Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Canines for Combat Veterans

..a new program where inmates train dogs to assist veterans. Please read about this program which is a win-win situation for all involved.

Parents with Disabilities Online

Here's a link to a group for parents with disabilities - information is available for adaptive equipment to care for the little ones. This post is dedicated to my many friends with disabilities who are such wonderful parents!

If you have any ideas for adaptive aids or are interested in developing them, please contact this group because they receive requests from parents.

Ahoy mates....

and Happy Halloween! My nephew decided to be a pirate (if you want to learn to talk like a pirate, click above!) Had to have a sword in the outfit....plus I think he likes saying land lubbers....thank you all for your suggestions and help.

Catholic Carnival 91 is up. .

ATA's 2005 Guide to Low Cost, No Cost Online Tools for People with Disabilities

Monday, October 30, 2006

From e-bility.com - an article about technology and disability

The author, Judith Geppert, who has CP, writes that low technology is her headpointer - high technology is her PC and an accessible yacht! Read this amazing article from 2004 for an overview as to how technology has increased her independence over the years.

Via Monastic Musings- A Great Church Sign

Saturday Slumgullion via The Gimp Parade

Excellent roundup of disability blogs, as usual. Includes a few links to Deaf bloggers on the Gallaudet situation, right before the Board of Trustees decided to fire the new president.
We ought to be persuaded that what God refuses to our prayer, He grants to our salvation.
– St. Augustine

Sunday, October 29, 2006

MP3 player - in the shape of a cross?

A company has manufactured an MP3 player - it's black and shaped like a cross. It's called the Saint B.

Gallaudet University axes new president

Gallaudet University has axed its new president, the subject of much controversy.

The Board of Trustees' Statement, issued today, can be read here.

Caregiver article

United Hospital has an article about the Top 10 things caregivers don't want to hear - and what they do!

Dave, a quadriplegic, tests out a Tablet PC

Click above for an interesting and informative review of how one user accesses a Tablet PC - without the use of his hands! He uses a mouthstick , attaches the TAblet Pen and explains how he inputs data.

I'm working on this method myself and will let you know how it goes. Tablet PC's have voice recognition as well as handwriting recognition and, although the reports are mixed on the quality of the voice recognition, I am finding it reliable. As usual, voice recognition requires training and I am wondering if that is what prevents most people from relying on it more.

There is this "thrill factor" at being able to write and draw, albeit with a mouthstick, on the screen.

Just think - Wheelie Catholic might be able to do comic strips!

Link to alternate input devices

Dirty Butter requested a link to some of these alternate input devices. Enablemart IMHO has the best overview of them on this page. (I have no affiliation with their store, but do consider them a good source to use as they specialize in this type of equipment.)

I will post a few pictures here as well:

The Magic Wand Keyboard - a compact keyboard that is designed for folks who use a mouthstick/wand and have limited dexterity. It's pricey (which is why I don't have this ) and impossible it seems to get funding for, but it's a great piece of equipment!

However keep in mind that mouthsticks/wands work on any keyboard so put it on your wish list and practice on what you can afford!

Here's a picture of a mouthstick

Need a one handed solution? Meet the FrogPad - a mobile one handed keyboard. Enablemart has other choices, but this looks intriguing- if I had one hand that worked, would definitely be interested in this.

orbiTouch - a unique keyboard that has no - er - keys! meant for use of the hands/arms without use of fingers

BigTrack - the biggest meanest track ball made! (that I know of!) it's colorful and looks like it's for kids but the reality is it's got the size if you can work a trackball and just need a bigger target.

For Visual Impairments:

ZoomText Large Print Keyboard...there are other choices as well and now there's a wireless keyboard with enlarged text on the keys!

Those are just a few things over there - click above and look around if you or someone you know is struggling to input on a computer. Sometimes you can find affordable alternatives if you get creative: for example, use a less expensive version of voice recognition and then buy a trackpad/trackball and use a mouthstick to input data in areas that the voice recognition won't work on.

alternate blogging

I never knew before I had a disability exactly how many alternate forms of input existed for computers.

Not only are there special keyboards, there are onscreen keyboards that float on your screen and can be used with a mouth wand- some include word prediction. There are kinds of trackpads and now you can get a mouse made for specific disabilities.

Of course there's voice recognition. there's handwriting recognition on Tablet PCs and touchscreen computers.

I use a variety of methods when I write this blog. If I get "stuck" and voice recognition won't "recognize" what I say, I'll turn to an onscreen keyboard.

alternate blogging - part of the creative process!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Catholic-Jewish Centre opens in Canada

The London Free Press reports that London's King's University College has opened the first Centre for Catholic-Jewish Learning in Canada.The Centre offers research, discussion, teaching and other resources to the community and university.

Disability News & Views Radio show...

They have a show twice a week, on Wednesdays and Thursdays - and there is also a streaming broadcast of an interview with Josh Blue.

The Cardinals won the World Series!

OK I admit, I used to live in Detroit...poor Tigers...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Disability Blog Carnival #2

Disability is a civil rights issue...

...via the seattlepi....

In this opinion piece, Toby Olson, the executive secretary of the Governor's Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, writes about the misperceptions of life with a disability and notes the lack of progress in the area of employment for those with disabilities .

He writes that we need to start a dialogue to address the gaps between what people perceive life with a disability to be and what it is in reality in order to make further progress.

He also reminds readers that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Disability discrimination lawsuit settled

..against company that refused employee in a wheelchair a remote work program

Hospital in LA may be charged for dumping homeless patients on skid row...

..apparently five patients were left on skid row.... apparent photo evidence at the link.

Perfect Digital Camera for a Quad to take pictures of ADA Violations!

With the Christmas commercials starting, I saw this Fischer Price camera on TV. Listen to the description:

tough - doesn't break even if you drop it down a flight of stairs

easy to use buttons

This sounds great. I always hesitate to buy digital cameras since I have to ask someone else to use them for me. There's no way I can figure out a way to use the buttons. But this one has HUGE buttons that might be amenable to being used with an assistive device.

Comes in both pink and blue for boy quads and girl quads, although real men don't mind pink.
God gave Himself to you: give yourself to God.
– Bl. Robert Southwell

Neglect of the Mentally Ill and Euthanasia

Via Zenit news...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jimmy Akin to speak at GodBlogCon

This weekend, fellow Catholic blogger Jimmy Akin will be speaking in California at GodBlogCon. Please click above for information - would be great if you can attend and support this event.

Via open book: Catholic Hospital offers free health care to uninsured..

..with chronic conditions, along with other hospitals....

The Sims 2 - Disability Expansion Pack?

Every version of The Sims that comes out becomes more and more realistic. I was joking with a friend the other day that by the time we get to version 4, the Sims will be able to do our jobs!

There are always several expansion packs in each version. This version has Open for Business (for the enterpreneur), Pets, Glamour, Family Fun stuff, Holiday Pack, Night Life, and University. The virtual world of the Sims is so busy that next they're going to need an expansion pack to deal with stress.

However, being Wheelie Catholic, I've been wondering why there couldn't be an expansion pack for Sims with disabilities. The expansion packs are great at adding on little details and could include ramps, guide dogs, and the ability to create Sims with disabilities. Not only would this teach kids about inclusiveness, it would be more realistic.

There is something a bit odd about a simulated world that includes no one with anything more challenging than a cold. Don't get me wrong - the Sims can die, either from old age, setting themselves on fire from cooking or lighting a fireplace. But there seems to be this idea that, during their lives, the Sims are immune from disability .

It probably reflects the general tendency in our society to deny that our population with disability exists.

However, how are able bodied people ever going to learn that having a disability can be fun if we don't give them an expansion pack?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Roll on up and say "Trick or treat"!

My nephew has a dilemna. He wants to go trick or treating for Halloween.

But he can't walk far enough to do it without a wheelchair.

When the other kids see him in a wheelchair only some of the time, they don't understand that he can't walk long distances and they ask him alot of questions and challenge him about it.

So he told my sister he doesn't think he wants to do Halloween. She replied "No candy?" Even that didn't change his mind - at first.

