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Able-bodied sex is on the decline, studies show. Meanwhile, at the Poor House…

Attention! This post is about sexy stuff. Therefore, parents / parental-like figures of Ri and Dre should probably just go ahead and skip this one, mkay? Thanks! 

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And as mentioned above, today on the blog we are talking about SEX!!

I suppose because…you know, wheelchair, paralysis, being GF to my BF quad lover… some assume, ignorantly and wrongly so, that our sex life must be dull. Maybe even non existent! BAHAHA! Oh contraire! And I have noticed over the years that this false assumption somehow creates a safe space for women to ask me some bold, brazen, and borderline inappropriate questions about my sex life—of which I am completely game to answer.

It usually begins with these 2 questions, and the scene could take place anywhere (grocery store, hairdresser, car, etc.):

Question 1 – “Ummm, so does it work? You know, Ri’s thingie?”

Andrea answer 1– “Helllllz yes, girl! Everything works just fine.”

My response elicits a dramatic sigh from my interrogator. Is she really that relieved by this or does she have something else on her mind? 

 Question 2 – “But Andrea, can he feel, you know, the sex?”

Andrea answer 2- “Mmmmhmmmm. Oh, believe me, he can feel.”

Awkward silence momentarily ensues. Either I was too blunt or they are totally confused. Probably both.

And then sometimes, this initial conversation takes an interesting turn, as I find myself suddenly on the receiving end of a full-on sex life confessional, or in some cases…a full-on lack of sex life confessional.

And based on the information I have gathered during those confessionals, I am now going to make a sweeping generalization. I recognize that this might not apply to you, so please don’t get your panties all in a tizzy if you don’t relate, buuuuuuut…

Ladies.

Either I am simply am a magnet / therapist-like figure for a certain subpopulation of women (and that may be) OR, and I pray not, but there is currently, happening (or not happening) in bedrooms everywhere all around us, an EPIDEMIC of unknown proportions. I’m talking about how bored you all seem to be with your sex life. Or how sex with your partner isn’t even happening at all anymore.

I’m half kidding. But for realz – no time, energy, and /or desire to get it on in the bedroom, even under the most standard vanilla scenario? What gives?

I suspect I know. It’s all the hats women wear.

There’s work, babies, long commutes, budgeting, keeping up with the news, Keeping up with the Kardashians, cleaning, errands, shopping, socializing, wine drinking, self-care taking, and all of that training time for that next half marathon. And of course there is stress. And anxiety. And depression. And medications that treat those last 3 but whose side effects numb the nether regions and decrease sexual arousal (I know. I’ve been there).

Being so busy can disconnect us from the most primal parts of ourselves that yearn for gratification, if we aren’t careful, and our modern day lifestyles appears to be straight up damaging and depleting our libidos. It’s not just my observation – studies, articles and the like are popping everywhere.

Check this BBC story out right HERE, as one example. Or this ONE in the New York Times.

But I, for one, need sex. I need subtle, raw, rough, soft, and everything else in between sex. Erogenous zones are plentiful on any body (disability or not), I do believe, and in our house, they need attention. There are other things I want to say, like how tongues are the great explorers and how it can take a lifetime to deeply traverse every mountain, valley and any area in between on a lovers body, but you know all of this already and I’m not trying to write a romance novel. But this I say, cheesy as it may come across – your greatest adventure does not await you in Thailand, friends, it can be found in your very own bedroom. I promise.

I suppose I am writing all of this with a realization – this quad lifestyle (and probably a lot of my own personal health stuff, though that’s mostly in the past) has shifted a lot of stuff that just isn’t priority out of my life. I’m not saying that I am all that great at accepting that fact, because society sends me a lot of messages telling me to do it all, and be it all. But I can’t. I just can’t. And the moment I think I can and take on too much, I am grateful for the way my unique lifestyle forces me to take a step back. I think I will get into that more in a future post, because that is a loaded topic for me. But either way, I’m feeling good that my priorities in life feel pretty clear and, contrary to what most inquiring minds assume, my sex life, is, as Ri puts it – “EPIC!”

