Thursday, May 31, 2012

No More Barriers

I attended a conference over the past two days called The Disability Health and Wellness Conference: You and your Life.  I look forward to sharing more details very soon but I wanted to share this video immediately. It had an amazing impact on the crowd.  People fell silent as we viewed it.

This video was shared with us by today's Keynote speaker from Barrier Free Manitoba. Manitoba is currently in the process of drafting accessibility rights legislation and today's speaker gave us an inspiring speech about the status of similar political changes around the word and about the waves of change we can expect as our population ages.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Disability Career Symposium

abiity axis logoOn May 17th I attended a really interesting type of job fair and career symposium. The Ability Axis Employment Expo is billed as "a celebration of employment and career opportunities for people with disabilities in our community".  There were balloons and other decorations, a space to buy merchandise such as shirts and books and an area to chat. Last year the event brought in over 700 participants and I am sure this year it was attended in even greater numbers.

The concept is that it is a place were employers can have booths and so can a whole lot of non-profit and social service organizations, and government agencies that are involved in supporting disabled consumers in living in the community.  They had seminars going on about job and work related issues. The website has a really good section on how to prepare before attending a job fair that is worth checking out for anyone interested in getting back into the job market.

There was a huge crowd with a variety of ages and issues and frankly it was overcrowded considering the special mobility needs in that space. It is a good thing for the conference showing growth, but it made for a tougher day for me. I had a great deal of difficulty keeping my balance with so many people swirling around me and all the loud sounds of so many people also bothered my ear and my balance. I did a quick walk around the job fair area to get the layout of the place but I felt unable to go back later.  I also learned during the sessions that things like the location I choose to sit is crucial for me to get the most out of these sessions. I need to be in the left side of the room and viewing toward my right. I wound up getting through the maze of people too slowly and got a spot on the right. The room was wider than long and the video screen at the front was to the left of the room, a person signing in the middle, the speaker at a podium to the left and a whole lot of people wiggling in between me and the speaker at the front.  I sat with my eyes closed for a good part of the speeches  in order to try and minimize the nausea.

The two sessions I attended were both wonderful. 

The first seminar featured Denise Bissonnette who is a very lively and encouraging international speaker. She speaks with passion about finding what you love to do as a foundation in your job-hunt.  She has several books out and I bought one that is a workbook for people new to a work place but it is used in pre-employment training sessions. Yes I got her to sign it!! She also has a book of poetry out and I found a YouTube clip of her reading one of her poems. It gives a taste of what vivacious person she is.  Her web page has a useful archive of her free newsletters.

The second session I attended was with Marianne Petrachek, a speaker who talked about the legal issues related to disclosure of disabilities in the employment process and rights and responsibilities of both the employee and the employer. It was very informative and I really learned a lot. I was making a lot of assumptions and now I know the facts about disability employment rights in Manitoba.

I had lunch with two of the ladies I met at the computer class last January who were also attending the event. It was great catching up with how they are doing and hearing about their successes in getting some job experience. We are going to meet up again in a few weeks and see if we can find a few others from the class to have a bit of a "class reunion".

I am intending on going to another two day conference this week called Disability, Health and Wellness Conference: You and Your Life.  There are a few things I will do differently. One major change is that I am taking one of my daughters along to act as a personal aid. I admit that I spent too much time at Ability Axis stuck and unable to get around, and in the end I was too exhausted and nauseated to finish off the day. This time I am admitting that I NEED help. I will also find a way to get away from crowds and have more rests. I will also bring more money so I can buy more books!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Comfort Food?

 If you break your leg your definition of comfort food might just turn out to be Rice Krispie squares. The younger sisters went to the store to purchase all the essentials -- like marshmallows and sprinkles.

We are taking turns staying at Liz's house so we can take care of her. She only lives a mile from our place so it is not hard for us to go back and forth from our home to hers. She is on at least 2 weeks of bed rest because of the concussion and the broken leg. We are trying to make her meals she might enjoy and for the most part I am aiming at nutritious food with lots of fruit, veggies and extra calcium. 
She has a great kitchen to cook in so that makes it easier.


Pictures taken with my iPhone.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Broken Daughter

scared cartoon person on a ladder
My eldest daughter broke her leg.

She was on top of a ladder doing home maintenance and fell....

We got a call on Wednesday that she was taken to the hospital by ambulance and my husband and I got there as fast as we could. Apparently she was there for a about 5 hours already with her head and back immobilized. She was treated for a concussion, and it was determined that she has a break just below her knee cap and a chip in the ankle.

