Sunday, May 24, 2020

Venturing Out

For the past three months, I have been quarantined in my house. I went out watching trains a few times, but stayed in the van and didn't interact with anyone. This week I went out in public for the first time since the start of the virus scare.

My last doctor's appointment was with my regular checkup with my urologist. It had been a while since I last had my kidneys checked, so wanted me to get an ultrasound. With everything going on, I delayed the test twice, but decided to go ahead and try this week's appointment.

I rarely do anything at my local hospital, but thought I would try them for a simple scan. However, they require all visitors to wear a mask. I couldn't think of how to make one with a hole for my chin so I could drive, so thought it could just be pushed up. When my caregiver Sara and I got to the hospital parking lot and exited the van, she put my mask on. I attempted to drive with it on my chin, but it didn't work. Making room to drive though pushed the face cover closer to my eyes. It became a constant battle to have it just high enough, but not too much. Once we got to the procedure room, the fun continued.

The technician let me stay in my chair for the procedure, but that required some gymnastics from Sara. She had to hold my arm rests up and out of the way, while still giving space for the x-ray tech to get me. It worked for the right side, but my left kidney wasn't showing up where it should.

I've been through many medical procedures, but I don't recall anyone stealing any organs, at least not yet. The next place to search was from my back, but this made for more fun. Sara pulled me forward so I leaned on her arm while the hunt continued for my missing part. This meant my mask pushed on my face, attempting to enter my eyes again, and adding to the circus that can be the quad life.

After a few minutes, everything was found and scanned and I was returned to my regular position. I was very thankful to get back out toward the van to again have a free face. Two days later, my doctor called to report all is well. That was good to hear, but I will need to attempt annual checks. I'm glad to give wheelchair experience to small-town medical staff, but may do my next one in Des Moines.

Later this week, I'm scheduled to finally get a hair cut, but with the same mask requirements. I am glad to see everything starting to get back toward normal. I pray that it will continue, and drop the required face covering.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Opening Up, Maybe

We have reached the middle of May along with mid spring and warmer weather. People are getting out and enjoying the outdoors again, somewhat anyway. It has been two months since lock downs started due to COVID-19 and now Iowa and some other states are reducing restrictions, but not completely.

For the first time since March 8, my home church held the morning service in the building with a congregation. However, only alternating benches could be used and family groups had to stay six feet apart from each other. That limited seating capacity to about 85 and not everybody could come. My family did not venture out and instead did online service again.

Restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses are also allowed to be open, but with restrictions. Therefore, the state is starting to reopen, but not anywhere close to what we knew prior to the virus. This past week, I scheduled two upcoming meetings, but both will be conducted through Zoom instead of in person as normal.

Conference Watching Mode
Yesterday, I watched an all-day conference (seven hours at least) that featured five different Christian speakers. They gave practical messages on responding to this world that has gone Bonkers (the conference title) and every lesson was followed by a question and answer session from the audience in 37 different countries. The world rapidly switching to digital interaction has made such a meeting possible and more common.

One of the speakers used the book of Daniel in his sermon. He pointed out our trust in God is determined before a situation, not at the moment of testing. I haven't faced a fiery furnace, but these last two months have been stark reminders that everything can change quickly, and to fully trust in God alone.

I've had times of testing trust before in the quad life and I'm sure will again. Each time though can serve to strengthen my trust or cause it to shake. I hope that more people experience the first result and not the second. As life begins to return to some sense of normalcy, let us not forget to hold on to trust in God for everything.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day at Home

Every year, we set aside a special day to celebrate mothers. These are the special people God used to form our bodies, then help train us how to get along in this fallen world. Looking back at previous years, most family traditions are similar. Dad takes responsibility for meals, hopefully, and mom gets to have time to enjoy her favorite activities. This year, it looks a little different.

With the threat of coronavirus, most people have been staying at home. That means no going out to get mom flowers, candy, or a card to help commemorate the day. I have seen a few commercials recently advertising jewelry for Mother's Day, but I'm guessing it won't be a popular gift with many people off from work. Since many moms have been stuck at home with their children all day for two months, some may just want to get away from their offspring.

