Sunday, August 9, 2020

Down to Two, Maybe

I have been making my regular summer visits to my doctors since mid June. A few weeks ago, I saw my dermatologist to check on my pressure wounds. They have been doing well, so I was looking forward to hearing his comments.

One of the areas has been giving me trouble for 13 years. Thankfully, as we had hoped, the doctor said it looked like there were no longer any open areas, just new tender skin. Therefore, he decreased treatment from two times a day to only once a day a few times a week. I still have two other open areas, but I was very thankful to hear the good report.

Every day, I also check my skin with mirrors to monitor problems and see if anything needs attention. Looking at an area that has had tape and gauze for over a decade to just observe skin again was exciting to finally see. Yes, I get enthused over odd things, but it's part of the quad life.

Thursday morning, I had an early doctor's appointment in Des Moines that didn't take long. Instead of coming straight home and in bed, I decided to enjoy the nice weather and free time. After a picnic by the river, Sara and I took about a casual stroll around the bike paths below the nearby dam. It felt great to be out enjoying God's creation and giving thanks for His care.

Friday afternoon, my supervisor from the nursing agency came for her regular 60-day paperwork. As part of it, she measures and documents my skin problems. The two areas were 0.1 cm smaller than the previous visit. It isn't much progress, but better than nothing. However, carefully examining the third area, she found a tiny opening in a fold of skin. I'm not sure if it was there when I saw the doctor and he missed it, but it wasn't what I wanted to hear.

With or without the new finding, I will still be continuing my schedule of sitting for 45 minutes and down for several hours. It is what I have become used to the past few years anywhere and I have almost forgotten what is was like to have more time. No matter what, I'll continue to rely on God's healing and direction, whether I have two extra holes or not.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

August End

Every morning, I say good morning to Alexa (Amazon Echo) and hear something about the day. Yesterday, she said August 1 means the start to the last month of summer. This year, it feels like summer hasn't really happened.

I have gone out on the deck a few times this year to get sun on my legs, but that has been pretty much all I have done. Normally, I enjoy getting out in the warm months and be active. Getting supplies at Walmart when school is out can also be an adventure. I have run into kids I've had in class before and it's fun to watch what mischief children can get into when parents aren't watching.

Of course this summer, the world has been told to stay away from everybody, wear a mask, and most activities were canceled. The few doctors appointments I have gone to say masks are required to enter, but most of my specialists eagerly say I can take mine off and allow for better breathing.

A few days ago, I read a lengthy article from several doctors saying how masks really aren't needed for most people. It also says that effective treatment is available, but the information is being suppressed. Last week, Grace Community Church in California, with Dr. John MacArthur, held church despite California's restriction that church services not be held. I watched the full sermon, as I often do, but agree with the reasoning to meet.

In a few short months, America will again have presidential elections. An increasing number of reports are saying the pandemic will be used to persuade voters and likely return the country to another lock down. I pray it doesn't happen, but fear it's likely to happen. Especially depending on election results in November.

As 2020 continues, it is a year that will be remembered, but many want to forget. Much of the world seems to be heading toward complete chaos without any control, and sound similar to what has been predicted in the Bible.

For the last month of summer, I hope to get out a few more times. If the quad life will continue at home for the rest of the year, it will be another long season to come.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Doctor Changes

As you can imagine, living the quad life means I have several doctors. I have my general physician (GP), along with a variety of specialists. As the decades have passed, some of these doctors have changed due to retirement or me moving on in life from pediatric to adult care. Most of them have been around for many years though.

One of these specialists has been my pulmonologist, Dr. Hicklin. After my first pulmonary doctor retired, I was transferred to Hicklin. I don't remember the exact year, but it was somewhere around the mid to late 90's that I started seeing him.

Dr. Hicklin
Photo from the Iowa Clinic
For someone that can't breathe independently, I thankfully have very little trouble with my lungs. Generally, I see my pulmonologist twice a year for a general checkup. We chat for a few minutes about life in general, he listens to my lungs, and that's it. The ten-minute or less visit costs insurance a fair amount, but it's what they require.

