Tag Archives: Disabled

The Art of Falling

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Learning to walk as a child is an amazing thing. There is so much that goes into it. Strength, balance, stamina, coordination, and a whole lot of determination. Falling over and over again is all part of the process. Most times the falls are on a diaper cushioned bum. Some are headfirst but not as often. Once walking has been mastered we take off and never look back. I read a quote somewhere a while back that went something like this: Everything is hard until it’s not. Walking.

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Walking is hard. Falling is easy. As you grow you tend to trip and fall occasionally. If you play sports, there’s a good chance you will fall. Then there are those of us that are not coordinated at all and fall for no apparent reason. Most will dust ourselves off and go on about our day. Some won’t be as fortunate. Knees get skinned, bones get broken, concussions happen, or stitches are needed.

Two years ago, during surgery, I suffered a stroke in my spinal cord. This has left me an incomplete tetraplegic also known as a quadriplegic. They weren’t sure I’d even be able to feed myself let alone ever walk again. My main goal when entering rehab for three weeks was to walk somehow. Of course, they made me learn how to bathe, dress, and feed myself. Those are important too.

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Fast forward to present day, and I can walk some with a walker. I have the strength and determination. What I lack are the balance, stamina, and coordination. From time to time I fall. There’s no getting up and dusting myself off though. I require lots of help to get back up.

Yesterday, my best friend came to take me out to dinner. I texted my husband and he was going to meet us there. As we were headed to her vehicle the rollator’s breaks failed and I pitched forward. My left knee and my right forehead skidded on the concrete parking pad. I have some road rash on my right forearm. And, I lost a lot of hair where the goose egg was.

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My husband came on home. Fortunately, our neighbor and a friend of his were outside. Those three guys were able to lift me using a blanket and put me back into my wheelchair. I went on inside and with my best friend’s help I got cleaned up and we all went on out to dinner.

This morning my legs weren’t having any of it. Of course, they didn’t bother to tell me that until I tried to stand up. I elevator dropped right to the floor by the bed. I was trapped. My husband had to come home to help. Using a blanket again he dragged me into the living room where with the help of pillows and him pushing I got onto the couch. We had to use the slide board to get me into my chair.

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I was so excited and really still am about me starting to drive again. Taking the wheelchair with me is out of the question as I can’t get it into the vehicle. Now that the rollator is being a butt it is out of the equation too. As soon as I get through this minor setback I will go back to the rolling walker. It’s lightweight and easy to fold.

Remember, when life bites you in the ass bite back!

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The Reawakening

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As I sit here pecking away at the keyboard writing this blog I am trying desperately to remember the four blogs that I outlined while trying to go to sleep the past few nights. It’s amazing how creative one can be while tossing and turning away the hours. You would think that I’d had the sense to at least jot down a few of my ideas on my cell phone before the sheep found me. But no, I can’t for the life of me come up with a single idea from that nocturnal restlessness.

Yesterday I had tons of creative juice flowing through my veins and wrote two book reviews in a matter of minutes. Today nada. It’s as if the faucet was turned off. I guess that is what writers’ block is all about. I’m way behind on my reading. And, I haven’t studied for my HAM license like I should. So, what is it that has my mojo out of whack? I can’t blame my disability anymore as I am so much better and able to do so much more. So, I’m thinking it’s a slight bout of depression. Nothing serious. More aggravating than anything else. It too shall pass.

The more I can do the more I want to do. Patience forgets to come along part of the time. Then, of course, the pain hits me and tells me to slow down. I can’t even remember a life without pain. No, I do not take narcotics though I could if I asked my doctors. It’s generic Tylenol and Aleve along with muscle relaxers and ice or heat packs that usually work. I do my best not to take them very much. The liver apparently doesn’t like them or so I’ve been told.

Tax season is finally over! Yay! That means my husband is back to a regular 8 to 5 schedule. Aha! I bet that’s it. His odd work hours over the past 4 months have thrown my schedule out of sync too. I had not thought of that until now. It’s as good an excuse as any, very plausible, and most definitely possible. Dang. I see daylight at the end of the tunnel now! I feel better just knowing this week will be the beginning of my turn around. Creativity will smack me right upside the head now and I’ll beat this keyboard to death with all my words.