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Poor House Romantic Getaways Gone Awry

9/22/17

Hi guys,

I have avoided telling you some big news. It’s been on my mind all summer and now that it is fall I should just say it.

I quit my job / am in the process of closing my business. Kind of, but not exactly.

What the what?! Rewind. I can tell that may have felt like an abrupt way to begin this post and now I am not so sure I feel like talking about it. But still- I wanted you to know and now you do. This probably means more time for blogging, at least for now. So that’s a plus!

So let’s start again, shall we?

Still 9/22/17

Hi guys,

I hope you are all having a super day! I am currently in our home office watching a serious rainstorm (complete with thunder!!) drench the world around me. Oregon has been on fire all summer long with Portland herself enveloped in an eerie pseudo apocalyptic haze for much of the last month, so even us sun worshippers have been praying for a solid downpour.

Don’t think I don’t know what you regular readers are thinking. Yes- I realize this blog is full of posts bemoaning the unremitting rainfall of last fall/winter/spring here in Portland. Guilty. But hear ye, hear ye (!) never again shall I publicly decry water- PAC NW’s greatest natural treasure.

And while on the topic of mother nature, I am officially sending a virtual blog hug to all those people and places dealing with natural disasters of a greater magnitude than what my little Portland bubble world dishes out. My brain struggles to comprehend, but my heart and the empath in me feels the feelings. And this little reactive sergeant in my mind instructs- Andrea, Oregon’s big one is long overdue. Get your emergency kit in order- now. And figure out how to carry Riley piggyback style, just in case. 

I actually awoke this morning to see this alarming text from my nephew- Andrea the world is about to end September 23 2017. I heard the rumor, but this guy stated it as such a casual truth. When taken in combination with everything else that has been going on, it gave me pause.

But you see, I take days to write a blog post and it is now 9/24/17 so I can conclusively report that we still here. Hooray!

I tell you though, all of this reminds me of a story. Not an earth shattering story, just one that makes me think about the vulnerability certain communities face when an alarm bell rings. So I present-

A Story from the Poor House: Romantic Night Alone Gone Awry

Jump back with me to approx. 1.5 years ago.

Me + Ri = ♥♥♥♥

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MWAH!

Whoops, I got carried away up there with all those hearts! I swear, hand me a notebook,  let me daydream for a moment and I morph into a lovesick teenager doodling Ri ♥ Dre all over the cover.

What I meant to write-

Me + Ri on our first (ever!) overnight trip minus a caregiver person. We didn’t go far- 15 minutes or so to downtown Portland. It was a test, I guess, to see how the 2 of us balanced romance + travel + working as a team in Ri’s physical caregiving routine. It felt like a long time coming.

We picked a pretty bougie joint, because, you know, treat yoself!!

Everything was perfect- the linens, the accessibility, the robe I donned. Riley even got his biannual haircut to mark the special occasion. Only regret- not taking a bubble bath (darn!). But yes- all perfect until, approximately 2:30am when we abruptly awoke from what was easily the deepest sleep mutually experienced in a year or more, to the piercing ring of the hotel fire alarm. Nooooooo!

Not so fun fact. Did you know that fire alarms (this one, anyway) actually change octaves based on how long they have been ringing? Somewhere in the 25-35 minute range, they escalate to a full on – GET the F*** out the building (I seem to recall a voice on the loud speaker actually saying that but it was late so I can’t be sure…) ear drum shattering pitch. But who would stick around long enough to learn such things? Only someone (+ girlfriend) stuck 9 stories up or so, unable to get out of bed let alone walk to the nearest exit, in a hotel with no real strategy to handle such a scenario. So there I was- puffy eyed and waving down staff, trying to figure out what to do (their conclusion was to stay put…smoke was a couple stories down…probably some kid smokin’ a doobie) as Ri lay in bed, pillows wrapped tightly around his head in a failed attempt to muffle the intensely distressing cacophony. I actually took a video, but it is really unflattering so I can’t share it. Around minute 45 the alarms ceased, though our headaches and tinnitus lingered for another day or so. And a feeling, a vulnerable kind of feeling stuck with both of us.

