DIY Prosthesis

Christina Stephens is an occupational therapist who lost her foot in a car accident.

Stephens, who specializes in wheelchair biomechanics (helping new wheelchair users learn to operate a chair so they won’t injure themselves) understood her situation very well. She could either try to save her foot with a low chance of success and an even lower chance of restoring function, or she could amputate the foot. She chose to amputate because using a prosthesis would restore more function than her hopes of a surgical repair.

Christina Stephens Lego legShe took to the web to share her experience when she found a shocking lack of information on getting a prosthesis. She filled the gap herself with her weekly videos on YouTube and Facebook.  She even took the challenge to build her own leg out of Legos!!!

The human spirit isn’t as fragile as the human body. It can be sewn back together with the thread of determination.

While this leg is more recreational than functional, you can check out her video if you want to make your own Lego Leg 😉

 

 

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One quote at a time

Staying motivated and positive is much more involved than “just do it”. It’s not something you can accomplish in a day; it’s something you have to accomplish every day. Some days it’s easy and others its near impossible.

As (the infamous) “they” say…There’s an App for that!

There are a load of apps that help you start your day right. They send you inspirational, motivational, spiritual, or otherwise quote every morning. And if you are having a particularly bad week, you can get several of those apps and receive messages all throughout the day.

I really like this app. (it’s free!)

Yesterday’s quote felt like it deserved to be in my fortune cookie! It’s so easy to get down on yourself and feel like your failing that it’s hard to see how far you’ve come!

Thomas Edison quote: Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up

These quotes really are quite good. I think I’ll have to start sharing them with the world on Twitter!

Bittersweet symphony

Sometimes the worst imaginable happens. And sometimes the best happens.

Here’s a beautiful story about the better-sweetness of when both happen.

Jen Bulik was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. With the short time she had left, she decided to throw a wedding together in just 2 weeks with her fiance. Touched by her story, a wedding planner, Erica Ota, decided to give her her dream wedding. A $50,000 that didn’t cost the couple a dime; it was all donated.

I thought to myself, these people have already suffered enough. Why not be able to give them a gift, you know? A wonderful gift that both of them will never forget. –Erica

Starstruck: H.W., Obama, and ADAdvocates

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

President George H. W. Bush signing ADAOn July 26th, 1990 President George H. W. Bush signed a bill into law that protects millions of Americans from discrimination. The pursuit to protect the rights of disabled Americans has been taken up by Bush Sr.’s successors.

Just last month President Obama called for a national conversation for mental health aimed at de-stigmatizing the issues to ultimately make it easier for those who need it to ask for help. The Department of Education called on schools and states to adopt principles to protect the safety and dignity of all their students. And the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program was started to get individuals the communication technologies they need to lead independent lives.

You can read much more about Obama’s commitment and contributions to the issue on the White House Blog. But, for me, one fact stands above all the other politics that shows me we are talking about real changes: Under Obama, the federal government has hired more disabled employees in decades.

Today is Starstruck Saturday, but in addition to celebrating the famous people who have made ADA and all associated efforts a possibility –like President George H.W. Bush and President Obama— I want to also celebrate all the ordinary people who dedicate their lives to advocating for and empowering people living with disabilities. For example, all those honored earlier this week in the ADA Anniversary Champions of Change Event.

Equal access. Equal opportunity. The freedom to make our lives what we will. These aren’t principles that belong to any one group or any one political party. They are common principles. They are American principles. –President Obama (20th anniversary of ADA)

Travel is fatal to prejudice

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.  ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Before writing about the mother who threw her disabled baby off a bridge, I thought I understood what this quote meant.

I thought it meant that by traveling I will have the experiences necessary to better myself. I will meet new types of people, appreciate different culture and the struggles they face. I will see there are many “right” ways; my way isn’t the best one to happen to this world.

Now I know that I’m not the only one who is bettered by the experience. I think that it is a two way street. I see and experience new things, but so do the local people who meet a mysterious outsider like me. Suddenly I’m a representative my entire “people”– whatever others perceive that to be, whether is people from my country, with my coloration, education level, my unusual height, with my condition, share my fashion sense, or who thinks FRIENDS was the best sitcom ever, etc. etc. etc.

