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Sunday, May 14, 2017

92 days in 2017

This year started off with a bang. I spent New Year's Eve at a cousin's wedding reception in Detroit Lakes. It was entertaining. I put on a good performance. I overindulged. It was a blast. Stuff and things happened… I may share couple of those stories, I may not…

Anyway, I knew this was going to be my last hurrah for a while because I was getting my new seat cushion and back rest for my wheelchair January 5. Getting these new components added to my chair meant it was going to take some time for my body to get used to them. The process of getting everything fitted took about three hours. I had to get in and out of the chair about five times. It was an exhausting day. But it was going to be well worth it because the new supports would be way more comfortable and way more forgiving on my body.

It takes a while for a body to get used to new supports and components. Skin breakdowns are a very real possibility if you push it too fast. It takes a while to get your, in the chair stamina/endurance up. For the first week after getting these new attachments I could only be in the chair for a couple hours a day and not continuous days. The second week I could be three hours a day. The fourth week was 3 1/2 hours. The fifth week could be four hours a day. I knew I wanted this to go well so I followed their instructions to a T. I did not want to push it and go backwards. Everything went well and I did not have any skin related issues or breakdowns. I was pretty excited about the new components on my chair.

So February 4 I decided to get the town and do a little celebrating Clint style. I met some friends up at the Spare Time and had my first Morgan 7 in over a month. It did not suck. About midway through the cocktail I started feeling poorly. But I did not blame the alcohol. I knew better. I sucked down the rest of the glass and started feeling worse. So I decided to have a glass of water. It didn't help. I knew something wasn't right. So I had my buddy bring me home. I believe I was home before 11 PM. Sad. I decided to check my temperature and found out it was 103°. No wonder why I didn't feel good. I knew it wasn't the alcohol. So I pounded some aspirin and I actually felt pretty good for the next day and a half. Stayed home for the Super Bowl and felt good. I even canceled my clinic appointment I made for Monday because I felt normal. Tuesday was a different story.

I got in the chair around noon on February 7 and started to feel poorly again. Checked my temperature and it was back up to 103°. I was also experiencing autonomic dysreflexia (AD). I decided to go to the emergency room in Lisbon to find out what was going on. I figured it was a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). I get UTI's a lot because I produce kidney and bladder stones faster than a rabbit on a first date. After a quick initial test it was determined there was an infection but it wasn't a UTI. So they decided to keep me overnight. The next day they figured out that I had a blood infection. So I stayed over another night and they pumped me full of antibiotics. Thursday the doctor came into my room in the morning and told me they wanted to ship me to Fargo because they have an ICU. I guess the nurses in Lisbon were freaking out just in case I went septic. I guess I don't blame them. I know most of them and they were quite concerned. I didn't realize how bad it was until later. I only ever heard of septic shock on TV shows. So I figured it must suck.

So that day, Thursday I got an ambulance ride to Fargo. It's not as fun as it sounds. I got there just in time for nurse shift change so that was a cluster. I had three nurses within two hours. In that time I also had a doctor check me out and go through my history. He was neat. Can't remember his name.

Friday morning I had a passel of doctors in and out of my room poking and prodding me. They were trying to determine blood infection originated from. They found the source and surgery was scheduled for Saturday. In the meantime they were pumping me full of some powerful antibiotics. The surgery happened around 11 on Saturday morning. They cleaned out the infected site and told me I could probably leave in a couple days. It turned out to be three days because I got home on Wednesday, February 15.

Since that time I have been trying to heal the infected site by being on complete bed rest. The only time I have been in the chair is when I was going to a doctor's appointment. While on bed rest, I have had physical and occupational therapy for couple weeks after I got home. Also since I got home I have had home health two or three times a week, every week. That still continues. I also continued IV antibiotics for six weeks when I got home, which I had three times a day.

In the beginning of this process I didn't think it was going to take that long but shit happens. I just keep reminding myself that hopefully when this is all over I will be better off and better than ever. There was also just glad I was at home and not in the hospital during this process.

This is the longest I have ever had to be on house arrest. It was a total of 92 days on bed rest. I have had two other times when I had to lay down to heal up. In 2007 I had to lie down for three months in the hospital to heal up my back after surgery. That hospital stay sucked except for the handful of nurses who made the stay tolerable. The other time took place during the summer of 99. That time I also had to lie down for three months to heal a pressure sore on my leg. There was a lot of PlayStation, Skoal and Mountain Dew consumed that summer. Good times.

Last week I was told I could get out of bed but very selectively. Just because I am off of complete bed rest doesn't mean I can do whatever I want. It is going to take quite a while to get my "in chair time" stamina back to the usual six hours a day. As of now I am limited to 2 hours a day in the chair. Plus I need to tilt back every hour for at least five minutes. Plus, I cannot get up on back-to-back days. Every couple weeks I can increase my time being up in the chair as long as there are no setbacks. So you can see that this process is going to take a while for me to get back in my old form. The new backrest and seat cushion should help eliminate some of these breakdowns in the future. I am hoping by hunting season I will be able to sit whenever I want. Priorities.

