Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Blog Is Back

I'm going to slowly start trying this blog again. By slowly, I mean just one post a month for right now. With school and everything else in my life, more would just be too hard, I think.

I'd like to dedicate this post to those words we all use in everyday conversation, jokes, or as mocking insults. Words that hurt even those they aren't directed at. You all know what I mean - words like retard or cripple - and the attitude that goes with them.

We don't even notice that we're doing it half the time. A friend makes a stupid comment and the automatic response that comes out of many mouths (especially teenagers) is, "Retard!" It's accepted as an insult and everyone knows what it means. Yet it's a serious problem in terms of being a serious insult to people who truly do have mental disabilities, and a sometimes fatal blow to people's self esteem.

Right now, the Special Olympics is doing something called the R-word Pledge that goes like this:
"I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities."
It's worth looking into, especially if you find you have children who throw the word around carelessly. I know my teens do and I've spoken to them about it repeatedly. Unfortunately without success.

Really it's just a matter of putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Think how you would feel if you had a mental disability that already made you selfconscious about your abilities. Then imagine what it would feel like to offer an opinion on an issue and have a friend respond by calling you the R-word. They aren't doing it to be purposely hurtful, but it hits right at the most insecure part of you, where you already doubt your own self-worth and whether your opinion has any validity.

I know I feel it. Not with regards to my mental abilities, but physical ones. Despite the fact that I've proven over and over again to myself and others that I am just as capable as any two-handed person, I still suffer from extreme insecurity about my capabilities of doing anything physical. So when someone calls me a cripple and says that I can't do such-and-such because of it, it truly is a blow to my already suffering self esteem.

Having felt it, I can honestly say I hope I never cause another person to feel the same way. I do my best to guard my words to avoid any "slur" that can harm another, no matter whether it is racial, sexual, mental or physical in origin. It truly plays into the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The negative of that statement holds true as well. "Do not do unto others as you would not wish to have done to you."

Keep that in mind before you open your mouth to say what you think is harmless.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bye Bye

Unfortunately, this blog didn't take off like I'd hoped. Originally I'd dreamt of others like me wanting to join and take turns posting so it wouldn't all be on my shoulders (which at the moment have way too much on them anyway).

So I'll be stopping it until I have more time in my life.

Take care of yourselves!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Help (and Hope) For All

Sorry, guys! I never meant to go so long without posting. Over two months *yikes* But life has been insanely busy, what with a new job (finally!) and trying to find a new place to live.

You know how that goes :)

Once again, I'd like to devote my post to deserving organizations that are devoted to helping disabled people live full and as independent as possible lives. One of them I know about only from seeing their commercials on television, and my visit to their website for research while writing this post. The other is a group I've known of for years thanks to my mom, and for personal reasons, it's near and dear to my heart.

Easter Seals

While researching this group, I was astounded by the history of it. The original group (under the name of National Society for Crippled Children) was the first ever of this type. And it came about from tragedy, as so many wonderful things often do.

Here is an excerpt from their website that tells the history of the group:

The Story of Easter Seals

Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for nearly 90 years. From child development centers to physical rehabilitation and job training for people with disabilities, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life's challenges and achieve personal goals.

Tragedy Leads to Inspiration

In 1907, Ohio-businessman Edgar Allen lost his son in a streetcar accident. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. Through this new hospital, Allen was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired by this discovery, in 1919 Allen founded what became known as the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind.

The Birth of the Seal

In the spring of 1934, the organization launched its first Easter "seals" campaign to raise money for its services. To show their support, donors placed the seals on envelopes and letters. Cleveland Plain Dealer cartoonist J.H. Donahey designed the first seal. Donahey based the design on a concept of simplicity because those served by the charity asked "simply for the right to live a normal life."

The lily -- a symbol of spring -- was officially incorporated as Easter Seals' logo in 1952 for its association with resurrection and new life and has appeared on each seal since.

Easter Seals Emerges

The overwhelming public support for the Easter "seals" campaign triggered a nationwide expansion of the organization and a swell of grassroots efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. By 1967, the Easter "seal" was so well recognized, the organization formally adopted the name "Easter Seals."

Easter Seals Today

Easter Seals offers help, hope and answers to more than a million children and adults living with autism and other disabilities or special needs and their families each year. Services and support are provided through a network of more than 550 sites in the U.S. and through Ability First Australia. Each center provides exceptional services that are individualized, innovative, family-focused and tailored to meet specific needs of the particular community served.

