November 6th, 2011

Computer love

Journal of gratitude, day #8: technology

It is day #8 of my gratitude marathon! Today I am grateful for technology.

Before I was paralyzed, I was not a technology oriented person. In fact, the house I was living in just before my accident didn't even have electricity. (Half the time, it didn't have running water either, but that's another story.) I had a computer, but it wasn't even plugged in. As a child, I often fantasized about living on a farm where we would just live off of the land like pioneers. As an adult, I realize how crazy that idea was, but I can't deny it wasn't a dream of mine at one point.

Anyhow, now, as a paralyzed individual, I am extremely dependent on technology. First, there's my wheelchair -- Artex. It is an awesome piece of technology. I control the thing with my mouth, for crying out loud! We really are living in the future. Funny side note, I was telling one of my cousins' children how my chair worked, and he just frowned and shook his head at me. He didn't believe me, but wasn't going to actively call me out on it. Artex really does work with my mouth and head. I blow for forward, and "sip" for stop, slowing down or going backwards. There are little buttons in my headrest that control left and right. It's awesome, and I am extremely lucky to be able to have it. Not too long ago, my motors gave out, and I was without my trusty steed for a couple of weeks. It made me that much more appreciative of technology that enables me to have some independence.

Speaking of independence, the main thing that helps me feel a serious sense of independence is my computer -- Arwen. I can do just about anything a normal person can do on the computer. I have a mouth mouse that acts as a mouse for my whole computer. I went for years without it, but once I got it, I don't think I could ever go back to just voice recognition. It is with this mouth mouse that I am able to make drawings of people's names for their birthdays. So awesome! I also love my voice recognition program, Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I actually tested how fast of a typer I am with one of those online tests, and with my voice recognition program, I type 167 words per minute. I'm also able to make and receive calls through Skype on my computer, and that is also amazing. It has changed my life, really. (This type of technology could have really helped me in my calling as Relief Society President, but I didn't have it back then.) Anyhow, it's incredible and amazing, and I can play games, and read books and scriptures, and make and design websites (which I do for one of my jobs), and I can help my siblings with their online school work, and I can be my family's secretary by making sure all of the bills are paid and all appointments are kept. It's awesome. I can't say enough about it, because it really is a good chunk of my happiness.

In fact, one time, my computer broke. It was a wake-up call for me, really. Before the breakdown, I was like, "Yeah, my life isn't the easiest one, but I am so cool because I have such a great positive attitude." And then my computer broke, and I was devastated. My once positive attitude was almost completely gone. And then I was like, "Okay, my positive attitude really is dependent on access to technology. It has nothing to do with how awesome I think I am."

Another exciting bit of technology is my awesome van (Shadowfax). My van has an awesome lift which takes me into it, and my dad installed an easy lock system so that it's a lot less difficult for me to get locked into and unlocked out of my van. Without access to this awesome piece of technology, I would be stranded at my house all the time, and I know how much that sucks because my first van was broken for about six months, and I spent all my time at home. That's why my youngest sister was baptized in a neighbor's pool instead of at church, because I wanted to be there, and I couldn't go to church.

My life is filled with so much awesome technology, for real. I'm not even really talking about my awesome bed or the lift which transports me from chair to bed or other non-gimp-life technology that I am also super grateful for (I'm looking at you, Mr. Microwave!) Speaking of microwaves, I saw a hot dog toaster at the grocery store the other day. Awesome technology! I am so grateful for everything that makes my life so much easier and better. Yay for technology!

This is a picture of my mouth mouse.

Here is a picture of my van.

Here is a picture of what makes my van cool.