My New Reality…

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” – Gaylord Nelson

Not sure what woke me up this morning, the construction, the heavy pounding of the rain (will this winter ever come to an end) or the sharp pulse moving up and down my arms like a 12 string classical guitar with all 12 strings out of tune.  Today is definitely a three pill day, narcotics be damned.  Growing up in a hospital you adopt the philosophy of better living through chemistry early.  On the upside I’m waking up.

Got a lucky break late morning with a few hours of sunshine so used the time wisely and hit the Save-On.  So I am well stocked in anticipation of the next four days of rain.  I have started paying more attention to the weather reports and less attention to the news (with the exception of the BC election) these days.  I know during the rainy time my body behaves like a badly tuned and out of sync garage band.  But again at least I woke up which is more than two good friends did in the last week.  Rest in peace Liz and Lance, your time is done and your suffering has past.  My condolences to their loved ones.

I have been putting a lot of thought into the CBC story I had shared recently.  I put so much thought into it I contacted the author, CBC’s Donna Carreiro.  More on that contact to come…meanwhile her article actually woke me up.  I started thinking of my own situation and did a bit of my own research.  My descent into wheelchair dependence was gradual with the biggest part happening after moving to BC.  A whole new set of medical professionals to get to know and me working from the assumption that the fallout of polio was understood.  For the record, I do not have polio.  Polio is a virus that runs its course, does its damage and then it’s gone.  The damage done is the outcome of polio, the residual is not polio.

No medical professional ever mentioned post-polio to me.  I was aware of it but with limited knowledge.  The closes medical rational I ever received for increasing wheelchair dependence plus symptoms like quicker to fatigue was the “strains of a life time of walking on crutches”.

gainpainThe idea that my medical team (I call it a team but it’s really a pathway of referrals so that health “administration” can call itself a system) wouldn’t understand polio never entered my mind.  When you’ve lived your entire life with polio you think everyone knows, you know the saying “can’t see the forest for the trees”.  This is the problem with assumption rather than critical thinking.

When I think about it I knew few people of my generation in 1967 who were aware of the devastation caused by Spanish Flu.  Fifty years later why should I expect those generations behind me be anymore aware of a disease we basically eradicated in Canada fifty years ago.  Some realizations can be painful but needed to avoid future pain.  I have now come to grips with the idea that post-polio has played a role in my advancing decrepitude.  After over forty years of fighting for inclusion and acceptance the posts have been moved and I have to adjust.  Welcome to the my world of accommodation…unfortunately I have watched while the BC Liberals have slowly eroded a good chunk of the advances made. Continue reading “My New Reality…”

Crappy Way to End the Week

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.  You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” – Michael Crichton

Happy Easter or whatever celebration you celebrate at this time of the year.  My Easter morning experience involved extricating myself from between the wall and the toilet in my bathroom.  Using the potty can be a delicate discussion and usually involves just as delicate an action but I’m going to throw this out there.

Made a poor judgement on momentum this morning so between the landing and a very lose screw (one of two that hold the seat steady) I overshot the landing zone taking time for a face to face with my toilet plunger.

It seemed like a good time for a mental distraction as I wiggled physically to regain a vertical rather than horizontal perspective of the room.  That distraction turned into an epiphany involving physics.

I’ve broken my fair share of toilets in my life but baste on what I hear (or don’t hear) I don’t think it is an occurrence for most people. Getting myself dislodged gave me some time to reflect on it.

toiletThis is the bathroom in my “wheelchair” apartment.  There is no way a wheelchair is getting in beside that but whatever code interpreter was issuing the permit seemed to think this would work.  What the hell, I’ve been here almost three years and made it work.  So please don’t start on me about accommodation.  I’ve done my fair share.

I’ll bet you have never thought of this but the next time you go to sit on the toilet pay attention to how important knee motion is to lightly sit on the commode.  That knee movement allows for a much more controlled PSI landing.  It’s nice equal weight distribution which is what a good toilet is designed for. Continue reading “Crappy Way to End the Week”

Taking Responsibility

“The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community” – Ruth Benedict

It has been raining off and on for most of the day.  I knew it was coming so took advantage of the sun yesterday and went out to restock.  Pantry is now ready for at least a four day siege.  Glad I did, good exercise and I quite enjoyed the sunshine.  Now, gazing out my window, there’s a mist in the air creating a grey tone appearance to my surroundings.  It makes me wonder if this is how someone with cataracts views a changing world.  At the same time I feel like I’m experiencing a “mental cataract” when it comes to putting thoughts to paper.