Again, I do not want any sympathy. That is not the reason why I wrote this. I wrote this just to show what it takes to be a quad and to live life. Everybody has problems, able-bodied or not. It just depends on your perception and attitude of life. Ulcers are just a part of life for a quad. Especially if you are out and about as much as I am. But that's the price we pay for trying to be normal. 

2017 Timeline of Stuff and Things:
February 4 - started feeling like crap
February 7 - went to Lisbon emergency room
February 9 - transferred to Fargo Sanford
February 11 - surgery to clean infection
February 15 - discharge, went home
March 10 - got wound VAC
March 24 - removed PICC line, no more IVs
April 20 - still healing well, hurry up and wait
May 4 - removed wound VAC
May 10 - can start getting up limited time. Two hours max.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thank you Nurses

The nurse patient relationship is unique. It can be a special bond. I don't know if it goes the same for the nurses but knowing enough of them, I assume the relationship means the same for them.

It is crazy what they'll do for a patient. The things they have to do, the things they choose to do, the things they want to do and the things they are obligated to do for a patient are way beyond what most people would do for another person. Some professions are more than a job. Being a nurse is one of them. It is a more of a calling than a job.

It's amazing what you will share with a nurse, someone you probably just met. It goes way beyond the physical stuff. It is more about the personal stuff. It's amazing what they will share with you. Sometimes I think patients become a sounding board. That is perfectly okay for what they have to put up with. I have gotten close to quite a few different nurses over the years. The conversations can get quite entertaining and sometimes eye-opening. The filters are pretty much off.

The amount of energy they put into every day taking care of their patients would be overwhelming for most. The amount of things they have to put up with would be way too much for most people. They put up with patients and their families at their worst. I can't believe what I have seen them put up with, especially from the families. And they do this every day, over and over again.

The stress dealing with patients would be hard to leave at work. It has to take a toll on their personal lives. Nurses give a lot of their personal time and a lot of their lives to helping others. The devotion to their careers is immeasurable.

I have so many examples of kindness, generosity and just pure friendship from this special relationship. There are too many examples to share in this post of the unselfishness they have shown me through the years wherever I have received their care. I could type forever.

I have the most respect for nurses and what they do. So thank a nurse next time you see one. Thanks for everything you have done for me. I am indebted to you.

Thanks for reading, Clint

PS: When I use the term nurse I mean that to encompass certified nursing assistants, nurses’ aides, etc.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

I got violated once, a bunch of times…

I can't believe I'm going to write about this and actually post it in a public place. But some of the stuff is just too good not to share. Some of you have witnessed stuff and things that have happened to me. Some of the randomness that happens to me is absolutely not normal. So sit back and enjoy.

I have kept names out of these stories to protect the not so innocent… Also, you'll notice there are no pictures. I will keep it that way. At least I hope there is no evidence out there…

This story is a classic. Some of you who are reading this could probably add some more details because you watched and laughed. But here's the gist. I was in a quaint little village not too far from Enderlin for an anniversary party. The family of the couple has been friends of ours forever. Anyway I was minding my own business talking to a table full of friends outside of the party when all of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked to my right and the next thing I knew there was a face right in front of mine. She said, "I know who you are." I said, "I have no idea who you are." She said, "Let's get to know each other." Then all of a sudden I noticed her tongue down my throat. Good grief. The next thing I heard was someone yelling, "She is married!" I had absolutely no clue who she was. I didn't know if she was married, single or confused. Then someone pulled her away. Geesh. I swear it wasn't my fault.

Here is another doozy of a story. Steven and I decided to go to Lisbon one night. We prefer the Cattleman's, so that's where we headed. When we got into the bar there weren’t many people at all. We headed to the back and passed one table of older ladies. When we got to the back of the bar it was dark and we were the only ones back there. We decided to grab a table, have a couple cocktails and decide what was going to be our next option for the evening. I don't know if Steven saw her coming up behind me but I had no clue what was going on. All of a sudden this older lady has her face right in front of mine. Again, I have no clue who this lady is. She doesn't say a word. And you guessed it, the next thing I know is her tongue is down my throat. I backed away and she finally caught on. I don't remember the conversation after that but I do remember telling Steven, "Let's get the hell out of here!"

We decided to go to the F & L to reassess the situation that just unfolded. Things got neat there also. The older lady went there too. A new friend that I met that night was told the story about the older lady and her wondering appendages. This new friend could tell I was a little rattled/scared and we came up with the safeword "sailboat" to yell if it happened again. The older lady tried to violate me again and I forgot the safeword but I was able to evade her advances without any repercussions, except for the nightmares.