Let's just say he's mulling over his options.

I offered to go along in my wheelchair dressed as ET, but my older nephew just rolled his eyes at me. I figured if I dressed up like that, it would give the kids more to talk about than a wheelchair.

Of course the real answer to this situation is doing some handicapped awareness with the other kids. After all, they're just curious and asking questions because they don't understand. It would be alot more comfortable for everyone to do some educating and explaining about CP than to have this be an issue to this extent. We'll have to work on that.

In the meantime, I'm going to go figure out another costume. ET sounded good...

Nothing is ever the same again...

... once you get the diagnosis that you have a permanent disability, is it?

Whether it's a diagnosis for you or for a loved one, when all of the tests are done and the doctor has sat you down and told you, it changes everything.

We even have words for it. We call it when the doctor tells you " what is wrong with you ".

Those are ominous words. Certainly living with a disability is a life changing event. It changes the way you go about your daily life in many cases. It means not being able to do certain activities for some people.

Because the language around the state of being disabled is so negative, we often fear our future with a disability more because of that than the actual reality of living wth a disability.

Many of us move on to live full lives, constrained more by the limits placed on us by society than by our disabilities. Our world may be different, but that doesn't mean that we should reject ourselves or give up on our future.

My advice to people who are newly disabled is that it's important not to get negative. There will be plenty of other people ready to do that for you. When they do - run, crawl or roll away as fast as you can. Do not buy into the idea that you should feel ashamed of your body or how you move or do things differently from others. Read about disability culture so you can learn about the issues that affect all of us and get a sense of identity. This also helps you to stop personalizing ableism - and may motivate you to get involved with social justice issues.

There are many strong and wonderful people living with disabilities who accomplish more than many able bodied folks. Some have been disabled from birth. Many wake up every day and do not even consider how their lives would be if they were not disabled. They are too busy living life with their disabilities - and doing just fine.

They certainly don't look in the mirror thinking "what is wrong with me?"

Neither should you.

Mass of Pope John Paul II the Great....

... written by New Orleans composer... amidst the recovery from the hurricane

Catholic Carnival 90 is up. .

... over at Luminous Miseries!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Challenging us in our circumstances...

.seems to be today's topic.

I was very touched while reading the post below at Clairity's Place, because I've had so many people come into my life who have played the role of challenging me in my circumstances.

And, to be honest, sometimes I really hate that. I don't like it when someone "challenges" me when I'm exhausted after being stuck in duct tape trying to do things or working so late that I've had 3 hours of sleep.

I feel challenged enough by being paralyzed on those days. I'm not in the mood for someone to give suggestions. Sometimes even insight isn't welcomed. What I'd really like is a good night's sleep, a secretary and a nice hot meal.

As one wise woman once said to me "If your basic needs aren't taken care of, it's hard to work on self actualization. "

Maybe. But it's still possible if you try to just grow up, ignore the discomfort and plow on, keeping in mind that one's spiritual state is dependent on one's attitude. A positive attitude, even when you're tired, hungry and frustrated, is pivotal.

This is where examples help. Think about missionaries. They volunteer to go to places where they know there will be discomforts of all kinds, ranging from the physical to the not so obvious culture displacement they must go through.

My friend Maureen who was in the Peace corps after college spoke to me of being a teacher overseas for several years and how different things were over there. After listening to her speak about this and the various kinds of deprivation she endured (not that she saw it that way, bless her) , I started to reframe some of my experiences , such as physical discomfort from not having anything to eat or being very tired due to my physical limitations, and also spoke to others with disabilities along those lines.

It was easier to listen to Maureen because she did not directly challenge me in my circumstances. She simply shared her experiences and that somehow spoke to my heart.

It is much more difficult if someone challenges me in a preaching type of way. It can be hard to listen to someone lecture me about how I shouldn't mind being hungry because I can't cook as they sit there telling me about the Sunday dinner they had from soup to nuts!

However, all of it is still a challenge to me in my circumstances. There may not appear to be a reason why a recovered drug addict came to my door several months ago collecting money for an organization and then sat down on my porch and spent an hour talking to me about how he was spared being permanently disabled. But he also challenged me in my circumstances when he reached my heart with his genunine gratitude and humility that he was now able to walk - and actually heard me when I explained that my life is full and productive from a wheelchair. We were both enriched.

Isn't that what it's all about? When we speak of being a community, when we talk about fellowship, we really need to emphasize how , as we challenge each other, we choose to enrich, rather than judge, each others' lives.

Conversion from Friendship - Clairity's Place...

has a wonderful post - about "progressive change sparked by meeting a person who challenges us in our circumstances ", as depicted in the movie Cry Freedom.

Via Monastic Musings.

a good overview of current Catholic social justice issues

You might be surprised, if you're not familiar, with the breadth of issues, from landmines to predatory lending practices as well as welfare, homelessnesss and quite a few other issues.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Explaining Cerebral Palsy to kids...

Does your child have a classmate with CP?

I found a web page explaining (in kid's terms) what CP is while googling for CP information for my nephew. Seems like a great tool for parents looking for a way to explain the disability to their kids!

In memory of " Murph the Smurf"

Tonight my 14 year old female tabby friend passed away . I'd like to post this prayer in memory of her companionship, gentle love and tabby-tude (as only those who live with tabbies will understand!)

God Our Heavenly Father,

You created the world to serve humanity's needs and to lead them to You. By our own fault we have lost the beautiful relationship which we once had with all your creation. Help us to see that by restoring our relationship with You we will also restore it with all Your creation. Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for they are Your creation. We pray for all animals who are suffering as a result of our neglect. May the order You originally established be once again restored to the whole world through the intercession of the Glorious Virgin Mary, the prayers of St. Francis and the merits of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You now and forever. Amen.

St Francis of Assisi Prayer for Animals

Experimenting with Living, disabled patients....

... via Lifenews. com, an article about how some bioethicists justify this.

grace, mercy and acceptance

Whenever I have to deal with something that is hard to accept, I find that my feelings come up after I receive Holy Communion.

It is in those moments that I feel closest to God as the father, son and Holy Spirit in the true sense of Trinity. I realize that Jesus suffered as we do, and is capable of understanding our reaction to suffering and all of our emotions. God as the father watched his only begotten son suffer in the way that sometimes our heart aches are the result of watch others suffer. The Holy Spirit, who resides in us, witnesses what we go through and if we pray and listen, is always there.

When I struggle with accepting a cup to drink, I try to remember that God's great love will sustain me as it did Jesus during his sufferings. How can I question that love at the very moment I am in Union with God? But, of course, such questioning and doubt does arise when I am in pain. It precedes a greater understanding of the role of God's grace and mercy in my life and, ultimately, leads to a true acceptance that honestly acknowledges my very human failings.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"I'm so lucky..."

OK I Just lost playing the videogame SuperMario Party 7 to my youngest nephew. He always beats me at that game because, as his older brother points out, "Aunt Ruthie has no hands to use. "

I do have hands. They just don't work the controllers. So my poor little Yoshi guy is being eaten alive, stomped on by these strange looking creatures in mini games, swallowed in lava pits - you get the idea - while my nephew hops around the game board collecting coins and buying windmills or some such thing.

I can use the joy stick. A little. OK so I'm not good at that either.

But it doesn't matter. My nephew enjoys it. But when his brother says that I lose because of my hands, my nephew replies "No, it's because I'm just so lucky."

Lucky, my dear child? Yes, in many ways he is.

But he is also plucky. I love his attitude as he works hard to deal with his CP and the many ramifications from that. He types twice as fast as he did two months ago, swims longer, uses a wheelchair better and, throughout it all, smiles most of the time.

He faces a myriad of other problems that most of us will never have to contend with.

But I agree - he is lucky.

Mostly because the reality is that the attitude we have determines the quality of our lives more than our circumstances. And he has a good one.


If you have too much to do, with God's help you will find time to do it all.
– St. Peter Canisius

I hear this word all week long from people.

"You don't know how busy I am."

"I'm too busy for that and I know you don't understand."

