Archive for July, 2016

On the Road Again with Marly – Part Two

Part Two of a Two Part series

So it’s been one week since I started driving and I’ve realized a few things. First, I CANNOT describe what a PRIVILEGE it is to be driving again. Everyone has been asking me how much I love it, and I do love it, but mainly I am grateful not only to have the physical capability to drive but also the means to procure a car and the hand controls needed.  

Second, anyone who understands public transportation understands the struggle. So, going from relying on them out of necessity to relying on them by choice is another privilege I hope to always remember. 

Push-Rock Hand Controls

 

 

 

The push-rock hand controls I settled on are perfect for me. To hit the brakes, using my left hand, I push the handle forward towards the dashboard. To accelerate I push the same handle down towards the floorboard. I control the steering wheel with my right hand using a spinner knob. This allows me complete control of the steering wheel utilizing only one hand. Meaning both hands are in constant use and you cannot get distracted by your phone, makeup, or whatever else people do, but should NOT be doing, WHILE driving. It’s safer and keeps the driver focused.

 

 

 Removable Plate Cover

I also have a removable plate covering the brake/gas foot pedals for safety. If I remove the plate, anyone who is able bodied can drive the car using the foot  pedals and it will not disturb my hand controls in any way.  The spinner knob is also removable for that same purpose.

Spinner Knob

My third realization is that though the process of breaking down the chair and putting it back together does not bother me personally, it seems to cause me slight embarrassment when people stop and stare or even ask me if I need help. The perception seems to be that I need assistance, where all I really need is people to move about their day like I do. I’ll get over the embarrassment eventually because the transfer and the process of putting the chair in and out of the car is my NORMAL and I refuse to feel badly for that.

Breaking down chair

I’m sure there will be other realizations as time goes on, but for now I am extremely grateful to be driving again and to have recovered a piece of my independence.

Until next time, Be safe guys!

Marly S. 

 

 

 

 

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After 9 years, I’m on the road again!

Part One of a Two Part series 

After graduating in December, the next step on my list of goals to accomplish was obtaining my driver’s license.

So, to driver’s training I went!

I contacted the OSU driver’s rehab offices (prior to graduation) and by June 2nd, I was in a vacant parking lot learning to drive using the modified vehicle owned by the OSU hospital. I was scheduled for two hours twice a week for the month…14 hours of training altogether.

Photo of Marly driving her carMy first day consisted of driving in circles in an empty parking lot learning which type of hand control I liked best. After settling on the push-rock hand controls, my training truly began. My driving instructor trained me to get in and out of the car, as well as how to break down my chair and put it back together. She took me out on major streets, residential, highways, campus, etc… She wanted me prepared for any situation she believed might get tricky, such as gas stations and roundabouts. She quizzed me on what I did wrong, what I did right and what I should have done differently. She taught me to trust my instincts and to never let anyone on the road intimidate me. Maneuverability training worked the same and we designated a half hour almost every session to perfecting my surprisingly awesome skills.

As each session went by I grew more confident in my abilities. On June 23rd, my last day of training, we practiced maneuverability one last time and then I drove us to the BMV. I took the on the road exam and passed with flying colors.

 

Marly folding up wheelchair

 

After passing my instructor wrote me a prescription for the hand-controls I preferred. I contacted a lovely lady named Jennifer at Motorcar Mobility Sales and Services in Cleveland on July 12th and by July 18th I was on the road driving my own modified car.

The first thing I did, after getting lost on I-90, was drive to Lakewood where I grew up. I picked up my best friend and my little niece, Athena Love then drove around town for a bit, grabbed dinner and enjoyed my newfound freedom.  Wow, after 9 years, it feels great to be on the road again!

Until next time… 

Stay safe,

Marly S.

 

Next week – Part Two of On the Road Again!

 

 

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Our Resident Ballroom Dancer!

Creative Living is the home to a variety of people with different types of disabilities. Kristin, to name the first, as she states, “was born this way”.  

Meet Kristin.

Having been borne with cerebral palsy and having utilized an automatic wheelchair since 1998, Kristin has a unique perspective on life, for as she states, “I have no idea what it feels like to walk without assistance, or complete daily living tasks without assistance.”  This has always been her normal. She goes on to state, “if my body started working the way it was ‘supposed’ to tomorrow, I’d be completely lost”. If you think about it from her perspective it makes complete sense. Before my accident, I walked with my legs. After the accident I was FORCED to walk with my arms. For Kristin, the reverse would be just as scary, and for good reason!

Growing up in the 1980’s Kristin had difficulties. She had to fight the school board to attend school. Something we can all agree is the right of ALL children. She was singled out for requiring an aide with her to assist with human needs, such as food and restroom breaks to just name two. Unfortunately, Kristin was bullied by her peers and stated that she, “can count the number of friends I had in high school on one hand”. Kristin was the only wheelchair bound student in her High school until her senior year. Life was difficult to say the least, but Kristin had a support system like none other – Her father.

Until the age of 13 Kristin’s father was her primary care taker, and a tough one he was!  Kristin was “expected to do well in school and go to college and make something of herself in spite of her circumstances” she stated.  Guess what guys? She did! Kristin graduated from high school in 1998 and graduated from Wright University in 2006 with a degree in Education. She moved into Creative Living I in 2006 and has been living independently since.

Way to go Kristin!