We then hightailed it home. I almost technicolor yawned all over the shaggin wagon on the way home reminiscing about the evenings events. Geesh… Good times.

I have been violated once at O'Kelly's, many times. This isn't why this used to be my favorite stop in Fargo. The owner, employees and Pepsi products were the reasons I kept coming back. FYI, Morgan Pepsi is a lot better than Morgan Coke. There are just too many stories that happened there to try and condense into a story. O'Kelly's, where everybody knows my name… Or did.

I have been to Woody's once in my life. That one time was entertaining to say the least. I met a bunch of buddies there just for a get together. There were probably 10 of us. Per usual the cocktails were flowing and one thing led to another. One of my friends wanted to go for a ride on the back of my chair. So he hopped on back and I pushed my way through the crowded bar. I wasn't making any headway so we came up with a plan. We decided to make a racetrack around the bar by pushing people and tables out of our way. After a couple hot laps we were asked to stop. Thankfully we were not asked to leave, yet.

Being the fine respectable people that we are we obliged and decided to relax for a bit and have some cocktails. During this time there was a lady eyeballing my buddy. So I went over to her and asked her what was up. She wanted his name. I told her he was happily involved with his girlfriend. She then asked what my name was, with a proposition. Any who, about that time her husband came into the bar looking for her. He was not happy. I talked him out of beating one of us up. They left. So we went back to the racetrack. Then I was asked to leave.

There are a bunch more stories from throughout the territory. The Fargo VFW, O'Leary's, Hooligans, Lonesome Dove, Dempsey's, Bismarck Tavern, The Empire… Oh the memories… But I have to save something for myself and the innocent bystanders.

In a lot of these stories the husband or significant other wasn't too impressed with me. But I always figure I am not the one that is happily married. It isn't my fault their wife/girlfriend is morally relaxed…

Thanks for reading, Clint

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why me?

It is hard not to ask, "Why me?" But it doesn't do any good. Of course I look back and think how my life could be different. I think everyone does that. But being different doesn't mean it would be better. No one can ever know that. Some people just dwell on the bad things. Your life is going to suck doing that.

This is what I think when I ask myself, "Why me?" It might sound weird for me to say but I don't think my accident could have happened to anyone more suited or prepared to deal with it. I am not tooting my own horn. I believe that to be the truth. The main reason I believe this is because of the support that I get day in and day out. It is truly overwhelming. If I need anything, all I need to do is contact one of my family members or friends. My family and friends are truly the best. They don't suck.

Instead of asking, "Why me?" You should try asking, "Why not me?" Crap happens to everybody. It is how you deal with it that makes it worse or not. Depends on your perspective.

I am not a big believer in that karma crap or things happen for a reason theory. My theory is, "Shit Happens, deal with it!"

That might sound a little simplistic but life really is simple. Your life might suck sometimes but it isn't going to suck forever. The sooner you realize that the less it will suck.

Thanks for reading, Clint

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Being Positive and stuff

First off, I do not take happy pills. Not that there's anything wrong with that but that is not why I am usually in a good mood. I have had people assume that I take drugs because I am positive and happy. I guess I was just born that way.

I cannot stand people who feel sorry for me. There are a lot more people way worse off than I am. Of course there are days I feel sorry for myself. And those are days I do not like. Feeling sorry for yourself is the worst possible attitude you can have. It gets you nowhere. The only thing you attract is more pity. I have seen enough stuff in my life and been through enough stuff in my life to know what works and what doesn't. Negativity and self-loathing never works. Just remember, your worst day is probably someone's best day…

Like I said before being positive isn't always easy. I know some people that wake up in the morning and must think to themselves, "What am I going to be pissed about today?" That has to be a crappy way to go through life. Take a look around, I bet you know a couple of these people. I am not trying to say that every day is balloons and lollipops for me but every day isn't the end of the world either. Some days I wake up and think how in the hell do I do it. But then I kick myself in my ass and trudge forward.

It might seem like I have all my stuff together but some days holy shinto… I don't have those holy shinto days very often but when I do it sucks. When I do have one of those days it is usually because I cannot do something I want to do. It usually has to do with something physical that is impossible for me to do. These things usually don't bother me but like I said some days suck.

One thing that really gets me down some days is when I cannot help people way I want to. Especially when I have friends in need who could use help doing a project, building something, repairing something or help with something that requires muscle. I used to be good at that stuff. I also enjoyed doing it.

Another thing that helps being positive is just knowing some people. Sometimes just knowing a particular person makes you want to raise the bar higher. Knowing them makes you happy and positive. You know who you are…

(Took this pic on the way to McLeod. Got home at 4:30 AM. Good times.)

If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is when people complain about mundane and tedious stuff. Next time you complain about doing something dull like cleaning the house or doing a chore, remember there are people out there that would love to be able to do some of your monotonous stuff.

