits the rest of the season as you have to have a certain amount of points to qualify to compete in the remaining competitions this season. 2. He competes and falls and hurts himself again, and he’s out for the season anyways. 3. He competes, he doesn’t fall or hurt his shoulder, and he can move on!

Well, obviously, it didn’t matter because the doc gave the okay for him to compete, and he totally KILLED IT in Canada (see below…).

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Joe raced Boarder Cross in two World Cups, and got 5th in the first one and 6th in the second, which are his best finishes in Boarder Cross races to date! This also means that he got a good amount of points for those placements, and he is now ranked NINTH in the entire world for Adaptive Lower Limb 2 Category in Boarder Cross, which is just crazy incredible! AND this was after less than 2 weeks of training coming off his shoulder injury.

Just in case you were wondering about the ‘Lower Limb 2 Category,’ I’ll explain real quick. In the Paralympic World, they have 3 separate categories for men and for women: Upper Limb, Lower Limb 1, and Lower Limb 2. Upper Limb is missing or having an impairment in one or both arms. Lower Limb 1 is missing two joints in your legs, so either both feet or an above the knee amputee (missing one foot joint and one knee joint on one leg). Lower Limb 2 is missing one joint or having another type of impairment such as a club foot, cerebral palsy or MS, etc. No matter what the category they are, these ladies & gents are one word: BADASS. They ride and they rip and they shred it up. I’m completely in awe of all of them and find them to be the most inspiring community of people from all over the world I’ve ever met. Especially when we get to hang out after the competition is over and everyone is so down to earth and fun to be around. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know this amazing community and feel lucky to be a small part of it.

That all said, Joe is amazing! And he qualified for the upcoming races in Spain, and that will hopefully be followed by Finland and Sweden. He leaves next week for 10 days in La Molina & Barcelona, Spain. No, unfortunately, I don’t get to go this time. But we’re hopeful that next year I’ll be able to join a few more places in his travels! I’ll just keep living vicariously through him and keep rooting for him from home!

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COLORADO UPDATE

So…Colorado. The BIGGEST of all the questions- when exactly am I moving?! I know, I know. I made this big exciting announcement last year, then I got married, and now, here I am, six months later still sitting around in Fredericksburg. Will she ever leave?

Yes! I am leaving! I swear. I’m getting there as fast as I can, and sometimes that doesn’t feel fast enough.

Joe has an apartment with his roommate/teammate, Dustin (a fellow below the knee amputee) and his sweet malamute/wolf dog, Allie, until April 15th. It’s a two bedroom apartment, so it’s not super big, and between three adults and two large dogs, it would be a lot if I headed out there right now. That said, between that and still tying up a lot of work items around Fredericksburg, it doesn’t make sense for me to move out there until we can get our own place, which will hopefully be in April or May. We’ve been told that the best rental months are May/June, but obviously we’d love to find something a little bit earlier than later for sure. A lot of factors go into finding a place to live: location, space, (and the biggest one) price. So fingers crossed we find something that works for us! Especially for our littlest Grohly Poly Oly. He is going to love it there!

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Am I ready to move out there? Absolutely. I’ve never been more ready for anything in my life…well, maybe my wedding :). I love my in-laws, and they’ve been amazing to live with, I couldn’t have made it through this winter without them. But they’re not Joe, and it’s not our little family or our own space. There’s just a difference, ya know? We are beyond ready to be past this transition phase and into our new home out in Colorado as a family.

And as my dear friend Amy Sides (she’s on the left in the photo) asked, ‘When you are coming home?’ And that’s exactly how I am starting to feel, like i’m ready to go home.

The Last of the Last Adventures Life Update

Well, I know that Wednesday is supposed to be 'Wedding Wednesday' and I promise to keep more with that in the future, but I can't talk about our wedding plans without updating our story. 

If you've been around on the blog for a while, you'll know the term 'Last Adventures.' If not, I'll catch you up a bit. Long story short, my fiance (eek! still crazy to say!) had his left foot amputated due to a rare joint disease. To keep our friends and family updated, we started a Facebook Page to keep them updated on not just his progress and surgery, but also a bucket list we created of things to do with his left foot before his amputation. We called it the 'Last Adventures of Joe's Left Foot.' Hence, the term, 'Last Adventures' is my blog category for all of the different parts of the story. Well, Joe's story went viral and was featured all over the world on different news avenues (see what I mean here) and it's been a really amazing opportunity for him. Not to mention, some really cool documentation on it.  

In case you want to get the full story, check out this video made by our church, Lifepoint. 

At first, I tried to keep up with everything on the blog. But to be honest, I kind of stopped talking about it because it all became so natural. It's just a part of our daily lives, and it's second nature to us now that we don't really even think twice about it. So now it's been over a year since my last, real update. 

