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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Understanding and Accepting Handicaps Part IV

Nederlands: Elleboogkruk

Nederlands: Elleboogkruk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A pair of reading glasses with LaCost...
English: A pair of reading glasses with LaCoste frames. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to add that sometimes you can get the experience of being disabled whether by birth, accident or aging.  Gloves can effect the touch; blindfolds, the sight.  Food can taste funny especially if on a special diet and hard to get into bite size servings without help.  You also may not be able to chew it or get it to your mouth. Some times, the food is ground up, ick.  You can try out a walker or crutches.  By the way, those rollators (those walkers that you can use as a seat) are awkward and heavy to get in and out of the trunk. (At one point lifting a gallon of milk was an effort for me.)  Also they are easily “goosed” as they have four wheels not two like on a walker and you have to use a parking brake on the wheels in order to sit safely even then you can move some.  Some people swear by them.  My sight is pretty good.  By the way I am used to it now but my cataract surgeon goofed and put the wrong strength lens in one eye and then I started seeing double and his optometrist made me glasses which made it worse, instead of better.  I now use reading glasses only and I am driving with my optometrist’s permission.

Then I started thinking what were my mother’s and my aunt’s experiences.  I was curious.  I had underestimated how many problems they had and what praise they should have gotten for living with them.  I am choosing my aunt as her experience was unique.  In her thirties, she was struck down by polio and she had a boy about my age and a girl younger about my younger brother’s age.  She spent more than a year in an iron lung far away from home and then when she came home to my grandparents‘ house, she had to do rehabilitation exercises and she looked like a concentration camp victim.  She died unfortunately at sixty three from post-polio syndrome; but not after doing some amazing things.  She went back to being a teacher of home economics and she even put on a big fashion show each spring.  She got pregnant and had another baby (he is now a competent, well-recognized professional).  I didn’t think about those things when I thought of her, but I just remembered that she would get her hair done once a week in a beehive with lots of spray.  She always wore a brace on her right knee and at times, she used crutches.  She wrote by guiding her right hand with her “good” left hand.  I am sure there were things that she did that were just as amazing considering her handicaps.  All I could focus on was her skeletal figure, her armored hairdo (she couldn’t reach above her head with both hands to do it herself), and the fact that my elderly grandmother had to do the housework for her.  She had three children to raise and no help from the father.  She never wound up in a nursing home; my grandparents were a factor in this.  Both my father and grandfather provided transportation for her.  She had many doctor’s appointments away from home.  My father served as an unarmed referee when her husband was there.  Also my father helped her to get her own house to live in.

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Understanding and Accepting Handicaps Part III

As for being handicapped,I found that most people had made their places handicapped accessible, but not conveniently so; and a lot of places did not maintain them.  I was repeatedly faced with a button to open a bathroom door that was very heavy that did not work.  It was at the college where I was in a choir.  Usually the parking for someone is handicapped is not close to the front door.  I understand they have to put those long ramps there and that  was where were the parking was at the end of the ramp not the front door.  Also I find I have to use a quad cane to get to the shopping carts or electric  cars inside.  That is the most dangerous part of the trip for me.  It would be nice if carts, etc., could be easily accessible from your car.  Occasionally I flag someone down who has a cart or carts and ask them if I can have it for my trip inside.

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...

This is the internationally recognized symbol for accessibility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People can be very helpful and sweet out in public, but sometimes in crowded places they don’t look where they are going and make quick turns.  I am now at a stage where I could do without my cane if the place is not crowded and there are walls or furniture to hang on to if I need it.  At home I do without; but I am challenged by open spaces and rough ground, roads, and sidewalks and especially in the dark.  A lot of this stuff you don’t know until you are there.  Stairs and slopes each have there pitfalls.  I like to walk on a level surface and curbs and slopes challenge me.  Long flights of stairs are scarey (and they need railings or banisters for safety), more so going down than up.  Of course I use elevators, but they don’t always have them and I have not yet tried an escalator, but they have them in London if you want to use the underground.  I’ve been there.  That’s my story, don’t get me going I could talk for hours on this subject.  Did you learn anything that you didn’t know?

 

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Understanding and Accepting Handicaps Part II

Rest home for seniors in Český Těšín (Czeski C...