I did not write this to make people feel sorry for me. I did not write this to have a pity party. If that is what you took out of this, you did it wrong.

Thanks for reading, Clint

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Poaching, Trespassing & Littering

As outdoorsmen we all need to do our part to make sure our hunting, fishing and trapping heritage will be continued for generations to come. That means we all have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to uphold and follow laws, rules and regulations set forth by our game and fish departments. Whichever state or country we are in. Most of these laws, rules and regulations are self-explanatory and pretty much just common sense. But common sense isn't so common anymore.

One thing I have never understood is poaching. Evidently some people get a thrill out of killing something just to kill it. Just typing that makes me cringe. Every year there seems to be cases of poaching throughout our area. When just one of these cases makes headlines it puts a negative spotlight on the hunting community. I am not saying they shouldn't make headlines but I am saying it should put a negative spotlight on criminals, not the hunting community. There is a difference.

Hunters and outdoorsmen give back billions of dollars each year from the tags, permits, licenses, guns and ammunition they purchase that goes directly into protecting and regulating wildlife and public lands. They also give back in the many outdoor clubs and wildlife groups they are members of that give back to the wildlife and communities in which we live. But each time a poaching story hits the news, all of the good publicity we do get goes right down the drain. It gives the anti-hunters ammunition to spew their misinformation throughout the media.

Hunters and poachers should not be used in the same breath. It gives a black eye to the hunting community when media outlets say something like, "Hunters were caught shooting deer illegally." It should say, "Poachers were caught shooting deer illegally." Hunters are not poachers and poachers are not hunters. Hunters are outdoorsmen who care about the game they chase. Poachers are criminals who don't care about anything but themselves.

The definition of poaching: Poaching is the unlawful or illegal taking of wild plants or animals, such as through hunting, harvesting, fishing, or trapping. The law concerned may be a law of property, of regulation, or of local or international conservation and wildlife management.

We need to start policing ourselves. The easiest way to do that is to report any violations that we may see when we are in the field. RAP (Report All Poachers) is the program that the North Dakota Game & Fish uses. Each state has their own program for collecting information on poaching. The RAP program is completely anonymous. So there is no reason not to call. Everyone should have these numbers in their cell phone. These numbers are also on your hunting and fishing licenses.

(Numbers for North Dakota.)

Another thing people get confused about hunters is "Trophy Hunting." People hear the term trophy hunting and they think hunters are just out for something to hang on their wall. People think hunters take the head and leave everything else. When media use the term trophy hunting it gets everyone up in arms and gets the anti-hunters something to bitch about that day.

Trophy hunting to me and to most hunters is taking the oldest, biggest and wisest male animal of that species out of a group of animals. Taking the oldest and the biggest does not hurt the species at all. They are usually past their prime for breeding. These trophy animals are on the downhill in the lifecycle.

I myself do not consider myself a trophy hunter. Just because of the negative connotations it brings up. But I would definitely be a trophy hunter if I had the opportunity to shoot a trophy. I am a little too trigger-happy when it comes to waiting for trophy. I like to fill the freezer. I am a trophy hunter until the snow gets too deep or the temperatures get too low. I guess I am a fair weather trophy hunter.

Littering on public and private land has really gotten to be a problem. It seems you cannot go anywhere without seeing some type of trash. It is really noticeable in the spring of the year when the vegetation has started to grow. There is no excuse for littering. I know a lot of hunters and fishermen who have started bringing garbage bags along just to pick up after other people. This shouldn't be necessary. Please take out what you bring in.

I hear a lot of hunters complain that the landowners are posting up "their" hunting spots. First of all, it is the landowners right to post their land, they have the right to do whatever they want with it. Second of all, with how some hunters treat and disrespect other people's land and property, I can totally understand why landowners are posting up their property. How would you like it if someone came into town and walked around your yard without asking and left garbage strewn around? I bet you would call the cops.

Another thing I hear from hunters is that they still hunt land that is posted because they believe that the landowners did not properly follow the rules for posting land. This is just crazy to me. I can't imagine the amount of arrogance and gall it takes to have this kind of thinking. If you have a no trespassing sign in town, that is all that needs to be done. People know that they are not wanted on this specific piece of property. But some hunters believe that if a no hunting sign isn't properly signed and dated, it is still legally open to hunting because of a technicality. If you believe this, you'd be wrong. I have been told by game wardens that the law is on the side of the landowner, and it should be.

(This sign is legal in the court system.)

I hear a lot of different things every year about no hunting signs. People believe a lot of different things about them. If you don't know, read the regulations for your state. Every state is different of what they require on no hunting signs. Notice it does not say it needs to be dated or there needs to be a phone number. Some states do require this but not North Dakota. Just because the sign has a place for this information does not mean that it is required. Here's what it says in the North Dakota proclamation about posting land.

