Sunday, May 31, 2009

Did You Know?

I can't sneeze or hiccup.

Sneezing is caused by an irritation in the inside of your nose (i.e. a dust particle, swelling from an infection, cold air, pepper etc.) According to, "When the inside of your nose gets a tickle, a message is sent to a special part of your brain called the sneeze center. The sneeze center then sends a message to all the muscles that have to work together to create the amazingly complicated process that we call the sneeze.

"Some of the muscles involved are the abdominal (belly) muscles, the chest muscles, the diaphragm (the large muscle beneath your lungs that makes you breathe), the muscles that control your vocal cords, and muscles in the back of your throat."

According to, "Hiccups are sudden, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. As the muscle contracts repeatedly, the opening between your vocal cords snaps shut to check the inflow of air and makes the hiccup sound. Irritation of the nerves that extend from the neck to the chest can cause hiccups."

Both sneezing and hiccuping require messages to get from the brain to the rest of the body in order for them to happen. Because my spinal cord is damaged, these messages are not able to get through. Therefore, most things that one may do involuntary, I am not able to do. Exactly why I am unable to breathe on my own. I am also unable to throw up. All four of these actions require at least some use of the diaphragm as well which is an involuntary muscle.

Sometimes I feel the need to sneeze. My nose tickles and sometimes my eyes water. Either the feeling goes away, or my body does the action of a sneeze without the noise or air coming out of my nose. I think It looks funny to other people.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Speaking to Kids

Yesterday I got a chance to speak to 3rd graders at my old elementary school. They were very receptive to me and asked a lot of questions. The most interesting ones were about my ventilator. They wanted to know how it worked, what everything was, and most importantly if it hurt. One little boy pointed to my nurse and said, "I have a question for you. Are you her doctor?" I guess it would be kind of interesting if I was able to bring my doctor everywhere I went.

Out of all of the different groups of people that I've talked to over the years, my favorite audience is kids. They are the most open and honest about their questions. They aren't afraid to say what they're thinking. Many kids (and adults) stare at people with disabilities. I believe that they are just curious and sometimes afraid of the unknown. It is my goal and passion to teach kids while at a young age that people with disabilities should be seen for the abilities that they have, not disabilities. To let them know that it is okay to be friends with someone who has a disability and that it's alright to ask questions. I thoroughly enjoy inspiring and teaching others.


"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you're a leader."
-John Quincy Adams

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Boredom

I guess it isn't quite summer yet, but I have been very bored lately. It is hard not being mentally stimulated by school. I have been doing the same thing every day, which doesn't involve much. I have way too much time to think about things. It would be good if I could find something that I can do or somewhere to go to that could keep me busy. I'm tired of just going to the same places like Target and the mall and doing the same things like going on the computer and watching TV.

On the upside, I have been painting a lot. It's the one thing that has been calming my mind. I feel like every time I paint I get better and better. I'm thinking about selling some, but I am very attached and it is hard for me to let any of them go. I guess I could part with the older paintings that I have done; the ones that may not be as good.


"What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life."
-Leo Buscaglia

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Post Commenters

I just wanted to take a moment to shine light on all of you who comment on my posts. I enjoy reading all of the comments and to you I want to say "thank you". It is nice getting to know the people who are reading my blog and here what they have to say. Keep it up!


Friday, May 22, 2009

Update on My Wheelchair

I don't know if you remember, but about a month ago I wrote a post about my wheelchair not working again (you can click here to read my post). Well, it's still not working.

The company in California called New Abilities told me to send in the display box (the screen that I look at to see which mode I'm in). I did as they asked, they supposedly repaired it, and then sent it back. When I hooked it back up, my chair still wouldn't work with my tongue touches. Then they told me to send in the entire black power box hooked up on the back of my chair to about a dozen cords. Right, how was I supposed to disconnect the cords and be sure that I knew how to plug them back in again.

