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Wheelchair Accessible Beaches

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What’s better than a warm beach on a blustery winter day?

That’s where Wheelie’s thoughts are, dreaming about his new friends, Sheri and Terri. They were inspired by their mother to create Beach Crossers Mobility Rentals in Puerto Vallarta.

Here is what they think about Wheelie:

“We truly loved Wheelie. We felt just enough unresolved questions at the end of the book that we are eager to read the next adventure. We couldn’t tell for example if Wheelie was going to be magical. Would he take kids all over the world with magic, or would he have real life adventures with a variety of kids. You left the options brilliantly open. We also loved the human characters who seem to have just a bit of magical intuition. Again, leaving you to wonder where that will lead in the future.”

Wheelie delights in knowing that there are special people, like Sheri and Terri, who understand the desire for adventure, especially on vacation. They told Wheelie that many children visit their area for medical treatment. How wonderful to think children and adults in wheelchairs can enjoy a trip along the beach. Everything feels better with a little sunshine, sand and water.

Wheelie hopes to travel and meet Sheri and Terrie personally someday. If you are planning a vacation, check out Beach Crossers Mobility Rentals in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, in the beautiful Banderas Bay, Mexico.

Now Available: Wheelie is Sailing

img_5965Now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Wheelie is the story of a wheelchair in search of adventure. Gifted with special powers by Josef, the man who rescues and repairs him, he longs to help a child explore the world. Told from Wheelie’s point of view, the book is the first of a fiction, chapter book series for children aged six to nine and their parents. My target market is physically challenged children who do not see themselves as diminished; they only see obstacles requiring creative problem solving. The secondary audience is able-bodied children and parents desiring to understand what it is like to be different. Wheelie allows the reader to step inside the life of a wheelchair and his human and non-human friends, to know their thoughts, feelings and dreams. Wheelie presents a fresh viewpoint, not one conditioned by old norms.

Come adventure with us. Let us know what you think, especially if you have a wheelchair in your family.

 

Reconnecting Mind and Body

When something hurts, we want to eliminate it. As a child, my legs hurt a lot. I convinced myself that my life would be so much better if I could just cut my legs off and throw them away. So mentally, I know I did that. My self image existed from my waist up, I did not need or want my legs.

My hip replacement surgeries relieved me of my pain. But here was the tough part, convincing myself that my legs could now be my friend. How could I begin to love something that had hurt me so much? And how could I trust that they would not betray me again.

It has taken me a long time to search for these answers on how to reconnect. Things that have really helped  have  been alternative therapies: reiki, cranial-sacral, healing touch, acupuncture, meditation, body talk and others. I don’t claim to understand how they accomplish this goal, but I feel a difference. And for me I know I feel better because I care more about my whole body and its well being. And that I believe that I can do things, like mild yoga, that were out of reach previously.

I continue going to professionals for this healing. I accept that it has helped and I am thankful for the role it has played.

Have you had experiences with therapies that have assisted you in reconnecting painful body parts?

Why the Weight Gain after Joint Replacement

In an article by Tracey Bryant, The University of Delaware researchers  Joseph Zeni and Lynn Snyder-Mackler in the Department of Physical Therapy are doing research on Rehabilitation of Older Adults after Knee Replacement. Their findings showed a weight increase in 67% of those having  had knee surgery, compared with a control group.  Over a two year time period the average weight gain was 14 pounds.

Their findings included the following statement :

“For physical therapists and surgeons, the common thinking is that after a patient’s knee has been replaced, that patient will be more active,” says Snyder-Mackler. “But the practices and habits these patients developed to get around in the years prior to surgery are hard to break, and often they don’t take advantage of the functional gain once they get a new knee,” she notes.

For those of us that have endured long term chronic pain, have altered our lifestyles for years and were in great pain prior to surgery, I totally relate to this statement.  I know the gap that existed for me when I was suddenly pain free and I was supposed to trust that I would now be able to do things I could not do previously. I remember having to watch others do things, like get into a car. I had a developed a crazy distorted way of doing it. And what was strange was that I could watch another person do it but my muscles struggled to understand it. I had to go very slowly, trying to imitate the move and eventually I could do it. But it was as if there was a loud internal voice  telling me “You are really going to pay a pain price if you try to do that. You can’t do that”

This is the reason I continue to want to connect on this subject of chronic pain recovery. There is much more that someone needs to do to thrive. In addition to joint replacement surgery, we need other interventions. We have to reconnect with our selves as we were before the pain experience. Pain leaves a lot of debris that needs to be cleared to fully appreciate a new lifestyle.

