What caused Michael's injury?
Michael broke his neck while performing gymnastics with his high school's ministry team. It was June 1994, the summer before his senior year of high school. He was on a missions trip to the Bahamas, and did a flip as part of the team's program. He over rotated, and landed on the side of his face.
What can he feel/not feel?
Michael's injury is technically C5/6 quadriplegia. He is a "quadriplegic," meaning that mobility in all four of his limbs is impaired. He has full use of his head (duh!), neck, shoulders, and biceps. He can feel all of those things, as well as his chest (above the nipples) and his back, along his shoulder blades. From there, south, it gets fuzzy. He does have some spots where he can sometimes feel sensation, but there is no meaningful function below there.
How did you meet?
We have an interesting story. We met in person while Dana was on a college ministry trip to Florida in 1999. But, it was no big deal. When Dana got back to college, she needed an address to send a thank you note, so she looked up members of the church on AOL. She emailed a handful of people, including Michael. He wrote her back, then they formed a friendship online that lasted for about 8 years before they took the step of seeing each other in person. Less than a year after meeting in person, we became boyfriend/girlfriend. Almost a year later, we were engaged. Almost another year later, we were married.
Do you live in a handicap accessible house?
No. We rent a condo. The master bedroom and bathroom are on the first floor. We purchased some aluminum ramps for the front/back doors and we have one going into the garage. Our garage is big enough for two cars, but just has the van in it, so we have room for the ramp to deploy. We have hardwood floors downstairs, and the doorknobs have handles. We do not have a roll-in shower, so Michael's bathroom routine involves at least four towels on the floor, a shower chair, and a shower head that is actually for washing pets. (although, we don't even really use that) It's messy, it's not ideal, we definitely look forward to the day we can have our own, accessible home, but it works for now. In the kitchen, we have a microwave on the counter for Michael to reach. He manages really, really well!
Do you have a wheelchair van?
Yes! We do. We were given the van by dear friends who received it as a gift from someone else, but no longer needed it. Having a van has been a life-changer. We also have a Ford Escape, which is a small SUV. Dana used to transfer Michael into the front seat, and keep the wheelchair together and load that into the very back of the SUV. In the future, we look forward to having a van that Michael can actually drive!
Are you able to have children?
The short answer to this is we really don't know. We haven't ever taken any measures of birth control, and it hasn't happened yet. If and when it does, we will be thrilled! If it doesn't happen naturally, we will investigate measures of medical help for that. And if that doesn't work out, we will adopt. We may just adopt anyway, if we have the resources. There are so many kids out there that need good homes! Please join us now in praying for our future family. We definitely look forward to growing our family, one way or another.
Do you pray for healing?
Sure. We still believe that if God wants to heal Michael, that He can, and He will. We don't get hung up on this, though, because we believe that God gets the glory for our lives, healing or no healing, and we just want to be in the center of His will.
Were you afraid of marrying someone with a disability?
Dana: Sure. Of course. Marrying a guy in a wheelchair wasn't really part of my plan. But marrying a cute, funny, smart, loving man was, and Michael excels in every one of those departments! I was very nervous about all of it, but honestly I felt the hand of God leading me as we pursued our relationship. I had some experience with some medical/caregiving things when my grandfather was ill, so I knew I had it in me to handle some "nurse" kind of stuff. And, Michael was really sensitive and smart when introducing me to all of the things that go along with his body, and his care. We just did it one step at a time.
How do you do it all?
I don't. If I am ever "doing it all," I usually melt down. But, if you read this blog, you know all about that. Honestly, I have to depend on God to give me grace and strength, just like anyone else facing a difficult circumstance does. And, I drink a lot of coffee, eat my fair share of chocolate, and I make lists. Lots of lists.
Why do you blog?
We started blogging to share our story. When we did, we started hearing from other couples in similar circumstances, that us being open and honest about our journey was helping them. Some of these couples have a husband or boyfriend who is in a wheelchair. In some cases, it's the wife who is in a wheelchair. The idea that us sharing our struggles can help someone else really makes it worth it, and gives us the strength to get through the tough days. We also enjoy documenting our lives, and looking back on what we have accomplished, with the help of family, friends and the Lord.
What kind of dog is Brokaw?
Brokaw is a puggle, a mix of a pug and beagle. He was born in 2006.
Is Brokaw named after Tom Brokaw?
Yes. Tom Brokaw is a journalist Dana looked up to as a child, and early in her news career, and yes, the real Tom Brokaw is aware of Brokaw the puggle and is quite amused by it.