Because the black box is my main power supply to my wheelchair, I had to be sure that when they unplugged it, that I would still be able to have power in my chair. I ended up having to go to reliable medical; they are the place where I got my wheelchair. They unplugged all of the cords from the box and marked them so I would know how to plug them back in again. They were able to get power to my wheelchair without the box so I sent it in to California and it should have gotten there by today. Now it's probably going to take about another couple of weeks before they can repair whatever's wrong with that box and then send it back to me. I'm so frustrated with this chair thing. I am contemplating getting something else hooked up to use to drive my wheelchair.

I don't know if any of this makes sense to any of you. I'm confused myself. Probably because I can't see the back of wheelchair when I'm sitting in it.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Favorites

I have been getting a lot of questions lately on what my favorites are. I decided to put them all in one post.

My favorite...

Genre of Music: Christian, alternative

Songs: We Live by Superchick, A Note to God by Charice, many others by the bands below

Bands: Third Day, Mercy Me, Train, Sister Hazel, Daughtry

Singer/Songwriter: James Taylor

Genre of Movies: action, drama, murder/mystery

Movies: Blood Diamond, The Bourne Identity, 16 Blocks, The Fast and the Furious, The Bone Collector, and many more

Book: The Shack by WM. Paul Young

Author: Randy Singer

TV Shows: The Unit, The Mentalist, NCIS, Without A Trace, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dateline NBC, Escape to Chimp Eden, Dogtown

Network Channels: MSNBC, National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Channel and of course the primetime channels

Games: Cribbage, Sequence, Yahtzee, Phase 10

Foods: Potatoes (done anyway), steak, asparagus on the grill

Wild Animals: monkeys, meerkats

Domestic Animals: dogs, cats

Color: blue

Let me know what your favorites are and if they match mine.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Past Few Days

Sunday I went to the spinal cord injury research symposium. It was great! I learned a lot about what type of research they are doing to help cure spinal cord injuries. They videotaped the event and as soon as they place the video on the website I will post it on my blog.

Yesterday I walked, rolled rather, to the mall down the street about a mile away from my house. It was beautiful outside! Sunny and 80°. I shopped around for a while and then my sister met me there after work for a bite to eat. It was a lot of fun.

Today it is going to be sunny and 85°. My nurse and I are going out to lunch at a restaurant called Cowboy Jacks. I am very excited to be getting out of the house so much. I don't like being cooped up inside. I like to enjoy the nice weather and do normal activities. We are leaving in less than an hour so I have to go now but I promise I'll put another post up soon.


"Enjoy each day to its fullest."

Friday, May 15, 2009


I just wanted to remind those of you who may be interested about the third Annual Spinal Cord Injury Research Symposium coming up this Sunday the 17th at 1:30 PM. It will be located at the Earle Brown Heritage Center. If you would like to revisit my last post about the symposium click here. Also, if you would like to read another blogs' post on the symposium click here. If you're interested in going, don't forget to go to MCPF's website to register.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Article from The New York Times

The New York Times: published April 21, 2009

Study Raises Estimate of Paralyzed Americans


It may be hard to fathom, but in the haystack of government health statistics that track cancer, car accidents, twin births to women over 40, fat teenagers and people who quit smoking, there has been no reliable estimate of the number of Americans affected by paralysis.

Until now. A study to be released on Tuesday by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation reports that far more Americans than previously estimated are paralyzed to some degree: 5.6 million people, representing 1.9 percent of the population, or roughly 1 in 50 Americans.

Previous estimates — or “guesstimates,” as some have called them — hovered around 4 million at most, and some were as low as 1.4 million.

“Nobody had any idea what the numbers were, because no one ever tried to find out,” said Joseph Canose, vice president for quality of life at the Reeve Foundation’s Paralysis Resource Center, who led the study. “There were many different ways of counting it, and there was no common definition, and the numbers were all over the place.”

But the figures, which could have enormous implications for public policy, research financing and health care, are already causing controversy, because the estimates for paralysis caused by certain diseases and conditions differ drastically from long-accepted numbers.