The end of this story is that our room was comped and we were contacted a few days later via email with both a sincere apology and a promise to properly address the gaping hole in the hotel evacuation plan. In hindsight, I should’ve mentioned that 4 good earplugs can go a long way in a situation like that, but at any rate, given that I am very much an action steps oriented kinda gal, I felt pretty pleased with the manner in which they addressed the whole ordeal.

A brief sidetrack to state that sometimes I feel like this blog should follow a more proven / standardized format, you know, to increase my viewership and what not. My posts would copy the templates I see all over Facebook and Huff Post- Ex). 10 Things I Learned on my First Overnight Date with my Quadriplegic Lover or 5 Ways to Prepare for the Big One With A Wheelchair Bound Loved One. But I don’t think that’s how I do this blogging thing.

This post happening right now, as an example, was intended to be a follow up to summer recap pt.1 , (because if there is a pt.1 there should logically be a pt. 2, right?), but rattling off our summer shenanigans when I had other thoughts on my mind and heart just didn’t feel productive. And besides, that’s why we have an Instagram account!

So let me bring all of this full circle. See the thing is, Ri and I returned last week from an all around incredible trip to Colorado, despite one of our most perplexing accommodation quagmires to date. The hotel experience (plus some auspicious conversations I had the day beforehand with new friends from Breck) really got me thinking.

Between fire alarm date night described above and right now (+ pre-Andrea Ri experiences that I like to pretend never existed) we have enough bewildering, baffling, mind boggling travel experiences to compile a formal dissertation on the subject. And up until recently, I was complacent, often making light of some pretty serious screw ups, poor communication and colossal examples of the lack of understanding the hotel/travel industry as a whole displays when interfacing with clientele with physical limitations / special circumstances.

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Hotel Quagmires

But these days the topic has me all fired up! And I am not alone! Apps, hotel review websites, Airbnb style websites all focusing on this subject are popping up to cater to a huge subpopulation of people who want to travel with greater ease. Shall we explore some of these cool developments together? I think so- in a future posting, ok? I’ll also tell you more about how employable I am :).

 

So bye bye for now, you guys! Thank you SO much for reading!!! And sharing, maybe??

P.S. One of the pics from the incredible part of the Colorado journey!

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Ri prepping for his talk at Camp 9600

xoxo~Andrea

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Recap Pt. 1- No More Blahh and No More Barriers Because We Went to The No Barrier Summit 2017!

I’m back and I’m bloggin!

Hi, everyone! If you were beginning to wonder where I, Andrea, went (Hi Mom, friends, those who have chanced upon my beloved Poor House…), the truth is that I took a summer blogging sabbatical. My late-spring state of mind, you see, as documented in this blog post HERE, was, what’s that word I used again? Oh yes, that’s right- blaaaaahhhhhh and I needed to take some time to examine why that attitude was lingering.

Question for you – ever feel like your blaaaahhhhhh is unwarranted, comparatively?

Maybe it’s just me (doubtful), but I find that when I’m feeling a little low/grumpy/whatever, my inner dialogue has this tendency to impatiently cut in, diluting and dismissing my totally legit and uniquely me sufferings down to, essentially, first world white girl problems. But that’s not cool, because while that mindset provides me with a pretty upbeat attitude, it appears to divert space away from actually exploring and giving credence to the breadth of the feelings my shadow side experiences.

I really wanted to explore some of that stuff this summer (next blog post will reveal some detailed thoughts on that) and as luck would have it, early June offered us up a uniquely awesome and auspiciously timed opportunity to kind of kick that off. Thus, Ri + Andrea + Ri’s caregiver made our way down to Lake Tahoe/Squaw Valley to attend the 2017 No Barriers Summit. Despite the fact that I am not the target demographic for the event (or maybe I am and that’s the point), it was a completely transformational experience. I’m at a loss for words, actually. It was one of the most authentic opportunities I have had in my adult life to play, make new friends, connect with old, and challenge those stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we can do. We attended talks, concerts and were surrounded by innovators. And the product placement?! Totally on point with every banner, shirt and water bottle reminding us consistently that-

What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way

Heck. Yeah. That’s a message I can get behind (totally rockin that No Barriers Summit shirt at this very moment).

