Sunday, December 21, 2008

A week to forget

This past week has been awful and unfortunately it will be awhile until I can put this week completely behind me. Oh well I guess life occasionally deals us a rough hand and we have to do the best we can with whats been handed to us.

I went out to Community Medical Center on Monday for a CT scan and ended up in their emergency room. Things started out just fine as they got me registered and transferred onto a gurney for the scan. They took me to the CT room and they got me setup on the CT table. We were set to begin the scan and the plan was for the techs to keep my arms up and out of the way.

The CT table started moving into the machine and very suddenly my arm got caught on the edge of the tube. The machine kept going and before the technicians could get it stopped my arm made a loud snap. I knew my arm was broken and sure enough the x-ray confirmed that I had a compression fracture of my upper humerus. They wheeled me down to the ER where a trauma doctor checked me over. After consultation with an ortho it was decided that a wrap around sling would be the best way to treat my fracture. I'm hoping that things will heal up in 6 weeks but we'll have to wait and see. Needless to say I'm pretty steamed with the whole situation.

I laid low the whole week and my routine pretty much consisted of popping painkillers, sleeping, snuggling with the pugs, keeping up on email, and watching a little T.V. Not a very exciting way to spend my first official week of break :-)

Friday was the big day for my kidney procedure and things went very well. We were at the hospital bright and early to get the pre-op stuff done. The medical staff took really good care of me and I had some great doctors working on me. I was only supposed to be in the OR for an hour but it turned into 3 hours. It was nothing serious but the doctor had a hard time grasping the stone that was in my left kidney. My left kidney is all clear and I'll probably need one minor treatment to clear up my right kidney. My pain from the procedure has been very tolerable and I'm so happy about that.

Thats a wrap on the lovely week gone by. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and safe travels if your going to be on the road.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter arrives/NIN

It's a frigid Sunday morning here in Missoula with the mercury currently at -4. We fortunately ducked the worst of the weekend blizzard and only got a few inches of the white stuff. As I look out the window, Mt. Jumbo has a nice thin blanket of snow on it. I must say it looks much better than the drab brown color we've been looking at. The pugs aren't impressed by this weather and they are in snuggle mode until further notice :-)

Well the semester has officially drawn to a close but it's not over for me yet. I had to postpone two of my exams until early January because of the pain my kidneys have recently been dishing out. Speaking of my kidneys, they are scheduled to be blasted with shock waves on December 19th. Not my idea of a fun at Christmas but it needs to be handled. Hopefully the procedure will break up my stones on the first attempt and we won't be looking at doing this a second time.

Winter break will be nice but I won't be idle for too long. Starting on January 5th, I'll be taking an online Photoshop course and I figured this would be a great way to pick up some fast credits. The course only lasts for two weeks and it should be helpful in my journalistic pursuits. I really don't have any other plans for break besides catching up on my Netflix.

I caught the Nine Inch Nails show as they made a stop in Missoula last Tuesday. They are much harder and intense than the music I usually listen but I thought they put on a great show. Reznor's vocals were awesome and his musical prowess on a variety of instruments was amazing. I really liked when Trent played an enormous xylophone. Very cool! I've attached a clip of one of my favorites from that night.

That's all for this update but I'll be back after my surgery on Friday. I'll have a little announcement to share when I come back with my next update. Take care until then...Mark

Oh by the way, the UM Grizzlies will be playing for the NCAA Div. I-AA football championship on Friday (12/19) night. You can catch the game from Chattanooga TN on ESPN2. Game time is at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Great Chicken Debate

It's a crazy pre-finals week here in Missoula but in 8 glorious days I'll be on break! Came across this neat video on the recent chicken debate in town and had to pass it along. For the record I'm pro-chicken ;-)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The return of the Stones

The Stones have returned but unfortunately this time it isn't the Rolling Stones. I'd been having some abdominal pain for the past week and on Monday I went in for a CT scan. I met with my urologist yesterday and the scan showed a significant return of kidney stones. This news didn't thrill me but at least we won't doing any procedures until after finals are over. We'll most likely be doing a lithotripsy where they send a heavy dose of shock waves into the body in hopes of shattering the stones. The procedure is pretty simple but I'll definitely be sore for several days after. Looks like winter break will be spent recuperating but I'll have my movies, audio books and Pugs to keep myself occupied.

School has been going just fine and all thats really left to do is take my final exams. I have my MT History final on December 8th and my Ethics final on December 10th. This semester has been work but I've enjoyed studying Montana history and the philosophies of Aristotle and Nietzsche. Ethics has been my favorite class and I certainly wasn't expecting that when the semester began. It sure is a bonus when you end up loving a class that you thought you were going to hate. Learning is funny in that respect.

We are spending Thanksgiving at Dustin's aunt's and it is always a good time when we get together. It will be great to unwind a little and to escape the rush of school. I want to wish everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Take care and I will return in a week or so.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yes we can! Yes we did!

A week ago, I along with millions of other Americans made history as we elected Barack Obama the 44th President. It's high time that this country heads away from the corruption and failures that have marked the past eight years. The road ahead won't be easy but at least we will have an honorable leader guiding us along the way.

It was a great feeling as we went over to the fire hall to cast our ballots. There were no lines awaiting us but unfortunately the accessible voting machine was on the blink again. It really grinds my gears when our government spends a ton of money on these advanced machines and they don't work on election day. I ended up filling out a traditional ballot when the technician couldn't get the machine running. We left the polling place feeling optimistic and all that was left to do was to watch the results stream in.

Forward Montana had an election night soiree down at the Badlander so that's where we went to watch the results. The crowd built as the night went on and it became a very electric atmosphere. It was fun being with our fellow Democrats and the crowd went wild whenever a state went into Barack's column. The magic moment came suddenly at about 9 p.m. when it flashed across the screen that Barack was projected to be the winner. The Badlander went bananas and everyone was cheering and high-fiving. I couldn't believe the long election season was over and I let out a few whoops myself.

