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Journal

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April
7
2021

Countdown to Shepherd Center Discharge!

A quick note to thank everyone who sent Michael such heartfelt notes of encouragement posted here and sent to Shepherd Center. We’ve included images of just a few stacks and shout out to Jessica for the incredible paper flower arrangement, which will be cherished forever!

Michael is eternally grateful for your support and prayers (as well as fabulous collection of pet pictures you posted with your comments).  As mentioned on a previous post, we would announce when Michael is discharged from Shepherd Center...

Tax Day - April 15!

(at least, it was tax day pre-pandemic)

On April 15, Michael will move into a transitional home in Atlanta with one of the greatest (and currently anonymous) human being/caretakers  on planet earth.  If you’ve delayed in sending Michael anything in the post, please pop it in the nail by this weekend to ensure it arrives before discharge. Michael will continue to read the comments you post here on CaringBridge.

We’re wondering - do you have any show or movie recommendations for Michael? He enjoys British humor, history, cars, antiques, and classic pictures.

Thank you kindly xo

Show your love and support for Michael.

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March
20
2021

Michael’s Cooking Class

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send a note of encouragement for our dear Michael. He has read every comment and card with a grateful heart at being blessed by the kindness of strangers. Pat and I both observed and were particularly struck by the strong representation from Australia and New Zealand. Michael, too, enjoys learning from where commenters are writing.


For those who have requested Michael’s current mailing address, it remains the same as in the first CaringBridge post. When it changes, we will be sure to post a notice here.

 

Shepherd Center

Attn:  Michael Kelcourse #411

2020 Peachtree Road NW

Atlanta, Georgia 30309

 

I am pleased to report that Michael’s health continues to improve and his portfolio of adaptive skills expands. Shepherd’s Transition Support Program for spinal cord injury aims to prevent rehospitalization, improves health and safety outcomes, and promotes patient and family autonomy once discharged.  Programs are created and overseen by a team of occupational therapists, among other medical experts. The therapists intervene to aid patients in developing the skills they want and need in order to safely perform and participate fully in everyday occupations.

 

Among the program offerings is a cooking class. During the class, residents learn about adaptive tools and tricks to make cooking easier. For instance, techniques for carefully sliding things over rather than picking them up. Did you know that placing a wet dish towel under a cutting board stabilizes it? 


As the cook in residence, Michael offered to give lessons on how to make delicious, easy meals. The pizza he made in his first class was a hit! Thanks be to God, Michael’s manual dexterity and arm mobility were not significantly compromised by the stroke. I particularly enjoyed Michael’s costume for the day, his signature red apron by William-Sonoma. We had to buy new socks and undershirts, but not an apron. I have to assume it magically manifests wherever Michael may be found. This is surely proof that all is right with the world!

Michael and Co. thank you for your ongoing support on his new journey. 

March
4
2021

Michael Thanks You!

Thank you to Miss Pat and everyone else who reposted a link to Michael’s CaringBridge page.

As Michael’s navigating a new world, we appreciate your understanding of our judicious approach to the substance of journal entries for the time being. We will do our utmost to keep visitors apprised of meaningful developments while keeping Michael’s wishes and best interests at the forefront. 

Michael has and will continue to read every encouraging comment and inspiring tribute. The kindness shown in word, deed, prayer, and sweet pet proxies (!) have had a profound impact on Michael’s journey.  His positive outlook and attitude of gratitude serve as daily inspiration for the wonderful team at Shepherd Center and members of his close knit support system.

“And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1: 5



February
23
2021

Michael's Pet Therapy

Animals are Michael’s great joy and love so he was particularly enthusiastic about the pet therapy program. Shepherd Center is home to 6 Labrador retrievers! Michael sent the attached picture of Galion after their visit. At the time, I didn’t know that Galion was a child star with videos on YouTube. Here’s one where he’s explaining how he helps patients. He sure helped Michael - canibus confidimus 

Pet therapy serves as a bright spot in the day for patients enduring extremely taxing therapy. Not only are the dogs a source of calm comfort, but they also assist patients working on tactile stimulation and other therapies.  Please take a peek at Galion's video to learn more about what Michael will be doing with the dogs.

February
23
2021

You Know Michael the Butler, but much do you know about the man behind the William-Sonoma red apron?

First and foremost, thank you for popping in to check on America’s favorite butler and a dear man.  Many of you know Michael through Bravo Southern Charm. The show paints an accurate portrait of Michael, but does not capture his absolutely wicked sense of humor. Nor would a viewer necessarily know that Michael’s standards are the highest in the house. If only I had a nickel for every time Michael turned up his nose at something Pat and I thought was fabulous. He maintains a high bar and works tirelessly to ensure all who cross his path enjoy the same.  

