Sunday, August 23, 2015

Advice from a...

For the past few years, I have stopped at a particular booth at the fair that sells t-shirts. The booth's main promotion is the Iowa Arboretum, but they sell shirts that say "Advice from a..." Then various items offering advice. So far, I have advice from a: trout, woodlands, barn, pig, and this year's addition, firefly.

Each one includes four to five sayings that are the item's advice. Most are common phrases I've heard before, but often produce thought or a smile. A few items of advice from the barn are to hold your horses and keep your barn door closed. For the trout, he says to keep pulling and not go after shiny objects. They are fun shirts that can start a conversation or just to wear around the house.

I was thinking the other day of what I would put on a shirt for advice from a quad. They aren't quite as witty as some of my shirts, but I think they fit. Here is the list I have from today:
  • Keep on rolling
  • Go with the flow
  • Accept a helping hand
  • Go forth and conquer
  • Speak softly and carry a mouth stick
If I keep thinking about it, I may swap a few out, but that's a fairly good start. Roll with the punches was a possibility, but I didn't think it sounded quite right. Maybe someday I'll perfect them and offer them to a t-shirt company.

This looks like another busy week, so it's an early and shorter post this time. For now in the quad life, it's time to keep on rolling.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dodging Rain Drops

The Iowa State Fair is an annual event that my family likes to attend. We don't really do anything particular, we just like going. It started last week Thursday, but the weather was forecast to be very hot and sunny with today being comfortable in the low 80's and a slight chance of rain. You would think in my 33 years I should have learned not to trust meteorologists, but I haven't.

Thursday was a wonderful day that would have been great to spend outside. Today barely got up to 70° and rained all day, sometimes quite heavily. Nevertheless, my dad, main caregiver, and I tackled the fair despite the weather. Getting parking that works for my van is always a challenge, but we easily got to the correct lot with very little crowd. The attendant then gave us a spot that perfectly put my wheelchair lift into the largest puddle anywhere in sight.

Before getting out of the van, we started what became the day's routine. Put a poncho on to cover my chair and myself before going out and take it off when inside a building. While wearing this outfit between buildings, my caregiver and I noticed an odd behavior from people around us. They would give me an odd look (which is normal), look down at my feet, then with even bigger eyes look back at me.

I don't know if they thought my bare feet were indicative of my outfit and that I was naked under my poncho or what was going through their heads. I maybe should have asked, but no one wanted to stay out in the rain longer than necessary. With that being the case, we did go through buildings more thoroughly than normal and didn't mind waiting to see something. At the model railroad layout, we spent about half-an-hour talking with a member about his memories of steam trains and enjoyment of models.

Shortly after we returned home from paddling through the fairgrounds, the rain stopped and sun came out. The added challenge made for a new experience this year, but not one that I hope to repeat. Today's lesson in the quad life is to remember that God has made the earth with its weather systems and fallible man (like meteorologists) is still trying to understand it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Positive Thoughts

A few of my online friends do not believe in God as I do and live their life accordingly. I share the life I've been given as a Christian and try to be an example of Godly leaving. I have found an odd phrase though that to me, doesn't make sense.

When something isn't going well and is a time I would ask for prayer, these friends ask for prayer and positive thoughts. I always wonder what positive thoughts are supposed to do. It's great to think nicely about someone and have an uplifting attitude around them. However, I don't see beyond that what the purpose is. Who are you thinking positively to or who are you willing these thoughts toward? It's just something that doesn't seem to make sense, but I'm coming at it from a different perspective.

As a Christian, I believe we're called to bring requests to God in prayer. If someone is struggling in some situation, this is a great time for prayer for the individual. It can be comforting knowing you have a community of people praying for you. I guess it can be somewhat similar if people are thinking positively about you, but it doesn't seem to be as significant.

I learned this weekend that a fellow graduate camper from CHAMP Camp passed away. Karen had full control of her body, but used breathing assistance at night. I don't remember her diagnosis or know how she died, but she was close in age to me and appeared to be in better physical condition.

Other camp friends were sharing memories from our years together at camp and how Karen was one that could always make us laugh. I remember "catching" her one night at the battle between the boys' and girls' cabin giving a good soaking with a squirt gun. Times have changed in that we no longer have these exact feuds, but memories and stories continue.

We are given a short time in this life and have an impact on others whether we acknowledge it or not. This family will be in my prayers as this woman is laid to rest. Challenges abound in the quad life as in any other, but there will come a time when every knee shall bow and tongue confess, Jesus is Lord of all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Additions

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how my chair is showing its age during my biking sessions. I now have an upgrade thanks to these findings.

Late last week I received a new cushion for the seat of my chair. It's more basic than what I had, but it's a big improvement. My butt no longer sinks in with my legs going up to meet the seat. That means my feet now lay flat on the pedals and I sit higher in the chair. It's great to see my heals no longer floating in mid air, but now the upper half has problems.

