Monday, August 30, 2010

The Builder

Builder, The -author unknown

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized, we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity. The plaque on the wall says, "Life is a do-it-yourself project."

Who could say it more clearly? Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past. Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Carbon Footprint

Now that I'm taking an environmental biology class, I know I'm going to start becoming more cautious about things; like what gets used and thrown away, leaving lights and appliances on etc. I am extremely influenced by books and classes about things and ideas like this. I remember when I took a principles of nutrition class a couple of years ago. It completely changed the way I thought about food and what I ate.

Most people wouldn't believe the amount of supplies and necessary household items that someone like me with a team of eight nurses and two PCAs goes through on average. I try my hardest to make sure we do what we can to minimize our use and waste. In the last four months, we switched to using hand towels for drying instead of paper towels. That made a huge difference. We were going through like 30 rolls every couple months. Some people were reluctant because of infection control, but I worry about how much waste we were producing.

Does anyone else think about their carbon footprint and what they leave behind for the rest of the world?


Monday, August 23, 2010

Wheelchair Trial

On Friday Key Medical brought out two wheelchairs for me to trial. One of them had a chin joystick and the other had a sip and puff. After getting so frustrated a few weeks ago when I tried the sip and puff and couldn't get it, I decided I wanted to try the chin joystick to see if I would like it. They brought out both ways to drive it so that I could compare the two and figure out which one I wanted to use to drive my new wheelchair.

I tried the chin joystick first. It's just like a regular joystick for a wheelchair; you push it forward to go forward, back to go back and so on. You have to keep pressure on it the whole time otherwise if you let go the chair stops. That means it's in an unlatched mode. As soon as I started I got it down right away. It was really easy. I was able to navigate through the door outside, down the sidewalk and around the driveway to the side of the house. I practiced for about 20 minutes; trying to learn everything I could about it.

After trialing that chair, I transferred into the chair with the sip and puff. I was a little hesitant at first since I had so much trouble with the last time, but I kept an open mind because I didn't want to give up on it. To my amazement, it took about two minutes for me to get it. Just like the chin joystick I was out into the side of the house in no time.

The sip and puff is also known as a breath control, although you don't actually use your breath to control it. You use pressure to puff into it and sip, just like you would a straw. Depending on what you do depends on which way you move. After trialing both I decided that I liked the S&P better. The major reason why is because like I said before with the chin joystick you have to keep constant pressure on it. When using the S&P, it can be set in a latched mode so you can give it a hard puff to go forward and it will just go. It can also be set on an unlatched mode where you have to continuously puff into it to get it to move, but after a while that gets really tiring and my cheeks would hurt. It was a good thing that they brought out both chairs and gave me the choice between two options instead of just one.

They let me keep the power wheelchair with the sip and puff to trial until this Friday. There's just one problem with this chair and that's that it's too small for me and extremely uncomfortable. I lean to the side because there is no support. I've used it Friday, Saturday and Sunday so far. Today I went into my old power wheelchair (the one that doesn't work) to give my body a break and some support.

Tomorrow I have a doctors appointment at Gillette to get Botox injections in my neck and shoulders again. I'm going to use the trial chair to go there because I want to see how I do with it out in public. I'm kind of nervous right now because if something happens with the chair I'll be stuck out somewhere. It should be okay though because the guy from the company is going to meet me out there to help if I need anything, which is really good. After tomorrow I don't think I'll get in it again because it causes me too much pain.

I should be able to get my new wheelchair ordered by the end of the week. I have to make a few decisions still before that can happen. I'm not sure yet as far as the timeperiod on when I'm going to get it. The wheelchair has to be approved by medical assistance first, and that could take a couple months. I will keep you updated as I know more.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stories from the Past

When my accident happened, I was 16 and a sophomore in high school. I was taking three classes (biology, math, and English) and had a study hall. In the hospital, I finished my math and English classes with the teacher that was there. It was funny because someone would bring me my math homework, and then I would not only have to learn how to do it myself but I had to teach the teacher how to use the graphing calculator in order to do the problems. English was a little easier to do because it just involved reading and analysis. I couldn't finish my biology class in the hospital because there were labs so I had to retake that one. I didn't do any more classes the rest of my sophomore year; I just focused on recovering.

I went back my junior year and ended up finishing all my required credits. I graduated on time with my class in 2005. I posted a couple of pictures from the past below.

This is my senior picture.

This is a picture of me at graduation.

This is my graduating class of 750.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Signature Stamps

Usually when I sign things I do it with my mouth (the same way that I paint). I'm pretty good at writing capital letters if I use a Sharpe marker. I'm unable to write stuff with a pen or pencil because I would have to put a lot of pressure on the paper to get it to write. I decided a while ago that I wanted a signature stamp so that I wouldn't have to pull out the Sharpe and an alcoholic wipe every time I had to sign something.