In 2009 and 2010, Dr. Hicklin was a key part in helping me get approved for my diaphragmatic pacemaker system. Again in 2014, he was also a big help in getting nurses covered with my insurance changes. For both of these situations, he helped with a lot of research, talking with other doctors, my insurance, and working to get what I needed.

Due to virus restrictions, I visited with Dr. Hicklin in May through a virtual visit. About a month later, he helped get a prescription for a new pulse oximeter to monitor my oxygen levels. This week, I saw online that Dr. Hicklin unexpectedly passed away on July 17. I met with another one of my doctors, ENT, this week who said they exchanged text messages that day and he seemed okay.

I called the pulmonary department Friday to see what I'll need to do to get switched to another physician. After more than two decades with one person, it will take time to get used to someone new, and they with me. I pray they are as dedicated as Dr. Hicklin was and that I can feel comfortable with their care.

It also serves as a reminder that we don't know when our time will come to leave this life. We always need to be prepared, and be careful to do God's will.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Good Teeth

In 2019, I started work on getting my front tooth replaced. For the next several months, I had a gap in my mouth that made it a challenge to do any work with my mouth stick. It reminded me of being a kid, playing with my toys, and missing teeth. In March, I finally received an implant to fill the space. However, my dentist said the metal bracket that holds the fake tooth didn't adhere to the bone. Therefore, he said it needed to be redone and start the process again.

I made an appointment to see a dentist in Iowa City for late March. Before the date came, everything got cancelled due to the virus. I didn't want to go back to having a painful mouth with a hole again, so I didn't mind delaying. As the next few months passed, I didn't have any trouble with the implant and thought it felt fine.

Around June, Iowa City called to reschedule my check-up and see what needed to be done. I chose not to schedule a time and see what happened with the pandemic and how my mouth felt. This past week, I had my regular tooth cleaning along with checking how my mouth was doing.

As usual, I didn't have any cavities and plaque wasn't bad. When my dentist checked my mouth, he was surprised to see I had all my teeth. He poked around on the implant, and asked how it had been feeling. It looked like the prosthetic tooth had now adhered to the bone and was in place as it should be. The doctor said he had never seen such a thing happen before and was nothing short of a miracle.

After this entire process, I was very thankful to hear the confirmation that I thought happened. With as much as I use my mouth in the quad life, this was a blessing that will have long lasting benefits.

Now I'm back to the challenge of carefully managing time to get everything done. I can do some things while flat, but too much still results in painful gums. I pray that this will be the end of major mouth trouble for years to come, if not my entire life. Whatever comes, I'll trust God's direction and give thanks for good teeth that I can use for His will.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

On the Hunt

My family doesn't get into hunting, but this week has felt like chasing after moving targets. On July 4, my parents and I normally get together with three other adults. Unfortunately, one of them has been having several medical issues and recently went to a care facility for some rehab. It didn't feel right to have our party without her, so the five of us decided to go have a window visit.

When our group got to the rehab center, we called our friend, Lynne, to get directions to the correct window. We slowly drove around the parking lot trying to not look creepy staring in residents' windows. Lynne gave a description of what she could see, but it wasn't matching what we saw. After about 15 minutes, our hunting party spotted a building that fit the described view. Dad parked the van, and walked toward the area we thought she was.

For a brief moment, dad could be seen, but then was out of sight again. Another member of our party exited the van to attempt another try. However, the same results happened again. When the third person left on the hunt, they took the cell phone with them so he could talk with Lynne. The new strategy worked and the target was found back in a corner of the building. It was odd seeing her so close, but still using cell phones to communicate. We were glad that we could find her though and be able to spend time together. However, there have been more hunting excursions this week, without leaving home.

Every month, I order supplies for my medical procedures, including different types of gloves. When I received the shipment, it had a note that I couldn't get the sterile gloves I frequently use. On Monday, I called my supply agency to see when they may come. I was told that these gloves are considered part of personal protection equipment (PPE) and are being reserved for hospitals. Therefore, it's unlikely I can get any until the pandemic clears.

