Posts Tagged ‘Quadriplegic’

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The Miracle Bowl

December 9, 2010

For college football aficionados, especially those who are BYU fans, The Miracle Bowl represents one of the finest comebacks ever in the history of the college football—engineered by the great Jim McMahon. The Cougars had never won a bowl game coming into the 1980 Holiday Bowl, and the “experts” seemed sure they wouldn’t get this one either.

They were matched up against the Mustangs of SMU who boasted two of the best running backs in the game.  Nicknamed the “Pony Express,” Eric Dickerson and Craig James were picked to run roughshod over Brigham Young.

With four minutes left in the game, everything was turning out just as it was supposed to. BYU’s defense couldn’t handle SMU’s offense, and the Mustangs scored to take a commanding 45-25 lead over the Cougars.

But, like all miracles, the undoable found a way to get done.  Over the next four minutes, BYU found a way back.  Then, in the final minute of the game, now just down by six, The Cougs blocked a punt, and with 13 seconds left, ended up with the ball on the 41-yard line.  After two incompletions, McMahon threw a “Hail Mary” pass as time expired.  Due to an amazing catch, the ball found its way into Clay Brown’s hands for the touchdown.  With no time left, the miracle was completed as the extra point was good.  BYU took their first bowl win with a 46-45 victory. (To see a piece done on The Miracle Bowl, click here—or watch it at the end of this post)

This year, I had my own Miracle Bowl.  It was twice as amazing, and took my breath away in a way the 1980 Holiday Bowl never could.

It was the first weekend in November and BYU was playing at home against UNLV.  The night before, I had decided that I wasn’t going to use my season tickets, and just watch the game on TV.  It was supposed to be pretty cold, and UNLV was on a down year to say the least.

But, when I woke up the next morning, the weatherman was all wrong (big shock…right?!)  It was a beautiful day, with temperatures you expected to see in mid September—not the first of November.  Feeling like I couldn’t pass on such a beautiful day, I got on the phone and started making the rounds to see if I could find a second (Ko’s my usual game day gal, but things have been a little off this year…OK maybe more than just a little).

I called my brother, my brother in law, my buddy—all the usual suspects, and because of the late notice no one could join me.  Finally, sitting at the counter, I looked over at Cole and asked him.  He didn’t say no—frankly, he didn’t really say anything, I took that as a yes, and we were off.

We made the hour and a half trip brilliantly.  I was in the front of the van doing my pregame prep by listening to the pre-game on 1160 AM, while Cole was in the back getting all he needed from Donald Duck (said like it’s all one word, “Donalduck”).  We prepare for games very differently, but different strokes and all that

We got to the stadium where Cousin Jessie, who’s going to the Y, met us, and unloaded The Cole Man from his car seat.

Coleman with his cousin Jessie

Before I knew it, there we were, Cole and I taking in our first Cougar game together. We sat there, got some pics together, and with Cosmo the mascot, Cole saw his first touchdown (which we happened to get on video—you can see that below too) and even somehow enjoyed a hot dog together.  Which, I know may not seem like much, but when you have no use of your hands, partial use of your arms, and have your left hand side unable to help since it’s being used holding Cole, buying, unwrapping, and sharing a hot dog with a 22 month old takes real skill!

Cole meeting "Cosmo" and looking a little unsure about doing so.

Cole takin' time to talk to the ladies (Here he is with his friend Lauren)

Then, in the middle of all the cheering and fun (BYU won big), it hit me.

I’ve had those same seats for a long time; since ’89 when I was a freshman;  since before I knew Kolette.  I’ve been watching BYU play football from those same seats for 21 seasons now, and during those seasons I’ve seen a lot—a lot of football, a lot of fun, and a lot of fathers taking their sons to football games.  Through nearly all those seasons, I wondered if I would ever get to be one of those fathers.

Then, on the 6th of November, there I was—watching a game with my boy.  I was now the father.  I now got to make sure my boy could see the ball, meet the mascot and get a hot dog.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and streamed down my face, as I saw my Miracle Bowl.  For, I was reminded again, as I so often am, that Cole is just that—a miracle—the real thing.  Just like the BYU vs. SMU game, Cole proves that the undoable is doable, and that the “experts” don’t always know as much as they think they do.  It made me grateful to my Father in Heaven for this supreme blessing; for this incredible kindness.

It may not be the best game I’ve ever seen, but it was the most beautiful.

Me and my miracle man

I love you son,

Dad

The scoreboard after the TD

THE MIRACLE BOWL

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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

Jh-

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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.

Jh-

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

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A Letter to Cole (On His First Birthday)

January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Coleman!!!

There are a lot of birthdays that fill up a lifetime, but few are as historic as your first. Coleman is going to have a birthday party on Sunday where he is going to receive all kinds of presents from all the people who love him. I’ll try to restrain myself, but you can probably guess how successful that venture will be.

