Sunday, December 27, 2020

Successful Year

Today marks the last Sunday for 2020. The next regular entry for the quad life will be next year, just a week from now. I have heard many people say they are looking forward to this year being over, along with all the changes. I can understand the feeling, but it has also been a year of success.

It started unintentionally, but I made a goal of including a picture with every post this year. With this final message, I did make my goal. Some of the topics were a little challenging to find an appropriate graphic, but I think it worked well. Looking back on older posts this year, seeing the image helped me remember what I wrote, even before reading anything. I don't plan to continue the goal for next year, but I do want to aim for at least one picture for every 2-3 updates.

With not much work, and no place to go, I have made a lot of progress in writing my autobiography. I don't remember where I was at in January, but I am now to the end of 2017. Originally, I planned to stop with the end of 2015. However, I decided to add one more chapter as a short summary from 2015 to maybe 2019. The problem with an autobiography is that it is always developing as the writer lives. Therefore, I will definitely stop in early 2020 with the 35th anniversary of the accident. If anyone wants to read further, I still plan to keep writing here. Maybe at some point it will have a second edition, but I'll focus on completing this one first.

Nobody planned to have lock downs this year, but it is what happened all over the world. As a result, many schools, and doctors, quickly adapted to virtual classes and visits. I wrote a few months ago about having an opportunity to work with another college as a result. In January, I am planning to try and contact a few colleges and offer to help virtually. I have no idea if it will be a failure or a success, but I'll do what God allows.

Finally, this year taught many people how quickly life can change. It has been a reminder to not wait to repent of sins and turn to Jesus for salvation. The next day, or hour, isn't guaranteed and we need to always be ready. I don't know what will happen from now until the end of 2021, but God is in control and I trust in Him alone.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Finals

Every day around the world, over 151,000 people die. Many of them likely had plans for the next day, but a sudden heart attack, accident, or some other cause took them from earth. We never know when our end will come our when a regular activity will be the last time it's done. In some sense, that is what I feel like is happening before my eyes.

An annual event at church is the candle light service just before Christmas. In order to try to accommodate more people and maintain social distancing, the service was offered on two evenings. I had hoped to attend one of them, but didn't get to either. Therefore, as I have for the past nine months, I watched the service online while sitting in my bed.

For several years, my church has wanted to build a new facility. After much discussion and fundraising, a new building is under construction and is planned to be in use sometime early next year. This summer, it was also voted to change the name of our congregation. The new name will be used starting in January, with the old identity only being maintained in legal records.

Therefore, as I feel, the church I grew up in and learned to come to the Lord will cease to exist. The last church building I physically walked in and have learned to call my church home will be bulldozed to the ground without a trace remaining. Watching the candle light service was the last time it will be done at this facility as the congregation I knew.

Yes, the same people will be worshiping God together, just under a different name. The location of worship is also not important, but it quickly becomes part of the feel of church. After nine months away, it also feels like I'm only an outsider looking in and not an active part of the body of church.

Watching activities, and regulations, around the country, I also see major changes coming in the next few months. I have concerns that church gatherings will have increased pressure not to meet except in very small numbers. Living the quad life, I also wonder how long I'll be able to live at home and have freedom to attend church.

As we head toward Christmas in a few days, remember Jesus came to save the world through Him. He warned about tough times and persecution, but we can look to Christ alone for peace and joy.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Stick Up

Even with mostly being home this year, I have tried keeping up on doing videos about how I do daily life. This week, I showed my attempt at helping decorate my Christmas tree and the different type of mouth sticks I have used.

One of my dresser drawers has become the collection point for everything stick related that I find. It has extra pads for my mouth grips that get replaced every few months. I also have an abundance of tips that rarely replaced, and a few brand new sticks in case of some unforeseen disaster. However, it also contains relics of times gone by.

Over the years, I have tried, and used, an abundance of different types of sticks. Early on, my parents made them from arrow shafts and molded plastic that I used to grip. It was with these that I learned stick skills while playing with toy tractors, trucks, and building Lego structures. Most were just straight rods, but others were more specialized.

In order to help stack blocks, I had a suction stick that was hollow and had a rubber suction cup on the end. I could plop it on a flat surface, suck, and pick up the item. Another allowed me to push on a button, extend a gripper, and pinch an item to pick it up. Still more had the same button, but would just add more length to the straight rod. However, the button would constantly rub between my teeth, so I didn't care for them very much.

More specialized sticks were available that could hold a pen or pencil and allow writing. By the time I received it though, I had already mastered writing with a pen in my mouth. Finally, after participating in a mouth stick study, I received a stick made for use with touch devices such as tablets or smart phones. It's so heavy though that it is very hard to use.

After a few decades of being tossed around, not all of the archival mouth devices have all of their parts. However, they still provide memories of what God has allowed me to do over the years and even with new technology, a simple rod held by mouth still works best in this quad life.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Decorating for Christmas

If you looked at store displays, if you actually can go in, Christmas decorations start in late summer. I know some people that would even like to have their house ready for the holiday all year long. For me, I want to first recognize Thanksgiving, celebrate the day we have been given, and then decorate for Christmas.

In order to distribute responsibilities, I generally have one of my day assistants do my window lights and the other work on my tree. Therefore, my window lights were up the day before Thanksgiving, but I didn't plug them in until the holiday was complete. That way, I wasn't violating my own rule, at least not entirely.

My train tree has been my primary, if not only, Christmas decoration for many years. Mom discovered the first ornament in the late 80's and has been able to get a new ornament every year since. They are becoming hard to find and more expensive, but they keep coming. With the increase in trains, the tree has also had to get larger in response.

I used to be able to set a small, maybe two-foot, tree on my table and I would carefully put each item on the branches. It would take a fair amount of time to accomplish, but I enjoyed it. Now with limited sitting time, the task would likely take me a few days to accomplish. I also can't reach the top of my larger tree, so I now just let my caregiver decorate while I observe. I no longer participate as much, but sometimes I have to decide what is the best use of time.

After the new year has started, everything will go back into the one large box they reside in for eleven months. While I don't have decorations up all year, I do try to daily remember why we celebrate Christmas. Jesus, God's only Son, came to His creation to reconcile us to Himself, so that we may have eternal life with Him. That is something worth celebrating this week, and every day of the year.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

Thanksgiving is a great reminder to stop and give thanks for the abundance of God's blessings. However, it is also becoming a time to realize how quickly those blessings can be taken away.

Last year, the holiday was kind of blur of activity. My paternal grandfather had been in an accident and passed away just a few days before Thanksgiving. I had an abbreviated lunch with mom's family before my parents and I joined dad's family at the funeral home. The next two days were taken by the visitation, funeral, and being around family. It made us remember to be thankful for those around us as they can quickly be gone.

With all the restrictions and quarantine this year, I didn't expect we would have much of a get-together this year. We had hoped to have mom's mother join us for lunch, but her retirement home discouraged it and she couldn't come. As has become usual, my parents joined me around the computer in my bedroom to watch the morning church service. I did actually get in my chair for our turkey lunch that mom made for the three of us. After we were full, we went out to the cemetery to put a wreath on grandpa's head stone.

I miss my grandfathers, but I am thankful that everything happened when it did. At his funeral last year, none of us could have guessed what would change in a few months. A number of elderly members from my church, some who I knew well, passed away this year. For the most part, they hardly had any visitation, funeral, or recognition of the life they lived. Small graveside services for family and online obituaries are about all we see. Many Thanksgiving tables were missing most of their extended relatives, and ones that will never return.

