Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cold Busy Week

Along with last week's anniversary, it was a busy week. I had something to go out for every day Sunday through Wednesday. Not only did I have to go out, but they were also the coldest days of the week. My first day staying home, Thursday, was the warmest of the week.

I think we have the activities calendar backward in Iowa. During the winter months, when the majority of people don't like going out, is when the most activities occur. At church, the children's groups run from September through March, just when the nice months end and begin. Why don't we turn the schedule around so we're out during the warmer months?

Most people I know enjoy getting out when the weather is more enjoyable. Therefore, I think it makes sense that activities should coincide with this as well. Yes, summer camps get this correct, but they only last a week or so. Meeting every week like we do this time would give kids, and families, something to break boredom without school and not have to worry about bad weather. Tomorrow, for example, we are forecast to receive about 9" of snow. That will possibly necessitate canceling activities and keeping kids home, where they should be in cold temps anyway. Last week wasn't partially by choice for excursions though.

On Sunday and Monday, I went to hear a few talks in Des Moines given by Answers in Genesis. Tuesday and Wednesday were then with other church activities that I agreed to be part of. I enjoy participating and being active, but just think timing needs to be switched. Maybe they have it correct in the southern hemisphere. I know I could get used to having Christmas at the beginning of summer!

In the quad life, and any life, we choose what we want to do and how to serve the community we live in. Even if it isn't the most agreeable with what we would prefer.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

30 years

Thirty years ago, on February 20, 1985, the life my family and I knew was ended. With mom sustaining major lower body injuries and my high spinal cord injury, we were thrust into a new world.

In the three decades since then, we have all learned a lot. First of all to trust in God's timing and plan for the life we've been given. There have been several times that after months, or years, of planning, something we didn't expect ends up taking place.

Statistics say someone injured at age 20 and on a vent has a life expectancy of about 25 years. Someone injured at 40 goes down to just over 12 years. I haven't found research for injuries at my age (3 years), but I'm likely a little over or at the average age. I have friends that have similar stories and are more years post injury and others that passed away years ago.

Whatever the numbers say, I have been given a long time in this position and an equal amount of blessings. My parents have been the biggest gift through all these years and have gone through everything with me. Nights and days without nurses, time in the hospital, getting necessary supplies and funding, the list could continue for quite some time. Despite their own struggles though, they have helped in every way possible. Along with them are the countless caregivers I have been given and who have been a key part in helping me do the tasks I've been given.

Unfortunately, as time passes, it seems the challenges continue to expand. As I get older, pressure sores and skin issues continue to be more of a problem. Regular readers will know the posts of when I am flat in bed and not able to do much. This past year of the extreme funding struggles and continuing issues with equipment and other needs. I have had times that I couldn't see going on any longer and so looking forward to being done with the life of SCI.

When we are weak is when God seems to be the strongest. Putting full trust in His plan is often difficult, but the only assured way to go. As I work through this unique life, that trust continues to grow. With my parents aging, my needs increasing, and daily routines often uncertain, I never know completely what to expect.

I do know that I've been given these years for a reason and work to God's plan. I don't know how much more time I have, but be it short or long, I will continue to live the quad life.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Watching Nature

Winter in Iowa is still holding on strong, but it is not keeping a tight grip. The snow we had the first weekend of this month retreated a lot this past week and Saturday was nice enough to get out and watch trains.

As the video shows, snow was still on the ground, but melting quickly. Between trains we even had a window slightly open. With the stillness of the air we could easily hear the call of a red winged black bird and even a bald eagle near the river behind us.

Even with the cold and snow, God's creature continue to be busy. My bird feeder has been busy the past few weeks with the ground covered. In the coming weeks hopefully spring will start to appear and the outdoor activity increase.

As that happens, the quad life will continue looking out my side windows.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Old Quad

With my thirty year anniversary of entering the quad life approaching, I've been thinking back over the years I've been given. As a result, I've come up with this list of observations.

You know you're an old quad when:
  1. your every day equipment brings up memories of the “good old days” for caregivers.
  2. you order new equipment, and notice a change, and realize it has been this way for years.
  3.  you have been “in the medical field” longer than your caregivers
  4. your doctor asks you what orders to write.
  5. you can’t begin to count how many people have seen you without clothing.
  6. medical students look to you for advice just like their instructors.
  7. the original doctor(s) that treated you have been retired so long that current doctors never heard of them.
  8. you can relate medical history with what you were doing in school.
  9. you have outlived every statistic for life expectancy.
  10. you have comebacks for nearly every comment you receive in public.
  11. the place you order supplies from knows you on a first-name basis.
  12. you fully know you can’t do anything without caring support of those around you and God’s care and protection.

