A day I think about a lot is a day I don't actually remember.
There's a picture of that day somewhere. It's a picture of you, holding me. In the NICU, after I was born.
Entering the world at 3 pounds, you guys appropriately nicknamed me Pea Pod.
I can easily say that you and Mom have given me the best life possible. It's hard to know exactly where I should start with this.
I guess the simplest place to start is to say you're easily one of my most favorite people to walk this earth.
You're one of my best friends. And that's something I'll always cherish.
I love how you know exactly how to make me laugh. In any moment.
Laughing with you is one of my most favorite things to do in the world.
I love that you support my passions with everything in you.
I love that in your actions and your own life, you've shown me how to have passion for the things I love.
I love that even in your biggest downfalls, you turn them into ways to show me how to have strength.
I remember vividly, holding onto your pinky tight, trying not to let go as they rolled my hospital bed away to the OR one surgery. Because you were and are my biggest protector, and in that moment, I was rolling into the crazy unknown. I love that you protect me, but also don't let me shy away from everything that scares me.
I love that you've shown me how to love.
The way you love Mom is something I'm so grateful for, the way you fearlessly lead our family is something that comforts me and the way you've overcome so much more than most people know, amazes me.
I admire your faith. Knowing where you came from, it amazes me daily.
You are strong. You love with a passion that's crazy big. You are the best Dad I could ask for.
A day I think about a lot is a day I don't actually remember.
I think about the day I was born and how yours and Mom's world was rocked.
9 weeks premature, headed into to brain surgery almost immediately, I can imagine that's not what you dream about when you dream about having a kid.
I think about the "what ifs" a lot. You know, how my life and our family's life would be different if that day happened differently.
In ways, I'd change it. There's not a day that goes by where I'm not longing to be kicking a soccer ball or throwing a baseball with you in the front yard, and not falling every five seconds.
But in other ways, I wouldn't touch that day.
Because of all of it, our family is extremely close.
Because of all that we've faced, you and Mom have taught me how to draw strength from anything. And to do with a smile.
Happy Fathers' Day, Dad.
No matter where life takes me, know that you'll always be my favorite person to laugh with, one of the people I'm most thankful for and a huge reason why I do what I do and why I am where I am.
I love you, Old Man.
Little E over and out.
A few years ago, I had never even heard of Wilmington, Delaware.
But now, I wholeheartedly feel like a part of me will forever be there.
In 2014 I was burnt out, scared and losing hope that my situation was ever going to change. To say that I was sick of doctors’ appointments is an understatement.
But then one doctor in Orlando said something I hadn’t heard before from any other doctor:
“I’m not your guy. But I will find you your guy.”
And he did. Soon enough, Delaware was on my radar.
All I remember is walking through those duPont doors and feeling an overwhelming sense of peace. And when I shook Dr. Miller’s hand, I felt an instant trust.
He was the right guy.
In 2014, my world flip upside down. But for the first time in a long time, it flipped in a good way.
To Dr. Miller:
The gratitude I have for you and what you have done for me is immense. I really can’t put it into words.
When I first met you, I was scared like you wouldn’t believe. Orthopedics had failed me in major ways and I didn’t think I would be able to trust it again.
But you changed my view. You looked at me and studied my gait functionally, not structurally. You explained things in ways I understood. You smiled at me, showed me you really cared and made me feel like for the first time in years, I was going to be okay. Your confidence made me feel like relief was just around the corner.
My initial impression was right and still stands. Almost immediately after that first surgery with you in 2014, I knew I had found something special in you and in Nemours.
To put it simply, you changed my life. You handed me that pair of crutches and helped me see a future for my life that I had never thought possible.
When we decided to come back to you this summer to do the osteotomy, the surgery that had failed me previously, I was scared but strangely okay.
Because I knew in my core that you weren’t going to let anything bad happen.
You were going to give me all you had and do your best to fix my pretty crooked leg.
I’m 3 weeks post-op and in a lot of ways, I already feel better than I did before surgery.
Dr. Miller, thank you. Really. You absolutely turned my life around, not once but twice. Freshman year of college was super hard because of my physical pain. But I kept trucking because I knew we were heading your way this summer.
As I think you are for a lot of kids, you were the light at the end of the tunnel for me. What you do is incredible. And you will forever be one of my most favorite people on Earth.
To Nemours – all the nurses, therapists and rehab doctors:
I’ve been in my fair share of healthcare systems.
Nemours, you are at the top of my list.
The care I have received with you all is unmatched.
