Thursday, December 30, 2010

Now That the Excitement Is over…

Christmas is over and the new year is approaching. We had lots of family over to celebrate. It's a lot of work to entertain, and we are exhausted but thankful. It works out best if people come over to our house instead of me going out because most other places aren't accessible. But it does make for hard work and long days. I'm enjoying my time off from school, but will be ready to go back in a couple weeks when it starts up again. My latest favorite thing to do when I'm bored is play Scrabble. It takes a while to play but it's a lot of fun and I'm learning at the same time; keeps my mind busy. My sister's been home from California and that's been nice. Although she flies back on Saturday for seven more months. Otherwise everything else has been good.

I hope everyone else had a nice holiday.


Sunday, December 26, 2010


The Compassion of Love Is the Compassion of Forgiveness

Many people are locked up in guilt,
feelings of unworthiness,
broken hearts and spirits,
fearful of being rejected.

To forgive is to call back
and to reveal that the person is loved, cherished,
and full of worth;
to forgive is to liberate
from the broken, crushed self image,
from feelings of guilt.
Forgiveness is to refined
the kiss of peace,
the kiss of covenant,
and to celebrate unity.

Forgiveness implies an understanding
of our own poverty, wretchedness, brokenness, and sin;
it implies too an openness
to receive the hand and words of love.
-Jean Vanier

Monday, December 20, 2010

Long Update

I received my grade the other day for my final and for my class. On my test I got 67%, which with a curve turned out to be a C. In the class I got 81% which is a B. I'm really happy with my grade especially since it was such a hard class and I didn't think I would do that well. I'm enjoying my well needed break and just waiting for Christmas to come and to see what the new year brings.

Surprisingly, I'm recovering well from getting my wisdom teeth pulled. Up until yesterday I had hardly any pain at all. Everyone was telling me how bad it is and how much it hurts, but luckily I didn't experience that. For a few days my mom was putting all my food in a blender, including soups, pot roast and even salad (yes, salad. I had to get my greens in somehow. It was actually quite good!) Then I went on to eating soft foods like noodles and now I'm just starting to eat solids. Although I don't know if I'm quite ready since my jaw is hurting today. Maybe I started too soon with the good stuff.

Today I went to my sleep Dr. just for a yearly visit. Aside from my lack of sleep during finals, I've been sleeping pretty good compared to how it used to be. There was a blizzard warning today but I ignored it and went out anyways. They were saying 4-8 inches (about 10-20 cm) of snow. That's nothing compared to the 17 inches (roughly 43 cm) a week ago Saturday. It took an hour and half to get home when it should have only taken a half an hour. Traffic was really bad and so were the roads because nothing was plowed yet. That's Minnesota for you.

Tomorrow I'm planning on going Christmas shopping since I haven't done any yet. I'm not sure what I'm going to get everyone. The worst is to go shopping with no list. There are three types of shoppers: the ones who do their shopping months before Christmas and buy little stuff at a time; the ones who wait until last minute like the week of Christmas (that would be me); and the people who go out with the intent of buying presents for others but end up buying stuff for themselves instead. I'm hoping to find at least a few things since Christmas eve is just four days away. I definitely think it's better to give than to receive, and it feels better too.

We are hosting Christmas eve and Christmas day at our house with family. What are everyone else's plans for the holidays?


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time to Relax and Recover

The last two days have been extremely busy and tiring.

On Monday I took my final for my environmental biology class. It was the hardest test I've ever taken. Overall it was 158 points, with multiple-choice, definitions, short answer, and an essay question. It took me over three hours to complete. I'm not sure what I got yet, but I'm glad it's over. For the spring I signed up for intercultural communications at Normandale community college and stress management online.

Yesterday I got my wisdom teeth pulled. I only had three of them. They put me under general anesthesia and then reversed it right away when they were finished. Apparently it only took 20 min. but to me it felt like 2 min. Afterwards they shoved gauze in my mouth and sent me on my way. I couldn't drive my wheelchair because my mouth was numb so my nurse had to do it.