Mr. Hehrer took measures to not only give Kristin a happy childhood but also the tools needed to survive. Kristin has memories of her dad that range from rigging hand controls on her Barbie hot wheels jeep so she could “run around the neighborhood with the other kids growing up”, to him teaching her at the age of 13 years old to “ hire and fire” her aides. Like any father, he worried and he wanted his daughter to have the tools and the VOICE to care for herself.

Personally, I think he did pretty darn well. Don’t you?

Kirstin grew up loved and has experiences some of us can only dream of. She has traveled to 14 different countries mostly between Europe and the Mediterranean. She has meet Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and was a DJ for a year while in college! I mean, what??

Kristin Hehrer -Ballroom Dancing

Her hobbies include, reading, movies, gardening, cooking, Zumba and dancing.  Kristin LOVES ballroom dancing!  This also was the influence of her loving father as she “grew up watching dad take lessons and then he’d end up teaching me as well.” She goes on to say that once she moved to Columbus, she looked up her father’s instructor and began to attend classes herself. And for those wondering how you make ballroom dancing adaptive Kristin has a simple answer, you “don’t concern yourself with movement below the waist and try to make the upper body as lyrical as possible”.  

Since moving to Creative Living, Kristin has been enjoying her independence and maintaining her household as she sees fit. However, she appreciates the RA program’s presence when she needs help with transfers or requires bedpan assistance at night. The RA program also provides assistance for daily activities such as opening and locking her door, assisting with food, etc.  Kristin is a funny, smart, and is always willing to share her delicious home grown vegetables every summer!

Let’s wish Kristin good luck on all future endeavors and maybe an exciting career change to ballroom dancing?? Kristin, what do you think?

 

Until next time, be safe,

Marly S.

 

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Meet Lora

Hi guys,

This week we are featuring one of the brightest residents Creative Living has to offer.

Meet Lora.

On February 24th 1993, Lora was in a head-on collision where she suffered a traumatic closed head injury involving a twisted brain stem plus, “a broken nose, facial laceration, broken left wrist, broken ribs, punctured lungs, tore a hole in my small intestine, and broke my left leg. I was in a coma for 73 days”, she states.

Succinctly, life was completely altered for Lora because as she states, “I went from pursuing a career as an equine orthopedic surgeon to working part-time as a ticket taker at Huntington Park.” She goes on to explain that she had graduated in 1989 as one of the Top Ten Seniors in the entire Ohio State University undergraduate class. 

After waking from a 73 days long coma Lora had to learn EVERYTHING anew, including learning to walk. Though the absolute worst aspect she states is, “not being able to do things nearly as well as before-both physically and on the cognitive level”. Dealing with the dichotomy of what we know we are capable of and what society tells us we can and cannot do is a frustrating one. The stigma of living within a deviant body is something all creative living residents face but Lora asks our readers and the general public, to “not underestimate our ability to think and be productive members of society”. 

Today, it is pretty common for students to attend college and work full time. Yet how common is it for you to hear about someone such as Lora? Oh, did I mention that Lora returned to school after her BRAIN injury and obtained two more degrees while simultaneously navigating her new life style? I mean, WOW…

What I find most beautiful about Lora’s story is how she navigates her day-to-day utilizing crutches and an automatic wheelchair. It took Lora six years of physical therapy to learn to walk again. While on crutches, she moves slower but is able to navigate around better, she can drive her car with very little modifications, she can walk up stairs as well as walk on and off curbs. While on crutches Lora can walk from point A to point B and because her hands are busy assisting her to walk. However, utilizing her wheelchair enables her to travel father, to carry things on her lap and to preserve her strength throughout the day. Each mode of mobility has positive and negative aspects and the choice depends on where she is going and what she will be doing upon arrival.

It takes a lot of discipline and forethought to navigate between crutches and a wheelchair. Lora made a commitment to herself to constantly push her physical limits and after 20+ years of hard earned mobility her body has suffered. “I have to undergo rotator cuff surgery in three weeks so I will definitely be in my wheelchair”, she states. Her right arm will be in a sling and for that reason, Michael Stewart, a neighbor and friend switched the joystick on her wheelchair from the right armrest to the left. A switch, that has brought her (and many of us witnesses) immense laughter. So far she has driven herself in circles, into curbs, the wall by the recycling bins, and into the poor sliding door at Creative Living II that had been knocked off its hinges ☺

Lora moved into Creative Living II in 1994 and has been a beloved resident ever since. Whether on crutches or wheelchair the smile is always there. She is incredibly intelligent with a lighthearted sense of humor that is infectious. She is a bit nervous of the upcoming surgery, especially as she attempts to obtain home health aid assistance (a heartache in and of its own as most residents would attest). 

Never the less, she remains positive and thankful for not only her family, friends, and neighbors but the 24/7 resident assistant program provided be Creative Living.

The RA program is essential for the residents and in Lora’s case it is helpful when she needs things carried. Lora would also like to send a big shout out to Raheem, the off duty RA that walked her, Joyce and myself home after Friday night poker. Soon her right arm will be on a sling, placing her in an even more physically compromised position but thankfully the RA’s are always willing to help Creative Living residents and that provides a peace of mind not found anywhere else.

Lets all wish Lora a speedy recovery and wish her the best on all things to come!

Good luck Lora!

Until next time, be safe!

Marly S. 

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