As I said it is a dismal day outside so I am trying to avoid thinking dismal things, however that is a blockage for someone who likes to be expressive with words.  So I am gazing out the window, partly because of the new two story multi-unit development going on across the street (starting at 7am) and partly to see if I could land on a topic that piqued my creative juices.  Sitting here wanting to write but lacking an emotive topic and the phone rings.  Now this is cool because I didn’t know it could be done but my computer rings the minute my phone rang with a little phone icon in the upper right hand corner, so I answered with the computer.

It’s a buddy of mine from Alberta (we were neighbours 30 years ago and been tight ever since).  He was on his way to Camrose and had been listening to CBC Manitoba in his truck.  I know nothing says wake up like listening to CBC talk radio right.

March of Dimes Poster Child
From a Winnipeg newspaper, 5 years old and March of Dimes Timmy

We do share some of the same values and interest so he suggested I check out a CBC Manitoba report on the issues being faced by the polio/post-polio community.  I have a history with Manitoba and he is aware of that.  The subject is one I am personally very passionate about and have written often about.  The story hit very close to home based on current experience with a community health system (all well meaning) that is so out of touch with the reality of what’s happening in the community.  BC already has a seniors care crisis lets not complicate things by forgetting our history.  There are 15 to 20 thousand polio survivors hitting retirement and entering a system that can hardly manage the current crisis.  This should actually be an election issue here in BC!

Boy the rain is coming down but so is my mood.  As some of you are aware I am currently “playing the game” so I have a “care worker” come by every morning, usually around 10 to meet the stated needs the current health policy dictates.  Usually by the time they get here I’ll be working away on my computer.  I always leave a few dishes in the sink so they have something to do but inevitably the conversation comes around to my wheelchair.  That way we have both met the needs of community health. Continue reading “Taking Responsibility”

Word Whispering

“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrows questions” – Edgar Cayce

I spend a good part of the past week data mining the information sources for my last article, time to kick back…put the feet up by the fireplace…oh damn the cable fireplace is down for the season…oh well.

On a dark, rainy and windy evening in Nanaimo I was suppose to be at Maude Barlow‘s water crisis presentation.  As I said on a DARK, RAINY and WINDY night looks like it’s the Page 1,2 of the World’s Mens Curling Championship.

hobbiesincludeIn between ends I keep flipping over to my PVR to catch up on The Originals with Sleepy Hollow in the queue.  It’s raining with trees rattling (I check for that because my car is parked uncovered except by this heavy tree) from the wind but I can still hear the sound of the curling rocks on the ice well enough to turn and look.

Meanwhile in the rumblings of my numbed mind I started to percolate one of those things like an epiphany moments but haven’t quite got there.  Wow Brad Gushue just throw a beautiful shot and now they are heading for the 5th end break.  The demographics of my entertainment viewing is really diverse but so is the community.  I just see it in different ways. Continue reading “Word Whispering”

Whispering Words…

“But if thoughts corrupt language, language can also corrupt thought.” – George Orwell 1984

Friday’s confession has to do with a topic dear to my heart, the use of words or the science of semantics.  With the pending BC election people need to start paying attention to what lies below the words (some call this subtext) and get to the detail (substance).  There may be a bit of research needed but most often just apply some common sense.  If a guy is standing there in what looks like a white grad outfit, pointy hat with cowl and a Maltese Cross on it telling me he won’t tolerate racism, well I think you get my point…

We recently watched the American election run on rhetoric and hyperbole.    That election was an exercise in how rhetoric can be effective as long as enough polymer is used to avoid substance.  If you look up polymer you will find the word “ubiquitous” in the definition.  Being a bit more abstract it is not difficult to equate the definition of polymer with societal beliefs.  We create what we are based on how we interpret what we are told.

What I say
If you don’t understand, say so!