And the services they offer, especially for children, are amazing. They have child development centers that serve over 7,000 children in the US. It is the largest of its type of child care centers in the US.

What so many people don't realize with disabled people is that the sooner they have the help and support they need, the more independent they learn to be. Easter Seals recognizes that and strives to help these children grow to their fullest potential.

But they don't forget the adults and families either. They have medical services and job training and so much more. If I tried to list everything they offer, this post would never end. Definitely a wonderful group and a worthy cause if you ever have spare money that you're looking to donate.


As those of you who have followed this blog know, I am steadily going blind, and the doctors say that there is nothing they can do to stop it. Because of that and my mom's association with Fidelco, this organization is very close to my heart.

Fidelco is a group that trains guide dogs, and their clients range all over North America, though the group is based in New England. My mom spent years as a foster mom for Fidelco pups, raising them until they were a year old and they left for their intensive training.

Although other groups use other types of dogs, Fidelco trains only German shepherds. They are intelligent, caring dogs that are extremely loyal to their masters.

Some of the things the dogs are trained to do, that I personally find interesting, are: to lay under their owner's feet, between the feet and the chair legs, so the owner always knows where they are; and to nudge a tiny bell near the base of the door when they need to go out. Neat tricks.

I'm hoping, when my eyes are bad enough, that I will be lucky enough to get a Fidelco dog to help me remain as independent as I've always been.

Here is a youtube video that they link to on their site called Share the Vision. Since I'm writing this at work, I haven't seen it. Youtube is blocked from these computers. (That's also why this post has no pictures.) Let me know what you think of it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Miracles and Religion

Well, I didn't get many questions from the last post, except for Glam (thanks, sweetie), so I'm going to let that sit for a bit longer.

The Miracle of Kathy Miller

I know a lot of you are younger than me (wah!!) and might not remember a made-for-television movie from 1981 (after all, I was only nine), but The Miracle of Kathy Miller stuck with me. Confession: I couldn't remember the name when I first started thinking of using it in a post. I only remembered that her name was Kathy. A big thanks to Megora at CC for getting me the name.

Here is a review for the movie:

Helen Hunt is outstanding as the real-life Kathy Miller, a 13-year-old Arizona athlete and honor student whose world came to a screeching halt in 1977. Struck by a car on a lonely highway, Kathy spends the next ten weeks in a coma. Upon awakening, she is unable to walk, talk, read or write: she has sustained massive brain damage and her leg has been mutilated. The experts say "No hope", but neither Kathy nor her parents (Sharon Gless, Frank Converse) will settle for that diagnosis. After eight torturous months of physical and mental therapy, Kathy Miller is entered in a 6-mile race -- the first of many stepping stones to her ultimate status as a world champion.
Now why did I love it so much? It was such an inspiration to me. Here was this girl, just a little older than me, who had suffered something so much worse than only having one arm, and she didn't just survive. She didn't just live. She TRIUMPHED!

Her attitude made me realize exactly how possible it is for people (no matter their difficulties) to accomplish anything.


I was watching movies late at night a few years ago and came across this one. Since I really can't stand Macaulay Culkin as an actor, I almost changed the channel.

Instead, I ended up changing my mind about his acting ability.

He is amazing in this movie, playing wheelchair bound Roland. Now, I didn't see the entire thing, so I don't know why he was unable to walk, but it really doesn't matter. Neither does the fact that he's a secondary character. Or that I hated the whole plot of the movie.

I would watch it again just to see him play Roland.

It was the same way when I watched Sean Penn in I Am Sam. I learned to absolutely adore him. He played the part of a mentally retarded man so well.

Here Sam is being read a goodnight story by his young daughter.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I can't believe I haven't done a post here in 25 days! That's awful.

There are reasons.

1) Yuna was here. We has a blast! (Granted she's been gone for 12 days, but who's counting?)

2) It's difficult to write really personal stuff like what's posted here. That's part of why I dropped the memoir book some of the original posts came from.

3) I've been trying to ready that interview, only to realize something about myself - I'm a crappy interviewer. I can't think of questions to ask. So I'm going to ask this person if s/he will just do a post instead.

So that's it. Tomorrow (when I have more than 2 hours sleep) I will do a real post. In the meantime, what sort of questions do you have about what being handicaped is like?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pain and Deadly Weapons

Sorry, folks, but the interview is going to be postponed for a few days. Time differences (and busy lives) have made it difficult to schedule.