So, there you go. The more I write the more I think. The more I think the more ideas come to the forefront. And before long there will be blog after blog written with such insight. I feel like Arthur when he pulled Excalibur out of that stone. My heart is just a thumping away with anticipation. My feet are tapping in tune. Watch out! I’m back!

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What’s Up?

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It has been, well, forever since my last blog post outside of the book review realm. There’s so much that has happened in my life, both good and bad, that I’ve let get in the way. I’m clearing out some space now to write about some of the topics I have bouncing around in my head. So, sit back and grab a cuppa.

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This being disabled thing sucks. Yeah, I put on a happy face and forge ahead trying to get more from my body. But, it is hard and I’m not always in a good place mentally about it. That’s called being human. I cannot quit or I’ll lay down and die. I want to get back to as close to what I once was so bad. That one step forward, two steps back thing is real. I get discouraged and then give myself a mental swift kick in the ass. I put myself out there on Facebook so that folks will see how it is to be in my shoes or wheelchair. It’s important for you not to ignore what’s going on around you with folks like me. We are just like you, but instead of having a broken leg from which you will recover, we have a broken body from which we may not.

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Green thumbs. I know some who have them, I’m just not one of them. Who else can kill an air plant? I mean, really, an air plant? Yep. Apparently, you need to mist it or something every now and again especially in low humidity. And, not one of a hundred succulent seeds that I planted sprouted. Not.A.Single.One. The peace lily that I saved from my mom’s funeral? Well, after my husband’s aunt repotted it for me it died. It’s hard to kill a peace lily, but I did it. Actually, the cats kinda helped with that one. I like houseplants. Truly, I do.

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Speaking of cats, ours will turn six this year. One in May and the other in August. How did our adorable little kittens get to be six so soon? They are just as playful as ever. Flash has that forever young kitteny face. He is such the scoundrel, always stealing things and hiding them. I have no idea where his stash is located. But, I’d really like my tongue scraper back. Tuffy is our chewer. We have had to put sleeves on our CPAP hoses because he chews holes in them otherwise. He chews electrical cords. How he hasn’t been electrocuted is beyond me. They do bring us mountains of joy. Both love us and cuddle with us – on their own terms, of course.

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A good number of you have been slammed with a very snowy winter, repeatedly. I understand how hard that must have been for you and your families. Believe it or not, I would have gladly traded with you. I’m not sure if Mother Nature knows it or not, but we got cheated out of a winter here. I know with my body being screwed up that I don’t do well with the cold. But, I love it anyway. I miss the snow we had in Alaska. 70s & 80s in February is not normal. What little cold we did have gave me the opportunity to try out leggings for the first time. They are not for public consumption unless hidden under a skirt. At least, that is my humble opinion.

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My husband has started a blog. Due to the wide variety of topics he is covering it has taken off rather well. I’m very happy for him. If you haven’t read it take a quick look here: https://akbearsden.blogspot.com/ You can even subscribe and have it delivered straight to your email. I’m sure he’d love to hear your thoughts on his posts. In my opinion, he writes much better than I do. Oh, he does cover some controversial topics from time to time.

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I spend most of my time reading books and writing reviews. Post apocalyptic and dystopian are my favorite genres. But, I do read others. I like conspiracies, political thrillers, old fashion detective stories, and black ops. Most of the novels I read are by self-published, indie authors. As much as I can I try to help promote their works. I also provide most of them feedback to help make a better product. That isn’t always received very well. I’ve dropped a couple of authors for the hostility thrown back at me for pointing out glaring mistakes in their published works. I make plenty of grammatical and typographical mistakes myself. And, if someone points them out to me I try to go back and correct my work. I don’t take it personally. I know my own limitations.

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The one area I try to steer clear of as best I am able is specific political points. People get butthurt over that stuff. I have friends on both sides of the aisle and in the middle. My opinion is that – mine. For some odd reason though I have seen that folks get personal with one another instead of staying on topic and sticking to the facts or specific points to their beliefs. Name calling is what kids do in junior high. Adults should be able to engage in a debate that is above that. Nuff said.