And I always wonder why they are telling ME that. Because I am busy too - perhaps busier than many of them! The assumption that , because I am a person with a disability, I don't understand what busy is - baffles me. One has nothing to do with the other.

However, a better question for those of us who are Catholics often is "What are we busy doing?"

When we turn down service work because we are too busy, are we really saying we "need" more lesiure time? Or are we so busy that we need that time to do other fruitful, worthwhile things?

It's a good question. Our world seems consumed by leisure activities at times. I hear people say they need to watch a certain TV show, for example, and that they deserve to relax. But it is necessary to look at whether we rationalize avoiding doing service work with this kind of reasoning if we overindulge in leisure activities to the exclusion of doing service work.

I'm wondering how many people can honestly say they can't find an hour once a week to do something for someone else? If not, once every two weeks? Or once a month?

We are all busy. Yet somehow when I take on service work, God finds the time for me to get everything else done. Sometimes it's amusing to sit back and watch the ways He makes it happen! One job I had to do just went away this week-
and it was through no doing of my own - after I stuck my neck out to take on some service work I felt called to do.

But if you stop and think about it, if I am doing what God wants me to do with the time I have down here on earth, then I'm not too busy after all - ever.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Quadriplegic's Prayer

Lord, help me get out of bed
Mindful of how my mood affects others.
Help those who help me do my daily tasks
Be patient and loving.
Bless my caregivers, who so unselfishly give
Of their time, energy and lives.
Remind me that they, too, are human
And can only do their best.
Let me not be ungrateful
About what I do not have.
Instead, help me recognize the rich abundance
Of all that You have given to me.
Help me to accept the limitations of my disability,
But guide me toward doing all I can to optimize my independence.
Be with me as I face my fears and
Rejoice with me as I celebrate my joys.
Hold me so that I may feel less alone
In this body that no longer feels sensation
But can feel Your Presence.
Sustain me with spiritual Food when I am hungry.
Give me the physical strength to do what is right.
Surround me with friends so that I may always remember,
No matter what my circumstances may be,
That I am here to give as well as to take.

He is a blessing to the school

Ben, a student at a Mount St. Joseph Catholic high school in Baltimore, Maryland, is well-liked by his classmates. One of his fellow students described Ben as someone who considers everyone to be his friend. Ben has down syndrome and his classes have been adapted so that they remain challenging, but within his ability. He is described as a blessing to the school.

Technology and disability

I just got a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 9. The copy that I've had was version 7.

The new version is a huge improvement. The company is advertising that you do not have to do any voice training, but I always choose to do some readings first since I use the voice recognition to control the mouse and open and close programs. In order to avoid chaos, I don't mind spending 10 minutes getting more accuracy.

What I can attest to is that this version is much more accurate. I simply did a reading of the humorous Dave Barry excerpt, which took me less than seven minutes. So far in this blog post, I've had one error and I can tell you I dropped my voice on that word.

Of course, I'd like to say that I represent Dragon NaturallySpeaking and get their products for free! But I don't.

What I'd like to write about is how important the right technology is to a person with a disability. Currently I am working on quite a bit of writing in my day job and after hours. I can tell you right now that my productivity will shoot right up because this product is so much better than the one I was using.

My alternatives to voice recognition are not pretty. Basically I can use assistive devices to tap in individual letters, but it is slow and painful. I can also use an on-screen keyboard with word prediction software, but that is pricey and I think slower for most things. (Although if your voice recognition software isn't working well, it can be a better choice ).

So I want to thank Howard for recommending that I update my voice recognition and Meredith for encouraging me to spend the money. This is definitely a 9.5 on a scale of 10.

Prenatal testing puts rights of disabled at risk, writes this author...

... and it is a slippery slope, as Dr. Tanis Doe says.

She was a guest lecturer at the University of Alberta, and her lecture was titled 'Murders of Disabled Children & Adults and Prenatal diagnosis: Forms of Modern Eugenics?'

Brooke Ellison aims for State Senate

How interesting. The headline starts with the word "Paralyzed"

The article discusses the problems involved in having a campaign with a" disabled candidate " and includes a link to an ableist remark by her opponent's supporter in a 30 second commercial about a golf handicap - saying" I have a handicap, a huge handicap ".

Brooke is moving forward with her campaign.

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What are you waiting for?

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
Romans 8:24-25

Ever have someone question you about why you're not taking action?

Our motives are seen by God, but not by other humans. Sometimes, even when we are trying to do the right thing, people don't understand our decisions, our actions or our inaction.

It is in those times, especially if we have prayed about our decision and gone over our options with a few trusted spiritual people, that we must find the endurance to hang in there.

Whimsical Catholic?

Sometimes I wish I could change the heading on my blog - and see if anyone would notice!

But it would probably confuse people. I could just leave the "W" up.

For example, I wouldn't mind having a blog called Whimsical Catholic for a week or so. It would be a nice break. Or maybe I'd like to try Winking Catholic - or Willing Catholic -

I could go on and on.

Where did Wheelie Catholic go?

West, I think.
My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs.
St. Isaac Jogues

A teenager with CP writes about what it's like to live with her disability...

Kelly, an 18 year old with CP, writes about how it is to live with CP - and how sometimes people who laugh, stare and point don't understand. She emphasizes that her disability is not a tragedy, but in some way has enriched her life.

Her story is located at the bottom of the page - click above for information about CP.

Society's double standard for those with disabilities

I am constantly amazed at how our society has such a double standard for PWD (people with disabilities) .

On the one hand, our society encourages independence, self reliance and "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps" - apparently even if your arms are paralyzed. On the other hand, society refuses to acknowledge the fact that our physical limits need to be accommodated before we are able to participate in life.

Our society says it wants us to work. But there is still job discrimination, lack of access to necessary equipment and a tendency for employers to view accommodations we need as stemming from a sense of entitlement. This continues to result in very poor employment figures for those with disabilities and lower wages.

Our society says it wants us to be independent. Yet some of us are forced into senior housing or, even worse, nursing homes because we cannot afford the help we need to live on our own. In addition to the shortage of available aides, many people with disabilities are not able to pay enough to attract decent help, which results in neglect.

Some people then blame the person with a disability for not being able to take care of the situation. How ridiculous this is when society itself continues to place barriers to good employment in our way - and then wonders why we do not have the money to pay for good help.

This response also sidesteps other issues. It may be a way to rationalize or excuse the fact that, shamefully, our communities no longer look after those with disabilities. Sadly, people feel they are too busy to care for the most vulnerable among us, thinking that someone else will do it.

There is no shame in needing help with physical limitations.

The shame is in the failure to respect human life and the failure to afford the basic care that one needs to live a life of dignity.

Our double standards serve a useful function to many, albeit a dysfunctional one - they prevent our society from dealing with the reality that we have failed to address issues facing those with disabilities adequately enough for them to manage to live in the community independently. Government programs have begun to address these needs, but the gaps that remain leave PWD with inadequate care and resources- at least until more PWD have access to better jobs.

Let us pray that our communities will better recognize ways they can show compassion and support as those of us with disabilities go through these growing pains and take our place in society .

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Euthanasia done on infants with disabilities in North Korea

At a forum on human rights in Seoul, it was reported that "such babies" were put to death by medical staff and buried quickly.

Via LifeSite


Wheelie Catholic has been invited to join Blogburst. You'll see a small banner on the right side that you can click on to read about Blogburst.

Blogburst is a community of about 2800 blogs on different topics chosen by their editorial staff. Blog posts are sold to syndicated news services which helps promote blog readership and visibility.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How many quads does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, if she has an aide.

The other night, one of the two light bulbs in my kitchen ceiling light went out. I have these automatic lights that come on - poof- when I roll into the room. People who visit love it . They always say "I should get that put in!"

I have it because I'm a quadriplegic. But go right ahead.

About an hour later, I rolled back into the kitchen for something else and - oops - the other light bulb went out.

No poof - just this flash and darkness.

So there I sat in my wheelchair, looking up at the ceiling light in the dark and thinking there really should be some way for a quad to change a light bulb in this day and age.

Of course, what are the odds of both bulbs going out the same night, within an hour of each other?

