Monday, August 31, 2009

Fill Me up

A couple of weeks ago I went to get my teeth cleaned at the dentist. They took x-rays and then the doc looked at my teeth and told me I had three cavities. I scheduled an appointment to go in to get them filled. Today was the day.

The dentist office isn't exactly accessible. The chairs in the rooms don't move so I had to squeeze my wheelchair in between things. Then I had to tilt my chair back as far as it went; I felt like I was going to fall backwards. He put some topical in my mouth to numb it before he injected the novocaine. It tasted disgusting. I made a face at him and he told me it was supposed to taste like a pina colada. I guess I'll never be drinking one of those. It's probably not exactly the same. Anyways, then he gave me a shot of novocaine and my mouth got all numb. He started drilling my teeth about five minutes later. The noise sounded like a jackhammer, not to mention the pieces of teeth that were flying out of my mouth in every which direction. (Excuse my similes and use of detail. I'm practicing for my creative writing class.)

After he drilled them, he filled the holes. Then he polished it and off I went. Only with a little trouble because my mouth was numb and I was trying to drive my wheelchair with my tongue. I did make it home safely. However, I wasn't able to eat anything for a while. I was starving! It took a while for the novocaine to wear off and the feeling to come back in my mouth. I am still sore from the needle. Don't get me wrong, I do love going to the dentist. It's when they start poking me with needles and drilling holes in my teeth where I get a little nervous. Everything turned out okay though and I have no more cavities.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Equipment and Power

Along with being a quad comes a lot of equipment that needs to be plugged in. I think I have at least seven power outlets in my room, not including two power strips. The first picture is of one of the power strips in my room. Each plug goes to some piece of equipment that I need and use. Whether it be my ventilator, my bed, or my suction machine, it's all important. Therefore, so is electricity.

I depend solely on electricity to stay alive because I'm on a ventilator. If there was no power, my ventilator would only run for 30 minutes or so on an internal battery before it would shut off. However, it is able to be plugged into an external battery. The batteries that I use are lithium batteries and can last about 3 to 4 hours. I plug my wheelchair vent into the external batteries when using it. It allows me to go places without having to be plugged in to an outlet.

The second picture above is of my battery shelf. It consists of backup batteries, battery chargers, and an oxygen tank on the bottom shelf.

When I use the ventilator in my room, it is plugged in to an outlet. One thing I have to worry about being on a ventilator is not having power. If the power did go out, I have a back up generator that's big enough to run the electricity in my room. It takes about 7 seconds to kick in after the power goes out. This allows me to stay plugged in in my room and not have to use external power to run my ventilator. Having a generator makes it a little less stressful when the power goes out.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Classes Begin

Today was my first day of my Interpersonal Communication class at Normandale Community College. The first day wasn't really all that exciting because all we did was go over the syllabus and listen to a lecture about the first chapter. I think it's going to be a fun class though. The material is very interesting so far. I still have to read the first chapter of our book.

My online class, Creative Writing, started yesterday. I've never taken an online class before. I think it'll be easy as long as I keep up with the discussions and homework. I'm sure you all know from reading my blog that I love to write. We'll be writing poems and nonfiction and fiction stories. Exactly the kind of stuff I like to write. This class will be perfect for me! I'll definitely let you know how things are going and what I'm doing in my classes along the way.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Did You Know?

I have hypotension.

Hypotension refers to an abnormally low blood pressure. For most individuals, a normal blood pressure is 120/80. The top number is called systolic and the bottom number is called diastolic. Any sort of drop in blood pressure, even by 20, is considered low blood presure. People with spinal cord injuries usually have low blood pressure due to their injury. The main symptom of hypotension is lightheadedness or dizziness. If the blood pressure is sufficiently low, fainting and often seizures will occur. (Hypertension refers to high blood pressure. The number on the blood pressure cuff in the picture is definitely not mine.)

