We can call him Tommy and he definitely was a son of a bitch. Even given that, everybody still like him and he was popular in the neighborhood until he was hit by a car. Unfortunately, Tommy’s back was broken and he was left paralyzed. After that people didn’t seem to care about him that much anymore.
Then Tommy met Susan Fulcher and she was ready to help Tommy just like she had helped dozens of other dogs who were paralyzed. Susan runs the Dharma Rescue Organization in Los Angeles California. As I watched the video and listened to the reporter on the CBS Evening News last night I knew this was something that I wanted to share. Each dog is fitted with a custom “doggie wheelchair” and then helped to adjust to their new lives helping others.
What struck me about the report was the dogs’ ability to quickly overcome and adapt to their disability and new life. I started thinking they must have accepted what had happened to them, did little or no reflecting about the what ifs and so were ready to move on. While I was going through rehabilitation at Craig hospital, I was overcome by the thought that my new life would be unproductive and I would just exist until I passed away. After a while, I began to realize what happened to me in my new life was almost completely under my control. I made some mental (attitudinal) adjustments and began to move on with a more positive outlook. These dogs just move on approaching their new life with enthusiasm and thus have the ability to help others. It is absolutely critical, I believe, for an individual who has suffered a catastrophic life changing event to accept what has happened to them and move on. Little good can come from dwelling on what has happened and wondering about the what ifs.
It was years ago, after Christopher Reeve’s injury that his attitude of nothing was going to prevent him from walking again caused dissension in the disabled community. He finally realized and accepted the fact that he would be paralyzed for the rest of his life. I don’t think an individual can move forward with their life if they refuse, at least on a conscious level, to accept what has happened. Let these dogs serve as an example of what can be accomplished if we are willing to accept what has happened to us and move forward.
Posted in Ability, Attitude, Community Inclusion, Determination, Disability, Education, Friendship, Love, Nature, Observation, Pet Therapy, Reality, Sensitivity
Tagged adapting, control, lifestyle, physically challenged, quadriplegia, relationship, society
Andy arrived on the 17th of August and left yesterday around noon to fly back to Salt Lake City. Our week together is very special to me. He is much more involved with the disabled community than I am. He is much more outgoing and gregarious than me. Many of those who know me would be surprised by the fact that basically I am quiet, shy and retiring. Having been an educator for over 34 years I am at ease speaking and interacting with groups, but on a personal level I tend to limit myself to a few close friends none of whom are disabled. Andy’s visit is much more unique for me than I believe it is for him. Since we share the same injury level, a very similar outlook on our situation and the love of all things outdoors we are closely bound together.
We always do some different things while Andy is here. This year he went with me to the Outdoor Adventure Day at Fort Drum (the home of the 10th Mountain division) where we manned a booth for Handihelp which displayed many of the adaptive equipment we have made and a lot of pictures of what those adaptions have allowed us to do. It’s always enjoyable to speak with the people who stop by and have questions about our lifestyle and things we’ve done.
With Smokey the Bear at Ft. Drum
One thing we do every year when Andy comes is participate in the Annual Quadriplegic Fishing Derby. In reality, it’s just Andy and me going fishing with our friend Dean of Dean Meckes Charters
and my buddy Steve Robinson or my son Mark. We caught a few fish, but that’s not the real reason we go. The time spent on the beautiful St. Lawrence River and the solitude of being out there is irreplaceable. The other annual happening is our visit with our friends Maia, Maddy, and Tonya Chamberlain for ice cream. It’s a chance for Andy to spend some time with Maia.
Andy with a bass
The most meaningful part of Andy’s visit for me is not the activities that we do, but rather the downtime at home when we can just talk about our situation, lifestyle and the mental and physical challenges we must deal with. This is the only time that I get to talk with someone who truly understands the ramifications of the challenges I face. While I do talk to my friends and my wife Marge at times, no one understands all the nuances that go along with being a quadriplegic. So, the time Andy’s here is like no other.
Andy comes to northern New York because it is much “easier” for him to travel than it is for me. However, we have begun discussing the possibility of my going to Utah and spending a week with Andy and his friends. The idea of it is very seductive.
Finally, I would like to thank Marge for her role in making this week possible and the others who helped make this week so special.