I was impressed by Obama's victory speech and it definetelty was one of those moments that I'll remember forever. Obama realizes that our nation has a long journey ahead but I think we're up to the challenge. The drive home was cool as cars were honking along the way and some people literally danced in the streets. I've never seen an election bring out that type of reaction from people. Now we only have to wait 69 days until this dream is complete.

School continues to roll on and I'm in pretty good standing. I had a history exam yesterday and it felt like it went pretty good. There are no exams until finals and that makes me quite happy. The only big project left is in my Math class and I'll be celebrating after that class is over. Our professor in o.k. but I just don't dig the material we've covered. Oh well it's another experience in my college career and I'll at least get a B.

I better get rolling on today's homework but I'll be back in the next week or two with more. Take care and be well....


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Been a long time...

I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since I've posted, but I guess time flies when your keeping busy. The semester is past half over and there's roughly 6 weeks to go until the much anticipated Christmas break. It will be great to relax and do as little as possible.

This past week has been crazy but it's been a good kind of crazy. I got back my 2nd MT History & Ethics exams and I scored A's on both. It feels good to have my studying pay off and hopefully I can finish out the semester strong.

I met with my advisor last week so I could lay out my spring 2009 schedule. I'll be taking American History, Beginning Reporting, Radio Production, and a Geology lab. It's exciting to finally get into some Journalism classes and see how things will go. This spring I'll apply to the Journalism School and if I get accepted, I would start next fall. The competition will be tough but I plan to give it the best shot I can.

A couple weeks ago, our Pug Cari gave us a bit of a scare. Theresa came home one evening and noticed a lime-sized bulge on Cari's belly. It was after 5 p.m. on a Friday so we ended up taking her to the emergency vet to get things checked out. The vet examined her and promptly diagnosed her with a inguinal hernia. He needed to operate on her that night and it was hard to go home and worry about what might happen. She was a trooper and the surgery went just fine. The vet told us to keep her quiet for a few days but that doesn't happen when the patient is a headstrong Pug :-) Cari quickly returned to being her bratty self and all seems to be back to normal.

On Saturday we went to the wedding of our friends Rebecca and Mandy. We had a great time celebrating their day with them and the weather couldn't have been better. I want to wish them all the best and may you guys have many years of happiness together.

I want to remind everybody to get out and vote next Tuesday. We will be helping poll watch at our local precinct and I'm hoping the turnout will be heavy. That night we plan on watching the returns at one of the election parties in town. It should be a night to remember and I can't wait.

That's all for now and hopefully I'll have another update before another 3 weeks have gone by.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Good Times

Wow it's hard to believe that October is here and I'm into my 6th week of school. School has been great but it's been hectic journey so far. More on that shortly.

I had a great time when my parents recently came out on their fall visit. The weather was perfect and we sure took advantage of it. My parents attended their first Griz football game and what a wild afternoon it was! The Griz played Central Washington and at one point we were down by 14 points. Montana came back and it was a seesaw battle until the very end. The crowd of 25,000 roared as the Griz kicker punched through a 45 yard field goal as time ran out. It was a great victory for a very young team.

The rest of weekend was relaxing and it was a great break from school. We bummed around Missoula on Saturday/Sunday and went to one of my favorite restaurants. Time always goes by so fast and before I knew it, they were on their way back home.

My mom had the joy of helping me pug sit on Thursday (9/25) when Theresa & Dustin were in Helena. They were pretty good except for little Cari AKA Miss Mouth :-) She's a little squirt and is never shy about expressing herself. Even though she's a brat, she entertains us and makes us laugh. I wouldn't have her any other way.

I've survived my first round of exams and have come through in pretty good shape. My Math exam was a little disappointing with a score of 75 but I'm working hard on improving on the next exam. The bright side of things was getting A's on my MT History & Ethics exams. I'm happy with these scores but there's much more work ahead and several key exams yet to take.

There isn't much else going on besides school but I wanted to get an update up before this week was over. Stay well and I'll catch you sometime next week.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Homecoming 08'

It's been a busy week and I finished the last of my first 3 exams yesterday. I think they went good but we'll see when I get the tests back.

Here's a few pictures of last week's Homecoming game along with one of a recent Pug pile. The Griz came from behind and pulled off an exciting victory over UC-Davis. Hopefully they can keep things rolling this week when they host Central Washington.

Sorry for the quick update but I'll return sometime next week.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lungs gone wild

Wow it's been a little while since I've posted but man school's been keeping me occupied. More on that latter but first some other news of what's been going on as of late.

I've been having a bit of a breathing issue and hopefully it's coming under control. A few weeks ago I ended up in the E.R. with breathing difficulties. My breathing was causing some high pressure issues with my vent and after a steroid treatment I was sent home. The issue got better but I continued to have flare ups. We visited with the RT and after consultation it was decided that my lungs were having compliance issues. This made me chuckle but then I had ask what the heck does non-compliant lungs mean. It basically means that my lungs have lost some of their elasticity. They aren't sure why this happened but at least it doesn't sound too serious. My pulmonologist added a new breathing treatment and we're starting to see some improvement. Hopefully things will keep getting better.

This past Tuesday night I went to the university to hear the riveting story of Hiroshima bombing survivor Shigeko Sasamori. She was 13 on the fateful morning of August 6th, 1945 when the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Her story was one of the most powerful that I've ever heard. How she survived is a true miracle and hearing something this makes you realize the pure evil that man can cause. The debate over the decision to drop the bomb will continue to rage on but when will mankind realize how pointless war is. Ms. Sasamori's story is a cautionary one in this age of continuing atomic expansion. You can click here to check out the story of Ms. Sasamori's visit to UM.