You can check out photos from the Summit HERE to get an idea of the breadth of this amazing event. And please, check out the No Barriers website while you are at it. This organization is seriously the real deal.

And while you may have seen some of our personal photos posted to our social accounts this summer (hint hint- follow us on social-  Instagram Here and Facebook Here), here’s a recap!

 

 

 

This summer has been absolutely epic and I need another blog post (or 3) to sum it all up. So por favor, stay tuned, my friends and I shall deliver the deets!

xo~Andrea

 

 

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I want to tell you about Wheel Pad!

Written by Drea

I ask you this –

Where do wheelchair bound/paralyzed folks (anyone needing accessible housing, really) live when their former housing accommodations are inaccessible? That is a tricky predicament facing a lot of people in our country. For the newly injured in particular, this adds one more layer of stress atop an extremely stressful time. Even Ri, who had a multitude of family, friends, and community resources struggled to find accessible housing. He lived in a hotel for months until he found something half decent, and even now, 8 years post injury, we are still altering our home to make life as accessible as possible.

Short of expensive remodels or relocation, this predicament had few alternate solutions. Until Wheel Pad, that is. Wheel Pad, launched in 2016, is a 200 square foot accessible bedroom and bathroom module that has the ability to actually link up to an existing home, bringing accessibility right to your doorstep! Ta-dah!

The beauty of Wheel Pad is that it is an immediate short term solution. It keeps families together and removes the stress around creating an accessibility plan. I am all for easing burdens, so this is a project I am behind.

Check out this video below to get a better idea of what I am talking about (Wheel Pad on YouTube).

Oh, and keep an eye out at 1 min 38 seconds for the (2 second!) Ri and Andrea cameo!

 

So I’ll be straight. I dig Wheel Pad, in part, because it is a Riley Poor inspired project (no surprise there- if you have been reading this blog my adoration is clear). I also dig it because I find pleasure in watching Tiny Home shows and Wheel Pad is very “on trend” with the movement. Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoy Julie Lineberger and Joseph Cincotta, Ri’s godparents and Wheel Pad’s founder and chief architect, respectively. All of that, coupled with the accessible housing situation it addresses make it a win for the home team.

But really, the Wheel Pad project gets my stamp of approval because it is innovation with soul. Wheel Pad is a product of the ripple effect that was born the moment Ri dislocated his neck. It is, essentially, a proactive adaptation in response to a heavy, tragic moment- a call to action, if you will. While not a direct part of the design or building process, Wheel Pad unmistakably has Ri written all over it. The clean lines, the modern vibe, the materials, the design and even where it was built (Vermont- Ri’s childhood homeland and where he had his spinal cord injury) ripples right back to the initial source of inspiration.

So, without going off on too much of a tangent, my point is this- the actions or events we face (whether they seem good or bad at the time) carry with them the capacity to change the world in both big and small ways. Ri is firm in his assertion that he would change nothing about his path in life- and why would he when it is clear that he has inspired a lot of greatness in this world, with Wheel Pad being just one example.

Here is the link to Wheel Pad’s website. While it may not be a solution for everyone (cost and space are potential obstacles), you just never know who might benefit from this project, so don’t be shy about spreading the word :).

