Archive for the ‘Life as a Quadriplegic’ Category


Movin’ On Down

March 12, 2010
The best lil' partner out there

My Lil' Partner and I

When Kolette and I thought about having a baby in the years BC (Before Cole) I was filled with concern about what role I’d be able to play.  If you follow the blog at all you know that we’ve been able to do things I never thought possible.

Just this morning we worked our way through another obstacle.

Coleman loves to ride around on my lap.  The problem is each ride means someone (usually Kolette) has to lift Cole up on to my lap, and then help him off when we’re finished.  Well we haven’t figured out how to get him up on my lap yet (although Cole’s REALLY trying), but when it comes to getting him off my chair and on to the ground–check.

We’ve been working on this for a little while, and today it all clicked.  Check out the video below, and prepare to be amazed – for I am.  I am continually amazed at the way Cole, Ko and I figure out work-arounds. Videos like this are precious to me. I watch them over and over and every time my heart is filled with love.

For, it’s quite a thing to watch my lil’ partner work hard so I can be more involved in his big ol’ life



The Saving Grace of the iPhone

February 11, 2010

The iPhone

Kolette and I love our iPhone’s.  In many ways, it was a literal godsend for me.  The world of Cell Phones pre-iPhone was all about flip phones.  Motorola’s RAZR was the phone to have, and because it was everyone was making their best knock off.  Finding a bar phone was nearly impossible (a bar phone being any phone you don’t have to flip to open).  This made things really difficult for me.  Try flipping a phone open without the use of your hands.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, but it required both of my paws, along with my teeth.  By the time I did open the dang thing the caller was at home, in bed and had been asleep for two hours.  Not to mention the fact that it wasn’t going to be long until opening a phone with my teeth would either have me calling the dentist or customer service.

So, I was stuck using a substantially outdated, non-digital phone in a world that was going digital-only.  The salespeople at the store were quick to remind me about the blackberry, but have you seen those buttons?  Again, not really an option.

Then along came apple!  (It sounds better if you sing it to the following clip of “Along Came Jones” by Ray Stevens which you can find by clicking below.  Just substitute Apple for Jones and you’ll get an idea about how I felt)

The bar phone was not only back, it was king of the castle.  Now all those followers who wanted their stuff to look like the RAZR was hustling about to get their stuff to look like Steve Jobs’ new creation.

What’s more, the phone was big.  It wasn’t gigantic, just big compared to the other stuff I had access to.  I guess I mean to say it was manageable.  A long way from everything else that seemed to want to get as small as possible.  I could type, call, text, email, take pictures and even answer  the phone–while the phone was still ringing.

I’ve been a dedicated iPhoner ever since.

It’s amazing how little things like a bar phone can change a life.  But, isn’t that usually the way things go.  It’s the little things in the periphery of our lives that often pack the biggest punch.  The big stuff gets all the attention, but the little stuff move the stone and grinds the corn.  If a butterfly flapping it’s wings in South America can alter the weather outside my window, imagine the bluster a helpful neighbor, a kind word, or even an iPhone can make.

I’m grateful I realized all of this today–or was reminded of it anyway.  I started writing with a whole other objective in mind and halfway through the a-ha moment came.  I’m thankful for a the great little stuff that makes my life so grand, and am committing to redouble my efforts to help move that same little stuff through the lives of those I come in contact with.


And, if your curious to see what I began writing about today, come back Friday–i’ll post it then..


Surprises On Both Sides

December 2, 2009

Some friends of ours came to the house to see Coleman the other day.  Our friends have gotten to that point where they don’t even pretend to be there to see us.  All pretense is gone.   They’re there to see Cole and if we happen to be there then its just icing on the cake.

But during all the oohhing and ahhing, over Cole (they hadn’t seen him in months) one of them turned to me and asked how the whole fatherhood experience has been in comparison to what I’d expected.  In my answer, I began to think about what has been easier than I anticipated and what’s been more difficult.


  • Holding—I’ve been able to hold him far more than I expected.  Cole’s temperament has been a big player here, and it’s been a little gift from heaven.  From the very beginning, Coleman’s always has been calm in my arms. Whether it was letting me feed and burp him in the beginning to being able to cruise around in my chair with him on my lap, or in my arm, my ability to hold my boy has far surpassed my wildest dreams.

