Sunday, November 22, 2020

More Ups and Downs

Earlier this month, I saw my dermatologist to check on my skin sores. One are still looks basically healed, but the other two are pretty stagnant since my last visit a few months ago. I did miss a few weeks of biking due to caregiver's illness, but the doctor also suggested a change in my sit schedule.

For at least the last three to four years, I have been sitting in bed for 45 minutes and then lay flat for three to four hours before sitting again. It's a schedule I made on my own, but I thought laying flat longer would be the most helpful. Now, my doctor said to try sitting after only two hours of flat time and getting more movement.

Most people get familiar to a set routine, and I'm definitely one of them. Trying to do what I consider a major change has been fun. Instead of getting four sit times during the day, I now get five. Therefore, I have basically increased my day by 25%. I have found myself doing tasks while sitting that I usually did flat, or a combination of both.

I was scheduled to preach next week and have been preparing my sermon, but the service has now been cancelled due to the virus. Instead of looking at my notes and reviewing while laying flat, I have partially done it while sitting. My head says I should be doing something more active while upright, but I am still doing something productive. Work still remains pretty non-existent as well, so I see more book progress in my near future also.

Living the quad life is a careful balance between managing the mind and body. For the one, I stay active in doing activities other than zoning out to entertainment. For the other, it's a game of give and take trying not to make any one area upset.

I'm thankful for the time I've been given, in any position, and try to use it to God's glory. This sudden addition is one I think I will quickly learn to enjoy, but be careful not to over work those that help me change positions either.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Reading Front to Back

On Friday, November 13, an annual event occurred. In my nightly Bible reading, I finished Revelation and moved my marker back to Genesis 1. In early high school, I started reading one chapter a night, most nights. That schedule continued through college until I increased to three chapters at the end of every day. At that rate, I go through the Bible about once a year.

Now, the only days I miss reading are when I'm in the hospital or my volunteer week at camp. Those times are only because I'm either too sick to comprehend or don't have everything I need to be able to read (table, book board, Bible, and stick).

Around 2010, I also started doing a daily reading plan through Bible Gateway. With that, I also read through the Bible front to back in a year. Therefore, I start and end the day with God's Word and read the entire Bible twice a year. In 2020, I added another study time of reading the same 1-2 chapters in the New Testament every day for a month. I started with Jude, then 2 John, and a few chapters in Romans. For the last six months, I have been reading two chapters a month in Revelation. Parts of it sound very close to what we're experiencing in the world today.

My night reading is in The Evidence Bible by Living Waters. In order to not always read the same passage morning and night, I adjust my night reading every time I go through. This year, I read every piece of the commentary that went along with the text. It meant some nights I only accomplished one chapter, and others not even that much. I don't remember when I started in Genesis in my night reading in 2019, but I'm positive it took over a year this time.

This week, I watched a documentary called The Insanity of God that covered persecuted Christians in various countries. One gentleman lived in the former USSR and was arrested for reading the Bible in his home to 75 friends and family. He was in prison for 17 years. Any time he found a scrap piece of paper and piece of coal or charcoal, he would write whatever passages he could fit and remember. Then, the writing would get stuck to the damp cell walls.

However, it wouldn't be long before prison guards found the writing. They would destroy the paper and mercilessly beat this Christian for his actions, for 17 years. Other countries had similar accounts of imprisonment while some would just kill anyone found to have a Bible or professing to be a Christian.

I can't recall now how many times I've read through God's Word in its entirety. Each time, I still look forward to the accounts of creation, the flood, Abraham, Israel, Joseph, the nation of Israel, and most of all, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In America, many Christians have multiple Bibles and can easily access them, but how often do we read them? Do we truly understand we have all sinned (lied, stolen, lusted, committed adultery, blasphemed, etc.) and deserve God's eternal punishment in hell? However, Jesus paid the fine and all who repent and trust in Him alone can be set free from the sentence we deserve.

Living the quad life and laying flat 20 hours a day, I have time to read. However, it needs to be a habit everyone does daily. It may be something we can't always do, and may regret not taking the time to be in God's Word.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Convienient or Creepy

 With this last week in the 70's, it feels like late summer instead of fall. However, the calendar does say November and I have been getting my final doctor's appointments finished for the year. I've had two the last couple weeks and have one to go.

