Sunday, September 30, 2018

Less Than a Year

A couple weeks ago, I visited my ENT about an oddity with my trach button. He ran a few tests and the results came back with an infection. I can count on a few mouth sticks how often I've had a trach infection, so I started on an antibiotic September 18. The prescription was fairly hefty with two pills taken three times a day for ten days.

Last week Sunday night, I took the prescription along with the rest of my meds and got ready for bed. The nurse and I noticed my abdomen was sticking out a little further than usual, but I'm often portly late in the day. Memories from last November briefly ran through my head with being on a strong antibiotic and ending in the hospital with an ileus and major stomach pain.

Monday morning came with everything looking normal again. I continued with the antibiotic and my regular routine. Around 10:30, I was on flat time and turned on my side for further relief on pressure sores. With YouTube running on my computer behind me, I watched my list of entertainment in a mirror. I could also see my lower chest in the reflection and noticed my stomach growing.

I cut my side time short, but by noon the battle of the bulge looked near. I opted to skip lunch and quick tried to get some web updates complete along with a note to my ENT to adjust the prescription. Unfortunately, by 2:00 war was declared and the too familiar stomach pain had started. Over the next few hours, some relief was managed and I called in my main day assistant for help.

Around 8:00, discomfort was partially under control, but I still looked at least six months pregnant. I decided to try to make it through the night and we would head to the hospital in Des Moines in the morning. That time came quicker than expected with my night nurse waking up my parents at 4:00 Tuesday morning.

By 6:00, I was again in the ER with the same stomach trouble I had less than a year ago. This time, I didn't wait on the NG tube and it was shoved in for the fifth time in my life. Within an hour, a liter of fluid had been sucked out of me and my nose was the discomfort now with the tube instead of my stomach.

Just before attempting sleep Wednesday night at the hospital, the tube was again removed. For a first in my hospital visits, I was released in an evening and was back home by 8:00 Thursday night. By 10:30 Friday morning, I was again on my regular flat time watching something via computer. However, I stayed on my back as I dozed on and off after several days of little to no sleep.

I'm thankful God has surrounded me with a multitude of caregivers and parents that know me well and how to roll with the flow. Throughout my stay with sitters and medical staff, possibly a future post, I saw how He provides in every circumstance. Problems and frustrations were encountered, but it went well overall. Each of these instances comes with varying diet instructions that have yet to be consistent. Therefore, I'm carefully getting back to a regular diet again and attempting to follow instructions.

For this week, I'm praying it goes as expected and will not include unscheduled trips.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


It is now officially fall in the northern hemisphere. The outdoor temps are starting to chill and my least favorite time of year is approaching quickly.

Last week, my parents were able to get away on vacation. That meant I once again had the house to myself Sunday to Saturday, along with my nurses during the day and grandparents for evening. We still have flowers around to water, so I made sure to get my watering chores complete.

On Thursday, it was nearly 90° and watering everything on the deck felt quite warm. I had planned on an extended time with my legs in the sun, but it felt more like I was baking instead. However, one day later felt too cold to not to be out in direct sun light.

Iowa weather is always highly variable with today being a perfect afternoon while I lay flat in bed inside. At least now with the sun dipping south I get more rays in my window that provide a source of warmth.

Lately, I have been watching a series on Netflix called "Escape to the Continent." Generally retired couple from the U.K. look at buying a house and moving to continental Europe. Some areas, like Spain and Portugal, are warm enough all year to have regular fruit tree harvests throughout winter and hardly require any heat for the houses.

If I had the opportunity to relocate to another country, my guess would be northern New Zealand. They have mild weather all year, mainly speak English, but also have mountains to explore. However, it would be a long way from family and not much rail activity. Just for fun, I looked up recommendations for relocating to New Zealand, but I didn't find anything relating to the quad life.

In Genesis 1, God placed the stars to show change of time and seasons. As the seasons of the year and life come and go, I'll watch for His plans and whatever is to come next.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Traveling in One Location

I like to travel and see different areas of the country, even though it doesn't always go well. If I wasn't living the quad life, I've wondered what I would have done as a career. The two options that keep coming to me are railroad engineer or truck driver. For the past few weeks, I've been experiencing one option.

