Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mystery Solved

So I've identified the mystery tracks. Turns out they're from an opossum (and I was right, the squiggly line is a tail). Ugly looking things aren't they! They're really annoying too because they dig up gardens. Someone suggested that so I looked up "opossum tracks" online and found the image below that led me to my belief. Although I have to say the picture I took is pretty unique.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tracks in the Snow

Our property is surrounded by woods with trees and a pond. Naturally, we get all sorts of different animals running through our yard. I love feeding the squirrels and birds and watching them interact. They like seeds, nuts, and corn the best. They come right up to the window on the door to eat.

Since it's winter and there's snow covering everywhere, they make tracks wherever they run. It is always fun to try to identify which tracks belong to which animals. Today, we saw ones we've never seen before. I posted a picture below to see if anyone else knew what they were. I'm assuming the squiggly line is a tale? Let me know if you have a good guess.

It's really strange. I can't figure out what animal it would be.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No Silence

In my life there is no silence. Even when I am the only person in the room, there's always a constant flow of noise inserting into my ears, getting trapped inside my head. A whoosh of air going in and out, in and out; it is an everlasting hum that can be heard throughout the house. My ventilator breathes for me. Requiring electricity to run, it is an energy sucking, life-saving machine that never stops going. Power is essential. Electrical currents flow out of the outlet, up through the thick gray cord and into the machine. In and out, in and out; filling my lungs with air; oxygen running through my body; giving me life. It is a process that never stops, never sleeps and is never quiet. In my life there is no silence.


"I have often lamented that we cannot close our ears with as much ease as we can our eyes." ~Richard Steele

Friday, January 21, 2011

Obstacles in the Community: Sidewalk Ramps

Being in a wheelchair poses many obstacles in the community. One major thing is accessibility; whether it be stairs, narrow doorways or a jampacked clothing store. It all poses a problem for someone using a wheelchair.

One thing that can be a problem is sidewalk ramps. In the front of most buildings there are sidewalks and curbs, and usually a place that dips down for a stroller, shopping cart, wheelchair etc. Placement of these ramps is key for someone in a wheelchair and it seems that they're not always where you think they should be.

I would assume that they would be right in front of the store, but that's not always the case. Sometimes I find that they are on the side or back of buildings which means that I have to go around first in order to get to the front. In the middle of winter when it's 10°F (-22°C), that's not always the best thing to do.

Down the street from my house is a strip mall with about 10 to 12 stores connected in an L-shape. If I want to go into a store at one end, I have to go to the middle corner to get up onto the sidewalk because there are no ramps at the ends.

It's not just ramps that go to stores either. It's also ones that go from the street to the sidewalk. If they are not placed properly, one has to go out of the way to get to them. For example, also down the street from my house is a mall which I like to travel to every once in a while. Most of the way I can use the sidewalk, but then I come up to an intersection which I have to cross. Because of the heavy traffic I am unable to cross at the light. The only other ramp to get off the sidewalk is to the right of the light about half a block. However, once you get off there is no ramp to get back up on the other side of the street. I have to go up the side of the busy street, go around an exit and then enter into the parking lot of the mall. Very inconvenient and dangerous as well.

The problem with sidewalk ramps are mostly only visible to someone who faces the challenge. As are other accessibility issues throughout the community. If you're in a wheelchair, and you know of other little things that pose problems, leave a comment and share. I'd love to read about it.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Subject: the Seven Wonders of the World

This was originally posted 10/12/08. I'm not sure if everyone's read it, but I think it's a great story so I decided to repost it.

A group of students were asked to list what they thought were the present Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes:
1. Egypt's great pyramids
2. The Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State building
6. Tt. Peter's Basilica
7. The Great Wall of China
While counting up the votes, the teacher noted that one quiet student hadn't turned in his paper yet, so she asked the child if he was having trouble with his list. The reply came, "Yes, a little. I can't quite make up my mind because there are so many." The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have and maybe we can help." He hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:
1. To touch
2. To taste
3. To see
4. To hear
He hesitated a little, then added:
5. To feel
6. To laugh
7. and, to love"
The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. These things we overlook as simple and ordinary are truly wondrous-a gentle reminder that the most precious things in life cannot be bought or built.

I love this story! I think it really makes people realize how valuable life is and not to take the little things for granted. There are people out there who can't touch, taste, see, hear, feel, laugh, or love. Think about it. Put yourself in their position, or even my position. Try sitting still for five minutes. No moving around, scratching itches, moving your hair from your face etc. It's hard isn't it. I know there is no way that anyone could know or even imagine how it feels to lose or be missing a sense unless it had happened or was happening to them. Even doing a simple experiment like sitting still for five minutes or wearing a blindfold for a day cannot show someone to the full extent what it's like to have a disability. Just something to think about when you're holding your kids, tasting your favorite food, watching the sunset, listening to the birds, getting a massage, reading a funny joke, or spending time with the people you love.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Calling All Nurses

I depend on nurses 24/7 to meet most of my needs and do cares for me. They work 12 hour shifts; 7 AM to 7 PM and 7 PM to 7 AM. I have seven different nurses at this time, but it can vary depending on whether they work full-time or part-time with me.

