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 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:

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.


The surgery is over!

Well, the surgery is over. We're back at the apt we rented in Chicago and we are trying to relax, even though we are in a strange place and we'd rather be back in Virginia in the comfort of our own home. Judge all you want, but I am listening to Christmas music today and I'm loving it. It's comforting and makes me feel not so far from home.

Thursday was a long day. It's easy to be strong through most of this process. Although it's not an ideal situation, life isn't always ideal, and we learn to make the most of what we are given. The time leading up to the surgery is just time; you can't let an impending surgery ruin your plans or your life. So you live, and you prep all you can but its never truly 'real' until you get to the hospital and before you know it, you're saying I love you and good bye for the last time before they take him back.

And all of a sudden, it hits you. You are no longer in control. You put the person you love most into the hands of a surgeon and nurses and anesthesiologist...and most importantly, into the hands of God. And that time between when he goes back to the operating room until you hear from the doctor are the most heart wrenching, helpless, anxiety filled hours of your life. There's absolutely nothing you can do.

And over 5 hours later, when I finally saw Joe, that he was in one piece, breathing,'s like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I'm just so glad it's over; that the recovery process can begin and we can hopefully start a new, painless chapter of our lives. 

The doctor said they ended up fusing 4 nerves instead of 3 (which is the first time they've ever done that) and it took a bit longer than expected because Joe's nerves were twice the size of normal nerves and the biggest the Doctor has ever seen (click here for a recap of what Joe's surgery was). 

Joe and I have had a good weekend of lots of rest, TV and laughter. He truly is my best friend and no matter what happens, as long as we're together we are happy. He is mostly resting comfortably, although he does have bouts of phantom pain, which the doctor said is normal and is going to get worse before it gets better. 

His spirits are really great- he amazes me every day. He's still the goof we all know, and hasn't lost any of his sense of humor. At least this time he didn't scare a nurse into near tears on her first day...

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and thoughts throughout all of this; we truly could not have done it without you. As hard as it was sitting in that waiting room on Thursday, I knew there were tons of people all over thinking about us and praying for us and I could feel it, and it helped me through. Thank you again! I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us from here!

This is what happens when you slept on a cot all night and the doctors wake you up every 3 hours to take vitals: you fall asleep in the afternoon watching Rick & Morty and your boyfriend's mom takes pictures of you. 

This is what happens when you slept on a cot all night and the doctors wake you up every 3 hours to take vitals: you fall asleep in the afternoon watching Rick & Morty and your boyfriend's mom takes pictures of you. 

Reunited with the best pup in the whole world!

Reunited with the best pup in the whole world!

My goofballs

My goofballs

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!