Sunday, February 25, 2018

Memory Lane

Work has continued to be slow the past few weeks, so I have been continuing to work on writing. Composing an autobiography is turning out to be fun and a bit frustrating.

I'm currently up to early grade school and I have been remembering all that was going on during that time period of life. Personal computers weren't common in homes at that time and I watched a lot of Discovery channel and other TV. I also played with toy trucks and tractors, Micro Machines, and Legos.

I remember sliding bricks up on each other as I constructed whatever came to mind. When it was in place, my stick worked as a convenient hammer and I tapped it in place. More closer to wack it in place, but either wording works.

A couple years ago, our friends kids were over to open their Christmas presents. One of the gifts was a Lego set. I managed to persuade a few pieces away from their owner so I could help with the project. It probably took me five minutes to get three pieces together as directed and I realized my mouth is not what it used to be over 20 years ago. I think my dentist would be getting a visit from me if I tried such a project now.

Along with the fun times, the quad life was also present. I had surgery to place a bigger trach as I grew and needed more air. The diameter of the new hardware was fine, but nobody checked the length. I was back in the hospital a few days later with a collapsed lung. The trach was too long and was only going into one lung.

Trying to remember what year events occurred is a challenge for the early years as well. I can only have so many "around this time" and "one day" phrases before it gets hard to read.

Whenever I look back, I can easily see God's hand and His leading along this path I've been given. I'm sure as I continue, memories of the fun and not so fun times will come to mind. Hopefully this week has more of the former than the latter.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Loss in 2018

Social media often receives criticism about being an invasion of privacy, spying on people, and a cause of social issues among teenagers. Some of this can be true, but it also allows people to connect with each other that may not have been able to otherwise.

When living the quad life, you can sometimes feel a sense of isolation. In most cases, you're the only person in the area with a high level spinal cord injury. Through the use of social media, I can connect with other quads and there families and share highs, lows, and trade tips on what does and doesn't work. It's not likely I will ever meet in person with most of these people, but I still develop friendships that are more than virtual.

Not long after college, I was active in an online community of people with various levels of injury. I connected with a member, Ami, who's husband was a fellow quadriplegic. In her blog,
her husband, Chad, as Wheeler.

In January, he was diagnosed with a rare condition that his brain was shrinking and went unnoticed due to his quadness. He passed away on February 4 and his epic after party, or memorial service, was held yesterday. Chad is the second quad I've known to die in 2018.

Wheeler was a quadriplegic for nearly 30 years and the second for around 20. Neither of these men were on mechanical ventilation all day like me, but still had similar injury levels. This Tuesday will be my 33rd anniversary of entering the quad life.

More and more often I'm reminded of the brevity of life on earth and how what is here today can be gone tomorrow. I'm thankful for the years I have been given this far and however many remain. However, I have not used every moment as I should and have wasted much time over the years, but try increasingly more to make wise time choices.

Wheeler was like me and found ways to do activities that quads don't generally get to do. He went boating, parasailing, surfing, and much more. I was ahead of him though with zip lining and tower climbing. Chad was also a caring husband and dad that loved his family.

I regularly hear requests for help in funeral expenses when a fellow quad dies. For some reason, just because I can't breathe on my own, life insurance companies won't offer a policy. Six years ago, I did find a way I can save for funeral expenses and am now nearing the halfway point in funds. By that rate, I still need to stay around for six more years with continued savings!

In the time I've been given in this life, I continue to work more toward serving God and helping those around me. This year has given me reminders to not waste opportunities as soon they may be gone. In the week ahead I will continue to try and cherish every minute.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Long Snow

As winter drags on, I'm hearing more people asking, "Is it spring yet?" I'm included in having the same question. We had snow a few times this year, but it seemed to melt a few days later with warmer temps. Unfortunately, the latest rounds have deposited several inches and the cold is staying as well.

One thing I hear a lot of people say during winter is that they are tired of clouds and want to see the sun. For me, I can't say I'm really bothered if it's a clear day or not. Bright sun on the white landscape is almost blinding and I almost prefer some cloud cover until everything melts.

Winter does also seem to pass slowly, at least compared to the summer. When I was in the hospital in November, a few people sent balloons for my birthday. There were originally five, but two of them have kept their helium and are still anchored in my room. Looking at them reminds me it has already been over two months even if it doesn't feel like it.

I also have an escape from winter, at least in my head. I recently purchased a game called American Truck Simulator where you drive semis around the southwestern U.S. I have driven several in game days and so far have always had clear blue skies to live my dream of driving truck. When I'm flat, I also do some virtual farming which generally includes clear sunny days as well. Even though it looks cold and dull out my window, I can experience better simulated conditions.

Ecclesiastes 3 says for everything there is a season. During the warm months of the year, the land produces its crop and we enjoy the bounty God provides. Winter gives a time of rest before another season of growth comes again. Those who work the land can also take time to prepare for the next year and spend energy on other endeavors, such as reading and playing simulated farming!

Anticipating what may come is good, but don't forget to also use the time you currently have.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Friendly Voices

In early 2003, I took my final college test and officially earned my degree. For the following six months, I gave out a multitude of résumés, had dozens of interviews, and held a few temp jobs. Unfortunately, I did not find anything permanent and the state agency helping me find work, vocational rehabilitation, said not to expect to get hired and gave me numbers to nursing homes.

This did not sound like God's plan for my life, so I moved back in with my parents. During school, I started working on a few web sites for my church and a few others and thought to try web development as a career. It started out pretty well and in 2006 I started working with another church's web site, I'll call them The Rock.

I have never met anyone from this church, but still felt part of it. Every week, I listen to Scripture
readers and sermons to put online. Posting pictures, monthly potlucks, class schedules, I knew everything that was going on at church. It has been years since I needed to look who was preaching, I could tell by voice who was giving the message as I knew all the regular speakers.

Unfortunately, a new pastor came to The Rock in 2017 and he decided to not only take care of the congregation, but also the web site. January marked my last time updating sermons, seeing the weekly bulletin, and knowing everything that was going on each week.

Yes, they were a client that paid for my services, but I felt like more than just an independent webmaster. Maybe I get too involved with some clients, but I think it's part of trying to help make their online appearance the best it can be. I know I'm not a great business man, I have a hard time charging for an hour of time when I only worked less than ten minutes. It's what pays the bills, but still doesn't feel right.

In January, I had a total of 5.5 hours of paying work for the entire month. The Rock was 1.75 of it and an infrequent client was another hour. Moving forward, I'm now down to one regularly active site and a few very minimal sites. That doesn't cover much time in a month.

As of today, I'm not sure what God has in store for me. I have been asked for years about writing a book and have started to make an attempt of it. I also contacted several schools about speaking, but haven't heard back from any of them.

The quad life is like any other with ups and downs. I'm very thankful for all the years of work I have been given and will wait to see what comes next.