Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eric Clapton, the answer is yes!

I was listening to the radio this morning while my mom was washing my hair and the song "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton came on. Eric Clapton wrote this song after his four year old son tragically died after falling out of an apartment building window in 1991. Most people are probably familiar with the song, but if you aren't, some of the song lyrics are, "Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?" "Would you be the same if I saw you in heaven?" I'm so grateful that I know the answer to these questions and that I know what happens to us when we die. I can't imagine losing a loved one or living in this world where bad things do happen if I didn't have this knowledge!

I lost my father to pancreatic cancer when I was 14, and although it was difficult, I was comforted then and am still comforted now by the knowledge that I know that I will see my dad again. It would be excruciating to lose a dear friend or family member if you knew there was absolutely no way you would ever see them again. There are a lot of people in this world that don't know or aren't sure what happens to people when they die, and I wish those people could be as certain as I am that there is life after death and so much more to living than our life on earth.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spread the word

I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions of how I can spread the word about my blog. I hope it doesn't sound too presumptuous, but I'd like to let others know about my blog, although, I'm not sure how to go about doing this. I really enjoy reading other people's blogs, and I think people might find my blog interesting. I enjoy finding out about other people's lives and experiences, whether I know them personally or not. Let me know if anyone has any suggestions for me, and feel free to spread the word about my blog to other people you think might find it interesting. Thank you!

Any questions???

I've done a lot of writing about my car accident and how my life has changed since becoming a quadriplegic. I really enjoy sharing my story and experiences with others, and I'm wondering if anyone has any questions they would like to ask me. I'm sure people are curious about me and what my life is like, so that's why I'm opeing the door and asking if anyone has any questions for me. I really enjoy it when people ask me questions, so please feel free to ask -- just leave your questions in the comments area and I will answer them in a new blog post. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights"

In September 2008 I started a book group. The group started small and it's still quite small, although it has grown a little bit in the past 18 months. We meet at my home every fourth Tuesday evening of the month to discuss the books we read, as well as to visit with each other and partake in a delicious dessert. (My mom always makes a really yummy dessert for our meetings.)

My book group met last night and we had a great time. We ate chocolate truffle cake and discussed our book, which was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, but I'd never been motivated enough to do it, so I was excited when I found out that this was someone's pick. I actually already had Jane Eyre on my iPod, so I'm grateful for book group because it gave me the incentive to finally give Jane Eyre a try.

The book was quite long (about 21 hours), but I was able to get into it right away. I worried that this book might be hard for me to follow since it was written in 1847, but it really wasn't. (I sometimes find books written that long ago hard to follow since our vernacular has changed and evolved so much since then. ) Long story short, I loved the book! I enjoyed it so much more than I was expecting to.

Since I liked Jane Eyre so much I decided to try to read Wuthering Heights since it was written by Charlotte Brontë's sister, Emily. I had a completely different experience with this book! I also listened to this book on my iPod, and after listening to the first three hours of the book I had absolutely no idea what was happening! I was contemplating ditching the book because I felt like I was wasting my time. I mean, there are so many good books to read and so little time, so I don't want to waste any of my precious time by listening to a book that I'm not understanding in the least!

I decided to look up Wuthering Heights on Spark Notes and I spent a long time reading a synopsis of the book, an analysis of the different characters and also an explanation of the chronology of the book since the majority of it is told through a series of flashbacks. After reading all of this information about Wuthering Heights, I decided to give it another go. I'm so glad I did! On one hand I absolutely hated the book because the characters were so miserable, evil, spiteful, vengeful, despicable etc., but on the other hand I ended up really enjoying the book because I felt like such an expert on it after doing so much reading about it on the internet! Just for the record, I really had missed so much of the plot, so I'm glad that I read a synopsis of the book so that I could mildly educate myself as to what was taking place.