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Daylight Saving Time. Could we cut this crap out? Leave it at DST or standard time or somewhere in between. Pick something and leave it alone. DST is already eight months long. So, what’s the point in changing? Adjusting the time like this has been shown to be counterproductive to the working populace and especially the school kids. The original idea may have been sound, but it’s not needed now. Have you ever tried to convince a cat that his feeding time is now an hour different? There you go.

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Well, I think I’ve bumped my gums enough for this go around anyway. I do hope you have enjoyed my rambling and can take something useful away from them. I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment. I’ll be sure to respond in kind. Take care.

Cheers, Cheryl aka Chessy

Cruising Disabled

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Last week we took a cruise, just like many thousands of other did. And, like many others traveling I cruised as a disabled person. This was our 10th cruise and our first with me being handicapped. It wasn’t bad at all.

We drove down to Jacksonville, FL the night before as soon as my husband got off from work. This was my first long trip in his new Ford F150 SuperCab. He had step-up rails installed shortly after purchase since I could not get into the truck otherwise. The rollator folded up and fit nicely in the back seat along with our luggage. The ride was fairly comfortable and we only stopped once on the four-hour drive. I was a little stiff from sitting so long.

The Hampton Inn was just a place to sleep and nothing spectacular one way or the other. We got up early and headed out after breakfast. The next six hours to Miami were uneventful with two stops. Once we got to the cruise terminal Gary let me out by the check-in line with our luggage while he parked the truck in the deck. I was very comfortable sitting on the rollator waiting for him.

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The line through security went quickly. Due to my using the rollator I had to be patted down. The female security guard was polite and as nonintrusive as one can be in this circumstance. We went straight to handicap check-in and I was placed in a wheelchair. Once we got our room key I was whisked aboard all the way to the elevators. Gary pushed the rollator with our luggage stacked on top. It worked out very well.

The crew went out of their way to make sure that I and all of the other disabled passengers were well taken care of during the entire trip. I wish I could say the same for all of the other passengers. While most were friendly and polite, others were down right rude. We would be waiting for an elevator and other passengers would barge in front of us and we would end up having to wait for another one. This happened many times. And, it wasn’t like they had gotten there to wait before us either. I understand that there is sometimes a language barrier, so I tried not to let that influence my mood when some would not hold the elevator for us to board when we asked.

Asking folks to part to provide us room to move around them seemed to be a considerable inconvenience for most people. You would have thought that I asked them to cut off an arm. I always said ‘please’ and ‘excuse me’. What I got back was looks of disgust. It wasn’t as if I was trying to cut in line, I just wanted to pass by without running over their toes.

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There was a handicap bathroom centrally located on the common floors. I saw many appearance-wise able bodied folks using it, especially the one by the casino bar. If my rollator could have fit through the tiny doors to the main bathroom I would have gladly tried to use it. There were several times that I was almost knocked down by a man that came barreling out of the door as I approached.

Both Grand Cayman and Belize were tender ports. While I’m sure I could have made it off the ship to each I remained on board. We were married in Belize and have already cruised to Grand Cayman previously. My husband got off at Belize to buy some Marie Sharps hot sauce and One Barrel rum. Due to rain at the Honduras and Mexican ports I did not get off the ship there either. Those were both pier ports so I know those would have been fine. There were many activities on the ship while in port. So, between those and my desire to rest and read a good book I enjoyed my time.

Debarkation back in Miami was very smooth and efficient. The line kept moving and I had my rollator to sit upon and rest as needed. I waited by the terminal while my husband retrieved his truck. He loaded us up and we headed home.

All in all, I am very pleased with how well I was able to take this cruise.

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First Time Traveling While Disabled

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Last weekend we traveled to Jamaica for a short vacation. Nothing extraordinary about that for the average person. But, this was my first time traveling out of the country as a disabled person. First time riding a bus. First time flying. First time in another country that does not necessarily follow ADA guidelines. I had a lot of anxiety built up ahead of time not knowing what to expect.