Because of the above reasons I don't blame landowners for posting their land. So it is up to us as sportsmen to abide by the laws and regulations, report poaching and pick up after ourselves to keep land open. It isn't that hard.

Thanks for reading, Clint

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Things I have heard about stuff

Sometimes I experience things that are not so nice. This first story is a doozy.

I was with family and friends at Paradiso in Fargo. As we were going to our seats we went through the bar in Paradiso and I heard this one guy say, "Look at this guy, he is lazy!" I didn't say anything right away, I don't know why I didn't. But as we moved away I asked my buddy, "Did you hear that?" He heard it and I had to do everything to not get him to turn around and beat the living snot out of that twat waffle. If it ever happens again I am going to take the reins off whoever I am with so they can throat punch some sense into the next shartstain.

Sometimes adults can be real douche canoes. I tend to notice that more adults stare at someone in a wheelchair more than children do. Sometimes when I am with friends they notice people staring. They usually ask, "Doesn't that bother you?" Most of the time staring doesn't bother me because I know they are just curious. If it is a kid I just let it slide. If it is an adult then it is another ballgame. Sometimes I like to stare right back at them until they are uncomfortable. Other times I come up with some smart ass comment and that usually deters them from staring again.

Here's a story that takes the cake. I was sitting in the van of course in my wheelchair, outside of the grocery store in a handicap parking spot. An old lady comes driving by staring at me. She drives around and comes back again. This time she gets out of her vehicle grabs her handicap placard signed thingamajig over car and starts waving it at me. I am just sitting in my wheelchair and my shaggin wagon shaking my head wondering what medication is old lady is on. Pretty soon she marches into the grocery store and comes out with the manager. He has a pen and paper in hand and is about to write down my license plate when he notices that it is a handicap license plate. He then notices me in the vehicle and mouths the words, I am sorry. The old lady still did not get it. Geesh…

I don't like using handicap parking spots. I really don't care if I have to park a mile away. I have an electric wheelchair that goes 13.5 mph. Depending on whose radar gun I am using. Sometimes I wonder how many people who use those spots really have some type of disability, permanent or not permanent.

Next time you are somewhere and there are a lot of handicap spots, pay attention to the people that hop out of their vehicles and run into whatever event is going on. I am pretty sure most of the people with those placards steal them from their grandma.

I have actually been told this, "I bet you're in that chair just for the parking." Yeah you jack wagon, it is well worth it not being able to walk just to get a better parking spot.

Anyway, these are just a couple things that grinds my gears. There are more but this is good enough for now.

Thanks for reading, Clint

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Wheelchair Traveling around Town and beyond…

(North Dakota boys doing it Vegas style.)

Traveling in a wheelchair sucks. At least going anywhere over two hours sucks for me. It isn't the traveling, it is all of the planning and encumbrances that goes with it. It would be real nice to be able to just get up and go somewhere without all of the other concerns.

For me to go anywhere is quite the process. The biggest hurdle is that I am not supposed to be in the chair for over six hours a day. That is what I say. The professionals say I should only be in the chair about four hours and then I am supposed to lie down. So when you are traveling anywhere over four hours a day that means I need to schedule the motel. As soon as I get to the motel I have to lie down. So the first day I get anywhere is pretty much shot. My chair does have tilt mode but that does not alleviate all of the pressure.

Another thing about traveling is I get pretty stiff and sore when I cannot move around as much. I try to do some exercises and stretches while riding but you can only do so much.
I am also on a kind of eating schedule. Being on a schedule is also quite the hindrance when traveling.

(A Las Vegas cab ride. We thought we were going to die.)

So when my cousin and friend decided to get married in Las Vegas in November of 2008 I had a decision to make. It didn't take long for me to decide I was going. I would do anything for Stephanie and Jeremy. The next thing I needed to figure out was how I was getting there. The decision was pretty easy, driving was going to be the only way I could get there. It was a good thing I just got the 2008 Chevrolet Uplander a.k.a. The Shaggin Wagon because I would've never went with the van I had before.

The road trip to Vegas was well worth it. But I don't think I could ever do it again. I don't know how I ever did it in the first place. Evidently I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I have some good Vegas stories that are not for public knowledge…

(This is what two days in Vegas looks like.)

Here was the trip schedule to Vegas and back because I can only be in the chair so long a day.

Lucca ND to Spearfish SD = 7 hours
Spearfish SD to Rawlins WY = 5 1/2 hours
Rawlins WY to Fillmore UT = 6 1/2 hours
Fillmore UT to Las Vegas NV = 4 hours

Las Vegas NV to Richfield UT = 4 1/2 hours
Richfield UT to Vail CO = 5 1/2 hours
Vail CO to North Platte NE = 5 1/2 hours
North Platte NE to Lucca ND = 9 1/2 hours

(This is me trying to breathe at the Ghost Rock landmark in Utah along I-70)

Sidebar: I started feeling sick before the trip to Vegas. I got really bad on the way down but didn't tell anyone. Felt like crap most of the time down there but I blamed it on the alcohol so no one would know. When I got back to Enderlin and went to the clinic a couple days later and I told the doctor about what I did. Her words were, "You know they have clinics in Vegas don't you? Dork!" That was my first bout with pneumonia and I was locked in my room with a nebulizer and humidifier for a week. Good times.

