Monday, November 30, 2015

Thankful 15

Last week, the United States stopped for our annual day of giving thanks. Some people were thankful to stand in a line to get bargains. but many observed the day for its intended purpose. When we stop and think, there are many reasons we can give thanks. Since we are nearing the end of 2015, I thought I would find 15 reasons to be thankful. In no particular order, they are:
Thankful for birthday gifts.
  1. The sacrifice of God's Son for the forgiveness of my sins.
  2. Parents that help me with every part of life.
  3. Caregivers that also help me with everything and give my parents rest.
  4. Living in a country where I can freely worship God as a Christian.
  5. A warm home to live in outside of a care facility.
  6. Good health, at least for a guy who isn't breathing independently and has multiple holes in his butt.
  7. Being able to do at least some work
  8. Technology that allows me to communicate with people wherever they live.
  9. Wheelchair that functions well and allows me to get out and be active
  10. Diaphragm pacemaker (and vent) that have provided me air for so many years.
  11. Living at a time where I can access most places I want to go and participate in the community.
  12. Friends that I can easily talk to and share absolutely everything I'm going through.
  13. Having a reliable vehicle that allows me to easily travel anywhere I need to go.
  14. Worshiping in an active church where I am able to serve God.
  15. Technology that allows my body to do more than I expected.
  16. Another year of experiencing God's blessings.
The last one is for looking toward another year of the quad life. This list doesn't even begin to include items like being able to experience God's creation with sight and sound and much more. As you reflect on Thanksgiving leftovers, see if you can make a list of 15 items, plus one for the coming year.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Snow Day

It is not uncommon for Iowa to have received our first snow by this time of the year. The annual occurrence came this past Friday. However, it wasn't the usual light snowfall that may just accumulate in the grass. No, this was a real abrupt welcome to winter.

Some parts of Iowa received 14" of snow, with a few locations only getting a dusting. We were in the 5"-7" range of accumulation. That's a good amount for the first snow of the season, but not anything extreme. The most challenging part of this storm was the roads.

Early Thursday morning, my parents left for Minneapolis for my dad's work. They had planned to watch trains afterword and get back home sometime on Saturday. With the weather predictions though, they started back from Wisconsin in early afternoon.

At first the snow wasn't bad and stopped a few times. Unfortunately, the closer to home they came, the worse road conditions became. Finally, about 19 miles from home, they couldn't progress any further and stopped for the night at my grandmother's house. My caregiver and I assured them we were fine and the night nurse would make it.

However, less than two hours later, my night assistant called that the main roads hadn't been treated and she couldn't make it. Therefore, it was down to just the current helper and I. Earlier in the day, my primary day assistant and I had talked about possible plans in case everyone was snowed in. Since she lives only a few blocks away, she was able to make it to my house to help.

Throughout the night then, my two caregivers switched off letting one rest while the other was responsible for me. This is the first time I have been at home with a nurse unable to come due to weather and my parents gone. I'm very thankful it worked out and that I've been given caring people that are willing to do whatever is needed.

Unexpected times in the quad life can require thinking of new solutions. I can see God had everything ready to easily work out and I just needed to follow His plan. Hopefully this is the only time for a major storm, but it's unlikely. When the next one comes though, I know it has already been planned.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Planet Earth

A few years ago, the Discovery Channel had a series called Earth. I have seen it before, but I put the series on my list for Netflix. The first DVD came last week and I watched the initial three episodes.

The high definition video really makes you feel like you are seeing different areas of the world through your own eyes. As each show focuses on one particular area or theme, you get to see the complexity of nature and the beauty of creation. As a Christian, I marvel at God's creative work and the world He has given us.

Of course the narrator attributes everything to occurring slowly over millions of years and just being a byproduct of chance. Looking at the world from a Biblical standpoint, I see stark evidence of the flood in Noah's day and the results being displayed in geology.

In one show, we're told how the Colorado River slowly carved out the Grand Canyon, but it's not today. As was evident after the Mount Saint Helen's eruption, a release of a lot of water can easily create a canyon in just a few hours. The Grand Canyon is a result of this with water collecting as the flood subsided.