Rest home for seniors in Český Těšín (Czeski Cieszyn) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A continuation of yesterday’s post.  I also consulted in nursing homes for the disabled and for seniors who needed more care than they could get at home.  I bet you could figure this one out.  I wound up in a nursing home after a serious surgery because I wasn’t able to care for myself by myself and my husband had a weekend job that kept him away from home or sleeping most of every weekend and besides that he still had to work on the farm which was two miles from our house.  I needed to be independent in all areas when I got home even with handicapped equipment. At home, after all of my surgeries I had home health, but they could come only for a short time and it didn’t last long. I found I had very kind and competent help on all of these occasions..  I had a good roommate the first time time and later the second time after more surgery,  I spent two weeks on a rehabilitation unit.  It is not fun to accomplish your personal tasks in front of everyone, but nearly everyone was at that stage especially when they first got there.  Sometimes you have to be patient as the staff has other priorities and realize that it may have been you at another time.  I did have family visitors, not so much at the rehab unit which was thirty five miles away.

Nursing Home

Nursing Home (Photo credit: LOLren)

If I am standing still or sitting down or driving a car or on the phone, you can’t tell if I am handicapped.  My troubles started slowly and I was having problems for a long time before I went for my first surgery and they didn’t get resolved til my third surgery and I still have some residual nerve damage which effects the way I type, how large or small I write, whether I can hold on to something,  how I walk, and other things.  My family didn’t always understand; they were busy with their own lives.  One of the biggest problems I had was dropping things.  People would focus on the mess rather than helping me.  They thought I was clumsy (and stupid), not that I couldn’t help it.  Understandably at one point I got depressed. I have traveled by myself and shop and do almost all of the housework at home.  I had to adjust.  I don’t do something quickly or neatly, but I have found a way to do it on my own.  It even effected the way I eat, but that is better now.  Don’t expect miracles, but give it your best shot.  It is easier to vegetate.

Boy, did I find out what it would be like to be handicapped.  You see the world in a whole different way as a bunch of  obstacles.  In an evaluation with one surgeon, who had a medical student with him, asked my husband and son who came with me, not me, if I had any memory problems.  The only clue the surgeon had was that I came with a walker.  I didn’t dress goofy, my hair wasn’t gray (by the way I cheat) and I didn’t babble and I was as well educated as he was.

 

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Understanding and Accepting Handicaps, Part I

Boy with Down Syndrome using cordless drill to...

Boy with Down Syndrome using cordless drill to assemble a book case. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You don’t know how it is to be handicapped unless you have been there or been intimately involved with and caring for someone who is.  I have traveled both routes.  In fact, when I started out in this field, I didn’t want to work with the handicapped.  I avoided institutions for the developmentally disabled and nursing homes and wasn’t nearly as sympathetic towards my aunt who had polio and my mother who was shut-in in her later years as I should have been and I have since thought this over many times with increasing insight about how it might have been for them and what major adjustments they had to make and should be unfortunately post-humusly praised for by me.

I live in a rural area and found some limitation in job opportunities even when I traveled some distance away.   I worked in both homes and workshops for the developmentally disabled and in nursing homes.  (I’ve also worked in prisons, but that’s another story).  (See also my blogs on mental institutions.)  I learned many things that influenced my views in life.

I could never abort a child even if I knew via amniocentesis that he or she would have Down syndrome  In fact, I considered that before I got pregnant with my last child at thirty nine and I found out, shockingly so, from two different obstetricians in two different towns that I would have to sign a paper saying I would have an abortion if they found the fetus had Down syndrome.  I found out  several things.  An abortion at that late a stage of pregnancy was only allowed in these special cases and I read about what the procedure for such an abortion would be which was shocking.  I knew what Down syndrome persons were like from working with them and I realized I couldn’t abort my child just because he or she would be a two year old (or four year old or six year old, etc.) the rest of his or her life.   I also didn’t want to take the risk; however, how slight that the amniocentesis might hurt the fetus or cause a miscarriage or still birth.  I tell this story, because I never heard all this before and everybody that I talked to about it  hadn’t either.

There is more to this post on being handicapped and I will continue it tomorrow.

CAUTION:  These links are obviously Pro-Life and are somewhat more graphic than my post.  I realize there is an opposing point of view and I invite you to comment on this post about abortions and the handicapped and to propose links with an opposing point of view.

 

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Why Don’t We Reward Good Parents and Responsible Ones?

English: Family of Great Crested Grebes. Two a...

