Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Itch You Can't Scratch

Spring is here and it's BEAUTIFUL in Missouri right now, but there is a lot of pollen flying around in the air. Those microscopic particles from the flowers and trees coat everything in a yellow film and make allergy sufferers miserable! I've never really had bad allergies or been especially sensitive to pollen, but I DO seem to be itching more lately. Spring = pollen = more itches, and saying that itches are a nuisance for someone who can't move is a major understatement!
Having an itch you can't scratch is actually pretty cruel. Pure torture! I distinctly remember lying in bed once when I was still able-bodied, thinking of poor Christopher Reeve and what it would be like to be unable to scratch an itch. I lay there with a fierce itch in my nose, and I held off scratching it until I thought I would go mad. When I couldn't take it any more, I scratched and scratched until I completely relieved myself of the itch. It is SO ironic thinking of that incident now! (This really did happen, by the way.)

There is really an art and technique to scratching an itch, and it's a lot more involved than you might think. If your nose itches, for example, you can't just have someone timidly scratch the end of your nose and have that satisfy your itch. The exact location they scratch matters, as well as HOW they scratch and the amount of pressure they use. All of this can be difficult to explain to someone, especially when you can't gesture or point to indicate how/what you want. For this reason, I ask very few people to help me scratch my itches (basically only my mom and my youngest sister, Chandra). I'm not sure what would be worse: the agony of the itch, or the frustration of trying to teach someone how to scratch the itch in a satisfying way. I choose to just suffer with the itch in order to spare myself–and others–the frustration and awkwardness of the whole thing! [I've found that making up code names/phrases for the particular areas of your face that itch frequently help give your caregivers a point of reference to know where to scratch.]
Thankfully, I only experience the sensation of itching on my face, eyes, scalp and ears, and not anywhere from the neck down. I'm not sure why I don't itch on the rest of my body since I DO feel other sensations below my neck. I won't complain, though, and neither will my caregivers. ; ) I can only take so much, after all! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter 2015

A quick post about Easter. It was low key, but wonderful day. My sister Chandra had a three-day weekend off of work, so she came over on Saturday and Sunday and spent both of those days with Mom and me. That was so nice, since we only see her about once a week these days. I miss her! This weekend also happened to be our church's General Conference, too, so that is always amazing and inspirational.

For Easter dinner we just had a small crowd (Mom, me, Chandra and her boyfriend, Joe). We were planning to keep the menu small, but it kept growing and growing as "just one more thing" kept being added to it. Oh, well! (My sister's boyfriend is huge…think bodybuilder…and he eats massive quantities of food.) We had ham, roast beef, potatoes, pistachio salad, cranberry sauce, homemade Hawaiian sweet rolls, deviled eggs, peas and fresh veggies. For dessert we had dark chocolate salted caramel Oreo pie and coconut cake. (Our friend Linda brought over half of a coconut cake, and we gave her half of our pie.)

I really didn't eat that much for dinner. More than I usually would on a given night, but I tried to take it easy since I absolutely hate the feeling of being stuffed. There was definitely more than enough food for the four of us, and my mom gave the majority of the leftovers to Chan and Joe to take home with them. We just wanted it out of here!

Here are a few pictures of us, and of our food:
I'm so grateful for Easter, and for this special day to focus on Jesus Christ and His life. I'm grateful for my knowledge of the atonement and Jesus' resurrection. I'm grateful to live in a country where we are free to worship as we please. This is a luxury that others in some other countries aren't blessed with. Because of Him there are second chances and happy endings.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Living Christ

Earlier this year, I decided to memorize "The Living Christ" which is a document written back in 2000 to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia previously. Actually, I should say that I decided to attempt memorizing it! I was extremely intimidated by the length of it...10 paragraphs.

My mom also decided to memorize it, and it was a lot easier to work on it with her than it would've been to try to do it all on my own. (I honestly doubt that I would've stuck with it, OR been as successful all on my own.) We would go over it individually, but then once or twice a week we would go over it together and quiz each other to see how the other was progressing.

