Oops! I Cut My Toe

One of the best and worst things about my paralysis is that I cannot feel pain below my injury level the same way most people do.  Pain may not hit in time to prevent injury and when it does hit, it may not be obvious where and why I am uncomfortable. Strange, I know! This phenomena opens up possibilities for secondary injuries like burns, abrasions, pressure sores and other unwanted pesky and ugly, sometimes scarring events.

A recent clash with unknown pain came one night last summer when I was washing my face. I finished my face and brushed my teeth and was ready for help with the final bedtime routine.

As I backed away from the counter and looked down at the stone tiles, I saw a pool of blood. Alarming?  Yes, alarming, because I couldn’t tell where it was coming from.  In a panic, I called for my sweet hubby and we discovered it was my toe bleeding. Oh my, I had banged it against against the cabinet.  I usually don’t take my shoes off until the last minute, but for some reason this night I did. **Note to self – don’t take shoes off before finishing your face.

Anyway, we called our nurse practitioner neighbor, aka neighborhood 911, and she took no time to ascertain that we needed to go to the emergency room for stitches immediately.  I wanted to wait until the morning… So we went to the ER.

As an aside and perhaps the only value in this post: We have several good hospitals within 30 minutes of us, and because this was a minor injury we didn’t care which hospital we chose.  We wanted to get it done and get home.  As we pulled out of the driveway I called the ER  where we were headed and they reported ‘at least a three hour wait’.  I called another hospital’s ER and they said they had one person waiting but could not predict if someone else would come.  We changed directions and headed to that hospital where we were taken care of ‘right away’.

‘Right  away’, of course, still includes the obligatory half hour here and half hour there while the medical staff helps others and work on increasing your bill.






Brent tolerated the wait well with his iPad in ‘toe’.  Hope you don’t have a weak stomach for blood….Four stitches later we headed home.

…and the next morning Tahoe helped the healing along with kisses. The kisses made the boo boo all better.


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?

A Favorite Mobile App – Dragon Dictation

One of my favorite apps, Dragon Dictation, is a ‘voice to text’ or  ‘speech recognition’ tool. Dragon Dictation is a great free application for the iPad, iPhone, iPod (and Android and Blackberry).  This is not ‘new’ technology, but a favorite nonetheless.  Honestly, I don’t fire it up often enough so I’m encouraging my own efficiency today.  I find this app invaluable when I use it and it is a lifesaver for non-typists and people with mobility related disabilities. Below are some benefits and tips to consider.


3 Benefits of using Dragon Dictation:

  1.  Improves output speed.  I am not a very efficient typist. I was a great typist before my accident, but now that I have limited use of my hands, I am sloooow. I can make better progress by using a dictation aid like Dragon. Why not get more done in a shorter period of time?
  2. Helps to better formulate thoughts. I suppose doctors or individuals in occupations where dictation is common may not experience this type of improvement, but it helps me to be more thoughtful of my speech patterns as well as the clarity of my voice.  This benefit surprised me.
  3. Quickly sends in a variety of formats.  A great feature is Dragon’s ability to send dictated text directly as a Facebook post, tweet, SMS message or email.  What a treasure to speak a few words and text or tweet them in seconds. You can record a larger document in 30 second intervals and freely edit and insert using your voice or the keypad.

Tips that increase the usefulness of any voice recognition software:

  1.  Enunciate clearly. Make sure to enunciate your words clearly.  Using voice recognition software illuminates our poor speaking habits. It reveals  words we do not pronounce clearly and patterns where we mumble.
  2. Use a quiet environment. Have a quiet environment when possible. Dictating in a noisy environment may be a challenge. I have a friend who often dictates notes while she is at a restaurant or in a noisy area and she does pretty good. For greatest accuracy, it is best to be in a more subdued environment. By all means, test your limits and be hands free as much as possible!  It is the future.
  3. Always proofread. Proofread to avoid the wrong wording.  For example, ‘mark’ and ‘mart’ or ‘fat’ and ‘sat’  are the kinds of words you may see interchanged. Trust me on this.  I’ve embarrassed myself more than once by not effectively proofing.
  4. Speak punctuation. When you record with voice recognition software, you may want to insert punctuation in your text to avoid adding it later. To add punctuation you merely say  the punctuation like say ‘comma’, ‘question mark’, ‘new paragraph’, etc.