As Michael's preferred capacity is being in service to Pat, media outlets typically ask questions related to their dynamic.  Pat is a close family friend and any friend of Pat's gets to know Michael rather well.  The more I got to know him on a personal level, the more fascinating his character became.  I pitched an interview to my lovely friend, Andrea at The Glam Pad, and she enthusiastically agreed to an article.  For those of you who’d like to learn a bit more about the man behind the myth, please see, "15 Questions in 15 Minutes with Southern Charm's butler, Michael Kelcourse" : 
https://www.theglampad.com/2018/08/the-inside-scoop-from-patricia-altschuls-butler-michael-kelcourse.html

If you’re more of a picture book person than reader, I present to you two images that communicate the caliber of Michael’s character. The first is an image of a weary traveler who succumbed to the elements on the piazza. Michael fashioned a comfortable and beautiful box, and buried her next to his beloved, Nyla. The second image is of Kitty formerly known as Tequila. When senior Kitty’s guardian died, she was the pound’s bête noir for scratching and hissing like a demon. Kitty was on the schedule to be euthanized. Michael felt bad that she was so terrified and saw the potential to rehabilitate Kitty into a loving companion. A few years later, Kitty became just that. These are but two acts in a lifetime of loving acts that prove Michael is of pure heart.

When an otherwise healthy loved one becomes paraplegic over night, we may not know what to say but we know what to do: be at their side. The pandemic has robbed us of that form of support. Since those dearest to Michael are not permitted to be physically present, we are hoping for a windfall of well-wishes from the public to support a lengthy journey. Michael’s support team recognizes the magic in a stranger’s kindness and healing power in their prayers. 

We hope that you will leave a comment for Michael from time to time. Please let us know who you are, share words of encouragement, advice from your experience. Rest assured, Michael will read each one and be appreciative for every kind word and prayer.

February
22
2021

What is a Spinal Stroke? Why Shepherd Center? Who is CaringBridge Administrator, Luzanne Otte?

What is a Spinal Stroke?

Spinal strokes are very rare, representing under 2% of all strokes.  A spinal stroke occurs within the arteries that supply, or the spinal column itself.  It is caused by arteriosclerosis, a thickening/hardening of arterial walls.  The extent of impairment and likely prognosis depends on the location of the location in the spine, lumbar, thoracic, or cervical.  Michael's infarction occurred in the thoracic spine.  

The Shepherd Center (hereinafter "Shepherd") video attached to this post includes information from assistive technology specialists, therapists, and physicians about the common implications for a stroke of the thoracic spine.

 

Why Shepherd Center?  

Founded in 1975, Shepherd is a private, not-for-profit rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Nation's Top Ten Rehabilitation Hospitals, Shepherd holds the top spot in the Southeast region for spinal cord injury.  

Shepherd draws upon nearly half a century of experience ti inform specialized care and treatment plans,  comprehensive program offerings to maximize independence, access to state-of-the-art technologies and clinical trials, and an incomparable continuum of care from admission throughout a patient's lifetime.  In addition to the objective evidence of capacity for advanced spinal cord injury rehabilitation, past patient surveys demonstrate an encouraging subjective measure of an 99% satisfaction  Shepherd likewise boasts a compelling record of functional outcomes exceeding local/regional/national averages.  

The hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and one of fourteen centers in the nation to be designated by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) as a Spinal Cord Injury Model System. This designation requires national leadership in innovative medical research and specialized clinical care, as well as a proven record of successful outcomes from comprehensive services and supporting a continuum of care.

As Covid prohibits a patient's support network from visiting and Charleston-area hospitals do not offer the specialized rehabilitation treatment needed for his injury, Michael's primary/secondary/tertiary concern was gaining admission to the top program in the Southeast for his particular needs.  By the grace of God, Shepherd had a bed available.  Michael's transfer from Charleston to Atlanta was made with a profoundly grateful heart to Roper St.Francis's quality intensive care team, to friends Drs. Eddie Irions and Billy Maguire for going the extra mile, to Carla/Cathy/Connie/Joan/Whitney for the many ways they helped that week, possibly to me for unintentionally ridiculous deliveries that made him laugh, and mostly to Pat for ensuring he received the best possible care at Shepherd.  

And so, Michael's journey to healing begins.  If you would like to send Michael a note of encouragement on this website or via post, he would be most appreciative.  

Shepherd Center

Attention:  Michael Kelcourse, Room 411

2020 Peachtree Road NW

Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Who is CaringBridge Administrator, Luzanne Otte?  

First and foremost, I created this page with Michael’s blessing and only information that he approves is posted to respect his privacy.  I will assist Michael in crafting his illness narrative when the time comes. 

My formative connection with Michael was through our dear friend, Pat Altschul (image of we three so you have an idea of who’s writing).  I, like all of Pat’s dearest friends, have been a regular and grateful beneficiary of Michael’s kindness and generously of spirit throughout the years.

Over the past couple years, we began to enjoy an exclusively text message relationship that rarely featured any text; rather, videos and pictures of our pets.  At the end of 2020 when my beloved dogs, Samson (13) and Boo Boo (15), died within 3 months of each other, Michael sent me daily messages of cheer.

I was still mourning the loss of my boys when Michael suffered the stroke. Normally, I’d show up at the hospital and provide visual proof that I stand in solidarity. Due to the pandemic, patients’ loved ones need to get creative in determining the most effective demonstration of support. To that end, I knew how I wanted to reciprocate care shown me, but his condition required more. It occurred to me that Michael would draw tremendous inspiration from the fans he loves so much, new CaringBridge as an excellent repository of cheer, and the rest is history!