Sunday, May 21, 2017

Odd Quad Bod

I'm very familiar with the peculiarities of living as a quadriplegic. Having warm legs with ice cold knees and feet isn't unusual. Muscle spasms are another aspect of life that are very familiar. If I hit a bump or a stray air current breezes past, I go stiff as a board or have flying arms and legs. I thought I had this well known, until this week.

My parents managed to get away all of last week and I had my own house again for a few days. My best friend John's wife was also gone so he came down for a quick two day visit. John also brought along his two sons, TJ (3.5 years old) and Jeremiah (9 months old).

It isn't a secret that I love kids and I have been looking forward to them coming. Unlike John's last visit, we didn't take on any major computer projects. This round was just catching up and keeping the
kids happy. Jeremiah just started crawling a few weeks ago and happily explored all over the house. I quickly learned that our baby proofing was nowhere near adequate, but he survived without any lasting injuries.

One of Jeremiah's favorite activities was pulling himself up on the side of my chair. This is pretty typical of kids his age around me and I'm happy to be a jungle gym. However, Jeremiah moved on around and decided to also use my feet and legs as climbing posts.

The first few times he did this I was certain my legs would kick from the touching and send him back to the floor. Much to my thankful surprise, they never even twitched. The next dozen or more times this happened, I never had any spasms at all. Normally, with him grabbing on and pulling himself up on my legs, they would jump all over. Thankfully, they were fine every single time. This also included him crawling over me when I was sitting in bed showing off fancy toys like my mouth stick and floss pick.

Times like these show that just when I think I know how my body will react to certain situations, it proves me wrong. The next time I'm around a crawling critter that takes interest in my legs could be completely different, but I'm thankful for the results this time and look forward to another visit.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Every year we set aside a special day to celebrate mothers. It is an important role that God has allowed millions of women to hold over the centuries and it can't be honored enough.

I'm very fortunate to have been given my mom. Even though she was injured in the same accident as I was, she still does so much. Despite near constant pain in various joints in her legs, mom cares for dad and I every day.

My current funding for nurses requires very careful paperwork in keeping track of everyone's hours for each day, week, and month. Mom spends multiple days a week working on it as well as regular house finances.

Most important though, is mom's love for God. I remember late nights when I was little of mom and I reading from my children's Bible before bed. Sometimes vent tubes and all for time on her lap even. It is through the early years of learning about God and His love for me that have lasted my life. I sometimes think I see a little of God's love reflected in mom's actions toward those around her. Especially when we stay up until very early morning hours with no nurse.

Unfortunately, I know not every family is like mine and think of Mother's Day as just something to get through. If a person's mother has passed on, this is a day that can have a flood of emotions in all directions.

There are times I wish I could make my mom a grandmother. I know she would do well with grand kids and help train them up in the Lord. That hasn't been God's plan for our lives though, so we continue to serve as we can.

Give thanks for all mom's in your life today. They have a difficult job that sometimes is harder than it appears. The years I've been given with my mother are greatly cherished and I thank God for yet another blessing He has given me.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Outreach Burn

This past weekend was perfect weather in Iowa with sunny skies and temps topping out in the upper 60's and low 70's. It's the kind of day that feels cool in the shade, but great in the sun. It was also a great opportunity to meet and talk with people.

Thursday through Saturday was Tulip Time in Pella. The excellent weather and several beds of tulips made for large crowds attending the Dutch festival. On Thursday and Friday I volunteered a few hours at a new gospel outreach stand. It wasn't nearly as busy as being at the fair last summer, but there were still plenty of opportunities to share.

The first day was a short shift to kind of get a feel for how the stand worked and how I could best help. My assistant and I mainly handed out gospel tracts and little information sheets as people walked past. Several kids were thrilled to receive a million dollar bill and show off to their friends.

Friday was a longer stent and with my regular day help out ill, I had dad as my backup. It took a bit of training, but he was catching on to what to do by the time my shift was up. I talked with a few missionaries that were glad to see me out active. A retired couple from Missouri had just started reading through the Bible for the first time and were glad they started. Everyone I had was eager to talk and glad to see the new booth being active.

Unfortunately, I didn't watch out enough for my own needs. After Thursday, we noticed strips of red on my arms where they were exposed to the sun. On Friday and Saturday, I was glowing with sunscreen on my face, arms, and legs, but I forgot about one spot. When washing my hair Sunday morning I realized my scalp received more sun than I thought in a few spots and is now sore to touch. Living the quad life doesn't make me immune to thinning hair lines apparently.

I'm thankful that I was able to get out and I pray that the contacts that were made will have eternal benefit for everyone. This week looks to be a busy one again with doctors and, unfortunately, a hair cut that could be interesting.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Monthly Emergency

A few years ago I saw several advertisements for a cell phone service called Safe Link. It was advertised as free for people that have state sponsored health insurance (like me) and could be used in an emergency.

At that time I would maybe borrow my nurse's cell phone once every couple months when we were out somewhere, but that's all I ever needed. There was no reason I would need to get a cell phone plan and have monthly expenses, so I thought it sounded like a good deal for my needs.