That’s all I have today! Thanks so much for reading! And please don’t be a stranger now – say hi, join my bloggity blog and let me know what you think!

~~~~Andrea

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Present Tense Life

Thoughts by Drea (this is a long one, y’all)

These framed photos easily go unnoticed in our home. Surrounded by far louder pieces of artwork, they live on this narrow corner wall, tucked behind an oversized chair that has come to belong, exclusively, to Quill. That little guy is Ri (OMG!), and those little skis represent his first and perhaps greatest love. He swears to me that he is two years old in these pictures (my god he was a big boy) and already he had it figured out. Life plan = skier. Not a police officer, not a firefighter. A skier. Ri tells me “I wanted to be an Olympic skier, or (he pauses to reevaluate his words), really, I just wanted to BE someone in the ski industry. Pause again. He then says- How lucky am I that that came true?”

Ri’s mother, Maria, is the storyteller of the family. She artfully weaves together the most vibrant tales of Ri’s childhood. Sometimes, when she is decluttering (a frequent pastime of hers :), she delights me with a new little Ri guy photo or memento, accompanied by a memory that she wants to let me in on. I hang to each word as every photo breathes enough life into the past for me to pause and wonder- wait a minute- was I there? Is this my memory or have I just heard this one before? I swear to you that sometimes I feel my presence there in that past. Rumi put words to these feelings of mine when he said- Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. I know this to be so.

Maria’s tales of the past have a cohesive storyline that I think, can emerge only after we have revisited our memories many times over many years. She recounts, with motherly pride, the innate, unwavering determination of her eldest lion cub. Her reverence for Ri is ever present, and it seems that in a way, it was his powerful will, his sage clarity that birthed Maria’s motherly confidence. Our children must teach us so much, and it is clear that from a very young age, Ri made his path known. I suppose Maria saw it as her job to foster that. As the story goes, Riley’s path was far bigger than the state of Vermont (I am quoting a very matter of fact Maria there) and so the Poor’s packed up house and home and moved a young Ri from the snowy rolling hills of Whitingham, Vermont to the tallest peaks of Colorado. Crested Butte was where Ri’s dreams became reality.

All of that is super fascinating to me, for many reasons, one being that Ri and I have never really been skiing together. Or, maybe we have. I am deciding as I write.

On that topic, a couple months back, Ri decided that he wanted to go downhill skiing through an adaptive program at Mt. Bachelor. Very cool. We set up a weekend trip to Bend, and though I was totally stoke, I remained cautiously flexible as our plans tend to change with the wind.

Alas, as the weekend trip approached the weather forecast called for warm rain- yuck. In short, we bailed. Instead, we had this wonderful weekend at home building roll under raised garden beds with Ri’s dad and getting our garden spring ready. My point- it really was neither here nor there.

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The new roll under garden beds!!

And all of that brings me to a few things that I think about quite a lot these days. There are gifts that emerge from even the darkest moments of trauma. I do not know, had Ri never had his SCI, that Maria would so willingly allow me to be a part of her past, of their past. I do not know if she would have the same beautiful hindsight.

I do not know if Ri and I would bond so deeply through the slow savoring of the present, a reverence for the past, and a celebration of small triumphs. Through our relationship, I have learned to go easier on myself, to be moderate, and to free myself from a pattern we can all be guilty of- placing unfair and unnecessary expectations on ourselves and (even worse) those that we love. I forget all of this regularly (arg patterns are hard to break!) but my home life with Ri grounds me back into those values.

I want to wrap this post up with a story that illustrates all of these thoughts I am trying to express.

A few weeks back, Ri and I drove up to Mt. Hood so I could cross country ski around Trillium lake. After a lovely drive up the mountain, we turned into the unremarkable parking lot by the trailhead. Ri and Quill planned to stay in the van, so I got my boys all cozied up and took off on my adventure. Just as the snowflakes began to kiss my cheeks and the world fell silent, my mind perked up and became unnecessarily busy. It started with a tinge of guilt for leaving my guys back in that ugly parking lot. I could have at least has the foresight to drop them at the nice, warm, ski lodge up the road. Or better yet, why couldn’t they just be here by my side, I wondered? Quite quickly, some enticing plans began to develop…