For my mother, I had to resort to sending a virtual card to her email. She and dad have been braving the stores to get supplies I usually acquire on my own. Somehow, having them pick out and purchase a card for me to just sign didn't quite sound right.

Again this year, I am reminded how blessed I am to have my mother. She normally works two days a week doing book work at dad's family's grain elevator. However, it is a common communal spot for farmers to sit around drinking coffee, solving (and possibly aiding) the world's problems. In order to help stay away from people and virus exposure, mom has voluntarily stayed home since March.

With grocery runs, and supplies, limited mom has also managed very well to keep the three of us well fed with healthy meals. She also continues to keep track of my caregivers' hours every week along with running the house.

Mother's Day 2020 will not include pictures of going out or getting together with grandmothers. Many families are liking meeting with their mothers virtually this year, but it still counts as celebrating. Thank you mom for everything you do and rolling with the ever-changing flow. Hopefully next year will allow for an increase in festivities for this special day.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Missing Moments

April has now passed, to mostly everyone's relief. It was a complete month of quarantine for much of the world, with not doing much of anything except staying in the house. I cancelled or rescheduled a few appointments, but hope to get them done soon.

My first cancellation was a hair cut on April 2. I normally get a trim every four weeks and like keeping my hair short. Now, it has been over eight weeks since getting my ears lowered and they are starting to hide. I've seen some people take to desperate measures and do their own hair. I haven't gotten to that point, yet, but look forward to getting my normal due back instead of the current don't.

The second item that was skipped was my Botox. I get Botox injections in my right arm to reduce muscle spasms and help protect the wires and plugin for my diaphragm pacemaker. However, the drug dissipates and needs to be updated every three months. Now that I'm nearing four months without a boost, I am noticing my arm pull into my chest more when it shakes. I'm trying to make extra sure everyone keeps a pillow on my side for protection, but some of my caregivers don't. Thankfully, I haven't had any major issues, but hope I don't need to wait through July to get an update.

It wasn't scheduled, but I normally speak to a class of third graders in Des Moines in April. With schools meeting virtually, I didn't try to contact the teacher. However, I miss working with the students and seeing how they react to Mr. Joel's way of writing and interacting with God's world.

Finally, I miss getting out to church every week and fellowship with fellow believers. Watching praise songs and sermons online is handy, but not in the spring when I'm able to get out again.

In Iowa, the state is now slowly opening up again with restrictions on occupancy and keeping groups separated. My church is planning to try a regular service again in a few weeks, but my family isn't sure if we'll head out by then or not. Living the quad life has challenges, and a global pandemic doesn't help. However, I continue to be thankful for God's protection and the ability to still keep active while sheltered in place.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Keeping Caught Up

For the last few years, I have been doing the routine of laying flat in bed for at least 2-3 hours, then sit for 45 minutes, and repeat. On flat time, I often watch YouTube, Pure Flix, and other video options. It wasn't infrequent to run out of new things to watch from my regular channels with so much down time. However, I always ran out of time to get work finished during my time upright. Now, the scenarios are starting to switch.

With everyone still at home due to the coronavirus, many people are looking for things to do, especially parents. As a result, some organizations have greatly increased the amount of material they put online. One I regularly watch is Answers in Genesis. They normally publish 1-2 videos a week that I generally watch the day they come out. In late March and all of April, they have posted 4-5 videos per day during the week and a 2-3 on the weekends. A lot of the content has been geared toward kids, but it's still interesting to watch. However, they aren't the only place with more videos.

Other resources I regularly watch are Living Waters, Is Genesis History, and more, not to mention railroad related content. With so many new videos being produced, I'm having trouble keeping caught up with everything. The majority is educational and teaches about the Bible and the world God has given us. I enjoy watching it, but am starting to get a back log in my watch list as well as skipping some updates.

On the other hand, like most people, work related items are getting slow. One of my clients that has multiple updates a week suddenly decided to do everything on their own. That change cut my monthly work in half. I have a tendency to take it personally when a client leaves, thinking I didn't work fast enough, charged too much, or they're no longer willing to work with someone in the quad life (it has happened). This time though, I haven't felt the usual disappointment and think it's partially due to trying to save funds that suddenly decreased.