Anyway, I feel proud of myself for having stuck out this book even though it was dreadful at first! Plus, now I can add two more classics to my "books read" list! I love book group!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I didn't want to, but I did

Last Friday my mom and I went to St. John's Hospital so that I could speak to some nursing students. My friend Lacee is a clinical instructor at St. John's, and she thought it would be beneficial to her nursing students if they could hear my story, as well as some of my experiences being a patient in the hospital and my opinions on things I think nurses can do to make their patient's hospital stay a little better.

When Lacee asked me if I would be interested in coming to talk to her nursing students, I did not want to say yes! I get so nervous when I'm the center of attention in a group, especially since I can't speak very loudly since I can't breathe on my own. However, I decided to say yes because I've been praying for opportunities to be a strength to others. I know that if I'm praying for opportunities, then I shouldn't turn down an opportunity when one arises. Still, the thought of talking to a group of strangers is very daunting and scary! Also, Lacee has done so much for me in the past six years and she is such a wonderful friend, so I am glad that I could do something for her for a change.

The group consisted of 13 nursing students, plus Lacee and another clinical instructor. I started off by telling them about my accident, and then about my 15 week stay in the ICU and rehab facility. I also shared some of my best and worst experiences in the hospital, and I explained the importance of the nurses role in listening to every patient and their family. A nurse who will listen truly makes a world of difference when you are in the hospital!

I answered a lot of questions that the nursing students had, and before I knew it two hours had flown by! Although I wasn't looking forward to this experience, I'm glad that I could talk to these students and I hope that they will take the things I said and apply it in their careers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dear Driver

In this post I want to share some of my feelings about the driver that ran the red light, hit my car and changed my life forever. People have often told me that they've been curious how I feel about the person that hit me, but they usually don't feel comfortable bringing it up because they think it's too sensitive of a thing to ask about.

The driver who hit me was a 17-year-old girl. She wasn't drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs or anything like that. I don't know if she was on her cell phone or texting or anything like that, but I assume that she just let her attention slip for a brief second and before she knew what was happening the damage was done.

I hold absolutely no ill will or bad feelings in my heart for this girl. I never have and I never will. I know that my car accident was actually no accident, and that becoming paralyzed was something that was supposed to happen to me. I don't believe that most major things that happen in a person's life are coincidence. That being said, I have often wondered why God chose this particular person to be the one to impact my life in such a major way.

After my accident my mom hired a lawyer and we investigated the possibility of suing the girl (and her family since she was a minor at the time) but when our lawyer found out that the girl came from a family of average means, I told the lawyer that I wasn't interested in pursuing the matter any further. You might think that suing the family sounds vindictive, but being disabled is very expensive, so if the girl came from a wealthy family, it would've been nice to get some sort of settlement. But like I said, when I found out that the girl didn't come from a wealthy family, I didn't want the legal matters to go any further. There was no reason to try to get my "revenge" by ruining this girls future, financially speaking.

I know if our situations had been reversed and I had been the one to run a red light and paralyze someone from the neck down, I would feel like I had ruined their life. However, I don't want the girl to feel this way so I sincerely hope that she doesn't feel this way, because it's not true; my life hasn't been ruined. Yes, the car accident has been the worst thing to happen to me physically, but on the other hand it was THE BEST thing to happen to me spiritually and emotionally, and I honestly wouldn't go back and change things even if I could. I've learned so much and gained so much, and those things far outweigh all of the physical things I've lost.

I've also had people ask me if I forgive the girl. I don't think there's any reason for forgiveness in this situation. The girl just happened to make a mistake. I know the girl wasn't intending to do anything wrong or trying to hurt anyone.

The one thing I hope this girl does take away from the car accident is to always be a cautious driver. I actually hope that everyone that drives is a careful driver, but there are so many people who are way too reckless and distracted when they drive, and it usually isn't until some sort of accident occurs that they remember to slow down and be more cautious behind the wheel.