In any event, I still think it's a lousy system not to be able to change it myself. Inevitably everyone is busy or I forget to ask them to do it. I figure that, until we are able to teach robots to take care of a quad's needs, we should really work on issues like this because people are just undependable.

First of all, lights in a quadriplegic's home could be designed to descend - or could be installed lower. In either case, we would have to design a way to get a new bulb in there without needing any dexterity. I'm thinking a rubber bulb would work best. If it took several tries and you dropped it, it wouldn't break. (I've been reading about these new rubber sidewalks and they are all the rage - so why not rubber bulbs?)

Now that we have an unbreakable light bulb, we would need to design a way to plug it in. I'm all for a universal design that would allow a simple pushing motion with a body part that every quad can use - his or her nose! So if you designed the rubber light bulb with a flattened top, that would allow a large target for one's nose to push it into the socket and - snap- you're all set!

Of course if you missed you might get an electrical shock - and a new hairdo. But I digress.

These really aren't difficult design ideas. Surely someone out there could help quads with this.

Until then, maybe I should try to see if I can get someone to put headlights on my wheelchair for light bulb blackouts ....

About ministry with Catholics with disabilities....

.. an. article

Tim at PD and Me... posts...

... about his experiences with socialized medicine in Wales and how an operation that would help his Parkinson's disesase has
been eliminated from his options....

Via Dirty Butter who was kind enough to email this link and raise this issue.

For my European , Canadian visitors - and those in countries with socialized medicine - what is your experience as Americans ponder this option....

Catholic Carnival is up!

Monday, October 16, 2006

1978 USCCB Pastoral Statement on PWD

" We call upon people of good will to reexamine their attitudes toward their brothers and sisters with disabilities and promote their well-being, acting with the sense of justice and the compassion that the Lord so clearly desires. Further, realizing the unique gifts individuals with disabilities have to offer the Church, we wish to address the need for their integration into the Christian community and their fuller participation in its life."

Let's get radical

Why not? Jesus was radical.

After all, He espoused an alternative social order - one in which all men and women were equal and free. He deliberately ate dinner with the tax collector and prostitutes. He sought out those who were outcasts. He constantly challenged those who were rich and comfortable about their ideas and way of life.

A ministry for the disabled has to be a bit radical in order to be effective. This is because those with disabilities have gone for so long without having a voice. We have a long way to go before we are treated as equal and free.

What we really need is a society where all of us with disabilities have the right to be seen and participate, just like everyone else.

This would, of course, necessarily mean that those without disabilties do not exclude us or otherwise treat us with disrespect.

Spreading this radical message is an exciting, but sometimes discouraging, ministry. It can lead to misunderstandings and even being told that we don't understand how hard it is for able bodied people to be around us!

This is, of course, exactly my point. What Jesus was showing us through His example is that it is not about whether it is "hard" to be around those who are different. He was teaching us that, as Christians, this is how we should act . He was telling us not to be deceived by the social structure that the world gives us - whether it be a caste system, discrimination against others or intolerant, ingrained behaviors.

The radical message of Our Lord is this: we all have more in common than not as brothers and sisters in Christ.

He's just a kid

Well, they both are. This is a tale of two kids.

At Mass this morning, my nephew looked at me suddenly and asked "Why do people think it's funny that someone is in a wheelchair? Why do they laugh at them?"

He uses a wheelchair some of the time because he has CP.

In Mass this morning he was not in a wheelchair.

I, of course, was sitting there in my wheelchair at the time. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a boy sitting a few aisles ahead who had turned around and was smirking in my direction and making faces .

I sighed and told my nephew very simply that some people are ignorant and, out of that ignorance, treat others badly.

He shook his head. "It's not right. It's just not right."

Some people would say that the child who was smirking is just a kid.

But let's not forget that my nephew is just a kid too.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Gimp Parade's Saturday Slumgullion

As usual, Blue at The Gimp Parade has a wonderful selection of posts to read.

There is a beautifully moving post from the blog "the phat girl speaks" ,about her experience being humiliated on a bus recently:

"Dwarfism is the oldest recorded disability dating back to the bible, so you have all had long enough to get used to it. It shouldn’t come as a shock to you when I board your bus, or enter your shop or drink at your bar, just as it shouldn’t if I was black. Anthony Walker’s mother said after her son’s killing,
"This is absolutely terrible, we cannot change our colour."
How very sad a statement but understandable in such distress, for her son was the last person who needed to change. Just as I a women, a sister, a daughter and a person with a disability should never wish to be different. One should never assume that because you wouldn’t want to be that person, that they themselves are not happy.

And many years after Rose Parks sat down, so black people could stand up she said ‘she had gained strength to persevere in her work for freedom, not just for blacks but for all oppressed people.’

And she was right, her beliefs extended past her ‘own’ people she understood that the treatment she received was often received by many others both black and white, stating

"There comes a point where you say, No, I'm a full citizen, too. This is not the way I should be treated."
“Be who you are and be that well.”
St. Francis de Sales

For all those doing their PT/OT....

medals of honor.

Yesterday my nephew came over and my sis told me how very hard he's working in PT. I gave him one of my wheelchair tennis medals for his courage and bravery. He deserves it.

So I wanted to give cyber-medals to all of those who work just as hard - kids, even adults.

When we have disabilities or become injured and need PT/OT, it's not much fun, is it? When you need to have it all of the time, it becomes a challenge and a real character-builder. I can see how it has matured my nephew to muster up the self discipline to go, after school, numerous times a week and have to push his already tired body even further.

Not that he complains usually. He understands that he is working to get a bit more strength with his CP. At the ripe old age of 10, he's already a philosopher, saying "I see a little bit more strength on some days" and knows he has good and bad days.

Yet he perseveres. As do many of us.

Forget the NFL stars, the college stars, the Heisman winners - YOU guys are my heroes!

Have a medal - and a hug.
Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.
– St. Teresa of Avila

Friday, October 13, 2006

Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.
– St. Therese of Lisieux

Rochester Institute of Technology offers two new courses of study for Deaf students...

.. and five year scholarships!

What Gallaudet administrators posted at 11:30 am today...

What is Paraskevidekatriaphobics —

people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th ...

Gallaudet University barricaded

The LA Times reported that Gallaudet University will remain barricaded, according to protestors, because they feel the new president lacks a commitment to the Deaf culture.

In the first disability carnival (posted below) , Penny Richards does an excellent job linking to various blogs explaining different points of view of the situation. I highly recommend scrolling down and hopping over there to read a few.

As usual, the media reports, the photos shown and the sad comments by some that this is a case of "coddled students" who have never been in the real world wanting to pick their university president forgets that this college is one of a kind and, as such, represents the Deaf community in a unique way.

The LA Times writes:

"People look up to Gallaudet University because it's a pillar of the deaf community," said T. Alan Hurwitz, dean of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. Hurwitz added that he thought the controversy had more to do with the selection process than a split over deaf culture."

Gallaudet University students and alumni, as well as those who are Deaf, are a community. Honoring the future of that community and the path it will take should be paramount, not name calling or a misplaced lesson in obedience to authority - that ignores the unique role this school plays in Deaf culture.

As one blogger puts it:

"We’re talking about the ability to be led by someone who empathizes with his or her constituents and will act on behalf of and in the common interest of the Gallaudet University. This also means recognizing Gallaudet’s unique role as not just a place where students should be expected to excel academically, but also as a model to D/deaf people everywhere of what we’re capable of doing."

DCBlog.... by Allison...

Karen Marie's Guide to Honoring the gift of our Catholic Faith

Please click for a wonderful post by Karen Marie at From the Anchor Hold on ways to learn more about our faith and improve one's spiritual practices.

I particularly like:

"We need to develop habits of behaving like Catholics. The basic list of the things Catholics do is called the "Works of Mercy" and the way to form a habit is to do something over and over again. So, at least one merciful act every day, until mercy becomes a habitual way of life."