(Stopping at the Wheeler Junction exit in Colorado to replenish wiper fluid. Chains were required for commercial vehicles on the interstate. Good times.)

A lot of people asked me why didn't you fly to Las Vegas? Simple answer, because it is almost impossible to travel in a plane with a wheelchair unless you have a private charter. I have heard and read many horror stories of people traveling through the airport system with a wheelchair. Manual and electric.

First of all they will not let a wheelchair on a plane because they do not have spots for them. There is also not enough room down the aisles to maneuver. If you have an electric or manual wheelchair it has to go into storage with the luggage. I have heard of stories that their wheelchair does not make it to the right destination. I have heard of wheelchairs getting damaged in transition. Some airline companies even take the chairs apart because they think the batteries are going to explode. Also, when they put your chair in luggage that means you are going to have to sit in one of their chairs that is not designed for a quad. The flight would be unbearable. So that is why I did not fly to Vegas. The one way, 22 hour, four day, 1500 mile road trip with parents was memorable enough…

About a year ago there was a bill that was trying to go through the legislative system of opening up one spot in each commercial plane for a wheelchair. I imagine it didn't go too far. I never kept up with it but I imagine it was too cost prohibitive for the airline companies. Jack wagons.
Info from Hector International Airport. "If you were to travel on Delta we do have flights that you can travel with your electric wheelchair. It is up to you if you would like to check your wheelchair at the ticket counter or at the gate. If you check it at the ticket counter we would transfer the wheelchair in Minneapolis for you to your next flight and it would meet you at your final destination. If you would like to have it with you in Minneapolis we would have you take the wheelchair with you to the gate and we would then load it in the cargo hold, but we would then give it back to you in Minneapolis." 
I have read that Amtrak does a pretty good job accommodating people in wheelchairs. One of these days I will have to try them out. Bucket List Trip: Take Amtrak from Fargo to Seattle, get on a boat or ferry to Southeast Alaska and maybe never come back. Don't worry, I will send postcards…

Another big problem about traveling and getting into other houses is the actual weight of me in the chair. That total weight is 420 pounds. When I get somewhere and there is no ramp, people just assume they will just lift me right in. Not so much. I'm sure it could be done with four strong individuals, one on each corner but there really are no good handholds to lift from on my chair. Because of these things I don't go into many houses for parties. It doesn't bother me at all. I am more of a garage type guy. That is where the guys usually end up anyway.

Restaurants are another obstacle you would never think would be such a big deal. But they can be painful. The biggest thing about restaurants is there is sometimes not enough room to maneuver a wheelchair. For some reason they like to pack people in like sardines. If the tables and chairs are too close together it is pretty much impossible and not worth it in most cases. I know of a lot of restaurants in Fargo I will not even go into because it is impossible to get around.

I have said this before but it is worth saying again. I don't know who came up with the idea that high tables and chairs are a good thing, but that person should be tarred and feathered in a public square mile sitting in a high chair. Some restaurants now only have high tables and chairs. They really suck for someone in a wheelchair. I am not a fan of having my chin on the table. I will not give these businesses my time.

(Click here for my yelp profile.)

I started a profile on yelp about the restaurants in the area and how they are for accessibility. Along with of course how good their food is or if it sucks.

Motel rooms are another bad thing about traveling. They'll say that they have accessible rooms but in reality most of these rooms are normal. Evidently to be considered an accessible room the only things the motels need to do is take out one of the beds and put up a couple handrails in the bathroom. I do have to say motels have gotten a lot better in the last 10 years. A lot of them now even have walk-in showers, which is big.

A lot of businesses say they are accessible but are truly not. Keep your eyes open and you will see what I mean. A lot of front doors now have buttons to open them automatically. But pay attention to where the buttons are. A good deal of the time you will see the buttons behind some type of object or placed in a corner where someone in a wheelchair could not possibly get at them. If there is a ramp into the building, a good percentage of the time there is something placed on the ramp like a garbage can or flowerpot.

I commend them for trying but they should really have someone in the chair try out these buildings, restaurants, businesses and motels before they say they are accessible. Or at least have someone with common sense be there during the designing process.

So the next time you are out and about, pay attention to the surroundings and see if the building and businesses are truly accessible. I bet you will be surprised…

Thanks for reading, Clint

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Favorite lies I have told people about my condition

I get asked personal questions quite often when I am around a lot of people. Sometimes I tell them the truth about stuff & things. Sometimes I don't tell them the truth about stuff & things. My answers depend on the age of the person asking and the venue where the question was asked. Here are some examples.