My normal blood pressure is usually around 90/60. However, blood pressure changes with position change. If I sit up too quickly or stand up in my stander, my blood pressure drops. When that happens I feel dizzy and sometimes things start to go black. As soon as someone lifts my legs up if I'm sitting, or puts me back down into a sitting position if I'm standing, my blood pressure rises.

I do have parameters that I'm supposed to go by. If my blood pressure gets below a certain point (60 for the systolic and 45 for the diastolic) and maintains at that level, my nurses are supposed to notify my doctor. However, in my stander my blood pressure usually drops pretty low and there really are no parameters unless I pass out, according to my doctor. As long as I'm still talking, I'm okay. The lowest my blood pressure has gotten that still registered on the machine is 49/36. If it gets any lower it will read as an error.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just Be Yourself

Just Be Yourself

To be who you are
is to be enough.
To share who you are
is to share enough.
To do what you love
is to do enough.

There is no race to win
and nothing to be proven,
only dreams to be nurtured,
a self to be expressed,
and love to be shared.

Never doubt your worth,
and always know,
without any doubt,
that you are truly valued.
-Donna Newman

A little poem to show that just being yourself is enough.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have learned how to communicate better and be very patient because of having nurses. I direct all my own cares. That includes how things get done to me and what I want them to do, which can get exhausting.

I'm trying to learn that there is more than one way to do things. If someone were to do something for themselves, they would do it their way. However, my nurses do everything for me and so sometimes it can be a compromise on how it's done. Sometimes it's hard to explain the way that I would do things and just because it's my way doesn't mean it is always the best way.

I'm very lucky to have such good nursing care. Not many people have full nursing coverage and as great of staff as I do. When I first came home from hospital, I didn't have full nursing coverage. In fact it was barely 50%. Now I hardly have any open shifts, usually only if someone is sick or on vacation.

My nurses have to chart everything they give me and everything they do to me. That includes my intake and output for the day. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating; having someone write down every little detail in my life. That's one reason I put on a smile and don't show much emotion.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another Look

I sent my hair into Locks of Love. I thought I would put up another picture of me with my hair short. It's already grown since I got it cut two weeks ago. I've been able to style it many different ways and it's super easy. Plus, it's a lot cooler without all that hair on my neck; especially on these humid 90° summer days. I'm still planning on growing it out and doing it all over again. It's a nice change every once in a while and definitely worth it. To know that just by donating my hair I am making a difference in someone else's life is an amazing feeling. For me, hair just grows; for others, it doesn't grow at all. I am very lucky and now someone else will be too.


"Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do."
-Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Little Bored

I haven't really been doing much these past few days. I've been playing games, watching movies, surfing the web and going outside. I'm planning on painting in a little bit. Tomorrow I'm going to church in the morning. Next week I'm going to get my books for class.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sleep Tight

Due to my 24 hour nursing, I don't get as decent amount of sleep at night as I should be or could for that matter. At night, the nurses come in at least every hour, sometimes even more, to do various things. I get turned every three hours, cathed every two and 120 mL (4 ounces) water flush every hour. That's enough to wake someone up a few times at least.

I try to go to sleep around 10 PM, however, that doesn't always work out. If I had a long day and I'm really tired, I may fall asleep sometime between 8 PM and 9 PM. Falling asleep that early usually means that I will be awake a lot at night. My nurses try to wake me up so that I will sleep later, but that doesn't work too well. Sometimes I'm able to stay awake until 10. I get the best sleep if I fall asleep around 11 PM because then I'm so tired I don't wake up during the night. Most nights I wake up in the middle of the night at least once, if not more; sometimes for 5 to 10 minutes and sometimes for an hour or two. It just depends on the night and when I go to sleep. I automatically wake up between 4:30 AM and 5 AM, no matter what time I went to bed or how much sleep I got. That's when I start my cares in the morning.