With all the beauty of the earth, a lot of it is also ugly and cruel. Another scene showed wild dogs hunting prey and devouring their catch. Thanks to the entrance of sin, our paradise was lost and along with its remaining elegance, much pain exists.

As you go around your part of the planet, look for special parts of creation that God has given us to enjoy. It can be a challenge at times, but it is always there. Living the quad life often forces me to have to go slower than I would like, but it gives opportunity to look and see the world around me in its majesty and malignant.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bike Update

Back in July, I started using the FES bike at Younkers Rehab in Des Moines. Since then, I have been going to Des Moines about every other week for a ride. In my time I've done eight sessions and have biked 11 miles. This coming Thursday will likely be my last ride for the year.

In order to get the electrodes on my legs, I have to wear shorts. It's late enough in the year that shorts really aren't an option any more. The forecast for this week is a high of 51° and wind gusts up to 40 mph. We're planning to cover my legs in a blanket and try to make the roll from van to indoors as short as possible.

Biking hat
The newness of it has worn off, but I still greatly enjoy my biking days. My legs are much calmer than usual and it's still a good feeling to have my legs moving a little under their own power. I wish I lived closer to a system or lived in a warmer climate that I could keep going.

We started the paperwork trail to get my own bike not long after my first session, but most of the communication occurred in October. Restorative Therapies, the bike producer, said that we needed to purchase the bike before insurance would pay for it. My insurance said they needed a prior approval submitted, and then they would either approve or deny the bike. We went back and forth a few times, but we're back to me needing to purchase the system in order to get it. Insurance would then be billed and the funds may be recovered.

Unfortunately, I don't have over $14,000 just sitting around to be able to buy the bike. I've been told grants are available, but I'm not able to use them . Therefore, it looks like I won't be able to get my own system to use at home.

I understand this isn't a device necessary for life and that it is just nice to have. If I did get to use it at home 3-4 days a week, the main result would only be calmer legs and maybe getting to reduce my meds. That would be great, but no real difference in the long run (or bike ride).

Hopefully when warm weather returns I can continue my miles. However, with not being able to get my own, I don't know if it would be real helpful to continue alternating weeks indefinitely. Part of the quad life is about making choices. We'll see what comes with this in time.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Three Headed Monster

In junior high I remember diagramming sentences. My teacher took us through what he called the three headed monster of the process. I didn't like facing the monster then and lately it seems like the creature has returned.

The last few months have very busy for work and it seems like I can never get ahead. Today for instance, most of my sitting time was spent getting billing out for last month's work. That is now finished, but as I type this at 7:30 in the evening, I have yet to touch my regular Monday morning assignments. When I sit up in another hour, I will finally be able to get it started. However, the ongoing projects that need work likely won't get touched, again, today. This is the first head of the monster.

Second is the head of funding frustration. Last week I talked about the wisdom of government funded insurance. In talking with my county DHS worker, she advised it would be better if I didn't work, at least not for pay. Yes, work can be frustrating (see head 1), but I would much rather be too busy than not doing anything. I do know other people with disabilities that only do some volunteer work, but I know some would much rather be working for a living. I'm thankful for what I can do and I cannot see myself sitting and laying around all day playing games.

My final head is just regular life with a major disability. Mom is once again spending her evening doing paperwork so my day caregivers can get funded. Earlier this evening my parents were discussing who had to do what and who could come with me during my council meeting at church tomorrow night. The last ten days or so have also needed a lot of suctioning to keep my lungs clear requiring more work from my parents at times we don't have help.

Rolling back though and looking at everything as one beast to tackle can seem like too much to handle. However, a slight glance elsewhere reveals the problems aren't bad. Bringing each and every item to God in prayer starts to tame the dragon.

None of my clients are getting too frustrated with my lack of speed in processing requests. I know I'm doing the tasks God has given me and have been for years. Political schemes change, but the king of kings is Lord of all. I've also been given a family that is very caring and willing to do what's needed to make our situation work.

It took the entire school year to tackle the diagramming monster, and this one will take time as well. In the last two months, two campers and one counselor from CHAMP Camp have been released from earthly cares. I can be thankful for the quad life I've been given and continue to run the race before me, being sure to jump the hurdles. Another week can bring a new set of circumstances and they will be tackled as they come.