I will still have plenty to do with writing and catching up on my own sites for my sitting time. Watching the increase of videos has given me more sermon ideas, so I can possibly prepare messages as well. That is if churches start meeting again and I get asked to preach somewhere. I'll see what comes in the weeks and months ahead and will use the time God has given me.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Over 1,000 Miles


With my calendar completely empty of any activities, I have had plenty of time around the house. My caregivers have also thankfully been healthy and able to come. Therefore, I have been getting plenty of time to go biking.


I have primarily been three times a week for the last few months and have seen some good results. My legs are regularly doing at least 20 seconds on their own and have had a few times of well over a minute. When I started biking in summer 2015, they were used to being completely lazy and not do anything on their own. They're still lazy, but just not quite as bad as they used to be.

Weekly report (click for larger)
Every Monday, I receive an email summarizing my previous week's sessions and a total of what I have done since starting nearly five years ago. Since March, I have been watching the total miles get closer and closer to 1,000 and estimating when I would reach it. I thought I calculated correctly, but one session didn't record correctly due to internet trouble. So my official report read only 998 miles biked.

Finally, just before Easter, I broke the 1k threshold. There weren't any fireworks or horn blasts, just an extra digit added to my total mileage. However, for legs that haven't moved under any sort of control for 35 years, I think it's a great milestone to reach.

For equivalent, I could have pedaled from my home to Grand Rapids, MI, and back, and have miles to spare. Other destinations could be the Ozarks in Missouri or train watching in North Platte, NE. Just going one way, I could have gone to Houston, TX, Grand Junction, CO, or Washington, D.C.

In the quad life, it is rare to have my limbs actually do something constructive and not just hit and kick those trying to help me. I'm very thankful God has allowed us to make such technology and that He blessed me with the opportunity to use it.

Another week has passed with three more 3.58 mile segments in the charts. I don't know when, or if, I will get to double this achievement, but I am grateful I have been enabled to go this far.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter 2020

Today is Easter Sunday, when Christians all over the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. It is an essential part of the Christian faith, much like Christmas celebrations of Jesus' birth. For people that don't regular attend church, their are often only two times a year they go, Christmas and Easter. Church sanctuaries are usually filled on these dates, except this year.

The shelter-at-home rules are still in place as they have been for over a month. I attended an evening church service on March 8 that concluded with a doctor and county health supervisor saying to be cautious about the coronavirus and advising to limit contact with people. That was the last time most churches in my area had services in their buildings. Since then, it has quickly become the norm to go to YouTube on Sunday morning and watch a message that was recorded a few days earlier. Worship music is also included from singers staying as far apart from each other as possible.

Two days ago was Good Friday. My family, and church congregation, normally go to a late evening service that includes taking of communion, singing and reading about Jesus' crucifixion, and leaving a dark, quiet building. This year was watching the service online, drinking cranberry juice from med cups when prompted, and quietly listening to my church's talented musicians sing.

At this point, some predictions say the United States will start leaving homes and resume regular activities in early May. Others have given dates in early summer, and some say not until November. Whatever the date, I'm fairly confident life as we new it in early March will eventually return. When it does though, what will the church look like?

One conservative Christian commentator I watch predicts people will be even more hesitant to physically attend a service and just opt for online viewing. One friend I talked with said her family is enjoying sitting at home Sunday mornings, in pajamas, and watching sermons and singing. I admit that I somewhat do as well, but it is not church. Sunday worship is not just listening to a sermon, but also fellowship with fellow believers.

At some points in life, including the quad life, worshiping in person isn't always an option. However, speaking from experience, it can quickly become a part you miss and look forward to joining together again. Hopefully that will again become reality, but it could take even longer than other aspects of life.

No matter how we worship, remember Jesus' death and resurrection nearly 2000 years ago. Christians serve a risen Savior that offers a free gift of salvation for all who truly repent of their sins and trust in Him alone. If you haven't done that already, please be sure to do so now, before another day has passed.