The new report counted 1.275 million Americans with paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries — five times the previous estimate. While stroke, which affects the mobility of 1.6 million Americans, was found to be the leading cause of paralysis, spinal cord injury was the second-leading cause, at 23 percent of cases.

The study extrapolated the figures from a meticulously designed population-based telephone survey of about 33,000 households, which was developed by researchers at the University of New Mexico with input from top experts from around the country.

The survey used a very broad, functional definition of paralysis, counting as paralyzed anyone who had either “inability” or “difficulty” moving arms or legs, as long as it was caused by a central nervous disorder and not arthritis or back trouble. The survey relied on reports from family members, not medical records. Almost half of the respondents deemed to be suffering paralysis had “some” or “a little” difficulty moving.

Gloria Krahn, the director of the Division of Human Development and Disability at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the numbers may look high because paralysis was defined as a condition affecting function, rather than as a medical diagnosis.

“This is the first study that looks at paralysis in this kind of way,” she said. “It tells the story of how large this group is.”

Another finding starkly at odds with prevailing notions is the number of people suffering paralysis due to multiple sclerosis. The report found 939,000 people in this category, more than double previous estimates of the total number of Americans with the disease — 400,000.

Nicholas LaRocca, a vice president at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, called the new estimate “puzzling.”

“They are very different from any numbers that have been produced pretty much anywhere in the world using accepted epidemiological methods, which puts one in a sort of difficult position, because this is a well-designed study,” he said.

Dr. LaRocca suggested that some people who have difficulty moving may have diagnosed multiple sclerosis in themselves, using the Internet.

The new study was conducted in part because of skepticism within the Reeve foundation about the common notion that only 250,000 Americans are affected by spinal cord injuries.

“Chris never believed that number,” Mr. Canose said. “He thought it was more.”

I found this article to be startling. I am paralyzed and I still had no idea there were that many people living with paralysis. You can click here to view the original article.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quotes I Like

Sometimes things which at the moment may be perceived as obstacles-and actually be obstacles, difficulties, or drawbacks-can in the long run result in some good end which would not have occurred if it had not been for the obstacle.
-Steve Allen

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit, and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.
-Susan B. Anthony

Courage takes many forms. There is physical courage, there is moral courage. Then there is a still higher type of courage-the courage to brave pain, to live with it, to never let others know of it and still find joy in life; to wake up in the morning with an enthusiasm for the day ahead.
-Howard Cosell

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm... as you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
-Audrey Hepburn

It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth-and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up-that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.
-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
-Helen Keller

Life means to have something definite to do-a mission to fulfill-and in the measure in which we avoid setting our life to something, we make it empty. Human life, by its every nature, has to be dedicated to something.
-José Ortega Y Gasset

If you want to be happy, set yourself a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes. Happiness is within you. It comes from doing some certain thing into which you can put all your thought and energy. If you want to be happy, get enthusiastic about something.
-Dale Carnegie


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I just wanted to say thank you to all of the mothers out there doing whatever it is they need to do to be a mom. I also want to say thanks to my mom for raising me right and being there for me. I love you!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Questions Answered

A couple of posts ago I had said that anyone who had questions could e-mail me with them and I would answer them in a post. Someone did just that so I decided that everyone should be able to read the questions and my answer to them.

Question: 1.) What is the purpose of what looks like different colored pieces of tape on your tubes? I've seen it like that in a number of pictures and was just curious about it.

Answer: The things on my tubes are velcro clips. They are put around my tubes and then clipped to my shirt to hold the tubes in place. If they are not clipped, my tubes pull down on my trache inserted in my neck. I am not sure why they made them dark green. I wish they had all sorts of colors so I could match them with my wardrobe.

I also have trache ties that go around my neck and then around my tubes at the spot that they hook on to my trache to keep my tubes from popping off. This is a big safety mechanism. Many people who are on ventilators do not have trache ties to hold their tubes on. It can be very dangerous and has sometimes led to death because the tubes pop off with no one around to put them back on.