I had some pain with it last night. I think I only slept about 1 1/2 to 2 hours; and that was with one of my sleeping pills and Vicodin (which they prescribed me for pain). It's also supposed to make you relax and sleepy, but I think it had the opposite effect on me. The pain is pretty much gone now, but I'm exhausted from being awake all night and all day.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Spasticity & Muscle Spasms

My spinal cord injury is at C-1 C-2 and I am an incomplete quadriplegic. That means I have some connectivity going through my spinal cord from my brain to my body. It also means that I have spasticity and lots of muscle spasms. I have pasted below some information about this and some things that I go through.

Following a spinal cord injury, the nerve cells below the level of injury become disconnected from the brain at the level of injury. This is due to scar tissue which forms in the structure of the damaged area of the spinal cord, blocking messages from below the level of injury reaching the brain. Spasticity does not occur immediately following a spinal cord injury. When an injury occurs to the spinal cord, the body goes into spinal shock, and this may last several weeks. During this time changes take place to the nerve cells which control muscle activity.

Once spinal shock wears off, the natural reflex which is present in everyone reappears. Spasticity is an exaggeration of the normal reflexes that occur when the body is stimulated in certain ways. In an abled bodied person, a stimulus to the skin is sensed, and a sensory signal is sent to the reflex arch where it travels to the brain via the spinal cord, the brain then assesses the stimulant, and if the stimulant is thought not to be dangerous, an inhibitory signal is sent down the spinal cord, and cancels the reflex from moving the muscle.

In a person with a spinal cord injury this inhibitory signal is blocked by the structural damage in the cord, and the natural reflex is allowed to continue resulting in a contraction of the muscle.

I didn't start having spasms until a couple months after my accident. That's also when I started to feel tingling throughout my whole body. The tingling drove me crazy and kept me up at night, so they put me on a medicine to help so I wouldn't feel it. After a while it turned into the feeling I have today, which is pressure in most areas. I can feel the most on the top of my arms.

Muscle spasms can occur in a person with a spinal cord injury any time the body is stimulated below the level of injury. This is usually noticeable when a muscle is stretched, or there is a painful stimulant below the level of injury. Because of the injury to the spinal cord, these sensations can trigger the reflex resulting in the muscle to contract or spasm.

When my arms are lifted in the air it causes a full body spasm. Also, if the water is too hot in the shower my body lets me know by spasming. I cannot feel hot or cold, so the spasms are a good thing.

Almost anything can trigger spasticity. Some things, however, can make spasticity more of a problem. A bladder infection or kidney infection will often cause spasticity to increase a great deal. A skin breakdown will also increase spasms. In a person who does not perform regular range of motion exercises, muscles and joints become less flexible and almost any minor stimulation can cause severe spasticity.

I have not had a bladder infection since April 2009. This is very good for me because I used to get them back to back. I knew I had them because my muscle spasticity would increase a great deal, telling me something was wrong. I do range of motion twice a day to keep my muscles moving and flexible.

Some spasticity may always be present. The best way to manage or reduce excessive spasms is to perform a daily range of motion exercise program. Avoiding situations such as bladder infections, skin breakdowns, or injuries to the feet and legs will also reduce spasticity. There are three primary medications used to treat spasticity, baclofen, Valium, and Dantrium. All have some side effects and do not completely eliminate spasticity.

There are some benefits to spasticity. It can serve as a warning mechanism to identify pain or problems in areas where there is no sensation. Many people know when a urinary tract infection is coming on by the increase in muscle spasms. Spasticity also helps to maintain muscle size and bone strength. It does not replace walking, but it does help to some degree in preventing osteoporosis. Spasticity helps maintain circulation in the legs and can be used to improve certain functional activities such as performing transfers or walking with braces. For these reasons, treatment is usually started only when spasticity interferes with sleep or limits an individual's functional capacity.

Many people with spinal cord injuries don't like muscle spasms, and I used to be one of them. Then I realized that spasms are actually a good thing. Because I'm not moving regularly, they help burn calories. They also help stretch my muscles and change position. My body feels nice and relaxed after a spasm, which helps with my muscle pains in my back and neck. Spasms don't hurt me at all, but I know for some people it can be painful.

