Monday, October 31, 2011


I don't know if you remember learning the difference between warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals in elementary school science, but in case you've forgotten, allow me to refresh your memory. Warm-blooded animals, like mammals or birds, can maintain a constant body temperature regardless of their surroundings. Cold-blooded animals like reptiles, amphibians and fishes can't control their body temperature. They acclimate to the temperature of their surroundings and are cold in cold environments and warm in warm environments. This is why cold-blooded animals like lizards can often be found sitting on a rock, sunning themselves to get warm.

You can also add ME to the list of cold-blooded animals because I'm [usually] cold in a cold place and warm in a warm place. It's hard for you to regulate your body temperature when you're paralyzed and your body's thermostat gets all out of whack.

Winter has always been my favorite season. Holidays, snow and sweaters and coats are just a few of the reasons why, but now that I'm paralyzed I definitely prefer summer to winter. If I can't be a comfortable temperature, I much rather feel hot than cold. Temperature wise, the months of May, June, July and August are wonderful, April September and October are tolerable and November through March… well, forget about it!

I spend much of my time bundled up tight in the cold months of the year, even when I'm indoors in order to feel less cold. Exhibit A:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Starting Young

I love my nieces and nephews and I think being an aunt is the best, especially since I don't have any kids of my own. I currently have nine nieces and seven nephews, and in the not too distant future I'll have three more because three of my sisters are pregnant. I adore my nieces and nephews and love having them around me. Unfortunately my four older sisters all live several states away (Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and California), so that means that of all my 16 nieces and nephews I only get to see one on a consistent basis.

My sister Laura and her husband Brett live here locally, so I get to see their 14-month-old daughter, Amy, regularly. This is such a blessing! My other nieces and nephews (the younger ones that are around the age of three and younger) are so scared of me since they don't have an opportunity to see me very often. It's sad because they will actually start to cry if their moms try to set them down by me. I understand since my situation makes me seem kind of scary and intimidating to a little one. This is one reason why I'm glad that Amy has had the chance to grow up around me from day one.

Since Amy has always known me the way I am and since she's been exposed to me on a regular basis (she and Laura come over several days a week), she's familiar with me the way I am. It's so much fun now that she's getting older. We'll say, "Amy, give Heather a hug," and she'll lay her head down on my chest. It's so cute and it just warms my heart, especially since most of my other nieces and nephews don't want anything to do with me at that age! (However, they always come around and eventually warm up to me by the time they are three or four years old.) I'm glad I can start at least Amy off young so that I can get plenty of love from her while she's still little!

America's Favorite Pastime

Thursday night was game six of the World Series. The Texas Rangers were a game ahead of St. Louis Cardinals (they were leading three games to two), so it was do or die time for the Cards. As I've stated several times, I love the Cardinals, but I don't follow them closely (or at all) until they make it to the postseason. Truth be told, the Cardinals really didn't have that impressive of a season. At the end of August the Cardinals were 10½ games behind. I don't know how they did it, but by the skin of their teeth they managed to win enough of the playoff games to make it into the World Series!

Many of the games were downright painful to watch as the Cardinals made errors right and left, blowing the chances they had. The game on Thursday night was no exception. The game was brutal and exciting to watch at the same time! I can honestly say it was the most exciting game of baseball I've ever watched, and it was probably one of the most exciting comebacks in baseball history! The game was SO intense! It was hard to take!

Let me try to recap how things went down In the ninth inning the Rangers were leading, 7-5. All hope had seemed lost when it was the bottom of the ninth and there were two outs and two strikes. We were in serious peril with only one strike left. Our life was on the line and I can't even remember what happened, but we were able to save our fannies and tie things up, sending us into overtime.