Words are powerful so how we use them can go a long way.  How words get interpreted is even more important and interpretation begins the moment the image we associate most with that word happens.  On a subconscious level we create a piece of imagery representing that word and will often dismiss an aspect of a conversation because of one piece of misplaced imagery.  This is one of the reasons why word-smithing has become a politicians best friend.  There is an art to using words that will encourage specific emotive responses and truth becomes a matter of interpretation.  Sad but true…

In a recent chat with one of my much younger neighbours (a forty year difference between the two of us) we were discussing words and how the perception they create can vary.  He asked for an example.  I automatically throw out “manipulate” (setting up for election discussion) and his initial response was one of negativity.  But when I put the statement into the context of having seen a Chiropractor for some “joint manipulation” he changed his opinion of the word.  The cognitive imagery created by the word changed when the context was established. Continue reading “Whispering Words…”

I’m Coming Back…

“As you remove toxic people from your life, you free up space and emotional energy for positive, healthy relationships” – John Mark Green

I thought I was done and was packing up the keyboard.  I was just going to shut the site down, rearrange my life and keep my opinions to myself.  I was feeling increasingly like “white noise” and I thought it would be easier just to shut down.  Two months of biting my tongue has shown me it is to difficult to blindly accept the level of societal negativity going on around me and be quiet about it.  It is increasingly difficult to maintain a stiff upper lip while the chasm between right and left ideology continued to deepen.  I am not so sure now is the time to shut down.

I have reread my last article a number of times now and have had time to reflect on where that anger was coming from.  I don’t like anger if for no other reason than it fucks with my feng shui.  During this period of reflection I came to the realization that I owned some of the responsibility for this anger.  I had started personalizing issues and that traditionally leads to lost of control.

I usually pride myself on my ability not to personalize issues, comments or give up control of my emotions but I slipped.  It wasn’t any one event, it was information overload, too much negative news and complicated by social isolation.  And as a political junkie, it’s difficult not to be a little negative these days so it just seemed easier to shut her down.  When you don’t golf, hike, cycle or take long walks on the beach you don’t have a lot of venting space so shutting it all down seemed like the path of least resistance.

ThoughtsThe last two month has been spend reflecting going through my year end activities.  Things like shredding old pay/staff records.  Seven years and this is the last year of records I have to shred.  Getting my own taxes done, working some policy issues through with the local health authority, trying to stay on top of access problems in my own town and the list goes on.  All of this has given me time to reflect on a wide variety of issues and things keep coming back to government policies.  It’s not that they are not there, it’s just that they are not policed.  We defend rights by speaking up for them, not adjusting them on the fly.

Reflection also gives you time to recharge and I did need that.  During this period of reflection I kept receiving my news alerts and they were screaming for a comment.  When someone can lecture a young lady who has been on crutches all of her life about the dangers of using stairs people have to speak out.  Up until the late 70’s persons with disabilities could be refused rent on anything above the second floor and I do not want to go back to those days.  The bigger issue here is why that particular night spot didn’t have an accessible bathroom…  Continue reading “I’m Coming Back…”

I’m Angry

I am not going to talk about access, disability or seniors today.  I am going to take a few minutes to clarify my anger.  I am beyond angry and that bothers me since it is exactly what Trump and his ilk want.  Keep us angry and it’s easier to divide us.  The shooting at the Quebec mosque shouldn’t surprise anybody but should sadden all of us. We have allowed our political masters to use a nationality to divide us by creating islamophobia.  Check the history of Germany in the 30’s and you will see a lot of comparisons.

I’m angry that the likes of Rona Ambrose can stand up in the House of Commons and make a plea for tolerance with such a straight face.  This is the same women who has been actively involved with a Canadian political party who built their base by spouting hate and demonizing certain philosophies for the past ten years.

I am angry that a major Canadian political party is even considering a leader like Kellie Leitch.  Here’s an educated women who hides her racist comments behind “Canadian values“.  I am 4th or 5th generation Canadian whose ancestors arrived in Canada to escape religious persecution in Europe.

I grew up being taught that Canadian values were tolerance, acceptance, compassion, diversity and above all caring.  How do you define, let alone test for, Canadian values?  In my mind this is nothing more than spreading the seeds of discontent and mistrust towards particular segments of our society.

I am angry over the term “terrorism” when describing a “hate crime”.  The deaths of 14 female victims of the Polytechnic massacre was classified as hate not terrorism although it did terrorize women.  Words are powerful and now is not the time to start playing semantics.  Words create imagery and imagery can create false understanding of words so let’s not let “hate” become “terrorism”.  That’s the nature of “fake news“. Continue reading “I’m Angry”