Question 2.) How do you go about putting a non-buttoned shirt on? It may seem like an odd question but I haven't been able to come up with an answer.

Answer: I have 24/7 nursing care and a personal care assistant (PCA) every day from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM to help assist the nurse with my cares. The process that I go through to get dressed and undressed is actually quite simple, however, it does take a lot longer than it would for someone with the ability to dress themselves.

I think what you're trying to get at is how I get the shirt over my tubes. Something that many people do not know is that my tubes detach from my trache and I am able to neck breathe without them. Neck breathing is a process where I pull air in through my trache essentially taking a breath on my own. The longest I have neck breathed for is about 40 minutes. That was when I was practicing daily. I have not practiced in a long time and am now only able to neck breathe for about 10 minutes; definitely enough time to take my shirt off and put a new one back on.

The picture above is of me with my tubes off. I think I look different without my tubes. I have never actually taken a picture of myself with them off.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Trip to the ER

Today I spent five hours in the emergency room. I didn't really need to go there it's just I didn't know where else to go. The past couple of days I had been having this feeling when I got in and out of bed where I felt like my head was spinning only it wasn't. It was mainly when my head was in extension and I was changing positions. I only have one carotid artery going up to my brain. Someone suggested that the one I do have maybe was temporarily getting pinched whenever my head went back. That made me nervous. After waiting in the ER and doing a bunch of tests and talking to the doctor I found out it wasn't anything serious. He thinks I have Benign Vertigo. It is caused by problems in the inner ear causing an inbalance and the sensation of dizziness or spinning. It should go away within a few days.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Botox Again

Yesterday I went to a doctor's appointment to get more Botox injections into my tight muscles. This time he focused on my neck, shoulders and tight feet. The needles don't hurt. Everyone's surprised that I don't use any sedatives or numbing creams. I am hoping that these injections work to loosen my muscles. If you would like to read the post on why I get Botox click here.


Saturday, May 2, 2009


It is hard to believe that it has already been 6 1/2 years (yesterday) since my accident. Time goes by fast. I have learned so much in such a short time. I know that it is a miracle that I am even alive. The fact that I am shows how much fight, power and strength that I have. I know that a long road lies ahead of me but I am here for a reason and nothing can stop me from achieving my goals.

I was thinking about the post I did the other day about my thoughts. I know that people are interested in reading about the actual daily struggle that goes on with being a quadraplegic. I am definitely willing to share more about some of the physical and emotional struggles that I go through. Another thing I thought would be interesting would be to get other quadriplegics' perspectives. If you are a quad or know someone who is and would like to participate in letting others hear your story and thoughts you can e-mail them to me at and I may incorporate them into a post. You can also e-mail me if you have any questions that you would like me to answer in a post. Remember, I am very open.


"Time is too slow for those who wait
too swift for those who fear
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
Hours fly, flowers die,
new days, new ways pass by,
Love stays."
-Henry Van Dyke

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bailey Tricks

Last weekend on Saturday my dad came over and he brought his dog, Bailey. The first picture is of my dad and I. I like when my dad comes over. Our favorite thing to do together is play cribbage. Sometimes my sister plays with us too. My dad is the one who taught us how to play cribbage, however, I think I'm the best.

The other thing we do when he comes over with his dog is to have Bailey do tricks for treats. He is very good and gentle around me and unlike most other dogs he listens to me. I videotaped Bailey doing his latest trick, touching the light switch. Soon I believe he will be able to actually turn the switch on and off. I tried to add it to the post but it wouldn't work. Maybe next time I can get another video of him doing tricks with me. For now I just posted a picture of him staring me in the eyes waiting for my okay so that he can eat the treat on my lap.

Bailey can do many tricks including dancing, giving high-fives and high tens, shaking with both paws, standing tall on his hind legs, crawling etc. There are many more on the list but I just can't name them all. I did a post a while back featuring a video of Bailey doing a trick we call "paws up" with me. If you would like to watch that one, just click here.