In the top of the 10th inning the Rangers hit a two-run homerun, once again giving them the upper hand. Again, all hope seemed lost! Our backs were up against the wall, but we miraculously managed to tie things up once again making the score 9-9. This sent us into an 11th inning. Fortunately we managed to make it through the top of the 11th without the Rangers scoring. Now if only the Cardinals could score ONE run, then we could win the game and keep our dreams for a World Series victory alive. Well, David Freese to the rescue! He managed to hit homerun which ended the game with a final score of 10-9 in favor of the Cardinals. Hallelujah!! It truly was the comeback of a lifetime!

David Freese's walk-off home run:
Talk about a nail-biter! It's a good thing I'm paralyzed or my nails would've been bitten down to the quick! This game shows why they say "it's not over til it's over" in baseball! The game was SO EXHILARATING! It was awesome watching the game with my mom, and it's definitely something I'll remember for a long time! 
(I was REALLY hoping the Cards would win game 6, even if they didn't and up winning the World Series in the long run, just to keep things exciting.)

I was really pumped for the final game of the World Series last night. I was glad that the Rangers and Cardinals had each won three games because it made for a really exciting game seven. The Cardinals won with a final score of 6-2. Who would've thought a few months ago that the Cardinals would be the world champions?!!

I'm so proud of the Cardinals and I can't help but feel so proud to be from St. Louis!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Last week when my sister Sharon and our friend Shellie were in Kansas City for Shellie's annual business trip they stopped at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner on the way back to St. Louis on Wednesday evening. Shellie was kind enough to bring me her favorite piece of cheesecake that The Cheesecake Factory makes – red velvet cheesecake. It's amazing! This dessert has two thin layers of red velvet cake in between two thin layers of cheesecake. Those four layers combine to make one very tall dessert! It was to die for, so I'm grateful to Shellie for spoiling my taste buds!

Kind Words

In September I wrote about Mikiko, a woman from Japan who contacted me after finding my blog. Mikiko was in a car accident when she was 15 and has been paralyzed for the past 20 years. She and I have been exchanging messages for the past few months. It's been fun finding out more about her, and I'm still in awe that someone living on the other side of the world found my blog, read my posts and decided to contact me to tell me that my words had inspired and uplifted her.

I got this message from Mikiko a few days ago:

Hello Heather. How are you? You know, I have been in a wheelchair for over 20 years. Long time. I had believed that a person having more disability means a person more worthless. I was always thinking if I couldn't do anything for others, then what was the reason I am living for. I thought about registering at the marrow bank, but I found out that they only want the marrow from a healthy person. then really maybe I am just worthless. But I met you, and knew I was totally so wrong!!! I was so helped from you. and so many people who never have really met you are too. now my thinking has been changed. there must be something I can do for others. I still have to find what it is.

I am not good at writing like you. not only because of english. I am not good at it. so I can't explain exactly what I want to tell you. so I am very sorry if I offend you. I don't mean anything bad to you at all. I just want to tell you how much I am impressed. so I hope you don't take it wrong.

I responded with this message: Hello Mikiko! Don't you worry about offending me! I was not at all offended by what you said, in fact I was deeply touched and it made me really happy. You most certainly are NOT worthless! You are just as wonderful and precious in God's eyes as any other person, whether they are able-bodied or disabled. Please don't forget that! I think one of the biggest things that someone disabled like us can do to bless the lives of others is to just be happy and smile. I know that being happy seems like such a small, simple and insignificant thing, but I think it really shows other people that if WE can be happy while living a disabled life, then THEY can surely be happy. Does that make sense? I think a lot of times people get stuck in a state where they start feeling sorry for themselves and they start to lose sight of all of the things in their life that are blessings, and they start to take a lot of things for granted. I think it's important to always try to find SOMETHING to be grateful for, even if our lives aren't perfect or the way we hope/wish they were.

