Archive for September 2008
Tonight, as the final baseball game is being played in “The House That Ruth Built”, I want to pay tribute to the hallowed grounds that is baseball’s equivalent of Soldier Field or Lambeau Field in the NFL, or the Boston Garden in the NBA. Yankee Stadium. Where, since it’s opening game in April of 1923, the Yankees have won 26 World Series, hosted 4 All-Star Games including this year’s game.
Though most of the stadium was renovated in the mid-seventies, and many considered it to be, for all intents and purposes a new stadium at that time, it still sits on the same site where Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Ford, Maris, and Jackson worked their magic and became legends.
Of course during the seventh inning stretch of the final game, Ronan Tynan delivered a stunning rendition of “God Bless America.”
Further, I would like to pay tribute to the man who many consider to be the greatest Yankee of them all: Lou Gehrig, who from 1925-1939 played in 2,130 Yankees games in a row. He never missed a day. He never called in sick. Lou Gehrig, who stood in front of a packed house on July 4, 1939 to say goodbye, knowing he would one day be disabled by and die from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disorder that had begun to attack his body the previous year.
Not much of Gehrig’s farewell speech survives on film, but what remains is a testament to a universal truth in life, no matter what your disability is:
“I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”
I have been giving it a lot of thought, and though the ReWalk is still in its developmental stage as far as I am concerned, it does press me to consider what would be the one thing that would make me really, really wish that I could walk.
As my wife and I were driving through the countryside on our way home from my parents’ house today, I think I hit on the answer. The only reason I would ever really want to walk would be to be able to walk with my wife through the hills around my home town in the fall. The colors of course are beautiful (in fact sometimes the combination of colors can feel like something unearthly) and the hills are filled with endless mystery that is uncovered for the most part when the leaves begin to fall. But you can never quite uncover the mysteries of life unless you get right up close and personal with the things around you.
There is so much natural history I am missing. I know there is a ton of man-made history that I am missing out on by not being able to get into historic sites, but I’ve commented on that before.
Well, we can’t just make God, or the gods if you please, answerable to the Americans with Disabilities Act and all of a sudden have the hills, mountains, streams and valleys accessible to people in wheelchairs, now, can we? As I think that the point of this posting is to tell people with disabilities not to let any part of life pass you by because of your disability, for now, I may have to look into some off-road wheelchair options.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, after years and years with this old piece of metal, plastic and upholstery, I am finally going to get a new wheelchair. Well, let’s not be hasty, actually. On October 3 I am going to see my doctor to see if I can get a prescription for a new wheelchair. I am hoping that:
1. the fact that my current chair has no working breaks
2. the upholstery on the backrest is worn out and exposed metal is touching my shoulder blades
3. one of my tires is worn away to what’s under the rubber in one small area
4. one of my tires is separating from the wheel in a small area
5. my front casters wobble
6. the shaft in which my caster is mounted is supposed to be capped by I lost that cap a long time ago, and haven’t found anything that will stay on it, and in the winter it gets wet and rusty in there and sometimes the caster does not turn properly
7. several spokes are loose or bent on both wheels
8. it’s filthy
will be sufficient reasons to warrant a new chair. I was told last year by Medical Assistance that the chair would have to be unfixable in order to get a new chair. In other words it couldn’t just be something that could simply be replaced. I told them that would leave me without a chair if it was unfixable, but these reasons combined should add up to a situation where it would be easier just to start fresh with a new chair.
I am looking for something that is sporty but not too much so. I am not really an “athlete” but I am active. I do wear out the tires. I want something lightweight and easily trasportable since my wife and I have a Ford Taurus. The one I have has removable wheels and the backrest folds down, and I think I’d like to stick with something like that.
Wish me luck.
I am not a fan of Sarah Palin’s political views overall, but ever since her introduction as McCain’s running mate at the RNC, she has been taking a lot of crap because she had her baby son Trig, who has Down Syndrome, at the convention. Because of this, I can no longer remain silent on the issue. A few things are being said in the media about her little guy’s appearance on the National Stage that are really getting me steamed.
1. That having him at the convention was a political stunt to demonstrate how “pro-life” she is. Just because 80% of women who find out their unborn baby has Down Syndrome have an abortion according to this story does not mean that keeping your baby makes you any more of a saint than anyone else. After all, it is your baby we are talking about, not an everyday inconvenience that one chooses how to dispose of. I think Palin had her baby at the convention because he is a part of her family and she was introducing herself, and her family, to the country. Case closed.
