Friday, November 19, 2010
Adaptability, and Funny Stories
There are several disabilities represented among the members of the executive committee. Two members are blind, one member is deaf, one has diabetes, and several of us have mobility impairments. Normally there is a sign language interpreter present to allow easy communication, as many of us are not fluent in sign language. We were ready to start our meeting, but the interpreter had not arrived. I witnessed an amazing thing, as one of the members who is blind, who has some training in sign language, held the hands of the member who is deaf to feel her signs and attempt to translate for her. This worked to a limited degree, but his abilities were not sufficient to translate for the entire meeting. To get around this we brought in a lap top so that someone who was pretty good at typing could transcribe our discussion so that the member who is deaf could follow the conversation. The lack of a translator still limited her ability to easily give input, but when she had something to say we were able to figure it out.
In the middle of trying to sole the translation issue we placed calls to the two individuals who would be participating from home. One person answered, the other one didn't. Twenty minutes later, while we were in the middle of discussing some important council business, our conversation was interrupted by an automated voice that said "you have reached your recording limit..." We all looked around, confused about what this new interruption was. The fact that we received one persons voice mail had gone unnoticed as a result of the chaos that was going on while we tried to resolve the translation issues! As we all realized that we had left a twenty minute voice mail for one of the council members the tension in the room finally broke and we all started laughing. One member, the person with diabetes, was laughing so hard, and for so long, that several of us began worrying that something was wrong with his blood sugar. In the middle of a fit of laughter he took out his monitor and confirmed for us that his sugar was fine, he just really needed to laugh!
We were discussing some pretty important things that day, which we weren't able to reach full agreement on so, after going an hour over our planned meeting time, we wound up scheduling a second executive committee meeting for the following day. That meeting also ran long, but we were able to come up with a solution to the issues that we were struggling with.
My weekend was fast, but fun. My old roommate came over on Saturday, and between the two of us we reorganized my garage and attic. The garage usually gets some attention at least once a year, but the attic has needed some serious work for several years. (It's very aggravating to me to not be able to get into the attic. I really appreciate Jamie's willingness to spend several hours up there getting things straightened out.) On Sunday, Sarah and I went to the Colt's game. (Ticket's courtesy of the People's Burn Foundation.) This is the first time that I've attended an event at Lucas Oil Stadium, and I have to admit that I was very impressed with how easy it was for me to get around. I had no idea what I would be dealing with in regards to distances, so I used the wheelchair, which was a good thing because it allowed me to enjoy the event without being physically exhausted!
My week began with a Board of Director's meeting at accessABILITY. Thankfully that meeting ran short. Tuesday was spent trying to catch up on some personal things that I hadn't been able to focus on for a while. Wednesday was another big meeting day. Wednesday morning I left the house with plenty of time to get to my meeting, and it felt good to not be in a rush. Then, after I had driven about 5 or 6 blocks away from my house I realized that I had forgotten some thing that I needed for my meeting, and had to turn around. Luckilly I had left the house early enough, and hadn't gone too far, so turning around wasn't much of a problem. I still had time to hit a drive through for breakfast and coffee on my way to my first meeting of the day, which happened to be the full council meeting for the MACD. When I arrived I looked at my coffee, which I never have time to finish and it always gets cold because I have to leave it in my car (can't carry coffee when using two crutches), so this time I decided to see if I would be ok using one crutch and carrying the coffee inside with me. (I've never done this before.) I was able to shift my wieght, hold on to the coffee, and get the door to the meeting room open with very little difficulty. I just had to becareful when dealing with the door, and when I got to my seat. I can't express how great it felt to actually be able to enjoy my coffee instead of leaving it in the car!
During the executive committee I had mentioned to our liason to the Mayor's Office that I was having issues with the company that picks up my trash. It's not a major issue, because there are people who help me with this, but I was curious if anything could be done. You see, last fall my garbage man had seen me struggling to bring my garbage can up from the curb. He stopped the truck and helped me get it back to the garage. After that he started bringing the garbage can up to the garage every week after he dumped the trash. I called Waste Management (the company that picks up my trash) to let them know how much I appreciated this. Two weeks later that person was no longer on my route and I'm back to struggling to bring the garbage can in, or I leave it out there until my neighbor comes home from work and he brings it up. It's not a major issue, because I have help, but it is annoying.
At the full council meeting our liason to the Mayor's Office looks over at me and says. "I spoke with the Department of Public Works, have they called you about your solid waste?" Everyone in the room got quiet. Finally someone said "I don't think I want to know..." Our liason says "Jeremy's been having a problem with his can..." Everyone starts laughing. Once things quited down again I explained the situation.
After the MACD meeting was over I then headed to Wishard for a Burn Survivor Support Group. I was a little early, and was hoping that there might be some patients who would like to speak with me, but there weren't any patients who were ready for that yet, so I visited with some of the nursing and therapy staff. Always nice to see them.
When the support group was over I headed to accessABILITY to help pack up some of our materials (we're moving to a new building this weekend) and wait for my next meeting to begin. The day ended with a meeting to discuss Inclusion Fest and the Wheel-A-Thon. Some of you may remember the Wheel-A-Thon from earlier this year. It's our major fund raising event for the year. Well, in 2011 we are expanding the Wheel-A-Thon to include the "Inclusion Fest"! We intend to make Inclusion fest the premier disability awareness/education event in Indiana. If anyone is interested in volunteering to help with the planning and execution of these events, please let me know. In fact, accessABILITY needs volunteers to help with many different efforts, so if you are looking for a volunteer activity, please keep us in mind!
The past week has left me feeling exhausted. Yesterday was my first day home in a long time and I was so tired that I didn't get much accomplished. I have a tendency to forget how much energy it takes for me to walk (400% more energy than a person with both of their natural legs). It's important to remind myelf of that from time to time. Not to use as an excuse to do less, but so that I don't beat myself up for taking time to rest. Now, I have some other things that need to get done today, but I think I'm going to go catch up on some of the shows on my DVR instead...
Congratulations on the hot coffee, too :) Sometimes the everyday things are the real victories. Hope you catch up soon.