Thursday, May 31, 2012

Caregiving 101...Spasms

When you have a spinal cord injury you have a condition that is called Spasticity or muscle spasms.  Following a spinal cord injury the nerve cells below the level of injury become disconnected from the brain at the level of injury.  Almost anything can trigger these spasms. Some things however, can make spasticity more of a problem.  If you have a bladder infection or pressure sores (which Dennis does right now) your level of spasms may go up.  Sometimes that is a good thing because it will let you know there may be a problem that someone with a spinal cord injury may not feel.  Right now, Dennis has a pressure sore on his heel and his elbow and it is causing him to spasm up the leg and into his stomach.  This causes him a lot of discomfort and sometimes these spasms occur when you least expect them .  One time he had one at his computor and his desk sits on wood slats to make it taller, well the desk wentcompletely off the wood that was holding it up.  If you touch a person with a spinal cord injury your touch can stimulate their skin can set off a spasm.  Dennis takes a prescription called baclofen and tizanidine to help control these spasms.  Tonight we were sitting on the deck, doing our evening devotions and when it was time to go in Dennis moved to change the controls on his chair and had a spasm and this is what occured.
Dennis remained very calm while I tried to think of what MacGyver would do in this situation.  Did I mention this was coming.
So I did what I'm sure Mrs. MacGyver would have done and called Dennis's dad.  He came over put three bricks on the side, got a two by four wood plank and lifted him off and on to the deck.  Now, this took a total of 5 minutes to come up with this plan!   Why can't I think of things like that!!!!!
Then the storm hit and the trees were blowing and my dog. who is scared to death of storms would not come in. .....A day in our life.......:)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Roman Nose State Park

 I thought I would post some misc photos that I took one day when Dennis and I got bored and took a road trip.   We stopped by Roman Nose State Park in Watonga, Oklahoma.  Now I have relatives that have lived in and around Watonga so Roman Nose was never something that was a big deal to me. We had family reunions there and we swam there in the summer.Roman Nose used to have the   coolest rock swimming pool with a 12 foot rock dive.  It's no longer there due to safety issues.   My aunt Rubena worked at the lodge for many years and I even work there in the summer.  But, it is always amazing to me how many people come to visit . This is what wikipedia says about the park:
Roman Nose State Park is a state park located in Blaine County, north of Watonga, Oklahoma. The park opened in 1937 and was named after Chief Henry Roman Nose. Roman Nose State Park is one of the original seven Oklahoma state parks. Set amidst a beautiful canyon, recreation activities at this state park include an 18 hole golf course, swimming pools, hiking trails, two lakes, trout fishing in season, canoeing, paddle boats, mountain biking, horse stables and hayrides by reservation.
Group camps, picnic areas, tent campsites, and RV campsites with hookups are located throughout the park. The area also offers excellent opportunities for fall foliage and wildlife viewing. Teepee rentals are available in the summer months.

I was very happy to see they had a ADA ramp going down to the picnic area and Big Springs.  When it is cooler Dennis and I plan to go down there together since he can get his wheelchair down there.

They have natural springs it you follow a trail.

We drove down by the lake where the paddle boats are kept.

This is a view of the lake from the lodge.
 This is the front of the lodge and I can tell you it has changed a lot in the 35 years that I worked there
 Fun place to visit for a weekend or a day!




Thursday, May 24, 2012

We are being overtaken!

If you have read my blog before you know how Dennis and I love watching the squirrels frolick in my backyard.  We have had two seasons of babies and they were precious.  But now we seem to have been overtaken.  They are everywhere!  Mommas, babies, and strays.  Are neighbor across the street had his tree die this year and we think they have come to our yard.  Here is where I keep the squirrel food and I'm not the one who did this...
They have learned where the food is kept.  Then they gorge themselves.

 They get their drinks from the bird bath!
And when they have eaten all they can hold they do this.....
Then they start over with the playing and teasing the dogs. 

This goes on all day.  The really good thing that comes from this is my dogs sleep really good at night!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Being a Caregiver

     Being a caregiver isn't just giving the medicine, dressing the wounds, help at getting dressed or eating, it's a lot more than people realize.  It's having to lift a person up when they have their moment of self pity ( and they all deserve that moment).  It's trying to make them realize that they are here for a reason if only to support the person they love, then so be it.  I assure you the caregiver is glad they are still here for them to get advice from and help make decisions with.  It's also to help them in their walk and ministry with God.  God puts the two of you together for a reason and it is to complete each other.

AND being a caregiver also means you have to do this sometimes.  I was very proud of myself although the dog ears were not as deep as they were suppose to be. 