My hope is that everyone who reads this post will remember to be safe, cautious drivers, and to never text behind the wheel!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Starting to evolve

Last week I wrote about coming home to live after my car accident and what my life was like. I wrote about watching TV all day, every day and how I felt kind of lame for doing so, but I was happy, so I didn't want to do anything different.

After about a year of watching TV 24/7, I started feeling restless and bored. I decided to get a laptop computer since my voice had strengthened and was now loud enough for me to be able to use voice dictation software so that I could use my voice to navigate around on the computer. Being able to use a computer again was liberating, and it felt good to be able to do something independently. At first I would stay on my computer for a few hours, three or four days a week, but now I'm always on my computer—between 10 and 12 hours a day most days of the week!

I also started incorporating other things that interested me into my life. I've always loved books, and although I couldn't hold a book and read it the way most people do, I had my mom start reading to me. We read lots of books together, and we still read together quite a bit. I also listen to a lot of audio books. They are great because they provide me with a lot of entertainment when I'm not busy doing other things.

I still watch a lot of TV, especially compared to most people who work or are in school or have their own family to take care of, but most of my TV watching is done while I work on my computer. (I like to multitask!) I don't watch near as much TV as I did the first few years after my accident because I have other interests take up my time now.

I also wrote about how my older sister Annette moved back home so that she could help our mom take care of me. A few months after Annette moved home she met her future husband, Joseph, and they got married about a year after Annette moved home. My mom and I were happy that Annette found her husband, but that meant that she would be leaving us since Joseph was going to school in Alabama. That meant we would have to find some other way for my mom to be able to care for me since Annette had been the main person who had been helping my mom with my care. We weren't sure what we would do, but a few months later, my sister Miriam and her family moved from Texas to St. Louis (up the street, actually) and she was able to help my mom got me dressed in the morning and was able to stay with me when my mom went out to run errands and things like that. Miriam and her family lived here for two years while her husband worked on his schooling, but then they moved away in the summer of 2007.

In the times between when my family has lived here, or now that my older sisters have moved away, my mom and I have been lucky enough to find neighbors and friends to help my mom with my care. My younger sister Chandra started college in the fall of 2007, so she also had more time to help with my care. Although she was in college, she only went to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so she stayed at home with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that Mom could go out and run errands or have time to herself.

Chandra is now working full time, however, so that means that she can't help Mom and me near as much. My mom and I don't have a permanent #2 caregiver to help us with all of the things that require two people, but we've always had someone to help us. I think it's harder to have faith that everything will work out when there isn't a clear solution to how your needs are going to be met, or when a solution doesn't manifest itself as quickly as we would like. However, I know that the Lord is mindful of the needs that we have, and that He won't let us down. He hasn't let us down yet, and I know He never will. My mom and I have definitely learned the importance of having faith through this trial, even if it's only "blind faith."

One thing I really struggled with after coming home to live and something that I still continue to struggle with is feelings of guilt. I feel really guilty that my mom has had to give up so much so that I can live at home. My mom was in graduate school at the time of my accident, but she had to quit school in order to be able to stay home and take care of me. I also feel guilty that my younger sister Chandra has had to help my mom care for me, too. (Chandra was a freshman in high school when I had my accident, so there was a lot that either she had to miss, or my mom had to miss, because of me.) Mom and Chandra have had to make so many sacrifices on my account, and I feel so badly about this. It's hard not to feel like a burden on them. I know that my mom wouldn't have things any other way, but I can't help but feel guilty for all of the sacrifices my family has made on my account...especially Mom and Chandra.

After my accident it seemed like people were constantly asking me when I was going to go back to college. I hated it when people asked me this because I felt a lot of pressure that people were expecting me to go back to school, like it was the only thing I could do to make my life productive and meaningful. I did not want to go back to school! Although there wouldn't have been anything wrong with going back to school, I didn't see the need for it. My feelings were and still are that even if I got a college decree it's not like I could go out into the community and get a job. However, people just didn't seem to understand. I actually did take a couple of college classes in 2007 and 2008, but it was just for fun. My mom and I went together since I obviously couldn't go alone, and we both really enjoyed it, although I definitely didn't want to go back to college full-time. I took a few classes that interested me, but it was purely for entertainment. (We took General Psychology and Human Development.)