However, in addition to the plastic “Fisher Pricey” thing he’ll get from me, I wanted to give him something else—something from the heart. I’ve decided to give him a letter; filled with my idea of how the talents and gifts that are already evident, and innately his will bless him as he grows to be a man—Just a father’s look into the future of his precious little boy on his first birthday.

Dear Coleman,

It’s hard for me to believe that it has already been a year. In some ways it seems like just yesterday I came home from the hospital at 6:00 am, all bleary eyed from being up 24 hours straight. I’ll never forget that morning and how no matter how hard I tried, the thought of getting back to you and your Mom kept me from getting any real sleep at all.

On the other hand, I don’t think I can remember life without you. It’s kind of like “The Three Musketeers.” I’m sure there was a time before they got together, but no one ever writes about it. You’ve completed this family in ways you’ll only understand when you yourself are a Dad.

At the hospital, you were the best thing since sliced bread—even the nurses thought so. They all went on and on about how handsome you were. Then before Mom and I could tell them thank you, they’d reply that they really meant it. One nurse even cornered me in the hall and couldn’t stop gushing about how you may have been the best look baby she had ever seen.

From the very start it was easy for people to tell that you were different from the crowd, and that’s only been reinforced to me over every one of the past 365 days. This letter is filled with some of the things I’ve seen in your little spirit that I hope you keep every day of your life.

Your birth was a miracle and every one knows it. When I showed your picture to my Physiatrist (Quadriplegic Doctor) she told me how happy she was that we were able to adopt. I told her that you weren’t adopted, and that you were my flesh and blood. She was flabbergasted (and freaked out a little bit) as she ran down the hallway telling everyone she saw that you were my genetic child—no one could believe it. So, I went down the hallway after her telling everyone that it was true. Miracles happen my son. Every breath you take is a testament to that. If you ever wonder if there’s a God, or if he hears and answers prayers, stop for a moment, get real quiet, listen to your heartbeat, and you’ll have your answer.

From the first day we brought you home you have had this happy attitude about you. You seem to have a smile for everyone. People love to be around you little Coleman J. Much of this comes from that happy attitude. When people meet you they always tell me what a happy little guy you are—keep that attitude it will bless you always.

Inside you there is a little spark of exaltation and intensity that can serve you well. I love to watch you take a toy in your hand, or get behind your big “standing toys” and shake the tar out of them. You do it with real passion. It’s evident when you bang your hand on the side of my bed or the way you become a whirling dervish in the bathtub. If you carry that same passion and exuberance into your life, you’ll always end up with success.

Man, can you pay attention. In the beginning it was the wall next to your changing table and the fans throughout the house, That turned into a fixation with cameras (which made it a little difficult to take your picture, but Mom worked it out) and now it’s everyone and everything. Never stop watching the world or the people in it. Never miss an opportunity to help another, or cost yourself the chance to do some good by losing your fascination with all that lives and breathes around you.

You have been blessed with a pace and patience that has already impacted me. When Mom and I talked to others about what it was going to be like to try to help you while being in a wheelchair, everyone said that I’d be fine—the only hard part would be my inability to help you because you would wriggle your body and arch your back right out of my arms. But that never happened. From the very beginning you’ve been calm and patient on my lap. It allowed me to feed you, burp you, and even carry you around on my lap. You just sit there. Take life at your pace. Never be in too much of a hurry. If you will, you will savor each year of your life the way I’ve enjoyed this first one with you.

You have a special love for everyone. You’ve always gone to others easily, never had a problem staying the night away from home, and have kisses for all. Give your love freely in the same way you share your little wave hello—plenty for everyone. If you will, you’ll be happier and the Savior will be proud. Remember the words Jesus spoke when he said, “As I have loved you, love one another.”

It didn’t take you long to figure out that you can always count on your Mom. She loves you so much and it’s easy to see you feel the same. I love the sweet relationship the two of you share. You can count on her for anything and everything. Talk to her throughout your life as much as you have “Jibber Jabbered” to her in this first year. You’ll meet a lot of special people in your adventures, but never one you’ll be able to count like your good sweet Mom.

From the first time I held you in my arms, I could feel the power of your spirit. More than once I’ve wondered how such a gigantic spirit fit into such a tiny body. But, more than anything, I’ve felt the closeness you have to your Heavenly Father. No matter how many birthdays pass by, never lose that special relationship with Him. He knows you and loves you and will do so today, tomorrow and forever. He’s never more than a prayer away.

Finally, always remember the three things I’ve told you every day of this first year

I Love You,
Your Heavenly Father Loves You,
And You’re a Good Boy.

Love,

Dad

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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.

Easier:

  • 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.

Jh-

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We’re Famous!

October 28, 2009
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Cole & I figuring it out in the "early days"

A couple of days ago I was looking at the blog stats for both Man On The Inside and The Champion Inside blogs and I found that we’d made the big time.

