Jim - This week I am pleased to introduce Carol Heger, our guest blogger for June.
Carol has worked with me at OptiFuse for over 15 years and suffers from Cerebral Palsy (CP).
Despite her physical challenges, she fights each day to remain self-sufficient and a productive member of our community... she continues to be an inspiration to me and others...
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We are all VIPs... that is to say Very Important People...
We all come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and talents. Yet we are all human beings... and this makes us special. This makes us unique. This in and of itself makes us important.
We each possess individual characteristics that identify us as humans. We have thoughts and ideas. We are the only species to understand humor and laugh. We create goals, strive to achieve them and develop our own unique definitions of success.
In addition to being an important person as individuals... we are also a VIP in another capacity... we are all Very Important Partners...
We, as humans, do not live in a vacuum. We are each a part of a community that lives, works, worships, and plays together. There is a symbiotic relationship that binds us together. It is not a zero sum game where if one person wins... another must lose. Rather we are all on the same boat together... a boat that rises and falls with the tide.
My name is Carol. I am 57 years old, single and was born with a spastic form of Cerebral Palsy (CP).
Living with CP presents me with many everyday challenges that are not necessarily experienced by the great majority of people... but this is not to say that others don’t have their own forms of challenges that are placed before them... no matter how bad my trials and tribulations are... there are many more in this world who live each day in far worse situations than I do.
I can’t imagine not having a roof over my head... food on my table... warm clothes... or access to proper health care. I have been afforded the luxury of being born in America where we enjoy security and freedoms unlike those found anywhere else in the world.
This is not to say that my life living with CP has been easy... because it really has not. I contend with constant aches and pains as I care for myself each day. What takes others a few minutes to do might take me an hour.
Four years ago, I found myself on the brink of self-sufficiency and spending the rest of my days in a convalescent hospital as a ward of the state.
It was during this time when I became despondent and depressed knowing that I was close to losing the war I had been waging for over 50 years.
Every so often, when we find ourselves in the pit of despair, an angel comes to visit us unexpectedly.
Such is the case with Dr. Brad Marcus.
Dr. Marcus is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. He specializes in rehab sciences.
For many years, Dr. Marcus has maintained a friendship with a man who has CP but who was unable to walk. It wasn’t that his friend couldn’t walk... because he did have the ability within himself... but unfortunately the friend wasn’t allowed the opportunity to receive the treatment necessary to do so.
It seemed that the insurance companies made the decision that spending money to provide him physical therapy would be wasted, so the decision to deny him the proper treatment and tools was made.
Dr. Marcus wanted to help his friend, but he was not able to while in his current position.
So in 2010, Dr. Marcus opened the VIP Neuro Rehab Center in San Diego.
The center is an outpatient rehabilitation clinic providing services to those suffering from debilitating diseases such as CP, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and strokes as well as those with spinal cord injuries and multiple traumas.
Most importantly, Dr. Marcus decided not to accept medical insurance money so the center is free to provide treatment that patients need not what insurance companies dictate.
The VIP clinic facility has a variety of specially designed rehab equipment (miracle equipment to some of us) along with physical therapists, rehab techs and exercise physiologists that assist with improving and/or restoring lost abilities to many in the disabled world.
VIP Neuro Rehab patients include children, adults, but specialize in treating disabled veterans returning from foreign wars with spinal cord injuries.
Unfortunately, by 2011, I had lost the ability to stand up straight due to my affliction. Barely standing and hunched over my walker, I labored each moment moving from my car to my two part time jobs to church or back to my home...
My doctor gave me approximately four months before I would need to be checked into a convalescent home (most likely for the remainder of my life) because I could barely function and care for myself.
When a person suffers from CP, their spastic muscles are unable to relax on their own. Each day for the past 20 years, I must employ a regimen of stretching that take me several hours to complete. These exercises allow me enough movement for the day ahead.
Weekly therapeutic massages and physical therapy have helped me to maintain my mobility, but as I continue to get older, these treatments no longer were effective to meet my needs.
I tried to remain as active and as mobile as possible, but I was losing the battle...
Four years ago, though a recommendation, I was introduced to Dr. Brad Marcus and VIP Neuro Rehab Center.
After meeting with Dr. Marcus, he recommended that I start getting three 90 - minute sessions a week using a machine called the Lokomat as well as other treatments.
The Lokomat is a computerized treadmill with a harness attachment that forces the legs to walk with proper and correct movement. The movement helps to stretch and strengthen the legs muscles adding flexibility and strength in the core.
In only three months after my treatment began, I could walk again (assisted by my walker) without my legs and torso cramping and spasming.
This allowed me to once again be able to care for myself and the idea of placing me in a convalescent home ceased.
Not only have I been helped by the VIP rehab center, I have also witnessed many other "miracle improvements" experienced by others. These are heart-warming stories of young children suffering with CP and MS, adults with spinal cord injuries, and our servicemen and women who have returned home from war with several physical injuries.
I asked Jim to be a guest blogger this week to offer an appeal to the readers of the OptiFuse Blog to help support me and VIP Neuro Rehab.
As I mentioned above, the center is not supported by insurance and operates as a non-profit entity.
The cost of employing therapists and technicians who work at the clinic along with the acquisition and maintenance of equipment they use (like the Lokomat that continues to help me be self-sufficient) are supplemented through private donations.
Unfortunately there is more need than there are funds and the VIP Center is being forced to make hard decisions when providing care to individuals like myself and many others who need the therapy to live rich and productive lives contributing to our community.
Those of us who utilize the VIP Neuro Rehab center want to be able to work and live independent lives.
It saddens and/or discourages us to be dependent on others or worse, becoming wards of the state.
We deeply desire to be able to contribute to our communities and we want to be able to help others.
We want to keep smiling knowing that we are leading full and enriched lives.
In 2014, VIP Neuro Rehab officially became a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization... in hopes to be able to find sponsors and donations.
Recently, I have begun a campaign to raise money and awareness for VIP Neuro Rehab. My goal is to help raise $15,000 toward this endeavor.
This monumental task is very hard for me for two reasons:
First and foremost, I try as best as I can to remain independent so asking people for any type of help is generally outside of my nature. Writing this appeal has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever needed to do... but I now need help.
Secondly, my personal network mainly consists of people who are suffering from some type of chronic ailment. Many have very few financial resources and live on a small disability check that they receive each month.
It is my sincere hope and desire that you or someone you know can step up and help with this worthwhile cause.
Please use the following link to learn more about how you can contribute to my efforts.
More information about VIP Neuro Rehab, their programs, their facilities and their mission can be found at www.vipneurorehab.com.
Please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or thoughts about me, VIP Neuro Rehab, or any of the treatments available.
I am very thankful for your thoughts, prayers and the opportunity to share my story with you today.
You are truly a Very Important Person in my life...
Thank you for taking the time to read my story...
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Jim Kalb President
Email - email@example.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse