Cerebral Palsy Is Not A Disease. . .

The other day one of my PAs referred to Cerebral Palsy(CP) as a disease while my sister was present. they received a mini lecture from her. I think it is worth repeating that speech since I hear people call my disability a disease more often than I like.

Cerebral Palsy is not a disease, it is a brain injury. Therefore, people cannot catch CP from me. I received my brain injury while I was being born. Children up to age Three can injure their brains through many accidents, and doctors will call the brain injury CP.   However, if someone older then three  injures their brain,  it is simply referred to as a brain injury.  l believe by age three, the brain is totally knitted together  so that it is apparent that a brain injury has occurred.  to cause the shift in the diagnoses.

Just to be super clear, in my life, nobody has come up to me and accused me of  giving them CP.   Did I just hear a collective sigh?

CP is not said to be hereditary.  However, I did have a cousin who had CP.  My moms brothers son.  In my cousins case, he was too big to be born the normal way, and C-sections were not invented yet.  so  like me his brain  injury happened while being born.  Nine years later, I was born on his birthday. isn’t that weird or what?

It is said that no two people with CP has the same exact disabilities and abilities.  Take my cousin and I for instance.  David was stiff like a board and totally locked in his body.  His only means of communication were his  eyes and some facial cues.  We all knew he was smart because he  laughed at the right times and grew serious when it was appropriate.  My aunt was a great role  model, she talked to David like he was totally normal, and everyone followed her lead. When I came along my family treated me just the same. I owe my aunt and cousin a multitude of thanks for paving the way for me!

Welcome to My World

I just want to vent a little about a frustrating aspect of my life, which is getting new equipmen i.e.  things that improve the quality of my life, such as wheelchairs, communication devices, grab bars and different things that help make my life genuinely easier

To get needed equipment I must first state to my doctor that I have certain medical need that requires new technology.   The doctor will then send me to an Occupational,  Physical, or speech therapist.  They then need to access my  needs and determine which piece of equipment would best fit my needs. Then its back to the doctor for a face to face appointment where they ask questions to fill out paper work that gives the doctor’s ok for that equipment.

Sometimes  I get to have a trial period with the equipment. I can’t express nearly enough how important the trial period is. Simply put, if an insurance company will fork out thousands of dollars for a recommended piece of technology, it only makes sense to “test drive” the device before purchasing it.  That way the equipment will be used, instead of collecting dust bunnies in some closet.

The next step is all in the therapists hands.  It is the therapist job to write a convincing report that states for the medical well-being of my client needs a new power chair The report would list why I need a power chair. If I was lucky enough to have a trail period with the equipment, the therapist may state “my client has demonstrated that she can  successfully use the power chair”. The occupational therapist sends the report to the doctor I asked for the referral, and the doctor sends it back signed to the occupational therapist, who then has to send it to the insurance company! if all goes well, the insurance company approves the request. if the request is approved, the new equipment will come, between one to six months later.

A person can get new wheelchairs and communication devices every five years. I have been due for a new power chair for about eight years. I had not pushed the issue because the chair was in fairly decent shape, and really hate asking the state for anything.  However,  the last few times I had my wheelchair serviced, I was told the chair was outdated; I could not get certain parts for the chair anymore!

So, I started the whole grueling process. I got the first three appointments finished, and  then I waited. Four months go by, I received a call from the place that evaluated me for the power chair, saying they never received the face to face report from the doctor. We played phone tag with the wheelchair company, both of us trying to get the Dr. to send necessary paperwork. After six months of not getting the needed paperwork, I again had to do a face to face appointment with the Dr. to have him sign the paperwork and give his ok yet again, to  please the insurance company.

True fact: I received my first power chair when I was twelve. I was away at summer camp when it arrived. My mom sent me a letter saying that I had a surprise waiting for me when I returned home!  When I got home, a party was in the works. One of my friend’s mom drove my new power chair up from our basement, and I finally understood the reason for the party. My power chair had at long last finally arrived! It was indeed something to celebrate! However, the joy of that moment became suddenly subdued, when I got into the chair, I had already out grown it. However, it didn’t stop me from exploring the barnyard, and getting stuck in the cotton seed pile, which is a kid magnet in my family! A quick adjustment at the wheelchair repair shop fixed the problem, and I was all set to find more places to get stuck in!

Here’s What A Little Insect Bite Can Do…

Gross, huh?

Gross, huh?

On March 21st, I found some sort of bug bite on my right thigh while I was getting my PJ’s on.  I didn’t think too much about it and went to bed.

The bite  progressively grew bigger through the weekend. I kept hoping the bite would miraculously go away by itself!  There was no chance of that happening, much to my dismay.  

The following Tuesday,  I finally caved in and had one of PA’s  make me a doctors appointment.  They offered me an appointment April 15th.  My PA said, “No,  she needs to get in sooner; she is in pain.” I got an appointment  for that next Thursday. 

By the time I saw a doctor, I not only had a spider bite the  size if a baseball, and because I didn’t see the doctor right away I had also contracted cellulitis. I received a prescription  for antibiotics and a stint of time with my leg elevated, and a ten  minutes with my heating pad every few hours.  the Doctor did warn me the infection would get worse before getting better .

The bite was effecting the way I moved about. Normally, it’s no problem moving around the house in my manual wheelchair, by using my feet to propel myself around.  However, with a huge abscess  on my leg, I didn’t want to move around any more than I had to, because it sure did hurt when my left leg rubbed up against the abscess. I used my power chair more. I had to have extra support when I needed to transfer from one seat to another. It bruised my ego to have help getting in and out of bed, but it was better than falling and hurting myself even worse!

The cellulitis plagued me more than the spider bite. When I sat up, the cellulitis became quite uncomfortable. So, I was driven to utilize my recliner. I caught up on all the shows I watch; like Bones, Castle, and Gray’s Anatomy. Then I became engrossed in, Call The Midwife, that I saw while prowling through the shows on Netflix. I’m forever grateful to my friend who suggested I invest in a Roku streaming device, during the many times I would complain of having to watch one too many commercials, and paying too much for cable. These days, I have to force myself to watch some regular TV, if for nothing else then to keep current in the world!

Getting back to The spider bite. Two days later, the bug bite looked worse. My sister was called to get her opinion. She took one glance at it and said, “I’m taking you to the ER!” I protested, but it fell on deaf ears. I had nothing to eat that morning, and in hind sight I should have insisted that I eat something first.

The ER doctor looked too eager to pop something! I thought the proper procedure was to lance an abscess, and then gently squeeze the puss out. Nope! He put both of his thumbs on either side of the abscess and squeezed! It was extremely disgusting! The abscess erupted like a volcano! A flow of puke green cottage cheese curds cascaded down my leg. Seriously, I wanted to kick the doctor in his sensitive place; it hurt so badly! My foot was in an excellent position do so. I didn’t, and I’m so glad I didn’t, because as soon as he was done with me a real emergency came in. I never saw him again.

I wasn’t quite done grossing out my sister for the day. Before the doctor left, he wanted me to take my second antibiotic of the day, but then he added another antibiotic and a Percocet to the mix. I was rather leery about taking medication on an empty stomach. The nurse suggested I could have a sandwich, but all she brought me was an applesauce, and a package of crackers from the waiting room.

Twenty minutes later, all bandaged and medicated up and on the way out to the car; I started feeling hot and dizzy. As soon as my sister started backing out of the parking place, I threw up on myself (It was my brother-in-law’s car so I needed to preserve my good grace to ride in it.) My sister had planned on taking me on a few errands, but she quickly changed her mind. I was okay on the straight road, but once we reached my little, curvy street I lost it big time, but since I didn’t have anything of substance in my stomach, it didn’t smell. I got home around three, and I finally stopped up heaving about nine. I felt absolutely miserable!

I have two pieces of advice for you. If you are unfortunate enough to be a target of a bug’s fangs and the infection is not getting better within, please have it checked out by a doctor Secondly, if the doctor insists you take a cocktail of medication before leaving (this will most likely only happen in the ER), if you haven’t eaten in quite some time, if you have a slight build, and you’re sure you won’t be whisked off to surgery. Do yourself a big favor; insist right back that you have to put something substantial in your stomach before taking the medicine. Anybody in their right mind would want to avoid six hours of nausea, right?

Going to the Movies

Walter Mitty

I went to a movie on my own a week ago. For Christmas I got some Regal movie passes. I thought it would be good for me to do something by myself, and since I had movie passes I thought that would be the thing to do.

When I arrived at the theater, I typed out what I wanted to see on the Eco communication device, which was ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, I played it out to the ticket box operator,  (I was amazed she understood the eco.) I gave her the pass, she gave me a ticket, some guy opened the door for me, I had to duck under his arm.

What happens when both you and the ticket taker have Cerebral Palsy? I spazzed out while handing her the ticket. The ticket fell to the ground causing her to knock something else to the ground, and she’s saying, “I’ve got it. I’ve got it.” Fortunately, I successfully grasped the ticket stub and shoved it into my coat pocket. She told me the number of the theater the movie was in, and I was sure she said six.

However, I was feeling bad for dropping the ticket, which caused the mini cyclone, that after I had went on my way I started wondering if I heard her right. Unfortunately, the theaters don’t have the names of the movies over the doors any more, so I was second guessing myself. I asked someone (I think it was her job coach), to double Check the theater, I was right! It was just a little discerning because I was so early, and the theater so empty!

I struck up a little conversation with the job coach, we exchanged names, but I can’t remember it now. I saw a family from church. Chatted with them a little while. I worked some on a journal entry.  Was I busy with my time, or what?

When I noticed  the first couple enter the theater, I followed shortly after them. I love watching places filling up with people. It’s interesting to see them staking up their places. During the previews, four people in wheelchairs came into the theater. I thought, what is this?  A gimp convention!

I guess I have to eat some words here. I had laid claim to the small two spaced wheelchair sitting area.  I didn’t want to give up “my space”.  I was early. if you snooze, you lose, I thought.   Oh, I am a pushover, of course I moved! I should have parked correctly in the first place. It’s rare that two people in wheelchairs are in a theater, let alone five, who would have thought?

I went to the movie without much expectation. I am not A Ben Stiller fan, but he won my heart in his role as Walter Mitty! Walter fantasizes about winning the girl of his dreams excessively, almost to his detriment.  However, to find a missing photo, he must get out of his comfort zone, and start living real adventures.  I found a kindred spirit in Walter Mitty. Ben’s eyes looked amazing in the movie!  Ben both directed and stared in this movie. Way to go,   Ben  Stiller!

I was a little dismayed when I exited the theater, I found that it was five minutes into the window of time where a bus would  whisk me home.  However, I calmed myself down with the fact that the buses are rarely early, and rarer still, on time!  Even still, I was out within the five minutes they give  people to get  on the bus.  Turns out the bus showed up near the end of the half hour window.

You,  my readers,  may be wondering what would have happened if I had  needed help while I was at the movie?  Good question! I can send texts via the Eco.  It comes in quite handy sometimes!  Of course, I would be in a pickle if both my power chair and Eco stopped working at the same time!  Thank goodness none of that happened that day!

Turtle Speed? Say What?

ImageImageThe image above me,  is that of a turtle. Do i look anything like a turtle?  No, i didn’t think so either .I was exiting a Lift bus when the driver said that I should have my power chair on “turtle”. Now I was paying attention to how I was driving onto the gangplank and not to her. When I stopped, I gave her a quizzical look. She said it was a new policy that Lift was trying to enforce on their riders to keep us safe.  When I still looked questioning she threw in that I had done nothing wrong.

When the lift reached the ground, she really wanted me on turtle speed. I tried it for 5.5 seconds, and I could not stand going so slow.  I turned my power chair up to a hungry turtle speed, and ignored her plea to go so slow. I had an appointment to get to, for goodness sake.

Either that driver was a control freak, or she had a bad experience with a passenger who had trouble driving their power chair.   No other driver has mentioned “the turtle policy” again, so I am sure it was a rouse to keep her “passengers” safe.

Last Ditch Effort

The dreaded house!

The dreaded house!

If you have subscribed to get fresh new posts sent to your e-mail. Thank you! Please note, this post was written in December 2012. For some reason I couldn’t post it at that time, but I feel it is important to share!

In mid November, the agency who provides my supports, declared that if a suitable house was not found by December 15th, they would have to drop the two of us from their service. However, they officially opened the house hunt to our families. I felt that gesture was way over due! My sister and cohort’s mom, (He will not be my mate in any form. Another definition for cohort is warrior. I can agree that we both demonstrate vigor on a daily basis.)  joined forces and found a house within the allotted time, sometime around the second week in December.