No matter what, I am thankful for all those God has put around me. Living the quad life, I have had opportunity to get to know more people than I likely would otherwise. However, it gets hard when some of them are gone and you don't get opportunity to say good-bye. It has been well said that we are living a new normal. I fear more the old normal will not return and lonely holidays with not being surrounded by family will be a distant memory. Any chance you get, be thankful for who, and what, we have been given, before they are gone as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

More Ups and Downs

Earlier this month, I saw my dermatologist to check on my skin sores. One are still looks basically healed, but the other two are pretty stagnant since my last visit a few months ago. I did miss a few weeks of biking due to caregiver's illness, but the doctor also suggested a change in my sit schedule.

For at least the last three to four years, I have been sitting in bed for 45 minutes and then lay flat for three to four hours before sitting again. It's a schedule I made on my own, but I thought laying flat longer would be the most helpful. Now, my doctor said to try sitting after only two hours of flat time and getting more movement.

Most people get familiar to a set routine, and I'm definitely one of them. Trying to do what I consider a major change has been fun. Instead of getting four sit times during the day, I now get five. Therefore, I have basically increased my day by 25%. I have found myself doing tasks while sitting that I usually did flat, or a combination of both.

I was scheduled to preach next week and have been preparing my sermon, but the service has now been cancelled due to the virus. Instead of looking at my notes and reviewing while laying flat, I have partially done it while sitting. My head says I should be doing something more active while upright, but I am still doing something productive. Work still remains pretty non-existent as well, so I see more book progress in my near future also.

Living the quad life is a careful balance between managing the mind and body. For the one, I stay active in doing activities other than zoning out to entertainment. For the other, it's a game of give and take trying not to make any one area upset.

I'm thankful for the time I've been given, in any position, and try to use it to God's glory. This sudden addition is one I think I will quickly learn to enjoy, but be careful not to over work those that help me change positions either.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Reading Front to Back

On Friday, November 13, an annual event occurred. In my nightly Bible reading, I finished Revelation and moved my marker back to Genesis 1. In early high school, I started reading one chapter a night, most nights. That schedule continued through college until I increased to three chapters at the end of every day. At that rate, I go through the Bible about once a year.

Now, the only days I miss reading are when I'm in the hospital or my volunteer week at camp. Those times are only because I'm either too sick to comprehend or don't have everything I need to be able to read (table, book board, Bible, and stick).

Around 2010, I also started doing a daily reading plan through Bible Gateway. With that, I also read through the Bible front to back in a year. Therefore, I start and end the day with God's Word and read the entire Bible twice a year. In 2020, I added another study time of reading the same 1-2 chapters in the New Testament every day for a month. I started with Jude, then 2 John, and a few chapters in Romans. For the last six months, I have been reading two chapters a month in Revelation. Parts of it sound very close to what we're experiencing in the world today.

My night reading is in The Evidence Bible by Living Waters. In order to not always read the same passage morning and night, I adjust my night reading every time I go through. This year, I read every piece of the commentary that went along with the text. It meant some nights I only accomplished one chapter, and others not even that much. I don't remember when I started in Genesis in my night reading in 2019, but I'm positive it took over a year this time.

This week, I watched a documentary called The Insanity of God that covered persecuted Christians in various countries. One gentleman lived in the former USSR and was arrested for reading the Bible in his home to 75 friends and family. He was in prison for 17 years. Any time he found a scrap piece of paper and piece of coal or charcoal, he would write whatever passages he could fit and remember. Then, the writing would get stuck to the damp cell walls.

However, it wouldn't be long before prison guards found the writing. They would destroy the paper and mercilessly beat this Christian for his actions, for 17 years. Other countries had similar accounts of imprisonment while some would just kill anyone found to have a Bible or professing to be a Christian.

I can't recall now how many times I've read through God's Word in its entirety. Each time, I still look forward to the accounts of creation, the flood, Abraham, Israel, Joseph, the nation of Israel, and most of all, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In America, many Christians have multiple Bibles and can easily access them, but how often do we read them? Do we truly understand we have all sinned (lied, stolen, lusted, committed adultery, blasphemed, etc.) and deserve God's eternal punishment in hell? However, Jesus paid the fine and all who repent and trust in Him alone can be set free from the sentence we deserve.

Living the quad life and laying flat 20 hours a day, I have time to read. However, it needs to be a habit everyone does daily. It may be something we can't always do, and may regret not taking the time to be in God's Word.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Convienient or Creepy

 With this last week in the 70's, it feels like late summer instead of fall. However, the calendar does say November and I have been getting my final doctor's appointments finished for the year. I've had two the last couple weeks and have one to go.

At most appointments, I'm greeted with questions on my health, have my temperature taken, and attempt to wear a mask. At one office, an older gentleman went in ahead of me. He was directed over to a cell phone sized device on a stand. It took his temp without any outside action by anyone I observed.

Electronics can make many parts of life much easier. I utilize technology every day and receive a breath every four seconds due to advances in medical technology. Having automated and hands-free options expands uses of these devices and allows for many applications in different roles. Who has control of these resources can use them for good, or bad.

As I posted last week, I suspected election results would not go easy. I watched poll numbers come in and then mysteriously stop as President Trump took the lead. As I write this, the winner has not been announced and the looks of extreme fraud are increasing. A fair election where all valid, legal, votes are counted no longer looks possible.

With workers getting harder to find and different economic plans, I see an increase in automation. I do not think robots will replace nurses though, at least not in my lifetime. In places such as manufacturing, it has already happened with robotic arms doing welding and other jobs that used to be filled by human operators.

If administration changes in Washington and the proposed tax and business regulation changes occur, more automation will be needed. If a business can't afford workers, and stays in the country, it's the only solution. The question will be, when is too much given to computer control? Are we possibly already there?

Electronic world or not, God is ultimately in control. This country will drastically change in coming years depending on election results, but I look forward to a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Freedom or Loss

Two days from now, Americans will officially cast their ballots to elect the next leader of the United States. While votes have been getting mailed in for a few weeks already, they don't get counted until Tuesday, hopefully.

Photo from Answers in Genesis
Reports of fraud and mishandled ballots have been coming since they started getting returned. The likelihood of a fair election where all real votes are counted seems unlikely, but I continue to pray that the person selected will seek God's will first and uphold the constitution as it was intended. Today's lead story from Answers in Genesis, Voting and the Ark, was originally posted four years ago, but still reminds us of our responsibility as Christians.

For the last two days, my house was without phone and internet. That means I'm actually writing this on the day it goes live instead of a day or more before. However, it also meant a freedom of sorts. It was a break from the frequent political calls that have been coming and also a time of relaxation.

Instead of quickly trying to complete online activities while sitting, I could do other things with my time. I did a fair amount of work on my book and progressed in pixels on my virtual farm. My parents also took the opportunity to watch old videos from 1991 when I was a nine-year-old experiencing camp in Florida. While the temporary adjustment was nice, I wouldn't want it to be permanent.

Many commentators and political experts have said if Democrats win this election, the country will be turned into a communist style of government. It will mean an end to religious freedom, have a drastic economical change, government-run healthcare, and more. As a Christian living the quad life, much of what I do now would likely not be allowed.

Whatever comes this week, or after recounts, will be under God's direction. He is the king of kings and Lord of lords and even though His thoughts and ways may not be what I think, they will be done. I encourage everyone to go vote, and pray for wisdom of all those in power.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Time, or not to Time

The end of October has been busy for speaking engagements. Last week, I posted about doing the virtual training with OT students. Friday morning, I was the chapel speaker at a small Christian school, and this morning I preached. Reviewing and keeping each presentation separate in my head was a challenge, but timing my talks was another issue.