And in case you would like a review of what the works of mercy are, here we go:

The traditional enumeration of the corporal works of mercy is as follows:

To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless;
To visit the sick;
To ransom the captive;
To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;
To admonish sinners;
To bear wrongs patiently;
To forgive offences willingly;
To comfort the afflicted;
To pray for the living and the dead.

- from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tolerance and Respect

True tolerance always presupposes respect for the other, for man, who was created by God, whose existence was wanted by God.
Pope Benedict XVI

Semantics are a dangerous thing.

For example, we Catholics can argue amongst ourselves about issues. If we are not respectful of each other as we do so, we sin. We show intolerance. Our arrogance gets the best of us. We want to show off - be more intelligent, wittier than the next quad - that kind of thing.

There is nothing wrong with having differing opinions, but we must not forget that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and that each of us deserves to be treated with innate respect as a creation of God.

It is my position that those of us who are Catholic bloggers should be mindful of these teachings.

Here at Wheelie Catholic, my readership is not large, but I try to treat each person who visits my blog with care and dignity. I also remove comments that are disrespectful to others or what I post about.

Wheelie Catholic has no pretentions to be the wittiest blog. It certainly will never be the most popular or the most intellectual.

I confess I do have ambitions. I would like Wheelie Catholic to be the blog that reaches out best to those who feel most marginalized. I hope people gain a sense of being respected by what is posted here and by comments.

I pray that everyone feels welcome.

Youth coach jailed for beaning of autistic boy

A youth coach was sentenced to prison for paying another youngster to "bean" an autistic 9 year old team player to keep him out of the game because the coach felt he did not play as well as his teammates. The other youngster tossed two balls at the autistic youngster in exchange for 25 dollars.

As he was led away, the youth coach was overheard to say that he did not do anything wrong.

The mother of the autistic youngster says she is still struggling to get the boy to try a new activity after the incident because he is afraid of being hurt.

Let me repeat: As he was led away, the youth coach was overheard to say that he did not do anything wrong.

The Very First Disability Blog Carnival...

... over at Disability Studies, Temple U... it is awesome.

Disability Advocacy Groups Link

As requested by a reader...

Why inclusion matters

It poured buckets of rain last night and I almost skipped bible study. I am glad I didn't.

Last night in bible study, we were talking in our small group about how difficulties in our lives can be blessing s. Several of us share d that facing medical issue s and/or disability enriched our lives by leading to service.

Part of the process of inclusion is recognizing common grounds as well as areas of difference. But that only happens when we remain open to hearing and listening to other people. We have to participate to make that happen.

Through the participation in church activities, those of us with disabilities will and can become vital members of the community.

As a community, my parish is constantly growing spiritually. It is open to diversity, even though the path can be challenging.

After bible study a bevy of umbrella s shielded me from the pelting rain.

We went in there alone but left together with the Holy Spirit foremost in us.

{This was typed entirely with KeyStrokes for Mac, afree demo software including onscreen keyboard and word prediction. If interested, please let me know and I'll direct you to their website. It works well.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"A man can be as truly a saint in a factory as in a monastery, and there is much need of him in the one as in the other."
Robert J. McCracken

another side of Dorothy Day..

Julie at Happy Catholic has an interesting post about how reading Dorothy Day's actual writings (instead of books about her) changed her impression of her. She recommends several books -go over and visit!

{Dorothy Day was a Benedictine Oblate who exemplified the twin Benedictine goals ora et labora, pray and work. Benedictines welcome each guest as Christ}

Decision to cut medicare benefits for power wheelchairs....

by CMS by 41 per cent is devastating to seniors and the mobility impaired. Providers of medical equipment claim this will put many of them out of business.

It will also leave folks without the equipment they need to get around - yet another community living issue.

According to the newspaper article above, it also is not a sound fiscal decision. These facts are cited:

*Utilization of the mobility benefit has increased by 2,700 percent over the last eight years.
* Studies show that the federal government has saved more than 10 billion dollars over the same time period because people with power wheelchairs and scooters are living independently, require less homecare and hospitalization, and visit hospital emergency rooms fewer times due to falls and fall related injuries
* The reimbursement cuts will limit any future savings from providing mobility equipment to Medicare beneficiaries
*Among people with identical ailments, those without power wheelchairs and scooters required treatment and care that cost 2 1/2 times the price of mobility equipment
* Medicare pays $14,000 more per person for beneficiaries with physical impairments who did not receive mobility equipment

In a nutshell, this decision jeopardizes whether mobility equipment can be provided by Medicare in the future.

That affects all of us.

Court rules UPS has to allow Deaf drivers to operate small delivery trucks

The larger trucks are apparently covered by Dept Of Transportation regs which have standards regarding hearing, but the court ruled that UPS is violating the ADA by barring empoyees who are Deaf from driving the smaller trucks,

Enabled Traveler...

This morning I received a newsletter from the ITF/Wheelchair ezine and there was a link to The Wheelchair Site- this page has travel tips for those with disabilities. Check it out! None of us have to reinvent the wheel - share your experiences.

The Miracle is that I don't need healing...

Here is an article over at The Wheelchair Site by a wheelchair user who explains the miracle in her life....she writes:

"My faith is very important to me. I believe miracles happen everyday, and I know theoretically I could be healed at any moment. At present however, as well as in the foreseeable future, I am meant to use a wheelchair. Members of my church and other people close to me understand that physical healing is not a priority of mine because they see that I am able to lead a fulfilling life regardless of my wheelchair.

However, outside of my community I cannot count on the same understanding. People of various faiths have tried to heal me on several occasions. Some think that I am in a wheelchair because of the things I have done wrong. Others think that I am entitled to a miracle because they see that my faith is strong. What they do not seem to realize is that my faith isn’t at all reliant on my physical capabilities. I am completely able to live out my destiny just the way I am."

Faith and doubt

I remember once driving through very thick fog on a rural road.

I picked my way along the road and it seemed as if I was the only person in the world on that drive. There were no other cars, no headlights, no signs of life - just an endless sea of gray patchy fog. I made it through - but I remember that feeling. It was as if there was no horizon ahead - and no line of demarcation behind me. It was a disorienting and very lonely feeling.

Sometimes life can feel like that.

Tonight I spoke with a woman with a disability who has a huge medical decision to make. It is very hard for her to know what to do and she told me that she's never felt so alone in her life because this medical decision will have an enormous impact on her future, yet she's unsure what to do. She's full of doubt.

I spoke to her about difficult decisions I've had to make - and listened to her. We prayed together. We talked about faith and doubt. As we said goodbye, the image of being in that fog came into my mind.

Let's pray for her as she travels through it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Just my opinion: How many ramps can you buy for a jacuzzi?

The other night I was watching Extreme Home Makeover. There was a couple where the mother sustained a back injury after protecting her two young boys during a storm, leaving her paralyzed. The team designed a "dream home", including a jacuzzi, pool with a lift, accessible kitchen, accessible bathroom and bedroom and all kinds of other amenities, including a safe room the family could go into if another storm hit.

As I watched the woman go through her home, I noticed how she began to push herself around more eagerly. She found out that she could cook again from her wheelchair - reach the stove and the cabinets. Then she discovered that the rooms and hallways were wide enough. She explored the entire home with more energy as time went on - and, at the end, went out to the pool and pushed herself around the backyard.

A friend of mine who is an Occupational Therapist and a wheelchair user commented to me that, because the woman was a paraplegic, she was surprised that she wasn't pushing herself more during the show. We discussed this for a few minutes and I pointed out that perhaps when she saw that she could again be independent, she saw herself differently and started doing more!

Seeing this show reminded me of how much lost potential there is because people cannot be independent due to restrictions in their physical environment. I'm very happy for this couple and I'm not saying they don't deserve to have a beautiful home, but the money spent could have made several houses accessible - sans the luxuries. I suppose as a person with a disability I have a different view on things, but I would rather have seen more families helped to get accessible homes than to see such overkill - the crew built a pool, jacuzzi, whirlpool bath - all of which are nice but there are so many people who don't even have a ramp to get in the front door.

I just pray that , as much fun as Extreme Home Makeover is to watch on TV, more people with disabilities can get what they need in every day life.

