Monday, August 29, 2016

Day Dreaming

Yesterday while laying flat I had random thoughts floating through my head while planting virtual grain fields. I first wondered what it would be like to be in my 70's to 80's and show my grand kids what it was like to program web sites "back in my day." Granted, things would need to drastically in the near future for me to have actual grand kids, but it was still the idea.

Thinking of the coding for starting a basic page, I actually had to think a bit how to begin. It has been quite a while now since I've done actual coding it's starting to get rusty. Most of my work in the past year has just been updating various files and text for clients, hardly earning the title of web developer.

Ironically, just as I finished that last sentence, I received a message from a client to go ahead and start remaking their site. I guess I better dust out the cobwebs and see what new tricks this old quad can learn.

When I went biking last Thursday, I was met with a company rep shortly I started getting hooked up. She was there to install upgraded equipment and wondered how long I would take to ride. My caregiver got everything going as quickly as she could and I got off to pedaling. While I was doing my time, the rep continued to try to loosen various screws, but wasn't able to make them budge. After further assistance, parts started coming off and my caregiver had to hold pieces until my time was done. Thankfully, my regular time ended just as they needed me out and the rep could continue to work. My question, that nobody answered, is what were they going to do with the old system? Could I help by taking it off their hands?

On Friday, I was interviewed for the local newspaper for my work at the Ark Encounter. I couldn't tell what the reporter was thinking of my recap, so I have no idea what to expect. I'm hoping she gives accurate information about the ark and the gospel outreach, which is why I agreed to do it. Just reporting on what I regularly do anyway isn't all that exciting, definitely not newsworthy. I guess I prefer writing my own articles for papers instead of leaving it up to others.

Every week is different, even when just regular activities are planned. I'll wait to see if I get questions about the ark, or shunned from the church when the article comes out. God knows what He has in store.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August Reflections

The second and third days at the fair went well last week. I didn't get into any long conversations and still heard "What?" quite often, but it was still a great opportunity. My lungs and voice got used to trying to speak louder and didn't hurt nearly as much as the first day.

My assistant decided if I do this again, I need to try to come up with some sort of portable speaker system to be heard better. Also to only do two days and take a third to actually see the fair. We toured a little after my shifts, but still missed most of it. After biking yesterday, we got lunch from Subway and parked at the fairgrounds as we often do. Two days after its closing the grounds were still busy with cleanup work, but a lot had already been done.

Next week, my dad is planning to take a trip out west for some hiking and train watching. He loves to hike and talks about it constantly the weeks prior to leaving and after his return. Dad doesn't get to go out on his own very often, so I'm glad when he's able to get away. Unfortunately, I received an email today that next Friday and Saturday nights are not covered for my nursing.

That usually means both my parents split the night, but it doesn't work if dad is gone. I feel bad for possibly cutting his much needed vacation short. Hopefully something will work out, but these are times I wonder if I'm being selfish for trying to stay home yet. God has allowed me to do a lot over the years and I know He has a plan in everything.

School started this week in the area, so that means speaking time is coming as well. Last school year I visited seven grade schools and three classes at one college. Hopefully scheduling class visits this fall will go well and I'll have night, and day, caregivers so I can do them.

This week in the quad life is busy with doctors and biking, but next week look a bit calmer again. Summer is nearing an end and busy season starts again, I will see what God has in store this year.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Quietly Outspoken

In Mark 16:15, Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Unfortunately, many churches and individuals do "check preaching" as I say. They help to financially support missionaries to go and preach the gospel, but stop there. It's great to help support missionaries, and we should do so, but looking at the verse again you'll notice it doesn't say certain people only.

I'm not any different, I am quick to help support or encourage others to preach, but am slow to do so myself. In May, I received a message asking for volunteers to help serve at the Answers in Genesis gospel outreach booth at the Iowa State Fair. I put my name in for a few shifts, the first of which was
Friday morning.

The booth has a hand built model of Noah's Ark along with different displays asking questions about how Noah did things, evolution, and knowing Christ. I sat near one of the TV's showing a short movie about the new Ark Encounter in Kentucky. Other volunteers were handing out ark themed gospel tracts and we did sticker tattoos for kids.

While parents waited in line I would ask them about the ark and talk with them as they allowed. I saw one passer-by reading a question, so I asked him his thoughts. He gave them quite loudly and walked off. The question I heard the most though was, "What?"

When using mechanical ventilation in the quad life, you have a quiet voice. It works fine in classrooms where I'm the only one speaking, but not when there is a lot of background noise. Therefore, I kept trying to take deeper breaths and talk louder so people could hear. By the end of my three-hour shift, my lungs were sore and my throat was still sore 11 hours later.

I was able to hand out a number of tracts at least and did have short conversations with people. I'm scheduled to go two more times this week and I am looking forward to them again. I don't know how much this will make me into a preacher, but it is fun to spread the gospel. Hopefully by my next post I'll still have a voice!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Habits

One of my day nurses is quite chatty, whether I'm listening or not. Yesterday she came up with a question of wondering about any bad habits I had. She came up with one of her own and I thought about offering more, but decided to keep them to myself. i said one of mine and thought up several more as well, but kept them in my head as well.

A habit that I've been getting into with all my flat time is watching more shows on Netflix and YouTube. I'll just lay here and watch show after show until my time is gone and I can sit up again. Sitting here doing absolutely nothing is okay sometimes, but I don't like the habit it's starting to become. Playing farming simulator isn't much better, but at least with it I'm moving a little and actually doing something.

For a while, I was getting in the habit of reading while I was down. I still do it some, but not like I was for a while. When the busyness of summer slows down, if not before, I need to work on changing this routine. When I have nurses during the day, use my first down time for farming or videos and the second one for reading. It sounds like a good idea at least, we'll see if it actually happens.