If you know me, then you know that I cringe inside when people associate the "I" word (inspiration/inspiring) with me. I'm not trying to do anything above and beyond or over the top with my life, but I am trying to show others that it IS possible to be happy while experiencing adversity or other challenging situations. Things could always be worse! So, if people feel inspired by my example and strive to be a little more positive, grateful and happy, then so be it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Movies

Yesterday afternoon my younger sister Chandra and I went to the movies. We were originally planning on seeing the movie Money Ball (a true story about baseball starring Brad Pitt), but the movie times on the theater's website were incorrect, so it didn't work out. Instead we saw The Big Year. Although I was disappointed that we couldn't see Money Ball, it worked out because I wanted to see The Big Year, tooIt was (roughly) based on true events and is a movie about the competitive hobby of birdwatching, or "birding." I had no idea that there is really something called a "big year" which is an informal competition among birders to see who can identify the largest number of species of birds by either sight or sound within a single calendar year. It's definitely an interesting hobby, but one that's not for me! ;) Heather's rating: 7/10 stars

After that we saw The Three Musketeers. There've been lots of Three Musketeers movies over the years and this one was enjoyable. Cheesy, definitely, but enjoyable nonetheless. This movie reminded me of a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so if you liked those movies, and then you will probably like this one. Heather's rating: 7/10 stars

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What's the World Coming to?!

I'm sure you've heard the sad news about the owner of a wildlife preserve in Zanesville, Ohio, who released the animals on his preserve allowing them to go free before taking his own life. Sadly, many of these wild animals had to be killed since they were posing an immediate threat to the people in Zanesville. When all was said and done, 49 animals were slaughtered including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, a pair of grizzly bears, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon (and a monkey that had been killed by one of the lions).

The animals were set loose by 61-year-old preserve owner Terry Thompson in his final, desperate act. Thompson was recently released from prison after serving one year on federal weapons charges. Thompson had also been charged with animal abuse and neglect in the past. He was willing to risk the lives of both humans AND animals when he released the animals. He had to have known that somewhere along the line there was going to be loss of life, whether the animals killed humans or the humans killed animals.

After observing where these animals had been living, animal expert Jack Hanna described the conditions as "abominable" and said that the animals were living in "filth." It's especially sad that so many Bengal tigers had to be killed since they are on the verge of extinction. I guess it's better for the animals to die than humans, but it's really sad that so many unique and/or endangered animals had to die in such a senseless way.

On to another heinous news story from this week. A few days ago in Philadelphia, four mentally handicapped adults were found hidden in a basement, one chained to a chair. Three people have been arrested and are accused of holding the people captive and stealing their Social Security checks. The victims were found malnourished and in their own filth, but they're all said to be in stable condition. The ringleader of the group, Linda Weston, has served time for murder (she murdered her sister's boyfriend/husband). She sounds like a real winner!

Why do some people have to be so crazy?! Generally, I think most people are good, but how/why do some people end up such bad apples? Why can't we all just love each other and follow the golden rule? Would that be so difficult?!

"These Is My Words"

My mom and I finished reading another good book yesterday morning that I think deserves a shout out on my blog. It's called These Is My Words and it's written by Nancy Turner. Although it's a fictional book, it reads like a true story because it's written in the form of a diary that spans 20 years (1881 to 1901).

The book starts out when the main character, Sarah, is 14 and ends when she is 34. Sarah spends several years growing up as a teenager in the beginning of the book and she writes about age-appropriate things, like boys, the relationship she has with different family members, what her life is like as she travels with a wagon train to her new home in Tucson, etc. Then as the book continues, Sarah gets older and goes on to get married, has a child and… well, I don't want to say too much so I don't spoil the book for anyone who might want to read it. Just know that These Is My Words is very enjoyable and worth your time if you're looking for a good book to read.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pornography Addiction

A few days ago I watched a show called Our America with Lisa Ling and it's basically a documentary-type of show where Lisa Ling explores and investigates the nontraditional way that some Americans live. The episode I watched was about pornography; more specifically about people who make and/or engage in amateur porn for a wide variety of reasons – as a way to make money, as a way to work from home, as a way to boost confidence/self-worth, as a way to temporarily escape "the reality" of life, etc. All of these were some of the topics that the "amateur porn" episode touched on.