Catholic Carnival is up!

Monday, October 9, 2006

Gifts: How Children with Down Syndrome Have Enriched our Lives

In this amazing book, over sixty moms with children with Down Syndrome share their experiences and joys as they celebrate giving life.

Reflections on the Nature of Disability

You are in for a wonderful experience: the above post is written over at Lovely and Amazing, a blog by a mom with two children with Down Syndrome. Please take a moment, click on this and read it - and also check out the rest of her wonderful blog.

Via Dream Mom....Thanks for the hat tip.

The Gimp Parades Saturday Slumgullion

Check out the excellent posts over there, really great this week!
Be ready always to satisfy everyone that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. -- 1 Peter 3:15

Announcement: Next Sunday: DIsabilities Awareness Mass

The Catholic Community of St. Matthias

Cordially invites you to worship with us
As we celebrate

Disabilities Awareness Month

At St. Matthias Church
168 JFK Blvd, Somerset, NJ

On Sunday, October 15, 2006
At the 12:00 Mass

All are welcome!

Mass will be sign language interpreted

Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) are available

Church is accessible

Large Print is available

CART (Computer Assisted Real Time Captioning)
Will be provided

Reception will follow the Mass in the accessible
Parish Meeting Room

For further information or directions, please call
The Parish Office
At 732-828-1400

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Images of People with Disabilities

During the summer when I visited the shore as a kid, we always bought salt water taffy - in the box , like this. I associated it with the ocean. Of course, if someone else saw a box of salt water taffy and an ocean and had not had that experience, they would be baffled by my association of the two different images!

Last weekend I played wheelchair tennis at the Dupont Country Club at a USTA tournament. I was struck by how many of the visitors said the same thing " I had no idea wheelchair tennis was like this - it's so fast!"

I can imagine the image they had (although I don't want to)- maybe something the pace of shuffleboard. People are also suprised that we use the whole tennis court, thinking we use a smaller one. Some people wonder what the different rules are and we tell them just one: We get two bounces of the ball - if we need it.

Like wheelchair tennis, people sometimes have the wrong image of people with disabilities. We all act on assumptions - it just makes life easier. But some people think that people with disabilities are miserable . Worse yet, some people think people with disabilities can't have much of a life. (Usually it's other barriers - not the disability - that limit us!)

So let's get down to basics here - this blog is a great forum to present all kinds of images of the disabled.

Occasionally you'll see that I include posts from other bloggers with disabilities. I also include stories about other people who have gone through journeys with their disability - such as the 16 year old quadriplegic I wrote about the other day. I try to link to TV shows , books and any other information I find on the subject of disability.

It's important that we keep those images fluid and remember that people with disabilities are just as different - and unique- as people who do not have disabilities.

If you have anything you'd like to submit, please feel free to email me. I'll do my very best to post it !

Little People, Big World

On Saturday nights at 8pm on the Discovery channel, there's a show about a family of little people that's been airing a year or so. Interesting show - check it out.

Life gets complicated - but I have God!

Life is complicated sometimes.*

I've found that my attitude toward problems is very important. If I am able to remember, through my very human emotions and feelings, that God is my strength, I can proceed along the lines of something like this:

"I know I need more hours in the day than I have this week. It would help if I had [fill in the blank] but, for now, I don't. I do know that I will get through this week and, somehow, everything will be okay. If I do the footwork, God will be there , as always, to help pull me through."

By reminding myself that it isn't necessary to have whatever *I* think I need, I get out of acting out of a sense of "not having enough " (whether it's an assistive device, a pair of hands to supplement my paralyzed ones or whatever) and into a positive attitude of "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" - and I then proceed to try my best.

I've seen story after story in the Bible where folks are facing impossible odds. Yet the outcome depends more on their faith than anything else.

Surely this can work with the problems I face. There are no lions in my den and no seas to part. (I do have cats and occasional flooding however).

By acknowledging the everyday gifts that God puts in my life through others, I can remain positive, no matter what, as long as I continue to stay in the right frame of mind. For example last week I had a rough schedule at work and was returning from a trip, which made me tired. Moreover, there was construction work going on where I worked the week before, so I fell further behind. I felt as if I would never get everything done.

Here's what I did: I took it day by day and did my very best.

Here's what God did:
*my aide was kind enough to bring me over plates of food almost every day which helped me enormously
*I found materials that I needed quickly to help me get the work done faster and more efficiently
*I had two exceptionally good days of health (God-given) which extended my work hours

You've probably guessed by now- everything got done. Believe me, it looked impossible at the time. Do I believe I did it alone?

No way.

I see the lesson in all of this : that it is more important that I hone my faith as a Catholic than have it easy. I leave that in God's hands too, because I admit I don't always know what's best for me. Years from now, whether I had to struggle to get things done won't be as important as the state of my soul.

It's a matter of separating out what I want now from the bigger picture of what is needed for my spiritual growth.

*[this is a joke version of a video game controller - don't even try to figure it out!]
We are at Jesus' disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that's all right, everything is all right. We must say, "I belong to you. You can do whatever you like." And this is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord.
– Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, October 7, 2006

The Time is Now - Pull Together

Planet of the Blind has an excellent post called The Time is now,about how very important it is for people with disabilities to pull together, united, to vote and to deal with disability rights issues. He points to the squabbling that goes on sometimes, and uses as examples people who are Deaf arguing over degrees of being Deaf. This sort of in-fighting defeats us if we let it. Those with disabilities, as he points out, are a diverse group and our fight for our rights affects many people - seniors, children with disabilities, etc.

My inspirational entry into Poster Contest at lapped Catholic

My cat has 12 lives....

Yesterday morning, my 14 year old cat took a turn for the worse. I called the vet who said to give her 72 hours to see if she got better - or worse.

This is a miracle animal. My brother in law, possibly the most unorthodox ever animal control officer in existence, gave her to me as a kitten because he found her abandoned in a field. (He was supposed to "put down" the animals if he couldn't find a home for them, but instead he sent all of us pets - all of the time!)

This cat was 2 weeks old and needed bottle feeding. I put her in my backpack and took her to work with me every day. I wasn't sure she'd survive, but she did. We definitely bonded - she would follow me everywhere like a little duck.

At the age of six months, I discovered a large lump near her chin. It was cancerous and we removed it- luckily it was benign. However, I had to put her on a vitamin regime because she is a tiny little thing and lost weight. Again she survived.

Over the last fourteen years, we've always enjoyed each other's company. She is the cat who, when I am most upset, sits with me. She's always slept in my bed. When I had my accident when she was a year old, she stayed by my side while I recovered.

Now I am caring for her. She was put on thyroid meds about a month ago but she's developed a very bad cold with respiratory problems. She's losing weight again.

Last night I said goodbye to her, put an extra warm afghan around her , left water near her side and sadly went to bed around 2 a.m. thinking she would be gone this morning. I just couldn't sit up any longer because my body was falling to the side and I needed enough energy left to transfer into bed.

Around 6 a.m. I got out of bed. She was still alive but breathing heavily. I urged her to take some water and she did. I also told her it was okay to go to sleep. She licked my face to comfort me. Then she cuddled up in the afghan and fell asleep.

I put on some soft music and went to shower. When I returned, she had moved across the room and jumped into my bed, cuddled up in the blankets, waiting for me.

Nine lives? I think this cat has 12!


A few months ago, I found this great site - mycatholic.com - you can create your own custom homepage with secular and Catholic news streams as well as access to the hottest blogs, including Open Book , Catholic and Enjoying it, Happy Catholic,
Dappled Things, JimmyAkin.org and a few others. (You can add Wheelie Catholic a-hem).

I love opening up my Ibook and starting off my day with a review of Catholic news and bloggers. I understand that more custom content is coming from their site as well- so I will update that when I find out.

Friday, October 6, 2006

My entry for the Motivational Poster contest-humor category

Poster contest for Catholic bloggers

The Lapped Catholic has a motivational poster contest going on - in two categories: humorous and inspirational. Go on over and play:

There are PRIZES and
easy software to use to make your own posters! You can enter as many as you wish!

