April 13th: 9th Annual Ms. Wheelchair Colorado Pageant & Benefit Car Show
April 13th: Outdoor Buddies Fundraiser Banquet @ the Wildlife Experience
May 10th: Kiowa Creek Sporting Club. Clay shoot for Craig Rehab
June 8th: Get Outdoors Colorado Denver City Park, Colorado
June 8th: Wild on Wheels Lakewood, Colorado
July 18-20th: Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament Beaufort, NC
August 8-11th: No Barriers USA Summit in Telluride, Colorado
ANNI'S STORY AS CAREGIVER
By: Anni Barta
First, let me make one very strong point about how we view our current challenges. We strongly believe, this whole journey is about ADAPTABILITY. We dislike the terms disabled, handicapped, crippled, invalid, etc. These negative terms are very belittling. The person who meets a challenge and goes on to adapt, to become a capable and happy person, who has made the greatest of heroic efforts to overcome many obstacles, is a hero in the truest sense. Overcoming any major challenge in life requires above all other things: ATTITUDE. Most preferably a positive one. But at times it also helps to be aggressive, contemplative, sad, or angry. They all have can bring about positive results. I’d like very much to change the way the general public views our personal situation. Just 2 ½ years ago, Tred and I were living the best of lives in Colorado’s Vail Valley. We led a culturally rich, very healthy, clean, athletic lifestyle. We skied, fished, hiked, traveled extensively. We have a beautiful horse ranch and enjoyed getting into the wilderness. We were very much like everyone else in this valley but as Tred often says: “If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.” We’re challenged, we are not handicapped. I know it’s often hard for you to know what to say, how to react, possibly because of your own fears: “What if this happened to me, how horrible,” etc. I suggest the best and easiest way to react is to treat us normally, like you would any other person. Think of it as one person is tall, the other person is short, one has legs and one has wheels. Please, don’t see us as handicapped or disabled, see us as the most adaptable people of all. We’re challenged, NOT handicapped!
Now, I’ve used the term WE a lot. That’s because this didn’t just happen to Tred, it has changed my life in huge ways too. This is a horribly overlooked reality. Everyone feels so sorry for the wheelchair bound person and they want to encourage and help and cajole them. I often feel absolutely invisible to them. Remember the spouse or friend needs support and encouragement too. Tred and I sometimes wonder who has the toughest role. The statistics say that 70% of the spouses leave the marriage after a catastrophe such as this, that is a huge number. I hope on this site I can encourage other spouses, make the public more aware of this challenge and who knows, maybe even find some public support to help with the everyday extra burden.
In May 2009, Tred was on his way to British Columbia to film a black bear show. He woke up one morning with a “gimpy” left foot. Over the course of six days he became paralyzed from the waist down. Once, the story hit the news channels, I was fielding calls from all across the country. After innumerable tests , our physicians were still not certain of the cause. Many friends went on the internet researching and consulting their medical sources and we followed every reasonable lead, but additional testing showed nothing. Eventually, a diagnosis was arrived at of a spinal stroke, which is extremely rare. We were moved to Craig Rehab to learn to live in a wheelchair. We weren’t getting much accomplished there and I seemed to be the only one who noticed that Tred was getting worse. His paralysis continued to climb up his chest, something a spinal stroke does not do. I called in another team of doctors and within four days we discovered blood cancer, Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinanemia. One of it’s characteristics is that the blood becomes very viscous , the thought was that perhaps it got so thick that blood could not travel thru the smaller vessels that supplied oxygen to the spine. His blood counts at this point were completely out of control and we were at risk of now losing the use of his arms. For the next three months he went thru very toxic chemo treatments with the result being that his kidney and liver started shutting down. Now, he had given up, both mentally and emotionally. No medicine or treatment could have saved him at this point. It simply became an issue of getting his will to live to return. As Tred’s wife I knew he needed to remember how great his life was, what he had to live for. Against every doctor’s insistence that I couldn’t possibly manage his care, I brought him home. Initially, I thought it would just be for a week, maybe two, whatever I could manage. As it turned out, he got better almost by the hour, and has never had to return to the hospital. We are amazed by the care we are getting at our regional cancer center, Shaw Regional Cancer Center, in Edwards, CO., just 30 minutes from the ranch. We are also incredibly impressed with our other doctors. Instead of the random 15 minute doctor rounds common in the big city hospitals, here we've never felt rushed when congerring with our physicians. Each doctor has given us their cell phones and home phones and all the time that we needed, and most have now become personal friends.
We’re still newbies to this whole thing, but people tell us that we have accomplished more in our 2 ½ years than most normally would have in twice as long. I think this is due to Tred’s amazing passion and zest for life, and for my hard work and creativity.
It’s also amazing that Versus/NBC SPORTS OUTDOORS has allowed us to continue making TV shows. Initially, someone made the comment that it would be too difficult to shoot Tred from the shoulders up. I felt that this was really when “The Hard Way the Barta Way” was going to prove itself, and hopefully show the world that anything is possible. I knew Tred’s fans would support him and that perhaps his detractors would begin to appreciate what was really at the core of his message. We are getting lots of mail telling us that we have inspired others who had given up and that is really what it is all about. Thank you, NBC SPORTS.
To all of our fans who emailed , wrote, called, sent messages thru Versus, Barta-Iso Aviation, or several magazines: I apologize for not answering or thanking you for your words of encouragement, we were overwhelmed with just trying to figure out how to do everything again and manage the ranch, and finish the addition that had been started on the house, and keep the show and aviation businesses going. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Your letters and gifts were truly like vitamin pills that kept us going. If you felt slighted in any way, I encourage you to write and remind us of your effort so that now we can truly acknowledge those during a time when they were so badly needed and appreciated.
We want this site to be a venue for enlightening the public, the sharing of ideas on how to accomplish our life passions, and encouraging each other in all walks of life.
PLEASE JOIN IN AND SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND IDEAS!
By: Anni Barta
VAIL DAILY PICTURE
Vail Valley Medical Center Endorsement
Radio interview show after stroke