THAT GIRL KEEPS FALLING ON HER BUTT

fall-down-stairs.jpgMy balance, isn’t.

So when I head straight toward the bushes at the entrance to my building it isn’t surprising.

Bushes are a trigger in picturing my first (and only) experience as a new MSer in an MS support group.   Recommended by my neurologist, the group experience was meant to help me cope with the way-past-due-diagnosis of my disease.

Instead, it freaked me out.

Walkers, wheelchairs, canes, crutches – and me, invisibly disabled, in high heels looking at a future unable to wear them.

Big time downer.

Especially when a guy lost his balance and landed on his butt in a bush. That he laughed it off was horrifying.

I understand, now, the reason he laughed.  Not only is laughing at the faux pas around the commonplace common, but situations that elicit that kind of response are also all too common.

The reality he must’ve experienced then is one I now share.  Today I laugh, too.  Because it’s truly comical at times and also because laughter is socially reassuring.  “It’s alright, folks.  I’m alright.  Nothing to see here, move along.”

Knock wood, I’ve yet to experience anything dire in my navigational mistakes.  Embarrassment to be impaired in public is what hurts. Most of us don’t know what to do in a situation like that.  I put lots of effort into looking unimpaired, but when I catch sight of myself in a shop mirror, the reality of how I walk, for example, isn’t normal at all. 

When I use an assistive device, a rollator in my case, parents scold their children for staring.  I’ve yet to hear mommy or daddy use the opportunity as a teaching moment to talk about disability; rather it’s “don’t stare” before hurrying away.  No wonder society hasn’t made much progress in accepting the disabled community who, except to children, remain largely invisible.

Recently, Disability.gov blogged an article about steps to take when being newly disabled.

It’s worth a read, especially if you’re not.

Specializing in couples work, Kathe Skinner is a Colorado Marriage & Family Therapist and Relationship Specialist.  She works especially those couples where invisible disability is present.   For over 10 years, she and husband, David, have been Certified Instructors for Interpersonal Communication Programs .  Find the schedule for their next Couple Communication Workshop at http://www.beingheardnow.com© 2014 Being Heard

CHOOSING TO BE DISABLED.

Even if the claims that candy causes behavioral problems are anecdotal, one thing is for sure:

An American diet full of sugar is a significant cause of childhood obesity.

But it tastes so darned good.

The Centers for Disease Control report that 1 in 6 children between the ages of 2 and 19 is obese. Aside from the psychosocial aspects of being bullied or having no date for the 8th grade dance, there are significant health risks.

Like asthma, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and, as researcher Ashleigh May says, mental health problems.

Sugar induces tolerance, meaning the more you eat the more you need to feel satisfied. What’s recommended for children’s sugar intake is a mere 6-9 teaspoons a day while what’s consumed is at least 4 times that, Halloween candy not included.

At some point, people can make choices about how their lives unfold; whether or not choices are made is harder to pull off than it is to suggest.

Most of us who are disabled, invisibly or not, wouldn’t choose disability to be part of our lives. How horrifying is it that some obese people have that option and choose otherwise.

Although she was a chunk-of-a-baby, Kathe Skinner didn’t grow up that way. A Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Relationship Coach, Kathe specializes in working with couples, especially those when invisible disability is part of the relationship mix. She and husband David reside in Colorado with their two cats, Petey and Lucy. Lucy and David could stand to pass on a second helping of kibbles.

LOVE ME, LOVE MY CHAIR

Rachel1A couple of weeks ago I introduced Rachelle Friedman to those of you who don’t know her.   If you recall, she became wheelchair-bound due to a freak accident at her bachelorette party.  I promised to tell you more…

Not to be cheesy, but Rachelle and her husband, Chris, are nothing short of inspiring.  They never chose to be in the spotlight, but they are.  Their lives together have a level of transparency they’d never planned, where privacy doesn’t look anything like it used to.

The very act of being married is a prime example.

He stayed with her?  Actually married her?  No shit!  Uh, what about sex?  They don’t “do it”, do they?

The answers are all “yes”.

Much is made of Chris’ staying with her.  It’s not just that she had an accident, ended up in a wheelchair, and except for that everything else stayed the same.  Rehab was long and painful.  With paralysis, her body changed and she’s plagued by low blood pressure, which makes activity dicey.  And even though she can’t move her legs, nerve pain still exists — something medication doesn’t completely take away.  So why does Chris stay?  “The extra hardships don’t outweigh his love,” Rachelle will tell you.  It’s not that he “stayed with a girl in a chair that makes him great.  It’s that he’s loving and giving no matter what.”

I hope people are inspired by our love, not because of my disability.   – Rachelle Friedman  rachelle2

Rachelle doesn’t understand the fuss that’s made of her everyday life, either.  “Just because I wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, work out every now and then and play sports with a disability…does not make me inspiring.”

One of the biggest changes has been in Rachelle’s career path, and the corresponding change in life plans because of it.  She can no longer teach aerobics, nor can she be a reliable 9-5 employee.  This young woman likes to inspire and also to educate.  She is registered with a speaker’s bureau and has been doing some cool speaking gigs.  If money was not a roadblock, wants to be a coach, helping other people.  With the loss of that second income, the couple struggles financially.

You could call her the Queen of Lemonade, but I think there’s more to Rachelle than that.  I’m sure there are moments…   But she is blessed with talent, beauty, and drive, so Rachelle would be a winner no matter what.  That she has a wheelchair in the way, well, that’s just a lotta lemons.

Visit Rachelle at www.facebook.com/rachelleandchris and on Twitter at @followrachelle.  Watch for her book next year!

Kathe Skinner is a Relationship Coach, Certified Relationship Expert and Marriage & Family Therapist in Colorado where she conducts communication workshops for couples, pre-married’s, the invisibly disabled, and the over 50 crowd.  Kathe enjoys collaborating with KatheSkinner marriage & family therapistother professionals in order to reach more relationships affected by hidden disability.  She sits on the Executive Board of the Invisible Disabilities Association, is a regular contributor to Disability.gov., and is an ardent-and-natural-teacher-without-a-classroom.  She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for over 30 years.  More about Kathe at www.BeingHeardNow.com.