Saturday, June 25, 2011

Accessible Overnight Campout

I went on an overnight camp this week with the Independent Living Resource Center in Winnipeg.
The canoe and swimming dock and the group use facility in the background.

 I read about this overnight event  last year, but I really wasn't sure it was suitable for me. Beginner camping skills? Heck, I have as of this week completed 20 years as a Girl Guide leader and have the pins to prove it. I have taken endless training about camping and spent more nights camping with groups of kids that I like to think about.  Why on earth would I need a beginners Guide to camping? At the same time I have been really missing camping over the past few years and I was looking for a a new way to get out there again.

I saw that they were having a day with an orientation to their summer programs so I went to it mainly because I wanted to learn about their picnic and outdoor community walk days. They had a pretty full house and when they discussed  basic camping skills I felt like I had a lot to add on certain topics and thought that I might even be a bit of help at the camp. On the other hand I also realized that there is a lot I don't know about making camping accessible for myself or others. I think there might be interest in the future for SAM members (Stroke Recovery Association of Manitoba) to go camping and we regularly have special needs girls in Guiding that we take to camp.

After my recent camping adventure with Guiding I realized that, while I am doing very well with my recovery, I am still not able to carry my own weight at camp and I most certainly could not camp without a lot of support. What else could I learn about camping with a disability? I handed over the incredibly low fee of $25 and filled out the paperwork.

We had about 12 people camping who were "consumers", a few caregivers and a whole lot of staff. It turned out that this is a bit of a staff summer celebration too with some of the staff's family members camping as well.

Transportation was provided to the camp site that is just outside the city limits in a great educational nature reserve called Fort Whyte Alive

When I got there I was shown where the "girls cabin" was. It is very nice with 5 bunk-beds and was heated and had electricity. There was a wheelchair ramp to get in and it was not that hard for the wheel chair users to maneuver around in there. The attached bathroom with a composting toilet was another matter in terms of accessibility, but the lodge space  just a few yards away has an accessible toilet.

The fire-pit and central hub for the camp
Once I got my stuff dumped on my bunk I headed outside to sit around the fire pit and listen to a truly excellent guitar player. He played folk style songs for a hour without stopping. ( or peeking at music!)
One of the staffs little 10 year old boys told me that he is working on learning guitar and I told him me too! We agreed that by next year we will be able to play a song or two at the campfire! lol

The meals were good with opportunities to cook wieners over the fire or to roast marshmallows to make smore's.

I went sailing and absolutely loved it.. (balance issues aside--  it was still fun and I can't wait to go again). I rode around on an electric golf cart to get from place to place, toured the nature center and the little gift shop and I even hiked a little bit. I was hoping to canoeing in the evening but it began to rain and was just kind of cold and yuckky so I settled for staying on the deck and watching a few other brave people canoe.

Cabins in background and tent camping was also an option.
I talked to a lot of new people and even traded a few email addys with people that I hope to keep in touch with.
I found it very different to camp with this group compared to Girl Guides or Scouting. In Guiding the kids grow up getting different skills and there is an expectation for HOW things should be done. It is great to have our "Scouting Skills" but it is nice to see how the other side does it for a change. It was wonderful to be the participant for a change and not the person who has to be up worrying about broken tents or getting breakfast started. I am definitely going to try and go again next year.

 Below is information from the Independent Living Resources Website:
This Camping Trip is for People with Disabilities:
• Who want to learn or improve their camping skills
• Who want to have a fun time and participate in activities
such as sailing, hiking, setting up a tent, cooking, camp
safety and fishing
• Who want to sleep lakefront in a tent or accessible cabin
• Who are able to follow the Independent Living Philosophy
and can direct their own care 
(two days, one night)
Location: Fort Whyte Alive
Cost: $25

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Swim" by Jacks Mannequin

I attended some group therapy sessions with a Kathy, a terrific social worker/ counselor. Kathy used a mixed music CD to inspire us and this is one of the songs she shared with us. Music keeps having a pivotal role for me. I love to sing or play music, I like to make slide shows coordinating my photos to music, and sometimes I find myself humming a tune over and over and I am not even sure why. I often realize later that the lyrics that go with the songs are directly related to issues I am trying to sort out in my mind.  This song has been stuck in my head lately.