When I started speaking at grade schools over 15 years ago, I carefully monitored my watch to see when my allotted time was up. I didn't want to take too much of the teacher's day and also keep the students' attention. I still do similar today, especially when visiting multiple rooms, but not quite as carefully and judge by how the kids are reacting. Colleges, I try to keep around an hour, but most are okay with going over and having less time with the instructor.

Last week's virtual class was very strict on time, but not the latest two events. I could go anywhere from 10-20 minutes with chapel and the remaining period would be filled with an activity. Therefore, I just talked and allowed however long it took. With preaching, I have started taking the same method. I very rarely look at my watch and primarily just go until everything I had planned is finished. Some in the congregation may not agree with this method, but I'm only an infrequent preacher anyway.

The big thing I worked on with my last two sermons was timing my Scripture reading. My biggest complaint, or regret, about my diaphragm pacemaker is pausing to take a breath every four seconds. I can hide it fairly well in normal speech, but not when reading. Therefore, I try to plan what to read, when to pause, and try to make it sound natural. Getting to read God's Word is a privilege that many people around the world don't have; and reformers like John Wycliffe gave their life for making the Bible available to everyone. I want to present it as clearly as possible, but the breathing quad life adds a challenge.

After today, I'm not scheduled to preach, or speak, anywhere until late November. That is also the latest in the year I generally agree to go anywhere. However, this weekend already feels like winter; hopefully it's not a prelude of what's to come in months ahead.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Further Reach

About ten years ago, I started speaking at local colleges. I had been going to area Christian schools to talk about disability awareness and serving God with whatever tools we're given. I now had this new contraption of a diaphragm pacemaker and thought it would be something helpful for students.

I have been a regular speaker now for students studying physical therapy, occupational therapy, EMS, respiratory therapy, and occasional nursing classes. However, all the classes have been within driving distance from home. The furthest I have gone was two hours away, and didn't really want to go that far for an hour-long presentation.

With this year's pandemic, everything shut down and many things, like college classes, moved to meeting virtually. This summer, I did a couple of my regular classes, but through webcam. It wasn't the same as in person, but still went pretty well. Leading two virtual classes with local schools made me wonder about trying other colleges that are too far away to physically visit. Therefore, I contacted a counselor friend from camp who teaches OT in Indianapolis. It took a while to find a willing group, but I did a virtual class Thursday with an occupational therapy student organization.

The first 15 minutes of the hour were taken by a business meeting. Therefore, I had 45 minutes to do a presentation that generally goes a little over an hour. I skipped most of the videos I usually show and only lightly covered areas I generally explain further, but it generally went well. I go over how I use my mouth stick, wheelchair, and do regular stretching routines to decrease muscle spasms. In the years I have been living the quad life, more technology has enabled more therapy, but the basics still apply. My regular assistant, Sara, was still out on sick leave as well, but dad did a good job in helping where needed.

Now my thoughts are wondering about trying more schools, but the question is how. For my current visits, I emailed several instructors and a few of them responded to give me a try. I could do the same and see what happens, but it's not something I like doing very well.

I'm thankful for all the years God has used me to go and talk with different groups. Even with the problems associated with COVID, it has opened up new potential areas. I will see where God takes me with this venture and if it is His will to do more, then the replies will come. I never know what to expect, but I will see what the week brings.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

When Plans Plummet

My parents do a large amount of my care and covering hours that I don't have caregivers. For many years though, they have been able to take two extended, 7-10 day, vacations a year. In the evenings, when my parents usually help me, my grandparents and irregular caregivers helped cover the time. Now with both grandfathers gone, fewer hours for caregivers, and less help, it has become hard for them to get away for more than a day.

With fall approaching and the change in trees, mom and dad got it arranged to be gone for two days and one night. Only one evening needed to be covered and my regular day assistant would cover Friday and Saturday as her regular shifts. When the weekend's weather was predicted, it looked like a great time to be out.

On Thursday, Sara, my assistant had a bit of a cough, but nothing unusual for this time of year and allergies. Friday morning though, ten minutes before my parents planned to leave, Sara called that was ill and wouldn't be able to come. Therefore, at 6:00 in the morning, they unpacked the few bags they had and called to cancel the hotel reservation.

This isn't the first time plans had to be changed, but I always feel bad when it happens. I was sad that Sara wasn't feeling well, and more disappointed that mom and dad couldn't get a break from me. I'm very thankful for all they have done and instead of looking forward to retirement years, they are still stuck with helping me. It is a part of the quad life that has become familiar, but never gets easier.

Yesterday, the predicted nice weather continued. The three of us took advantage of it and went to northern Iowa to watch trains for a few hours. It wasn't close to a two-day get away, but at least they were able to get out of the house for a while.

Winter will soon be showing its ugly head again when we don't go out at all. Even though it wasn't planned, I'm thankful when I can get out to enjoy God's creation.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Ballot or Bust

The first year I was eligible to vote was 2000. I had just started college and had heard about absentee voting. It would allow me to cast my ballot without having to drive an hour home. I have voted with this method every other year since then, but a change might be coming.

With absentee voting, I can simply fill out my choices in the comfort of my own home. If a choice comes up I didn't except, then I look up the needed information to make an informed vote. In school, I always told someone what to write for my test answers. It was much faster than trying to write myself in the allotted time. I can imagine voting in person would be the same, and doesn't exactly sound very private.

This year, most people have likely heard about the different voting options. In order to decrease crowds at voting booths, an option of mail-in ballots are being offered, as well as absentee voting. However, an increasing number of reports are saying that many mail-in ballots are being discarded, especially if they are for a certain candidate.

As usual, I requested my absentee ballot and mailed my completed form with the needed information. A few weeks later, an envelope arrived saying it was ballot information, but about 25% of it had been torn up. It was in a bag from the post office saying they care about our mail.

Throughout my life, I have received a fair amount of mail; insurance information, birthday cards, bills, junk mail, and everything else have arrived safely. Of all the letters to get eaten by a mail sorting machine, why was it this one? Looking closer, I could see it was a generic address that could go to any resident at my house. The chewed up envelope was for the problematic mail-in ballot request and not my absentee ballot, I think.

I filled out another request form, but I'll wait and see what I get. As I wrote two weeks ago, this is another critical election that may have major consequences. In order to make sure my vote is taken, and accurately recorded, I may venture into in-person voting this year. That in itself could be an adventure, but so is much of the quad life.

Lately, I have concluded many of these entries with relying on God and His control. This is another occasion of the same, as is every part of life.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Getting Poked

In May, I was due to get my annual physical with my primary care physician (PCP). I didn't feel comfortable going to a doctor's clinic at that time and opted to wait a few months. It was my hope that mask requirements and restrictions would be gone, but that didn't completely happen. I didn't want to wait too long, so I had my annual physical on Friday.

For most people my age, I have heard physicals usually include getting your height and weight checked. Unfortunately, the small hospital I use for my PCP isn't equipped to do this for me, so I have to go on the last time I was weighed (two years ago) and guess if much has changed. I would like to get more accurate results, but it's not an option.

I went over my laundry list of medications with the doctor's nurse, and the doctor, and discussed any changes. He was glad to hear that one of my pressure sores finally healed, but I still have two to go. I'm thankful for any progress I hear.