I finished memorizing the 10th paragraph last week. I'm absolutely shocked that I was able to memorize the entire thing, and so quickly (about 10 weeks). It was actually a lot easier to memorize than I thought it would be, too. When I first thought about doing it, I assumed it would take all year to get it committed to memory. It really wasn't that bad. I did spend a lot of time reciting it in my head over and over (especially at night as I tried to fall asleep) and it stuck in my head fairly easily. Some of the words and phrases are very similar, though, so it's easy to get certain parts mixed up if I'm not careful.

Now the real question is, how long can I keep it memorized?! Retaining something you've memorized is even harder than memorizing it, in my opinion. I will continue to recite The Living Christ to myself every day or so to continue cementing it in my brain. One thing's for sure as far as memorizing something goes…if you don't use it, you lose it, so I know I could easily lose my ability to recite it if I'm not careful! It is far easier to remember things you've memorized in your youth, than it is to remember something you've memorized as an adult! And my mom said that it gets even more difficult to memorize things over age 50. I guess the lesson in all of this is that if you want to memorize something, do it sooner than later!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Patient in All Things

In my church we do something called Visiting Teaching, and it's where the women make visits to the other ladies we go to church with. You actually go to their house, or maybe meet for lunch, and it just gives you the chance to visit together, socialize and share a short, uplifting message with the person you visit.

All of the messages this year focus on different attributes of Christ's life that we should strive to emulate. This month's topic is about being patient and long-suffering. I really liked this quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, one of the leaders in the LDS church:

"Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something ... even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well! ... Patience means accepting that which cannot be changed and facing it with courage, grace, and faith. It means being ‘willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father'. Ultimately, patience means being ‘firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord' every hour of every day, even when it is hard to do so.” 

This statement gives good advice to anyone who has a life that can be challenging, which I'm pretty sure will include everyone, at least at some point in their life. I know it isn't easy to "submit to all things" (especially cheerfully), but when you have no other choice, you just have to! You just have to take tough stuff one day at a time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Back in Business

I use two different assistive technologies to work my computer. One of them is a voice dictation software called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and the other is a device called a head mouse (which allows you to move the mouse by moving your head). These wonderful inventions are both vital to enabling me to use my computer hands-free. (I should clarify and say that there are lots of things I could still do with one or the other, but to be able to do everything I want/need to do in the fastest way possible, you really need both of these technologies!)

My head mouse attachment that I've been using for the past 10 years has been on the fritz for the past few months. I think there is probably a short in the cord, because it sometimes spontaneously turns off. I've been researching a replacement head mouse since I figured my current mouse's days were numbered. I was right. My head mouse bit the dust last Saturday evening when it wouldn't turn on at all anymore. I had actually ordered a replacement the previous day since I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be needing a new one, but I just hoped the one I was using would hang in there until the new one arrived. Nope!

I didn't get on my computer for the next 48 hours, which is actually a very long time for me, considering that I honestly spend about 10 hours a day on my laptop on average. I was so bored, and was just figuratively "twiddling my thumbs." I usually have the TV on, but I'm usually on my computer actually working on something, so just watching TV for hours on end really felt like a serious waste of time! On Monday night I couldn't take it anymore and I decided to get on my laptop, even though using it strictly by voice command is extremely time-consuming. I figured doing something slowly was better than doing nothing at all. I could still use Skype with no problem, so I was able to talk with my sisters Kristin and Annette, which was a great way to pass the time. :)

My new mouse came on Wednesday afternoon, four days after I ordered it. Four days might not sound like a long time, but it was to me, and I was so ready to get back to business! It was easy to install and it's working well. This new head mouse is an updated model from the one I've been using since 2005. I personally think there is a flaw in the design with the new one. My old one easily clipped to the top of my laptop screen, but the new model doesn't do that. It seems like it's designed to attach to a flatscreen desktop monitor, and not a laptop. I definitely think they need to work on the design, since just as many (if not more) people in my situation use a laptop. I'm still able to get my head mouse to work well by just setting on the base of my laptop, but I still think it would be better if it attached to the laptop screen.

When you are as physically limited as I am, you appreciate every little thing you can do on your own. Being able to use my computer on my own and be completely independent is a wonderful thing. I'm glad that I'm back in business!
This is the older model of the head mouse that easily attached to the laptop:
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