Sunday, December 9, 2018

Home Therapy

This week will mark one year since I started doing FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) bike therapy at home. I did it for over two years in Des Moines before getting it here and am thankful for the access.

After I complete a bike session, it uploads to a database and records my activity. I get an email report every week as well saying what my stats were. Some activity doesn't get recorded due to internet errors, but most of them get recorded.

My very first time on the bike was July 13, 2015. Since then, I have done over 184 rides for more than 550 miles. In the last year, over 100 of those rides and at least 337 miles were done at home. Despite that much traveling, I can't say I've seen much different scenery.

The first ride I had was for 25 minutes going 1.26 miles. Now my average time is the same, but going around 3.58 miles.

When I was originally injured in 1985, technology like this wasn't even imagined. I'm thankful God has given us the ability to make such devices to help those of us in the quad life or other challenges. Looking at old pictures, I can tell how much my legs have grown in thickness with muscle and improved circulation. I can also see that my feet lay straighter in bed and are more flexible with the increase in use.

If I'm not traveling and sitting a lot, my pressure wounds also heal faster when I get to ride. My doctor attributes much of the improvement to more active muscle movement when cycling. With my first experience in 2015, it was a great feeling to have my legs moving again. I still stay on it a little longer sometimes just because it feels good.

For the next year ahead, I don't know what God has planned. I'm thankful for the time I've had and hope to be able to continue for many more miles to nowhere. This coming week will hopefully provide answers to a different issue, but that will be another post.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Winter Weather Woes

The calendar says winter doesn't start for another three weeks, but you can't tell by looking outside. Last week Sunday, church was cancelled due to a winter storm, and this weekend isn't looking much better.

Just to my east, a few towns received 15-17 inches of snow in a few hours, We only got about 2-3, but it still ended with my night nurse not able to come and Monday's day nurse coming late. Now this weekend started with rain and wind most of Saturday with another inch or two of snow predicted today.

Weather has different affects on people. Some love the snow and say it's a reminder of God washing us clean and whiter than snow. I do agree that watching snow fall can be pretty, but it often results in my caregivers not being able to come. It also serves as a reminder of cold conditions outside and why I hibernate during winter.

When I visited the Ark Encounter in October, the first level had sounds like a raging storm outside. I have experienced strong storms that may last 30 minutes or more, but can't imagine what it would have been like for at least 40 days and nights.

I have read a few places about the climate changes from Noah's flood would have setup conditions for the ice age to follow. Blizzards like Iowa has received would have seemed very tranquil to what likely happened in this same area during that time period.

Summer storms or winter weather, each should remind us of God's creative power. I believe the world is still stabilizing since these events and should expect changes yet to come. I look forward to a time of little to no snow, but that's likely going to happen in this quad life.

Whatever is predicted and then actually happens this week, I will be thankful I live in a warm home and that I can choose to stay inside.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Family Week

In late September, my maternal grandmother moved from her house to a retirement home closer to us. She decided to sell her house and my parents, uncles, aunts, and a few cousins have been working to get the property empty and ready for showing.

On Thanksgiving, we got together with mom's side of the family at grandma's new place. Part of the conversation was about working on the house and dividing up items to whoever wanted them. Some of my cousins put their names on various items, but also their children's names for some of the toys.

Dad looked at a few things that he said looked like unique antiques. However, since he wouldn't have grandchildren to pass them down to, he didn't feel right taking them. I've heard this comment more than once in the past few weeks.

Yesterday, my dad's side got together for our annual combined Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration, or thankmas as we say. I like seeing my family again, but part of the discussion from cousins of my age are about their kids and what their family has been doing.

It should be apparent from this blog that I love kids and enjoy working with them. In high school, I had the typical dream of wanting to get married and have children of my own. However, that is extremely rare when living the quad life and I have not escaped the trend.

I'm thankful for all the kids God has allowed me to speak to at schools and church, even though it's only about 30 minutes at a time. I had always prayed to have my own to teach, but that doesn't appear to be likely.

As we continue in this season of thanks and celebration, we need to remember it is not always a time of joy for everyone. I've learned to be thankful for the abundance of blessings God has given me and to not want more. Hopefully in 2019 I can continue to work with schools and get to be a parental influence if just for a short time.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

One Year Preaching

In September 2017, I received my license to exhort, or preach, in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). My first sermon was a few months later on November 12, 2017. In the year since I first preached, it has been a unique experience.

Last week, I watched an evening church service online. It was a man who had recently been licensed and was preaching at the same service I started. Since then, I have preached at seven CRC services, once at camp, and two back-to-back services at a Methodist church. The total of ten times puts me nearly the same number of schools I have spoken at in a year.

So far, I have not preached more than twice at a single church. Therefore, I have only prepared two messages and have just reused them. Staying in one church, most pastors can't get away with this, but it has helped me get familiar with preaching and not simultaneously make a new sermon each time.

My goal for this winter is to write at least two more messages. I have ideas in my head, but so far they haven't come through my stick to get fully written. Every time I plan to start, something else comes up or I can't get my thoughts to focus on the task.

Every time I preach though, I'm thankful for the opportunity. I know I don't have a clear voice and can be a little hard to understand, but God continues to use me for His purpose. So far, I have only had to turn down one request due to a church sanctuary not being accessible.

