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Archive for the ‘blind’ Category

How To Adapt Your Home/Mind To Your Disability

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by Treadmarkz

A couple of nights ago one of my employees pulled me aside because she said she had to talk to me about something, “un-work-related.” Employees often come to me and my fellow supervisors with personal problems especially if they relate to that person’s inability to make their scheduled shifts for the week, so I didn’t think anything of it. When we went into my office she asked me if I could make any recommendations on adapting a house for a friend who was recently paralyzed in a car accident.

Should be easy, right? I’ve got spina bifida AND my father is a carpenter. I deal with finding different ways to do things all the time that other people take for granted right? Well, as it turns out, I am the one that takes everything for granted because I have apparently become so complacent in the way I live my life that I could come up with no advice other than to make sure the sinks have room for a wheelchair to pull under. Because I was searching my own memory bank for adaptations in the usual household setup that I have personally found useful, I found myself buying some time by pontificating on the importance of making the guy feel like nothing has changed, like you still have the same relationship as you did before. I felt shallow for only being able to think of that, and I promised the girl I would look into it myself and see what I could come up with.

I have just gotten so used to finding ways to do things or just dealing with the fact of life that things are not always going to be made easy for me. Aside from the obvious, that is – access to the house itself, doorways wide enough to get through, making sure things can be reached from a wheelchair. I mean, life should not be a constant struggle, of course.

My wife often asks me why I don’t make calls to see if I can’t get certain things changed or adjusted so it is easier for me to use, or why I don’t invent things to make life easier for myself and people like me. The reason, I think is because I’d rather continue to live my life like I have been (as similarly as possible to the way everyone around me is living theirs) than try to change it. Even if certain aspects of it suck a little bit from time to time.

The truth is that I don’t see a lot of websites that are specific to this problem. Not that you can easily find by Googling the expected phrases like “adapting your home for a disabled person”. Should be a large market for this developing as we are in war time and we have thousands of injured veterans coming home, and back to their family life. People around me will probably say “Well now that you’ve seen the need for one, why don’t you start a website that has that type of information in it?”

I wanted to try to find the information my co-worker asked about because I do have great sympathy for anyone who loses their physical abilities mid-life. Especially in the case of the person my co-worker was talking about, who, by no fault of his own, was paralyzed probably for life.

I have thought about it though, and I have come to the conclusion that my advice was the best I could give. I have lived with many roommates and now with my wife, and based on the good experiences I have had with all of the people I have lived with, I can honestly say that I would rather live in a place that was not extremely accessible with people who treated me like I was able to do anything they were, than live in a Paraplegic’s Paradise with every accommodation made, with people who in one way or another made you feel like a less able person. As a disabled adult, I can attest that the people around you have a huge psychological impact on how you conduct yourself.

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A Cure For Pity

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by Treadmarkz

I love this ad that Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is running. The theme is “Pity. It’s 100% Curable.” I think the ad hits the subject from the right angle.

I love it because I went to Gillette myself as a very young child with spina bifida and it was at that stage in my life when it was most crucial that I found out for myself that yes I had a disability and no there was no changing it, and that the only thing that needed adjusting was the way I saw myself and the way I worked with what I had. Of course I did not think of it in those words exactly, when I was five. But you get the idea.

And this ad works on more than one level really. It addresses the pity that the disabled child might feel for himself, and it also speaks to the fact that once that child cures his self-pity, he can start showing the world around him that there is absolutely no reason to pity him, nor is there, in fact, any room or time for pity. He’s got a life to start living.

The Next Big Questions for the United States of America

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Treadmarkz

One of the biggest, most deeply debated questions in the U.S. has been answered. Will we ever have a Black President? Well, Obama is half Black and half White. So I guess technically “Will we ever have a Black president?” is still the big question. But Obama’s election is considered to be a huge step in the right direction by millions of Americans as well as many millions of well wishers around the world. In many ways this has nothing to do with Obama’s race. The goodwill he is receiving certainly owes much to Obama’s ideas; his policies and his outlook for the future of this country and how it relates to the rest of the world.

But we also must keep in mind that his election has shown the world that the U.S., supposedly so far ahead of the rest of the world, has finally made a concrete statement to the rest of the world about its “open-mindedness.” After all there have been female heads of state all over the world, including many places in the supposedly-backward Middle East, for a long time. Not in the States, though.