It seemed to me that there was no reason couldn’t rig up some system to get Ri and Quill out here on this trail next time around. How hard could it be? I have seen those social media videos that all of you have seen with these paralyzed people pushing themselves to the limits, doing all kinds of adventurous stuff. Why not us?

And for a moment there, traveling down that wormhole, I almost missed the entire point. First of all, I had driven all this way to find some peace and quiet- so my brain had no place chattering on about these things. Secondly, Ri has expressed previously that he has no interest in these types of things- he is interested in being extremely kind to his body and doing things that make him feel cold or physically uncomfortable sucks the joy from his spirit. It seems that my self imposed guilt had taken me down a path that made no sense. Funny how we do that sometimes.

After a couple hours and a few wrong turns (it is a loop trail, people, so you figure that one out) I got back to the van. I open the door and there is Ri, snuggled up with a book, Quillie, snacks, and a blanket. Ri smiles this big, genuine smile and says to me (he always asks it the same way) “How was it? Did you have fun?” He was so happy. Just then I remembered what he told me the last time I left him in the van at the mountain- he loves it because it reminds him of his days as a filmmaker. That, apparently, was a lot of what filming skiers was about- hunkering down inside, watching the snow fall, and just kind of waiting for the weather to pass by so the filming could begin.

So, I am going to go out on a limb here and make the claim that Riley and I have indeed been skiing together. We ski together through stories of the past and we ski together in the here and now. I fill Ri in on every detail of my cross country adventures, and he tells me about the cute stuff Quill did while I was away and how much snow accumulated while I was gone. Sometimes I call or text him halfway through my journey, sometimes I take little videos so he can laugh at how truly minuscule the “massive” hill I went down was. I love this man. I love this life.

I know that there is a misconception out there. Some people think that having a physical disability (or being in a relationship with someone with a physical disability for that matter) means you will miss out on so much in life.

I believe that mentality runs the risk of missing out on the moments we actually have to live in this life. To be present, to deeply love, to observe this world with a slowness and a softness- this is the life that I have always wanted. I am so grateful to have found my way here.

Thank you all so much for reading my stories. I welcome all comments, questions, and opportunities to connect!

Warmly,

Andrea

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Spinal Cord Injury Super Basics

Written by Andrea

Now I understand writers block. I sit down, intent to write, as per Ri’s suggestion, about caregiving for my boyfriend while on vacation in Hawaii. I write, then erase, write, then erase- if it were the olden days I would have accumulated a thousand crumpled pieces of paper around my desk by now. Then my AhHa moment came, and I concluded- none of this makes any sense unless you understand a little more about Riley, about spinal cord injuries, about why caring for a loved one is… complicated. So, I am going to write a little bit about that as it just feels like where I need to start.

medical-specialist-foramina-cervical-spine-superior-nuchal-line-inferior-mastoid-biology-study-process-styloid-transverrse-ligamenta_fotor

It does feels weird though, starting at the beginning, probably because I wasn’t there 8 years ago when Riley dislocated his neck at C 5/6 (conveniently circled in the picture above). I could never speak to the gravity of that situation. It would be 4 years until we met, and in between the life he had back then and the life he has now was that moment, as quick as the blink of an eye, really, that changed so much.

Ri’s dislocation caused immediate injury to his spinal cord – the very important and delicate bundle of nerves that carries impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. When the spinal cord experiences trauma, a loss of function, such as mobility &/or feeling can occur. Unfortunately, for over 5 million (!) people in the US of A alone (including my love), the consequence of the SCI (spinal cord injury) is paralysis.

In many SCI’s, the cord remains intact, but the damage still causes a loss of function (called an incomplete injury). Riley falls into this category and, because of this, he still has a good bit of sensation below his level of injury. This threw me off at first. Example- early on, I remember him commenting to me that one sock (underneath his pants and completely out of sight) was twisted and sagging. Say what?!?! Sure enough, his diagnosis was accurate and I was super impressed. I realize that sounds promising, but the day to day reality for Ri is that most of that sensation takes the shape of pain and discomfort that he can’t just walk off. I haven’t asked lately, but I bet he would say this is one of the most challenging aspect of his life in a wheelchair.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation provides a really great summary of a C5/6 injury. Riley falls somewhere in between these 2 descriptions:

  • C5 injuries often spare the control of shoulder and biceps, but there is not much control at the wrist or hand. Those at C5 can usually feed themselves and independently handle many activities of daily living.
  • C6 injuries generally allow wrist control, enough to be able to drive adaptive vehicles and handle personal hygiene, but those affected at this level often lack fine hand function.

You can check out this handy dandy myotome/dermatome man below for a visual. Essentially, the purple C5/6 regions are the space where things start to change for Ri. Anything below those lines is affected.

dermatomes_fotor

It probably goes without saying, and it feels really bizarre for me to write this, but the majority of Riley’s body is paralyzed. I totally see the other side though- can you believe everything one can do and experience from the chest up? Think about it- see, taste, hear, smell, speak, kiss, make love, breathe, think. And move. Riley can definitely move. His shoulder dancing is legendary (I would’t dare joke). But, reality is such that Ri does require the physical assistance of caregivers/personal care assistants (PCA’s) to get up and on his way in this world.

Currently, Ri employs 4 PCA’s. Most days, our home is buzz buzz buzzing with activity. Someone arrives at our house before the sun even rises (we never set an alarm clock and instead wake to a gentle tapping on our bedroom door- a method that is 95% reliable). They first assist Ri with things that we might not even realize we do when we wake up- roll over in bed or take a sip of water, as an example. Then, this whole morning routine begins. The PCA helps Ri get up and on his commode (to do the morning business). They assist with showering, dressing and then they drive Ri off to work. In the early evening, he is picked up at work and then his PCA helps him around the house and eventually into bed. That’s 15+ hours of “being on” each day, you guys. By the end of the week, we all need a break, so I help Ri quite a bit throughout the weekend.

After much trial and error, that is our current homeostasis. It will change again soon- it always does. I have been asked, many times, what it is like always having someone around, observing your relationship and lifestyle. This has probably been an evolution, but at this point I would say we just really don’t care. We are committed to providing a solid work environment for the PCA’s, but outside of that we go about our normal home life.

I want to tell you one thing about me, though, since we are all getting to know each other. Admittedly, I have a caregiver-y side to my personality that I work to keep in check. Why? Because I NEVER EVER want Ri to wake up one morning, look left and realize that his girlfriend has transformed into his caregiver. Don’t get me wrong- I do help Riley with his care, but I am mindful not to over help, not to over insert myself into his intimate business in ways that would compromise our romantic partnership. I adore being adored by that man, and I admire how large, in charge and directive Ri is about his care and his life in general- I have no interest in stripping him of that autonomy. What I will do, though, is know his care like the back of my hand, totally step in as necessary and within my limits, and train each caregiver to the point of obsession so Ri and I can have peace of mind. I also need a lot of sleep to keep my head on straight, but that is more a side comment.

As for the Hawaii trip, my caregirlfriending was a true experiment and I really will share more about that soon.

But in the meantime, please oh please let me know-  Is any of this remotely interesting? Should I continue this blogging journey? I am feeling vulnerable and need input, ideas, whatever you got just give it to me straight!

I also want to say that this is, no doubt, an oversimplified blurb about spinal cord injuries. Good places to read more include:

christopherreeve.org   &/or   The Shepherd Center

Thanks and love!~~~~A

 

 

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Accessible Vaycay Hawaii Style

 

img_3009Written by Andrea

Winter in the Pacific Northwest gets tough, you guys. So cold. So wet. No sun. Why do we live in Portland again? Check back late spring and I will remember once again :).

At some point mid winter, it just became clear- Ri and I needed the warmth of a tropical breeze to dry out our water logged bodies. We craved Vitamin D -straight up from the sun. We required vaycay.

So, we booked a trip to Maui with friends. This was a big deal for 3 main reasons.

  1. We had never taken a tropical vacation together.
  2. We had never taken a tropical vacation with friends.
  3. We decided to do this tropical vacation sans caregiver, meaning Ri and I were a team on all fronts.

I want to tell you something about Riley- he is a travel prep pro. My boyfriend keeps a grand master list of every possible item we need to consider/bring when traveling + he keeps a prepackaged travel bag filled with extra medical supplies, a travel sling and more. Check, Check and Check!