2. By making the above into such a big time news story, the media made it seem as though not having an abortion in a similar situation would be noteworthy, somehow. Following through with a pregnancy which you know will result in a child with a disability is not a pro-life thing, it’s not a Christian thing, it’s not a Republican or Conservative thing. It is about love, and we all have that in us somewhere. Even us God damned baby killer pagan liberal Democrats!
3. One doctor went so far as to express concern that Palin’s example will lead other expectant mothers NOT to abort when the expected child is found to have a disability! What the Hell? Look, I have spina bifida, I know what a handful my disability was as a child, but there is always HELP one can gain through doctors (if they know what they are talking about), family members, the community, etcetera. And this is not even an issue of taking away people’s CHOICE. It is an issue of giving a baby with a disadvantage a CHANCE.
This doctor is worried that the mothers of fetuses with Down Syndrome will not be prepared to take care of the child. Well, I doubt very much that my own mother grew up training all her life to have a baby with spina bifida. Mothers who have children with disabilities find ways to cope with the circumstances they are given, and they do so out of love, the greatest power in the world. The greatest human quality. And Sarah Palin is a human being.
All of the negative attitudes toward Palin having this baby will reinforce the misconception that having a child with a disability is beyond the average human being. It encourages abortion of “imperfect” children. I am not going to get into the pro-life/choice argument because it’s a dead end as far as I can see. I am just using my own life experience here. I am pro-chance, my friends. Making her out to be either a saint or simply irresponsible will only serve the point of view that the chance to life should not be given so freely.
And quite frankly these attitudes have me really concerned coming from fellow liberals. Do they realize they are reinforcing every stereotype that conservatives have toward them and hold to be so repugnant? No wonder Barack Obama is losing so many supporters, even though he has absolutely nothing to do with this.
That one man I am referring to is, of course, Kim Jong-Il, North Korean rock star and dictator.
It was reported on Thursday that Kim (or Mr. Il, if you will) has within the last month had a stroke which may have left him paralyzed on one side of his body, and prone to spasms. He has not appeared in public since, because a public spasm would, of course, be a tremendous faux pas, especially in front of his throngs of admirers.
But what’s more, with Kim out of commission, talks between the U.S. and North Korea about nuclear (or nucular if you’re President Bush) disarmament may be indefinitely sidetracked. It’s bad enough that Kim already feels his good name is being dragged through the proverbial mud by the U.S. not taking him off the official Nucular Bad Guy list. Now this?
Could Kim’s newfound disability imperil one of the most important diplomatic chess matches of our time, thereby putting the path to “World Peace” into a tailspin never to be corrected? Or will North Korea’s second-in-command Kim Yong Nam step up and save the day? Just a question.
I like to keep an eye on the stats for my blog, which postings are hot, am I going to have a bigger month than last month, etc. And when I see a posting from long long ago getting hot again, and its not because of a Stumble on StumbleUpon, it’s nice to see. But this has got me scared.
I had a posting earlier in the year when I was trying REALLY hard to just quit drinking soda altogether. I was doing really well too. I went almost a quarter of a year cold turkey. So I wrote up a story about the benefits one could gain from avoiding carbonated beverages, especially the disabled. All of a sudden this posting has come back with a vengeance, and I don’t know why, but I think it is trying to tell me something, so I have set myself an ultimatum. Quit drinking soda again. And I have given myself a cutoff date: October 15. Not to be self-righteous, but just because I know that all of the reasons I mentioned in that posting were very good reasons to quit. I will keep you posted.
PS: The earlier posting can be found below by it’s working title, “Soda Jerk.”
Anyone who frequents YouTube has probably seen the video of Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Joseph Biden speaking on the campaign trail recently when he mentioned Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham’s name. This prompted Biden to say to Graham “Stand up, Chuck, let ‘em see ya.”
One problem: Graham is in a wheelchair.
I will not post the video here, but I do want to comment on the incident.
Some are saying that it is proof that Biden has never met Graham, and is therefore not as much of a Washington go-getter as he’s supposed to be or whatever. Possibly. But does it really prove anything? Gaffe for the ages, they are saying! But is it?
I have written previously how a co-worker told me once that he hadn’t ever really noticed that I was in a wheelchair. He maybe did at first but the importance of the fact grew dimmer and dimmer over time as we worked together and he saw me as a person on the same level as himself. The same principle may have been at work between Biden and Graham.