I recently read an article that private schools and churches are exempt from the ADA and therefore don't always make an effort to allow access for all. However, two of the facilities I visited made ramps for me to get up on stage and one already had a ramp built-in. Maybe the preaching quad life will raise awareness that all areas of a church need to be accessible.

What may come in another year, I wouldn't try to guess. I pray that I can continue to preach more as well as continue volunteering at outreach events in my area. Only God knows the future and I'll continue going along His plan.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Age Test

I received a message from my friend John this week saying I needed to edit my blog. In the about me section, I have written "In my short time..." He said that my time has not been short and that I'm now old. I was quick to remind him our age in years is currently the same, but I do have a little over nine months more.

On Facebook, I'm regularly seeing memes that show various items and say if you remember, or used, this item, you're old. I'm not familiar with every item and can very honestly say I have not physically used most of them. As I have said before, I do somewhat think age is relative.

In a few weeks, I will be celebrating my 37th birthday (if I make it that far). That means I have doubled my age since graduating high school. There are also events that are clear in my memory, such as Y2K and 9/11, that are now in history books and college freshman did not experience first-hand. Looking that way, yes my years are not short and have accumulated a good number.

Looking the other direction, I have only been in a career for half the time of my peers. Granted web development as a career option hasn't been around for 40 years, but I'm thinking in general. For speaking and preaching, I'm only beginning to scratch the surface of those that have been working for over four to five decades.

Just like when I look at groups younger than me, my parents and grandparents remember events that happened before I was born or very young. Looking at both sides of the coin, I would put myself about in the middle.

As far as quad life, 33 years post injury does place me in the old man category. In the past few weeks, a few minor issues have come up that do show I've had several decades in this life and have experience to help others.

By the time you read this, I will likely have changed the about section by removing one word. In any case, I'm thankful for the years God has given me and look forward to using my remaining time according to His will.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Discerning Truth

When I was in college, I had a class on marketing. Part of the teaching was to consider the source, and funding, of information before fully relying on it. As example, a study funded by Dr. Scholls will likely not conclude that going barefoot is best for feet, but that everyone needs particular inserts or shoe type.

It is once again election season with final votes being cast in just two days. For the last few months, political advertising has been increasing on YouTube and social media. When I watch the evening news, almost all the commercials the past few days have been politically geared. These are times I especially remember to consider the source and look for what is not being told.

Main stream media tends to be very concentrated toward one political party. Therefore, I expect to see anything the other party does portrayed in a bad light even if it requires stretching the truth. With access to the internet available everywhere we go, it's very easy to check on what is being put forth as truth. Life experience can also be beneficial.

One commercial I have seen numerous times shows a C5 quadriplegic, Tucker, going through his morning routine while telling his story. In it, he says how his nursing agency dropped his care and forced him to move. This was a rough situation, as I perfectly understand, and then he goes on to say how bad the Iowa Medicaid system is.

The commercial implies he had to go to a facility, but I notice Tucker is rolling around in a house. Therefore, he is either at a very small place that uses homes or is back in his own home. Tucker also doesn't say why his agency dropped him. Was it due to lack of care providers (as I had once)? Did he no longer qualify for help? As a C5 injury, Tucker shows he has some arm control and breathes independently. I've known other quads with similar, or higher level injuries that don't qualify for much care due to not needing breathing assistance.

It is also possible Tucker was denied care for lack of funding. Whatever the case, the viewer is led to make assumptions and support a particular candidate. I do agree that Iowa's Medicaid system needs work. However, I've seen medical funding get messed up as a result of both party's actions. It's just another pawn that is used during campaigns.

I encourage everyone to vote, but also be well informed by researching candidates and their party. The choice can have major consequences for the quad life and every citizen.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Grade Schools

Every fall for the past 14 years, I have visited with students at area Christian grade schools. Each year is unique with questions and observations, and I enjoy every part of it.

Thursday was my fourth school this year, and my last scheduled grade school for this season. With these schools, I met with six second grade classrooms and one combined 3rd/4th grade class totaling around 100 students.

One of the schools had to be rescheduled due to my hospital visit last month which meant I had one school a week for October. Having them back to back helps me keep my routine in my head, but since I also added a college and a church in the mix, it was a challenge keeping each one straight.

For the first time in my visits, a student asked me if I was ever mad at God. I wondered if she had some sort of family experience with a disability, but I didn't pursue it. It's a little challenging answering an eight-year-old that question, but I answered the truth that I've had times of struggle, but know I have been given much more than I deserve.

Also first inquiries for this year was the weight of my chair (501 lbs) and what the white things were on my arms (elbow pads). Before I come to class, I have the teachers show a couple videos of how I use my mouth stick for typing and other tasks as well as biking and zip lining. If a class is quiet, then I need to rely on the extra activities for further talking points, but most of them didn't need it this year.

Two of the schools only had a single classroom and each of them followed me outside like ducks in a row to watch me get in the van. I try to hide grins as I roll down the hall, but I love getting to work with the students and show them that some people have different abilities, but we're all made by God and need to serve Him.

Sadly, two of my regular schools no longer have me back. I have never been told a reason, but my emails don't receive response after a few years of trying. Thankfully, I'm still able to go to several and still pray that I can continue for years to come.