Add to that, Ri and our travel pal sourced an awesomely accessible accommodation, along with a ramp van and a hoyer lift, so we had every controllable aspect of the trip set up beforehand with, quite honestly, little to no effort on my part! I, you see, was conserving my energy in preparation for the actual trip, when, you know, all the uncontrollable stuff starts to happen. Which, if you have ever travelled, you know is inevitable.

We had  fair amount of that stuff hit us on this particular vacation. Flight delays, rain, food poisoning, pain, sleep disturbances…that all happened. But, all of those things were just speed bumps along the way. Outside of the bumps, we made some kick ass memories with really great friends, Ri and I went swimming together for the first time ever, and we watched the sunset over the ocean every evening. We relaxed, we read, we soaked up the sun. We did Maui and it was really nice to get away.

I was hoping to share a few wheelchair savvy travel tips throughout this post, but all I can say about that is – talk to Ri, he has it down. I do have some general travel tips though, which I have realized apply equally as well to general life as they do to travel (darn, I guess vaycay is still real life). Either way, enjoy!

Here are my travel tips-

  • Be smart, be prepared, and only do what your body and mind are up for.
  • Don’t push yourself! Duh, you are on vacation.
  • Accept that in between all of the wonderful moments of travel/life there will be a bit of nonsense, chaos, and well, hard shit. This is the adventurous part of the trip (life) and you will either laugh about this stuff down the road or they will help define and shape the person that you will become.
  • Get a lot of sleep. Like, a lot of sleep. More than you think you need. Oh, and drink a lot of water. But not right before you sleep.

I want to give a big shout out to the Hyatt Residence Club at Kaanapali Beach. It is a fabulous option for anyone with mobility issues, or anyone who just wants to relax to the max.

Lastly,  Ri suggested I write another blurb about my experience with the whole caregiving side of the trip. So, stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, examining the juxtaposition that is Caregiving (or as I prefer- Care-girlfriending) While on Vacation.

Mahalo.

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Poor House Video Tour!

Written by Drea

Welcome to our ever evolving Wheelchair Accessible Ranch Home!

Thanks to LineSync Architecture (Ri’s godparents and the architects behind the initial house remodel- we Love you Joseph & Julie!) we have a video (circa 2015) that highlights some of the accessible stuff around the Poor House. Fun!!!

While we are talking Poor House remodeling projects, boy oh boy I just can’t wrap my head around HOW MUCH has changed around here since this video was made… and I can’t wait to show you!!

So please stay tuned for more updates on all of the Poor Family projects and remodeling fun happening over at our place in Portland, Oregon!

Thanks for viewing!

 

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True Life at the Poor House

Source: True Life at the Poor House

Written by Drea

Hi! Allow me to introduce my family. We, (Riley, Andrea + Quill- cutest. dog. ever. seriously.) are the Poor’s.

We are a mid 30’s couple living our life of Riley (do you see what I did there!?) in our ever evolving/always a little bit under construction wheelchair accessible ranch home in Portland, Oregon. This blog is our love story and all the real life stuff that goes along with it.

Here is a little background to set the stage-

Ri and I took a leap into love a few years back and we have been totally stoked on our life together ever since! Now, it just so happens that Riley is in a wheelchair. Ri had a spinal cord injury 8 years ago and as a result, he is quadriplegic. Perhaps I will explain the specific physical implications of that in a later post, but for now, google can provide endless information about spinal cord injuries for those interested parties.

I, personally wouldn’t say that our life is much different than that of any young couple. We have all that normal stuff- wake up, go to work, feed the dog, cook dinner, watch movies…And we also have all that fun and exciting stuff that comes with being in love (use your imagination for that part). Of course, there are hard times too :(.

People often ask- How does paralysis /wheelchair life /stuff that comes along with Ri’s spinal cord injury affect your relationship? 

If I had to be honest, which I promise to do so henceforth, I would say that truthfully, it touches every square inch of our life together in some way, shape or form. Ri’s physical needs surrounding his injury define how we move about in this world as a couple because they are the non changing variable. Put differently- they set the beat, but together, we write the rhythm. And my life with Riley is absolutely music to my ears.

Poor House Love is a blog about Living and Loving. We thank you for reading and hope you will Like, Comment and Follow along with us!