Depending on how much sleep I've gotten that night, depends on how much I sleep during the day. I usually take an afternoon nap, but if I'm tired enough I can fall asleep at any time just about anywhere. I actually sleep in my wheelchair very well. It's very easy for me to fall asleep in a car while riding to and from appointments. I also fall asleep in school, while watching TV, and when I'm on the computer; sometimes midsentence. If I fall asleep on the computer with the microphone on, when I wake up I find that my speech-recognition software has typed out the word "him"hundreds of times, one for every breath. I've even fallen asleep while driving my wheelchair (no joke, that's why I don't have a license). Especially after I've been asleep in a car, then I start to drive my wheelchair when I'm still half asleep. I guess it is pretty dangerous when you think about it. Sometimes the nurse has to take control over my chair so that I don't run into anything. Probably a good thing being that the other day I was on my way home from a walk and was so tired I started falling asleep; almost rolled into a ditch. Luckily my nurse was able to wake me up and help me get home.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Art Class Watercolor Paintings

I have posted a few photos of paintings that I did in my watercolor painting class. I learned many new techniques, one of which that involves leaves. The first photo is of that new technique. What I did was went out and found some leaves (picked them rather), got my paper completely wet, painted whatever colors I wanted on the front side of the leaf, and then stuck it paint side down onto the wet paper. After the leaves were on there and the paper was still wet, I painted the background. When it was completely dry I peeled the leaves off and the result is the second photo. I love this technique so much that I've done it a few more times at home, producing great results. Maybe I'll post pictures of those at a later date. The third photo is of a mountain scene that I'm still working on. I learned how to do the mountains in class. I have a little more to go on it before I'm finished, even though it does look good how it is.

The Art Center has scheduled one extra class for us because of the mixup of the first class. That will be on August 21. I'm excited to learn more techniques.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Wrinkle Free

Well, I got Botox again today. I suppose I don't have to announce it every time I get it, being that it's every three months, but some people like to know. They don't just use it to get rid of wrinkles anymore. It is also used to loosen tight muscles. Although every time I go, one of my nurses wants the leftovers.

This time they just injected it into my neck muscles starting at my occipitals (the base of my head, top of my neck) all the way down to my rhomboids (along my shoulder blades). Those are really the only places that are extremely tight and painful. I've come a long way in tightness since the first time I got Botox. I'm pretty loose now in most places, except for my neck and shoulders. It takes a couple of days before it kicks in and loosens everything up. The bad thing is that it wears off pretty quickly and I'll be back for more injections in three months.

If you want to read my other posts on Botox, type in Botox in the search box in the upper left-hand corner of the page. They will so conveniently just pop up for you.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Very Inspiring

My aunt sent me an e-mail a while back with a link to a YouTube video. The video is about a family who never gave up on the son they had. You can watch it below.

I found this video to be very inspiring. The hope, strength, and perseverance that one person and family can have is amazing. Even when told that it is impossible; he defied all odds.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I just exceeded 10,000 visitors. How exciting! Thanks everyone for reading my blog. Keep the comments coming; I enjoy reading them. Also, feel free to e-mail me if you have questions or separate comments.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Trip to Wisconsin

Yesterday, I visited a camp that I went to during the summer for seven years before my accident. It is in Wisconsin (almost 2 hours away from where I live in Minnesota). This summer marks their 100th anniversary. They were having a get-together with past and present campers and counselors. There were lots of people there; some I hadn't seen in years. It was great to talk to them and catch up on life. I still love that camp even though I can't go to it anymore because it is not accessible for people in wheelchairs. There are some camps out there for people with disabilities, however, I require 24/7 nursing care because of my ventilator, which those camps don't provide.

The summer before my accident I went to the camp for three weeks. It was kind of like a training experience to be a counselor. That was my plan for the next summer; to be a camp counselor there. My favorite thing to do at camp was go canoeing. I loved just being out on the water relaxing in the quietness of nature. I did a post a while back about canoeing at the camp and also shared a poem I wrote before my accident. You can click here to read it.