English: Family of Great Crested Grebes. Two adults and two chicks sitting on a parents back. Other parent bringing fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not sure how to fix it; but it seems very unfair.  Two-parent families struggle to care for and raise future responsible adults with good values; but do we reward them, no, we punish them.  Skip out  on supporting your children and/or don’t even claim them and nothing happens usually to a father.  For a mother, there is abortion and welfare and other subsidies and often the more children, the better.  Good families often only have as many children as they can afford unless there is a birth control failure and then they love and care for them  and usually forget that they weren’t planned. Taxes penalize people for being married.  If you are married filing jointly, you are penalized. Two-parent families have to choose between having two incomes and not getting ahead because of paying for childcare or having one income and having one parent staying home to take care of the responsibilities there (and that is becoming impossible as, because of the new healthcare law, companies are cutting insurance coverage for spouses).  Job sharing is still not widely prevalent and part time jobs usually don’t have benefits or good wages.

What do we encourage?  If a parent has difficulty caring for a child because of drugs, alcohol, or lifestyle or lack of ability to parent (and there is no capable family member who can step in and do the job), who steps in and cares for the children that are being neglected and then gives them back often without out any permanent change in behavior by the parent?  There are parents out there who could use food stamps, help with energy and housing costs, and childcare subsidies and are not able to even think of saving for their future.  Also these families (and I include the families on welfare that have the same problems and desires) don’t have the benefits of charter schools or being able to pay for private schools when their children are in schools in dangerous areas where children often don’t get a basic education, let alone a quality one.  Don’t think that the poor, illiterate, and disadvantaged shouldn’t get any help; but is it doing any good and who gets the most support?

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I Can See Clearly Now

Emotion: Anger

Emotion: Anger (Photo credit: Cayusa)

Emotion: Fear
Emotion: Fear (Photo credit: Cayusa)

Having become acquainted with mind fullness and meditation, I am finally reaching the benefits of  focusing  on what is happening now (not on the future or on the past) and having more accurate perceptions.  I didn’t realize what I had missed out on until this happened.

I am making better decisions.  I wish that I hadn’t wasted so much of my life by going about with blinders on.  I am less likely to jump to conclusions and if I have, I often realize it and am able to hold off on making a mistake by acting prematurely before I have all the information.

Emotions can be wonderful.  When something wonderful has happened, your feelings of joy may overwhelm you and you may wonder if you ever will feel this good again.  You may feel like nothing can stop you and do things you never thought you could do.  It is what keeps us going and binds us to our friends and family.

Emotions can be a problem.  They can keep us from seeing straight.  While some of these emotions can protect us especially in situations where we have little time to react and need to go by our gut, they can impair our decision making ability and we aren’t able to analyze the situation and make a well thought decision.  Sometimes in prolonged emergencies, the best person to have around is one who can keep their head.

Even preconceived notions can be useful in an emergency when there is no time to think and a person must act immediately.  Other times premature emotional reactions and poor judgment or no judgment can be a problem.  If you can keep your head and not do anything that doesn’t need to be done immediately, you can stop and see, hear, or read what is going on and not react impetuously out of fear or anger or desire.

I find out that I am more perceptive, I can get a good idea of what is going on with another person, and I can be more supportive and less demanding when I do that.  For example, I asked someone to do me a favor two or three times and even handed him the stuff he needed, but he laid the stuff down and kept telling me what I needed to know to do something for him.  I realized, when he left without the stuff, that he had been distracted not only by the need to be sure I got his information but also by the things he had to do when he left.  I could have focused on what he didn’t do for me when I was doing him a favor (as I would have done in the past), but I didn’t because I think that he didn’t even notice that he hadn’t taken the stuff because he was so busy and needed to get some things done.

Also  I talked to a friend on the phone recently and she seemed different.  I didn’t feel that we had had  as free and easy a conversation as we usually did.  After I got off the phone, I remembered that a member of her family had recently moved back home and that she might be worried about whether this might not work out and also didn’t feel because of this that she could talk as freely as she usually did.  I decided I would check on her again and  to discretely see if this was the problem why she didn’t feel as comfortable on the phone as she usually did.  I also decided to do her  a favor that  I initially had put off as she might need it more now.

Believe me I am not always that wise and kind, but I am improving (I think) and the meditation and mind fullness are paying off, but it didn’t happen quickly so don’t give up.

 

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Dangerous Situations

English: Former recovery sanitorium for Psychi...

English: Former recovery sanitorium for Psychiatric hospital Wolfheze (today a cafeteria for personnel); protected building (gemeentelijke monument Renkum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you ever wonder if it ever got dangerous in tense therapy situations or diagnostic interviews?  The answer is, “Yes.”  You are never as safe as you think you might be.  I had just about finished a two hour interview with a man and he told me that he had thought about bringing a gun to the interview and had gotten talked out of it.  That was after he told me that he had once stalked a guy with a gun and the only reason he hadn’t shot him was that he never came out of the building that he was watching before he got discouraged and left.  That was my closest call and it wasn’t at one of the prisons where I had worked and was often alone with prisoners.  (Please note that they now do the counseling there with video counseling and counselors are not actually in the same room with offenders).