Andy, Maia and me
Posted in Ability, Attitude, Community Inclusion, Disability, Education, Fishing, Friends, Friendship, Nature, Reality, Recreation
Tagged fishing, Lake Ontario, lifestyle, natural environment, outdoors, physically challenged, quadriplegia, Recreation, relationship
At Craig Hospital, where I did my rehabilitation, they talked about how people would react to me, post injury. They said there would be former friends who would fade out of my life and others who would step up and assume a much more significant role. I didn’t realize at the time how true that would be. While some have virtually disappeared, several people have assumed a significantly greater role and others who I barely knew or didn’t know at all have helped facilitate the return of my quality of life. As a C6 quadriplegic my life is one of dependency. I may like to kid myself into believing I have a lot of independence, but the truth is I don’t. I’m dependent on others for my food, hygiene, dressing, even getting into and out of my wheelchair. My wife Marge and my nurses Rhonda, Char and Kelli see to those needs and at times do much more.
Me in the old days
One person, in particular, has really stepped up. He is not the only one, but Steve Robinson, a former coworker has stepped up like no other. Steve takes me hunting, to lacrosse games and does so much more. What would my life be like without friends like him I can’t imagine? Thankfully, I don’t have to.
Does Steve realize the important role he plays in my life? Does he understand what my life would be like without his unselfish generosity? Does he have any concept how impossible it is to find the words to help him to understand how much his stepping up affects my quality of life?
Steve with Andy and me at Blue Mountain Museum
Steve and I dog sledding
Now I have a chance to do something for him. Steve and I worked together on the school’s outdoor adventure course. On September 17th the Northern New York United Way is having a fundraiser called Over the Edge. Steve is going over the edge. Steve wrote “Over 20 years ago a good friend and a former South Jefferson colleague introduced me to the power and excitement of a ropes course. I know that if he could, he would have been one of the first to sign up for this United Way fundraiser. I will be doing the rappel in recognition of my friend and mentor.”
I would like to take this opportunity to ask my friends, if possible to consider making a donation to Steve effort. If so you can go to Steve’s Home Page to donate. Thanks to Steve and all of you.
Celebrating Steve’s retirement with my first beer in over 25 years
Posted in Attitude, Behavior, Birds, Disability, Education, Friends, Friendship, Love, Reality, Recreation, Sensitivity
Tagged life lesson, outdoors, physically challenged, quadriplegia, Recreation, relationship
Those words are the title of the Bob Dylan song written in 1964 which has become a classic. The song discusses societal changes that were taking place. It covers a variety of new attitudes that were going to happen, Dylan believed, regardless of résistance. While the song says nothing about disability or the disabled community I would imagine it would be fairly easy for Dylan to add a verse today discussing societal changes happening towards individuals with disabilities.
Peta-Murgatroyd & Niles DiMarco
Just this month (May 2016) we have seen three sign posts that I would present as examples of what is happening in our society today. The most recent would be the presenting of the Mirror Ball Trophy on Dancing with the Stars to Niles DiMarco, who won the championship despite the fact that he never heard a note of music the entire time. Niles was born deaf, but refused to allow that to stop him from obtaining goals that many would believe were impossible. In my opinion the most poignant part of all the season was when they stopped all music while he was dancing so the audience could see the challenge he was dealing with.
The second event occurred May 19 when 30 year old Charlie Linville, an Afghan war veteran and amputee, summited Mount Everest. As if to remind us how difficult, dangerous and demanding this still is, within a couple days of his accomplishment three climbers died while trying to summit.
The final event occurred earlier in May as the Invictus (which means unconquered) Games the place for three days in Orlando Florida. The concept of the games was the brainchild of Prince Harry of the United Kingdom. Knowing firsthand the sacrifices the men and women of the armed forces make to defend our freedom and way of life he decided to begin the games as a tribute to those who had made personal and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The Invictus Games featured 500 competitors from 15 nations: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America. We have reached a point where our society is so interested in happenings like these that the games were televised on ESPNU. The courage and strength of these individuals were on display for the entire world to see.
The entire United States team of athletes gather on stage during the closing ceremony at the Invictus Games, Thursday, May 12, 2016, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
It is my feelings that these and other events in our society show that The Times Are A-Changin’ and most people are becoming more receptive to those with differences regardless of how they present themselves.
Posted in Ability, Adaptive Technology, Attitude, Behavior, Community Inclusion, Determination, Disability, Education, Friendship, Observation, Reality, Recreation, Sensitivity, Stuggling, Wounded Warriors
Tagged adapting, control, Courage, life lesson, lifestyle, natural environment, physically challenged, Recreation, relationship, society, using your mind
In response to my latest blog Nurses I got the following email from a former student of mine who has had many challenges in his life. He has given me his permission to blog it.