At most appointments, I'm greeted with questions on my health, have my temperature taken, and attempt to wear a mask. At one office, an older gentleman went in ahead of me. He was directed over to a cell phone sized device on a stand. It took his temp without any outside action by anyone I observed.

Electronics can make many parts of life much easier. I utilize technology every day and receive a breath every four seconds due to advances in medical technology. Having automated and hands-free options expands uses of these devices and allows for many applications in different roles. Who has control of these resources can use them for good, or bad.

As I posted last week, I suspected election results would not go easy. I watched poll numbers come in and then mysteriously stop as President Trump took the lead. As I write this, the winner has not been announced and the looks of extreme fraud are increasing. A fair election where all valid, legal, votes are counted no longer looks possible.

With workers getting harder to find and different economic plans, I see an increase in automation. I do not think robots will replace nurses though, at least not in my lifetime. In places such as manufacturing, it has already happened with robotic arms doing welding and other jobs that used to be filled by human operators.

If administration changes in Washington and the proposed tax and business regulation changes occur, more automation will be needed. If a business can't afford workers, and stays in the country, it's the only solution. The question will be, when is too much given to computer control? Are we possibly already there?

Electronic world or not, God is ultimately in control. This country will drastically change in coming years depending on election results, but I look forward to a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Freedom or Loss

Two days from now, Americans will officially cast their ballots to elect the next leader of the United States. While votes have been getting mailed in for a few weeks already, they don't get counted until Tuesday, hopefully.

Photo from Answers in Genesis
Reports of fraud and mishandled ballots have been coming since they started getting returned. The likelihood of a fair election where all real votes are counted seems unlikely, but I continue to pray that the person selected will seek God's will first and uphold the constitution as it was intended. Today's lead story from Answers in Genesis, Voting and the Ark, was originally posted four years ago, but still reminds us of our responsibility as Christians.

For the last two days, my house was without phone and internet. That means I'm actually writing this on the day it goes live instead of a day or more before. However, it also meant a freedom of sorts. It was a break from the frequent political calls that have been coming and also a time of relaxation.

Instead of quickly trying to complete online activities while sitting, I could do other things with my time. I did a fair amount of work on my book and progressed in pixels on my virtual farm. My parents also took the opportunity to watch old videos from 1991 when I was a nine-year-old experiencing camp in Florida. While the temporary adjustment was nice, I wouldn't want it to be permanent.

Many commentators and political experts have said if Democrats win this election, the country will be turned into a communist style of government. It will mean an end to religious freedom, have a drastic economical change, government-run healthcare, and more. As a Christian living the quad life, much of what I do now would likely not be allowed.

Whatever comes this week, or after recounts, will be under God's direction. He is the king of kings and Lord of lords and even though His thoughts and ways may not be what I think, they will be done. I encourage everyone to go vote, and pray for wisdom of all those in power.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Time, or not to Time

The end of October has been busy for speaking engagements. Last week, I posted about doing the virtual training with OT students. Friday morning, I was the chapel speaker at a small Christian school, and this morning I preached. Reviewing and keeping each presentation separate in my head was a challenge, but timing my talks was another issue.

When I started speaking at grade schools over 15 years ago, I carefully monitored my watch to see when my allotted time was up. I didn't want to take too much of the teacher's day and also keep the students' attention. I still do similar today, especially when visiting multiple rooms, but not quite as carefully and judge by how the kids are reacting. Colleges, I try to keep around an hour, but most are okay with going over and having less time with the instructor.

Last week's virtual class was very strict on time, but not the latest two events. I could go anywhere from 10-20 minutes with chapel and the remaining period would be filled with an activity. Therefore, I just talked and allowed however long it took. With preaching, I have started taking the same method. I very rarely look at my watch and primarily just go until everything I had planned is finished. Some in the congregation may not agree with this method, but I'm only an infrequent preacher anyway.