Well, this summer has been three years since Joe's amputation, and to say he's doing great would be an understatement. While the first two years were a little rough with his additional surgeries, he is now pain free and running, playing rugby, snowboarding, wake boarding, everything you can imagine. Looking back at past blogs, we have come such a long way. It hasn't always been easy, but it's definitely been worth it. 

Our big news is that this coming 2017-2018 Winter, Joe is making a run for the 2018 Paralympics in Snowboarding! Crazy, right? He's always had a passion for snowboarding and and he's amazing at it, and that hasn't changed at all since his amputation.

This past winter, Joe had the chance to ride with an Adaptive Snowboard Team in Copper Mountain, Colorado. While there, the manager and trainer told Joe that he was at the Paralympic level and invited him to join the team.

Well, he's going for it! And I couldn't be prouder.

Joe will be moving out to Copper Mountain, Colorado for the winter season to train (Don't worry! I'm staying in Fredericksburg!) and will be traveling all over the world over the next few months competing in World Cups. The ultimate goal is to qualify for the Paralympics in March in South Korea.

So from here, we are asking for your prayers, support, and encouragement for Joe (and myself!) as we start on this amazing, yet somewhat scary adventure. We are so excited but it is going to be a crazy few months!

We'd love to have ya'll follow along on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rightfootedjoe/ as he will be posting to keep everyone up to date. 

Joe started a RallyMe page as well to help raise funds for this adventure. Please don't take sharing the link the wrong way, we don't expect anything, but I wanted to include it in case anyone felt led to help support his dream: https://ussa.rallyme.com/rallies/8033/rightfootedjoe

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your continued support over the past few years. We wouldn't be here without it. It means so much to us. We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to be excited about, (especially the wedding!) and can't wait to see where life takes us! 


Missed some of the earlier blogs?

We got you covered! Get caught up with these other posts about our adventures:

Where Do I Begin?  |  How We Got Through This  |  Snowboarding

Medical Jargon   |  Publicity  |  It's Over (Chicago Surgery)

Lieutenant Dan! You Got New Legs!  

Or View it all with the Last Adventures Category.

 

Last Adventures Update

Remember how I said I was overwhelmed? Well, today I've decided to go into a bit more as to why. There's a lot going on personally for Joe and I that we haven't been sharing because we haven't had any specifics. But I think now is a good time as it's fresh on my mind.

This past weekend was amazing! We had such a great time with Sean and Aaron. Sean showed us some his amazing city, we enjoyed a Cubs Bar, lots and lots (too many) of gluten free treats, saw a lot of sites and even did a river cruise. Chicago is a great city. Unfortunately, the visit ended up a bit more than just visiting my brother. It was also to see a surgeon at Northwestern for Joe's leg...and schedule another surgery.

Yup, that's right. Another surgery. We didn't want to share or talk about it until we knew for sure because the truth is, we didn't want to believe it ourselves. I'm not to trying to play the 'woe is me' card here, but haven't we been through enough this year??

Since the last nerve surgery, Joe's nerve pain hasn't truly gone away. It's not to say the last surgery was a failure, as it removed the neuroma and tied up a few nerves, but the issue is that Joe really is a super human in that his nerves are SO healthy that they grow back faster than most peoples and have more sensitivity, especially when the sensory nerves don't have anywhere to go.

The new surgery we are looking at is targeted muscle reinnervation which is "a series of nerve transfers that permits intuitive control of limb prostheses." As stated by the article written at Northwestern. In this case, instead of burying the sensory nerves in a muscle giving them no end point, they will be tied to motor nerves that he no longer uses since he doesn't have a foot. This gives the sensory nerves at targeted end point in the brain's eyes and causes much less pain. (That is a really short, abridged version. Click on that link for more info or medical jargon that I cannot speak).

There is a great success rate, but also risks as there are with any surgery. However, we really liked the doctor and he spoke well of the surgery and his successes. There are no other alternative surgeries out there, so this is kind of our only hope at this point.

While we are hopeful, I would be lying if I said I wasn't scare. Our last experience at Georgetown was terrible. Everything took twice as long as we expected: the surgery, time in the recovery room, recovery after the surgery. All in all, it was a nightmare. And it was so much harder than we expected. Luckily, we moved from a 3 story house with 2 roommates (try crutching up and down that!) to a 1 story house just us and the pup. Joe will be much more comfortable on a 1 story house and with a bit more privacy. And the pup is such a blessing to us. He totally helps our moods and brightens our lives that we are excited to have him around this time. We are going to try to train  and certify him as an emotional support/therapy dog so he can help Joe through this and travel with us. 

It's been a rough couple of months between keeping up with work, moving, and figuring out Joe's stuff. It seems like everything is coming together now and everything has to be done now. We got back last night, and I opened my email and almost had a panic attack because I was so overwhelmed with the things I had to get done. Thankfully, Joe surprised me with my favorite food (a baked potato) and Grohl who he picked up early. Despite everything that goes on around us, he is continually my rock. His support, love and shoulder to cry on is what get's me through the day. And no matter what life throws at us, we will come out stronger and better.