We got there in time to watch them sew up a gash in her shin and put a back slab splint/cast on her poor swollen leg from her foot to the top of her thigh. There was a quick- here you need to rent these crutches, sign this contract and yelling that we needed to get her out into the hall even before she was dressed -- we need the room for a serious emergency and it is the only one where someone in not hooked up to monitors.  It would have been a lot easier to have been "out of there" if she didn't have to wait to get her leg stitched (6 hours) and wait for the crutches to appear and then find someone to help her get clothes on over the broken leg.

This was a Wednesday afternoon and she was taken to a hospital at the other side of town and we were told that was the location because it was the only one doing Xrays and casting at the time. Seriously?  Our city had a population of 700,000 with about 7 hospitals and she was taking up the only available emergency room space in the city? There has to be a better way of organizing and using our hospital resources than this!

She goes to see an orthopedic surgeon in 10 days and we are hoping she will just be put into a solid cast then and surgery will not be necessary.

She has been so excited over  an upcoming trip to work for several months in New Zealand but now it will have to be delayed much to her dismay. I am confident that it will all work out but in the meantime her life is on hold.....

Ladder Safety Information

Friday, May 11, 2012

Travel to the Peace Garden

I traveled with several members of my Girl Guide Units (ages 13 to 16 ) to join with Girl Scouts of America for a weekend camp experience at the Peace Garden Park.  Girl Scouts are celebrating their 100th year and we joined them for an Arbour Day celebration.

The park is located between the Canadian and US borders and is managed jointly by both countries and their park services. It was pretty cool that the US girls never had to cross into Canada and we did not have to cross the US border, but we still got to spend the weekend working and playing together.

We had a great time and the facilities were great. We slept indoors and I was happy to find that I had a nice room to sleep in with 2 twin beds and real mattresses.

We sang songs and did skits in a performance hall, we did tie dye pillowcases, we planted trees, we toured the sights and museums of this park that was created in 1932. We were invoved in a service project,  and had a workshop with a photographer. The older girls from both countries got together to roast marshmallows.

I was pretty darn exhausted for days afterward, but I wouldn't have missed this camp for anything!

This memorial is for Game Wardens and Natural Resource Officers who lost their lives in the course of duty. It is located at the North American Game Warden Museum.

 The 9/11 Memorial
Ten steel Girders from the Word Trade Center were installed at the International Peace Garden.


The Peace Tower 
120 feet high with two of the columns located in Manitoba, Canada and two in North Dakota, USA. The columns are separate and independent but located on a common base which is intended to represent democracy.

150 girls tie dyed pillow cases

 The girls and leaders planted about 700 trees. (I took pictures)

We made a lot of new friends.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What a Lot of Blogging!

What a month this had been!

All this blogging has been a lot of work! I think I probably overwhelmed some of my regular readers and few of you writer/ editor types were probably not too thrilled with viewing all of my baby writing assignments.

I can write a mean lab report or a research based science paper. Creative writing? Who me? I skipped that part in high school. I started creating web pages with an interest in the technical aspects and grew to love creating the overall design of documents and web pages. Written content was never my major concern.

I think this experience has been good for me. I really feel like I have loosened up a bit and maybe shared more that I would have without the daily practice. To some extent I was surprised at the range of emotions that certain challenges brought out of me and found that it was a cathartic experience.

I liked producing a variety of post styles. I also enjoyed the challenge of creative freedom within a few guidelines. I even learned about an assortment of online resources. One of the posts involved producing a MadLib poem using an online generator.  The resulting post is kind of odd, but what a useful challenge that turned out to be! I found web pages with lists of parts of speech because I was running out of adverbs. I wanted to use more health related words so I opened a thesaurus for the first time in decades. There was an option to practice editing the resulting poem to try and improve it. All this just had to be good for me as a budding writer!

Through the WEGO Health Activists Writing Challenge I also learned a few things about being an advocate for a health concern. I met new people, and I read lots of different blogs about a variety of health interests.  I signed on to twitter and followed a twitter chat for health activists. I joined Skype in order to be part of a discussion group. I did not find many other participants who were dealing with brain injuries, but I did find a group of bloggers who have formed a community for people with vestibular disorders.  It has been great chatting about issues related to that aspect of my disabilities. I believe that I will now be a more informed blogger, and better able to advocate for people with health concerns in the future.

 Now what?
 I certainly won’t be posting every day but I might post a little more frequently.
I want to work on some of my photography skills this month. I tried, briefly, to take a college Photoshop course only three months after I got sick. I think it is finally time to pick up where I left off.  I will have a few picture posts to share in the near future.

I certainly wasn’t confident that I would last all 30 days but…


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