I can barely reach the button that allows me to get my controls back in front of me and my side now rubs on the armrest more. One of three pressure sores is also now more irritated than it used to be, so it likely means the pressure in the seat needs to be adjusted.

When dad took the old cushion off, the glue from the Velcro fasteners was a gelled gooey mess. Also all the years of use had taken a major toll, so it was enthusiastically tossed in the garbage bin. I'm glad to see the change though and have been up in my chair a little more since the cushion has been on. This week's bike ride will be a real good determining factor for it. The other addition this week is a little more on the wet side.

My family and I are not pet people, but I do have a 45 gallon aquarium in my room. Probably 6-7 years ago we got three little orange platies for the tank. They apparently were very friendly as we haven't purchase any sense then and regularly have 30-40 fish. Since they have been inbred for so long, some have small fins, missing, etc., but it has been a tank of orange fish of various sizes. Saturday we purchased a couple angelfish, one light gray and two black.

Angelfish like to eat small fish, so we're hoping they will hope solve the overpopulation problem we've been having. After so many years of the same fish swimming around, it seems odd to look over and see something different.

Whether it's a higher view in my chair or a different one in the tank, it has been another busy week in the quad life. We'll see what comes up in another seven days, or less!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sleepless in Iowa

I have heard many people talk about not being able to sleep at night. It seems to be a common topic for health advice, sleep medication, and news items. Unfortunately, it's a problem I share with many others in the country.

For many years, sleeping wasn't much of an issue for me, but it has become more and more of a problem as time passes. The last few months have been especially bad and I can't quite put my mouth stick on a reason.

Waking up in the morning
In order to save time during the day, I have always had a lot of my cares done at night. My caregivers do my stretching exercises a couple times, do my bed bath, trach care, restroom needs, turn every two hours, and more. With that list, you might wonder how how I sleep at all. Since I can't feel my body, and what they're doing to me, it's pretty easy.

As long as the pillow stays over my head and no one touches my face, I'm good. The problem is with what I can control, my head. It seems at night is when everything runs through of what I need to do for work, for church, or even ideas for blog topics. I write some pretty good posts under the covers, but too bad my computer isn't connected to my head.

The sleep aides that I take don't seem to help much either in that I can hardly tell I took them. It's becoming quite common for me to have 1-2 hours of sleep at night and not much more. With laying flat in bed so much, I sometimes think my body is just too used to it and the position doesn't feel like sleep.

If I figure out a good method, other than a hammer, I'll let the world know. Until then, I'll continue the sleepless quad life routine and think of next week's entry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Deteriating Chair

During last week's bike ride, the poor shape of my chair became more evident. We noticed before that my seat cushion was uneven, it pushes my right leg higher than the left. My right leg is a little shorter than the other already, but the cushion is making it worse. Every time my legs came down, the cushion on the right would bulge out like a balloon. The left side behaved nicely though.

The cushion I used is called a ROHO and uses air to adjust to your needs. My particular model allows four different section to be adjusted independently, under each leg and two in the back. A couple days after the ride, my assistant and I tried to adjust the cushion.

Adding air helped to put the back portions higher, but the front looked ready to explode. Releasing some pressure under the legs helped, but it still has some problems. I'm hopeful this week's ride will be better with the improved cushion, but I'm not holding my breathe.

On Sunday, we had a family party for my grandmother's 85th birthday last month. My cousin that doesn't get to come very often was able to attend along with his wife and four kids. His oldest sons (twins) have always been talkative when around me and this time was the same. However, now that they're 13, they are getting quieter. They and their seven-year-old brother were getting bored, so we went outside for me to warm up and give them something to do. An idea came up to have me race the younger brother a predetermined distance.

A running kid easily beats my 5 MPH top speed, but I do give a challenge. However, my chair didn't really agree. The left wheel kept popping and making odd sounds at every match. Fortunately, the boys' minds went on to other activities quickly and no longer needed speed. Last night though, we gave it a better test. After a meeting at church, I went to leave, to find out the elevator wasn't working. Four guys ended up carrying my chair, and me, up a short flight of stairs in order to get out of the building.

I'm thankful my old chair continues to work and get me around everywhere. Hopefully I will have a new one by the end of the year, but time will tell. That's all for this week in the quad life.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Working Legs Addition

Even with the longer than usual post Tuesday, I wrote too quickly and forgot an important part. The therapists working with the bike were very impressed at the flexibility in my hips, knees, and especially ankles. They noted that being injured for this long and having such great joints shows that I've had excellent care over the years.

I can fully agree that I have been blessed with great caregivers that at first put up with my parents being particularly about stretching and exercises and now me. Taking four times a day to do my stretches can seem like a lot, but this week confirmed it has been worth it. God has been gracious in His care for me through these people and it is something I can't emphasize enough.