Thursday, September 29, 2011

What is a Quadriplegic?

What is a Quadriplegic?

Simply, a person who is paralyzed in both arms and both legs.  It's caused very easily, you have damaged your spinal column and cord, by either breaking the cord clean, or as in the case of my father, bruising the cord.  Quadriplegic's will refer to themselves as quads.

There are many conditions that make up a quadriplegic, you may see a Spastic Quadriplegic, Spastic Triplegic (3 limbs go spastic), Spastic Hemiplegic (one whole side of the body goes spastic), Spastic Monoplegic (only one limb is spastic), an upside down quad (has leg movement, possibly can walk, but no upper body strength), a series of injuries and resulting conditions depending on the height of the injury.  My father, much like Christopher Reeve, was a high quad.  Other quads maybe lower, giving them a variety of different capabilities.  This all depends as well on whether this was a clean break or a bruising type injury.

My father was a high quadriplegic, but he suffered bruising of the spinal column, so he had a fighting chance of recover.  In fact, the doctors felt so strongly about his recovery, they sedated him, and caused him to be asleep for 30 days so that he would not move at all. They also gave him a medicine that paralyzed him so that even in his sleep there would be no minor movements.  Of course, as we found out when he woke, this didn't completely work, but we were left with hope that he would become an upside down quad.  Someone that might even be able to walk, but suffer low upper body strength.

The importance with being a quadriplegic, for health and lifestyle reasons, is obviously to have as much of your spinal column and cord work after rehabilitation if rehabilitation is even possible.  My father was lucky and unlucky at the same time.  Due to his upside down nature of being a quad, he was able to feel quite a bit in his extremities and body.  This helped for things like early detection of bed sores - which can kill - as well as circulation issues in his limbs.  However, the tremendously crappy part about this, you feel things you can't fix.  If he hurt or got a charlie horse, or a spasm, he couldn't do anything about it.  If he had an itch he couldn't scratch it.

My father by 6 months into his injury, did get off the breathing tube and recovered quite a bit of movement in his arms.  He stopped progressing in walking, but eventually was able to even feed himself, that is until the spasms of being a Spastic Quadriplegic took over and he lost that too.

Being a quadriplegic, my father made the very best of the life he had for those 10 years.  He very rarely was serious about being a quadriplegic and truly embraced his condition.  He became an extensive volunteer, advocate, and even a pastor.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What is a Spastic Quadriplegic

What is a Spastic Quadriplegic?

A Spastic quadriplegic is a condition that causes quads and other paralyzed individuals to become what is knows as "Spastic".  My father would get into fits of "spastic" episodes all the time, daily in fact.  From my experience working very close with my father daily, weekly, monthly, year after year and becoming very close to so many quad's, this is something that quadriplegics share.  You may also hear this as a spastic tetraplegia condition, this is the same thing, just a different medical term.

Literally a Spastic Quadriplegic becomes "spastic" where specifically all limbs (feet and arms) as well as the entire body in some cases, looks as though they are seizing.  The body is shaking or trembling, depending on the level of spastic quadriplegia the patient may have.  Some patients may see that there is only one side or one half of their body that is effected which is more like Spastic Triplegia (3 lims involved, 1 leg, both arms or 1 arm, both legs), Spastic Hemiplegia (affecting only one half of the body, either the entire left or right side, but not both), or Spastic Monoplegia (affecting only one limb, either just one arm, or just one leg).

My father was a Spastic Quadriplegic and it was very difficult to watch as the treatment is so hit or miss.  In 1999 when he became a quad, there was a new drug out that he started in on, it kept things in line, his spastic quadriplegia down, and it seemed as though he might turn into an upside down quad.  Just as he began to start to walk, while not having much of any movement in the arms, the medicine failed to work and he became very rigid due to the spastic quadriplegia, and this is when the condition became very painful.  This is also when he began his treatment of a series of what seemed to be 10 drug combination to combat the problem.

The frustrating part is that it is painful.  Think of a charlie horse and how hard that is to get rid of and how painful that can be.  If a quad is spastic enough, then these bouts can be very intense and very painful and there is nothing you can do to fix the issue as it is happening, just as in a seizure, you have to let it pass.  The onset is strange as well.  It might be a sneeze or a cough, a nerve or muscle twitch, or in transporting/shifting the quad a muscle movement gone wrong.