When little kids ask what happened to me I usually keep it pretty clean. My go to lie is that I had my head ripped off by a grizzly bear. It was a real scuffle but in the end I won. Thank goodness there was a 3rd world doctor nearby that reattached it.

Another one that I tell the youngsters is that I got bitten by a rattlesnake. It bit me right in the jugular. I couldn't make it in time to the hospital for the antidote so that is why I am in this chair.

Sometimes I just tell them I got shot. Sometimes that is a good enough story.

Sometimes I use it as an educational moment and tell them that I fell out of the tree stand while hunting. I then explain to them that I fell out because I was not harnessed in like you are supposed to be.

When it comes to telling adults who are a little too nosy, I don't hold anything back. I have come up with some pretty good lies over the years. Sometimes I tell them the real story that I was shot and they don't believe me. So the only thing I can do is stretch the truth.

Sometimes I am in the witness protection program because I was injured during a gang turf war in downtown Oakland. I was relocated to this area because I am more valuable alive than pushing up daisies.

Sometimes I tell them I had dinner with Chuck Norris and it didn't end well for me. He is a bastage.

My all-time best lie happened last summer. I was at Lucky 13's in Fargo, flying solo and I made the rounds per usual because I cannot go anywhere without knowing someone. Anyway, I noticed this one woman eyeballing me for quite a while and all of a sudden she walked right up to me. For some reason I could tell she could take a joke and I could tell she was a little not sober. She came right out and asked, "So what happened to you?" I don't know why but I said, "I fell out of a sex swing, but don't worry she is all right!" I thought she was going to die from laughing. Everyone within earshot could not believe what I just said. I didn't really care because I didn't know them. But I got to know everyone pretty well after that comment. Good times.

A lot of times, especially when I am in Fargo enjoying an adult beverage, the drunkest person there will come right up to me and assume I was injured in the military. I try to tell them that I wasn't in the military. But sometimes they are just too drunk and persistent, so I let them believe what they want.

These are just a few of the little white lies I have been known to tell. So if you hear some weird story about my accident, just go along with it…

Thanks for reading, Clint

Monday, March 20, 2017

Pain and what helped me

I used to experience a lot of pain. The pain was in my shoulders and neck. This pain used to be so bad that I didn't want to get in the chair. On days I did get in the chair I would have to lay down for two or three days afterwards just to be able to get back up again. This really got to be chronic. It started to affect my life a lot. It got to be a problem with trying to schedule things and go to events. I would have to plan everything out days in advance around the pain.

This pain really started getting bad about five years ago. I first tried painkillers and none of them seem to help. I tried many different kinds. The only thing that ever happened was the side effects. Which were usually not good.

I have also tried cortisone shots in the past. Those work but only for a short period of time. And they suck to have injected. If you have experienced it you know what I mean. I don't think I will ever do those again.

The next thing I tried was going to a chiropractor. I only went to one appointment. The chiropractor was scared to touch me I believe. I don't think he wanted to break me any more than I already was. I don't blame him. I didn't really want my neck cracked either.

One of the things that did seem to work was getting a massage. I have painful muscle knots all through my shoulders and neck. The only thing that seemed to lessen the pain in these knots was massage. I got a massage every couple weeks or month for about a year and a half.

The best thing I ever did for my pain was to start going to physical therapy. I have actually gone to physical therapy for over a year. The difference between the first visit and my last visit is unbelievable from my point of view. I have way more movement because the pain is less. I went to physical therapy twice a week for about a half a year and once a week for the other half a year. The stretching and exercises did more for me than anything I have ever tried.

If you are experiencing pain and know of a good physical therapist in your area, this is what I would suggest. But you have to do your part. If they tell you to do stretches and exercises, do them. This is actually the third physical therapist I have gone to and the first one that really helped. So keep on trying until you find the one.

Another thing that helps with pain is getting your wheelchair fit to your body. I did this for the first time about a year ago and got my new Ride Designs backrest and seat cushion installed in January of this year. The difference in comfort is immeasurable. Essentia's Physical Therapy department and Yorhom Medical Essentials got me fitted for my own personalized backrest that was custom formed to my own measurements. They also got me fitted for a new seat cushion that is supposed to help with pressure sores. Both preventing them and healing them.

If you are in southeastern North Dakota, go to Essentia's wheelchair clinic instead of Sanford's evil stepchild Healthcare Accessories, if at all possible. Essentia's PT department will get you in touch with Yorhom Medical Essentials which is based in Grand Forks. They do not suck. I repeat do not deal with Healthcare Accessories. They are the devil. I have dealt with them for over 20 years. This will help with a lot of pain and personal anguish. Trust me. They suck. The end.

If you have any questions about any of the healthcare medical suppliers, don't hesitate to contact me.