After that, it was time for updated shots. I had to get an update on my tetanus for starters. Since I'm always barefoot, I need to be careful if I step on a nail somewhere. Then I got a TB test and finally, my annual flu shot. I have a few friends on Facebook that are adamantly against vaccinations of any kind, especially the flu shot. However, I have received one every year as long as I can remember and am a great example of being in great shape even with the shots.

Wearing a mask in the waiting area was as equally unpleasant as it has been all this year. Thankfully, every doctor, and nurse, I have visited quickly lets it be removed in the office. They have all agreed it's more important to breathe than the little protection a face covering provides.

Maintaining a healthy quad life is important to me. On Saturday, I spent the day with a low fever and not feeling the greatest, but it sometimes happens after flu shots. I'm not looking forward to the approaching flu, and cold, season again, but will rely on God's protective and healing hand.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Fighting for Future

Every four years, the United States votes for president as well as multiple other governmental seats. In 2016, it was common to hear that it was the most critical election ever. At that time, it was, but the same chant has come again this election cycle as well. Unfortunately, I agree with the sentiment, again.

Our current leader, President Trump, has had the most challenging term of any modern president. Both political parties, media, and the judiciary have all fought against him on much of what he has done. It seems similar to this picture, working to bring the country ahead while attached to a ball and chain. I don't agree with everything the President has done, or said, but generally like what has been accomplished.

This past week, I read an article about Christian perspective on voting, and watched a video where people were interviewed on candidate choices. They were both good, but also show the current political climate we live in. It used to be that the two major parties had just a few differing points on some aspects of government. Now, they are completely polar opposites of each other with the divide seeming to be growing and encouraged to go that way.

First, as a Christian, I cannot give my support to anyone that would encourage, especially not promote, the killing of children in the womb through abortion. Living the quad life, I also have to carefully watch insurance issues in the political realm. Former Vice President Biden has said he wants to get rid of private insurance and make government controlled healthcare available for everyone. I like the thought of every citizen having medical funding, but also see what other countries experience with similar systems.

Speaking from experience, federally funded insurance would only cover me if I lived in a care facility. Some will say that Canada allows nursing care in a person's home, but America does not have anywhere close to enough nurses to allow it. Private insurance also pays better, we won't get an influx of new medical personnel with a decrease in pay.

In countries with socialized medicine, their is a rapidly growing trend to euthanize those with major medical needs, like me. The reasoning is that it's more economical for society and the person does, or will, have a poor quality of life anyway.

Yes, this another important election. However, whatever the outcome, I'm reminded that God is in control and everything in this life is temporary. That can always be of comfort.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

It's the Weather, I'm Sure

A week ago today it was a sunny, warm, day with a breeze and it was very nice day in Iowa. Coming home after preaching, I had a renewed spirit of energy that I haven't felt in a long time. It was very refreshing to again be in fellowship with other believers, getting to be used to serve God, and eat a Sunday lunch with my family. Much of my enthusiasm bubbled over into Monday as well as I took time to work on my book again. Then Tuesday came, and so did the change.

Part of the quad life is that I'm unable to regulate my temperature very well. I can get overheated fairly easily and also rapidly get too cold. Everything has to be just right in order to be doing well, especially when I haven't been outside very much. Over night Monday, a cold front came through Iowa so that 90° high from Sunday turned into 50° on Tuesday.

My dad reluctantly turned on the furnace, but I was still cold. Instead of sitting in bed with just my normal t-shirt and shorts, I also had a sheet and a blanket. Along with that, I was also tired and could hardly get the energy to do much of anything. Two days after my first venture into the public, I started wondering if it was more than just weather changes.

After giving Sunday's message, there was a song, and then I gave the parting blessing. During the singing, I ended up facing the congregation the entire time. That meant about 100 people were belting out God's praise towards me. I also talked with several people after the service, but I didn't watch distancing guidelines very carefully. Was it possible I picked up something, including the virus?

As of Friday, there were reported 73,547 cases of covid in Iowa. That means 2.3% of the state either currently has the virus or has had it. Therefore, you have a 97.7% chance of not encountering someone with the disease. With that statistic though, there have been some outbreaks in my little town of 10,000.

From Tuesday through Friday, I pretty well felt the same as the cold, wet, cloudy weather continued. Friday evening, after being cocooned in blankets, I finally felt warm and more energetic again. As I write this on late Saturday, I again feel back to myself and sit here in my normal configuration. Waking up with slightly sore lungs this morning didn't help the virus wondering, but it subsided quickly.

I don't plan on getting anything checked out. Especially with the reports of multiple false positives given for tests. I stopped watching the news stations a few months ago, but the constant pushing of doom and pandemic can still get to me. I'm thankful to be feeling better again, and for the weather returning to normal September conditions. Whatever comes, or doesn't, I look to God's peace and trust His plan.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Living in Peace

This year, it seems like everything is going wrong that could go wrong. First, the world basically shut down due to the virus. Then riots started and proceeded to destroy cities and get rid of police departments. In Iowa, we also had an unusual storm, a derecho, that caused a lot of damage to crops and buildings.

In other areas, churches have been singled out for closure or face penalties for meeting. We are also getting closer to another election where the candidates couldn't be much more polar opposite than each other and have potential to drastically change the country. With all this going on, I preached this morning about having peace in our lives.


Reading through the Bible, we can see various scenarios where a person, or country, looked to be headed for trouble. However, God used it for His glory and according to His purposes. In Genesis, Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers. About twenty years later, God used Joseph to save Egypt, and his family, from starvation.

In Exodus, just as Israel finally left Egypt, they appeared to be stuck between the sea and Pharaoh's army. Instead of doom though, God brought His people through the sea on dry ground and showed His power by drowning the Egyptian army. In Philippians 4, Paul says he knew what it was to live in good times and bad. No matter what, he relied on God's strength to get him through.

As part of the sermon on the mount, Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-34 to seek His kingdom first and not worry. This can be hard to do in challenging circumstances, but these are times when we especially need to rely on God.

Living the quad life, I've had times of concern and let worry get to me, as regular readers will know. As a Christian though, I can be like Peter was in Acts and sleep soundly knowing God is in control. If we have repented from our sins, and trust in Jesus alone for salvation, we can have peace that surpasses all understanding. It's not a guarantee of an easy life, but gives a correct outlook for what is to come.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Yes I will, but first...

With everything going on this year, churches and businesses closed, I was starting to guess I would not have opportunity to preach in 2020. In the last few months though, two congregations have asked me to help fill their pulpit. I gladly accept the chance to present God's Word, but I need to be able to access the building as well.

It has been thirty years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA has accessibility requirements for public businesses, but churches are not required to meet them. It is recommended that places of worship make provisions for full access, but they don't have to make changes. That's especially the case with older buildings.

Before the first church even talked with me, the janitor talked with my mom about me getting into the sanctuary. They do have an elevator, but I have come across elevators that I don't fit in. When I was called, I accepted to preach on two different dates, but asked to test the facility as well. The janitor and I worked out a time, and I was able to test the access and see if anything would need to be adjusted. It looks like it will work well though and my first visit as substitute preacher is scheduled for next week.

I also received another request from a different congregation for later this year, and accepted with the same clause. My parents were able to scope this facility out yesterday and it is an older building, but has added ramps and an elevator that made it accessible. Therefore, I now have three times I'm scheduled to preach in the next three months.