I've definitely become much more comfortable with my situation in the past six years, and I'm constantly amazing myself at the things I'm willing to do. There are so many things I've done in the past year or two that I initially said I would never do again. What I've realized is that I just wasn't ready in the beginning of my "new life" to jump back into everything that I used to be involved in. I've slowly incorporated things back into my life as they've started to appeal to me again, like going out and doing things in public. It sounds foolish, but I was so proud of myself the first time I went back to the mall, or the first time I went to Walmart again, which was one of the other places I vowed I would never go again.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday evening with my mom, my younger sister Channie and our friend Nate who was over hanging out with us. I enjoyed watching the opening ceremony, but I felt really sad for the luger from Georgia who'd died earlier that day when he was practicing for his event. I heard on the news that he was traveling approximately 88 mph when his body struck the metal post. I truly hope that he "didn't know what hit him."

What does the term "blindsided" mean? I'm sure it can actually mean a lot of things, but when I hear the term I think that somebody was just hit with something they were remotely expecting.

I think most people are aware of different things that could potentially happen to them, but most of the time people seem to think that those sorts of things only happen to other people, but not themselves since the chances of being involved in some sort of accident or disaster are highly unlikely. I know I never expected to be involved in the sort of accident that left me so severely disabled at such a young age. It was a blindside, both literally and figuratively. The car that ran the red light and hit me was driving around 50 or 55 mph, and I never saw anything coming. (Or at least, I don't think I did because I don't remember my accident at all.)

What I'm trying to say by talking about the luger from Georgia and about my own accident is that things happen when we least expect them. A person's life can change (or even end) in a split-second with absolutely no notice. Since I've experienced this firsthand, I've learned that each day is truly something special. This sentiment can sound quite cliché, but if you account for the fact that unexpected things occasionally happen, then it takes on a more important meaning. I really feel lucky to be alive since I almost died and probably should've died in my car accident, so I try really hard to not take things for granted. I'm not perfect at doing this since it's so easy to take things and people for granted, but I feel like I might be a little better at it than the "average Joe" since I've been through an unexpected accident.

I'm thankful for my accident in the fact that it was a reminder to stop and smell the roses and to not wish my life away. Life is a gift, so make it count!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The real work begins

Coming home to live had been my ultimate goal, and I was so glad to have made it! Many people in my situation might not have been fortunate enough to live at home for various reasons, so I felt very blessed. Some people might not have family and friends who are willing to be their caregivers, or they might not have a nice enough house to live in, or the means to support their disabled lifestyle.

A few of the best things about being home were that I no longer had to deal with unkind, overworked and/or incompetent hospital personnel. Actually, most of the people I came into contact with in the 15 weeks I was in the hospital were very kind to me and tried hard to make me feel dignified and comfortable. However, it was the bad ones that tended to leave the strongest impression! It was also wonderful to be back home where my friends could come see me and spend time with me without having to worry about keeping their visits to hospital hours or paying to park in the parking garage! One of the very best things about being home was no more hospital food! I'd tired of hospital food very quickly and was glad to have some different options. However, when I got home, all I wanted to eat was box macaroni and cheese. I seriously ate it every day for at least two of my three meals. This went on for over a month before other things started appealing to me.

Now that I was home it was up to my mom to do all of my personal care, like dressing, bathing and things like that. It was a ton of work, especially since my mom was in charge of doing basically everything herself. There were no more nurses and aides to take care of me after she had left for the day. Mom was my primary caregiver and did most of my care herself. The day after I came home to live my mom bathed me, dressed me and washed my hair all by herself. It took hours and I wasn't up until noon! It was a steep learning curve, and it took her a while to get faster at these tasks.