Plus Biden covered his tracks so well after the “error”, by making everyone else in attendance stand up. Over-correction? Maybe. Classy off-the-cuff move though, considering how I am sure Biden felt after making the mistake.
People are saying it is appalling that if Biden had never met Graham that nobody briefed him that Graham was in a wheelchair. I say it’s great that nobody briefed him that Graham was in a wheelchair. That proves that they did not really notice it either.
Of course you’ve got to be a great athlete too, but…
Does anybody else find it disturbing that to qualify for the Paralympics, all you need is a pair of contact lenses? Yes that’s right, apparently anyone whose vision is a little blurry can be a Paralympic athlete.
Granted, I have spent a good amount of time on this blog and on others reminding people that the definition of “disabled” can be extremely broad, even reminding my readers that, in fact, one could argue that those who wear glasses could be considered disabled. But isn’t the Paralympics supposed to be for athletes who cannot partake in the Olympics with fully functional walking athletes because of their disabilities? That was my understanding.
I was watching the Paralympic Judo and it seemed to me that the athletes who were squaring off in the competition had no visible disability. I thought “Did they add Tourette’s Syndrome to the Paralympics?” Because the athletes in the Judo competition definitely had no visible disability, and they had no ailment or disorder holding them back in any way, that is for sure. And this may sound narrow-minded as Hell, but if it is not a visible disability – if it does not visibly hold one back physically – then it has very little to do with physical competition. So I wanted to know what the guidelines were in the Paralympics. So I looked it up.
There are certainly many genuinely disabled people in the Paralympics, and the categories make a lot of sense, and they make it fair so as not to have a no-armed, one legged blind man with cerebral palsy fencing against a guy who is near-sighted. But contact lenses? Seriously?
In the Paralympics, a basketball team is made up of five players, each of whom is assigned an individual ranking from 1.0 to 4.5. The combined total of the rankings of the players on the court for one team at any given time cannot exceed a certain number, let’s say 15. I saw the opening game of the Paralympics tonight and the commentator made sure to stress that the ranking each player is given does not signify his level of ability, but his level of movement. We are talking about people with all different levels of paralysis here, so I can see what he meant.
But when it comes right down to it, doesn’t Kobe Bryant get more playing time with the Los Angeles Lakers because he is able to move in a more effective way than the other players on his team who play his position? And while we are on the subject of the National Basketball Association for Walkies, why is there not such an individual ranking system in the NBA(fW)? Every player in the NBA has a different level of ability, just as is the case in Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball. In the NBA, everyone has proven himself to be capable of competing at at certain level, and if not, he’s sent to the CBA or whatever, or he rides the bench all season and is used as warm-up meat for guys like Kobe in practice. The guys who are put on the court are the guys who are able to give the team its best chance at victory.
Now, I’m not trying to be an elitist or to exclude anyone from taking part in the Paralympics, which, for God’s sake, was established so that the previously excluded could be included. But making sure that each team has no more than 15 points of ability or whatever it is, on the court at any given time is about a step and a half away from the gym class games of kickball where if one team scores two runs, then in the next inning the other team automatically is allowed to score two runs. Not quite the same thing, but you see where I am coming from, I hope.
The other day I was thumbing through a rack of old LPs at a kiosk on the St. Vital Mall in Winnipeg, and I found a stack of Beatles records that for some reason nobody had snatched up yet. I didn’t waste a moment in deciding to buy the LP version of “Magical Mystery Tour”, “Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl” and “Yesterday…and Today.”
As if this wasn’t enough for a Beatles fanatic like me, I found out after the fact that all proceeds from purchases made at this kiosk were to go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. A little piece of cosmic serendipity, possibly. I wish I could say I bought the records because I wanted to make a benevolent contribution to the Reeve cause, but that is simply not true. But I am glad I bought them.
I am in a wheelchair with a spinal chord related disorder myself so I had a pretty good idea what the Reeve Foundation was about, but I looked into it a little more last night. I am not going to go into the issue of Spinal Cord Injury research too much, but regardless of your opinion on the controversial issue, what they are doing at the Reeve Foundation can only lead to some good coming to those whose lives have been changed to an indefinite degree by their injury.
Take a look at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation by clicking HERE. I’ll be adding it to my blog roll soon.