In many ways, church accessibility is a catch 22. A congregation can say they don't have anyone with mobility issues attend, and therefore don't want to add the expense of modifications. However, without the changes, people like myself are unable to attend and show the need. In the three years I have been licensed to exhort (preach), I have only had one request from a congregation with a completely inaccessible facility. The primary barrier has been getting asked to preach in the winter, and not able to accept due to weather concerns. It's part of the quad life, but I don't like saying no.

Next week will be my first time inside a church building since March. Preaching to small congregations and getting to fellowship with them is something I am eagerly anticipating again. I pray though that more strict regulations don't come again though and make it so church can't meet. I will see what God has planned for the months ahead.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Printing a Button

For 30 years, I used a tracheostomy (trach) to connect to my ventilator and help access my lungs to clear them out. However, I had to use a special size that required some work when I ordered new ones. Eventually though, it always worked out and I got what I needed. In 2015, I switched to a trach button and looked forward to easier replacement parts. Unfortunately, that didn't last very long.

Just like my trach, the button has two pieces. An outer sleeve that always stays in my throat and a button, or vent adapter, that slips into it. The button completely seals off the hole in my throat so I breathe through my nose and mouth. It can get dirty at times, so I change the button once a week. I had a set of three, so I could have one in use and two for cleaning and backup.


Somehow, one of the three went missing at some point. I'm guessing it was during one of my camp trips that it may have been left behind, but it was never found. I wasn't comfortable with having just one extra, and went to order another one. In that process, my equipment company learned the button I use was no longer available, and hadn't been for about a year. That was over a year ago, and I have been searching for a solution ever since.

The button is nothing other than a block of plastic molded in the proper shape. I wondered if a 3D printer could be a solution, but wasn't sure where to look. I brought up the problem with my ENT last month and he knew someone that had made printed solutions for him before. Over the next few days, I released my one spare plug to a nurse I had barely met for her college age sons to measure and print. It was quickly returned to me, and I waited for the results.

After several email exchanges, the final product was in my position. Three new blue plugs to test with my external sleeve. This week, my nurse and I tried the new buttons in my spare outer sleeves. Two of them fit well, but one didn't. The printer couldn't quite get them smooth, but they look like they should work. As of this writing though, I haven't tried them in my neck. That may come as a future update when I feel adventurous.

I'm thankful for God's provisions throughout the life He has given me. Living the quad life has its challenges, but at least it means few days are boring.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sticky Face

For over 25 years, I only used my nose for breathing out. If it was a little stuffy or clogged, it didn't make much difference to my breathing. Now that I have uses it both directions for a few years, the trouble of stuffiness has become an issue.

At night, I sleep completely on my side at about 90° to the bed. It's great for getting my back off the sheet for once, but my left side is also very difficult for breathing. I try to struggle to bring in air, but my nose is just too tight and I often end up on my back again. It's not very conducive to sleep and doesn't help with skin trouble either. Therefore, I talked to my ENT about it a few weeks ago.

He said two parts of the body of the body continue to grow with age, ears and nose tissue. I would also add lower abdomen, but this was new information to me. Investigating further, he noticed my nose looked fairly closed. It's likely due to not getting full use for so long, but that can't be changed. The doctor said I had two choices, extensive surgery, or try a breathe right.

Nose itching
I haven't added any surgeries to my extensive list lately, but opted to try the second option first. The first struggle was figuring out how to get them to stay in place. My night nurses would hold it in place tightly, but it kept popping off as soon as they let go. One tried rubbing the skin with an alcohol wipe, drying, and then applying the strip. Thankfully, this process worked for at part of the night. Therefore, in order to sleep, I now take 2-3 medications and also use alcohol every night.

Since I sleep with a pillow over my head, and on my side, the breathing aide frequently comes at least partially off during the night. While it's place though, it is much easier to breathe. When it comes off in the morning, my nose is left with glue on it. Even after washing, it doesn't fully come off until it wears off.

My nose is something I can feel very well, especially when it itches. Since I try to be as independent as possible, I frequently itch my nose by pushing my lip up either on my own or with my mouth stick. I noticed my lip kept feeling sticky though the last several days, but wasn't sure why. It finally dawned on me that it's likely coming from the glue residue on my nose. Such is the quad life, getting myself in sticky situations.

I have been attempting to wash more, and itch less, and it seems to be helping. I'm thankful for simple solutions and learning to adapt with changes. Next week will be another project from this doctor's visit, if my mouth isn't stuck shut.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Down to Two, Maybe

I have been making my regular summer visits to my doctors since mid June. A few weeks ago, I saw my dermatologist to check on my pressure wounds. They have been doing well, so I was looking forward to hearing his comments.

One of the areas has been giving me trouble for 13 years. Thankfully, as we had hoped, the doctor said it looked like there were no longer any open areas, just new tender skin. Therefore, he decreased treatment from two times a day to only once a day a few times a week. I still have two other open areas, but I was very thankful to hear the good report.

Every day, I also check my skin with mirrors to monitor problems and see if anything needs attention. Looking at an area that has had tape and gauze for over a decade to just observe skin again was exciting to finally see. Yes, I get enthused over odd things, but it's part of the quad life.

Thursday morning, I had an early doctor's appointment in Des Moines that didn't take long. Instead of coming straight home and in bed, I decided to enjoy the nice weather and free time. After a picnic by the river, Sara and I took about a casual stroll around the bike paths below the nearby dam. It felt great to be out enjoying God's creation and giving thanks for His care.

Friday afternoon, my supervisor from the nursing agency came for her regular 60-day paperwork. As part of it, she measures and documents my skin problems. The two areas were 0.1 cm smaller than the previous visit. It isn't much progress, but better than nothing. However, carefully examining the third area, she found a tiny opening in a fold of skin. I'm not sure if it was there when I saw the doctor and he missed it, but it wasn't what I wanted to hear.

With or without the new finding, I will still be continuing my schedule of sitting for 45 minutes and down for several hours. It is what I have become used to the past few years anywhere and I have almost forgotten what is was like to have more time. No matter what, I'll continue to rely on God's healing and direction, whether I have two extra holes or not.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

August End

Every morning, I say good morning to Alexa (Amazon Echo) and hear something about the day. Yesterday, she said August 1 means the start to the last month of summer. This year, it feels like summer hasn't really happened.

I have gone out on the deck a few times this year to get sun on my legs, but that has been pretty much all I have done. Normally, I enjoy getting out in the warm months and be active. Getting supplies at Walmart when school is out can also be an adventure. I have run into kids I've had in class before and it's fun to watch what mischief children can get into when parents aren't watching.

Of course this summer, the world has been told to stay away from everybody, wear a mask, and most activities were canceled. The few doctors appointments I have gone to say masks are required to enter, but most of my specialists eagerly say I can take mine off and allow for better breathing.

A few days ago, I read a lengthy article from several doctors saying how masks really aren't needed for most people. It also says that effective treatment is available, but the information is being suppressed. Last week, Grace Community Church in California, with Dr. John MacArthur, held church despite California's restriction that church services not be held. I watched the full sermon, as I often do, but agree with the reasoning to meet.

In a few short months, America will again have presidential elections. An increasing number of reports are saying the pandemic will be used to persuade voters and likely return the country to another lock down. I pray it doesn't happen, but fear it's likely to happen. Especially depending on election results in November.

As 2020 continues, it is a year that will be remembered, but many want to forget. Much of the world seems to be heading toward complete chaos without any control, and sound similar to what has been predicted in the Bible.