My mom knew that she would need help caring for me since it takes two people to dress me, transfer me and things like that. My mom asked my older sister Annette if she would be willing to move back home so that she could help take care of me. It was hard for my mom to ask Annette to move back home since Annette had been living independently for more than five years, but my mom didn't know what else to do. As much as Annette didn't want to leave her life in Utah, she prayed about it and felt that moving home was the right thing to do.

Annette wasn't moving back home until April, however, so that meant that there were two months where my mom was basically on her own. Different ladies from my church would come over every weekday morning to help get me dressed and up for the day. In the evenings my younger sisters or my friends would help my mom get me back into bed and settled for the evening. In some ways it was difficult for me to have my mom, my friends and our acquaintances from church doing things for me that I should've been able to do for myself, like dressing and bathing, but on the other hand, I was so thankful that there were people who were willing to help care for me that I soon grew accustomed to the fact that this was how it would have to be for the rest of my life. Annette moved back home in April, and that was such a help to my mom (and, of course, to me).

Most of my days were exactly the same. My mom and Annette would get me up in the morning, and I would sit in my recliner all day. I spent my days watching TV and movies, and visiting with friends when they would come over. I know it sounds lame that I watched TV all day, every day, but that's what made me happy. Prior to my accident, I was so busy in nursing school as well as working almost full time, so I didn't have much time to watch TV. Now that I had all of the free time in the world and no expectations, all I wanted to do was watch TV since it was something I enjoyed doing. Sometimes people would ask me what I did all day, and I felt like a loser telling them that all I did was watch TV, but at least I was happy. In hindsight, I realize that I was just lost and trying to come to terms with my new life. All of the plans I'd made for my life went out the window when I became a quadriplegic, and now none of my goals still seemed to apply.

As the months went on I continued to adjust. It wasn't easy, but I was still happy and positive, so I felt like I was doing a remarkable thing by staying upbeat. I managed to not plummet into depression, as so often happens after a tragedy. My faith is what got me through this time. If I didn't have a strong spiritual foundation, I never would've made it! I knew that breaking my neck and becoming paralyzed was part of God's plan for my life. I didn't know why, or what I was supposed to accomplish, but God had a mission for me. I firmly believe this, so that's what enabled me to press forward with a good attitude.

One of the hardest things to deal with after my accident was the loss of some of my friendshipsfriendships that I was sure would continue, even if they diminished or changed. As the months went on, sometimes weeks or even months would pass between visits from some of my friends. Visiting with my friends was so important to me, because it was something that made me feel normal in a very abnormal time. Most of my friends moved on with their lives, but a few stayed loyal and true.

There was one friendship in particular that was very difficult for me to lose. I had been friends with this person for several years, and we were each other's best friend at the time of my accident. It was extremely painful to lose touch with this person. I didn't feel important to this person anymore, and above all the things I lost due to my accident, this was by far the most painful. I shed a lot of tears and felt a lot of grief over the loss of this friendship. I'm "Facebook friends" with this person and I occasionally communicate with them over Facebook, but that's the extent of our relationship. I'm grateful for the role this person played in my life, and I only wish good things for this former friend.

A few months after I returned home my mom started investigating different handicapped accessible vans so that we could have our own transportation. My mom did her homework and spent a lot of time researching different possibilities since this was going to be a huge investment. We knew we wanted a minivan with a ramp, as opposed to a full-sized van with a lift. We found a company in St. Louis called United Access that converted regular minivans into handicapped accessible vans, and we decided to go through them. The process started by buying a normal minivan, and then it was converted so that it would be able to accommodate a wheelchair. The conversion took several months, and the van wasn't finished until September 2004.

Although I was excited to get our van, I had some reservations and reluctant feelings in regards to getting a van because I dreaded going out in public again, especially to places where I would be confronted with people who knew me before my accident. I remember feeling very anxious and nervous my first Sunday back to church. It had been 10 months since I'd been able to go to church, and I felt like it was the debut of the "new Heather." Although I'd known everyone at church for a long time, I was now so very different physically, and I felt like a completely new person even though I was still the same inside.

