Featured Story: David

Today’s story comes from David, an adult in our Rehabilitation Services. We are proud to serve both children and adults in all of our programs. We encourage you to read through the story and then consider making a gift to Forward Stride!

I guess my story begins in the spring of 2007. While playing with my dog, Siva, I caught my toe on a step, fell on my left side and broke my ribs. A couple of months later, again while playing catch with Siva, my left ankle gave out and I fell. I had to crawl to the fence and use it to stand up and hobble back home. I didn’t think too much about these two episodes, just that I was getting older and not staying in shape.

But, in the spring of 2008, I was unable to keep flip flops on my left foot because I couldn’t hold them with my toes. I went to my chiropractor and we both were very surprised when he found I was unable to lift my toes because he thought I may have peroneal nerve damage in my left calf and foot. He said I need testing and sent me to a neurologist.

As I prepared to see the neurologist, I thought that my ‘self diagnosis’ of these symptoms were the result of a pinched sciatic nerve that had been an ongoing problem for several years. After all, as an Electroneurodiagnostic Technologist with 35 years experience, and who performed the procedures which help neurologist diagnosis symptoms such as mine, I was confident the exam results would be negative. But the neurologist thought the EMG proved I had ALS!!! My wife Heidi and I where in a complete fog as we faced a future with a diagnosis where life expectancy is 3 to 5 years. No tears, I’m still here!

About six months later, Christmas of ‘08, we received a reprieve: after having a muscle biopsy on my left calf it revealed that I did not have ALS. Yea! Instead I have a rare type of Muscular Dystrophy that occurs in your mid -50s. My wife Heidi and I actually celebrated when we learned I have Muscular Dystrophy because MD doesn’t outright kill you in a few short years. We thought it was a great Christmas gift for 2008.

At first the symptoms were mild. l wasn’t very weak and could still move normally except for those stupid flip flops. But slowly the disease has progressed where first I used one cane then two, then a rollator, and now a power wheelchair. I went to many neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and it helped somewhat. I was becoming so depressed I didn’t want to go anywhere and just stay home.

One day Heidi came home, excited that she saw a sign for Forward Stride, and said we should go check it out. Heidi was a volunteer at a similar place in California so she had first-hand knowledge of the benefits of riding for folks with disabilities. We called and spoke with Sheila and I’ve been going ever since for the past 2 years. It does wonders for me! I’m tired after riding but I feel so much better. Everything I do is easier because my muscles loosen up. I’m stronger over-all, especially my core muscles, which helps me sit up straighter and just enjoy life better! The whole experience at Forward Stride is excellent. I feel at ease and safe with their procedures and I have a lot of fun!

We love being able to serve clients like David in our Rehabilitation Services. It truly takes a team, and the horse is an integral member of that team. Bjorn has been David’s steady mount for quite a while, helping him to get stronger. But Bjorn is only able to help David because he is in good health! One way we keep him healthy is through annual dental check-ups, costing $275 every year. A donation of $275 could cover this cost, helping us keep our herd healthy and able to serve our amazing clients!