For the last month of summer, I hope to get out a few more times. If the quad life will continue at home for the rest of the year, it will be another long season to come.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Doctor Changes

As you can imagine, living the quad life means I have several doctors. I have my general physician (GP), along with a variety of specialists. As the decades have passed, some of these doctors have changed due to retirement or me moving on in life from pediatric to adult care. Most of them have been around for many years though.

One of these specialists has been my pulmonologist, Dr. Hicklin. After my first pulmonary doctor retired, I was transferred to Hicklin. I don't remember the exact year, but it was somewhere around the mid to late 90's that I started seeing him.

Dr. Hicklin
Photo from the Iowa Clinic
For someone that can't breathe independently, I thankfully have very little trouble with my lungs. Generally, I see my pulmonologist twice a year for a general checkup. We chat for a few minutes about life in general, he listens to my lungs, and that's it. The ten-minute or less visit costs insurance a fair amount, but it's what they require.

In 2009 and 2010, Dr. Hicklin was a key part in helping me get approved for my diaphragmatic pacemaker system. Again in 2014, he was also a big help in getting nurses covered with my insurance changes. For both of these situations, he helped with a lot of research, talking with other doctors, my insurance, and working to get what I needed.

Due to virus restrictions, I visited with Dr. Hicklin in May through a virtual visit. About a month later, he helped get a prescription for a new pulse oximeter to monitor my oxygen levels. This week, I saw online that Dr. Hicklin unexpectedly passed away on July 17. I met with another one of my doctors, ENT, this week who said they exchanged text messages that day and he seemed okay.

I called the pulmonary department Friday to see what I'll need to do to get switched to another physician. After more than two decades with one person, it will take time to get used to someone new, and they with me. I pray they are as dedicated as Dr. Hicklin was and that I can feel comfortable with their care.

It also serves as a reminder that we don't know when our time will come to leave this life. We always need to be prepared, and be careful to do God's will.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Good Teeth

In 2019, I started work on getting my front tooth replaced. For the next several months, I had a gap in my mouth that made it a challenge to do any work with my mouth stick. It reminded me of being a kid, playing with my toys, and missing teeth. In March, I finally received an implant to fill the space. However, my dentist said the metal bracket that holds the fake tooth didn't adhere to the bone. Therefore, he said it needed to be redone and start the process again.

I made an appointment to see a dentist in Iowa City for late March. Before the date came, everything got cancelled due to the virus. I didn't want to go back to having a painful mouth with a hole again, so I didn't mind delaying. As the next few months passed, I didn't have any trouble with the implant and thought it felt fine.

Around June, Iowa City called to reschedule my check-up and see what needed to be done. I chose not to schedule a time and see what happened with the pandemic and how my mouth felt. This past week, I had my regular tooth cleaning along with checking how my mouth was doing.

As usual, I didn't have any cavities and plaque wasn't bad. When my dentist checked my mouth, he was surprised to see I had all my teeth. He poked around on the implant, and asked how it had been feeling. It looked like the prosthetic tooth had now adhered to the bone and was in place as it should be. The doctor said he had never seen such a thing happen before and was nothing short of a miracle.

After this entire process, I was very thankful to hear the confirmation that I thought happened. With as much as I use my mouth in the quad life, this was a blessing that will have long lasting benefits.

Now I'm back to the challenge of carefully managing time to get everything done. I can do some things while flat, but too much still results in painful gums. I pray that this will be the end of major mouth trouble for years to come, if not my entire life. Whatever comes, I'll trust God's direction and give thanks for good teeth that I can use for His will.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

On the Hunt

My family doesn't get into hunting, but this week has felt like chasing after moving targets. On July 4, my parents and I normally get together with three other adults. Unfortunately, one of them has been having several medical issues and recently went to a care facility for some rehab. It didn't feel right to have our party without her, so the five of us decided to go have a window visit.

When our group got to the rehab center, we called our friend, Lynne, to get directions to the correct window. We slowly drove around the parking lot trying to not look creepy staring in residents' windows. Lynne gave a description of what she could see, but it wasn't matching what we saw. After about 15 minutes, our hunting party spotted a building that fit the described view. Dad parked the van, and walked toward the area we thought she was.

For a brief moment, dad could be seen, but then was out of sight again. Another member of our party exited the van to attempt another try. However, the same results happened again. When the third person left on the hunt, they took the cell phone with them so he could talk with Lynne. The new strategy worked and the target was found back in a corner of the building. It was odd seeing her so close, but still using cell phones to communicate. We were glad that we could find her though and be able to spend time together. However, there have been more hunting excursions this week, without leaving home.

Every month, I order supplies for my medical procedures, including different types of gloves. When I received the shipment, it had a note that I couldn't get the sterile gloves I frequently use. On Monday, I called my supply agency to see when they may come. I was told that these gloves are considered part of personal protection equipment (PPE) and are being reserved for hospitals. Therefore, it's unlikely I can get any until the pandemic clears.

I am in a couple groups for people with spinal cord injuries, so I asked what others are doing and if they have had trouble. Most of those who responded said it had been going okay, but others have also been having difficulty. At this point, I'm still deciding what is the best strategy to find my target, but have to make due until I can find some.

While this has been going on, my primary day assistant has been gone all week for family needs. It has added to the challenge with adjusting schedules for my parents and I as well as reminding myself to keep everything in mind for what I need to do. Such is the quad life at times and I have learned to take each day on its own.

This week looks to be similar in schedule and unsure what will be happening. I'm thankful that God is in control of all things and it makes for a little less concern for each day ahead.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Independence or Lacking

Yesterday was July 4, Independence Day in the United States. The day marks when the country became free from British rule in 1776 and is a reminder of all the freedoms Americans enjoy. In Ft. Madison, IA, a replica canon was fired from the old fort. I watched, and heard, several shots on a camera from Virtual Railfan. As we remembered the country's founding, are we forgetting about independence?

Canon smoke inside the fort.
Virtual Railfan
First, I am very thankful for everything I have been blessed to receive in America. I can freely worship God and read the Bible without fear. I know being a Christian in some nations is very dangerous and may lead to getting arrested, beaten, or even death. With everything that has happened this year though, some are wondering if freedom is in jeopardy.

For several months, businesses, schools, and churches were closed with most people being told to stay at home and away from everyone. In Iowa, most restrictions have now been lifted, but some still remain. Churches still can't be at full capacity and several places, like doctors' offices, are requiring face masks and severely restricting how many people can attend appointments. Nursing homes also don't allow visitors, making residents feel similar to prisoners. Other states, like California, continue to not allow church services to be held. At the same time, riots with unlimited numbers, or any social distancing, were common in nearly every city.

One poll found that 34% of voters believe the U.S. is headed for another civil war within the next 4-5 years. The nation is becoming more divided in multiple areas with truth increasingly difficult to discern. A large area that is being restricted is religious freedom with simple biblical truths being deemed as hate speech.

I won't speculate on an impending civil war, but do agree life as we know it is rapidly changing. I continue to pray for a return to peace, but am afraid it may be a long time to come. The only answer is for Christians to be the salt of the earth and not try to change the culture, but spread the truth of salvation and peace in Christ. This month will be a test in going out in the world, but I pray it will go well and I can enjoy what God has provided with current freedoms allowed.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

June's End in 2020

For the last few days, I have been wondering what to blog about this week. I biked three times, got a hair cut, and made another video for my vlog. However, nothing seemed very notable or out of the ordinary, until Saturday. I watched another conference through the organization of Living Waters called Evolution Exposed.