Have you felt a disconnect in being able to appreciate your abilities post pain/surgery? How have you dealt with it?

Improving Chronic Pain Management

There is a wonderfully researched and clearly stated  article on Dr. Grinstead’s blog regarding improving Chronic Pain Management. The problems are listed; informed recommendations are made. Let’s move the information forward and spread the word about what needs to be done. Here is a link.

“We need to Improve Chronic Pain Management” Dr. S. Grinstead

The Secrecy of Pain

“The most exhausting thing in life…. is being insincere.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Talking to my sister the other night, she said to me that in our childhood, I gave no bodily clues that I was in such constant pain. I found that hard to believe. To me the pain was omnipresent. It was seldom not there. But somehow I had learned that it was best to not talk about it.What caused me to work so hard to hide my pain?

Did I hope that by not acknowledging it, it would go away?

I knew of no other person, besides an elderly aunt, who suffered with constant pain. I had complained on many occasions to my parents about how much my legs hurt. They were at a loss to know what to say or offer any relief.

I feel committed to conversing and hearing others converse and validate their pain experiences. It is only by trying to find the words to communicate the intensity of these experiences that we can move the understanding forward.  There may come a day when we have a socially acceptable way of communicating how we are feeling rather than spend so much energy hiding it.

Have you hid your pain? What causes you to do this?

Pain can be an Addiction

After my hip replacements, I felt blessed to be out of chronic pain. But gratitude and paralysis were the twins that visited me. How could I feel so happy to have a new painfree life but feel so incapable of knowing how to move and trust it? My pain had done some real harm. It had been an unwelcome tenant  for too long. My surgeon thought I was crazy when I asked him the name of support groups for those who had been in chronic pain and were now pain free.  I knew what I needed. There was more work to be done in my mind, body and spirit to be to reclaim myself.

A few years ago I discovered this great book FEARLESS CHANGE by Judy Saalinger of Lasting Recovery. When I saw that she recognized that Pain and Chronic Illness required the same recovery work as other addictions, my heart sang. She understands pain as an addiction. I invite you to check out her blog.  She has audio chapters from FEARLESS CHANGE there.

Reinventing Ourselves

Driving home, listening to NPR, they were discussing the current economic situation. It occured to me that these economic times and chronic pain have a lot in common. Both have robbed many of us of our livelihoods which can translate to self image. And we are forced to reinvent who we are, what we can and cannot do and what brings us joy.

Many years ago, before hip surgery, standing for any length of time was intolerable. I was a teacher. Teachers do a lot of standing. My pain forced me to think of other options. My backgound was in art, but the only way to have a secure income was to do something like teach. I had never considered the possibility of being a studio artist, who could sit and work.  But my pain caused me to open that door of possibility. And it was a wise move. I have had a successful second career as a practicing artist. In a way, I have my pain to thank.

Have you had to reinvent yourself? How have you done it? What were the biggest challenges?

Recuperation vs. Recovery

There is a great article in the Health section of the New York Times by Dana Jennings discussing the diference between recuperating and recovering from an illness. “Healing Physically, Yet Still Not Whole”

He touches on so many crucial aspects of how totally a chronic pain/disease experience can be and what is required to be yourself again.

Can you identify with aspects of his experience?

Painful Memories

We used to have a vise like this in the basement. I remember thinking that I could put my finger in the vise, crank the jaws of the vise to close around my finger and that the pain from that could not equal the pain that I felt inside my body. It would just be a distraction for my leg pain.

The horror of those thoughts frightens me  as I reflect back on it.  They were not thoughts I  could  share  with friends or family or especially parents.

What I did not know now was that it was not normal to have those thoughts.  There must have been some strange comfort in entertaining  those thoughts. It must have been a mental means of coping with my constant pain.

It warms my heart when I see the resources that are available to children and adults  today who are in chronic pain situations. I pray that those working with the pained patients understand the darkness of the thoughts that can occur.

Do you have any dark memories of trying to cope with your pain?