Keeping it Real – Quadriplegic Cough

Keeping it Real – Quadriplegic Cough

There are times my disability smacks me in the face and knocks my feet right out from under me. This week has been one of those weeks. I have a cold…that simple rhino virus that many people fiercely fight off without missing a beat. ‘Well say it ain’t so!’ the quadriplegics exclaim.

Because of the paralysis, our respiratory systems are compromised. Congestion in our lungs is difficult to extract because the muscles don’t contract to force enough pressure to productively cough. Developing pneumonia is a possible danger and the leading cause of death for quads.

The simple cold is a serous matter. Proactive zinc and vitamins have helped me avoid a cold for several years, but somehow this rhino crept up on me. I’m always hopeful that prayer, rest, water, vitamins, ginger tea and chicken soup will do the trick quickly, but inevitably the dreaded antibiotics seem to be the added dagger that fights off the bronchitis and threat of pneumonia.

Friends, family members and office mates are heroes as they rescue me with an ‘assisted cough‘. Brent was out of town the other night when my cough was starting – two of my best friends slept over and effectively assisted with my cough, ate popcorn, played on computers, and crashed (thank you Naomi and Krista).

Brent has turned a few heads when he’s helped me cough in the store or at church! At a glance it can look like CPR or spousal  abuse!

For emergencies, I keep a note written in my phone that says ‘I need help coughing and may not be able to talk before we clear some congestion. Please press my diaphragm with the palms of your hands as I exhale. We will need to do this multiple times and you will push harder than you think you should’.

I haven’t had an assisted cough for a couple hours and I’m off to get more water. My motto for the day: “March on my soul, be strong.” Judges 5:21

I’m glad you read this post…don’t be afraid…you can help me cough…press hard, just don’t break a rib – Just kidding!

Paws to Remember

My friend, Krista, said goodbye to her precious Gracie yesterday.  Gracie was in her family for 12 years and helped Krista and her husband raise four children. She loved her squeeky toys, and her bark was bigger than her bite as she mastered the role of ‘pseudo guard dog’ upon initial greeting. Before you could blink she’d curl up next to you. Everybody loved Gracie.

Losing a ‘pet’ is often given too little emotional weight – these creatures are not ‘replaceable’, and I pray friends and family appropriately grieve when this situation occurs. It’s natural to mourn when we lose our beloved four-pawed companions. It calls for the jolt of ‘a new normal‘ in our lives. Gracie, you will be missed.

A trip down memory lane is in order for those of us who have experienced the loss of a furry friend…Today, Gracie reminds me about my past losses.

Mindy was our first family pup.  She joined us when I was eleven and passed due to cancer during my first year of college. There was a strange void when I came home for a visit after she was gone.

It was years later when my heart welcomed ‘Mr. Murray’; he was the first pup who claimed me as ‘mom’.  Murray was a party dog and an enthusiastic Canine Assistant.  He retrieved everything from keys to dollar bills for me and was the office mascot who sometimes took the role of Santa’s helper in the lobby at Christmas.  Murray, in my opinion, is the reason that my dog-whisperer husband, Brent, noticed me. He loves animals and had Boone, a black lab, when we met. It was a match made in doggie heaven.

Boone was loyal, loyal, loyal. He was Brent’s dog through and through, and he was my adopted little one when we married.  For over ten years he served as a therapy dog at Eggleston Children’s Hospital and he claimed the foot of our queen-size bed until his last days.

Awwww. Now it’s just Tahoe!

Gracie, Mindy, Murray and Boone you are missed. Thank you for your display of unconditional love and acceptance. The world would be a better place if humans could be as kind, forgiving and accepting as you were.

For those who grieve and face ‘a new normal‘ – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Comfort in Cold Weather

Autumn is unwelcome weather in my life.  I don’t mean to be a grinch because I realize many people love the cold weather. I’m all for the temperature to cool from 98° to 78º, or maybe even 72º, but once we drop lower than that, introduce a few showers and cool winds….ugh!  I’m such a wimp. And autumn is a sign of the inevitable upcoming winter! I try to be positive about cold but just need a little time to vent. As the cool blows in, clothes become cumbersome and it is nearly impossible for me to stay warm. Sometimes it’s hard to sleep because I’m cold. It’s just a side effect of most high level spinal cord injuries. Often, the brain is not able to correctly interpret thermostat signals from the body.  I think I’m cold even when my temperature is actually fine.

Things I dislike about fall…
– I’m nearly always cold…well I think so anyway and that’s what counts.
– Fall is the beginning of cold, yikes! Winter is coming!
– More layers of clothes makes getting dressed/undressed more difficult and time- consuming.
– Tahoe wants to play outside, but it’s cold so we play less.
– Every year I burn myself trying to stay warm.
– I get obsessive about searching for ‘warm’ solutions. It wastes time.
– I buy more wool socks, shirts and sweaters even though I have enough.
– Wool is expensive.

Enough rant.  I have hope.  My medicine of adding gratitude is in order.

Things I love about fall…
– Our wedding anniversary.
– Trips to the beach…if it’s warm!
– Trips to the mountains.
– Pumpkins.
– Bonfires.
– Tahoe loves cool weather.
– Children love to play in the leaves.
– Snuggling with Brent and Tahoe.
– The air is crisp and clear.
– Trees are extravagantly colorful.
– Stars are bright.
– Wool. The soft kind.
– Two of my nieces birthdays.
– Hot soup.
– Hot water.
– Heat.
– Pedicures are unnecessary.
– Online shopping for wool.
– Did I say I love wool?


Today I’m thankful for fall and glad I’m alive to experience another one. It’s therapeutic for me to realize that all the reasons I don’t like cold weather stem from my perceived temperature and comfort. I let cold impact me more than I should. Maybe I’ll find a new way to enjoy the cold weather this year. That’s my resolve.

Are you warm and cozy today?  Got any ‘keep warm’ tricks to share?

Strength Through Difficulties

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. Peter Marshall

Some day’s difficulties, well, they can just tear us down. While I often am the first to want to deny that I’m really spent and all washed up, I think these are the times I have the greatest opportunity of growth in faith and dependence on God – the One who knows all.

Recently I’ve had a number of health issues. I’ve been miraculously stable as a quadriplegic for so many years…this stability has been challenged by some nagging, so far undiagnosed, persistent, GI issues. The diagnosis is complicated by my mobility issues. Test after test reveal the same wonderful news, ‘No problems’, the medical professionals report, with their upbeat voices. My heart is conflicted as I’m grateful nothing ‘terrible‘ is discovered and I realize many people face challenging reports about their health, and family members’ health every day. In the past two days I learned about an 8th grade cheerleader who lost her leg, a young dad who had brain cancer and passed on, a friend’s dog who has terminal cancer, and a 56 year old Steve Jobs who lost his life due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

… it seems selfish, but I desperately want answers for my issues.

My personal scenario sparks an area of growth for me. It is an opportunity to hunker down in prayer, not only for myself, but for so many others who have serious and pressing issues far greater than I can imagine. It’s an opportunity to realize that hardships give birth to new things – fresh new things – which can often bring greater significance to our lives. I have a related favorite verse that I’ve held onto in recent months that I’ll share tomorrow, but for now, I’ll leave you with a little ‘faith’ challenge to think on in your time of need – let’s face it, we all have the tough times in our lives…

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16