School has been good but this semester is my busiest yet. Math has been a drag but I keep telling myself that it will all be over soon :-) We have our first exam on Wednesday and it doesn't sound like it will be too bad. Montana history has been good and the lectures have been pretty interesting. I'm almost finished with the first book for this class and that makes me pretty happy. We have our first exam for this class on Wednesday too. It will be a two question essay and I'm feeling pretty good about it. Lastly, my ethics class has been pretty tough and it takes effort on my part to stay on task with the reading. The professor is awesome and it's the highlight of my day to attend his lectures. They are certainly never dull! We have our first exam on Monday and I'll be spending the weekend getting ready for it.

It's homecoming week on campus and we were fortunate enough to snag 3 tickets for this Saturday's game. The stadium had renovations over the summer and they now have room for over 25,000 rowdy fans. I'm looking forward to my first homecoming game and it should prove to be a memorable experience.

My folks are making a fall visit to Missoula next and I'm so excited. It will be great to hang out for a few days and we will be taking in a Griz game while they are here. Will be a nice break from the craziness of school.

Take care for now and if you missed the start SNL last Saturday, I've included it for your comedic pleasure.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Golden nugget

I had to take a small break from studying to share this recent golden nugget from the Daily Show. I just love when the conservatives get caught in their words :-) Oh what a tangled web we weave!

Enjoy and I’ll be back this weekend with an update.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A great start...

The last unofficial weekend of summer has come and gone.  As luck would have it the weather was cool, cloudy and rainy.  It's not the first cruddy Labor Day I've been through and it gave me a opportunity to do some studying.  The rain has been great and it should help bring an  early end to the 2008 fire season.

School got underway last Monday and I had a good starting week.  The classes will be a little more challenging than last year but I feel prepared for that.  My first class of the morning is contemporary math and it doesn't seem that bad.  It's geared towards majors where math is a basic requirement and it deals with current issues in mathematics.  The first few chapters are timely as they deal with elections and the various types of voting systems.  I'm so happy this is my final math class and I plan to celebrate when this one is over :-)

The second class I have is Montana History.  It's a big lecture class and it looks to be quite interesting.  I'm a history buff and it will be great to learn more about Montana.  We have 4 books to read this semester and each book is tied to a specific period in Montana history.  The first book is quite good and the other 3 sound like they won't be too bad.  

The last on campus class I have is Great Traditions (Ethics).  This will be my most challenging class I have and it requires a great deal of complex reading.  It's centered around the classic works of Aristotle, Kant, Mills and Nietzsche.  We have a great professor and he makes the lectures very enjoyable which definitely is a plus.  I hope I won't be gaining a bunch of gray hair with this class.  The first exam will be a pretty good indicator.

It's nice to have only two days of school this week.  Gives me a chance to get ahead in the game.  Friday I'm helping out the College Dems with voter registration and that should be fun.  Hopefully many students will get involved and exercise their right to vote.  The future of our country is at stake and we face severe consequences if we don't change where things are headed.

That's it for my first update of September.  I'm hoping to check out Hemp Fest this weekend and if I go I'll take my camera along.  


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wild weekend

This past Saturday, I celebrated another year of conquering my old foe of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  We've battled each other for 33 years now and I have no desire to give my formidable opponent an inch anytime soon.  It's great to be one of many with DMD who have lived much longer than the medical establishment ever gave us a chance to.  Hopefully I'll be thumbing my nose at this disease for many more years to come.

My birthday was pretty laid back and it was a really good day.  The highlight of the day was when we went to the newly opened Hooters for dinner.  It was a little bit of a zoo since they had only been open a few days but the scenery made up for that :-)  Wings, drinks, flat screen TV’s and pretty waitresses.  Does it get any better than that?  I don’t think so!  Seriously though, it was just great being with friends and celebrating the day together.  

Sunday was the direct opposite of the fun day we had on Saturday.  At about 10:30 in the morning the power went out at our house.  It turned out that our neighbor’s son was hauling something down our alley and he took out a few power poles in the process.  We were in the two block area that was affected and to make matters worse, the temperature reached a high of 100. It was a long hot afternoon but we survived just fine.  The power came back on at 8:30 that night and we were all pretty glad about that.

My second year of college gets underway on Monday and I’m ready to get started. I’ll be taking Contemporary Math, Montana History, History of Rock n’ Roll, and an ethics class this fall.  These classes will be pretty interesting I think and I’m happy to be taking my final math class.  The only downside to the semester is that I have 10 textbooks and there will be a heavy load of reading.  Hopefully most of the reading will be fairly interesting and not too boring.

That’s it for this update but before I sign off I’d like to give a brief summary of the video that leads off this post.  Matt Eddy is a vent user from Massachusetts and he’s currently wheeling across the country to raise awareness for Matt’s Place.  Matt’s Place is a charity that seeks to provide housing and care options to adults with severe physical disabilities.  Matt’s Place wants to give institutionalized adults with disabilities the chance to live in the community and be contributing members of society.  If you’d like to learn more about Matt’s Place please take the time to check out the clip.  You can also track Matt’s progress by checking out his blog from the road at


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fun at the Fair

I’ve been a bit of a slacker with my blog lately but I’m trying to enjoy every moment of vacation that remains.  Things will be more balanced when schools starts and my video blogs should be returning in September.

The dog days of summer have settled in here in Missoula and we've been having the hottest temperatures of the summer.  Hey at least the skies are clear and we’re not having the heavy smoke we had last summer.   The fire situation is pretty stable for now and the rain we had over the weekend should help out.

The Western Montana Fair was in town last week and we went last Thursday.  It was a blazing hot day with temps near 100 but we had a very enjoyable time.  My highlight of the fair is always the selection of culinary delights and I was not disappointed.  I had my traditional Viking along with fresh squeezed lemonade, fry bread and a pulled pork sandwich.  Everything was delicious and I went home with a very happy belly.  

I also visited the 4H Barn and viewed the menagerie of critters inside.  They had goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, llamas, and of course horses.  A couple of the highlights were a 2600 pound long horn steer that was huge and the other was the adorable miniature horses that our former nurse Kimbra raises.  It was fun to be sniffed out by one of the minis.  I’ve included some pictures and I’d like to thank my friend Mandy for taking them for me.  The fair was a great time and I can’t wait until it rolls into town next August.