I am in a couple groups for people with spinal cord injuries, so I asked what others are doing and if they have had trouble. Most of those who responded said it had been going okay, but others have also been having difficulty. At this point, I'm still deciding what is the best strategy to find my target, but have to make due until I can find some.

While this has been going on, my primary day assistant has been gone all week for family needs. It has added to the challenge with adjusting schedules for my parents and I as well as reminding myself to keep everything in mind for what I need to do. Such is the quad life at times and I have learned to take each day on its own.

This week looks to be similar in schedule and unsure what will be happening. I'm thankful that God is in control of all things and it makes for a little less concern for each day ahead.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Independence or Lacking

Yesterday was July 4, Independence Day in the United States. The day marks when the country became free from British rule in 1776 and is a reminder of all the freedoms Americans enjoy. In Ft. Madison, IA, a replica canon was fired from the old fort. I watched, and heard, several shots on a camera from Virtual Railfan. As we remembered the country's founding, are we forgetting about independence?

Canon smoke inside the fort.
Virtual Railfan
First, I am very thankful for everything I have been blessed to receive in America. I can freely worship God and read the Bible without fear. I know being a Christian in some nations is very dangerous and may lead to getting arrested, beaten, or even death. With everything that has happened this year though, some are wondering if freedom is in jeopardy.

For several months, businesses, schools, and churches were closed with most people being told to stay at home and away from everyone. In Iowa, most restrictions have now been lifted, but some still remain. Churches still can't be at full capacity and several places, like doctors' offices, are requiring face masks and severely restricting how many people can attend appointments. Nursing homes also don't allow visitors, making residents feel similar to prisoners. Other states, like California, continue to not allow church services to be held. At the same time, riots with unlimited numbers, or any social distancing, were common in nearly every city.

One poll found that 34% of voters believe the U.S. is headed for another civil war within the next 4-5 years. The nation is becoming more divided in multiple areas with truth increasingly difficult to discern. A large area that is being restricted is religious freedom with simple biblical truths being deemed as hate speech.

I won't speculate on an impending civil war, but do agree life as we know it is rapidly changing. I continue to pray for a return to peace, but am afraid it may be a long time to come. The only answer is for Christians to be the salt of the earth and not try to change the culture, but spread the truth of salvation and peace in Christ. This month will be a test in going out in the world, but I pray it will go well and I can enjoy what God has provided with current freedoms allowed.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

June's End in 2020

For the last few days, I have been wondering what to blog about this week. I biked three times, got a hair cut, and made another video for my vlog. However, nothing seemed very notable or out of the ordinary, until Saturday. I watched another conference through the organization of Living Waters called Evolution Exposed.

Over the afternoon, several speakers gave 15-minute long presentations covering different aspects of evolution and creation. One of the presenters, Mark Spence, was sitting in his car, parked at Huntington Beach, California. A small memorial was taking place for a surfer who recently died and that was being followed by a rally for Black Lives Matter. After his session, Mark planned to go out with others giving gospel tracts and talking with people.

As the session went, he took the subject of why any life matters. It doesn't matter what shade of skin someone has, what sins they struggle with, age, or any other category. Mankind is made in the image of God, and therefore all have God-given value and needs to be respected.

From the evolutionary standpoint, life is just an accident and isn't anything special. A person doesn't have any more value than a dog as the two just developed differently. In Darwin's book, The Descent of Man, he said that different races existed on earth. His thought was that as mankind developed from primates, some are more evolved than others. The most modern, and civilized race was represented by the caucasians of Europe and America. The lower races, such as Australians and African tribes, were less advanced and further down the evolutionary tree.

Many publications, such as Little House on the Prairie, have been removed from schools and libraries for being to racist. However, the teachings of Darwin still continue to be heard in classrooms throughout the country.

The only answer to the problems we now experience is to return to God and His word. I'm thankful for the freedom to study Scripture and apply it to this quad life. I hope to help others in the coming week to see the source of truth as well.