  • Feeding—From the bottle through to our current Gerber/Table food stage, I’ve been able to feed Coleman.  I was sure that this was going to be something that only Kolette was going to be a part of.  However, it’s been something that I’ve done nearly every day.  Whether it’s been throwin’ some formula down his gullet (thanks Boppy), or slingin’ some sweet potatoes into his mouth, I’ve managed to feed Cole nearly every day—at least once. I’ve been able to hold a bottle, hold the container of baby food, and work the spoon.  It’s been a huge help that Coleman sits in his High Chair with his arms down and mouth open wide—but, as a quadriplegic, I never expected to be a part of that part of his young life.

  • Playing—I felt sure that I’d be able to play with Cole, but I thought I’d have to wait until he was older to really “get involved wit it.”  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  We’ve figured our all kinds of things, from throwing him around while I’m lying in bed to playing games after he eats.  We’ve used toothbrushes, cups, pretzels, wooden spoons, and anything else we could think of.  One of the real joys of my life has been playing with my buddy.

More Difficult:

  • Picking Him Up—It’s been hard from the day he was born to the day I write this post to watch him need to be lifted off the floor, out of his crib, from his High Chair, or up from his playpen.  It kills me.  I watch my boy need help and I can’t help him.  It definitely makes me feel helpless.

  • Getting Down on the Ground—If I had ten minutes out of my chair, there’s no question that much of that time would be spent playing with Coleman down on his level.  I watch others do it, and it’s different than having him on my lap.  I love the time I get face to face, but it’s on the counter or in bed.  As I watch him play, it’s easy to tell it’s different when it’s down in his environment—on his terms.  How I’d love to play with his stuff, at his height with no distractions, no counter top, no moving wheelchair—a just me and my boy.

  • Not Being Able to Watch Him Alone—Kolette and I have been able to make it so I can keep a monitor and watch over him while he naps, but if he wakes up, have to have someone to call to come take over.  Kolette works so hard, and when she has to be somewhere else, I’d love to be able to care for him all on my own.  It may not seem like much, but I’m his Dad and look forward to the time that the two of us can stand on our own two feet.

Now, before anyone feels bad, or wants me to look on the bright side, understand this—I am richly blessed. I have more and do more than I ever expected to have or do, before I had my accident. After all my injuries, I realize that I am one of the few that is lucky enough to say that I am married to my best friend and have a champ of a boy for a son.  I love my life—every single minute of it.

But, like every life there are things that are easy and things that are hard.  I think everyone goes into this fatherhood thing blind, but, because of my unique situation, I believe I went in blinder than most.  I therefore thought that it might be interesting to evaluate the good and the bad.  And, I have to say; I was surprised at some of my feelings on both sides.

However, thinking through all of this did bring me to a few undeniable conclusions.

First, I have a saint for a wife.  The majority of the things I’ve figured out to do have been because she was helping me think through them, both to find the answers, and support me through the learning curve.  She is definitely of the “If at first you don’t succeed” camp, and that has blessed my life as much as it has Coleman’s.

Second, a little patience goes a long way.  There are so many things we’ve figured out that we wouldn’t have if we had given up the first go ‘round. I’m grateful for patience.  It’s given me the chance to learn so much more about what I can and can’t do.

Finally, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  I know there will be somethings that will surprise me and be easier than I think, and some that will disappoint and be more difficult.  But, so far it’s been the journey that’s brought the joy, and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend.



The Boppy: A Quadriplegic Father’s Best Friend

March 4, 2009

As Kolette and I prepared for Cole’s birth one of the things we made sure to do was put together a baby registry or her upcoming showers. We thought long and hard to make sure that the things required would be on the registry. Kolette asked a number of experienced mothers think they would put on their registry.

Obviously, at the baby showers we received a number of things we didn’t register for. For the most part, when we did receive something that wasn’t on the registry, it was additional clothing. But, at one of the showers my cousins gave us a Boppy.

A Boppy looks like a giant horseshoe pillow made of the softest fabric. Its primary design is to help nursing mothers position their child. We had planned to have Kolette nurse, and were therefore grateful for the gift.

Not long after Coleman came home from the hospital, we collectively decided that breast-feeding wasn’t the right option for us. This made a number of things that we had received at the showers now unnecessary. Things like a breast pump and nursing bras now had no use to us. We were sure that the Boppy would be similarly obsolete.