My first viewing of the house was emotional. My heart was in my throat, and I was close to tears the whole time I was there. The house had most of my requirements. large open floor kitchen and living room, two bathrooms, three bedrooms.

However, I wanted at least one of the bedrooms and baths on the opposite side of house. I have mentioned before that my soon to be cohort Likes playing his TV and stereo  simultaneously and loudly, so I was hoping we would have a larger divide between us.  However, all three bedrooms are down the same hallway.  I was also a bit delusional to ever dream to have  a small den that we could either use as a office and or entertainment room to hide out in when one of us has company and want to have somewhere private to take them besides our bedrooms. What was was I thinking!

I had  a week or two to decide if the house  was a good fit.  I had panic attacks because in My mind’s eye as the house filled up with our things, the house became  smaller and smaller until I was trapped in a small square box!  Horrid nightmare.

Then a little voice of reason popped into my head; I could  A.  go with this house with only one cohort and be within walking distance to a slew of restaurants and stores, or  B.   hold out for a bigger house but risk the chance of gaining another cohort?  Since I went so long without opting for option C.  Which was fleeing from  my current agency, and finding an agency that supported people in their apartments. Only option A was doable.

I was given a little sprinkle of hope, I was told if I truly was unhappy with the living situation, after a year I could Switch to another agency. As good as that may sound I could be moving from one unsatisfactory situation to another one. I don’t know if I will take that risk. Glumly, with a lump in my throat, I excepted I was moving into that house.

What stress can do.

Here’s an update on my housing situation.  My family is against me leaving the agency that can no longer help  support me in my apartment, instead of finding an agency that would continue helping me in my current or slightly bigger and appealing apartment.    I grudgingly agreed to move into a house with another person who is in the same boat I find myself.

in July a possible  House came on the radar .  Both my future housemate and I were summoned to take a look at the house. It was rather a pointless trip.  We did not have a key to the house.  All we were able to do was peer inside through the windows, and that can be hard to do for a couple of people in wheelchairs.  My sister who drove me to the house was able to stand me up so I could peer inside. However, that did not give me a good feel for the house. My gut feeling was that the house was way too small.  It had a huge backyard, though.  We could have had great backyard parties!

A little after the possible house scare, my back started prickling.  I had my personal assistants check my back numerous of times. The best they could come with was that I had some sort of rash. The pain persisted.  Finally it dawned on me at the very same time one of my personal assistants said, “You know you could have Shingles.”

Shingles are brought on by stress.  Huh, the very idea of a life changing event brought on my second bought of Shingles.  Awesome, not!  Luckily it stayed localized to my back, and was a very mild case.  However, I stayed home and away from the mass crowd for a few weeks, because while I could not pass Shingles along,  I could pass the Chickenpox to someone.  I had cabin fever something fierce!

My doctor wrote me a prescription for acyclovir,  an antiviral medication.   It kept the Shingles from spreading across  my body. When I went to pick up the prescription, I was startled to learn I was supposed to take five doses a day.  i have a gag reflex a mile long, and taking 5 doses a day for ten days seemed like climbing Mt.  Everest!   I specifically asked the pharmacist how solvent the pills were.   He assured me I would be able to swallow the pill before it would dissolve  in my mouth. I believed him.

I waited until the next morning to start the medication preferring not to get up twice to take the dreaded pills.   The second the pill hit my mouth, it started melting, quickly turning into a frothy goo that I could neither swallow or spit out very effectively. The First image that ran through my mind was climbing on top of the pharmacy counter and strangling the pharmacist. I am not typically a violent person, but I strongly felt he deserved some sort of punishment!

I still had 49 pills I need to gag down. As luck would have it, just that week I discovered a Crystal Lite drink mix I actually liked, pomegranate. I had my personal assistants dissolve the pills into the drink, and slugged it down as fast as I could.   Totally ruined the only Crystal Lite beverage I will ever drink for life, but I accomplished what I had to.

I suppose it would do my heart good if I went back to the the pharmacist, and explained my experience with the acyclovir.  perhaps it would save someone undue discomfort.

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