The big thing I worked on with my last two sermons was timing my Scripture reading. My biggest complaint, or regret, about my diaphragm pacemaker is pausing to take a breath every four seconds. I can hide it fairly well in normal speech, but not when reading. Therefore, I try to plan what to read, when to pause, and try to make it sound natural. Getting to read God's Word is a privilege that many people around the world don't have; and reformers like John Wycliffe gave their life for making the Bible available to everyone. I want to present it as clearly as possible, but the breathing quad life adds a challenge.

After today, I'm not scheduled to preach, or speak, anywhere until late November. That is also the latest in the year I generally agree to go anywhere. However, this weekend already feels like winter; hopefully it's not a prelude of what's to come in months ahead.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Further Reach

About ten years ago, I started speaking at local colleges. I had been going to area Christian schools to talk about disability awareness and serving God with whatever tools we're given. I now had this new contraption of a diaphragm pacemaker and thought it would be something helpful for students.

I have been a regular speaker now for students studying physical therapy, occupational therapy, EMS, respiratory therapy, and occasional nursing classes. However, all the classes have been within driving distance from home. The furthest I have gone was two hours away, and didn't really want to go that far for an hour-long presentation.

With this year's pandemic, everything shut down and many things, like college classes, moved to meeting virtually. This summer, I did a couple of my regular classes, but through webcam. It wasn't the same as in person, but still went pretty well. Leading two virtual classes with local schools made me wonder about trying other colleges that are too far away to physically visit. Therefore, I contacted a counselor friend from camp who teaches OT in Indianapolis. It took a while to find a willing group, but I did a virtual class Thursday with an occupational therapy student organization.

The first 15 minutes of the hour were taken by a business meeting. Therefore, I had 45 minutes to do a presentation that generally goes a little over an hour. I skipped most of the videos I usually show and only lightly covered areas I generally explain further, but it generally went well. I go over how I use my mouth stick, wheelchair, and do regular stretching routines to decrease muscle spasms. In the years I have been living the quad life, more technology has enabled more therapy, but the basics still apply. My regular assistant, Sara, was still out on sick leave as well, but dad did a good job in helping where needed.

Now my thoughts are wondering about trying more schools, but the question is how. For my current visits, I emailed several instructors and a few of them responded to give me a try. I could do the same and see what happens, but it's not something I like doing very well.

I'm thankful for all the years God has used me to go and talk with different groups. Even with the problems associated with COVID, it has opened up new potential areas. I will see where God takes me with this venture and if it is His will to do more, then the replies will come. I never know what to expect, but I will see what the week brings.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

When Plans Plummet

My parents do a large amount of my care and covering hours that I don't have caregivers. For many years though, they have been able to take two extended, 7-10 day, vacations a year. In the evenings, when my parents usually help me, my grandparents and irregular caregivers helped cover the time. Now with both grandfathers gone, fewer hours for caregivers, and less help, it has become hard for them to get away for more than a day.

With fall approaching and the change in trees, mom and dad got it arranged to be gone for two days and one night. Only one evening needed to be covered and my regular day assistant would cover Friday and Saturday as her regular shifts. When the weekend's weather was predicted, it looked like a great time to be out.

On Thursday, Sara, my assistant had a bit of a cough, but nothing unusual for this time of year and allergies. Friday morning though, ten minutes before my parents planned to leave, Sara called that was ill and wouldn't be able to come. Therefore, at 6:00 in the morning, they unpacked the few bags they had and called to cancel the hotel reservation.

This isn't the first time plans had to be changed, but I always feel bad when it happens. I was sad that Sara wasn't feeling well, and more disappointed that mom and dad couldn't get a break from me. I'm very thankful for all they have done and instead of looking forward to retirement years, they are still stuck with helping me. It is a part of the quad life that has become familiar, but never gets easier.

Yesterday, the predicted nice weather continued. The three of us took advantage of it and went to northern Iowa to watch trains for a few hours. It wasn't close to a two-day get away, but at least they were able to get out of the house for a while.

Winter will soon be showing its ugly head again when we don't go out at all. Even though it wasn't planned, I'm thankful when I can get out to enjoy God's creation.