Sunday, April 24, 2016

Upgrade

While my parents were gone last week, my best friend, John, came for a few days with his son TJ. They came last September as well and it was good to see how TJ has grown. While sitting here chatting on Wednesday afternoon, we talked about some upgrades John had done for his dad's computer. After a little more discussion, we thought my 5.5 year old machine could do the same.

Of course, we didn't have the parts or tools we needed to do the job. However, that was fixed by an online purchase and overnight shipping. Less than a day after contemplating the task, the tools were in hand and ready to begin.

After lunch, TJ took a well timed nap and John started to take everything apart to add a new hard drive. He and I remembered our high school years of adding new, or fixed, components to my computer. Mom would come home from work and find what looked like an explosion in an electronics store, and two grinning teens. John considered waiting until they returned so we could get the same reaction, but figured pictures would work.

About two hours after starting, and a trip to the hardware store, the new drive was added to my machine and all parts put back in place. The next step was getting the software loaded again and everything working with the new drive. This part of the job started at about 5:00 in the afternoon.

By 2:30 in the morning, we had tried a few attempts unsuccessfully to get everything loaded. At that point, we went with the easy solution. It thankfully worked, and another nine hours later while I was at a doctor's appointment, everything completed and the upgrade was a success. I don't notice a big change in most tasks, but it generally runs much better.

The best part was spending time with John again and catching up on the last few months and future plans. It will most likely be a couple years before he can come again, but it was a great time in the quad life. I'm thankful for these times and look forward to what may come.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring Fling

Trees are showing early leaves and flowers are blooming. It's a beautiful time of year in Iowa with warm temps and bright sunny days. I've enjoyed spending time outside these past few days enjoying the change, along with some pink skin to show for it.

This is my first spring without my trach and associated trach ties. Feeling the sun on my neck is a new experience and it feels very good. It's almost like a warm hug around my neck, instead of ties. I'm looking forward to more time in the sun as weather allows.

My parents left last week on vacation and don't get back until the end of this week. Therefore, I have the house to myself for nearly two weeks. That means I'm responsible for covering all my own meals, and getting groceries. So far, I have tried four new recipes and they are all keepers in my opinion.

Of course, we sometimes find an ingredient in a recipe that isn't on hand and need to make a substitution. Using a different kind of cracker for breading on a chicken breast isn't a big change though. The staff at the grocery store are starting to recognize me as well.

I stopped in for a few things before my parents left and then again last week. For some reason, my family doesn't own a cow, so things like milk don't last for more than several days. Rolling up to the meat counter, a man packaging meat gives me a look and says in a friendly tone, "Back again huh?" For some reason, he apparently remembered me.

It's too rare that my parents get to go on extended trips. We all enjoy breaks and I like being the man of the house again. For just a brief time, I get to remember what it was like the three years I lived on my own in college. Small perks in the quad life make me more thankful for all the gifts God has given me and to be appreciative when they come.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Creative Scheming

Work has been pretty slow this year and I learned last week I am losing two more clients. Neither one were very busy, but they were some work in any case. With warm temps and nice days almost upon us, my mind has been contemplating things to keep busy.

I really can't do anything that would require extra sitting, so that eliminates long-term volunteering with anything. With only being upright for 5-6 hours a day, it also limits what I can commit to for activities. Keeping these in mind, I have been praying and brain storming for ideas.

Ideas so far have been getting back into more writing. I did the school newspaper for two years in high school and worked for a local newspaper for a year as well. A few years ago, I also wrote an article for my church denomination's disability newsletter that received several good comments. It's likely that it wouldn't go out anywhere, but it's a possibility.

For the next several months, a slow schedule will allow for easier troops to Des Moines for riding bike and possibly a few Saturday train watching trips. With my new chair, I need to remake parts of the video I use when I speak at classes. I think having one specifically made for that purpose will be helpful in explaining life with a disability. Maybe I could get real ambitious and make a video that can be viewed independent of my presentation and go to more schools than I can visit.

Whatever God has in plan for me, it definitely feels like I'm beginning a transition of some sort. I can't imagine getting completely out of web development, but I may just not be seeing God's plan. As I tell school kids, the quad life can do a variety of jobs. Probably not making pizzas or selling food door to door as some suggest, but not only one career choice.

This week is already shaping up to be an interesting one. Next week's post will see how it continues through the next few days.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Illness

It's never fun being sick, and that has been made clear once again these past few days.

I was diagnosed with a mild infection last Friday and started taking an antibiotic. Friday night, I had an extremely congested nose and was having a very hard time breathing. My pacemaker gave it's pulse every four seconds as usual, but I could barely pull in air through my nose. Breathing my mouth helped some, but it quickly dried me out and was also difficult.