My father was always a trooper.  He never complained - well, at least to me - even when our conversations would lead to tears of longing for a different life.  He worked through each spastic bout and was never stopped completely by being a spastic quadriplegic.

For more information on the difficulty in tracking, medicating and resolving spastic quadriplegia:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Disabled Confronting Further Cuts In The Future

Where Does All Our Tax Money Go?
The new information coming out is that the government agency, the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, will work to take resources from tens of thousands of people who are dependent on the services it provides this coming year. This New Year could set tens of thousands away from help; Quadriplegics, Paraplegics, mentally handicapped, and other non-able bodied individuals are going to be effected.  The organization is proclaiming that the finances will have to see an increase of tens of millions if they are not provided exactly the same appropriations.  Federally mandated Medicaid programs which cover those whom are significantly impaired, who live in institutions and the ones with mental retardation or head and spinal cord traumas who obtain scientifically essential therapy, will be spared.  Many applications that might be reduced are daycare type programs for all groups, childhood testing for problems that can lead to developing afflictions and treatment for many who have sustained mind or spinal-cord injuries.  I hope these details get to everybody in need of assistance that is terrifying info.

I will hope that many resources continue to pop up to help out those in needs.  I could not imagine what this is gong to mean for so many.  I think back about my father and how this would effect his treatment.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

His Abilities Never Stopped Amazing Me

Mouth Painting - Dennis Flynn Stinson III
 His abilities continued to amaze me every day.

My father was always talented. He was a very unique man. He was self taught in everything and became very accomplished in most of what he set out to do. He was technically minded, but he had the soul of an artist.

Unfortunately, my father did not leave a lot of time in his able-bodied life to explore what he might accomplish with his artistic abilities. He spent most of his days and time, when not working, with his family, playing with us kids, getting into mischief.

Once my father became a quad, there was an abundance of time. He began to explore more in depth those things that he seemed to not have the time for as an able-bodied man. It saddens me sometimes when I think about what he (and my mother for that matter) gave up in their personal lives to be amazing parents to us.

Now that I am a father, I look to my parents as examples. I find myself in the same contradiction, facing the laundry, cleaning the house, getting ready for one of her events, and finding little time to continue to explore the areas of interest that I have. I would not have it any other way, and I believe truly that is what my father felt, which without fail, lifts my spirits when I begin to think of what he gave up in his able-bodied life.

As a quadriplegic, my father grew greatly in his art. I am in the process of capturing digitally all that he did. He became a painter, worked with glass, and stamped out images on tin. He made cards for all seasons, and began to teach himself perspective drawing.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Abilities Expo - L.A. Convention Center

E3 exhibitionImage by wili_hybrid via Flickr
The Abilities Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center

So, who is going to be attending this event!  It starts on the 15th and ends on the 17th!

This is going to be a great place to see all the new technology out there.  A place to learn, a place to watch great events, and attend great workshops!

If you are going to the event, I would love to hear from you and your reports of the event itself!

I look forward to seeing you out there!

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Monday, April 4, 2011

The Hardest Thing to Do with A Quadriplegic is Leave

fairy tale picImage by Kjirstin via Flickr
Leaving was always the hardest

Every time I had to leave my father’s bed was difficult. A surge of emotions would wrap me up like a straight jacket.

I had a unique relationship with my father, a mirror of that with my mother. I tell everyone that truly I believe I had a fairy tale child hood, minus the million dollars – although, I do not know that a million dollars would have made us any happier as kids. See, my father and I were best friends, much like my mother and I, but not without the loss of parenting. As a child, I was still reprimanded and disciplined as a son by both, but I would rather, for most of my youth, go and hang out with my father or parents for that matter than my friends.

My father and I would get up early on the weekends and go get into trouble, often times with my Uncle, who has always been in my heart and mind, my dad as well. We would get into new stuff all the time, the trio, my brother as well. I am unable to remember much of my youth without my father and Uncle in it.