The thing about pornography that I find interesting is how addicting it is. I understand how things like drugs and alcohol can be addicting since you are chemically altering your body, but with porn there isn't anything going into your body to chemically alter it. Something interesting that I learned while watching the show, though, was how when you expose your mind to pornography it rewires your brain and the way you think. I'm not sure of the science behind it or the "how" and the "why," but it does.

Something I find sad is that it seems like much of the world views pornography as something that is "acceptable" to be addicted to since it isn't causing physical harm to your body. But the emotional/mental/psychological/sexual effects of pornography can be just as damaging, if not more damaging in some cases. The people in the show were trying to justify porn as something that is "harmless entertainment," but the word "harmless" in association with pornography is an oxymoron, in my humble opinion.

Pornography is immoral and it destroys marriage and families. The addiction to porn usually starts innocently enough when people have a curiosity for this or that or when they are lonely or sexually frustrated, but then it slowly seeps into your life and before you know it whatever it was that started out as an innocent curiosity snowballs into an insatiable, all-consuming addiction that ruins the most important parts of your life, like your marriage, your family and your interactions with friends. Before long you're more interested in spending time with your computer than you are with "real" people.

Watching this show was fascinating, but it left me feeling sad, too. Sad for the people suffering with this compulsion, sad for the marriages/families that it affects, sad for the people who are lonely, sad for the people who feel like they have no other choice (or desire) to make a living, etc.

"Puss in Boots" Old Spice Spoof

Last year Old Spice came out with a funny commercial that was a huge (and often spoofed) hit. Just in case you've forgotten the commercial or completely missed it altogether, here it is:

Not too long after this Old Spice commercial was released, Sesame Street made this spoof of the commercial:

My nephew Ethan was a huge fan of the Grover spoof, and quickly had his own interpretation of the video after watching it a few times:

That was last year, and I had pretty much forgotten about it until last night when I was watching TV and I saw this Puss in Boots Old Spice spoof:

Ahhhh... good times and good memories!!


Footprints in the Sand is a fairly well-known poem. My parents used to have a copy of this poem hanging in their bathroom. I was well aware of the little poem that hung on the wall in their bathroom, but I must've passed by it tons of times before I actually stopped to read it. However, one day I did stop to read it, and although I was just a little girl, I was very moved by it. Here's the poem for anyone who might not be familiar with it:

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to him and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. Lord you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.

The Lord replied, my precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

As I said, I was just a kid when I read this poem for the first time, but it really had a big effect on me. I've always believed in God and have always known that He is not only aware of us, but that he is intimately involved in every detail of our lives. He is the creator of our body/soul and He is the architect of our lives. I find it so comforting to know that the Lord is always by our side every step of the way, through good times AND bad. We are never alone.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Gross Tradition

When the Cardinals won the NLCS pennant Sunday night they celebrated the traditional way by dousing each other with champagne. I know it's "tradition," but is it just me or does the celebratory champagne spray seem really gross? I really don't enjoy getting dirty, so maybe I'm way off base here, but a sticky champagne bath seems downright nasty to me! What do you say? Fun or gross? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cardinals Follow Up

Well, it's official… the St. Louis Cardinals are heading to the World Series! It's hard to believe considering how poorly the Cards were doing at the end of August, but when push came to shove they were able to get their act together and take care of business.

The World Series starts this coming Wednesday and we will be facing off against the Texas Rangers. If the Cardinals win, it will be their 11th World Series victory in franchise history. (It only fitting that we should win our 11th since it's 2011, right?!) Check out these great action pics from last night's game:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Go Cards!