The phone came and as I expected, it was a very basic older generation phone with capabilities of just voice and text. Unfortunately, it didn't have a place to attach a head set, so I had to have someone hold it or put it on speaker and sit it on my table. For rare usage though, it served the purpose. After about two years the phone upgraded, but it was just the newer version with same capabilities of the old version. It's what should I expect for a free phone though.

Last month I ran into one of the problems with the service. I was notified that I needed to use it more or the phone would be discontinued. The service is advertised as to be used in emergencies, but it has to be used for at least one minute every month. Therefore, I guess I'm supposed to have monthly emergencies that I need to call for assistance.

I'm thankful for this type of service that I can use as needed. If it had a way I could use it hands free, or just with my stick, I think it would get much more use. It is good to use to call for pizza every week at least. Hopefully it will never have to be used for the purpose it was intended. However, I never quite know what to expect in the quad life.

This coming week should be a busy one again. Thankfully today's cold and rain should be stopping soon and make for a good time to be out. Until then, I'll see what calls I can figure out to make!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Be Prepared

I like spring with outdoor temps going up, flowers blooming, and the world turning green again. It's like the world is waking up and preparing for a new year of growth. It also means my schedule starts to fill up more.

Last August, I volunteered at the Iowa State Fair to work in the Ark Encounter booth. I received an email a few weeks ago looking for volunteers again this coming summer. I am currently on for two days, instead of three as last year, and look forward to the opportunity. There will also be a booth at Pella's Tulip Time this year that I hope to also volunteer with.

Tulips in 2016
In preparation for these potential times, I have started reviewing some of my books again. I started with an overview of different common world religions and how to work with these followers. In 2009 I took several online classes through Answers in Genesis. However, one more is required for volunteers at the fair.

Review is always good, especially on items you don't get to use much. Most of everything in the lessons has been very familiar, but I still try to go through the videos and most of the articles. I have been working on it since Wednesday evening and just passed my quiz for lesson five. I'm doubting I'll get all 15 done in a week, but it may be a possibility.

1 Peter 3:15 says to always be prepared to give answer to everyone who asks. I can't begin to know everything, and never will, but I can always prepare for common questions. Before August's volunteer time, I will be looking for a small portable microphone to use so people can hear me better.

I will see what this last week of April brings in The Quad Life and try to be prepared for whatever God has in store.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

Last night, thunderstorms rolled through central Iowa. As I laid in bed finishing my night routine, I could see flashes of light through the blinds that lit up the entire sky. A short while later the rain began to fall.

With flashing light, thunder, wind, hail, and rain I could hear the storm beat against the house. One wave ended, then the next began again. Eventually the sky again grew calm and only the dark of night was again outside my window. Spring and summer storms are an excellent display of God's power in His creation. However, this is nothing compared to what happened about 2,000 years ago on Easter Sunday.

After the Crucifixion, Jesus' body was laid in the grave, but it could not hold him. On that first Easter the ground shook as death was conquered. Hardened Roman soldiers who trained killers fainted at the sight of the angels who came to proclaim the news, "He is Risen!"

Unlike the storms we experience today, this awesome power of God did not fade away and leave the world as it was before. Jesus' gift to conquer death is free for all who will take it and are truly repentant of their sins.

Just like a flash of lightening is seen by everyone around, the results of Christ's death and resurrection were shown by those with open eyes. On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 were added to the church. Following the spread of the gospel through the book of Acts, the numbers grew daily of those who were being saved.

On this Easter Sunday, don't wait too until it's too late to except this gift. Our life is like a flicker of light that is here one instant, then gone. Living in this world has its storms, but they are nothing compared to the joy to come for those who believe.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

1/3 of History

April 2017 is the centennial year for the field of occupational therapy (OT). A lot of progress has been made in the last 100 years to help people be able to function in the world around them. The scary part though is that I've been part of OT for nearly a third of its existence.

When I was injured in 1985, there wasn't much technology available for a young child with a high spinal cord injury. I remember very few sessions of being taught how to use a mouth stick. My primary learning technique was just doing something. If I wanted to play, then my only choice was to use the stick. God gave me a mind that is tuned to physics and mechanics, so I tend to pick up quickly how things function. I learned how to manipulate Legos so that I could build multiple levels high with very little, if any, help from my nurses. My dad is also mechanically minded and built a couple great systems for me to play with my farm toys.

School was another area that I felt like a guinea pig. I remember trying out several different devices to indicate I was raising my hand. Ultimately, I went with a flashlight I could activate with a switch on my head rest. After a few years of using though, I just ended up shaking my head or raising my stick if I was using it.

Hand splints have been another area of development. They started out by taking a type of foam and plastic hybrid, heating it until it was pliable, then forming it to my hands. After several months they would start to crack and the Velcro would lose its adhesiveness then the process would start over again. Now, we measure my hand size and order a splint online and it lasts for a few years.

Wheelchair development, exercise equipment and techniques, and new ways of communication are all other parts I've seen the field advance in my lifetime. In another 25-50 years, what we think is advanced today will likely seem very basic and primitive.

We live in a world that is deformed due to sin. As a result, the need for assistance continues to increase. I'm thankful God has given us the tools and knowledge to help with physical challenges that would otherwise make the world inaccessible. If you happen to know anyone involved in this area, please be sure to give thanks for what they do and for the things it has enabled to be done.