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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 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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