The countdown to fall semester is on and there are two weeks remaining of summer vacation.  I’ll be taking 12 credits and I had to tweak my schedule to fit with my nursing schedule.  My on campus classes will fall on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I’ll also be taking an online class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This fall will be busy but I’m looking forward to the challenge that school will bring.  Hopefully I can knock the cobwebs off my brain without too much trouble J

I’m up late tonight watching the Olympics and wow what a wild few days it’s been.  The swimming has been my favorite and Michael Phelps has been absolutely dazzling to watch.  It’s amazing to see these athletes perform at a level that pushes the limits of the human body.  Hopefully Mr. Phelps can make history and win more gold medals than anyone has previously.

Stay well and I’ll return soon…Mark

Monday, July 28, 2008

DRM Dedication

Thursday afternoon the three of us along with Cari packed in the van and headed over to Helena for an overnight.  Dustin had a board meeting and we all wanted to attend the Friday dedication/open house for the new Disability Rights MT (Montana P & A) office.  The ride over to Helena was enjoyable as always with the mountain scenery going by.  It really makes the two hour trip over there go by pretty quick.

Dustin spent the evening at his meeting while we went over to the hotel to unload our luggage and respiratory paraphernalia.  It was Cari's first trip out of town with us and needless to say she was pretty excited.  There were so many things to check out at the hotel and she wasn't going to miss anything.  She was a pretty pooped Pug by the end of the evening.  
Friday we attended the noon dedication for Disability Rights Montana's (DRM) newly renovated building .  The dedication was brief and it was cool to see those who worked on this project get the recognition they deserve.  Dustin serves on their BOD and it was nice to be there with him.  After the dedication they served up hot dogs to those in attendance and it was a great way to end the festivities.  This new headquarters will serve DRM well as they continue their advocacy on behalf of Montanans with disabilities.

We returned to Missoula on Friday night and it was a pretty laid back weekend.  My weekends will be getting much busier soon when school starts.  School starts on August 25th and the only thing left to do is purchase my textbooks and get them scanned onto CD.  It feels good to be heading into my 2nd year and hopefully things will go well for me this fall.

Well before school starts, I plan on enjoying the rest of my vacation.  We have a few things planned to do in August with the Western Montana Fair being at the top of the list.  Can't wait to satisfy my fair food cravings :-)

Hope everyone is having a enjoyable summer so far and I'll be back next week.

Stay well...Mark

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's been a week of fantastic summer weather here in Big Sky Country and I've been enjoying every minute of it.  We  are now in our dry season here in Missoula and its beginning to show.  Fire season is upon us and we were quickly reminded of that when Mt. Sentinal caught fire last week.  350+ acres were burned in the fire but it was put out fairly quick with the assistance of a bucket carrying helicopter.  Thankfully nobody was hurt and no property was lost.  I've included a few pictures of the fire in this post.

I went to the Steve Earle concert at the University Theater last Saturday night.  I've enjoyed Steve's music for a long time and it was great to finally get to catch him live.  His mix of folk, blues, and rock didn't disappoint and the crowd cheered intensely after each song.  Many of the songs dealt with our criminal in chief AKA Dubya and how our civil rights and beloved democracy have been trampled on during the past 8 years.  So many Americans are fed up with the status quo and needless to say Steve's songs of protest were well received at Saturday's show.

Yesterday we went over to Norco to fine tune my new backrest and we made some significant progress.  They ended up trimming away much of the left support and that was fine because I wasn't using much of it anyway.  This made getting me into my chair much easier and the backrest still holds me great.  The backrest went back to Denver for some more fabrication but it should be back to us in a week or so.  I can't wait!  

Here ends another update but I'll be back next week with another installment.  I'll fill you in then on a new hobby that I'm giving a whirl.  Stay well until then...Mark

Friday, July 11, 2008

I've returned from a wonderful vacation to North Dakota and boy it feels good to be home. It was good to go back east and visit family & friends that I haven't seen in ages. Here's a brief wrap up of the trip.

The trip back to North Dakota went really good and there were no glitches along the way. This made for fairly easy travelling which was really nice. We spent the first night of the trip in Miles City and that went ok. Motel 6 is one of the few chains where I can get my lift under the bed but the mattress was nothing to write home about. Oh well before I knew it morning arrived and we were on the road again.

The excitement kept building as the miles went by and I was glad to be returning to Jamestown a liberated man. It was a strange feeling as we made our way through the town that I left behind for a wonderful new life. Things looked good around town and it was just good to be home.

I crammed in as much as humanly possible during these few days and had a good time doing it. Besides visiting with my friends and family, I did many other things while home. I went up to see the famous Jamestown buffalo, hung out at a street dance, saw some spectacular 4th of July fireworks, ate out at one of the new restaurants in town and finished up by attending the big 125th anniversary parade.

One of the big highlights of being back home was getting to see my grandparents. We were able to spend a great afternoon together and nothing could have been better than that. My mom provided some awesome home cooking which made the day perfect.

The week went by so fast but I was ready to get going back to Missoula. It was a 13 hour long drive back home but it’s a great feeling to have a life of freedom waiting for me. We pulled in around early evening and all the Pugs were at the gate chomping at the bit to welcome me. I think they missed me!

I want to thank my family for taking care of me all week and for putting up with me. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without your efforts.

On a sad note, we are mourning the passing of Theresa’s mom this week. She passed away Monday and she’ll definitely be missed by those whose life she touched. These moments in life are hard to get through but we will support each other and get through it. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Getting close/Cardio visit

In 4 short days I'll be making my pilgrimage back to North Dakota. This week has been busy as the final preparations are coming together. Lots of things to get ready but Theresa and my nurses have done a wonderful job of getting me set to go. I really wish Theresa & Dustin were able to come with us but things didn't work out for that this time. Will sure miss you guys and the Pugs a lot!