We got up at 4 a.m. to meet our bus at 5:15 a.m. and leave for Atlanta by 5:45 a.m. This was a chartered bus especially for this trip as this was a trip for my husband’s work. All of his coworkers and their guests along with the bus driver were very helpful. We made it to the airport without incident.

Pushing my rollator, a special rolling walker that I’ve named Lola, allowed my husband and I to proceed through special lines ahead of other travelers. Nice perk. Once we cleared TSA, who were extremely nice, we were on our own the rest of our time in the Atlanta airport. We did not see a transport cart nor a customer service person with a wheelchair all the way to our gate. This was disappointing and should have been foretelling. Fortunately, we had plenty of time before boarding and were able to take our time. For you see, I can only walk a short way before having to stop and rest for several minutes even with Lola.

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At the gate I got the gate check-in tag for Lola and hoped that once we left Atlanta she would make it to Montego Bay, Jamaica. With a lot of trepidation, I parked her just outside the door to the plane and made my way to our seats. Of course, we were in the very back. The good thing was that we were allowed to board first and get settled before others boarded. So far, not too shabby.

Upon deplaning in Jamaica Lola was waiting for me as was a customer service agent with a wheelchair. With her help we were able to take shortcuts and speed through customs and immigration. For you see, the plane parked at the gate farthest from where we needed to go. Gary, my husband, pushed Lola with the carryon luggage while I was pushed by the agent. She took us all the way out to the chartered bus waiting for our group. She was tipped well for her efforts.

The bus to the resort had rather steep steps which made it harder for me to enter and exit. It did have plenty of handles for support, and again, those on the trip with us assisted. Thankfully, it was a short ride to the resort.

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Once we arrived at the resort we were able to take an elevator up to registration for our group. I mention this specifically because we went on vacation last year to a multi-level resort without elevators except in the main building. Throughout our stay everyone working there took very good care of us and made our stay most enjoyable. The layout of the resort was flat and compact. This helped tremendously with my ability to be as independent as possible.

The airport in Jamaica and the resort at which we stayed did have handicap bathrooms and handicap stalls. The only issue was the smallness of the toilets themselves. They reminded me of elementary school toilets. Sitting down and getting back up were my biggest problems. If there had not been grip handles to use, then I don’t know what I would have done. Sorry, TMI?

Our experience leaving the resort and making our way through the Montego Bay airport was very similar to our arrival. We were once again given priority boarding. I was again anxious about checking Lola at the gate, but she made it to Atlanta just fine. Too bad the rest of the Atlanta experience wasn’t so sweet.

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The plane landed and was parked at our arrival gate by 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday. The very last gate farthest from customs. No one was at the gate to offer assistance. There was no customer agent in site, no cart to whisk us through the terminal, nothing. Let me tell you something right now. That is a VERY long walk. OMG! It is an interminable walk. The walk from hades and back. I’m not kidding you. For someone that is disabled it is absolutely horrible.

We took every people mover that we came across. I stopped many times to rest. I had no other option. At the junction where you either go straight and then to the left for connecting flights or to the right to get out of the airport (eventually) we got a ride on a cart to the elevators. That was a blessing!

Once we got off the elevator downstairs there was no one around to help. We eventually came across a customer service agent who WALKED with us the rest of the way. Still no cart, no wheelchair, nothing. I asked over and over again without getting a clear answer as to why he couldn’t get us help. At the place we met him the sign said it was another 6 to 8-minute walk for the average person to get to customs.

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The only thing he was able to help us with was going to the head of the line at customs. That was helpful as it kept us from missing our bus. We were the last to arrive at our bus. And, we made it home without further incident.

It took me two days to recover from the ordeal in the Atlanta airport. The disability that I have does not allow me to be active for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time without having to rest at least 20 or so minutes – longer if the activity is very strenuous for me. Pushing my limits like I did almost rendered me nonfunctional.

I will not let that happen again. I will pitch a hissy fit if I have to. And, I still don’t know why there was absolutely no one in our terminal at arrival. It was eerie. The only thing I can think of that might have made a difference is to have had the flight attendants verify assistance was there before we landed.

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