Over the afternoon, several speakers gave 15-minute long presentations covering different aspects of evolution and creation. One of the presenters, Mark Spence, was sitting in his car, parked at Huntington Beach, California. A small memorial was taking place for a surfer who recently died and that was being followed by a rally for Black Lives Matter. After his session, Mark planned to go out with others giving gospel tracts and talking with people.

As the session went, he took the subject of why any life matters. It doesn't matter what shade of skin someone has, what sins they struggle with, age, or any other category. Mankind is made in the image of God, and therefore all have God-given value and needs to be respected.

From the evolutionary standpoint, life is just an accident and isn't anything special. A person doesn't have any more value than a dog as the two just developed differently. In Darwin's book, The Descent of Man, he said that different races existed on earth. His thought was that as mankind developed from primates, some are more evolved than others. The most modern, and civilized race was represented by the caucasians of Europe and America. The lower races, such as Australians and African tribes, were less advanced and further down the evolutionary tree.

Many publications, such as Little House on the Prairie, have been removed from schools and libraries for being to racist. However, the teachings of Darwin still continue to be heard in classrooms throughout the country.

The only answer to the problems we now experience is to return to God and His word. I'm thankful for the freedom to study Scripture and apply it to this quad life. I hope to help others in the coming week to see the source of truth as well.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day 2020

In May, we observed Mother's Day while being quarantined at home. Restrictions have mostly been lifted since then, at least in Iowa, but we will still be staying at the house for this holiday.

Most years, I am at camp on Father's Day and it goes by with little notice. At camp, and weekend days, dad is responsible for doing most of my daily cares. This year, we are at least in the state, but I can't really give him much of a break unfortunately.

For all my life, and especially since starting the quad life, I have been very dependent on dad for help. Through his employer, he has given insurance that allows me to stay home as well as provide financial support for my family. When a nurse calls off sick or due to weather, he is the one that does whatever physical care I need and gets little sleep, along with mom. The last few months have added extra tasks to him as well.

Normally, I track my own needs for basic supplies such as toothpaste, paper towels, etc. When I'm getting low, or run out of something, my caregiver and I go to the store and purchase what I need. However, I haven't been shopping since at least February, if not earlier. Mom also regularly gets groceries and similar items on her own, although dad does sometimes help with this. Now, with the pandemic, dad has been the one to brave the stores for all of us. I give my list along with my parents and he goes out, with a mask, attempting to avoid close contact with other people. It has become part of the routine now, and one I don't see changing soon unfortunately.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:9 to not call anyone on earth father, for we have one Father who is in heaven. A full explanation could take another post, but that is why I generally just use the term dad. No matter the name, I easily see an example of our heavenly Father in my dad. Just as God provides for us all our needs, dad does all he can to provide for mom and I. It hasn't always been easy, especially the last few months, but dad keeps working as he can.

This week, be sure to thank our earthly parents for all they have done, either passed or present. Also remember look to our Father in heaven who has provided us a way to be reconciled to Him through His son, Jesus.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Non Camp Week

In 1993, I started going to CHAMP Camp. I had seven years as a camper and 2019 was my 15th year as a counselor. The last two summers have been physically very hard on me. Therefore, this is the first year since 2003 I didn't apply to be a counselor. Today, I normally would have been in Indianapolis welcoming campers, but things changed.

When you have been involved with an organization for a large chunk of your life, it becomes part of your regular life. I knew that this week would be hard with seeing pictures from my friends doing what I enjoy, helping kids. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, camp was cancelled. In some ways, it was almost a relief knowing I wouldn't be missing out, but I knew how devastating it would be for the campers and fellow counselors.

One of the older campers is a friend on Facebook, as well as several other counselors. When cancellation was announced, he started sharing how much it would be missed and ideas to beat the virus and save camp. While nobody will be physically together, several online events have been planned this week. Best yet, everybody can join in with the virtual camp. I won't get the camp t-shirt, but I can at least participate even though I didn't think I could this year.

For many of the kids, they frequently hear that they can't participate in an activity with their peers due to their medical needs. CHAMP Camp is the one week of the year that everything is available and you're not the only kid with a trach, wheelchair, and ventilator. That feeling will be different this week, but we still get to see kids actually interact with each other more than usual.

A few days ago, my pressure wounds received their 60-day status check. One was about the same, one bigger, and the third is basically healed. This has been part of what gave me trouble in previous years. I somewhat hope that I can return in 2021, but also know it would be a major challenge.

No matter what happens in the future, I'm thankful I can participate this year and give my dad a break from helping and taking me. I look forward to observing his day next week as well, but that will be the next topic.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Getting Distracted

In high school, and especially in college, I could read a few paragraphs in a text book, look up from it, and not remember what I read. My mind would wonder somewhere else, if I stayed awake, while my eyes continued reading. I would like to say it has improved as I have gotten older, but I'm not much better.

For many years, I never read unless I had to as part of an assignment or my nightly Bible reading. It takes work to setup a book for me to read and some books can be a battle to keep pages open. However, in about the last ten years, I have increased reading via computer. I also now regularly read books on creation and confirming the accuracy of Scripture. It's a topic I enjoy and helps pass time while I'm flat in bed.

It's easier to keep my concentration on the books I read during the day, at least by not letting my head drift away (drifting asleep is still an issue). However, my caregiver that I normally have set me up with a book loves to talk, about anything. So that can make it challenging, but I still learn.

The biggest struggle is at night when reading the Bible. I want to concentrate on God's Word, but that's when my head goes off to other topics. I may start to think of what the tabernacle looked like and end up thinking of what to say during a school talk, sermon, or even on here. What is pictured in my head usually has nothing to do with the text.

Before long, I can be half a column away from where I last remembered and have to go back and read again. It can frustrating, especially when it continues on to when I should be sleeping. I always come up with my best writing or talking points at odd hours in the night, away from my computer.

A lot of distraction has also been happening in the world the last few months. First, the news primarily only talked about virus updates and statistics. Just as that was starting to clear up, now the main focus is on riots and who is doing what against someone else. If I hadn't watched it live on YouTube, I don't think I would have heard anything about the first maned rocket to space from the U.S. in nine years last week.

It can be difficult, but be careful not to get distracted from God's saving work on the cross. It is what the world needs the most, but will focus on anything else. It's not just a problem in the quad life, but something everyone can spend time on this week.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Short Soggy Hair

After 12 weeks of waiting, I finally was able to get my hair cut this week. It felt good to finally get it cut, but the outing ended up being more of a challenge than expected.

The last few weeks have been wet in central Iowa with storms and rain a nearly daily event. I was concerned it would require me to reschedule, but Thursday morning looked okay. Therefore, my caregiver Sara and I arrived at my barber a few minutes before my scheduled time. We observed all the requirements of mask wearing and everything else and got the job finished.

When we were done, it wasn't raining and although overcast, the sky didn't look very threatening. Directly across the street from where I get me hair done is a small bakery that has treats my mother enjoys. Since she has been extra busy helping me these last few months, I thought I would stop in and get some for her, and me as well.

Sara and I were the only customers in the store, so it was easy to social distance. As we headed to the door with fresh bakery items, we saw it had started raining. The umbrella was across the street in the van though and the rain was too much for me to try to drive through. Sara went to go get the rain protector and return to get me.

She was maybe gone for a minute, but in that time the steady rain increased to a heavy torrent with strong wind. Sara returned holding the umbrella sideways and wearing a very damp shirt. Even though signs said we weren't allowed to use the bakery's seating, we sat and waited for the rain to decrease.