Today I went to my cardiologist for the yearly echocardiogram. I'm always a little nervous when I do tests like this because there's always that fear that my heart has grown weaker. Well I received a clean bill of health and some truly awesome results on my heart function. My heart is doing great and functioning at a high level. My cardiologist is a great guy and it's always good to see him. The news today couldn't have made me happier and a high note to start my vacation on.

This will be my last post before heading home for a week but I'll be back during next week with an update from Jamestown.

Take care everyone....Mark

Friday, June 20, 2008

Celebrating Freedom

I finished my summer class on Thursday and summer vacation can now begin! The final was difficult but I'm staying optimistic about it and hoping for the best. This was an important class to get out of the way and I'm one step closer to the completion of my pre reqs. The Fall semester starts for me on August 25th.

This past Wednesday, I did something that I've wanted to do for a very long time. I went to Painless Steel here in Missoula and got my first tattoo! This tattoo is more than just ink to me though. It is a permanent reminder of my 3 1/2 year incarceration and eventual liberation from the nursing home. I've already had many people ask me about it and what a great way for me to speak out against the institutions in this country. Too many people are losing precious years of their lives in these damn places and this has to stop. I've thrived outside of the nursing home and if a guy on a vent can do it, anyone can! My success outside of an institution is proof that home based care is far superior to anything else being offered. I still have days that challenge me but at least I’m in control and can discover my true potential.

A week from this Sunday I'll be hitting the road and returning to North Dakota for a week. It will be a little strange to return to Jamestown after being gone almost two years but I'm looking forward to it. I'm really excited for the chance to catch up with family & friends that I haven't seen since moving to Missoula. This week will be extra special as Jamestown will be celebrating its 125th birthday. There are many events happening during this week of celebration and I'm hoping to take some of them in.

I may have another short update before my trip if time allows. If not, there will be an update or two when I'm on my trip. That is if the technology gods cooperate :-) I’ve added a clip of my favorite song off the new Springsteen CD. Take care and enjoy.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Winter visits in June!

We awoke to quite a scene yesterday as you can see by the pictures. June snow of any kind is rare for these parts but it happens from time to time. I didn't find yesterdays weather very humorous :-) but the weatherman says much warmer weather for the weekend. I maybe can finally break the shorts out.

My poetry class continues to go well and in a week I'm all done. It's been a bit of a crash course in modern poetry but the professor has really been fun. I have enjoyed this class and it's a nice break from the routine stuff I've been taking. All that's really left is to rewrite my first analysis and take the final exam.

The video blog will return sometime after next week. It's just been too much to manage with the schedule I've kept lately. Take care all and I'll be return with another update real soon.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Still around

I've been staying pretty busy lately with school, the primary election and various other odds and ends. The blog has had to be put off a bit but sometimes a break is greatly appreciated.

Montana held its primary this past week and Dustin was on the ballot for House of Rep here in Montana. Unfortunately he wasn't able to advance and it disappoints me that more people involved in the issues we care about didn't support him more. Dustin’s primary opponent Tim is also in the disability arena (in an administrative position) but is out of touch a bit with how important Home & Community based services are here in Montana. He (Tim) actually said that we really need to support the nursing homes because someday we're all going to end up there. That’s troubling to hear because nobody will need to go in a nursing home if you fund care in the home properly. My life is an everyday reminder of how inferior nursing homes really are and I just had to let this bothersome tidbit out there

I’m incredibly proud of Dustin’s quest for a legislative seat. Our government today is sadly lacking people like Dustin who feel the importance of public service. Yes winning would have been great but getting your message out there is important too. Thanks D for the effort!

The highlight of primary night was Barack Obama’s securing of the presidential nomination. It’s been a hard fought campaign and I think the best person prevailed. It remains to be seen what Hillary’s role will be but I wouldn’t mind seeing her in a VP capacity. I think Obama has a great chance to win this fall and hopefully soon our country can heal from the past 8 years of embarrassing and deceitful leadership.

I suppose I should put away the soapbox for tonight and get to work :-) It’s a Saturday night and I have a poetry analysis waiting to be done. Enjoy the pics of Dustin and a very sleepy Harley. Take care and I’ll catch everyone later.


Monday, May 26, 2008


The first week of summer school is finished and I'm enjoying the extended Memorial Day weekend. It's the unofficial start of the summer season but you can't tell by the cool and rainy weather we’ve been having. Oh well at least I've been able to catch up on my Netflix.

My poetry class has been pretty interesting and we wrapped up our brief study of ancient Japanese poetry. I have a haiku due on Tuesday along with a couple of essays to read. The homework is at a pretty relaxed pace and that’s great for a summer class. I’m not sure what my next recitation will be but I think I’ll stick with something contemporary.

Things are pretty quiet around here for Memorial Day. We’re going to grill some hot dogs today and have some pasta salad, chips, etc. It’s a good way to relax on this day of remembrance and break from the weekday rush.

It’s time for me to get out of bed but I’ll try to post a video blog sometime this week. Have a safe and fun Memorial Day and enjoy the clip of one of my favorite George Jones songs.


Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind. -- John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Missoulian Article

The Missoulian ran a story yesterday on Dustin's run for a seat in HD 91. I'm proud of his efforts and wanted to share his story with all of you. Take care...Mark

Advocate for disabled hopes to take fight to Legislature:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I survived!

I have survived a long finals week and made it through my freshman year at UM in the process. Finals went great and I even aced my Geology 100 exam, which shocked me quite a bit. Spring semester grades haven't been finalized yet but hopefully they will be posted soon. It was a difficult semester academically and I'm glad to be finished with my sanity intact. The good thing is that I am done with my required Econ class and no more supply and demand curves!!!

We celebrated the end of school last Friday at my favorite local steakhouse and it was such a nice way to relax and unwind. I only have until Monday to enjoy my time off and then it's back to work. Summer school will be 4 days a week but thankfully it's only one class.

