If I had to pick one person to represent the success of Sensible Fitness, it would be Jeremy Hedman. Hands down. Nobody else comes close.
Imagine waking up in a hospital of a foreign country, missing an arm, needing a ventilator to breath, unable to communicate, and not remembering anything from recent history. This is only an abbreviated version of injuries to Jeremy who was in a tragic industrial explosion, while working in Brazil for a local company. But from Jeremy’s life changing tragedy, comes a story of triumph and inspiration.
In 2008, Jeremy was admitted into a Brazilian hospital, after an industrial furnace he was working on exploded, traumatically amputating his right arm, crushing his trachea, causing head/brain injuries, sternal fracture, two collapsed lungs, ruptured jugular vein, trauma to his aorta and subclavian arteries, and damage to his spine. Others were killed.
After spending a lengthy term in a Brazilan hospital, he was transported to Cincinnati, where his hospital stay continued. To add insult to injury, it became apparent that Jeremy had suffered a stroke at some point in time, causing catastrophic loss of muscle control throughout his body, which disastrously included his only remaining arm.
Without the use of muscles in his left arm, Jeremy’s independence and quality of life would be minimal. The muscles that straighten his elbow, and the muscles that control his wrist and fingers were non-functional. This means that Jeremy could not perform the simplest of tasks. Imagine not being able to straighten your elbow or to use the muscles in your only remaining hand. You could not reach for and pick up a fork, a toothbrush, or a tissue to blow your nose. You become dependent for everything.
To increase his functional ability, Jeremy underwent a series of surgeries to transfer muscles in his left arm. The biceps, a muscle that bends the elbow, was detached and moved to help assist in straightening the elbow. Other muscles were also moved that gave him minimal control of his wrist. Still more were moved simply to allow him to move his fingers. While these surgeries increased his ability to move his elbow, wrist, and fingers in some directions, it hindered his ability to move in others. Simply put, you cannot rob Peter to pay Paul when it comes to function….something pays the price somewhere. None-the-less, the surgeries were the lesser of two evils.
After post-operative physical and occupational therapy, Jeremy was discharged, while still being severely limited in his ability to perform many of the daily tasks that you and I take for granted. He remained largely dependent on others, and had a diminished quality of life.
This is when Jeremy’s employer, being dedicated to his full recovery and providing all means necessary, brought Jeremy to Sensible Fitness. Knowing of our education and experience, and also that we embrace challenges, hoped that something else could be done to help him.
Jeremy walked through our doors barely able to walk to the bathroom independently, and had the simplest of goals. He wanted to be able to walk through Wal-Mart without getting tired, and he wanted to fasten his own seat belt.
Putting together a plan of attack for Jeremy’s program was not easily done. It took a few sessions to simply figure out which muscles were working and which were not, as his medical records did not agree with the reality of what I was seeing from a functional sense. Jeremy jokingly said that his medical records should simply say, “broken”.
Exercises for Jeremy had to be uniquely designed, because of his compromised functional ability. When muscles that gives your body a certain motion are not working, you have to strengthen accessory muscles and find other means to accomplish the task at hand. More and more exercises were developed as Jeremy’s fiancée (now wife), Amber, shared her thoughts on improving his day-to-day function, as she was witnessing his struggles first hand.
Jeremy had horrendous balance issues from his injuries. He also could not pour his own glass of milk, or even get up from the floor independently. As time went on, Jeremy’s list of goals increased, yet remained simple goals of performing daily tasks. Weeks into his program, Jeremy was gaining more function, as his muscles were getting stronger. As he got stronger, more advanced exercises could be added, that further enhanced his abilities. The goal of fastening his seat belt was reached, and a new goal of being able to drive was established.
Jeremy had no use of his chest muscles, and was unable to completely turn a steering wheel to the right. Again a series of unique exercises were developed, which included turning a 100 pound suspended weight plate that mimicked a steering wheel.
Today, Jeremy is not only fastening his own seat belt, but he is also driving independently. He is getting up from the floor independently (with weights added), and pouring his own glass of milk.
And what about Jeremy’s goal to walk through Wal-Mart without getting tired? To date Jeremy has completed four 5K (3.1 mile) walks, and recently celebrated a belated honeymoon in Yellowstone that included much walking. Amber also says he is not dropping and breaking dishes like he used to, because his grip/arm strength is greatly improved.
Jeremy is in continual total-body pain from the trauma to his central nervous system, and he never speaks a word of it. He will have this pain for life. Even though he is always hurting, Jeremy comes to every personal training session and does everything that we ask of him, without complaint. He is happy to have the ability to perform the exercises we give him.
Jeremy is an amazing man, and has humbled many clients at Sensible Fitness, as the modest ache or pain does not seem worthy of complaint after seeing the challenges he overcomes each and every day. He demonstrates incredible courage and bravery….you know, the stuff movies are made of. I am proud to say he is my most incredible client ever, and my friend.