Now You Tell Me…

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception” – Aldous Huxley

There are times you can only scratch your head and wonder if this is really life or am I just having a bad dream.  Reality and perception are like that.  The past three days have been a lesson in why I am becoming increasingly hermit in nature, it’s not just physical ability.  I’ve just spend three days finding reminders.

We had some great weather moments over the weekend which really encouraged me to get out and enjoy.  I had a few things that really needed doing so it was an all out type of weekend.  Things like re-stocking the pantry (personal space is always interesting in public gathering places), I had signed up to attend a public political event and I wanted to make sure I exercised my vote at an advanced poll.  So physically I was busy (kept count and did the chair transfer into or out of my car 48 times) so today I am big pharma’s happiest customer.  Today has been a four pill day…

My adventure at the advanced poll was another head scratcher and left me wondering just how little common sense there is out there.  My advanced poll was at a local elementary school.  It was a Sunday so when I arrived at the polling station there were lots of available parking but no identifiable disabled parking.  Since the poll seemed pretty steady (about 30 cars in the lot) I took an end spot just to make sure I wouldn’t be blocked in when I got back.  I do that to avoid the possibility of coming back to my car to find someone parked so close I can’t open my door wide enough to reload my chair.

walkingagainWhile I’m unloading my wheelchair in my usual fashion I noticed a women wearing an Elections BC lanyard around her neck.  She was watching me closely and I checked that off to someone watching to make sure I didn’t miss my chair as I jumped from my drivers seat.

As I wheeled towards the door to go into the poll she approached me to tell me about the “curb side” vote.  I had never heard of this but according to her one of the services now is to bring anyone with mobility issues all of the paperwork to their vehicle and cast your vote that way.  I’ve been voting for a lot of years and that is actually a good idea but it would be nice to make people aware of this.  I consider myself relatively well informed so I was surprised by this fortuitous piece of information.  At the same time, now you tell me.  You watched me unloading my chair so wouldn’t 20 seconds of common sense indicate you should say “I should make him aware”.  Oh well the fight goes on… Continue reading “Now You Tell Me…”

What We Don’t Know We Know…(revised)

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

It’s another grey windy day but at least it’s not raining.  Out of boredom and, to maybe kick start an idea into my cranial star chamber, I started searching out YouTube for old TV theme songs.  I came across the 1955 version of Davy Crockett.   I remember wanting a raccoon cap as a kid but the real Davy Crockett was a “mountain man” turned politician.  He became a peoples politician  who took a stand along with some other great patriots right up to their deaths at the Alamo.  What has happened to that political commitment.  Anyway that was a fleeting thought meant to keep myself entertained as I hoped a spark would ignite an idea in my head, so lets go.

I find myself facing a new dilemma’s these days that is all based on that old “if I had of known then what I know now” way of thinking.  I had about a dozen surgeries as a kid all with the purpose of walking without braces, new untried procedures at the time, and 4 of the 12 produced the hoped for results.  One of the last major surgical procedures I underwent was a hip fusion of my left hip.

A lot of this was “new” ground for the growing speciality of orthopaedics and was a carry on from new techniques used with WW2 vets.  Medically there has been a tight tie between the veterans community and the polio generation due to the advancements being made in medicine.  My orthopaedic Dr. Vincent Murphy was a retired RCAF pilot and received his medical training courtesy of the military.  He was a good man and played a big role in my life from age 8.  He enjoyed me because, as he once put it, I had attitude and I was always up for surgery.

Polio kids were surgical try-outs for a lot of new techniques and we auditioned for surgical spots in what was called Grand Rounds.  Out-patient Rounds were held every Tuesday at the Children’s Hospital but if your parents got that call for Grand Rounds it was pretty certain you were being admitted.  For Rounds you stripped down for the doctor and your parents, for Grand Rounds you stripped down on an examination table in front of half a dozen doctors, another half dozen interns and maybe a dozen student nurses standing in the background taking notes.  While they are discussing me like a strip loin, I’m sitting there trying to figure out if I will sign up for Monday night copper tooling or take the leather activity again.  Monday nights were Arts and Craft’s night in the hospital. Continue reading “What We Don’t Know We Know…(revised)”

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…”

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…”