Earlier in my career, I was in a dicey situation and I actually got hurt (not seriously) in one of them when I least expected it.  I was working temporarily at a large mental institution where I was often left in charge of a large number of people.  This happened at lunch time when I was alone in the cafeteria with three different wards.  Only one of them was mine and at least one of them was an open ward.  Technically I was not alone, but the cafeteria workers had nothing to do with watching the residents.  A lady (whom I later found out was from an open ward) was creating a disturbance and smearing condiments all over herself and the furniture.  I decided to take the calm approach and went over to her and touched her on the arm (which I later learned was a “no-no” with a patient you didn’t know) and she slapped me hard in the face.  Did I say that I was surprised?  Fortunately a nursing staff member came in who knew the patient came in the cafeteria and talked to her and walked away with her.  Did anybody pay attention to me to see if I was injured, of course not?  That was fortunately the only time that I have ever been hurt.

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Down on Put Downs

Are you so lacking in self-confidence that you second guess or question everything you do.  It is more likely if you are a woman or one of those persons who is always having their actions questioned.  Asking a person a question when you really need to know why something happened or what is happening, may be important, but asking it in such a way that the person already feels that he or she done something wrong can be unreasonable.  It may even have become a habit that leads to the person being questioned not wanting to tell you anything.  The person may not stop doing what they want to do; but they may not feel secure enough to be open about it.  He or she also may not develop confidence in the actions they take or in opinions they hold.

Questions in the form of put downs may be disguised as humor and that leaves the person being questioned as lacking a sense of humor if he or she takes offense when this happens.  It certainly short circuits communication.  Questions can be fielded with the response,”Why? Don’t you trust me?”  Answering a question with a question is a good way of getting away with not answering the question initially asked.  This response is  frequently used by people who often ask questions in an accusatory fashion of others.  When a person becomes skilled at this “game,” a person with whom this person interacts this way often winds up not getting their questions answered  and having their answers to the other person’s questions not being accepted.

"Question War"

"Question War" (Photo credit: Toban B.)

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Clouds In Your Life

Worry, fear, blame, criticism, all these things, as well as others taking a negative point of view, can cloud your life in doom, gloom. rage, and depression.  As long as you let other people and other things cause you problems, you will lose control of how you feel about your life.  I have been there and I still go back there every now and then and sometimes more frequently than that.  Do you often think, “If only….” then I would be happy, feel safe, feel loved, be secure, be proud of myself…  You let your attitude depend on other things over which you do not have much control and you tend to lose control of your feelings.

In this world we live in in these United States, it is easy to think this way because the media, some of the people we have around us, and society itself tends to lean this way.  If we look outside our country, the news usually isn’t any better.  It is often worse.   As a result we often feel helpless.  We don’t realize that there is any other way to think or view life. There are or were some isolated societies like the aborigines in Australia who have or had some life philosophies and cultural beliefs that go or went with happier lifestyles.  Also some people have family, a religious community, or friends that think differently and offer support to help them develop and keep a better outlook on life.

Clouds-8

Clouds-8 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Rationalization

Rational Explanations

Rational Explanations (Photo credit: tatarize)

Rationalization is coming up with a good reason for something happening usually after the fact.  It wasn’t why the person really did something, but it sounds good.  It is also a way of explaining something away.  It usually doesn’t begin with, “Honestly….”  It is something that lawyers, usually, know how to do or politicians.  I am not to sure that scientists don’t do it too when they have some results in their experiments that they didn’t expect and/or don’t exactly fit their theories.

Once the rationalization is given, it is expected that it will be accepted and no further explanation will have to be given.  The person who gives the rationalization often does such a good job that he or she begins to believe it too and no longer feels that there was a problem with what happened that needed to be explained away to begin with.  Once a person has done this, it is very difficult or impossible to convince them otherwise and get them to admit to what really happened.

Salesmen and debaters are good at this.  Salesmen often sell a product that they don’t necessarily believe in especially before they become a salesman for that product.  Salesmen have to do a convincing job of getting people to believe that the salesmen have a product that they, the prospective customers, can’t do without.  Debaters practice taking both sides of an issue and proving that the side that they are taking for the sake of the debate is the correct one.

 

 

 

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