To all the nurses, you rock. Never before had I stayed in a hospital where every single nurse was always smiling. You would come in, take care of me and often stick around to talk for a while. There were so many of you, so if I named all of you that impacted my stay, I’d be here forever.
Just know you all are the best and you made my healing process a lot smoother.
To the therapists and the rehab team:
I honestly don’t know where to start.
When I checked in for inpatient rehab, I didn’t know what to expect and was pretty nervous.
But you guys have created an environment in that gym that brought me so much comfort and hope.
Thank you for pushing me to be my best and believing in me. Your confidence in me threw open doors for me. You all are a main reason I bounced back from this so fast.
The foundation I have on my recovery is because of you guys, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The work we did was tough. But that gym was a fun, happy and healthy place to be. I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to you guys.
You changed the way I look at therapy in the hospital and I will miss you guys.
To everyone at Nemours – Dr. Miller, the nurses, therapists and rehab doctors:
You guys have created an environment that was hard to leave. I left with a lump in my throat because I felt like I was saying goodbye to a bunch of new friends I had made.
I will forever love Wilmington, Delaware and will forever owe Nemours A.I. duPont everything.
My dream is to be a Sports Journalist. With CP, that could sound like a weird one because I’ve never actually played sports in my life.
But Dr. Miller and everyone that helped me at Nemours are the reason I’m on my forearm crutches and able to be independent in college.
All my dreams are coming true. And I owe so much of it to Nemours.
You absolutely changed my life.
When I’m hopefully writing for ESPN one day, know that the smile on my face and the words I’m writing are largely because of one incredible team of doctors, a life-changing hospital, the happiest hospital rehab gym I ever did see and the best hospital staff out there.
Thank you. I’ll remember you guys forever.
Flight = booked.
We’re blown away and thankful.
Why? Because originally, we thought I’d be here a full month recovering.
I’ve been very blessed with an amazingly fast kick start to my recovery.
So, we’ll be FL bound by the end of next week.
Another surgery, 4 gnarly new scars and 3 weeks later, we’re out of here.
One more week to go. Insane.
This crazy ride isn't over, but thankfully it's about to hit home turf.
See you in about a week, Otown.
It’s definitely been a tougher week.
Farther into rehab, it’s getting harder. As I use my leg more and in brand new ways, muscles I’ve never fired before are learning how to work and I’m faced with some new pains.
But on the other hand, I’ve been very blessed to not be in nearly as much pain as I was last time I had this surgery. I think all of us in the Ellis Clan can attest to the fact that this time around is 100x better.
This rehab process is new and long to us. We’ve never stayed inpatient for an extended period of time before.
Mom and I have our hospital life down to a routine though.
Each day, I go through 3 hours of therapy. 2 hours of PT and 1 hour of OT. We fill our in between time with lunch, naps and lots of card games of War.
This much therapy in one day is something I haven’t experienced in a long time so it’s an adjustment, especially since I’m still getting used to my “new” leg.
I’ve said this before, but this surgery is definitely more of a mental battle for me because I’ve been down this road before and it wasn’t pretty.
As the swelling has gone down, I am starting to feel my newly straight leg and the metal rod that’s now placed in there. Part of me keeps remembering the nightmare that was last time.
I have to tell myself daily that I’m in way better hands and my outcome is already vastly different and better.
The first two days after surgery, I think I asked my mom and dad 1,000 times: “It’s actually straight this time, right?”
Now seeing that it is, comfort and excitement is slowly filling me up.
I keep joking that I’m bionic again and all my nurses joke that us CP kids have pain thresholds that they can’t even imagine.
I may have a high pain threshold, but I can't look at my scars yet.
I thank Jesus for my high pain tolerance daily but he definitely didn’t give me the stomach for dried blood and bruising.
But once they’re cleaned up, I will be taking cool scar story suggestions.
My motto is every scar needs a good story.
For example, there’s one on my foot that my brother and I decided looks like a shark bite.
Thus, we tell everyone that I got it fighting off a Great White in the ocean. What do you mean it’s from orthopedic surgery?
I’ll end this post with some comic relief.
Get this image in your brain:
Mom is pushing me in my wheelchair down the hall, I’m holding my afternoon cup of coffee. Two nurses are coming towards us and another one coming down the hall to our right. Naturally, as one of them was my nurse today, we stop to talk to them.
Well, I guess Mom had a momentary brain lapse and thought that the levers on the wheelchair handles that recline the back of my seat, are brakes.
She presses them and I go flying backwards, my coffee goes up in the air.
Soon enough, we all can’t stop laughing and the nurse coming from the right says: “You should’ve seen that from my angle!”
One day and one spilt coffee at a time, we’re getting through this.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.