Last week a friend said he liked my habit of twice daily Bible reading. Trying to offer advice on how to get into it, I had to think again how I did. This is a habit I enjoy as well, and don't plan on changing. Some nights get difficult as I want to get to sleep, but I usually make it through my three chapters.

Habits, both good and bad, become regular parts of our lives even if we don't realize it. Stepping back and looking at them is a good practice and adjust what's needed. My habit of late posts is becoming regular, but I still get one per calendar week. Until the next one, have a great week readers!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tuesday Travels

It has been a busy day in the quad life with regular and irregular activities.

Every other year I get a regular eye exam and today was the day. Just after finding a parking spot wide enough for my lift, it started to rain. I rolled to an overhang by the door as it started to pour as my caregiver finished with the van. I stayed fairly dry, but she got rather soaked. We always look like an interesting pair heading into doctor's offices, but today was a bit more than usual.

Using a wheelchair makes eye exams a challenge since all the equipment is setup for the patient to use their seats. At one point, the doctor was straddling my footrests with his legs while holding a device directly up to my face. It would have been a really bad time for my legs to jump as he would have, let's see, noticed the bump very quickly. Thankfully, everything stayed in place and my eyes haven't changed in two years. Hopefully that will continue through to the next visit.

Next up was a hair cut at my local barber. This again is a place where patrons normally use the included seats. For me, the process is to park where the seat had been placed, then remove my chair's head rest so the back of my head can be reached. I also use two capes, one forward and one backward, to cover me and my chair's electronics. I have been going to the same place for several years, so they are used to the routine, but it's always a challenge to get everything setup and then put back together again.

After a quick stop for a few items at the grocery store, it was back home for a quick lunch, some personal care, and out again. However, the last outing of the day wasn't routine.

Two years ago, a teenager in a neighboring town was in an ATV accident and received a spinal cord injury. His injury was a little lower than mine and he was able to breathe and had some arm use, but was still classified as a quadriplegic. Unfortunately, Tyler passed away Saturday at the age of 17, just before his senior year of high school. Therefore, the last outing today was a short trip east to his visitation. I only met him once in person, but still tried to offer help via email and social media where I could.

Most days are very routine for all of us, just going about our regular activities. Sometimes, something outside the routine makes us remember why we're put in this creation. As you go through your week, remember to take time to be with the giver of life, and that routine is working for His glory.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Flat and Stiff

Muscle spasms are a regular part of living with a spinal cord injury, and other disabilities. Mine are usually pretty well controlled through medication, regular stretching, and just general body management. The last few days have been hopping though.

Some spasms are good in that they help to maintain muscle mass, improve circulation, and help with bone density. However, they can make regular daily activities a challenge if not nearly impossible sometimes. This weekend, my legs wouldn't cooperate for anything despite having good stretching exercises and foregoing footwear. These two usually are all I need, but they didn't stem the jumping. Today when sitting in bed I was still resembling a jumping frog, but it has thankfully improved this evening.

My routine of sitting for 90 minutes and going flat for three hours has been going on for over a month now and is starting to get to me. Spending so much time flat, just playing games or watching YouTube or Netflix, is really starting to get boring. It makes me feel like I'm being lazy and not contributing anything to society, and it's true.

Trying to write while flat though is very hard to do, especially if I want to see what I'm writing! Making the most of my short sitting periods is becoming more important, but gets hard when I get stiff and need frequent re-positioning.

I have become very familiar with eating my meals when flat and it almost seems strange to eat while sitting! From what I'm hearing, the increased down time helped immediately after returning from camp, but doesn't seem to be making a big difference now. In order to keep some remnants of sanity, I think I'll be returning to two hours up and two hours down routine soon.

At least with plenty of down time, I have opportunity to think and do some reading. The quad life has its ups and downs in many forms, but I can remain thankful for the time I do have and look forward to what's ahead. Whether it's less spasticity, the next up time, or whatever God has planned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Upgrade or Downgrade?

When I received my spinal cord injury in 1985, portable ventilators were not very common. Fortunately, two options existed at the time and my parents chose a model called the PLV-100 by
Respironics. It ran quieter than the other type and seemed to work well.

For the next couple decades, this is what I used to get every breathe. I had one vent on my chair and another by my bed equipped with a humidifier. In college, my original machines were replaced with new ones of the same model and the same company, completely covered by insurance.

When I received my diaphragm pacemaker in late 2010, I continued to use my green box while I transitioned to the new system and kept them available for backup. They remained close by at all times, until last month.

With the beginning of the year, my insurance decided it would be like Medicaid and start renting vents instead of paying for them. Even though my machines were purchased around 2002, my equipment provider started receiving rental checks for both machines every month. This increased monthly maintenance fees by a factor of 12 and meant I had to update to newer models, even if I
New vent alongside suction machine
didn't want to change.

Therefore, I have now have two new vents still by Respironics, but this time a Trilogy. The large green machines are now smaller and blue, but also much noisier when operating. In talking with my respiratory therapist that does regular maintenance checks, the new machines are also not as reliable as the old.

Fortunately, it has been a few years since I have used a traditional vent for any length of time. If I did have to go back on it, this system should also be able to go on the back of my chair if needed. I wouldn't be able to make people hear me, but I would be breathing at least.

Some days in the quad life make me wonder if people who make these machines actually know someone who uses them or just looks at statistics and cost. In any case, I'm thankful that this technology exists and has worked well for so many years. I was told that some of the old vents are being taken for use in third world countries, so they will get used by people that need them. We'll see what another week will bring.