The nursing agency was also unable to cover the shift, so it meant dad was up with me. He has been having trouble of his own that it's painful to move, so I didn't like to bother him. The only relief I found was to trigger a muscle spasm so I would take a deeper breath. Of course my muscles were quite lose, so they didn't come very easily.

Fortunately, it cleared up some and I was able to get a little sleep. If it was easier to connect to the vent with the trach button, I would have taken the option. I tried my usual tricks for clearing everything up, but they didn't help.

Saturday during the day still had major congestion and the night was a near repeat of Friday. Sunday and Monday thankfully started to have some relief, but breathing was still a challenge at times. Laying on my side was the hardest position and I have spent more time on my back than I should these few days.

Today has had a few difficult times and exhaustion, but not nearly as bad as it was over the weekend. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow, but will likely cancel if tonight goes well.

We take things like breathing easily for granted when we're used to it. Even in the quad life when it depends on a machine. Thankfully God has given us bodies with ability to heal, and we can be thankful when health returns.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tools

Yesterday, I spoke at a grade school in Des Moines. This isn't a new event, but it was my first time at this particular school and it had a few new challenges. Due to me not understanding correctly, I had a few surprises.

My calendar said that I was first speaking to 4th through 8th grade students at their morning chapel. Chapel in Christian school is generally a time of singing praise songs and listening to a speaker for a short while before starting classes. After I spoke, the younger grades would have their chapel time and then I would do my regular presentation for the 3rd grade students. That's partially what happened.

For the last several weeks I have been putting together a presentation for this chapel that would work in the allotted time and not require student participation, unlike my usual presentations. I went with the topic of using tools. We all use tools for every task God has given us, be it legs, voice, pen and paper, or wheelchair and mouth stick. The ultimate tools we have been given are God's Word, the Bible, and the door of salvation, Jesus. I only had to add one story in to get to the right time and it went well.

Just after I finished, I learned I would be the presenter for the younger kids as well. I started to think of what to say, and not say, so I would still have something to cover with the 3rd graders. I then did a similar presentation as with the older grades, but didn't cover as much and tried keeping it more interactive. I still had items left for the last class and everything seemed to go well.

I'm very thankful I was allowed to speak with these kids and the impromptu talks were a fun challenge. Looking back, I would have done some things differently, but that means I will know for another time.

Unexpected times in the quad life aren't always a bad thing. I'm thankful God gave me the words to say and that He allows me to teach in this way. I look forward to the next time, in two days.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring

Spring Chicken
Sunday marked the official start of spring. The weather the past few weeks has been much warmer than the average and the change should mean more warmth to come. However, it snowed Saturday and tonight through tomorrow may be close to a blizzard again. It has been said if you don't like weather in Iowa to just wait a few minutes. It works the opposite way as well.

With the new season, it means my calendar is filling up again after a few months of hibernation. Yesterday was my first doctor's appointment of the year with another one coming up in a few days. Other than that, not much has been going this week. I am nearing completion on studying in the School of Biblical Evangelism and continue my up and down routine every two hours.

I'm glad to say that my girlfriend and I have now celebrated six months of being together. We don't know what God has in store for us, but will continue to follow His lead.

With this past Sunday as Palm Sunday, Good Friday is coming followed by Easter. Be sure to remember the sacrifice and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ. We fall short of following His commands, but He payed the price for us.

Just a quick update in the quad life this week. Next week about this time may have more to report.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Observations

I'm thankful to report that my friend Ken returned home from the hospital. I got to the hospital Friday just as he was about to be rolled out the door to start the trip back. Over his stay, I was able to visit three times. Looking back, I've noticed a few things.

When I'm in the hospital, the nurses have always been careful when visitors are around. They don't discuss any medical information unless prompted and try to be as scarce as possible. Even when I have someone assigned to stay with me they will often excuse themselves while my parents come. That didn't happen when I visited.

Hospital rooms are small, so I wasn't always able to get all the way in the door with other medical equipment around. However, nurses freely come in and out when my assistant and I were there and discussed medical information freely. It was rather surprising to see this change.

No, I'm probably not the most regular looking visitor. When nurses see me, they likely presume, correctly, that I'm very familiar with the hospital system and not easily surprised by what's happening. Nothing too detailed was said, but still more than I should have been hearing.

Fortunately, it has been about four years since I have had a hospital stay and the staff has all changed. Staff changes aside, I would still hope privacy concerns would be a hospital regulation. Maybe I'm just picky too and pick up on things faster than some people.

It will hopefully be quite a while until I see hospital patient interactions again. This was an observation of the quad life from the outside that I hope isn't repeated.