A few weeks ago, I went on a short vacation with my family to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s such a beautiful place! When I was in Old San Juan, we saw a little hut with a fountain on the outside dedicated to a woman named George Wally Chavin.
The words on the plaque tell a sweet story. The plaque reads, “George Wally Chavin 1910-1966 Almost totally paralyzed, she excelled academically, performed athletically and in her prime swam 40 pool laps daily. During W.W.II, she met her love in this hut, then a military canteen. Serving as a volunteer Red Cross Hostess from her wheelchair. They were married and he neccessarily became her lifelong lifeguard, protector and lover. May Chavin’s beauty, intelligence and courage be an inspirational to all. Donated by Chavin’s Widower”
I love good, romantic stories!!! It’s especially cool for me to see a memorial set up for a person who used a wheelchair. So sweet!!!
In other news, I’m getting ready to work on book 5. My creativity is flowing again!
A couple weeks ago, my sister, Mandy and I were on our way out the door to get a coffee at a local coffee shop, Kaldi’s. There’s a small step coming out of the kitchen at my house. I forgot to tilt her wheels up when I helped her down the step. I wasn’t thinking. I guess I was used to my son’s stroller, which doesn’t need to be tilted back, the wheels just go straight down. She fell out of her chair and broke both of her legs. To top it off, she had a fatty embolism that punctured her lungs and was in the hospital and ICU all last week. It was very serious. Everyone was so worried. I couldn’t imagine life without my sister. I felt like I was going to choke on my heart.
Last Monday, she got to go home. I am so relieved.
Anyway, here is an interesting story about my sister and the accident. When she got back in her wheelchair right after it happened, she said she was fine. Since Mandy has spina bifida, she wouldn’t feel it if her legs were broken. Her one leg had a bump under it right under her knee. She insisted that it wasn’t broken because she touched it and didn’t turn white right away. (I think that was what she said.) So we went to meet my friend, Nichole at the Kaldi’s. We stayed for about an hour and a half. Then walked home.
On the way back, Mandy started to feel short of breath. She couldn’t push herself up my driveway. I pushed my son’s stroller up then helped her up. The bump on her leg started to look worse and worse. An hour later, my dad left work to take her to the hospital. That night, they took x-rays and found out one leg was broken. I felt terrible. How did I not know I was supposed to tilt her chair back? How many years have I been taking her around?
She sent me a text that night that said, “Yeah it’s broken.” I responded a few times. One of the next texts really says a lot about my sister read, “I forgot to say thanks for a great day!” I thought she was being sarcastic at first. No, she was serious. Despite 2 broken legs, she still had a great day. Wow!!!
So back to the injury, they didn’t find out the other leg was broken until Sunday. She couldn’t breath. The doctors originally thought she had pneumonia. Her breathing and pain had gotten worse, so Monday night they moved her to the ICU. They had her in a coma. She improved a few days later. They removed the ventilator and feeding tubes. On Thursday, the home nurse discharged her. She is going places again and transferring in to her bed and the couch from her wheelchair. YAY!!!
Now, she has a whole new outlook on life. I will have to have her tell you about it. Thank you everyone for all your prayers and wishes!!! We greatly appreciate it. It so great to have the real Wendy (Mandy) back on wheels!!
I’ve been working on a book for 180 Medical. I’m so excited about this one! It’s been fun creating whole new characters and seeing them come to life. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Ethan and Emma.
Ethan and Emma are twins, who have just learned to catheterize themselves. For the first time, they get to go on a field trip without their mom and dad. Hopefully, this story will empower children to learn to cath themselves. Elizabeth and I will have the story and images completed in the next couple weeks. I’ll let you know when and how it will be available when the time comes.
Good morning, Atlanta! Today is the first day the Abilities Expo. I’ve been up around 5 thinking of all the things I need to do to get ready for today. Print out signs, work on a powerpoint for my workshop on Saturday, listen to meditation tracks on my ipod, read a motivational book and the list keeps going. At 6 am, I went down to the hot tub with my ipod to listen to my meditation stuff. In the pool area, they were playing some old Frank Sinatra/Dean Martinesque music. YES!! It was like they knew I was coming down. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. YES!!
I felt a rush of excitement go through me. Then I thought, Am I ready to change the world? I think so. “I think so,” really? Hmmmm… I’ve been preparing for this for months and that was the response I got. Oh well. I was feeling really anxious/nervous yesterday, so I will take it.
I practiced reading Wendy on Wheels Takes a Stand to my nephew’s first grade class yesterday in Chattanooga, TN. I haven’t been to many private schools so the group was a little different than I am used to. It seemed like they had never seen or even heard of a child who uses a wheelchair before. There are probably many other classes like this. I really need to get out there more and visit as many schools as possible.
Someone has to teach the world to accept others regardless of abilities. Someone needs to show the world that people who use wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids or any thing of the sort are just like them. Someone needs motivate children with different abilities to have fun and enjoy life. That someone is me! And that someone would also love a cup from Starbucks or Caribou right now.
Recently, I went to see Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis with my sister, Mandy. The parking situation in downtown St. Louis was awful. I could either drop Mandy off at the front and have to walk a block or two by myself to the opera house, which isn’t exactly safe. The man directing parking said the only handicapped parking was at a meter. If I park at a meter, the curb is on the passenger side which means Mandy will not be able to transfer in to her chair. Even if Mandy had drove, I doubt the meter would allow enough space for her to transfer in to her wheelchair. As far as paying the meter, wouldn’t you think a wheelchair user should be allowed extra time to take care of their business? Considering the elevator or ramp maybe on the other side of the building, they may need extra time to get in and out of the car and the building and possibly to the restroom before the meter maid circles the block and joyously issues a parking ticket.
I tried to get in the “VIP” valet parking but was told I had to have a “VIP” placquard to use it. I guess our handicapped placquard didn’t make us VIP.
I found a lot for 15$ a block away by the Scottrade Center. We came up the block and the only accessible entrance was in the very front of the building so it was like we had to walk 3 blocks. ICK!! It was freezing cold.
The show was great. After the show, we made our way back to our car. The Peabody VIP valet had parked on the sidewalk so Mandy and I had to walk in the street, which didn’t seem very safe. I walked in front of Mandy’s chair so the oncoming traffic would see me first and not hit us. How horrible! Come on, St. Louis!! Come on, Peabody!!
I believe meters should be removed from the wheelchair parking spots and extra space allowed for the wheelchair to transfer out of the car. For special events, a wheelchair placquard should be considered VIP. That is the most safe way to accomodate individuals using wheelchairs.
For my friends who are wheelchair users, have you encountered this? How is the parking situation in your city? Any ideas on how to make it better?