It is difficult having someone around and constantly with me all the time. Sometimes I just want to be alone with no one in the house, but I know that will never be as long as I'm on a ventilator and have a trach. The nurses don't have to be right beside me all the time though. We have an intercom system throughout the house, so they could be out in the other room while I'm in my room. If I need them I just call their name and they should be able to hear me and come in.

They are usually out in the other room at night when I'm sleeping, unless they're doing cares on me. The night shift proves to be the hardest for people because they have to stay awake the whole time in case something happens. One problem that I have sometimes is if they accidentally fall asleep.

There are many times where I wake up in the middle of the night and need something. I'll call for them but if they don't come right away I first assume there in the bathroom. If after a couple of calls they don't come, I start to panic and think they fell asleep, which is usually the case. Sometimes they just simply don't hear me if they're doing something else or running the water or something like that, but not every time. If they are asleep, they eventually wake up if I yell loud enough and long enough and come into my room.

I'm trying to think of some sort of call switch that I can use. But that would require them to reposition it and get it in the right place every time they repositioned me. I'm definitely going to look into that though. Unless it happened every single night, I wouldn't fire someone over accidentally falling asleep because it's really hard to find good nurses. I just have to let them know that that's not okay and to try their hardest to stay awake so I can stay safe.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Spring Classes

My online stress management class started today. It seems like it's going to be really good. Due to my situation, my life tends to be very stressful and I get a lot of anxiety. Hopefully I'll learn how to manage some of the stress and find ways to cope and relax. Maybe I'll have some good tips that I can post later on.

My intercultural communication class starts tomorrow at Normandale. I'm very excited to take it because I love communications and to learn different ways to communicate. After all that is the area I'm getting my Associates in. This will be my fifth and final communications class that I take. I'm kind of sad that I won't be taking anymore after this one.


"It's wonderful to wake up in the morning knowing your doing all that you can do."
-Renée Locks

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Look Back at 2010

I have summarized my experiences in 2010.

In January, I reached 20,000 visitors; I had trouble sleeping and changed sleep medication; I started a Psychology of Religion class at Normandale for spring semester; I was unable to drive my wheelchair because my tongue touches ran out of battery; at the end of January, after several weeks of not being able to use my wheelchair, my tongue touches arrived in the mail; I struggled with my lack of control over things and independence.

In February, I finished reading The shack by William Paul Young; I had some trouble with my headset for my computer and was unable to use my speech recognition software for a couple of days; I went on an outing to Mystic Lake Casino; I was struggling to find ideas for blog posts.

In March, I had nurses come and go; I discovered new movement in my left thumb; I talked about the difficulty of training and new nurses; I did a post on overcoming challenges; we had some unusual weather in Minnesota; I spoke out about friendships and how I was feeling about them at the time.

In April, I had more trouble with sleeplessness; we celebrated Easter with lots of family; I shared a picture of my handicap accessible van and talked about transportation; I was enjoying my Psychology of Religion class at Normandale and I went to a college success day; I went out to lunch to Benihana with my sister, Kristen; I attended my friend Karly's CD release party; I talked about my blood pressure while standing and how the cats helped distract me.

In May, I took a week off from blogging to study and then I took my final for my class; I attended the fourth annual Spinal Cord Injury Research Symposium; I signed up for Skype and a summer class; I did a post on signs and phrases; my sister's room flooded and part of mine when the sprinklers were turned on.

In June, I started Mass Communications online through Normandale; I went to Gillette and looked into different environmental control devices and used my newfound movement in my thumb; my power wheelchair died on me; I learned that the company for my Tongue Touch Keypad went out of business; I was struggling with independence and the lack of a comfortable chair; I was having difficulties in my class because it was hard and required a lot of time.

In July, I talked more about the difficulties of my class; we got new hard flooring after the flood because the carpets were ruined; I completed my Mass Communications class and received an A; my cat, Ty, died; they brought out a loaner power wheelchair with sip and puff capabilities for me to trial.

In August, my lack of independence was getting to me; my wheelchair was the topic of my life; I had another wheelchair trial; I started my online Environmental Biology class.

In September, I wrote about what I see in my dreams; I gave a few updates on my wheelchair, which hadn't come yet.

In October, my sister left for California to be in AmeriCorps for 10 months; I talked about regulating my body temperature and my braces; I went to Wirth Park to do a community study for my class; I had my 24th birthday; I became a volunteer at Gillette.

In November, it was my eighth year anniversary of my accident; I talked about standing and how it was going for me; I finally received my brand-new power wheelchair with a sip and puff control; I posted pictures of my new wheelchair; we had to put my other cat, Toby, to sleep (this I didn't mention on my blog because I really struggled with it); I enjoyed Thanksgiving; I said which classes I'm going to take for spring semester 2011.

In December, I reached 40,000 visitors; I expressed my feelings of being stuck in one mind state and needing to break my routines; I talked about spasticity and muscle spasms; I had my wisdom teeth pulled; I had a couple of annual doctor visits; I had a great Christmas with my family and a happy new year.

For the year 2011, I'm planning on no wheelchair breaks, plenty of sleep, and good health.