And God Laughs
I told God my plans and He laughed. So now I am living, laughing, and loving according to His Plans.

Grocery Shopping: An Adventure

I usually do my own grocery shopping with minimal to no assistance. I may be creative and adaptive, but I have yet to find a way to push a shopping cart while using my wheelchair. I refuse to use the power carts because I really don't need to add battery power to my erratic driving as an announcement would follow me throughout the store "Clean up on aisle 9....Clean up on aisle 8...Clean up on aisle 7". I also have no desire to trade my $4000 wheelchair for a wheelchair with an attached lap basket and trust that nothing will happen to my chair as it sits basically unattended at the front of the store. That is not a fair trade. So what I usually do is use two or three reusable shopping bags hanging on the back of my wheelchair, and as I shop I place the items into these bags. With proper packing, I can easily get a week's worth of groceries this way. I rock at packing reusable shopping bags, I just need to learn to be aware of the added weight on the back of my wheelchair. Thank God for wheelie bars!! And I swear there is a conspiracy to place whatever items I need on the top shelf so that I either have to play damsel in distress and ask for help (ugh!) or unbuckle my feet, undo my seatbelt, and hold on to the shelf to do the amazing standing gimp trick. That one really freaks people out because they assume that since I am in a wheelchair, especially one with more complex foot restraints, that I can not stand, so when I suddenly pull myself into a standing position to reach something they totally freak out. Sometimes I choose that one just for the effect. ;)
Well, on Monday I had the opportunity to go grocery shopping with an accomplice. Because we were going to receive a decent amount of snow (about 8-10", not that impressive by Michigan standards but enough to limit a wheelchair's accessibility until everything is plowed, salted, and plowed again), my Dad took me grocery shopping so I could get anything I might need for the next few days. His job was to push the shopping cart behind me, and my job was to toss items into the cart over my shoulder. This worked well until he became distracted, and not having eyes in the back of my head (as much as my students would beg to differ) I picked up a package and tossed it over my shoulder. Instead of hearing it land in the shopping cart, I heard it land on the floor. The woman scanning the shelves next to me turned and stared at me as if I had lost my mind, having just taken a package of food and thrown it over my shoulder for no apparent reason. I just laughed as she backed away rapidly. When my distracted father caught back up to me, I told him that he had missed something, and asked him if he could please pick it up off the floor for me. :)
When we went to check out there were a lot of other people doing the winter storm stock up, and there was one cashier working. Great planning. So I went to wait in line. The older woman ahead of me turned and waved me ahead of her. I tried to tell her I was fine waiting, but she insisted and well, her cart was filled while mine was not so I figured if she wanted to do something selfless but silly who was I to stop her? Inside I was thinking "sucker!" because I am anything but pitiful or helpless. Then the guy ahead of her did the same thing. I seriously tried to protest, but to no avail, so I went from 4th in line to 2nd. I mean, I have a seat while I am waiting, its not like I have to stand in line people!
Then the fun part - the putting away of the groceries in a kitchen roughly the size of a handicapped bathroom stall. There is no room to turn my wheelchair around in the kitchen - it is pull in, back out. I have to wheel out to change my mind. Storage is limited in my kitchen...heck space is limited in my kitchen, so I have to be creative with my storage options especially adding reasonable accessibility into the mix. By the time all of that was done, I was ready for one of the special treat ice cream cones I had bought - I think it was well earned!

I hope that you survive the storm with your usual how do you type that french phrase?
je ze qua? I hope you can read my failed attempt at another lingo...:)
If you were closer I would just loan you my Jessica she loves to follow directions and she could use some "homemaker training..."

Definitely well-earned!

What a nice idea! Jessica learning homemaking from you!

Do you have any plans for a different living arrangement? I have some urls on universal design - will send if you want.

Asking you to consider not just allowing the small favors people offer you, but feeling good about their favors...I expect to take full advantage when I am fully gray. I don't think anyone intended to insult or demean you.

Last year CollegeSon and I were at the military commissary. He was home for the holidays and looked scruffy. There was a long line to check-out, and I suggested he go back to the elderly man in a scooter and help him get his ice cream out of the freezer. The old guy of course started a conversation. Turned-out he was an alum from the same college our son attended. It.was.nice.for.both.of.them.

