Sunday, December 26, 2021

Pre-Christmas Truckiing

It's not a secret that I don't get out much and interact with friends or the public in general. I have a few times a year I specifically go for gospel outreach and of course preaching. Beyond that, my social life is pretty limited. That's not uncommon for quadriplegics, but it also leads to unique interactions with people.

Starting in high school, my friend John and I played games together online. Sometimes we were in the same room and other times half a country apart. We had fun no matter the location and could chat together as friends do. When John's kids arrived, his family responsibilities took precedence and we have only played online games together a few times since. However, I haven't completely stopped socializing this way.

At least 4-5 times a week, I watch a gamer on Twitch that goes by DerTebbers. I have talked about him before as I usually enjoy what he, or his wife DasTebbers, are playing. He also has a number of other gamers that are friends and play similar content. One of the games they play is American Truck Simulator, a game I also enjoy.

Taking a rest for real world needs
Recent updates to the simulator have made it possible to join with other truckers and have a convoy. On Christmas Eve, Der invited fans to truck with him and his friends delivering virtual Christmas presents. I joined in on the convoy and drove along with them.

This was the third time I have joined a convoy with Der and his friends. They are aware I drive with a mouth stick and are patient when my truck gets behind the group. However, the friends are able to chat together through another program I don't use, so it isn't quite as social as John and I used to be.

I am the only Christian in the group, which makes me both hesitant and excited for opportunities to join. For one, I look for opportunity to share the Bible and the gospel where possible. The majority of the conversations are clean, but they sometimes use God's name in vain. It gives an opportunity to speak, but also to be careful not to get influenced incorrectly. Even though I don't much chance to talk in the group, I also try to observe speed limits and traffic signs as an example.

Living the quad life does make for unique interaction with the public. I'm thankful for what I can do and try to use the opportunities for good. As we head into a new year, I pray I can continue to be active and be used for positive influence.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

It's almost Christmas?

It isn't very often I let time get away from me. I live a very scheduled life with certain needs happening at basically the same time every day. My sitting and laying schedule revolves around the medical cares and I know about how much I can do in a certain time period. I try to plan ahead days, or weeks, at a time and pay attention to special events.  Even with this, it doesn't seem like Christmas is less than a week away.

This past Wednesday, Iowa had new record highs in the low 70's. With the warm weather, several tornadoes formed along with high winds throughout the day. This sounds more like a typical day in late spring, not the final week of fall. In general, December has been a relatively warm month and doesn't feel like it should be Christmas. I think I could easily adapt to living further south where high temps are normal for this time of year, but I don't. I think that's part of why it doesn't feel like Christmas, but not all.

With my parents already doing extra work in helping me, they didn't do much for Christmas decorations. I have my regular train tree and lights in my windows, but that's about it. My parents and I are also at the stage of life that we have minimal, if any, Christmas list. It's more often the case of saying, "Here is a link, this would be good for Christmas." It's also the case that if we need something, we usually just get it and not wait.

Sara and I usually listen to a Christian radio station in the morning while she gets me ready. With her gone, I haven't been doing that often. However, I have started to some and have some of my own Christmas library playing while I type this entry.

Ready or not, Christmas will be here in just a few days. In the same way, Jesus will return again before some people expect, whether we are ready or not. Whatever is going on in life at any time of year, let us never forget to always be prepared and to come to God with sincere repentance while we can. The true gift of Christmas doesn't come in a wrapped box, but as a baby in a manger.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Nose Job

For nearly two years, I have had trouble at night with my nose getting clogged and having a hard time breathing. My Ear Nose and Throat doctor (ENT) said it would take extensive surgery to correct the problem. Therefore, I have been using nose strips and just trying to deal with it. Unfortunately, I started getting allergic reactions to the strips' adhesive and had to stop using it.

My long-time ENT also left his practice and went on to do volunteer work in other countries. When I met my new doctor, I talked with him about the problem and he said it was a simple procedure done in the office. Since I can actually feel my nose, I hesitated about getting work done, but was tired of not sleeping at night. Therefore, I made an appointment for the last Monday in November.

Dad took me to Des Moines and after getting to the procedure room, two bad tasting and smelling liquids were squirted up my nose to numb it. Sponges were also shoved in to provide further numbing and I was left to sit and wait. As the liquids did their job, I increasingly lost feeling from my sinuses on down my throat. I then remembered I had yet to take my noon medications and quick tried to before I couldn't swallow. The attempt resulted in a lot of choking and wondering what I was doing to myself, but it worked.

One final shot, via needle inside my nose, was given for full numbing before the procedure began. As this liquid reached my stomach, my chest started quivering and shaking as the doctor said, "Ready?" I had him wait until the pulsating stopped, but then he put various instruments up my nostrils explaining as he went. At one point, as he warned, I heard the cartilage in my nose popping as he applied pressure. However, it was finally finished.

Tomorrow will be two weeks since I had this done and my breathing is almost worse than before. For several days last week, I was very stuffy and needed suctioning several times a day. My throat was also sore from the irritation and I had trouble talking. It has thankfully improved, but I'm still wondering if I made the right choice.

The doctor said it will take a few weeks for swelling to decrease and notice improvement. I hope he's right. Just when I think I've experienced everything in the quad life, something new comes up. I look forward to easier breathing at night eventually, but hope I don't need to wait until Christmas.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Needing a Break

This has been a record year for preaching. After the past two weeks, I presented God's Word 11 times at two congregations. Last week's service was definitely not my best and I could tell I was not as prepared as I should have been. I enjoy getting to present Scripture to a congregation, but I'm ready for a break.

Sara's brain surgery went very well and she returned home earlier than expected. She also does not need cancer treatments, but can't return to work until she sees her doctor in early January. Therefore, just as November had very few day hours covered, December will be the same. In addition to few days, three nights are also open this month. Two of the three were Friday and Saturday night. It meant my family and I will have gone from 7:00 Friday morning to 10:00 tonight without any help.

I asked my DHS worker for any tips to find help, and she and her superiors gave a few suggestions. One was a website that caregivers and people needing help can advertise. I filled out an advertisement, but the function to message people hasn't been working since I signed up. Another area to search was through church networks. I did message a nurse that belongs to my home church, but not sure where to go next. We used to have regular contact from the church governing body to bring up concerns, but that hasn't happened in years.

In my town, a good-size organization helps people with cognitive challenges get living support and find work. A few days ago, mom read that due to lack of caregivers, several of their residential houses are likely going to close. Another small house that supported four individuals is also closing due to staffing. The odds don't look good for trying to find further help.

When writing to the church in Corinth, Paul talked about a problem he had, a thorn in his flesh. God's reply in 2 Corinthians 12:9 says in part, "my grace is sufficient for you." In my memory, this is the longest lasting major caregiver shortage I have had in the quad life. Seeing my parents getting more run down and tired by the week is hard. However, I continue to pray a solution is found and to remember God knows what we need. Hopefully this week will show some improvements toward getting a break.