In 2012 – or 2016 when Obama is no longer eligible for the Presidency – will it be considered a step backward if a White male is once again elected president? Certainly it will not be a step backward if Obama makes good on his ideas and becomes a well-respected president, and the next president continues where Obama left off.

Is this the crossroads of history when we can start asking not if, but when will there be an Asian U.S. President? When will there be a Hispanic, “Native American” or Middle Eastern, or Jewish or Muslim or Atheist U.S. President, or a president who is a “little person”?

When will we have an openly homosexual President? (see James Buchanan). Certainly the debate over “gay” marriage in the U.S. right now makes this an unlikely atmosphere. But the Civil Rights movement came to a crescendo 40 years ago, and Barack Obama has been elected. Will we see a gay president in 2048?

When will we have an openly disabled U.S. President? (see Franklin D. Roosevelt). The Americans with Disabilities Act empowered millions in 1990. Will we see a president who is blind, or a president who will without reservations appear on television in his wheelchair, or, let’s say, without his prosthetic in the year 2032? John McCain has a minor disability due to a war wound which he spoke openly about when the issue came up about him not using the Internet. And he came close to the White House.

These are just some of the possibilities that the election of Barack Obama has brought closer to being a reality. Now all we have to do is watch how history plays out.

Why It Takes More Than A Disabled War Veteran and the Mother of a Child With a Disability To Win My Vote

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by Treadmarkz,

I have encountered fellow citizens of the U.S. who were shocked that I would not be voting for John McCain/Sarah Palin in this year’s election. Astounded, really.

“Don’t you think Sarah Palin, as a mother of a disabled kid, and John McCain, as a disabled War Veteran, would do everything they can for disabled people?”

I have endless respect for McCain’s sacrifice in War, and I know from listening to my mother talk about raising me what Palin must go through to get her child what he needs to live the life she wants for him. So this is a valid question. Sure Palin is the mother of a child with Down Syndrome. But I don’t know what she would do as a leader. I mean if my own mother were in the White House, I have a good idea of the laws that she would want changed and I would trust her judgement. But I don’t know enough about Palin to know if I trust the things that she would have pushed for as VP. And nobody can know what’s best for all the different kinds of disabled people. So you have to vote for the overall best choice you have available. And I believe I did.

And besides that, any change that was made on behalf of disabled people would have to be voted on by the law-making bodies of our government, not just installed by Palin OR McCain. I know that is how it works under Bush/Cheney but we are back to reality now. In that respect I know that disabled people are just as well off under Obama as we would have been with Palin or McCain.

I told the person that asked me this that sometimes it is better if people that have a little distance from the issue make the decision. And what I meant was that if we want this to be a fair and balanced country, the laws and “changes” need to be made by people without self-interest in the issues.

And speaking of self-interest, despite an earlier posting in which I noted that Obama was the only candidate that mentioned disabled people on his Web site, I know that there are issues that are infinitely more important to this country than whether I get accessibility to certain buildings, etc. Such as the issue of whether I get to keep getting my health care for free while others don’t have health care at all. Such as whether my president is going to stop or continue isolating us from the rest of the world. Whether he is going to take the time to read the CIA reports about potential attacks. Whether my president is going to make education a priority for everyone. Whether he is going to tax the people who have the money to spare (the facts don’t lie, if you actually paid attention to what McCain and Obama were saying). The list goes on and on.

The point is that I am a citizen of this country and I care about the things that everyone else does. So it took more than two people with direct connections with disabilities to get my vote. That is why I voted for Obama.

Disabled People: Don’t Vote Absentee Unless You Absolutely Must!

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by Treadmarkz

It’s probably a little late for this but I just read that absentee voting costs the county – at least the county that I am living in – about $10 per ballot, which is about twice as much as each ballot costs the county on Election Day. I don’t know why that is, but I also know that many of the people that are casting absentee votes are giving “disability” for a reason they need to vote early.

Since this election is about ceasing the unnecessary spending in government and getting back to pooling our resources into things that are important, I implore you if you are disabled, please do not vote absentee, unless you really need to, to avoid the crowds, which is completely understandable. And I ask that anyone else who may attempt to fabricate a reason why they need to vote early, to avoid doing so. Show that you really believe in changing the way we do things for the greater good!

Since there isn’t much time until Election Day, please pass this on to anyone you think should read this.

I am Treadmarkz, and again, I approve this message.

Rethinking the ReWalk

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by Treadmarkz

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.

Furious Male Liberal Defends Sarah Palin AND Her Baby

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by Treadmarkz

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.