Not believing in coincidence. Barbara

I am starting to look into different living options for once my lease here is up. The issue is that I am living on a limited budget, and accessible housing does not seem to be a trend in small town Michigan. I also have to consider transportation, which means either I get a vehicle with hand controls by August or I move where there is public transportation because I am frustrated with having to rely on other people any time I want to go more than a block from my home. Especially in winter, when I can't even really go anywhere without assistance.
I don't think the people who offered me the chance to move in line meant any harm, I just think that their perception of me is a bit skewed because of the wheelchair. I totally take advantage of it when necessary, like skipping the long security lines at the airport. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I am getting credit where it is not due - I actually go shopping at the comissary of a local military base with my stepmom twice a month (both she and my father are retired military) and I am always well treated, but I worry that I am getting treatment I don't deserve because I am not a "wounded in combat soldier". Granted, my father swam in Agent Orange but my brother escaped health issues and he came first.

Job 8:21

"He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."

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Wild Olive

Wild Olive

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Creative Victory

This is Me

I am a thirty year old enigma who has defied every expectation ever placed upon me and refused every definition created for me. My greatest passion in life is to make a difference in the lives of children with special needs and their families. As a special education teacher I broke all of the unwritten rules to make sure that my kids received the services they needed and had a right to receive. I have never been so proud to be reprimanded before in my life. Now, due to unpredictable twists in life, I am learning first hand what life is like when you rely upon a wheelchair for mobility. I am a medical puzzle with the pieces slowly being identified and put together, and my medical bills alone could fund a small nation. It takes a village to keep me alive. :) However, I am not defined by the genetic misspellings. I am a teacher, a daughter, an aunt, a friend, a dreamer, a reader, an amateur photographer, a writer, an advocate, a star gazer, a world changer. I am stubborn, situationally shy, quick to use humor and wit to make others laugh or cope with a situation, sarcastic, fiercely independent, giving, compassionate (sometimes to a fault), protective of those I love, defiant of arbitrary boundaries, perfectionistic, self conscious, self assured (yes you can be both!), articulate and occasionally dramatic. And that is just what I could fit in two sentences! :)

Who's On First, What's On Second, I Don't Know! (Third Base!!)*

Simple Vocabulary Definitions for those who may not speak fluent medical :)

Undiagnosed Progressive Neurological Disorder- This is the diagnosis that is believed to make everything else fit together. It explains my frequent infections, my muscle weakness and dystonia, my dysautonomia, my cardiac issues, my inability to regulate blood pressure, my dysphagia, my ataxia, my severe fatigue, my extreme nausea, my gastrointestinal dysmotility and IBS like syndrome, my unbelievable migraines, my sensory changes in my arms and legs, my vision issues, my hearing loss (so much for blaming medication), and so much more. Going back to infancy and childhood, this would explain the severe apnea, the significantly delayed motor skills, the reason why I could never keep up with my peers in physical activities, the neurogenic bladder, the malfunctioning thyroid, and my frequent illnesses and vomiting. This is the diagnosis now being used since the DNA testing for Mitochondrial Disease came back odd and I can not afford the expenses of a workup at the Mayo Clinic. We are treating symptomatically.

Pan-Dysautonomia- "Pan" means that it impacts many different systems of my body, "dysautonomia" is a failure of my autonomic nervous system or the part of my brain that does all of the automatic things that do not require conscious thought like telling your heart to beat, regulating your blood pressure, adjusting your body temperature, maintaining balance in space, digesting food, hunger and thirst, etc. It is believed that I have had this from birth based upon my history of symptoms, including severe life threatening apnea as an infant, but the cause remains elusive at this time

Dystonia- abnormal muscle tone and spasticity, including painful spasms, that primarily impacts my feet and lower legs and is now starting to be a problem in my back

Ataxia- difficulty maintaining balance and coordinating/executing movements

Dysphagia- difficulty swallowing due to any number of causes including muscle weakness and poor muscle coordination

Adipsia- the absence of a sense of thirst

Other Medical Issues- Lupus Anticoagulant (autoimmune disease that causes me to tend to form blood clots and has already caused two deep vein blood clots and one mild stroke), Migraines, unknown connective tissue disorder, abnormal gastric motility, allergies, history of v-tach and severe sinus tachycardia, changes to my echocardiagram that include leaking valves and a new murmur, low blood pressure, ataxia, untreated PFO (small hole in my heart that increases the risk of stroke), chronic lymphadema in my left arm, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Narcolepsy/Idiopathic CNS Hypersomnolance (believed to be a result of the dysautonomia and my brain's inability to regulate the sleep/wake cycle), mild hearing loss, malformed optic nerves, polycystic ovarian syndrome, pernicious anemia, vitamin deficiencies

* Title comes from an old Abbot and Costello routine that I chose to memorize in 6th grade and absolutely love.