I'll try to post a video blog in the next few days after I experiment a little more. There was a little glitch with my music playing during my first video but that’s been taken care of. Instead I will post clips into my blog of things relating to my current musical tastes. Hopefully things will flow a bit better for everyone who visits here.

It sounds like we'll be getting some summer weather this weekend with highs in the 80's. Finally it will be warm enough to be outside without having to be bundled up. I need to go get ready for a candidates forum tonight but I'll return in a few days with some sort of update.


Monday, May 05, 2008

It's been awhile since an update but preparing for finals keeps a guy pretty busy. This week features the debut of my new video blog segment. This probably will be a weekly thing but it will take time to perfect it. Theresa is my camera person and she does her best with what she has to work with :-)

Enjoy the inaugural video blog and a brief clip from Saturday's Brewfest. Take care...Mark

Friday, April 25, 2008

New arrivals

It's crazy here in Missoula as the school year winds to a close. There are a few loose ends to tie up before the semester ends and oh yeah 4 finals to get ready for. My Math final should be no sweat but the others will be very challenging. I'll be so happy to be done with my Macroeconomics and Geology classes. The professors have been fine but the subject matter has been testing my attention span :-)

In the midst of all this chaos, two great things have happened during this past week. Theresa became a first time grandma and my cousin Jay and his wife Lisa also became the proud parents of twin girls!

Aleah Marie was born to Theresa's son David and his wife Sarah last Saturday. Theresa and Dustin were over in Helena for a meeting so the timing couldn't have been any better. Aleah is so cute and I couldn't be happier for her grandma and parents. It will be awesome to get to meet Aleah and watch her grow up. The first two pictures are of little Aleah in case your wondering.

My cousin Jay and his wife Lisa became first time parents on Wednesday. Sabrina and Summer are both healthy and doing great. My grandma is thrilled to be a first time great-grandma twice over and I'm so happy for her. It will be great to watch the twins grow up and it's exciting to see another cousin start a family. The last picture is of the twins with a very proud papa.

I'm in the process of making my plans for this upcoming summer. Summer school lasts until June 20th and that will give about an 8 week summer vacation. At the end of June, I'll be heading east back to North Dakota for a visit. I'll be home for about a week and I can't wait to see my family and friends. Hopefully they will all still recognize me HA HA The rest of my summer will consist of bumming around Missoula, attending a few Osprey games and of course taking in the Western MT Fair. Definetly not a bad way to spend summer in Big Sky country.


"Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act." --Truman Capote

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Return of the Rocket Man

It’s been a little while since an update but school has kept me well occupied. Two weeks to go until finals are here, and then I’ll have a short break before summer school begins. I’ll be taking Intro to Poetry to fulfill my humanities requirement. Hopefully it will be somewhat interesting.

On Friday April 11th Sir Elton John returned to Missoula for a much anticipated encore performance. We had been waiting for several months to see Elton and the wait sure was worth it. He rocked the house and treated the Garden City to an evening that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

We arrived at the arena about 90 minutes before the show and the line was already quite long. After what seemed like an eternity, we made it inside the arena to our seats which were amazingly close to the stage. The crowd was giddy with anticipation as they waited for this music legend to take the stage.

The house lights went dark and the crowd went absolutely crazy. The lights came back up and Elton started right into Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding which is a personal fave of mine. Elton’s piano mastery was something to behold and what a way to start things off. He then went right into the Bitch is Back before saying hi to the frenzied crowd. After almost every song Elton would pump his fist in the air or get up and interact with different sections of the crowd.

He played all the hits during his 2 ½ hour set and gave the audience all he had. I really thought these songs stood out: Take Me To The Pilot, Levon, Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, Rocket Man, Philadelphia Freedom, Pinball Wizard, I'm Still Standing, and of course Your Song. It was unreal as Elton and his band kept playing song after song. Thought maybe he was planning on playing all through the night :-)

I’ve attended quite a few concerts in my life and this performance ranks right up there. This Missoula moment will be pretty hard to top that’s for sure. Enjoy the pictures/video clip and I’ll be back in a couple days with a few exciting bits of info.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A part of history

Anticipation flowed through my veins as I awoke early Saturday morning. Barack Obama was in Missoula and in a few short hours I would be listening to him speak! A moment like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Theresa, Dustin, and I made our way to the Adams Center about 9 a.m. Surprisingly traffic wasn’t bad as we drove through the campus but the line of people waiting outside the arena stretched for blocks. We made our way through the massive crowd and one of the Obama volunteers spotted us and helped us inside. There was a short delay while we waited for security to inspect our wheelchairs but soon we were on our way to our seats.

We sat up in the skybox level which was a long way from the floor but we could see the stage pretty well. You could feel the electricity build as the arena filled up to capacity with eager spectators. Cheers emanated through the crowd as the 10 o’clock hour approached. Things got kicked off with Missoula mayor John Engen and he was followed by several other campaign staff and volunteers.

At around 10 a.m. Barack was introduced and he made his way to the stage as the thunderous chords of U2’s City of Blinding Lights blared overhead. Missoula was on its feet and ready to hear the man and his message.

I was expecting Obama to be a wonderful orator and he didn’t disappoint. He’s been criticized as having little substance in his speeches but I didn’t find that to be true at all. He has many excellent ideas and thanks to Dubya’s 8 years in power, it may take some painful measures to turn things around. Healthcare is a big concern for Obama as is the need to cut taxes on those earning $75,000 or less. I also liked his idea of providing large tax credits to college students in exchange for community service work.

Barack left the stage after talking over 45 minutes and I don’t think anybody left the arena disappointed. Missoula made history last weekend with visits by two presidential contenders and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I’ve included some pics and video of the Missoula speech courtesy of


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Obama Time

After much speculation, Barack Obama’s campaign announced that the Senator will be making a stop in Missoula Saturday morning. He will be speaking at the University arena and they are estimating a crowd of 7,500 people.