The Gift of disability

This is a great article written by a young man with severe CP - sent to me by Meredith. He speaks of how learning to see his disability as a gift changed his relationship with God from one of anger and frustration - to understanding .

Whatever you did unto one of the least, you did unto me

1994 address at the National Prayer Breakfast by Mother Teresa

She said:

"[Jesus] came not to give the peace of the world which is only that we don't bother each other. He came to give the peace of heart which comes from loving - from doing good to others....How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.....

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society - that spiritual poverty is much harder to overcome.
By your work you show what you love and what you know. When you observe true obedience with prudence and enthusiasm, it is clear that you wisely pick the most delightful and nourishing fruit of divine Scripture.
– St. Bruno

16 year old gymnast, now a quadriplegic, adjusts....

...and his Mom, a Catholic, adjusts along with him. Click above for their story as he goes through Craig rehab center.

Drew says :

"There are a lot of things about myself that I've learned," he says. "I don't know how to explain it. Unless you're trapped on a desert island — then you might understand.When you're on a desert island, you have to become independent and just kind of fend for yourself.
He defines progress as recovering completely, but also as mastering his new life.So when he talks to God, he doesn't dare ask to be able to walk. "I don't pray to get better," he says. "I talk to Him, like, 'Hey, help me get home.' I thank him a lot, just for the day and my mom and all the love and support."

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Friends don't let quadriplegics light candles alone....

It's true. Because of my arm and hand impairments, I'm not safe near open flames.

A few years ago, several of my wheelchair tennis friends and I were in New York city near St. Patricks Cathedral. We went inside to pray for a few moments and , on the way out, I rolled near the candles to light one.

My friend asked "What are you doing?"

I said "I'm going to light a candle," as I knocked over several things with my paralyzed arm.

"Do you think that's a good idea?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

My two friends exchanged the superior look people get when their arms and hands are not paralyzed. Then one of them said "I'll help you if you want to light a candle."

As if I am five years old! "No,thank you," I replied. "I promise, I will not burn St. Patrick's down. It would be too - embarrassing."

"I can see the headlines now," muttered my other friend. "Quad burns down famous church trying to prove she can light a candle."

"Look, you two," I said, lifting my arm and attempting to prove that I could, indeed, light a candle by myself, "I'll be fine. You're making me nervous. Just go outside or something."

"I don't feel right about that. I am Catholic and somehow leaving you here alone near flames seems like- wrong."

"I used to go to Catholic church with my parents," said my other friend. "I don't feel right about letting you burn down a church either."

So I capitulated. I let my friends light the candle for me.

I suppose it was kind of a sneaky way to bring a few Catholics back into the church to celebrate a ritual. I knew all along I would need their help.

from Monastic Musings: See How They Love One Another

Let us pray for our Amish brothers and sisters

Being snubbed at church...from A Letter From Mom Blog

This bloggerwith a disability writes about how , after two years of going to a church, she is making progress.

""Then there was, the snubbing. Snubbing probably isn't the right word for what was happening, but I'm not sure what a better word is. People just wouldn't talk to me. It is one of those things that is hard to put your finger on. Like there are a thousand little ways that people disregard you. And if you looked at each one, you may not think it is a big deal, and some individuals may have even had a very legitimate excuse that has nothing to do with you, but when you put them all together over time...you can only conclude that a large number of people really don't have any interest in getting to know you. I asked people out for coffee and I got turned down every time. I would go up to people and talk and they would make a hasty exit. ....I used to go home from church after this stuff would happen again and again and just feel like crap. Part of it was just asking myself what I was doing wrong or that was so awful? If the Unitarian Universalist can't deal with me, who can?


There are some people there who are just weird around me and can't talk to me. But there are others who are very nice to me. And it is better than a 1:100 ratio, in fact. So, instead of sort of shying away from the not so nice ones, I'm going to try to seek out the nice ones. So I give myself little assignments to do to try to seek them out. I tell my self to go down to the social hall after service and I am going to stay for ten minutes no matter what even if no one says a word to me. Okay, did that. Next I am going to go and talk to two people. Getting blown off by two people doesn't count. I actually have to keep trying until I find two people that will have a nice little conversation with me. Okay. Mission Accomplished. Next, talking to the kids' nursery teachers and the RE director was fine but that doesn't count, they have to talk to me. Now you have to talk to two people that you don't know or have never talked to. Okay, did that. Good."

Her suggestions are good ones for anyone trying to break into a church congregation - I know that I've used a few of those myself. I'm not always successful either. It's a slow process and sometimes I leave church feeling like crap , as this writer says:
If the [insert church name] church can't deal with me, who can?

I have an advantage. I know I am welcome in my wheelchair tennis groups and in other circles. Although I know I sometimes make mistakes around able bodied people, I (thank God) do not hold myself 100 per cent accountable for making inclusion work.

It's a 50/50 street. An inclusion committee of one ain't gonna work.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Michael Graves' line of new products...whimsy in activities of daily living?

A friend sent me a link to this article. Michael Graves, a world reknown architect who has been using a wheelchair for about three years now, is working on designing more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing ADL's and other items for the disabled. For the future? He is interested in designing better wheelchairs and scooters!

Now here's an example of forgiveness-We must not think evil of this man

An Amish grandfather of one of the shooting victims told his young relatives "We must not think evil of this man" . Funerals will be held tomorrow and Friday for the victims.

Scars as an Art Form

This artist celebrates peoples' scars - in his art.

From the article:

"Their titles sound a lot less like museum labels than the check-in charts at a hospital trauma center: “Splenectomy”; “Lung Removal After Suicide Attempt”; “Broken Eye Socket Repair Using Bone From the Skull After Car Accident”; “Arm Reconstruction After Motorcycle Accident.”

These seemingly abstract textures and surfaces are actually images of scars, many of them terrifyingly impressive and some acquired by their wearers with great suffering.

Ted Meyer, a Los Angeles artist, made the prints over the last several years directly from the bodies of friends, acquaintances and willing strangers."

His pieces are showing at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center

I can't find the book "Spirituality for the Really Busy Quad"

I have been really busy lately. So I went looking for a book for a busy quad.

Can you believe no one has written one?

I found a book called Spirituality for the Really Busy but there was nothing in there about quads. I found all kinds of books telling me to keep things simple. I try to do that but I have so much accessible equipment that I'm not sure how to pull that off. What about the duct tape, the transfer boards, the voice recognition, reachers, typing aides, special forks, knives, spoons, and writing braces?

One book suggested going to a mountain top to pray. However, I think getting up there in my wheelchair having to be hauled by four smelly llamas and some irritable oxen might undo the spiritual benefits.

What's a quad to do?

I didn't give up my quest for the right book. I kept googling but it became yet another thing I had to do. I found a few tempting leads which left me hoping that I would find a book, at least, for busy paraplegics or busy paralyzed people - but none of those panned out. I made a few phone calls to friends with spinal cord injuries and asked them if they ever heard of such a book.

No, they all said. Why don't you write one?

Because that would make me even busier! That is definitely not the solution.

I decided finally to pray to God to guide me . I didn't want to have to make thirty phone calls with voice recognition that didn't work or type another name and number down missing the keys as someone went triple fast giving me information .

No, no , no - enough. My arms burn, my shoulders ache and my spirit is willing but the flesh is getting weak.

And then, after I prayed and went back to work, It happened. My prayer was answered. I spoke with a client who said to me "That's okay, it can wait until tomorrow."

Now there's wisdom for you. If you ever doubt that God speaks to us through others, all you have to do is start listening.

Look for Christ Our Lord in everyone and you will then have respect and reverence for all.
St Teresa of Jesus, OCD

How NASA technology helps quads under pressure...

To think that all of these years, I thought it was just a phrase. "Don't hit the panic button." And here it is.

I spent all evening entering information into my laptop (a laborious process with assistive devices) only to discover toward the end that I was running out of juice and I wasn't sure I could save the last bit before I retrieved the plug with my reacher.

Grabbing my reacher and manuevering the plug off of the floor is a multistage process which involves dropping items quite a few times. Then I have to somehow get the plug into the side of the laptop and aiming it is a bit haphazard.

