26 August 2011


Today I’m traveling to California (from Connecticut). It’s been a while since my last flight, since last August when I went to Miami. That was my first post-amputation flight. This is the second.
I give high marks to the Hartford, Connecticut, Bradley International airport. All of the staff were courteous, friendly and helpful. I got a wheelchair ride right away, no waiting, from the ticket counter to the gate. The Delta Airlines gate agent came over, introduced himself and offered his assistance. I visited the rest room (in wheelchair) and was happy to find a commodious handicapped stall. It took a bit of maneuvering to get the door closed (ultimately I used my cane), but once situated in the stall I had plenty of room to move around.
At the security checkpoint, I asked the TSA officer to be gentle. "My balance isn't very good," I explained, "last time, in Miami, I was almost knocked over by the officer." She smiled and agreed. The gate agent helped me board even before early boarding was announced. 
The airport has free wifi throughout, so I was able to download email and even do a little bit of writing while I waited. On board, the flight staff were friendly and helpful. I loosened the pin and slipped off my leg. I was wearing a dress, which made doffing my leg easier. It reseted under my skirt for the flight. I also brought a light shawl with me, planning to drape it over my lap if I needed more privacy.
All in all, I found that by allowing myself extra time, asking politely and giving people big smiles, it was not at all difficult soliciting help from others. Of course I hope that I always treat others kindly, but for this trip I was on my best behavior. It's true: a smile is contagious. Pass it on.

Oscar Pistorius

I thought that this had been settled, but according to an August 14, 2011 article on insidethegames.biz, the scientists that did the evaluation in 2008 have had a falling out and new information was released.
In this later article, posted April 16, 2011 on insidethegames.biz, a key scientist involved in the research refutes the conclusion by Brueggemann in the August 14 article.


17 August 2011

Get back to work!

I went back to work as soon as I could following my injury and amputation. It was helpful for me to have something other than my physical rehab to focus on. Because the work I do is primarily intellectual, such as research, analysis and writing, my schedule can be flexible. As long as I have a laptop and high speed internet access, I can work from home -- which was very convenient at the time since my mobility was limited. 
How does work fit into your life? Did you return to your previous job? Have you been out of work for a long time? Were your capabilities changed so much as a result of your amputation that you can't do work that you did before? Or did you ultimately return to the same tasks and career path? 
Please -- share your experiences. I look forward to hearing how you've gotten back to work.

02 August 2011

Support our supporters!

Being disabled sometimes means needing to ask for help. Unfortunately, those that help us -- family, friends, those that we love the most -- often feel that they don't have anyone to ask for help. Often they feel alone even though, according to the National Family Caregivers Association, they belong to a community of 65 million. Whether our reliance on others is temporary or permanent, a few months or life-long, it's important to remember that our supporters need our support too.

Whether full-time or part-time, it's important for caregivers to take a break now and then. Or better yet, to schedule a regular day off and allow themselves an indulgence from time to time. A walk in the park or an ice cream cone are inexpensive (and not too time-consuming) ways for caregivers to get some down time. A walk in the park with an ice cream cone -- and a dog -- is even better!

Most importantly, like us caregivers need someone to talk to who shares their questions and problems. It's common for caregivers to feel that they can't or shouldn't complain. "How can I complain about caring for someone I love? They need me so much," is often rationalization for subsuming their own needs and feelings. Caretakers need to be reassured that it's ok to have a bad day, or that it's ok to dislike emptying a chamber pot. It's hard work!

Just as there are support groups for amputees to share insight, advice and encouragement, support groups for caregivers provide a much-needed outlet to discuss common issues. Most communities now have local support groups for caregivers. Go online and google "caregiver support" plus the name of your town. Contact your local community center or senior center (even if you aren't a senior) and ask about local support groups. And there are lots of resources online. At medicare.gov, you will find information on a number of topics: financial help, legal assistance, planning and more, including this PDF download (printable brochure), "How can you care for yourself when you're caring for others?" The US Department of Health and Human Services' Agency on Aging offers online an explanation of the National Family Caregiver Support Program and links to additional agencies that conduct research and work to improve public policy.

In my quick search, I found some other more innovative online resources:
  • Caregiver.com: An online feature provided by Today's Caregiver magazine. Includes online access to the current issue of the magazine, archives of their newsletter, an advice blog, links to local resources and more.
  • Children as Caregivers: An article from caregiver.com about children and the physical and emotional stress kids experience as caregivers in a home with a disabled or chronically ill adult. Written by a registered nurse, it offers an interesting point of view that I hadn't considered.
  • Caregiving.com: A collection of blogs by individuals who are caretakers of parents, children, grandparents, siblings, spouses, etc. This is a great resource for caretakers to read about others' experiences and also share their own. The site also offers downloadable podcasts and an internet talk show.
  • Connecting Caregivers: three online resources provided by the National Family Caregivers Association include The Caregiver Story Project (you can share a story, read stories by others, and find a penpal), E-communities (linking caregivers in the same local area), and the Family Caregiver Forum (an online forum to ask and answer questions on a variety of related topics).
One of the nice things about all of these online resources is that you can look around and choose which one suits you best. You can take just a taste of each, watch from the sidelines, or jump right in. Have you found a particular resource that you enjoy interacting with (such as our own Amputee Empowerment Partners)? Please share it and your experience with us!