Several minutes later, it looked like we had a break and the downpour relented enough to allow me to get in the van. As we left, strolled 20 feet, and crossed the street, the small monsoon returned and we abandoned the idea of trying to get loaded and took shelter under a small overhang eight feet away from our destination.

More time passed, and Sara managed to get me in the van during a small decrease in the torrent. However, I was now fairly wet and Sara looked like she took a shower fully dressed. Driving the mile toward home, the rain completely stopped about halfway in the trip. Looking at the streets, we could see little evidence of the tropical storm we had just left.

Sometimes, living the quad life leads to interesting experiences that most people hardly notice. Sara spent quite a bit of time drying out the van, my wheelchair, me, and finally changing herself into dry clothes. This has been a year of unforgettable experiences, but I hope my next hair appointment is more subdued.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Venturing Out

For the past three months, I have been quarantined in my house. I went out watching trains a few times, but stayed in the van and didn't interact with anyone. This week I went out in public for the first time since the start of the virus scare.

My last doctor's appointment was with my regular checkup with my urologist. It had been a while since I last had my kidneys checked, so wanted me to get an ultrasound. With everything going on, I delayed the test twice, but decided to go ahead and try this week's appointment.

I rarely do anything at my local hospital, but thought I would try them for a simple scan. However, they require all visitors to wear a mask. I couldn't think of how to make one with a hole for my chin so I could drive, so thought it could just be pushed up. When my caregiver Sara and I got to the hospital parking lot and exited the van, she put my mask on. I attempted to drive with it on my chin, but it didn't work. Making room to drive though pushed the face cover closer to my eyes. It became a constant battle to have it just high enough, but not too much. Once we got to the procedure room, the fun continued.

The technician let me stay in my chair for the procedure, but that required some gymnastics from Sara. She had to hold my arm rests up and out of the way, while still giving space for the x-ray tech to get me. It worked for the right side, but my left kidney wasn't showing up where it should.

I've been through many medical procedures, but I don't recall anyone stealing any organs, at least not yet. The next place to search was from my back, but this made for more fun. Sara pulled me forward so I leaned on her arm while the hunt continued for my missing part. This meant my mask pushed on my face, attempting to enter my eyes again, and adding to the circus that can be the quad life.

After a few minutes, everything was found and scanned and I was returned to my regular position. I was very thankful to get back out toward the van to again have a free face. Two days later, my doctor called to report all is well. That was good to hear, but I will need to attempt annual checks. I'm glad to give wheelchair experience to small-town medical staff, but may do my next one in Des Moines.

Later this week, I'm scheduled to finally get a hair cut, but with the same mask requirements. I am glad to see everything starting to get back toward normal. I pray that it will continue, and drop the required face covering.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Opening Up, Maybe

We have reached the middle of May along with mid spring and warmer weather. People are getting out and enjoying the outdoors again, somewhat anyway. It has been two months since lock downs started due to COVID-19 and now Iowa and some other states are reducing restrictions, but not completely.

For the first time since March 8, my home church held the morning service in the building with a congregation. However, only alternating benches could be used and family groups had to stay six feet apart from each other. That limited seating capacity to about 85 and not everybody could come. My family did not venture out and instead did online service again.

Restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses are also allowed to be open, but with restrictions. Therefore, the state is starting to reopen, but not anywhere close to what we knew prior to the virus. This past week, I scheduled two upcoming meetings, but both will be conducted through Zoom instead of in person as normal.

Conference Watching Mode
Yesterday, I watched an all-day conference (seven hours at least) that featured five different Christian speakers. They gave practical messages on responding to this world that has gone Bonkers (the conference title) and every lesson was followed by a question and answer session from the audience in 37 different countries. The world rapidly switching to digital interaction has made such a meeting possible and more common.

One of the speakers used the book of Daniel in his sermon. He pointed out our trust in God is determined before a situation, not at the moment of testing. I haven't faced a fiery furnace, but these last two months have been stark reminders that everything can change quickly, and to fully trust in God alone.

I've had times of testing trust before in the quad life and I'm sure will again. Each time though can serve to strengthen my trust or cause it to shake. I hope that more people experience the first result and not the second. As life begins to return to some sense of normalcy, let us not forget to hold on to trust in God for everything.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day at Home

Every year, we set aside a special day to celebrate mothers. These are the special people God used to form our bodies, then help train us how to get along in this fallen world. Looking back at previous years, most family traditions are similar. Dad takes responsibility for meals, hopefully, and mom gets to have time to enjoy her favorite activities. This year, it looks a little different.

With the threat of coronavirus, most people have been staying at home. That means no going out to get mom flowers, candy, or a card to help commemorate the day. I have seen a few commercials recently advertising jewelry for Mother's Day, but I'm guessing it won't be a popular gift with many people off from work. Since many moms have been stuck at home with their children all day for two months, some may just want to get away from their offspring.

For my mother, I had to resort to sending a virtual card to her email. She and dad have been braving the stores to get supplies I usually acquire on my own. Somehow, having them pick out and purchase a card for me to just sign didn't quite sound right.

Again this year, I am reminded how blessed I am to have my mother. She normally works two days a week doing book work at dad's family's grain elevator. However, it is a common communal spot for farmers to sit around drinking coffee, solving (and possibly aiding) the world's problems. In order to help stay away from people and virus exposure, mom has voluntarily stayed home since March.

With grocery runs, and supplies, limited mom has also managed very well to keep the three of us well fed with healthy meals. She also continues to keep track of my caregivers' hours every week along with running the house.

Mother's Day 2020 will not include pictures of going out or getting together with grandmothers. Many families are liking meeting with their mothers virtually this year, but it still counts as celebrating. Thank you mom for everything you do and rolling with the ever-changing flow. Hopefully next year will allow for an increase in festivities for this special day.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Missing Moments

April has now passed, to mostly everyone's relief. It was a complete month of quarantine for much of the world, with not doing much of anything except staying in the house. I cancelled or rescheduled a few appointments, but hope to get them done soon.

My first cancellation was a hair cut on April 2. I normally get a trim every four weeks and like keeping my hair short. Now, it has been over eight weeks since getting my ears lowered and they are starting to hide. I've seen some people take to desperate measures and do their own hair. I haven't gotten to that point, yet, but look forward to getting my normal due back instead of the current don't.

The second item that was skipped was my Botox. I get Botox injections in my right arm to reduce muscle spasms and help protect the wires and plugin for my diaphragm pacemaker. However, the drug dissipates and needs to be updated every three months. Now that I'm nearing four months without a boost, I am noticing my arm pull into my chest more when it shakes. I'm trying to make extra sure everyone keeps a pillow on my side for protection, but some of my caregivers don't. Thankfully, I haven't had any major issues, but hope I don't need to wait through July to get an update.

It wasn't scheduled, but I normally speak to a class of third graders in Des Moines in April. With schools meeting virtually, I didn't try to contact the teacher. However, I miss working with the students and seeing how they react to Mr. Joel's way of writing and interacting with God's world.

Finally, I miss getting out to church every week and fellowship with fellow believers. Watching praise songs and sermons online is handy, but not in the spring when I'm able to get out again.

In Iowa, the state is now slowly opening up again with restrictions on occupancy and keeping groups separated. My church is planning to try a regular service again in a few weeks, but my family isn't sure if we'll head out by then or not. Living the quad life has challenges, and a global pandemic doesn't help. However, I continue to be thankful for God's protection and the ability to still keep active while sheltered in place.