It’s not just about race and religion! It’s about letting others experience a different way of life through you! You’re example can not only advocate for different abilities, but can open minds. And just like that you’ve become a vanquisher of prejudice!

I think it would be really fantastic to see more people with disabilities travel, not just for their own personal satisfaction, but for the betterment of the world.

If that mother had met an individual with Down Syndrome, leading a full and fulfilling life, maybe she would have chosen to embrace her daughter’s differences instead of tossing them away. She is just one of the many people in this world who Mr. Twain would say sorely need travel.

So if you are considering traveling but are on the fence, just think of it like this…you’d be doing with world a public service. 😉

Happy Friday!

It’s an odd gift but it’s a gift

I started writing Controversy Humpday so I could share stories that I’d otherwise find very difficult to share, but that are extremely important and worth sharing! Today is particularly difficult; I hope every one feels they can chime in with their opinions in the comments and that these controversial stories can become somewhat cathartic.

Baby with Down Syndrome thrown from bridgeIn 2000,  mother dropped her baby, Kaya, from a bridge  45 meters in the air. After reading this, I was overwhelmed and probably too upset to write a coherent article. I realized I would never be able to find better words than this spectacularly gifted author, in her letter to the fallen baby:

Dear Baby Kaya,

When I read about your fall in the newspaper, my heart hurt. I know that the police are still trying to find out if your mother dropped you or if you were tossed over the guardrail.

But, in many ways it doesn’t matter. The fact is, as soon as people knew you had Down Syndrome, that changed the story. Now there was a reason for you to be thrown away: you are a baby who doesn’t really matter.

There are two things you need to learn. First, you come from a group of people who have a history of being thrown away. We have been thrown out of families into institutions. We have been thrown out of schools into special classes. We have been thrown out of lives of employment into lives of poverty. And people like you and me, doctors don’t really want us to be here in the first place. But we, people with disabilities, are glad you are here and welcome you to the fight.

And I, a woman with Down Syndrome, want to be the first to give you the second bit of news. Yes, you come from people who have a history of being thrown away, but you also come from a group of people who have learned how to survive.

I am a self advocate, that means that I have learned to speak up for myself and speak out against injustice. I take this seriously. There are some things that I learned that I want to pass along to you, things that I wish someone had told me when I was a little girl.

So, from me to you …

Be proud of who you are. Having Down Syndrome is kind of cool. I think we have beautiful eyes. Everyone tells me that we have the greatest smiles, and I think they are right. Being proud will help you in so many ways. It will insure that you ‘land softly’ every time someone treats you badly or calls you a name. You will hear them all, Retard, Reject, Dummy. I’ve heard them and really don’t care what people who use those words think. They may think I’m Retarded, but I know they are prejudiced.

Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do things. All sorts of people told me that I couldn’t learn. Guess what. I went to college, right along with typical students and I passed the same courses that they did. Oh, I had to sit up real late at night and study. I knew it was harder for me to learn, but I did it.

I can read. I can write. I can think. I can speak. There are more things that I can do than things I can’t. Just remember, don’t give up on yourself because someone says you can’t do something. Try it. You may surprise yourself.

I really hope this was all an accident and you will know a mother’s love like I have, but if not, there are lots of places where you an find love and acceptance. Find people who love you for who you are. Spend time with people who like you because of who you are. You will get tired from always having to teach people that you are a real person like everyone else. So find other people you can just have fun with.

I go to People First and other places where there are other people who have disabilities –you wouldn’t believe the fun we have and the things we get up to. In my groups I’ve met other people with disabilities who are married, who have full-time jobs, who own their own homes, who decide their own fates. It’s fun just to be part of the group. It’s a relief from being special.

Discover!! Life is fun and full of surprises. You know, I never kissed a guy until I was twenty!! But I discovered I liked it.

Life is full of great things, like first kisses and chocolate. Every day I sit down and enjoy strong coffee, real strong coffee, with milk and sugar. When I treat myself, I eat seedless grapes, cold and green.