I'm thankful for all the unique experiences I've given and look for more to come in following years. That's it for this week in the (old) quad life.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Continuing Education

Every field of work that I'm aware of has some sort of continuing education. Nurses continue to learn about new medications and techniques, accountants keep up on new tax laws, and mechanics keep up with new engine components. Web development isn't any different than these other careers.

Technology continues to change, and so does the way you program for it. One thing that I'm doing now is making sites so that business owners can do their own updates. This was something I barely heard of when I started working on sites, but now it's common practice. In order to do this, I, and a lot of web developers, use a program called Wordpress.

Wordpress logo
Wordpress was originally designed as a blogging platform, but is now behind more than 74.6 million web sites according to one source. In another month or two, I will likely be having a site redesign project that will be using this platform. That's not unusual, but the site designer and I will be using an addition, or plugin, that allows for streamlined control over the site's design. This plugin is what is new to me.

Therefore, I have been learning how to use it with two other sites I have been working on this month. So far, I'm liking the opportunities it provides in terms of site layout. However, it's taking time to figure out what goes where to make everything work. I learned yesterday that it also doesn't use a certain programming language I'm familiar with for design aspects. Yesterday was spent looking through the changes and finding a program (such as Microsoft Word for text) that can read the code and let me work with it.

Learning new things can be a fun challenge and I'm thankful I have the opportunity to learn before I need to be working quickly. I can see this being something I'll use quite a bit, at least until another replacement comes. That is what has been going on in the quad life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day of Acceptance

Today, January 20, 2015, is the International Day of Acceptance (IODA). It is a day given to educate about all kinds of disabilities and learn how to accept these diversities into mainstream life. That includes schools, work, and anything people do every day.

In living the quad life, I know the pubic in general are not fully accepting of someone like me with diverse needs. Despite the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) nearly 25 years ago, many places remain inaccessible to wheelchairs. An addition to the ADA, Section 508, requires web sites to have certain features added to make them accessible for all users. Unfortunately, I commonly find sites that don't meet these requirements and site owners can be reluctant to have them included.

Despite these problems, disability acceptance is improving. First of all, these laws exist and since the passage of the ADA in 1990, several improvements in accessibility have been made. Due in part to this, you can see someone with a disability more frequently in public places as well as work. Accepting a person with a disability is a great start, but this country is getting far worse at acceptance.

Yesterday, several of the groups I follow shared a news story about seven kids that were "stolen" from their home (text has more detail than the video) by police. It is a Christian family that home schools their kids and they prefer to go without footwear. After a second investigation, the children were taken due to the house having a chemical used to purify water for the garden. A social media campaign has since started showing support for the family.

The general thinking is the anonymous complaint was due to home schooling from a Christian perspective, similar to the family I talked about last year. From what I've read, this is similar to my ideal for raising kids, perhaps minus the water purifier. Christians are being less accepted and not allowed to openly practice our faith at a fervent pace.

Living the quad Christian life has its challenges, that in some ways are easier than times past. However, in other more important ways, they are ever increasing. We will see what comes up in another week.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Royal We

A late post this week, but it is still within the correct time. On weekday afternoons, I have been watching an online show that covers Biblical evangelism. While watching, you can chat with others who are doing the same thing.

Caregivers from time past
One of them asked me where I live, and I answered we live in southeast Iowa, about an hour from Des Moines. His response was that he wasn't familiar with the city, but lived in Wisconsin. Therefore, I related my location to a few cities in his area, again saying we are a particular distance. After more responses using the plural, he wandered why I kept saying we and not I.

After some thinking, my answer was that I was referencing my town and family, not just me. In most conversations though, I find it strange, and even somewhat difficult, to just say I.

For pretty well every activity, I need help from someone else. I can run the computer on my own, but only after someone gets it setup for more. If I go to an activity such as a movie, concert, or just out to eat, I have to have two times the cost. For business meetings, I need to make sure the other person knows I'm bringing someone. I might be a bachelor, but everything I do is essentially as a couple.

When medical needs are being taken care of, caregivers will often ask how "we" are doing. I often respond with, "I don't know about you, but I'm fine." After so many years of hearing this, we has become my normal wording for most situations. It's only at times like above, when I'm not seen, that someone questions my reasoning.

In Matthew 28:20, Jesus tells His disciples that He is always with them, even to the end of the age. Therefore, no matter if we have a person physically with us or not, we are never truly alone. It's a part of the quad life, and every life that has been given.