As I think back to the first year after my accident, I realize how hard it was for me and my mom. Thankfully, it didn't seem that bad at the time as we were going through it, but looking back on all that has happened, I realize just how hard it was, and far we've come since then. Each passing year has gotten easier as we've developed a routine and become comfortable with our new reality. I am truly so happyhappier than I think I've ever been. Sure, I can't help but feel disappointed that my life isn't what I always hoped and dreamed it would be, but I still have a great life—better than a lot of people who can move! I'm so grateful to the Lord for giving me a gift of joy that enables me to be happy, even though I'm not living a normal life. I'm incredibly blessed, and I can't/won't complain!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yay for the Super Bowl!

I absolutely love the Super Bowl! I never watch it, but I always use it for an excuse to have a little party and to eat some absolutely unhealthy, but delicious party foods! I heard something on TV that sums up what the Super Bowl is: the Thanksgiving of junk food! (Very true!)

This year it was just my mom, my younger sister Chandra and myself, in addition to my sister Laura and her husband Brett. They also brought along their friend Susan, so there were six of us total. I planned the menu myself... we had hot cheese dip, little smokies, homemade cheese ball (Laura made it and it was very good!) and fruit and carrots (we had to have something at least a little healthy!). For dessert I asked my mom to make caramel popcorn and chocolate bark. (Chocolate bark is just melted semi sweet chocolate chips with pretzels and almonds in it.) The food was quite unhealthy, but that's okay since the Super Bowl only rolls around once a year, right?!

We had a fun time eating ourselves into oblivion. We also played several games... Catch Phrase, Phase 10 Twist (a variation on the regular Phase 10 game) and Yahtzee Free for All (another variation on the original game). The latter two games are ones that we played when we went to my older sister Sharon's house for Christmas. Both of them are great fun!

This past weekend I also went to the movies with my friend Lacee and my younger sister Chandra. We saw When in Rome. It was a very cute romantic comedy, and a movie that I would recommend to others. (One of my 2010 goals is to see 25 movies in the movie theater since I love movies so much. This movie was my fifth this year, so I'm well on my way to meeting my goal!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So close to reaching my goal

[In my last post I wrote about leaving the rehab hospital and coming back to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for several days so that my family could receive ventilator training.]

When I got to my room and was transferred from the stretcher to my hospital bed, my nurse came in and asked my mom if she should cut my clothing off of me. (I was wearing pajama pants and a t-shirt; not a hospital gown.) My mom emphatically said, "No, we will undress her like a normal person." I wasn't in the ICU like I had been my first seven weeks at Barnes, so I was starting over with a whole new group of nurses, and none of them them knew anything about caring for someone with a spinal cord injury. When my mom would tell them specific things that they needed to do for me, they treated her like "who was she to tell them how to do their job."

I absolutely hated being in the PICRU. On that floor each nurse had about six or seven patients to care for. That might be all right on a normal basis, but when they were caring for a patient like mea person who can't do anything for themselves. I really needed to be on a floor where the nurses only had two patients to care for, like in the ICU or observation unit, so that they could be there if/when I needed help, which I often did.

I wasn't cared for well at all. Here are a few examples: It's very important that people who are bedridden get turned and repositioned every few hours so that they don't develop pressure sores or bedsores. One night I was lying on my back just waiting for someone to come in and reposition me. I'd been lying in the same position for hours, far longer than I should've been, and I was starting to panic because no one had come to check on me all night. Finally a man came in to do something on the computer in my room. Relieved, I clicked my tongue several times (my only way to call for attention since I couldn't speak). However, the man just kept doing what he was doing on the computer. I started clicking more frantically, but the man started humming, finished up his business on the computer and walked out of my room. I was so insulted at being ignored, especially when I really needed help.