Hurting Yourself

Yep, hurting yourself. When you wear a prosthesis (an artificial body part), it happens. The worst one ever for me happened when I was 5 years old.

I'd asked my teacher repeatedly to let me go to the bathroom. She finally said yes, and I ran out of the room and down the hallway. I was running fast enough that I didn't see the sign:

Put running and wet, slippery tiles together, and you almost always get disaster. Add in a metal hook, and a trip to the ER is inevitable.

I slipped, skidding face first down the hall. Like most people, when I fall, I put my hands (or hand and hook as the case is for me) out to catch myself. Didn't work so well :)

Instead my face landed on the end of my hook with enough force to push it all the way into my jaw bone. No matter how hard I pulled, I couldn't get it out.

I sat there screaming (which is hard to do with a prosthesis stuck in your jaw!), hoping someone would come help me. It felt like hours before one of the teachers showed up. She tried pulling the hook out too, but it was seriously lodged into the bone.

A call to my mom and a fun ride in an ambulance, then I was sitting in the ER. The doctor was great! He thought the whole thing hysterical, the first time he'd ever seen something like that. He had me laughing despite how much it hurt.

It took a lot of novacaine and a lot more pain before my hook was extracted, but he got it out. Then 11 stitches to close it up.

I still have that scar on my chin reminding me to never run on wet floors.

Hurting Others

When a prosthesis becomes so much a part of you that you really think of it as your missing body part, you can do a ton of damage without even realizing it.

Like in second grade. I was standing on a stepstool at the blackboard doing some math problems. And when I work on something like that, I get totally engrossed. The world around me just fades into nothing.

So when my friend Joey called my named, I jumped and spun around on the stool.

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I spin around really fast, my arms swing out to the sides and spin with me. Really bad thing to happen.

Joey was standing right behind me, so when my prosthesis arm spun out and around, it clocked him right on the side of the head. Knocking him unconscious.

I was horrified! Here was my best friend, out cold on the floor because of me. Another ambulance arriving at school.

He woke up just as the ambulance got there (thank God!), but it taught me well. Very well. That is the very reason why I stopped wearing my prosthesis the day I found out I was pregnant.

Useful Tool Or Deadly Weapon?

I played soccer in high school (though not very well at all), and we were at Ethel Walker school for a game in my junior year. I was running behind and changed as quickly as I could into my uniform.

As I ran out to take my place on the field, the ref blew his whistle. We all stopped and stared at him. He wasn't supposed to do that until the game actually started.

The coaches and the ref huddled together for a few moments. The ref gestured wildly just like you see on tv sometimes.

I stood there bored and snickering at the sight of the weird ref doing whatever. Then my coach called me over.

"You have to leave the field," the ref told me.


I guess it showed on my face because he continued, "You can not play soccer while carrying a deadly weapon."

Double huh?

He pointed to my prosthesis which I had forgotten to take off. Mortification doesn't even begin to describe it.

I quickly took it off (takes talent to do that without removing your shirt :)) and threw it at his feet, then stomped back to my position. Never again did I forget to take it off before a game.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's All In The Attitude

Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching? ~Dennis and Wendy Mannering

Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left. ~Hubert Humphrey

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit

I don't usually start a post with quotes, but these seemed rather appropriate to the post I want to write. The title really says it all - It's all in the attitude.

Even commercials say it ("Never let them see you sweat" ring a bell?) and play on it, implying their product will infuse you with confidence. That's not exactly what I mean though.

And I'm not talking about a disabled person's attitude. But those of all the "normal" people around them. Those can make all the difference.

I'm a contrary person (if you haven't figured that out yet, go read the previous posts). All it takes to make me determined to do something is for someone to tell me I'm not capable of it. A lot of others don't have that, and that is where attitude comes in.

Everyone Can Make A Difference

It's true. Even I feel it. When somebody acts like my disability couldn't possibly put any limitations on me, it makes it easier for me to do the same.

Think about it. Which would you rather hear throughout the day?

(Said by an extremely old woman in the checkout line at the grocery store) "You poor dear. If I'd known you were crippled, I would have let you go first."

Or . . .

"I figured if you needed help you'd ask."

Personally, I'll take the second any minute of any day. It shows that they respect me - my abilties, my honesty, my courage.

I'm a big country music fan, and this song shows what I mean about attitude very well.

It's by Rascall Flatts, called Skin. It still makes me cry and smile every time I hear it.

So I applaud all of you who have the attitude necessary to keep people like me going!! Keep it up!

My next post will be an interview with a friend of mine who has a degenerative disease.