Saturday, February 23, 2008
A new direction
Physical Therapy continues; my last session was at the ARC (acute rehab clinic) where I began the long recovery after being released from the burn unit over two years ago. Sarah, the PT from the ARC, had come up with the idea that we should see if I could stand and play the Nintendo Wii. It was a good endurance test, although I can do it, we found that it was very hard on my back. I'm not sure what we're doing this next Friday, but I'm sure Renee will think up something else to test my abilities. I have a Massage Therapy appointment after my PT session this week. It's gonna feel great!
I've also continued to work with the organization that is fighting for the Prosthetic Parity bills. These are the bills that I testified for in the state Senate and House committees. They continue to gain support. However, if you are an Indiana resident and haven't emailed your Senator or Representative to vote in favor of them, I'd appreciate it if you would. Senate bill 269 and House bill 1140 will raise the cap that insurance companies are required to pay for prosthetic coverage. You can email you state legislators directly from the in.gov website.
I've recently taken on a role as a confirmation leader for the youth at our church. It's quite a time commitment, but it also gives me a chance to connect more with the youth. At first I was hesitant to do this but, I feel as if I'm being called to be involved in more than just work this year.
A while back I mentioned that there were some things going on in my life that I couldn't write about. One of those things was about work. As many of you know I have an hour commute to and from work. The drive is wearing on me and I'm finding my work day to be more exhausting each week. By the time my days off roll around I'm too tired to be productive at home. In addition to this it is emotionally draining for me to see my staff struggling with the volume of business and not be able to help physically.
For these reasons I began working with a career counselor several months ago to help me determine what other kinds of jobs my skills would lend themselves to. I really enjoy speaking to the PT classes at UIndy, talking to new amputees who are just starting down this path, and lobbying for issues like the Prosthetic Parity bills. It is my hope to find a new direction with my career that will turn my "disability" into a strength.
With these things in mind I recently approached my Vice President with the need to find a better "fit" in regards to my job. She heard what I was saying clearly and, instead of brushing it off, has taken my request to others within the organization. I'm happy to report that they are actively trying to find a role for me that will be better suited to my current situation. There's a big movement in my organization for diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities. They seem to want me to be involved with this effort and, with any luck, I'll be able to report some progress soon.
In the event that they are not able to find a new role for me I will have to start looking for something else. I need to be in Indianapolis. The drive is becoming far to difficult and, potentially, dangerous. However, I've made the decision that if I have to search for new employment it will not be within the hospitality industry. As I said, I need to find something that embraces the "disability" and gives me the opportunity to help make life easier for people facing similar challenges. I feel that this is the direction I am meant to follow.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Progress with the canes
On Friday I had my therapy session. For the most part we worked on static standing. We also went to the therapy unit kitchen and worked on reaching, cutting vegetables, and washing dishes while I was standing up. There wasn't much progress with the static standing. I can do it, but only for a brief period of time (45seconds to a minute and a half or so). The interesting thing is that as long as I can rest a few fingers on a stable object I can stay up until I get tired.
The practice in the kitchen was useful, at least to prove that I can do it. My knife skills didn't seem to be hampered too much by my lack of balance (or my lack of practice)! Reaching was fine as long as I didn't have to reach too high. If there's something on a top shelf it's gotta be at the front or else I'll never find it. Same issue with things on the bottom shelf. By the time I was done washing the dishes I needed a shower due to how much I was sweating!
In regards to normal activity, I'm using the canes more and more in the community. The only time I switch to the crutches is when I'm dealing with longer distances or dangerous obstacles like ice and snow. One of the drawbacks to the canes is that I still can't move as fast with them, although I am starting to move better with them. Another big drawback is that the longer I walk with the canes the more my hands hurt. My balance is getting better and I'm putting more weight on my legs, but the pressure on my hands still gets to me. I do wear special gloves that have padding to protect my palms but the pressure gets through those after a few minutes. Of course, the biggest drawback continues to be the stability of the canes but there is improvement here as well.
Before I close, I want to share one recent experience with you. I was at a gas station, in a fairly safe area, late at night (around 1am). I was using my canes and, while standing by the car as it filled with gas, looked up and saw a fairly average looking guy walking towards me. He was kinda scruffy looking, was wearing a dirty denim jacket, and a baseball cap. As he approached I was between the car and the gas pump. I took a quick look at the area and realized that nobody else was around. As he walked between my car and the pump, effectively blocking the drivers side door, I tried to get a read from his face. His expression was blank. I have to tell you that at this point I was scared.
As a black belt in martial arts, even without the use of my legs, I knew that I at least had a weapon in my canes (which are really heavy). However, I was still really scared. He stopped infront of the door and extended his hand, introduced himself as a nurse who has worked with some unilateral (one limb) amputees. He wanted to tell me how amazed he was to see me walking on two prostheses. I can't describe the feeling of relief that went through me as I shook his hand. We talked for about ten minutes while I explained my views on being an amputee and he continued to tell me what an inspiration I am. As I drove home I thought about the experience, pleased to know that I had made a positive impact on another stranger, but also realizing that I can't put myself in that kind of situation again.
Hopefully I'll be able to write again soon. As always things are pretty crazy, but I now have several things that I want to share with everyone. For now, I'll just say this, if you didn't watch it, THE GIANTS BEAT THE PATRIOTS!