I could feel panic rising. I thought I would run out of time/juice before I could complete the operation. So I told myself : handle it like a NASA space mission. Heck, they lose bolts in space and don't even panic!

So I calmed down and broke the mission down into parts. The pre-operational stage was to name my objective: saving the data. I assessed the amount of juice left in my laptop and realized that I was heading toward the red zone so I cut short the analysis and pushed my arm through my quad reacher. (Yes we have special reachers for quadriplegics. Cool huh?)

As I did that, I looked for the laptop cord which was, of course, on the ground. I made my first attempt to retrieve it, which failed. So I terminated that mini-mission and tried again. Yet another misfire. On the third attempt, I snagged it. I reported that to Mission Control. OK so it was my cat.

SLowly I lifted the plug up toward my lap. It fell off of the reacher and landed right near the side of the laptop. Perfect landing!

At this point, it was time to use the same technology NASA does: duct tape. I stuck duct tape onto my knuckle, snagged the cord and made the first attempt to insert it into the laptop. Mission failure. Second attempt- failure. I checked out the juice.

Uh oh. My cat was now pointing at the laptop - hurry, hurry!

Two more tries and the cord went in. I happily reported that I was done with the mission and I was given clearance to proceed with other activities.

Like blogging.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Be Anyway…

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
…Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
…Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
…Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
…Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
…Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
…Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
…Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
…Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

— Mother Teresa

Film about little people helps director find self - acceptance

No Bigger Than A Minute premieres tonight at 10pm on PBS.

I don't mean to question you, God, but about my spinal cord. What were you thinking when that driver plowed into me?

"Admitting our anger with God does not destroy faith but rather forces us to clarify what we believe and why, to move from a child's faith to an adult's faith. Though refusing to admit anger with God may seem to protect one's faith, I am convinced that in the long run it does more harm than good." Fr. Pat McCloskey , How to Handle Anger at God

Be aware of a faith that's too nice, Fr. McCloskey says in his article. (Click above to read).

Are you angry about your disability? Are you angry about your job, the death of a loved one, or how your spouse treats you? It's easy to reply yes to questions like these, but when we go beyond that and ask:"Are you angry at God? " ,some of us get a bit squeamish. We tend to waffle. People say they don't understand why God would permit such a thing or even ask how it could happen. They might purse their lips and stoically refuse to make any connection between the two questions, even if you ask them in succession.

Why? Because it's hard to criticize the Big Guy. God is the Ultimate Authority Figure. If we have trouble asking our boss a question or suggesting a better way to do things at work, imagine our chagrin when we're faced with taking a complaint to God.

The question I had to ask was: "I don't mean to question you, God, but about my spinal cord. What were you thinking when that driver plowed into me?"

No, it's not an easy thing to say. To be more precise, it's not an easy thing to pray.

Because, as Father Mc Closkey points out, we need to learn to be honest in our prayers - and honest with ourselves and God. That's where I think I learned more spiritual maturity in my journey from anger to acceptance - was in acknowledging the kinds of feelings I had .

I also had to grow up - and accept that we have free will, which some of us exercise in destructive ways. The driver who caused my accident was on medication and not substance free - a choice made before driving. But I learned that God did not cause my accident, nor did He wish me to have it. It was the result of a very bad choice by the other driver.

Whether I wanted to face it or not, feeling anger was part of the process by which I healed. When I prayed during Mass "..just say the word and I shall be healed", I wasn't praying for a miracle so I could hop up and walk around again. I was praying for spiritual healing, so I could reconcile what had happened, deal with my anger and move on with my life with my disability.
Some of my prayers to God were angry asides. I remember saying "Thanks alot, God - now what am I supposed to do?" I had my own personal showdown with God and it could have gone either way, I thought at the time.

But I think my honesty pulled me through with God. It led me to a new level of closeness with God, one where I can pray without hiding my sins from Him. I know it is okay to go to God just as I am, vulnerable and weak at times, yet able to be strong through His grace.

Catholic Carnival is up!

Angry at God? Who, me?

This is a great article dealing with the topic of being angry at God. The good news is that being angry at Him can lead to a deeper relationship with God!

I believe God is there but He is not silent says a Deaf writer...

..at the Somewhat Silent website, which is an international site for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing. She writes about dealing with her anger toward God - and it's an interesting topic as to how we experience anger about our disabilities- or not- toward God.

She writes about how she remained silent for many years because , in her case, she was so angry at God for being Deaf, wondering how a benevolent God could do that to her. But, over time, she changed her perspective and discovered... " And most importantly, life is not about us but about God and His love for us while we still have a disability."

Any feedback?

Gunman in Amish shooting was angry at God say police

...and he lost a child three years ago, police are now saying. They indicate that he was mad at God over the death of his child according to the notes he left behind.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Without Forgiveness: A shooting in Paradise

Today's senseless shootings of children in an Amish schoolhouse were splashed across the news stations most of the day.

"Ironically, it happened in a place called Paradise," one announcer said.

Another commented on how the Amish cannot separate themselves from society and the problems around them. Others queried as to whether the Amish even knew of other school shootings. There were interviews of authors of books on the Amish, those who grew up Amish and shot after shot of the surviving children sitting outside their one room schoolhouse, flanked by adults who silently supported them.

The news slowly emerged that the gunman, a father himself, entered the school, pulled a gun and ordered the boys and several adults out, then lined up the remaining little girls in the front of the room and bound their feet. As police surrounded the building, he demanded they pull back or he would shoot.

As the message was being relayed, gunshots went off. Three little girls are dead. Of the seven survivors, three have gunshot wounds to the head. Execution style shootings. The gunman then shot and killed himself.

News reports indicated that there is evidence the shooting was the result of a 20 year old grudge the gunman had.

Forgiveness. It's a complicated thing. Holding a grudge is easy. I'm right, you're wrong. There's no middle ground, no looking at our part in things. We stagnate and the old wounds fester, deepening in time .The word enemies forms in our minds. The word hate appears.

If a gun is handy, tragedy is the outcome.

We see this around us all of the time. On our city streets, children are shot and killed every day . In our schools, kids are being shot and have to go through weapon detectors. The violence grows.

And now, even in Paradise, even in a one room Amish schoolhouse, the ugly reality intrudes. This is what happens when people cannot or will not forgive.

Senseless tragedy.

The Gimp Parade's Saturday Slumgullion

Interesting assortment of posts - including one about a disabled woman's journey as she tries to achieve inclusion at her church. Also Neonatal Doc writes about his experiences with parents struggling with the prospective birth of a child with disabilities and the abortion issue.
How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.
– St. Jerome

Of flashing cameras, spectators and up close and personal

Excuse my bloggin' absence.

I was away at a wheelchair tennis tournament.

It rained this weekend and we went inside to play for two of the three days. So there was a viewing area above the tennis courts where spectators gathered to watch. On the last day, I was on the court taping on my racket with J&J sports tape when I heard a camera go off and saw a flash. Occasionally I saw flashes going off. The folks with the cameras stayed at a distance.

There was also a student there doing a video for cable television and other high school and college students who were studying areas like physical therapy and special ed visiting and helping out as ball kids.

At one point I looked down the row of eight indoor tennis courts and just watched the other players in their final matches. It was quiet as could be except for the sounds of players calling out scores and thwapping tennis balls.

I tried to put together in my mind the difference in the spectators' view from my own. When I looked down those courts, I saw my friends in wheelchairs playing tennis, just as I have for many years. But what did the people up in the spectator area see?

They appreciate the hours of practice we put in to play, of course. Many are tennis lovers. But does it also bridge the gap between the faceless person in the wheelchar and getting to know us as people with families and jobs?

As I left the court after my doubles match, our two student helpers said to us "You guys kicked butt out there!" and we began to talk to them about their special education courses.

Yes, we definitely made an impression on them. And I hope what they've learned enhances their future careers. They are both warm and caring human beings who seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing. But they took the risk to get up close and talk to us - and share experiences with us.

How different their view was from those up in the stands who took pictures!