But then I got to the next to the last board and this happened.  One board was slightly taller than the other.

DRAT!!!  Luckily my handy father-in-law fixed this and the dog ears before I got home for lunch the next day.  I learned a very valuable lesson.  Check the boards before driving away and  measure the dog ears.  I'm getting smarter every day!

Monday, May 21, 2012


This week was our nephew Gavin's high school graduation.  It seems like only yesterday when we were there with our daughter Whitney's class but it was in reality 7 years ago.  Where did the time go?  Gavin was Co-Valedictorian and gave a great speech.  He is planning to go to Oklahoma State University in the fall and I'm sure he will do great there.   (Go Pokes).  I love the atmosphere of graduations.  The kids are so excited (because they don't know any better).  There is promise of new and exciting futures and the sadness of leaving what is comfortable.  I can't wait to see what is in store for the graduates of 2012.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just when you thought you had learned everything....

I was having a particularly bad week at work and one evening I just wanted to get home and relax.  When I walked in the door I was greeted by my mom and my husband Dennis and they both said sit down,  remember we are more than conquerors in Christ.  Then it was followed by, now we have a plan... .  So I heard one sentence which was, Dennis has an infection that can't be cured by pill form.  It has to be an I.V. twice daily, 12 hours apart.  Well, I had heard this before and it usually was followed by. he has to go to the hospital.  So instead of listening to the rest I got up went to my bedroom and went to bed sobbing.  Here's the deal, I needed a good cry anyway and this just got it started.  After I had vented to my pillow I got up and Dennis's dad was here.  The plan was that Medicare will only cover the I.V's if we go to the hospital and spend 7 days there for the two I.V.s he would get daily.  Medicare would not cover the medicine or Home health coming to my house and administering it daily.  Makes absolutely no sense to me but I am not in charge of the government.  So if I wanted to pay for the medicine out of pocket or pray that my secondary insurance paid for it, I could do this myself.  it was a cheaper antibiotic so we opted for the out of pocket and stay at home.  If we go to the hospital Dennis always gets worse.  His wounds get worse, he looses weight and they don't get him up so he is not getting any movement.  It's uncomfortable and I have to drive back and forth to work.  This worked out really well although I was somewhat scared at first.  I am not a nurse, I just play one at home!

This is one of those times when my husband says that God has shown us favor.  Everything went well, we did not have to go to the hospital and my secondary insuranace did pay for the antibiotic.  So Thank You God for your favor and mercy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Grand Prix

It is about time for the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, Monacco, In fact I think it is today.  This time of year always takes me back to a very happy place.  Twelve years ago all was right in my world.  My husband was working at a good job, my daughter had just turned 16, and I was in Europe with one of my best friends.  We visited Monte Carlo the day after the Grand Prix.
If you look at the photo you can see the bleachers set up for the people to view the race.
Then we went to the palace and watched the guards.
We went and did a little shopping, actually did no shopping because I couldn't afford anything in Monte Carlo.  But we did stop in and visited the Casino and the Grand Hotel.  No I did not see James Bond!
We visited Grace Kelly's gravesite and then we had the best pizza EVER!

These are memories you never forget!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just another a good way

Three years ago today we went to Cleveland, Ohio on a small plane with our best friend Max Carlisle.
My husband Dennis had been on a ventilator for 3 years and we decided to go see the doctor that had helped Christopher Reeves, I have blogged about him before.  His name is Dr. Onders and he has done wonders with the Diaphragmatic Pacemaker which I have also blogged about.  It is an alternative to a bulky ventilator and it has freed Dennis up tremendously. 

See the hose on the back of the chair?  It is connected to the vent , which is connected to the trach allowing Dennis to breathe.  We also had to have the tray on the bottom of the chair in back to set the vent on.  This is the diaphragmatic pacemaker.

The middle one is what we have and you hook it up surgically to Dennis (see the blog on Diaphragmatic pacemakers).  Now all the tubing and hoses and vent is gone.  The pacemaker is hooked up to your diaphragm and the settings help you breathe. 

We stayed in Cleveland 2 nights and came home sweet home.  So this anniversary date is a great one!

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7, 2006...It's just a number

Every year this date comes around I wish I could forget and just go on like it’s any other day, but it’s not and I get reminders from a lot of sources, mostly my heart.  My husband has loved motorcycles since he was a small kid.  He has always had one and was a very safe and careful rider.  But, on May 7, 2006 it didn’t matter that he had on his chest protector or his helmet or that he wasn’t going but maybe 10 miles an hour.  This is one of those days that bad things happen to good people. 