“I saw your latest post about nurses and I couldn’t agree with you more. When I was in Boston at Dana Farber I was on 6A which was the bone marrow transplant floor and I had a few special nurses that definitely made a difference for me. They’re a special a breed of nurses as you said and they are definitely different from the general practitioner nurses at the local doc’s offices.
6A is a floor where they see a lot of people who don’t make it and I understand I almost didn’t make it a couple of times myself. It’s got to be very tough for them and I think sometimes they go under-appreciated even from the patients they care for. Although all the nurses on the floor were great there are 3 specifically that stand out for me personally and their names were Nori, Kim and Kim. Unfortunately only two of the three nurses were there one of the Kim’s was not there this visit.
Nori, Dan and Kim
I think there are patients who once they leave that floor never want to see it again because they only have bad memories from there. Personally I make it a point to stop by and see them every year and I enjoy going back there to visit. I think they get a lot out of seeing the fruits of their labor and appreciate it very much when patients return still alive and looking a little different from when they saw them last.
I’m on an annual visit schedule at Dana Faber now and I remember when I was there 2 years ago for my appointment none of my nurses were there. This of course was not good for my mental happiness and I was extremely disappointed but luckily when I went back there last month 2 out of the 3 were there, Nori and Kim. I’ll send you a picture so I can show them off.”
Posted in Attitude, Behavior, Community Inclusion, Education, Friends, Friendship, Observation, Reality, Sensitivity
Tagged Caregiver, Courage, life lesson, lifestyle, relationship
Can you possibly understand the role you play in your patients’ lives? I received a Christmas card the other day (February 10) from a woman I haven’t seen in probably 14 years. She played a critical role in my life 17 years ago when I was a rehabilitation patient at Craig Hospital. I was so scared when I got there. My stay at Craig was almost 5 months because of the stage four pressure wound on my sacrum. It was the result of being strapped to a backboard for over 36 hours. Most of the first 3 months were spent cleaning the wound to get it ready for skin flap surgery. Much of this time I was unable to speak because of the tracheotomy.
Marsha (your hair looks fine)
A young woman named Marsha was one of my nurses. She was beautiful, funny and had an infectious laugh. She provided my care in a manner that made me feel special and safe. We have kept in touch since I left and even saw each other once when I went back for a reevaluation. I often wonder if she has any idea the critical role she played in my recovery. She has since left Craig and has a family, but still lives in the Denver area.
Marsha work days, but the most difficult time for me was during the night. I had become afraid of the dark and absolutely petrified to be alone. I had a boom box which my wife loaded with CDs before she left. Everything was manageable until the music shut off. In a matter of minutes I would have full-blown night terrors which turned me into a raving maniac. It got so bad that the nurses would wheel my bed out to the nurses station so they didn’t have to continually come into my room to calm me down. There was another young nurse who worked nights. I have long since forgotten her name. I can still hear her soothing voice as she tried to calm my hysteria. Things were always a little bit better when she was on duty. When I returned to Craig for a reevaluation I was saddened to find out that she had left and joined a traveling nurses group. In a wonderful effort to calm my fears she and Marcia bought two packages of the luminous stars and pasted them on the ceiling over my bed. At night the stars would radiate light for a while and then gradually dim and turned dark. When I was getting ready to come home, she came and had her picture taken with me and told me in a soft voice that she had only been a nurse for about six weeks. I was amazed.
When my wife and I were told at Craig that my quadriplegia would require someone to come to my house daily to help with my needs, get me dressed and in a wheelchair I was dumbfounded. I had always been a very private individual and prided myself on my independence and self-reliance. The thought of a stranger coming into my house every day was more than I could fathom. Rhonda began working for us about a year after I came home. She’s worked now for more than 16 years and has become a part of our family. Her job description has grown to much more than that of a nurse. She is always willing to take part in my little adventures and to step up when I need help. One good example of this is the day she drove into my neighbor’s field hooked a tow strap on my wheelchair, which had become mired in the mud, and pulled me out with her four-wheel-drive truck.
I wonder if nurses know the critical role they play in their patient’s life. I am positive my rehabilitation would not have worked out as well as it did without Marcia and the other nurse from the night shift. Rhonda’s always willing to help attitude, has enabled me to pursue activities I never would be able to do otherwise. I look at the role these women played in my life and wonder if they can truly grasp how critical their care and support really is.
Posted in Attitude, Behavior, Community Inclusion, Disability, Education, Friendship, Love, Observation, Reality, Sensitivity
Tagged Caregiver, life lesson, physically challenged, quadriplegia, relationship, society