Saturday, November 14, 2009
So I'll be stopping it until I have more time in my life.
Take care of yourselves!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
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.
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
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.
Here Sam is being read a goodnight story by his young daughter.
Friday, April 24, 2009
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
Thursday, March 26, 2009
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!
Monday, March 23, 2009
Shelly Mann, 1956 gold medal winner at the Olympics for the 100 meter butterfly, overcame the terrible paralysis of polio to become a world class swimmer. She contracted polio as a child and was left with weakness and semi-paralysis of all her limbs. At 10, her doctor recommended swimming as therapy.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
"Don't you know that if you love God deeply enough and believe in Him strongly enough and pray hard enough that God will let your other hand grow?" He dropped to his knees on the blanket next to me.
That incident has always stayed with me for a few reasons. I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life. It made me leery of organized religion. And it made me question why I had only one hand.
But I was willing to believe that this man was an anomaly, that he didn't represent the thinking of an entire religious group. I put it to the back of my mind. Until it happened again.
My ex-husband took me to visit his extended family the Easter weekend before we got married. I was so excited. My family had never been close and his was, so I wanted desperately to be accepted. Everything was going fine until we got to his cousin Maria's house.
Her husband, Bill, bible in hand, cornered me in the kitchen and repeated almost word for word what the man at the beach had said to me.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The Possible Dream Foundation
Run by Camille Geraldi, a pediatric nurse, and her husband Mike, a pediatrician, this isn't an institution by any stretch of the imagination. They have made a home for children that no one else could or would take care of.
Years ago when I worked for them, it was called The Up With Down Syndrome Foundation because when they started, all of the children they took had Down Syndrome. As they grew and expanded, taking in more and more children, the name no longer fit. So it changed as they had.
Working there was the most influential time period of my adult life. For the first time, I spent significant portions of each day with people who had much more severe problems than I did. Working with them, helping to teach them the most basic things in life, made me realize for the first time in my life, exactly how lucky I was that my disability was such a minor one. More than anyone else, those children taught what courage in the face of adversity really means.
Camille is who I want to be when I grow up :) She has the biggest, most giving heart of anyone I've ever met. Love for these children that society terms as "lesser" because of their extensive problems (many of which even make them look abnormal to outsiders) pours out of her.
I don't know how she does it. From the day I first set foot in their homes (Just about a month after Hurricane Andrew), she has been an inspiration to me. She taught me to keep a leash on my terrible temper when faced with verbal and physical prejudice. After all, as "Mom" to that many special needs kids, she knew first hand how it felt.
Check out their website if you have a chance.
The Wounded Warrior Project
I have to confess that I don't know a ton about this group, but what I do know is amazing.
I first heard about them from Celebrity Apprentice when Piers Morgan chose them as his charity that he earned money for. It is a group that:
To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured
service men and women,
To help severely injured service members aid and assist each other, and
To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of severely injured service members.
Considering how long our country has been involved in one violent conflict or another, and how often our service men and women are injured, it is a wonderful and needed group.
When working at The O'Callaghan Hotel in Annapolis, MD, I was lucky enough to be the night supervisor when a bunch of them came to town and stayed at our hotel. We stayed up late (well, they did, but my job was to stay up all night) talking about our disabilities. Most of them were missing a leg. They said that was much more common than a missing arm in the service sincemost loss-of-limb injuries were caused by mines.
I was amazed at how well-adjusted these men (because all the ones I met were men) were. None of the terror and lost feeling that used to show in this guy I knew in high school. He lost his arm in a drunk driving accident and ended up killing himself because he couldn't adjust.
Anyway, two admirable groups that should get more notice and acclaim than they do. (Sorry but no pics this time.)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Inkblot: i can arrange for someone to stomp on your toes if you like
amputate a limb
me: if you amputate a limb, would you mind
making it a leg. i have a spare of those
how about an ear,
or something more expendable?
me: that could work
Inkblot: sweet. an ear
it is. and a couple of toenails %-)
What exactly qualifies someone as handicapped? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is having a physical or mental disability ; also : of or reserved for handicapped persons.
As someone who has been described as handicapped my entire life, I disagree. Having only one hand does not make me handicapped. Like I say in my blog's name, I firmly believe that handicapped is all in the mind. It's a way of thinking pessimistically that prevents a person from reaching their full potential.
I grew up hearing that the only reason my birth mother tried so hard to keep me is because she feared no one would adopt a handicapped baby. My adoptive parents met me when my mom became my occupational therapist to teach me how to use a prosthesis. In first grade, the school system put me in the remedial classes because "anyone with a physical handicap usually has a mental one too."
This blog is not going to be an authority on anything, just a way for me to share some of my experiences growing up in a society that tried to make me believe there was something wrong with me. That I was handicapped.