Frustrated tears filled my eyes and I was consumed with rage. "Did he know who I was?!" I was a human being! He wouldn't have dared ignore me a few months earlier when I was a normal, beautiful young woman. I was so angry at being ignored, but there was nothing I could do about it because I was trapped in a broken body and I couldn't even talk. The next day when my mom arrived I told her what had occurred, and she told my day nurse what had happened, and that it wasn't acceptable. It didn't do any good, though.

The next afternoon I started feeling sick to my stomach. My mom had just left for the afternoon, but prior to her leaving she had given me a big drink of grape juice. It really wasn't sitting well in my stomach, and I started dry heaving and I thought I was going to throw up. Luckily, my friend Lacee was visiting. She went out to the nurse's station and told them that I wasn't feeling well, but the ladies at the nurses station scolded her and told her it wasn't her place to call my nurse in. I was so disgusted that the people who were supposed to be taking care of me were doing such a poor job. When I did start spitting up stuff from my stomach, Lacee was the one wiping up my mouth, and my nurse was nowhere to be found.

There are a lot of other stories I could share, but I don't think it's necessary to go into so much detail. The point I'm trying to get across is that I wasn't taken care of the way I should've been, and it was infuriating. When my mom did speak up and say something to the nurses, they weren't very kind or respectful to her. They treated my mom like she didn't know the first thing about taking care of me, even though we'd just spent the previous seven weeks in a rehab hospital learning how to care for the needs of a person with a spinal cord injury. They were the ones who were incompetent and didn't know how to care of the needs of someone with a spinal cord injury!

I spent several days getting acclimated to the kind of ventilator I would be on when I went home. One day my mom came up with my two younger sisters, and the three of them spent the afternoon learning the ins-and-outs of the ventilator. Richard, the man teaching my family the art of the ventilator, was a very thorough teacher, and after several hours my mom and my younger sisters felt fairly confident that they knew enough about the ventilator to feel comfortable taking me home.

I went home on Friday, February 27, 2004, after being in the hospital for 15 weeks. (Remember, my accident had been on November 17, 2003.) It had been such a long road, and I was so happy to be going home to live. My grandparents had driven down from Minnesota a few days previously so they could assist my mom in getting all of the last minute details in order, and it was a huge help to her.

I was so excited when the ambulance transporting me home showed up to the hospital and loaded me into the ambulance. When we pulled into the driveway of my home, I was so happy to be home that I didn't even care that my grandpa was busily snapping pictures of me as the paramedics unloaded me from the ambulance and wheeled the stretcher I was on up the newly built ramp in my garage and into the house. As the paramedics transferred me from the stretcher to my brand new hospital bed, my mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and whispered, "You're home." It was such a wonderful feeling.

I couldn't wait for three o'clock to roll around because I was so excited for my younger sisters, Laura and Chandra, to get home from school. All of my friends wanted to come over that afternoon and evening to wish me well. I felt so happy and so loved.

I did reach my goal, which was being home in time to watch the Academy Awards with my friends. We had our dinner of Chinese food, and I was so happy to be in my own home with my friends around me. And to make things even better, we were able to see The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King sweep the Oscars, winning all 11 Academy Awards it was nominated for, including best picture, something that had never been done before in history.

Although one part of my journey was over, the real work was just beginning. My life had changed so drastically and it would never be the same. Creating a new normal would take some time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Domino's new pizza

This past Friday evening we had a little graduation party for my younger sister Chandra since she recently completed her Associate's degree. It was just my mom, Chandra and me, so it was a small celebration, but fun nonetheless.

We'd heard that Domino's Pizza recently changed the recipe for their pizza, so we ordered pizza from them so that we could try the new recipe. I have to admit that I think I prefer the old recipe better. The sauce was just missing something, and the pizza seemed to be a little more bland than it used to be. I did like the crust better, however. I think they've started brushing some sort of buttery garlic sauce on it, so it was more like a breadstick than a plain crust. Anyway, my opinion is that the pizza was good, but not great. I still prefer Papa John's or Pizza Hut.

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