  When I started this blog, I started with my journal of the first day that the accident happened so I thought I would repost the first three days of my life for the people who haven’t read the first of my blog.  ( I didn't have many followers back then).  Looking back at what happened to Dennis and what happened to me during this time, I can honestly say that we could not have made it through this without God being a big part of our lives.  It was God that sustained us and on the days when I truly did not think I could go on, He got me through.  I have many friends who are not Christians and that’s OK, it’s not my right or my job to judge, but I thank God every day for His mercy and grace that got Dennis and I through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and is still walking beside us every day that we go through this journey still. Here are the first days of my journey.

Day 1

May 6, 2006. This is the day that changed our lives forever. It’s so weird when you say that because I used to read that phrase in books and never really thought about it. When it happens to you it takes on a whole new meaning. I was just going to blog about that day but as I’m typing I decide to just write the events like I wrote them in my journal by hand after that evening.  That day I was looking online in the Stillwater newspaper to see what the job market looked like. My daughter claimed there were absolutely no jobs to be had and I was determined to help her out.   As it turns out there were no jobs she liked, but there were jobs. I was concentrating on the help wanted ads when I heard my friend Debbie yelling at me. She was yelling in a way that I knew she was serious. She said that Dennis had been in a wreck and it was bad. Dennis had been working long hours the week before and he came home to go ride his pretty new motorcycle at the track here by Fairview. Well, I ran to my closet because I needed shoes and I was standing in my closet thinking I had on a pair of black sweats and a pink t shirt that had Clorox stains on it. I was looking around trying to color coordinate what shoes would go with pink. (I know it doesn’t make sense but I think I was in shock). Debbie grabbed my arm and told me to pick some and come on. I prayed all the way to the hospital and I tried very hard to not let in the fear that I could feel was about to suffocate me. When we pulled up to the parking lot there were so many people there standing around and that is when it sunk in how bad it really was. Blake (Debbie's son) grabbed me and I can remember telling him that I couldn’t live without Dennis. Dennis and I had been married 26 years at this point and we had the most blessed and happy marriage. When I got in there I had to wait and it is kind of a blur. There are moments I can remember vividly and then there are blanks. I called his mom and dad. I called my mom and my aunt Wanda. I can remember thinking ok Cheri, this is where you walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  I kept thinking God I know you're here please help me be strong.  Little did I know what I was about to go through.

The moment that sticks in my memory as the worst was when Dennis’s best friend Max Carlisle broke down in the waiting room.   I had never seen Max cry before and he was so drained from just saving Dennis's life and then getting him to safety.  It was almost more than I could bear because I knew that if he broke down, it had to be bad. Little did I know that if it weren’t for Max, Dennis would not be alive today. They let Max and I see Dennis before the helicopter took him to OKC. As we watched the helicopter fly off, I remember holding on to Don, Dennis’s brother, once again telling him that I could not go on without Dennis.

I packed a bag and Max, Debbie and I headed for the City. I had to call my daughter who she was in the middle of softball practice, so I couldn‘t reach her. My brother Scott went to the field and got her and she called me sobbing. I told her to have Jessica and Caleb drive her to OU medical center and I would meet her there. My sister in law Gretchen was in the City and she was there when the helicopter landed. We got there and Max and I had a meeting with the Doctor. The prognosis was not good. When I went back out to the ER waiting room there were more and more people trickling in. I looked at Debbie and said “I cannot be Dana Reeves” she replied, no you can’t. Little did I know that I would be just like her and more. We had 39 people in the ER waiting and room and everyone held hands including two men who we didn’t know, but the wanted to join our circle. We went around the room and anyone who wanted to pray could do so. The little man that I didn’t know had a lovely prayer and you could feel God’s presence in the waiting room.

We had the E.R doctor come and talk to Max and I and then Max asked to pray with him.   I finally got to go back to where they had put Dennis but I don’t think he knew I was there.  He had no feeling in his legs and I remember thinking its ok, God will fix this.   My friend Jana, Max and Mike Ewing stayed the night in the trauma waiting room and the next day I had reality staring me in the face and I went in to complete denial.   I’m talking about the "sticking your head in the sand" kind of denial.  My fairy tale life was awesome and surely God would not allow such calamity to come in to our lives.  This man was a true servant of God and loved Him with all his heart.  This could not happen to us.  I liked living in denial….

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Before my husbands accident, he was not one to sit around and do nothing.  That was my job!  but now the roles have reversed and he gets a little antsy sometimes.  He decided to find a way to help.  He got on Amazon and bought a little manual push mower and this is the result.

When he gets to the end of the row he lifts the feet and turns around.  He's pretty handy!