Theresa, Dustin, and I got on Obama’s website last night and were able to secure three tickets before they were all gone. We are all so excited at the chance of seeing a historic candidate in an election year like no other. Obama’s optimism is something our country has been lacking for many years and I feel he is the man for the job. I will post some pictures if we’re close enough to take any.

My breathing is much improved since last weekend’s episode but I’m a little fatigued yet. The meds seem to be working good and I’m sure that I’ll be feeling 100% very soon. Theresa has been taking great care of me along with the assistance of our Nurse Ugga the Pug :-) I still marvel at how in tune animals can be when their humans aren’t feeling up to par.

That’s it for now but I’ll be back this weekend with an update of the rally. Peace…Mark

It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today. -- Barack Obama

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring break trip

I got to take a trip Saturday morning and unfortunately it wasn’t to an exotic sandy beach. It was a trip to the ER where I had a morning of poking, prodding and X-rays. Not the way I was envisioning ending an otherwise relaxing week :-)

It all started Friday when I went out to lunch and a matinee at the theater. My chest began hurting and my breathing got really tight during the afternoon. I crawled into bed, took some Tylenol and it seemed to help for a little while, that is until I wanted to turn the lights off.

At about 1 a.m. my ventilator pressures continued to rise and this caused my vent alarm to sound constantly. I tried my nebs and Cough Assist treatments but things didn’t improve. Eventually I was able to sleep for 90 minutes but then the problems returned. I decided it was time to seek medical help and the ambulance took me to the ER.

They did a breathing treatment right away and that helped a little. I played the role of the human pincushion for about an hour and finally they hit pay dirt. We also did an X-ray and a few other tests to rule some things out. The doc came in and said I had a slight inflammation in my lung tissue. I was discharged Saturday afternoon and sent home with a supply of steroid meds and antibiotics. The folks at Community Hospital were great and took awesome care of me. They remembered me from my last visit and that helped out a lot.

I felt much better last night and slept great. Today I’ve done well and I feel almost normal. Oh well the weekend wasn’t dull and spring break has come to a close. I’ll be going to class tomorrow if things continue to go fine. 6 weeks to go and I can feel the intensity building already.

Peace, Mark

Getting out of the hospital is a lot like resigning from a book club. You're not out of it until the computer says you're out of it. -- Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Its Spring Break week here in Western MT and I’m really enjoying the downtime. No big plans during this week except to relax and catch up on a few things that have been on the back burner. Friday I’m going to head to the movies and bum around town for the afternoon. Hey maybe next year I can plan my trip to Cabo or Cancun :-)

Monday I’ll be ready to get back to work and make the final assault on my remaining 6 weeks as a UM freshman. It’s a great feeling to almost be done and hopefully the next steps will result in admission to the Journalism School. I’ll be meeting with my advisor soon to set my schedule for Fall 08 and go over my summer school plans. Applying to the Journalism School won’t happen until March 2009 but that will be here before I know it.

Last week was tough as we lost Dustin’s Grandma Rose. She was a great lady and she touched all of those who knew her. I only knew her for a short time but she always made me feel like part of the family when we were together. Words are inadequate to describe the loss of people like Rose but I will miss her very much.

Here’s ends my Spring Break update but I’ll have another as school commences next week. I want to wish our friend MJ in Ohio all the best as she continues a long hospitalization. Keep up the fight girl and I hope you get the heck out of there soon!

Peace, Mark

Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. ~Rossiter Worthington Raymond

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

There’s one week to go until spring break and I’ll definitely need the break. I have major exams this week in Poli Sci, Macroeconomics, and math. I’ve studied hard and hopefully I will do well. No major plans for break except to relax and not think of school :-)

This weekend I went to the Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Championship at the university. It was a blast and the Griz women crushed Montana St. 101-65 to earn a berth to the big dance. The pairings will be announced on ESPN today and hopefully the women will have a successful tournament.

We’ll be celebrating St. Patty’s Day with the traditional corn beef and the trimmings. It was so good last year and I’ll be looking forward to that all day! It’s time for me to head off to class but I’ll be back next week with another update. Take care and I’ve attached a few pictures from the weekend. Peace…Mark

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; I'm not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

Friday, March 07, 2008

It's the end of another crazy week and where do I begin. Wednesday night I was downtown to catch the CrippleXXX comedy tour as it passed through Missoula. Two of the comics were from Seattle and they were pretty funny, edgy, and outrageous. Missoula's own (and friend of ours) Mike Beers was the opening act and he was awesome as usual. A late night but a good time I must say.

School continues to chug along and in 8 more weeks my freshman year will wrap up. Hard to believe! I had my Geology test Monday and it went well. Grades will be given back next week, so I guess we'll see. The best news of the week is that I managed to get a 98 on my 2nd math test. It's been so much work but the results are worth it. I have a big midterm in Macroeconomics on March 19th, so most of my attention is now focused on that. Spring break is after that and I can’t wait!

I've been starting to get involved with ADSUM (students w/ disabilities group) on campus. ADSUM deals with improving the college experience for students with disabilities at the University of Montana. They also work with any barriers or issues that arise. It’s been good to meet some new people and be involved with a campus group.

I'm happy to announce that Dustin is running for House District 91 here in Montana. Running for public office requires quite a commitment and I wish him all the best in this endeavor. You can visit his campaign website for more details.

That all for now from Big Sky country and hopefully I’ll be back with another update real soon. Take care until then. Peace…Mark

Dustin for House Dist. 91:

"He who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints." -- Joan Brannon

Thursday, February 28, 2008


It's another crazy week with school keeping me busy but here are some pictures from last week's visit. We had a blast and it was a great break from school. Peace...Mark

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can. ~- Danny Kaye

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I went to the University Center today to hear Eleanor Smith speak. Eleanor heads up Concrete Change and she is this country's guru/expert on the concept of visitability. Visitability is a movement to mandate that every new home built has one no-step entrance, an accessible half or full bath on the main floor, and 32+ inch doors throughout the residence. Visitability has worked great in the parts of this country where it's been made law. Eleanor was great to listen to and hopefully we can be successful here in Missoula with adopting visitability.

