Warm Temperature Regulation

By Patty Kunze, "The Rollin RN"

I am sitting at my desk with record setting temperatures outside, and thinking about spinal cord injury and our body’s inability to regulate temperature.  It’s just another ‘thang’ we are unable to perform.  But why does that happen to spinal cord injured individuals?  Why are we powerless to regulate our bodies in hot and/or cold?  Since its summertime, I wanted to discuss the whys and hows to normalize during balmy outside temperatures and how to provide a comfortable environment while sitting in our chairs.

A normal, healthy human is able to maintain a constant body temperature of approximately 98.6ᵒ F despite the temperature of the environment. In a hot environment, the body sends a signal to the brain via the spinal cord to say the body is overheating; the brain then sends a signal back down the spinal cord and tells the body to cool itself by perspiration which evaporates and cools the skin.  This is defined as a “normal” individual.  This definition does not apply to spinal cord injured(SCI) individuals.  The signal is halted at the level of injury.  These definitions can easily explain why I can sit in a room and suffer from heat and my poor husband is wrapped tightly as a cocoon in his blanket. When I get hot, it will take me twice as long to cool down.  Same occurs during a fever associated with illness.  If a high paraplegic or quadriplegic is in an outside temperature over 90 F, especially when the humidity is high, the body temperature will begin to rise.  The ability to sweat or to make goose bumps may be lost below the level of injury.  It will take longer to cool down after a spike in temperature.  A LOT longer!!!!

Gadgets for Independence Series: Cutting

By Wendy Crawford & Robyn Keller

At a recent dental checkup, my dentist examined my teeth and then proceeded to talk to me about my “Grinding teeth at night Issue” and that I needed to be fitted for a special retainer. He explained to me that it would prevent me from wearing my teeth down any further while I was sleeping. He asked his assistant to go over the pricing with me and begin to take molds of my teeth.

Once I heard the price, I put on the brakes. I was racking my brain while he was talking and wondering if I really grind my teeth at night. I don't recall ever doing it nor anyone mentioning it to me before. Then suddenly it struck me! I use my teeth on a daily basis as an opening device ( since I have limited function of my hands). I rip open envelopes, lids, you name it! When I mentioned it to the dentist, he showed me, with a mirror, how some of my teeth had flattened. He explained that these seemingly harmless actions, repeated many times a day over many years, takes a toll on your teeth and wears them down.

In one way, I was relieved that we found the cause and I didn't have to pay the exorbitant price for the retainer but then I realized I had an even bigger problem - how was I going to do these things independently?

Finding Home

By Emily Ann Hupe

One of the first things that I remember about our old house and property, was the smell. As we got out of the car, the first day we looked at the property, I inhaled deeply, the smell of the pine trees. I closed my eyes and let that smell envelop me and it created such a peace. I have so many memories of camping and canoeing associated with that smell. These were times during my childhood that I was truly happy.

The view from the kitchen window was not the best in the house, but it was the window I looked out of the most. I could look into the front yard and see the children play. Whether I was cooking, talking on the phone or getting a drink in the middle of the night, I looked out that window.
I always left that kitchen window open during summer evenings. In the middle of the night, I would get a drink and pause a moment just to listen. The crickets always arrived around late June. As the sunset after a hot day and the cool winds would blow, t he crickets would begin their song. I hear it now and it takes me back to my kitchen, my window, my home.
It was at that window in October of 2003 that I heard the words, She is gone, I am sorry.” It was in the pre-dawn hours of a Friday morning that I learned my mother had died. I would never again be able to stare out that window again without thinking of my mother.

I stood at that window breathing through the pre-labor pains that would bring my sweet, precious Wyatt into this world. As I watched the sunrise that September morning in 2002, I had no idea how this child inside of me would change our lives. There were moments that he would drive us to our knees in frustration and sadness. Then, just as quickly he would melt our hearts and amaze us with his deep thought and intensity.