I live in St. Louis, so naturally I'm a Cardinals baseball fan. We didn't have all that great of a season, but somehow we managed to make it into the playoffs again. Right now we're up against the Milwaukee Brewers and are leading three games to two in a best of seven series to decide which team will represent the National League in the World Series. I love my Cardinals, but I do have a confession… I'm what you call a "fair weather" fan. Although I always hope the Cardinals do well, I don't follow baseball closely at all, and I don't get into the games until it's make or break it time. That being said, I've really enjoyed watching the recent playoff games on TV, and I hope the Cards go all the way to the World Series.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It Only Gets Easier

My friend Hillarie is an occupational therapist who works with spinal cord injury patients at a rehab hospital in St. Louis. Last week Hillarie called me and told me that one of her patients (Adam) wanted to meet me. (Hillarie tells her patients about me all the time, so that's how he knew of me.) He's in his early 20's and he broke his neck at that fourth cervical vertebrae earlier this summer in a motorcycle accident. So yesterday afternoon my mom and I went to the rehab hospital to meet Adam.

Adam and I have very similar injuries, so we've had a lot of the same experiences and share some of the same feelings regarding our situations. Becoming disabled is such a steep learning curve, to say the least, so the early weeks and months after becoming disabled can seem very bleak as you think about all of the ways that your life has changed.

The thing that I really wanted Adam to know from my own personal experience is that life only gets easier the longer you're paralyzed. I was finally well enough to return home to live four months after my accident. Then the real work began as I spent the next several months learning how to live again. At first it took so long to do everything (bathing, dressing, hair washing, etc.), but as the months passed my caregivers and I established routines and life gradually began to get easier.

After coming home I spent the next year of my life watching TV all day, every day. I wasn't depressed and I honestly felt happy, but looking back I realize that there was a sadness in my life as I grieved the loss of the life I always thought I'd be living. After a year of watching TV all day I started feeling restless, so that's when I decided to get a laptop.

Over the past eight years I've incorporated new things back into my life and I've developed/grown in ways I never thought imaginable. Life's gotten better and better with each passing year and I find myself growing more and more happy. Life was so challenging right after my accident and I would never want to return to the early days/years after my accident for anything! I was happy then, but I'm even happier now.

So my advice to newly injured patients (and anyone else who is currently enduring a trial) is: hold on and don't give up because things will get easier!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Double Feature

This past weekend my sister Chandra was off work so we went to the movies on Saturday afternoon for a double feature. The first movie we saw was Dream House. Dream House is a scary, thriller type of movie where you aren't quite sure what is reality and what isn't until the movie ends. Dream House was good enough, but not great. I would definitely wait until it comes out on DVD to see it. Heather's rating: 6/10 stars 
After Dream House we saw Real Steel. I first saw the Real Steel movie trailer earlier this summer and I thought the movie looked so dumb! Fighting robots?! Come on, get real! However, the more I saw previews and interviews for this movie the better I thought it looked until I actually really wanted to see it! Although the premise of this movie is kind of hokey (futuristic, sci-fi robot wrestling) I thought the movie was very enjoyable and definitely worth watching. Even if this movie doesn't end up wowing your socks off, I don't think you'd regret seeing it in the theater. This is all just my humble opinion, though! Heather's rating: 8.5/10 stars

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Therapy and Rehab

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Rehab Institute in St. Louis for some physical and occupational therapy. I used to go to PT/OT twice a week for about eight months after returning home to St. Louis after my accident. Then I decided to stop going in January 2005. I really hated going because it made for a long day with two 45 minute therapy sessions sandwiched in between a 45 minute drive to and from the Rehab Institute. I wasn't making any progress and there's only so much the therapists can do, so I didn't figured there wasn't really a point to continue going since I could do everything at home that the therapists might do at the rehab facility, like my range of motion stretches.

When I went to my doctor that deals with spinal cord injuries this past August I asked her about getting some therapy in hopes of strengthening my neck. My neck has been quite weak on the right side since my accident because of the way the break happened. My neck is much stronger now than it was right after my accident*, but it still tends to lean towards my right shoulder and it's hard for me to turn my head to the left.