You too, have lots to look forward to. I remember my first crush –on an older man. I remember playing races with my parents. I remember swings and slides and skipping and jumping. I remember playing with a puppy and rubbing his belly. Enjoy it all. Life is full of trials, but it’s also full of excitement, and fun, and green grapes and chocolate.

I read in the paper (that part still surprises people) that you are a ‘miracle baby,’ that maybe God caught you and carried you safely down from that bridge to the earth.

I believe, Kaya, that God gave me an extra chromosome. It’s an odd gift, but it’s a gift. I believe that God does love you. And, I hope you realize, so do I.

Welcome, dear baby, welcome.

Thank you Astra Milberg for finding the words no one else could and for giving baby Kaya the welcome and love she deserves.

Hot stuff: a daring fire escape

It should be no surprise that there is great concern over evacuation plans for people with disabilities.

Have you ever seen an evacuation plan that includes disability-specific details? Even more alarming, everyone has the right to live in an apartment on the third floor, but not everyone gets to have access to the fire escape. If the fire alarm is going off, who will let the deaf know?

Clearly enough is not being done, but not for lack of trying on part of these researchers in Japan…

Introducing, the Wasabi Fire Alarm

Wasabi Fire Alarm for deaf

Inside the smoke detector are spray cans of Wasabi Extract–you know the seemingly benign but deceptively potent horseradish paste served with sushi? Seems like an appropriate way to be alerted to a fire.

13 of 14 deaf sleepers, in a study, woke up within 2 minutes of the alarm going off. Participants helped determine the best concentration of wasabi in the spray to wake up subjects without effecting their eyes. I wonder if they gave participants complimentary ginger.

The Wasabi Fire Alarm has been in on the market since 2009 (recommended for hotels, homes, and hospitals alike!) and won the Ig Nobel Prize in 2011.

Okay, who’s craving sushi now? Seems like the just the way to celebrate their achievement!

Specially-abled pets

I’ve gotten a few complaints that Animal Week ended up not being as uplifting as they’d hoped. I understand, we are a tender-hearted folk and seeing such innocent and loving creatures suffering is hard. I find that animals’ dogged perseverance and chipper attitude and compassion should inspire us all.

National Specially-abled Pets DaySometimes they may need a little human intervention , or just our love. And that is what May 3rd celebrates: National Specially-abled Pets Day! (Notice it’s not National Disabled Pets Day). They have plenty more examples of how specially-abled pets are chasing their dreams.

handicappedpets.com beach shotAnd there are so many people more than happy to help them in that pursuit! For example, HandicappedPets helps people caring for elderly, injured or special needs pets and provides everything you could possibly need (including pet wheelchairs!).

HandicappedPets.com maked Walking Wheelchairs for all sorts of people of the animal persuasion, like Cris P. Bacon and Joshua the goat with bone disease:

Cris P. Bacon walkin wheels recipient

Joshua the goat with walkin wheels wheelchairSo…I don’t know. I think these specially-abled pets and the humans that love them are rather inspiring. There’s a lot of love there.

That said, if you would like to help pets with disabilities… Pets With Disabilities is a non-profit that rescues abandoned disabled pets and promots/facilitated disabled pet adoptions. Its pretty spectacular the lengths people go to for family.

Happy Monday friends!

Starstruck: Celebrity Pet Edition

Mr. Jon Stewart is the celeb of the day and his celebrity pet is Champ!

Jon Stewart's 3 legged pit bull ChampStewart has rescued 3 pit bulls including Champ, who has only 3 legs. Stewart is a huge dog lover and an advocate for pit bulls. He went so far as to respond to a Sarah Palin comment in 2008 about pit bulls and hockey moms like this:

One is unfairly maligned in spite of evidence that it is no worse than any other dog, and one is an artificial demographic that is no better or worse than any other mom. –Jon Stewart

With the new addition of Champ to his family and his public displays of love and patience towards his disabled dog (who understandably tires easily on walks), Stewart is rectifying yet another “maligned” demographic.

Maybe the handsome duo is out on a walk now! Happy Saturday!