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handicaps

What I See From Here, A Matter of Perspective

What I see from here may be different from what you see from there.  It is a simple difference in perspective or is it?  I was on your side once upon a time and then things started to change.  It happened initially to me a little bit at a time.  It “snuck up” on me.  I used to say to myself that as I matured if I had to choose between losing my mind and losing my body, I would choose my physical capabilities.  Be careful what you ask for you might get it.

English: dGEMRIC T1 map of knee cartilage

English: dGEMRIC T1 map of knee cartilage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It started out when I began having “cold feet” and then I got “weak in the knees.”  I found the cause of the knee problem.  X-rays showed that both knees were bone on bone.  That means there was no cartilage left.  Cartilage  greases the works so to speak in your knees. This was eventually followed by knee replacement surgery in both knees.

Til this day I am not 100% sure that I have found the cause of the “cold feet.”  I doctored with more than one neurologist with no results before I also began losing the feeling in my fingers and began dropping things.  Of course,  according to everyone else, I was just clumsy and should have been more careful.

cervical and lumbar regionslarge_cervical_lumbarTo make a long story, short, I went to a hand doctor (who I would highly recommend) who referred me to yet another neurologist who made the correct diagnosis from an MRI.  A little more than six months later, I had immediate (?) neck surgery because my spinal cord was pinched (causing both my feet and hand problems) which would have led to my becoming a quadriplegic if I had not been successfully operated on.

All this explains why what I see from here is different from what you see from there.  It’s a matter of perspective.  What made me think about this was “running” out to the car this evening to get some medicine I had left in the car, I looked at the three or four feet of gravel drive I had to cross before getting to the back steps and realized it was not quite as daunting as it was a year or so ago.  Now that three or four feet might not appear like the continental divide to you; but it did to me a year or so ago.

 

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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 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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