*After my accident I couldn't move my head at all. No shaking my head, no nodding… nothing! Gradually I began to get movement back little by little. I still to this day have very limited head control compared to a normal person (for example, I can't hold my head up if my wheelchair is sitting up too straight, so that's why I tilt my chair back), but I'm grateful that my neck has gotten stronger over time.

Being back in a spinal cord rehab facility brought back memories of when I was in rehab in Atlanta, Georgia. The Rehab Institute in St. Louis doesn't take patients who are on ventilators (I'm not sure why, because they really SHOULD), so the closest rehab facility that did take ventilator dependent patients was Shepherd Center in Atlanta. I'm SO glad that the rehab chapter of my life is over! I spent some of the darkest days of my life in rehab. It's truly as if I were caught in an awful storm that had the power to drag me down and ultimately destroy me, but I was kept safe in a little bubble where the Lord provided me with the joy and peace of mind I needed to get through each day without crumbling, despite the bleak outlook that was my future. Although I was fully aware of the fact that I would spend the rest of my days living as a quadriplegic and that all of my hopes and dreams were dashed, I managed to survive without becoming depressed. Even though I got through that time of my life without too much difficulty, I would never want to go back and relive those days again for anything! Each year gets easier (at least, so far), and my hope forever grows as I look forward to the opportunities that will come my way in the future.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I love buying gifts for people. I much rather give than receive, and I put a lot of thought into the gifts that I buy for others. In my previous post I wrote about the present I bought my mom for her birthday (a heathergem pendant necklace). It's so neat that it deserves it's own post.

A few months ago I was watching the show How It's Made (a fascinating show on the Discovery Channel that shows how things are made) and they were showing how heathergems are made. At that point I'd never heard of a heathergem before, but I thought it was so neat. Basically, heathergems are made in Scotland out of dried stalks of heather plants. They are really beautiful, and no two heathergems are alike because of the way they are made.

I looked them up online after I saw that clip of them being made on TV. I ordered my mom a necklace with a heathergem pendant. I was hoping it would look as good in person as it did online, and I wasn't disappointed. I couldn't wait to give the necklace to my mom for her birthday because I knew she would love it. I'm so glad I was able to find such a unique gift for my mom, and what makes it even better is that my name is Heather!

Here's a video clip showing how heathergems are made. This clip isn't as interesting as the one that was on How It's Made, but I wasn't able to find the original clip.  

Wonderful Weekend

This past weekend was wonderful. It was my church's semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City, so we watched the broadcast on TV. It's wonderful to be able to hear talks from the leaders of our church and to watch the broadcast in the comfort of our own home.

On Sunday morning we invited our friend's family over to watch with us, as well as my sister Laura and her family. We had a yummy brunch of caramel pecan rolls, orange rolls with cream cheese/orange marmalade filling and fresh fruit with fruit dip. The food was wonderful, the talks were wonderful and it was wonderful to spend time with family and friends.

Yesterday happened to be my mom's birthday, as well, so that made the day even more special. We had fun celebrating with my mom and I hope she felt special.

Chandra always makes the cutest homemade birthday cards. Here's the one she made for Mom:
Pretty purple flowers  from Kellie:
This is what I thought my mom for her birthday. It's a heathergem pendant necklace. Don't know what a heathergem is? I didn't either until a few months ago. Heathergems are so neat, so they are going to get their very own blog post, so stay tuned!
My sister Laura made our mom a carrot cake which is what my mom always has for her birthday. I'm not a fan of carrot cake, but everyone else enjoyed it. My mom turned 59 yesterday, but we didn't have a "9" candle, so mom settled for being 50 again, which was just fine with her because she said that 50 was her favorite age.

I hope my mom enjoys her 59th year. When I asked Mom how she fells about turning 59, she said that she's "almost old." (My mom said she'll consider herself "old" at 60. She said not that 60 is old for other people, but she thinks it will be old for her.) I know how she feels because I think the same thing about turning 30 in a few years. 30 isn't old for other people, but I will feel old when I'm 30!
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