Today would have been my Dad's 92nd Birthday. My Dad knew how to keep going and how to look for "the brighter days" when facing adversity in his life.

Andrew McMahon, of the band Jack’s Mannequin, had Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (ALL). Fortunately Andrew had a successful stem cell transplant from his sister.
In an effort to initiate change and provide a voice for the generations of young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer, Andrew founded the Dear Jack Foundation in July of 2006.                                                               

Check out the Bands page too.

I love this song!

From the album The Glass Passenger.

You gotta swim
Swim for your life
Swim for the music that saves you
When you're not so sure you'll survive

You gotta swim
And swim when it hurts
The whole world is watching
You haven't come this far
To fall off the Earth

The currents will pull you
Away from your love
Just keep your head above

I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fired at me from a gun
Cracking the armour, yeah

I swim for brighter days
Despite the absense of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
I swim

You gotta swim
Through nights that won't end
Swim for your family, your lovers
Your sisters and brothers and friends

Yeah you gotta swim
For wars without cause
Swim for these lost politicians
Who don't see their greed is a flaw

The currents will pull us
Away from our love
Just keep your head above

I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fired at me from a gun
Cracking the armour, yeah

I swim for brighter days
Despite the absense of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
I'm not giving in
I swim

You gotta swim
Swim in the dark
There's no shame in driftin'
Feel the tide shifting
And wait for the spark

Yeah you gotta swim
Don't let yourself sink
Just find the horizon
I promise you it's not as far as you think

The currents will drag us away from our love
Just keep your head above

Just keep your head above

Just keep your head above

Just keep your head above

Friday, June 10, 2011

Job Rehabilitation?

I have come such a long way but things are just not quite the same as they used to be anymore, and I don't know what I can do for work now.

I had an intake appointment yesterday with a government sponsored  Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

I am nearing the end of my time in occupational therapy.  My therapist and my social worker helped me fill out a ton of paperwork to see if I could get into this program. I had to find a lot of information about my past work and education and I had to go and get a recommendation from my doctor as well as from my rehab program team.  We got the applications in months ago and I got a letter booking me for this intake appointment  to see IF I am a good for for the program.

I want to wake up in the morning and have somewhere to go where I will be useful and have a bit of structure to my day.  A paycheck wouldn't hurt either.

I have not worked for a very long time now. I stayed home to take care of family members including my father through his long battle with congestive heart failure. After he passed away I went back to college aiming at a new career doing website development and  design. I was taking my time and enjoying my classes as a part time student. I had only 2 courses left when I got sick. I tried to go back and take one of the courses a few months after I got out of the hospital, convinced that I really didn't have any cognitive problems and that I would soon get over this health glitch. Nope. I needed to drop the class; I was exhausted and lost, and I didn't know what was going on in the class.

The intake person for the Vocational Rehab Program was very nice. She said there was no reason to assume that I would not qualify for the program but that they were not actually sending out confirmations until the very end of August!

She explained that they will do some testing to look for my new strengths and interests, They can combine that with my past work experience and help me come up with a plan for getting employment. They can help with eveything from writing resumes to sending me for training and to job placements so I can get some experience and references.

All and all I feel pretty good about it. At first I was NOT happy about having to wait until the fall-- I wanted to get on with it as soon as occupational therapy is over. Now I am thinking that maybe I have worked so hard at occupational therapy over the past two and a half years that I deserve a summer vacation!

clip art from Philip Martin

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Garden Therapy

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.  ~Proverb

Spring brings new beginnings and fresh starts.
The outpatient therapy section of the hospital is next to a geriatric care center, and between the two facilities there is a lovely little garden designed for the geriatric patients and staff.  
I have always loved photography and I was even attending college studying website development and graphic design before I got sick. In the past few weeks I have found myself taking the camera to my appointments and wandering into the garden to take pictures. I find myself setting the cane down, and forgetting all about it and my limitations. I am crouching on the ground, climbing around objects and getting a real workout while trying to take a few pictures. It is my own private garden version of occupational and physiotherapy while I wait for my official hospital appointments. I am thinking about making a set of note cards or a photo-book to give to the geriatric center. 

I am ready to start creating again.

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