Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Neck Brace

The pictures above are of me when I wore my neck brace. These were taken about eight or nine months after my accident, when I was 16 years old. After getting my halo removed in February of 2003, I was ordered to wear this neck brace until I was fully healed. I remember not liking it very much, although it was a lot better than having metal screwed into my skull. After wearing this brace for a few months I switched to a soft collared brace. That one was even worse, and I mostly only wore it when I had a doctors appointment.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fire Rainbow

"This is a fire rainbow. The rarest of all naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena. The picture was captured on the Idaho/Washington border. The event lasted about one hour. Clouds have to be cirrus, at least 20,000 feet in the air, with just the right amount of ice crystals and the Sun has to hit the clouds at precisely 58°F."

I thought this picture was amazing; to know that this phenomenon can only occur at specific elements. I guess that's true with a lot of naturally occurring things and events, but supposedly this is the rarest. I can see why.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Snowed In

Merry Christmas everyone! The picture above is of our backyard and deck. This is the amount of snow we've gotten so far. I've had a great Christmas. We have celebrated four times in the last two days with family and more to come this weekend. Some people couldn't make it because of the snow. Hope everyone else has had a good holiday season. Looking forward to the new year.


"Wherever you go, whatever you do, may the joy of the season always be with you."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Christmas

We're definitely going to have a white Christmas in Minnesota this year. There is a winter storm warning out tonight. I think by Saturday were supposed to get close to 20 inches of snow. One thing that concerns me during times like these is a nurse not being able to show up due to the weather. It's happened before and I'm hoping that it won't happen again, especially during the holidays.

I will definitely be hibernating in my house for the next few days. It's hard to go out in the snow. Sometimes my wheelchair gets stuck if it's not shoveled. Maybe I should just get chains on my wheelchair, like my grandpa Rich suggested. Then I'll be ready for anything. Or I could hook a shovel to the front and plow my way through.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Time to Relax

I'm so relieved. Classes are now over for the semester and I am officially on winter break. Finals were tough and took a lot of time and effort, but I got through them. I received an "A" in both of my classes. Looks like all that hard work paid off! Now I can enjoy the holidays and relax. I promise I'll be blogging a lot more now that I have some free time.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finals Week/Spring Semester

I'm just finishing finals for my classes this week. I have a final skills test due today for my communications class and my final portfolio for my creative writing class due on Monday morning. I'm done with my first final; just working on the other one. I'm hoping to get it done by Friday so that I don't have to be stressed about it over the weekend.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that for spring semester I signed up for psychology of spirituality and religion and two online classes, but I hadn't decided which one to take yet. I decided to take the Mass communications class instead of the creative writing nonfiction/memoir class. Eventually I will take the writing class because I love to write and hope to someday write a book, but I think I need a little break from writing creatively. Don't worry, that doesn't include my blog.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cute Poem

Little drops of water, little grains of sand
Make the mighty ocean, and the pleasantly land:
So the little minutes, humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.
Little deeds of kindness, little words of love,
Help to make earth happy, like Heaven up above.
-Julia Carney

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Questions Answered

Ryan said...

I'm kind of curious about some stuff. You mentioned before that you used to be able to breathe off of the vent for like 45 minutes, but now it's down to less (10 minutes, maybe?) And also I know you're incomplete and that you can actually move your arm(s) (saw the video), can feel, and can move your fingers and toes.

I'm not sure if you can move your head, though, or what else you can do completely. BUT, I was wondering, why did you stop practicing breathing on your own? How often do you try to move your arms and fingers and toes? What else can you do and how much do you do it?

Matthew said...

I would be interested to read Jenni's answer to Ryan's above post, but I would like to point out to him that if he read again the posts in which Jenni describes her movement and feeling, but I did notice that it was not complete and that she could move her arm into a position but not back again, etc.

Jenni, does your "neck breathing" have to be conscious? Most of us don't breathe consciously, after all; our body breathes without our having to do it, much as it does so much else. If you can't, it may answer Ryan's question as to why you don't do it more or all the time.