In December, we'll be spending about a week or so in Chicago for the surgery. I'll still be working from there during that time, as work helps keep me sane. If you are in Chicago and have some time, I'd love to see you! 

We have lots to figure out between now and then, but I'm confident we can do it, especially with the help of Joe's amazing family. Bob & Lisa do more for us than I could ever thank them for. Without them, we wouldn't have the options or expertise that we have and the future would not look as bright as it does. 

We definitely need your support and prayers through this. We've gotten through so many things already this year and it's all because of your support and prayers. I'm going to continue to use this blog to keep you updated on the progress. It's been really helpful to me, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate each and every reader. Ya'll are amazing. Thanks for reading and being there every step of the way. I know we can through this! 

xoxo

Publicity

This time last year, Joey's story went viral on Reddit. Joe had gone to the movies one night and by the time he got home, he had become the number one post on the Reddit feed due to his crazy story (the most memorable part being his 'Please Cut Here' tattoo).  And before we knew it, Joe was doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) and had thousands of questions and comments that he had a hard time keeping up with.

That publicity is the reason we have ended up sharing so much of his story (it was never planned like that) and it was both the best and worst thing that could have happened. While we are so thankful, we've definitely learned a lot about how publicity is not all it's cracked up to be.


The pressure's on. 

One of the biggest side effects of the publicity was the pressure. Not even the pressure of  any one person in particular put on Joe, but the pressure of ALL of it. All eyes were on Joey. Not only to succeed, but to exceed all expectations. And more importantly, to not fail. A lot of what was posted at the time on his Facebook page was the triumphs that he made, not all the set-backs or the hard times that we went through. 

Over time and through this blog, we've learned to open up more about some of those set backs but there is still a lot that Joe and I keep between us. While in my eyes, Joe is a superhero (I mean, come on, he has a bionic leg!), I still find myself reminding him to cut himself a little slack. And I think that's a good lesson for all of us. We are all SO hard on ourselves, that we don't give ourselves any grace to not do as well as we wanted or to take a step back to be more aware of what we really need rather than 'succeeding.' And what does 'succeeding' truly meant to us? We are constantly learning in this life and no one is perfect. We should all cut ourselves a little slack. 

There's no privacy. 

After Joe's surgery, it was such a personal time for Joe, myself and his family, both physically and emotionally. There's a lot of emotions that we go through, even now, and it's physically demanding to heal after surgery and literally get back up on your 'feet.' It was really hard at first to be dealing with all of that emotionally, and then to have to share it with the world. I'll admit, at first I had a really hard time sharing any of this within Reddit or within this blog; it was very unnatural for me.

Be careful what you post on Facebook.

Going viral is also a VERY true testament of why you HAVE to be careful about what you put on Facebook. There were only a few photos posted within Joe's Reddit post. A majority of the images used by news stations, websites, search engines and more were photos from our personal Facebook pages that we never gave consent to use. While most of those images were fine to use and we truly didn't mind, it was a huge eye opener to us that whatever we post on Facebook is open to the public to use.

People can be really mean. 

People who don't know you or know enough about the situation are quick to judge and make rude comments. It was so hard not to take them personally. It has definitely changed my view and opinion of items you see online. The truth is, we don't always know the whole story, so who are we to judge anyone else for their actions or decisions? It's not our place. 

Don't trust what you read online.

Half of the information out there is wrong. Some sites thought his name was 'Jake,' some got our ages wrong, some thought that I was Kaley or that Kaley was Joe's girlfriend and not his sister. No one called us to fact check or verify anything. They just used what they thought and went from there. 

We reached so many more people than we could have imagined.

Joe was able to get in touch (and even meet) so many people who were going through similar things. We heard from tons of people who had the same rare joint disease as Joe or were looking at the possibility of amputation due to a different condition. Joe has mentored and helped so many people and he's so amazing at it. It's been really awesome seeing him bring a more positive light to amputation and prosthetics.

This would never have happened if it weren't for the story going viral, and it's these stories that make all the pressure and invasion of privacy worth it. 

UNYQ is amazing.

UNYQ is a crazy cool company in San Francisco that makes custom covers for prosthetics. Joe mentioned wanting one in one of his answers on Reddit and the company made it happen by start a crowd funder to help Joe raise money for it. Joe's super excited to get it now that he has his first permanent leg back since the surgery. 

We were on Buzzfeed.

Ok, so being on Buzzfeed was pretty cool and very surreal (I'm a HUGE Buzzfeed fan). They actually captured the essence of our journey the best and had the most correct facts (many places got a LOT of information wrong). I mean, it's Buzzfeed!


All in all, the publicity was a part of our journey and has become a part of our continual healing process. It isn't always easy; there are still moments where we wish there weren't so many people watching, but overall it's provided amazing opportunities and introduced to so many amazing people; and for that, we wouldn't change it for the world. 

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Source: http://www.people.com/article/joseph-pleba...