A surgical procedure called a radiofrequency rhizotomy is sometimes indicated in the treatment of severe spasticity. Another treatment of severe Spasticity is the implantation of a Baclofen Pump. The pump delivers a programmable amount of baclofen directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. The drug then inhibits the reflex signal in the reflex arch of the cord stopping stimulation of the muscle to spasm. Because the drug is delivered directly to the spinal cord, a very small amount can be used in comparison to a large amount which may have to be taken orally. Once a baclofen pump is implanted, oral anti spasmodic drugs are usually stopped.

I have a baclofen pump surgically inserted. If I didn't have it, I would be spasming constantly and continuously. It is turned up to the highest dose it can be for me, and that the doctor will allow. I'm comfortable with where it's at because I spasm just the right amount, but not too much. I want some rigidity in my muscles for the purposes above.


For more information go to

Monday, December 6, 2010

You Get Proud by Practicing

by Laura Hershey

If you are not proud
For who you are, for what you say, for how you look;
If every time you stop
To think of yourself, you do not see yourself glowing
With golden light; do not, therefore, give up on yourself.
You can get proud.

You do not need
A better body, a purer spirit, or a Ph.D.
To be proud.
You do not need
A lot of money, a handsome boyfriend, or a nice car.
You do not need
To be able to walk, or see, or hear,
Or use big, complicated words,
Or do any of those things that you just can’t do
To be proud. A caseworker
Cannot make you proud,
Or a doctor.
You only need more practice.
You get proud by practicing.

There are many many ways to get proud.
You can try riding a horse, or skiing on one leg,
Or playing guitar,
And do well or not so well,
And be glad you tried
Either way.
You can show
Something you’ve made
To someone you respect
And be happy with it no matter
What they say.
You can say
What you think, though you know
Other people do not think the same way, and you can
keep saying it, even if they tell you
You are crazy.

You can add your voice
All night to the voices
Of a hundred and fifty others
In a circle
Around a jailhouse
Where your brothers and sisters are being held
For blocking buses with no lifts,
Or you can be one of the ones
Inside the jailhouse,
Knowing of the circle outside.
You can speak your love
To a friend
Without fear.
You can find someone who will listen to you
Without judging you or doubting you or being
Afraid of you
And let you hear yourself perhaps
For the very first time.
These are all ways
Of getting proud.
None of them
Are easy, but all of them
Are possible. You can do all of these things,
Or just one of them again and again.
You get proud
By practicing.

Power makes you proud, and power
Comes in many fine forms
Supple and rich as butterfly wings.
It is music
when you practice opening your mouth
And liking what you hear
Because it is the sound of your own
True voice.

It is sunlight
When you practice seeing
Strength and beauty in everyone,
Including yourself.
It is dance
when you practice knowing
That what you do
And the way you do it
Is the right way for you
And cannot be called wrong.
All these hold
More power than weapons or money
Or lies.
All these practices bring power, and power
Makes you proud.
You get proud
By practicing.

Remember, you weren’t the one
Who made you ashamed,
But you are the one
Who can make you proud.
Just practice,
Practice until you get proud, and once you are proud,
Keep practicing so you won’t forget.
You get proud
By practicing

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Breaking My Routine

The last few months I've been kind of stuck in a rut, doing the same routine over and over every day and not really enjoying my activities. It started when my wheelchair broke and just kind of continued. I wasn't able to go out as many places unless there were two people because of all my emergency equipment and someone having to push my wheelchair. For fall semester I had to drop one class because it would've been difficult to actually go to the school.

Now I need to start getting back into going out places and doing things that I enjoy doing. I'm still getting used to the fact that I am able to drive my own wheelchair now and that I can go wherever I want. Winter weather is here now in Minnesota and the days are getting colder. I'm not saying I can't go outside, but this does make it harder for someone in a wheelchair and on a ventilator to get around. I need some ideas on places I can go and things I can do to make me motivated, because right now I just feel bored.