Then, one day as I was trying to feed Cole, working hard to keep his head up in the crook of my arm and the bottle in his mouth, Kolette came up with a brilliant idea. She went and grabbed the Boppy, fit it around my waist, and slid Cole into place.

Bottle Nest

Boppy Nest Feed - Sitting Up

It was perfect. It was as if the Boppy had been made especially for the two of us. All the sudden I could not only feed him more easily, but also more often. The Boppy made it possible for me to hold him, hold a bottle, and interact with him all at the same time.

After a few feedings, I watched Kolette hold Coleman over her arm and burp him. I paid particular attention to how she was holding him and after his next feeding asked Kolette to throw him over my arm that I might try to burp him as well. Before the Boppy, this would have been impossible. Yet, with the Boppy I was able to balance Cole in such a way that he was safe and I could help.

Boppy Burping

But hold truebeliever, there’s more! A few days later Cole was a little fussy. I was laying in bed and so Kolette had to try her best to comfort him on her own. Just then, we looked to each other, and it was as if our eyes said in unison, “Boppy!”

She grabbed the Boppy and, placed Coleman in it on my lap. Once he was in it I was able to grab the sides and move them up and down keeping him completely entertained. Being a guy myself I thought my little guy would think the whole process more entertaining with the help of a soundtrack. As we moved up and down I made this sounds of a spaceship flying through the air. Now, at night when I lay down whether he’s fussy or not, I always look forward to playing “rocket ship” with my little boy.

Boppy Rocket Ship

That night, when Cole woke up for his 3 AM feeding Kolette grabbed the Boppy, and figured that if it worked in my chair, it would work in bed. That was my first three clock feeding.

These little discoveries had a big impact on our little family. All of the sudden, with the Boppy’s assistance, I was able to help in so many ways that I couldn’t have before. I’m able to be a bigger part of his life because of our discovery. I’m able to help ease Kolette’s burden because of this little device.

But, even more than that, the Boppy means I get more time with my boy. And right now there are few commodities more precious than that. There’s little question that today the Boppy is this quadriplegic’s best friend.


And, because like any proud papa I’m quite sure I have the most handsome boy in all the land–here are some additional pictures for your oooing and aaahing pleasure.




Man On The Inside

January 1, 2009

On 11 June 2008, my wife Kolette and I found ourselves huddled around an iPhone in a hallway waiting for Dr. Heiner from the Reproductive Care Center to tell us whether or not our second in vitro procedure had been a success. Just like any other couple waiting for such news our hearts were in our throats and we could hardly breathe. For, unlike many other couples we had waited 16 years to finally have a chance to have a child.

I am a quadriplegic and have been since I was 15. We knew that the prospects of having children were greatly diminished because of my medical condition when we got married. But, what we didn’t know was that five years into marriage I would be involved in a serious car accident. What we never would have dreamed, was that I would be hospitalized for 13 months after the car accident and in and out of the hospital having surgery and therapy for the following 10 years. That’s 11 years altogether.

But there we were waiting. Waiting to find out if the waiting was over. You can imagine the excitement and joy we both felt when Dr. Heiner let us know that Kolette was pregnant. There are people in the world who will tell you the miracles don’t happen. That day proved otherwise, that day proved that miracles are not just remnants of the past but a piece and part of our lives today.

This has been the most rare and incredible event to occur in my life. In so many ways this miracle just should not be. But but that’s why they call them miracles. As a C5-C6 quadriplegic my chances to have children that are genetically mine barely exists at all.

In this blog you’ll find my hopes and dreams along with my doubts and fears. You’ll find laughter and tears. You’ll find things that are funny and things that are sad. You may find things that are little odd and sometimes confusing. You’ll find the ridiculous, the sublime and everything in between. Some of it will be experiences that happen, some will be the feelings of my heart, but it will all be real–my real thoughts and emotions as I begin this next chapter in my life.

From the early days of this pregnancy I have referred to my unborn son (Cole) as, “My man on the inside.” With that in mind, I decided to name the blog “Man On The Inside.” For, here you will not only read what happens as my son and I go through this journey together, but you’ll get a look into my innermost feelings and emotions as well. It will truly be a look inside; inside our relationship and inside me.

So, watch as Cole and I experience this new life together. I’m not exactly sure where this ride will take us, but if we both hold on I know it will be a journey we will never forget.


PS For those of you who enjoy the motivational stories and insights you find on The Champion Inside, don’t worry I’ll still be posting there as well. Just click here or go to