About two weeks ago I went to Office Depot to have one made. I signed my name and then they made it right there while I waited. I could've used an old signature from before my accident, but I wanted it to be something that I could still write now just in case. I think they turned out really good. Definitely easier than signing myself. I got one that says my name and one with my initials.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Much Appreciation

I appreciate everyone's support and help throughout my journey and the rough times. I know things will be okay and that everything I am going through now is just another bump in the road. There are smoother paths to come. It's not often that I share feelings with others; especially if they're deep and are affecting the way I go about my day. Sometimes I treat this blog as sort of a diary. It's not always easy to talk to someone face-to-face but it's definitely easy to talk to a computer screen. As long as I don't think about the fact that tons of people are reading my writing, I can get out a lot which is good for me. Not sure that it's always something others want to read but it's a helpful tool for me to get things off my mind. I know occasionally I help others as well who are going through similar situations with my honesty.

Thanks for reading.


"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."
-- Christopher Reeve

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yeah, It's Hard

I have trouble sometimes dealing with this whole situation. There are times where all I do is direct and tell people what to do. In fact that's my life. I didn't sign up to be a manager of others starting at 16 years old. Sometimes trying my best doesn't seem good enough to me. I think I'm my own worst critic.

You know how there are those days when you wake up in the morning and you just don't feel like getting out of bed. Maybe you have a long day ahead of you, or your tired, maybe you're being lazy, or you stayed up late the night before, or maybe you just don't want to face the day. Whatever the case may be, the sheer determination just isn't there.

It's very difficult for someone like me to choose to get out of bed every morning. If I wanted to, I could just say the heck with it. Why get out of bed into my wheelchair, wheel out into the other room, and do the same things that I could have done sitting in bed in my room? It doesn't always seem worth it. Especially now that the wheelchair I'm in is extremely uncomfortable. It takes a lot for me to say yes when my nurse asks me if I'm ready to get up.

One thing I think about is the fact that there are many people who can't get out of bed, who don't have that choice. This is something that motivates me to say yes; I would definitely struggle more with not having the option of getting up at all. No matter how challenging my situation is, I still manage to live every day to the fullest.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Sis!

Today is my sister, Kristen's, 21st birthday. We are going out to lunch tomorrow to celebrate. Yesterday I went to the mall to get a present for her. Only she ended up meeting us there and trying on the clothes I was getting for her. Good thing actually because I had the wrong sizes picked out.

Sunday I went to church for the first time in over a month. It felt good to get out and go there. I'm really glad that I was able to be there because they did a skit that was amazing and made me tear up. It was to the song Everything by Lifehouse. I found a video on YouTube that is very similar to the skit that they did. It was definitely better and more emotional in person, but this suits it very well. Click here to watch it.


Monday, August 9, 2010

The Topic of My Life Right Now

All I have to talk about lately is my wheelchair. I can't think of anything else to post on my blog because this is all that's been on my mind. It's a big part of how I do things and what I do. It's been a struggle these last couple months. Going out places has proven to be a big challenge. Since I'm in a manual wheelchair and I have so much emergency equipment, it is difficult for the nurse to carry all of that and push me at the same time. It now takes two people to go out places.

I have already trialed the sip and puff and heard today that I can trial the chin joystick by early next week. Hopefully then I'll be able to decide which way I want to drive my new wheelchair. The ordering process should begin after I have made a decision. After that I'm not sure how long it's going to take before I get a new wheelchair; maybe 1 to 3 months. Medical assistance has to approve it first.


" A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."
-- Christopher Reeve

Monday, August 2, 2010

Painting Again

Now that I have some free time, I've been painting again. It makes me so happy to be doing what I love. I tried a new technique as well as one I've done before. Check out the pictures below and tell me what you think.

I found this new technique involving plastic wrap on the Internet. For this painting I put a wash of two colors down and then while it was still wet had someone lay plastic wrap on top of it. Then I told them which spots to scrunch together. After letting it dry overnight, the plastic wrap was removed and this is how it turned out.

I did the same thing with this painting only I used three colors. It kind of turned out to look like some sort of scenery with water and a sunset. That was unintentional. What do you think it looks like?

I've done this technique involving leaves before. First the paper was fully wet. Then I painted color onto the tops of the leaves and turn them over pressing them firmly on the paper. While it was still wet, I painted the background. Then I let it dry overnight.

When it was completely dry, I pulled the leaves off one by one to reveal the pattern and color underneath. This is how it turned out.

The most exciting part of doing these paintings is having to wait till the next day to reveal them. I am really proud of every painting that I do. It's fun to learn new techniques and to show them off to others. I hope you enjoy looking at them too!