During my flat time, I have been watching an excessive amount of YouTube. I came across a channel called Big Rig Travels that follows a truck driver, Steve, on his travels. It's simply a camera mounted on the truck's dash with live video as he drives and sometimes offers commentary. Through this, I've been through a few southern states over to South Carolina then through the mountains to the Midwest and Wisconsin.

Office with a view
A three-day trip ended in central Washington state and as of this writing, heading toward Salt Lake City. Instead of just laying for multiple hours, I've been able to see many miles of travel and a variety of scenery and terrain. However, it's also ten or more hours of Steve driving alone with just a GPS talking back.

As my nickname implies, I'm very into trains and the railroad. As an engineer, a person works in one route, or section, going from point A to B and back again. Depending on the route, it could be very scenic or rather plain, especially after 40 years or more.

Over-the-road trucking allows a driver to see multiple areas of the country, but you never know when you will be home. For me, I could see it being a hard decision and could do a few years of both. However, that is not what God had planned for the life He gave me.

I'm thankful I can see God's creation through technology He has given us. Serving in the life I have has challenges, but I'm thankful for all I've been enabled to do and see. I will see where this week brings me both in real life and following along with others.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Adjusting Talk

September started with a slow holiday weekend, but it has felt like I don't have enough time for anything since. August web work was very slow, taking only half of a 45 minute sit time to send out billing. The time crunch has come from speaking.

Two weeks ago, I started this school year by talking with a class of nursing students. It was only an hour long presentation, but commute time added over three hours. I think that is about the longest distance I'll go for regular talks.

This week was spent contacting grade schools and looking at fall schedules. Most already got back to me with a date and time to come. However, one school could be a challenge. Most classes take a minimum of 30 minutes to cover my items and allow kids to ask questions. One school I visit has three separate 2nd grade classrooms.

Due to school schedules, I can only be with each group for 20 minutes at the most. I'm working with the teachers to try different timing, but also working in my head how cut a third of my time off. I like to give students time to quiz me, but it may get cut short.

Yesterday I also received a call from a church to preach in October. I have been there before and gladly accept the opportunity. When I preach, I use multiple Scripture passages to cover a subject. This congregation prefers the opposite of just using a single reference and getting deep into it.

I like the switch of doing less computer work and more speaking. I'm thankful God is using me this way and enjoy it. Now trying to adjust my style and work according to the requirements of the audience is a slightly new challenge.

There have been times in life I've become settled in a routine and God sees fit to change it to something new. He has given me all I need for every time, so these will stretch my experience further. At least it looks like this fall could be interesting before I hibernate for winter.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Expired Discoveries

Every year, Medicaid requires me to fill out multiple pages of information to see if I still qualify. It's not like my condition will improve or I'll win the lottery, but I comply anyway.

My caregiver went to retrieve some paperwork from my closet and doing so caused a minor avalanche of stuff to fall off the shelf. I was laying on my side and had a perfect view as I attempted to stifle laughter while she retrieved my squirting flower amongst fallen items. My curiosity took hold and I asked, "What is some of that?" This started a distraction from our actual task that continued for over 30 minutes.

One of the binders on the shelf contained transcripts from college and final grade results. It confirmed why I did not continue with my degree in accounting and instead graduated with a degree in Information Technology. I hardly use it now, but it seemed like a better decision at the time. Further digging uncovered bags of school work.

Labels indicated they were from 2007 and earlier during my work on getting a B.A. in Computer Science. Since that quest never finished, the recycle pile was started. Continuing to navigate the shelf of historical finding, a few bags of granola bars and candy were found.

Finding a date, one of the bars said it was best eaten by December 2015. The discard pile continued as I halfway waited for a bug or two to crawl away. The bag of sweets contained a few Starburst pieces that I was tempted to try (not like I have stomach trouble). Tapping one on a table made for a good gavel, so I opted to skip it.

The final result ended up with a good discard pile and a cleaner shelf. We did finish the paperwork a few days later and get it sent. Hopefully this year will go smoother than last year when I got denied coverage. I'm thankful for the experiences God has given me in the quad life and it's fun to be reminded of them. I think I'll need to be more careful with old snacks though and wonder what will be found on more shelves.