Ryan and Matt,

First, I'm going to answer the questions about breathing. What I do to breathe is actually called neck breathing. It's not like just taking a breath; my lungs and diaphragm don't work like they should. I use my neck muscles to pull air in through my trach into my lungs. The breaths are very small, so I have to take about 40 breaths a minute versus the 18 my vent gives me. In answer to Matt's question: yes, it is all conscious. In other words, voluntary.

I used to practice once every day, and after a couple of months I got up to about 15-20 minutes at a time. However, Neck breathing is extremely exhausting and straining. It takes a lot of time and energy to practice. I do neck breathe now for a few minutes each day while changing my shirt, but not to the extent that I used to. It would be great to be able to breathe on my own. Hopefully I will be able to start practicing to breathe with my physical therapist soon.

In answer to the question about moving. I work hard to get as much movement as possible back. I'm not able to just lift my arms up. It takes a lot of focus and strength. In order to bend my elbow, I have to know which muscles to tighten. Then I have to think about it as I do it. There is one main thing that prevents me from moving more: my spasticity and tone. My muscles are extremely tight. As Matt said, I am unable to straighten my arms once I have bent them. If someone straightens my arm for me, I can bend it again, but only a few times in a row before I get too tired. I am able to move my fingers, toes and wrists easier and without as much thought as my arms and legs. I'm constantly trying to move things everyday, whether they move or not.

I know this all may sound very confusing. Spinal cord injuries often are. If you have anymore questions feel free to ask them.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree...

We got a Christmas tree last week. It's about 9 feet tall and extremely full. My mom just got done decorating it on Sunday. She wrapped gold ribbon and white lights around it. She also hung glass balls on it. Well, something happened early Monday morning at about 3 AM. My nurse heard a huge crash upstairs. Turns out, Toby, one of my cats knocked the whole Christmas tree over. He must've been trying to climb it or something. Water went everywhere along with hundreds of pine needles. He broke eight bulbs and the tree stand. Needless to say, it was a mess. My mom cleaned it all up, bought a new tree stand, and re-decorated the tree.

All day Monday he was crouching down like he knew he did something wrong. He wouldn't even go upstairs because he was so scared. On Tuesday, I brought him upstairs in the elevator on my lap to try to help him get over his fears. Kitty therapy I called it. After I sat there for a while he jumped off my lap and started scoping things out. I think I cured him. He's not scared anymore! The bad thing is now he won't stop hanging around the tree. My mom's not very happy about my therapy session.


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Brick

I received this story in an e-mail. Thought it was worth sharing:

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something.

As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.

The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting,

'What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?' The young boy was apologetic. 'Please, mister...please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do,' He pleaded. 'I threw the brick because no one else would stop...' With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. 'It's my brother, 'he said 'He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up.'

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, 'Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me.'

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat.. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. 'Thank you and may God bless you,' the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy! push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home..

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: 'Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!' God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's our choice to listen or not.

Thought for the Day:

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.

If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

He sends you flowers every spring.

He sends you a sunrise every morning Face it, friend - He is crazy about you!

God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

Read this line very slowly and let it sink in...

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Being Alone

I have 24/7 nursing care because of my trach and ventilator. If my injury was any lower, I wouldn't have nurses. Sometimes I'm glad that I'm on the ventilator so that I can have nurses to do all the care that comes along with being a quadriplegic. I don't think I would be as healthy or come as far as I have without nurses. On the downside, I'm never alone. This is one thing that I struggle with. Even if I'm alone in my room, there is always someone within hearing distance of me in case something happens. Sometimes I get frustrated with always having someone by my side, constantly talking and doing stuff for me. It is hard to always think of the positive side to having nurses and people around me. I would never want to not have nurses just for the sake of being alone in the chance that my tubes were to pop off and I wouldn't be able to breathe and put them back together. It's just a feeling that I wanted to share.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quote for the Day

"I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words, each hour, each day, every day, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing, and the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every action necessary for my success. I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again. I will walk where failures fear to walk. I will work when failures seek rest. I will act now for now is all I have. Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure. I will act now. Success will not wait. If I delay, success will become wed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the person."
-Og Mandino