School continues to roll on and I have an exam in Poli Sci. Wednesday. I've studied hard and hopefully that will translate into a good score. Everything else is routine in the school department.

Thursday will be a great day as some of my family will be flying in for the weekend. I'm looking forward to a fun and enjoyable weekend. My dad has to stay back in North Dakota to keep up with tax season but he'll be out here after the rush is over.

Before I close I'd like to ask for prayers and positive thoughts for my friend MJ in Ohio. She's having surgery tomorrow to get a trach and here's hoping that things go great. Take care and I'll be back soon.



Concrete Change:

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher. ~Thomas Henry Huxley

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's been 10 days since the last post and wow how the time flies! Things are well and school continues to keep me pretty busy. The results from my first math test came back yesterday and I managed a 94. Hopefully this means I'll continue to survive this dreaded subject. The other classes have been uneventful but the next few weeks will bring more exams.

Wednesday I went out to Community Rehab and had the chance to meet Tom (co-owner) of Ride Designs. Ride Designs is based in Denver and they specialize in wheelchair seating. We talked about what I was looking for in a backrest and Tom took a mold of my upper body. The molding process involved putting a bag full of styrofoam pellets against my back. Then they massaged the pellets into the places I need support. When we were satisfied with my positioning, an air compressor was used to tighten down a mold that could be casted. The casting will go to Denver so the backrest can be manufactured. I'm excited that finally we may have a cushion that will make me comfortable. A big thanks to Tom, Mary, and all the others who helped out with this process.

That's it for now and I'll try to get another post out soon. Some of my family is flying into Missoula next week and I can't wait! Will be fun to hang out for a few days and catch up.



Ride Designs:

“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” --Walt Disney

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I'm hunkered down in my bed tonight juggling studying with watching the Super Tuesday returns. There's a sense of optimism with me as I hope that our country can finally get back on the right path. I was happy to see my home state (ND) won by Obama! It looks like a long race to the finish but that's not a bad thing for political junkies like me.

School continues to go fine but I can't remember when I've read so much :-) On Thursday I'll be taking my first math test and I'm actually feeling pretty good about it. I like not being rushed to get to class in the morning but going everyday sure makes the week fly by. The weekends sure are appreciated.

In Pug news, our gang of brats was selected to grace the homepage of the Pug owner group that we belong to. I had to put their picture on my post this week! Words can't describe how much joy they all bring to our lives.

Well time to wrap it up so I can go eat and watch more returns. I'll try to be back soon with a little lengthier update. Take care until then!



We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. -- John F. Kennedy

Sunday, January 27, 2008

At it again

Whew the first week of the semester has past and things feel pretty good. My classes are in all new areas of study and it could make for an interesting semester. The good thing is that my classes are mostly 50 minutes long and that helps my attention span greatly :-)

My favorite class will definitely be American Government. Politics has always been a love of mine and with the election season upon us I can't think of a better time to take this class. The only bad thing is with two books to get through for this class, there will be tons of reading.

After American Government we have to hustle across campus to be in attendance for my Geology lecture class. I really didn't have an itching desire to take this one but I need a natural science to get into the Journalism school. The professor seems funny and we are going to be trying out some new technology to communicate as a class. You can check out for more info.

Then after Geology it's off to Macroeconomics to finish out the afternoon. Macro isn't too bad except for learning a good deal of new terminology. Math plays a part in this class and hopefully it won't be so bad if I can learn the formulas.

I'm taking my math class on the days when I'm not on the main campus. Math isn't bad so far and we have a really good professor which helps. The only problem I've had is that when my math book was scanned onto CD, they only scanned the odd pages :-) That will be remedied tomorrow when they give me the entire book.

That's spring semester in a nutshell and I'm trying to keep my blogging on track for weekly updates. We'll see how that goes as the semester progresses.



A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. Herm Albright

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sensational Saturday

View this slideshow created at One True Media
Brad Paisley Missoula MT 1/19/08

The Adams Center was rockin' Saturday night as Brad Paisley dazzled those of us in attendance. The show was fantastic and he definitely is one of the top entertainers in all of music. Chuck Wicks & Rodney Adkins opened the show for Brad and they were really good as well. A great way to end my winter break from school. Enjoy the pics!

Life gets back to routine again as I start my spring semester. Math is on the agenda tomorrow and I'm not really excited about that but it must be done. I'm thinking my favorite classes this spring will be Macroeconomics and Intro to American Government. Another step on the path :-)

That's it for now but I'll be back this weekend with a recap of the start of school.



A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A better week

I'm feeling better this week and hopefully the antibiotics were all that was needed. I visit my primary doc on Thursday and I'm sure x-rays will be taken to see what my lungs are up to. The only thing I'm noticing is being a little more tired than usual but I can deal with that. At least my Coumadin levels are finally back in their normal range after being in flux.

Classes resume for me on next Tuesday and I'm feeling ready. Yesterday I ran around and finalized a few school things. I purchased my textbooks and ran them over to Disability Services so they could be scanned onto CD. There will be much more reading this semester but that's fine with me. My Poli-sci class has two books but I'm sure we won't be covering it all. The best part of this semester is no morning classes :-)

I'm looking forward to the final weekend of my break. On Saturday I'm going to see Brad Paisley in concert at the sold out Adams Center. I'm not a really big country music fan but Brad is someone who I really like. Should be an awesome show and if cameras are allowed I'll have picture next week.

I was finally able to download my pics from my camera and I decided to put a few here. They are from Christmas and I had to include one of Dustin's little cousin Trent. It was his first Christmas and he had a good time. The last one is of our sweet Ugga after we put her in a doggie Seahawks jersey. Was a bit snug and it gave her a few extra rolls....LOL

That's it for this week but before I go I want to wish my sister (1/2) and mom (1/18) a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Geez you guys are getting old :-)