Gettin' Warmer Doc

Welcome back dear readers, it has been a while and an update is long overdue. When I began this blog back in February I promised the readers and myself that I would be as accurate and descriptive of what life is like for someone in my situation as I could be. I would "tell all" and air my dirty laundry. The good, the bad and the ugly. Many have read and learned, hopefully some of you have laughed, I'm sure a few have cringed, but today my friends I hope you walk away from this one excited.

I love summer in New York. It is beautiful. There is a reason the song says, "I love New York in June..." It's warm. You get outside... you can do stuff. It makes me snicker when my friends who live elsewhere make uniformed, dreamy, pseudo-romantic statements like, "I have never been to New York, I have always wanted to visit! My (husband/wife/lover) wants to visit this year! We think it would be really beautiful around Christmas. We want to see the tree... (sigh)... Maybe ice skate... Shop... See a Broadway show! Then we thought we'd come visit you! Whaddya think?" I think it's a really silly idea. They see these movies, these romantic comedies where everybody is sipping lattes in Central Park or working in some fancy restaurant where they never spill food or at the last minute, before the love of their life marries someone else, before they catch a plane at JFK, they hail a cab and are on the steps of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in five minutes to protest the wedding and proclaim their undying love. No offense, but every New Yorker knows that's Bullsh**t. They see these farces thinking New York City in winter is so romantic! Before you can understand what something is you must define what it is not. So lend me your starry-eyed, touristy ear and I shall explain...

First, there's a reason New Yorkers retire in the south. New York is cold. Really cold. It's surrounded by 45 degree water on three sides and when the wind blows the city streets become wind tunnels of frigid Canadian air born on cold fronts moving down out of the Great Lakes. It is emasculatingly cold. If you don't know what I mean by that, rejoice in your innocence. Second, New York is home to 7 million people. This means their cars, their trains, their taxis, their delivery trucks, their construction machinery and their furnaces are belching out black carbon monoxide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It settles on road surfaces, buildings, windows and roofs. That romantic Christmas snow storm you dream of? In 24 hours it will be piles of black, slushy slop that drips off of roofs and floods intersections with pools of polluted filth that guys like me have to roll through to get anywhere. Yes, it gets on my clothes and hands. Third, JFK is at least 30-35 minutes, when traffic is moving, from Manhattan. It's not five minutes from anywhere. Nothing in New York is five minutes from anywhere, especially if you've never been here before and know nothing about it's transit system. My brother has had to "jump" my chair with me in it from the train to the platform because the conductor forgot we were on board and failed to get us a ramp (which they are required to do by law). Finally, in the north country leaves fall off of trees and grass dies in winter leaving a monochromatic dullness over everything. There's nothing to see! Take it from me, and I say this with a smile... SUMMER.

So yes, I love summer in New York. Why? I like sleeping with the windows open. Working in my garden. Farm stands and trips to the North Fork (google it). Live music and street fairs, outdoor cafes, the smell of barbeque wafting down the street... even the ice cream man with that god-awful musack piped over the loudspeaker as he drives so fast through the neighborhood you can't track him down. When things turn green, yes, I even love the city. Parks with kids playing, going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, finding a great new restaurant. Yes, I definitely love summer. Most of all, I love the beach. I could sit for hours (not by choice mind you). I try to go as often as I can, but not this summer. This summer has been different.

My weekly drive to New Jersey has continued along with the exercises pushing the limits of my strength and endurance, but on top of that we have added at least 2 gym workouts a week. When not at therapy or gym day I have been helping my Mother set up the newly established Caleb Bartlett Foundation, a not-for-profit my family and I have created for raising money for my treatment and therapy as well as paving the way to do the same for others in the future. We hope to build it over time and pay it forward to more people with spinal cord injury. We have also been organizing our fundraiser which is very exciting and I'll talk more about that in a bit.

So far the workouts at Push to Walk have been largely consistent. I am getting better at weight-bearing in the standing machine as my stamina increases and my circulatory system is acclimatizing to my 6-foot frame being vertical again. My trainer has taken to working in a series of core-strengthening exercises while I stand which results in sheer exhaustion and gasping for breath. I am still finishing my workout on the electrical stimulation bicycle. This process has been slow going because I fatigue quickly and my legs can only handle so much, but... I am getting new muscle growth on my hips, gluts, and quads for the first time in 19 years. The only downside is the long drive and not being able go more times a week. Last week we drove all the way there, only to have to turn right around and drive all the way home with no therapy because the external catheter tubing burst and I had to get cleaned up. This not uncommon for men with spinal cord injury. It is frustrating and humiliating, but I don't have time for that crap anymore... I'm focused, and the results far outweigh the obstacles.

I am really enjoying my times at the gym. It is good for me mentally and physically. Ethan and I work out together and he assists me with the weight machines and other workout tools I use. While I'm there I am focusing on weight loss and upper-body strength. I'm using free weights, therapy bands, rubber balls, weight machines and I am pushing the chair without using the power assist. The local community has been so supportive. It's amusing and encouraging when the big, muscled-out trainers get excited about my process and stem cell treatment. They know it ain't easy. I've even been in the local paper... you can read the full article by clicking here.

So far the effects of all of this physical exertion has been better breathing, better circulation, improved digestion, further weight loss, increased strength and stamina, and more. Mentally it's a great outlet and I feel focused and excited. Now, if I could just loose this 15 lbs...

The Caleb Bartlett Foundation is now officially active! We are equipped to receive donations right here on the website via PayPal, or via check. All donations will go directly to helping us with stem cell treatment, therapy and related medical expenses. This is a big leap, but it simplifies things for us and those of you wanting to support us. The fundraising is going very well and we have raised $7,000 of the $25,000 we need!

That's the latest and greatest here at The Stem Cell. Before I go, don't forget our fundraiser "Radio Hour: A Night of Dinner Theater & Jazz" on Sunday, August 11th at the 89 North Music Venue in Patchogue, NY at 6pm is almost here. Purchase your tickets in advance by calling Shelley @ (631) 618-7457. Don't miss it!


  1. I still love New York no matter what you say Cuz, but I agree with you on the winter part, and the drives. When we were there we time budgeted a minimum of an hour to get from any point in Manhattan to any other point in Manhattan. Ridiculous on a tiny island!

    I am so excited about this treatment for you and am proud of the muscle tone you are gaining. It's clear you are working incredibly hard and you are an inspiration!


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