As my time with my father on any particular visit ended, it became chokingly hard to leave. I would begin to remember all the days he and I were together. All the times he spent at my side if I was sick or hurt. All the sacrifices he made. I would start to lay the guilt on myself. How can I be leaving right now? Am I really giving him, this man that gave me everything he had, my full heart, time and attention. The answer of course was yes, he knew that, and anyone that knows me knew it. However, a convicted heart can be hard to talk with.

Of course, most of this stems from my underlying guilt that I created the issue that sent my father into his transformation.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011


There is a protest to buying gas on the 31st of March, 2011!  Already there are over 1.5 million people attending this and supporting the cause!  I hope you join in and maybe we can even all extend this a few days!  If everyone was to puchase gas the day before and was able to extend their tanks out 5 days or more, surely in an optimistic world, something has to change!!

It's a long shot, but it is nice to see people coming together at least on facebook to make this event happen!!

Here's to an attempt to fight back!

Check out the links to read more:


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I Use To Fear Expalanation to my daughter

I use to worry about my daughter meeting my father. Once we got pregnant, I began to think about how to explain her grandfather to her.  How was I going to explain how and why my once strong and mighty father was now a quadriplegic.

I am not sure where this came from. I never felt the need to explain my father to anyone. I certainly had no loss of respect for him, but I guess I was concerned with how my daughter would come to understand him. Sadly, before my daughter was capable of fully understanding her grandfather, my father passed away.

Now all I think about is why I wasted any minute of my day on such a silly concern. Watching my daughter, it is obvious how we as parents feed her fears and concerns. Children are so accepting and non-judgmental.  They begin to learn their reactive skills from us.

My daughter did get to meet her grandfather; it saddens me that my son will not be able to meet him though. My daughter saw my father often, not as often as I would have liked. She and he loved their time together. Since his arms were of little mobility, she would lay on his stomach and kiss him, suck on his chin, poke his face and play with his instruments that gave him some freedom, like his computer microphone that controlled his room.

I am encouraged with my daughter’s love of God and growing understanding of heaven. I believe that she will come to understand my father, even though physically she will not remember much of him. My son, too I believe in my heart will grow to have a love and understanding of their grandfather.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I became a Quadriplegic Too

Japanese clock melted by WWII nuclear bomb
I became a Quad too. My dad was not the only one that was now a quadriplegic.

The minute I got the news that my father was in the hospital, my life changed as much as his was about to. There at the hospital, late into the night, I sat and watched as my father began to lose his bodily functions. First, it was his feet. Then it was his legs. Then it was his hips and the loss of sensation in his abdomen. It continued like this hour after hour, until at least 12 hours had gone by and he stopped breathing. I was next to him. His panic-stricken eyes, searching in me for help, and then frantically dashing around the room, trying to find help. The nurses ran in, threw me aside, and began the intubation process. Once he was on the machine, they put him on medicines that kept him asleep and caused him to forget the event all together. It would be over 30 days before I would see him open his eyes again.

When he awoke, it set in; my dad was a quadriplegic now. I would go on to work day and night in all my free time trying to figure out how to save him, how to bring him back to the super dad that I grew up with, to keep him from this vegetable state. Many people surrounded him and me through these years, but no one really stopped to look at what I was doing, including myself. I became a quadriplegic too, not in the physical sense, but mentally. I stopped in many regards, figuring out my life. I did a lot to work on my emotions, to attempt to battle the pain I was going through, developing my spiritual senses. I worked very hard to become the best employee I knew how in my career, but the inner me, my true voice, was being thrown aside.

I blame no one; it is what we call life. It was very uncomfortable for me to talk about my feelings of anger and hurt. How is it fair I tell anyone of how bad I am feeling when my father is now a human pillow. The guilt I would create (me and me alone, my father was never one to apply guilt onto me) surrounding this cyclical thought path, became a destructive part of me I have told no one about: feeling bad for my father, then for me, then mad at myself for feeling sorry for myself, when I was the able bodied, and he was the quadriplegic. On the surface, it would be impossible at best to tell this was my inner demon. I have arguably done well professionally, I was married almost 5 years ago, to which we purchased a home and are on our second child. However, it is just today that I am realizing how paralyzed I truly was through all of this and to some extent still am.
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