For those of you who aren’t “Livin’ La Vida Loca” in the blogosphere your blog stats tell you all sorts of things.  For Instance, you can find out how many visitors you’ve had that day, week, etc..  You can tell what links people have used on your blog to find other information, and you can tell what sites have links that have referred people to your little corner of cyberspace.

Anyway, on this particular day, everything looked pretty normal.  We had the regular number of visitors, and people were using all the usual links to leave the site.

But then, as I began to look at who had been referring people to the blog, I found one link that was different than my usual faithful referrers (Which is always appreciated by the way) and following up on the source of the link led to a big (ok that may be a stretch) increase in the blogs fame and cred.

The link came from Boppy.com.  For those of you who are hangin’ around the baby set know exactly what a Boppy is.  For those of you who aren’t, it’s a big pillow like contraption in the shape of a horseshoe that people use to feed or hold their baby.

When Ko had Coleman, we got one, and I wrote about how I used the Boppy to help me do things as a father that, because of my disability, I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do. (Click here if you want to read that story)

Well, come to find out, Bobby found the post and put it on their website under a section entitled “Boppy Buzz.”  The landing page for “Boppy Buzz” displays a picture of Jason Priestly from 90210 fame, and speaks about how he and his wife use a Boppy.  But, to the left there is a tab they call “As seen in,” where they display some of the coverage they’ve received regarding their little invention.  Lo, and behold, at the bottom of the page next to an article from “American Baby Magazine” you find the post from “Man on the Inside.” Hard to believe as it is, our little blog has actually been quoted somewhere.

Now I don’t want to say that this makes me a Boppy expert—Especially since they already did, but you can forward all your Boppy related questions to me.So, I was thinking it’d be fun if we show them that we’ve noticed their reference of this little community.  You know that if I’m following the stats on my little blog, they have to be watching the stats on their website. Therefore, if you haven’t already, go to my original post here, find a link to Boppy, and click on it.

We’ll give them a little spike and show ‘em what happens to a site that links to us.

Thanks to Boppy.com and thanks to all of you who continue to come back and watch the crazy things that happen in our little lives.

Jh-

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Sittin’ Up & Flyin’ High

September 2, 2009

Floor Time

A little over a week ago, Coleman started sitting up.  It started with Kolette putting him in the right position and him more “leaning with help” than actually sitting.  It wasn’t long though until that “leaning with help” turned into “sitting with help.”

Then, just like so many other things, one day he woke up and had it. We still had to be close by to make sure he didn’t fall, or place the Boppy around him so if he did fall, it’d be on something soft that could break his fall. That Boppy, is there anything it can’t do?

Anyhow, watching him sit there I got an idea.

One of the most difficult things about being the father of a baby while confined to a wheelchair, is watching all the people who love Cole so much playing with him down on the carpet on his level. Sometimes it really makes my heart ache not to be able to be right down there wrestling, playing, or just laying with my boy on his turf.

When he was younger, and a lot less mobile, he would lay over my shoulder, or on my chest and it could fulfil my need to be close to him.  Now, he’s moving around like a whirling dervish, and when I hold him over my shoulder he’s looking back and forth so much it is often difficult to get any “face to face” time.

With my heart yearning to get the carpet feel with Cole, I watched him sit up.  The more stable he became the more courage I gained and finally got the stregnth–the intestinal fortitude if you will–to try this idea I’d been cooking up.  It wasn’t a groundbreaking idea by any stretch of the imagination, but it was an idea that had a profound effect on our lives

I had Kolette sit him up on our countertop and I wrapped my arms around his little bottom to keep him from falling backwards on the granite.  Coleman was a little pensive at first, not quite sure about sitting on the cold rock instead of the warm carpet, and a little nervous about the height.

Those concerns quickly passed, he looked at me, and then there we were.  Face to face just as if we were laying on the carpet together.  It was magical. We laughed together, played together, and sang together–never forgetting to grunt, growl and shout to profess our manhood; all separated by inches instead of feet.

I loved every minute of it. I kept him up there until he was so tired that he looked like he was going to fall asleep sitting up.

Cole on Counter

When we decided to have Cole, I knew that there were going to be lots of things I wasn’t going to be able to do. I knew I was going to have to count on his Grandpa Hall to teach him to golf, his Grandpa Coleman to teach him how to throw a baseball.  I knew his uncles would have to be involved. Uncle Nate would have to show him how to stif-arm his opponent, Uncle Clint would be in charge of teaching him how to catch a football, and Uncle Brandon would oversee lacrosse instruction.

What I’ve found however, is that the best times are those where we figure out a way around, beat the system, and do it on our own.  I love my boy so much. I know it’ll be a long time before I forget that first day on the countertop where he was sittin’ up and I was flyin’ high.

Jh-