Saturday, May 23, 2009

Strolling by the river

We had a gorgeous day here Thursday after a few cloudy and cool days. There wasn't a cloud in sight and it was a perfect day to enjoy the great outdoors of western Montana. My nurse and I went downtown to take a walk along the river. I was impressed by the accessibility of the trail and how easy it was to navigate. I've attached a few pictures we took along our stroll.

My long hiatus from school is coming to an end and my summer class begins on Tuesday. I'll have an American History class on Monday-Thursday from 1:30-4 p.m. and it lasts for about 5 weeks. It should be a good class and it's with a professor that I've had before. The only big downside is that we have 4 books to get through and a paper or two to write. Oh well at least it's beautiful on campus and it will give me a chance to enjoy the scenery. The trees not the girls :-)

This is a short entry but I have to brag up our little Sammy before I go. He recently graduated from his beginner's puppy class at Petsmart. Things went great and he learned walking on the leash, sitting, stay, come, lay down and even roll over. The diploma is on the fridge and rumor has it that there probably will be an advanced class in his future.

That's the latest news from my corner of the world. The next few weeks will be busy so we will have to see how much time I'll have to blog. Enjoy the rest of the Memorial Day holiday.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Video project

Abuse, neglect, and forced isolation are things that unfortunately permeate the world of disability. These are difficult issues to discuss but remaining silent will do nothing to eliminate this scourge from society. Men with disabilities are just as vulnerable to abuse, neglect as our female counterparts. It is about time that this fact is realized and I'm going to be part of a project that will aim to achieve this.

There was a recent video project that was done in Oregon. It addressed similar issues of abuse and neglect that pertained to Oregon women with disabilities. This project was a success but it maybe wasn't as user friendly and as available as it could have been. A new video project is in the works that brings to light the abuses that men with disabilities have suffered and I have been asked to be one of the contributors.

I along with other Missoula and Portland men will be sharing stories of abuse & neglect at the hands of caregivers, partners, family, and institutions where some of us have resided. The Missoula shoot will happen in June and I really enjoyed meeting the other participants at a meeting last week. We make up a panel that crosses through many different disabilities and life experiences. I'm optimistic that our finished Internet based video will be a valuable tool in assisting people in a range of unhealthy situations. Information is power and it's the only way that abuse and neglect will be brought to a halt.

I'm fortunate that my nursing home term didn't involve severe abuse or neglect but there were some incidences that I experienced & observed. They were subtle things for the most part but looking back after almost 3 years they were things that shouldn't happen to anybody. Most of my caregivers treated me well but as they say every barrel has a few bad apples. It is my sincerest hope that this retelling of things that I experienced will empower someone else out there. That is all I could ask for.


It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home. ~ Carl T. Rowan

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Martha Mason

The disability community lost a true pioneer on Monday when Martha Mason passed away at the age of 71. Ms. Mason of Lattimore NC survived a childhood bout with polio and went on to live a record breaking sixty years in an iron lung. The iron lung wasn't a prison for Martha but instead it allowed her to live independently, graduate from Wake Forest University with honors, and write an acclaimed memoir "Breath, Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung."

I'm a relatively young vent user compared to Martha but I owe a great debt to people like her. The vent users that came out of the polio epidemic paved the way for the generations yet to come. They showed the world what could be achieved when others thought it impossible. These people got educations, became employed, lived independently, got married, had kids and enjoyed amazing but normal lives. I couldn't be living the life I do without the contributions of these trailblazers.

My friend Bob in NYC communicated with Martha and was one of her countless friends. Bob who is blind became aware of Martha after hearing her memoir on tape. He became interested in iron lungs and vent assisted breathing which led him to join my Vent Support Network. It just shows how small a world it really is. Martha will be missed by many but it's comforting to know what a positive indelible mark she left upon this earth.