Ready or not I have graduated to a Hoyer Lift to help move me and the first time we tried it wasn’t pretty. We’ve had this big beast parked in our spare bedroom taking up valuable space for a few months. My legs are failing me and it’s getting harder for me to stand without my knees giving out so we decided to try the lift to give Mark’s back a break. After watching a YouTube video on how to use the lift, Mark laid me down on the couch on top of the hammock that was going hold my body when he lifted me. He attached the straps from the hammock to the arms on the lift and started to lift me. The fabric on the hammock spanned from my neck to the tops of my legs so when he began to lift me my head fell back to an uncomfortable position and my legs fell to the floor causing my back to arch. I don’t think the Hoyer Lift was designed to transport a patient with severe muscle weakness issues so Mark went back to the YouTube video and watched it again. Heaven forbid that he would ask for help from one of our many friends and family members that are nurses and physical and occupational therapists. It’s much like a guy not asking for directions because he thinks he is not lost and can find his way on his own. Anyway, before Mark aborted the lift he had an idea. He found a strap from my wheelchair that we weren’t using and he put it around my head and attached it to the hammock hoping it would support my head. Then he got two of his belts hoping they would support my legs. Lucky for me Kelly showed up and started laughing at us as Mark tried to lift me with the new adjustments. Both the strap and the belts worked for a short time but they were not secure so we decided we needed to get some help. Kelly called Airway Oxygen where we got the lift to see if they had a larger hammock that would cover more of my body and they did so they delivered it to us that day. The next day we tried the lift again with success. The new hammock worked perfectly and as Mark gently raised my body up with the lift and as I was dangling in midair he said it reminded him of hoisting an engine from a car.
A funny thing happened while Mark, Kelly, Harrison and I were out for a walk a couple of weeks ago. We stopped by a flower garden and Kelly asked me what one of the tall purple and yellow flowers were called and I said they’re called flags. She didn’t understand what I said so I repeated it several times. She still didn’t understand me so she asked Mark to help her. After several more unsuccessful attempts they asked me to spell the word. I spelled flag and they finally guessed the correct word but looked at each other confused. They looked at the garden once again and saw some American flags sticking out of the ground so they thought I didn’t know the name of the flower so I diverted their attention to the flags. The funny thing is I never saw the American flags until they pointed them out to me. I decided it would be faster to explain when we got home where I could be in front of the Tobii that the name of the flowers were called flags also.
When our kids were in fifth and sixth grade at St. Michael’s they had an amazing opportunity to attend Camp Pendalouan to meet and bond with their future classmates from St. Francis and Sacred Heart before the three elementary schools came together as one class in the seventh grade. Chad and Kelly had already been through this great camping experience so Corey was excited for his fifth grade class to go and was hoping to get in the same cabin as his older cousin Matt Grimm who he loved and admired. Matt was one of the MCC high school students chosen to go as a camp counselor. The bond that developed between the elementary and high school students during their week at camp was always so amazing. While at camp the students were challenged physically and mentally on a difficult ropes course with the goal of encouraging each classmate on their team to finish the course, even the weak and the frightened. They learned silly new things like watching sparks fly while chewing Life Savers in the dark. They experienced first-hand what it was like for a large group of kids to eat everything on their plate and not to waste a single morsel of food. And they were guided spiritually in a beautiful but simple environment.
One evening at a St. Michael’s Home and School Association meeting principal Elaine Bertram informed us that a parent complained about inappropriate behavior at night in one of the cabins so the administration felt a need to cancel the overnight part of camp for the fifth and sixth graders. I was so disappointed so I decided to challenge it. The next day I talked with Elaine and told her I didn’t agree with the decision that was made and asked if she thought it would do any good to challenge it. Within hours Elaine had set up a meeting with three principals, a teacher, the parent that had the concern and me. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, what have I done.”
On the day of the meeting I was really nervous but I was prepared to state the value of keeping the overnight part of camp. As we gathered together at the high school for the meeting I believe we started it with a prayer. Everyone had a voice in the meeting and then someone suggested having a parent stay in each of the cabins. We all agreed this to be a great solution so we were able to resolve the overnight camping problem by having a parent stay overnight in the cabins with the students. I felt really good about the outcome and I believe everyone else did, too.
Thankfully, today the concerned parent and I are friends and some of our kids actually went on to become high school camp counselors themselves when they got older. Wouldn’t it be nice if all differences could end in a peaceful outcome?
Our blue-eyed baby boy Harrison, along with his awesome parents, arrived on Tuesday. Mark and I are capable of doing this on our own but it sure is nice to have extra hands to care for me, feed me and give Mark a break. And besides we love having them around.
Today we took a couple of nice walks and Mark, Luz and I watched Kelly, Patti and Harrison swim in the pool. It sure is nice to be able to go outside without a coat on.
After accepting Jim and LeeAnn’s generous offer of using their Florida condo, we started to plan our trip. We had one major obstacle to overcome which was my comfort for a 23-hour van ride (I sound like such a diva). My neck muscles have gotten weaker so I’m no longer stable in the front seat without some sort of brace. We thought of possible solutions such as flying first class because the seats recline more than coach or renting a motorhome or a handicap van, but nothing seemed to work much better than our minivan. We tried multiple pillow options while sitting in the front seat and the one that gave me the most comfort and neck support was a pregnancy pillow, but sitting with that huge pillow wrapped around me for a 23-hour car ride would not work.
On the day we were going to leave I changed my mind because we hadn’t found a good seating solution, plus my legs aren’t much help anymore which presents a whole new set of problems so I told Mark we should cancel our trip. It’s funny because Mark is usually the cautious one but this time it was me. Mark called Bryan first to break the news because he was our co-pilot on the trip. Bryan seemed to take the news just fine. Mark then called Kelly and LeeAnn who sounded disappointed but understood. About thirty minutes later Kelly came over to see why I changed my mind and right away she pointed out the positive reasons why we should go on this trip. She left and minutes later Bryan called with lots of passion in his voice reciting all of the positives of this trip but then he said something really important that helped me change my mind. Bryan said, “I’m confident we can find a solution to every obstacle we face on this trip. Dad and I are willing to dedicate our whole trip to trying to make you comfortable and if we can’t, we’ll turn back and go home.” Bryan was right. There usually is a solution to most of our problems if we are willing to open our minds and get creative. How could I say no to Bryan’s pep talk? He was right so I decided to go.