9/30 - Jamie is driving; New hand prosthetic company; ACL; Jamie's Birthday!

I can’t believe that its almost October. So much to do in the coming months.

First, we’re planning two benefits for Jamie in the next few months. The first one will be on November 7th at Liar’s Den, on McKinney Ave in Dallas. It’ll be during the day and a more casual affair than the one in February in Austin. Think kegs of beer, some fun music and general carousing. There will be a silent auction, beer pong/flip cup… all-in-all, it’ll be a wonderful time. $20 suggested donation, but I’ll have more instructions on the buy-ins for the competition in the near future. The other, bigger event (more of a gala) will be on February 27th at St. Michael’s in Austin. Think emcee, sport coats and good food.

So, onto the updates you’re looking for... but before that, a magic trick from Jamie:

... Nice...

1) Jamie’s back on the road! Bob, Jamie’s OT, got her back into a car for the first time since November 2008. Jamie and Bob drove from St. David’s to our old house on 48 1/2 street to the Hancock Center parking lot, and back to our current house in Austin. For those of you not familiar with Austin, that’s about 2 miles, total. She drove using hand pedals/brakes that are located next to the steering wheel. According to Bob, it wasn’t too hard for her to drive. This was a week or so ago, and Jamie hasn’t driven since, but it’s good to know that Jamie can still drive well… or as well as she could drive before… which really wasn’t that well, but you get the point. We’ve been discussing what kind of car to get Jamie when she’s fully able to drive again. Something economical, with good trunk space for the assistive technology she’ll be reliant on. I’m not good with cars or else I would start listing… I remember that the Honda Element was one of the cars discussed, but that’s about all I can think of for now. Here's a video (with bad sound) of everyone talking about Jamie driving... Sake is there too:

2) One of the biggest developments in the last few weeks is our new relationship with Advanced Arm Dynamics. We were introduced to Advanced Arm Dynamics (AAD) through one of our new doctors, Dr. Sharma. Dr. Sharma is a hand doctor, like Dr. Boutros. (Interesting note, Dr. Sharma was partnered with the plastic surgeon who, on December 6, recommended that we amputate Jamie’s arms at the wrist and her legs above or at the knee… he isn’t partnered with that doctor anymore). Dr. Sharma is wonderful and is happy with the work performed by Dr. Boutros. He isn’t planning on too many more surgical procedures on Jamie, if any, in the future. OK, there will be some, but nothing too extensive. Also, we’re glad to be with him because he is so close and has this good relationship with AAD. So, I missed all of the early appointments with Dr. Sharma, so I can’t tell you too much about what went on there, but at one of those meetings, he recommended that we look at AAD… then he set up a meeting with one of AAD’s reps, who was driving down from Dallas. Well, we were BLOWN AWAY by the things we were shown by Bernie, the rep for AAD. Bernie, as you can tell in the videos, is an amputee; he became an amputee after being a victim of a random drive-by shooting. His hand was messed up badly… he showed us pictures of it. Here's some video from that meeting:

As you’ll see on the video, the technology that AAD is developing is amazing. AAD is the only company in the country (world?) that works exclusively on upper extremity prosthetics , and they have the results to prove it. The demo model that he showed to me, mom, Jamie and two other amputees that were in the same meeting is representative of the kind of prosthetic Jamie will be outfitted with. The prosthetic will consist of a glove or a socket that Jamie’s hand will fit into. On the inside of the glove will be electronic sensors. These sensors will sense when Jamie’s arm/hand muscles move and will move individual fingers according to those motions. There are two sensors per finger – one contracts the finger, the other releases it. It is pretty damn amazing. Because Jamie’s hands aren’t uniformly shaped, there may be some fingers that this doesn’t apply to (Note: last Monday, at the AAD mothership in Irving, they told Jamie exactly that. So, on some of her fingers, she will have the sensors/individual fingers and then, on the fingers were there is less available bone, there is an extremely new technology that is in place that would require some pins to be inserted where the finger would be, and then a prosthetic is put on that finger, and then you rely on electronic sensors to move the finger… as you can see, I barely know what is going on with this yet,… but I will…. Sometime soon. (Btw, that picture is from Jamie's PTOT session following our meeting with Bernie.... he came to St. David's and talked with Bob and Kerry about what they could offer for Jamie. Getting advice from our trainers has proven invaluable, because they know the right questions to ask and they can tell help nudge us in the right direction).

3) On Saturday, we will all be going to Austin City Limits (along with the rest of civilized society, apparently), but we’ll be going in style! (for a few reasons) First, Aaron Behrens, the lead singer in Ghostland Observatory that came to visit Jamie in the hospital at St. Davids, offered to give Jamie the same side-stage treatment that we received in July at the New Braunsfels show. Aaron and Thomas, the other member of the band who also visited, have been so great to Jamie… really, some of the best moments we have had following Jamie’s illness have been brought by these two guys (and by Cater and Becky, who really connected us with the Ghostland boys). So, we’ll also be cruising in style because Jamie will be driving a scooter that was originally gifted to us by Tommie Leon, a friend of Jamie’s from high school. That will be pretty cool. Also joining us backstage will be Roni, because she was given all-access passes because the group behind ACL selected Roni’s T-Shrit design as one of the official ACL shirts this year!!! Very exciting news, and very cool that she got backstage passes for her work. Good job Roni!

4) It is Jamie’s 21st birthday on Sunday! We are so grateful that Jamie is still around to celebrate this landmark occasion. It was almost a year ago that we very nearly lost her. Things could have been much worse for her and for us, so considering all of the things that didn’t happen to Jamie, I’m very happy. We love her so much and she continues to make such amazing progress. :)

Finally, we had a great weekend in Dallas to celebrate Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement) with the family. It was Jamie’s first road trip since she, Michelle and I drove from Houston to Austin in May. It was great to see everyone. Jamie visited Shelton, her old school, and some of her old friends, including the Applebaums. There were some people that Jamie wasn’t able to visit (Prescott’s, we’re looking at you!) but Jamie is planning on several more trips in the near future, with Halloween looking to be the next trip. Thanks for all of your support and we’ll talk to you soon!