We’d Better be Ready.  All in all, Speech to Text is a must for those of us who are physically challenged with typing, but it certainly helps those who hunt and peck, and anyone who can speak faster than they can type on their devices.  Not only that, it is the future.  Apple’s release of the iPhone 4’S’ (as in Siri) further emphasizes the added importance of voice recognition. The iPhone 4S has built in voice recognition as well as verbal communication.   Check it out here.  It reads emails, texts and reminders to you and responds to your spoken inquiries.  It answers questions like, ‘How cold is it outside’ as well as dictates text that you initiate.

If you haven’t tried the free Dragon Dictation application – don’t delay.  It’s available in your app store.  You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be ready for the future!

If Only I Liked Kong Exercise Like My Dog Does!

Tahoe, my helper dog, loves to play with his toy, it’s a Kong.  It is like a ball, except it is not round – not perfectly circular.  It bounces randomly when it is thrown and gives him a good chase.  My husband believes the reason Tahoe loves the Kong so much is that it randomly bounces and moves like an animal would run.  For whatever reason, our dog is completely obsessed with his Kong.  This toy keeps our five year old dog’s body in tiptop shape.  He exercises in the blistering heat of the summer and during the bitter cold of the winter.

Oh yes, he is incredibly smart, and is persistent when it comes to asking us to play with him.  He bounds into the house, drops the Kong at our feet and if we don’t acknowledge him immediately, he picks up the Kong again and tosses it at our feet again.  It is important to explain to Tahoe when it is NOT time to play Kong! When Tahoe realizes that a Kong session is in his near future, he becomes ecstatic.  Out to the backyard he runs!  It is an excellent bonding time as well as the stress relief for anyone playing with Tahoe.

When we first brought Tahoe home, it took him some time to figure out how to play with me.  He would bring the Kong to me and drop it at my wheels.  He thought I could pick it up and throw it for him.  After a bit of intense training, he finally figured out that he needed to give it to me, but he couldn’t figure out that I couldn’t take it from his mouth.  After another training session or two, he learned that he has to lay the Kong on my lap so I can throw it.  He adjusts quickly to whatever situation his playmate desires.  He plays tug of war with his dad because that is his game.  He drops it at the feet of anyone who will not pull it away from him.  If you come to our house and are willing to play with Tahoe, the Kong won’t be far away!

The Kong is a perfect toy for me because it has a hole that is just large enough for one or two of my fingers.  This makes it easy for me to grab and throw and tire him out – well I should say tire me out.

Summer is particularly fun for me because I am comfortable with the temperatures and can comfortably play for hours.  I suppose I get some exercise too as I throw the ball over and over and over and over again.  I wish I could get excited about an activity that gives me as much exercise as Tahoe gets playing Kong!  ]

For now, I will stay with my exercise cycle –it’s called a Saratoga –it is a great piece of equipment that I use to get some upper body exercise.  I simply turn on some tunes or play a pod cast, or focus on my memory verses and wheel under the hand cycle, put my hands in the tri-pin and get it moving.  I’ll also take the added benefit of the few muscles that get worked out as I throw the Kong incessantly for Tahoe.

I’m glad that our golden Labrador loves to play Kong because he definitely loves to eat, and to have an activity that burns calories and keeps Tahoe in perfect condition comes in handy.  We would all be in terrific shape if only humans were as excited about exercise as dogs are!

What kind of exercise do you get psyched about?  Is there an activity you enjoy and don’t even realize you are working off those calories?  Dance is the best example I can think of.  Please share with us – especially if you have an activity you can do sitting down!