This used to be my motto, "Besides the pain, I don't feel a thing…" Don't let it be your motto. It sucks…

Thanks for reading, Clint

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Feeling of a Quad

I get asked quite often, "What does it feel like to be paralyzed?" That is a hard question to answer. It is hard because it is difficult to describe the feeling of not being able to feel something physically. It is also different for every single person who is paralyzed in one form or another.

A lot of people do not know that there are different levels of paralysis. The lower or higher the injury to the spinal column determines the amount of feeling and function your body can produce. There are differing classifications depending on those levels. I myself am a C4-5. That means I have the ability to feel everything above mid chest. Along with that I have use my biceps, some triceps movement, limited wrist movement and no finger movement. These classifications are not set in stone. They are different for every spinal cord injury.

Along with these different levels there are also complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries. Complete means there is absolutely no feeling below the level of injury. Incomplete means there is some type of sensation below the level of injury. I myself am a complete. Although in some of my charts I see it says incomplete. But a lot of the time I think I know more than the doctors do about this stuff.

There are differences between quadriplegic and paraplegic. Quadriplegia is a type of paralysis when a person's arms and legs are affected. There is either no or limited movement in the limbs. Paraplegia is when a person's lower extremities are affected. Thoracic level or below.

So with all that information I still really haven't answered the question, "What does it feel like to be paralyzed?" I will try to answer that the best I can. It is very hard to describe.
Where I cannot feel, I can feel the inside of my skin but not the outside of my skin. That may sound weird but that is how it feels. Also, where I cannot feel, it feels like a numb tingly feeling. The same way it feels when you hit your funny bone. It is a constant feeling though unlike hitting your funny bone. This feeling never leaves. Here is another way I could describe it. Have you ever been buried in wet sand or compacted hard wet snow so that you cannot move your limbs? If you have, that is about as close as you can get. The wet sand is a better comparison.

Even though it feels like I can feel the inside of my skin, there really is no feeling. It is just a sensation that happens because the brain is trying to send a signal to the body and there is no response. Also the body is trying to send a signal to the brain and again there is no response. The wires are cut.

People who are paralyzed can get into trouble because they have no feeling. I myself have run into things with my shins without realizing it and given myself quite a few bruises. One time I was probably a little too not sober and ran in to something and woke up the next morning with my two big toes black and blue. There are a lot of other stories but those are for another time…

There are also a lot of different sensations from being paralyzed. If I close my eyes and you were to put my legs in a different position, I would have no clue which way they are positioned until I open my eyes. It is a weird feeling. You could really mess with a person if you wanted to.

Another weird sensation is that I can move my limbs a little bit in my brain but they do not move in real life. The movement in my brain is slow and I really have to think about it but when I look at my fingers they are not moving. In my brain they are tapping to the beat but in reality they are doing nothing.

Cold and hot temperatures are a big nemesis for people who are paralyzed. It is also different for everyone it seems. I myself cannot sweat because of my level of injury. This means I am very susceptible to overheating, heatstroke and all that good stuff. I have overheated one too many times. You'd think I would learn. But evidently I am a slow learner. If the temperature is above 80°F and the dew point is getting close to 60°, I better be in the shade or in the air-conditioning because I will overheat within a couple hours. I have no way of cooling off internally. It has to be done externally with cold presses and cold drinks. Alcohol does not count evidently…

Some people are affected by cold weather and thankfully I am not one of those. I would much rather be cold than hot any day. I can sit motionless in the shelter belt for three hours waiting for deer when it is 20° and it does not bother me at all. It might take me a while to warm up once I get inside but that is a lot easier than trying to cool down.

I wouldn't mind finding a place to live in the mountains where the high temperature throughout the year is 80° and there is no humidity. It can get as cold as it wants, the fire would always be warm inside.

I have kind of answered this question above but another thing I get asked is, "Can I feel pain?" I guess that is one good thing, I cannot feel pain where I do not have feeling. But there is a sensation when something is wrong. Like when I smashed my two big toes, I couldn't feel the pain but my body knew there was something wrong. My doctor asked how I managed to do that as she rolled her eyes and laughed at me. If she only knew the whole story…

There is another byproduct of being paralyzed and that is what is called phantom pain. Phantom pain means that you can feel pain where you should not be able to feel anything. This is not a pleasant feeling for some people. It affects quite a few people that have an amputation. I myself get this every couple of days. It is different for everyone. I myself get a feeling in my right thigh that someone is stabbing me with a pencil. It doesn't last very long but it is quite a shock to the system every time it happens. So if you see me sitting there all normal like and all of a sudden I get a pained look on my face, don't worry, I just got stabbed with a pencil.

There is also a lot of other stuff that affects my everyday life because of the level of injury. I like to call that stuff collateral damage. That is for another time and place.

So I hope that answers some questions.

Thanks for reading, Clint