An Adapted Van: James Bond Would Love It

bond mosaic

Life is a never-ending series of adjustments, isn’t it?

Recently a friend who had polio tore and injured her shoulders. The damage was so extensive that continuing to walk with crutches is far too dangerous for her to do, not to mention, way too difficult. Arms and shoulders can only drag paralyzed legs around for so long. Upper limbs doing all the work can simply wear out after 65-plus years.

Now it’s time for her to think about driving a car in a whole new and different way. Crutch-walking doesn’t work anymore. And she still wants to drive independently. So, her new option is riding her scooter into a car, then transferring to the driver’s seat, rather than walking up to the driver’s seat the way she always did.

It is extremely costly to purchase the kind of vehicle she very much needs, but it is possible. A new or even used adapted van can cost over $60,000.00. Converting a used van can cost around $30,000.00 and take 16 weeks.

Having a disability is often a crazy-expensive proposition. That’s why folks sometimes look to others for financial support when times get tough. Finding financial assistance isn’t easy, but it is possible. One woman recently found help for a new adapted van on the Gofundme website. Now she can continue to work and contribute to the community. Luckily, my family helped me buy mine, awhile back.

If you ever have a chance to help someone purchase an adapted van, your generosity can change their lives in a huge wonderful way.

Have you ever seen an adapted van up close? I’d like to invite you take a minute to witness the delight that comes with this product of ingenious mechanical engineering!

May I show you mine?

People think my car is fascinating.  And they are absolutely right.

My Dodge Entervan by BraunAbility is an engineering marvel that gives me independence and freedom in spite of my post-polio paralysis.

I drive with hand controls that are attached to the steering mechanism, brake and accelerator pedals. To get to the driver’s seat:

  1. I click my remote key fob which opens the sliding door.
  2. Then I enter my minivan by way of an electric ramp that comes down. That ramp allows me to roll into the car as I ride on my electric scooter.
  3. I then transfer from the scooter seat into the rotating driver’s seat, which with a lever, electrically turns, then slides forward, taking me up to the steering wheel.
  4. Then I push a button. The ramp folds into the car as the door closes.
  5. Positioned for comfortable driving, I turn on the ignition, fasten the seat belt, and off I go in my 007 car! 

Ah yes. James Bond would love it!  In fact, being fortunate enough to own this car can suddenly propel a driver like me into wild illusionary James Bond moments…well, for me…”Jane Bond” moments…

There I am… multi-lingual, charming, impeccably dressed, connoisseur of fine food and drink, daring, always ready for any fast situation change, quick to pick up on cutting edge technology, off to exotic destinations, not to mention–a martial arts expert, and…

Whoa!…snapping out of this recurring spell… it’s undeniable that I really do cherish this vehicle to freedom!

When it’s filled with good friends, that’s the best. After closely checking out my Entervan, many of my initially-intrigued passengers are now true appreciators of how we can all be together when we take my car.  I drive. They volunteer to chip in for gas, and off we go!

But, upon greater reflection, it’s the random parking lot encounters that have generated some of the most delightful responses from people. Friendly counter-spies on the streets. Folks I’ve never seen before. There I am, minding my own business, rolling in or out of the car. Then. Someone happens to walk near. Captivated with honest regard and amazement, they crane their necks while walking by or stop dead in their tracks, stare intently and provide a sudden comment.  Here are a few:

  • One mail carrier who pulled her truck up next to me in a parking lot casually stopped, mailbag in hand, watched, tilted her head and commented with a big smile, “Wow! That’s a reee-al fancy car! Gives you a lot of independence.”
  • One youngster exclaimed, “Look Mom! She’s going up that drawbridge backwards!”
    As the ramp came up and the door closed, I couldn’t hear how his Mom explained this
    enchanted King Arthur moment to him…
  • Then there was the unforgettable comment from the young supermarket courtesy clerk who carried my groceries to the car one night. She was a teenage gothic punkster with jet-black hair and a pierced nose ring. As the car kneeled and the ramp lowered, she exclaimed, “Far out! I’ve seen pimped cars in movies, but this one is the best!”

How might you respond if you personally saw this car in operation? 

Have a look. Two of us made this Jane Bond video so you could check it out too.  Do be sure to click on the sound when you watch… (smile)…

 

After being a passenger in my car with me many times, one dear friend reflected,

So, Jane Bond, I actually think you are quite a spectacle (in a good way of course!) when 007 goes into action. It’s like watching something very intimate–a modern miracle–that is not only the transformation of a vehicle, but at a deeper level, the transformation of a life. How great is that?!”

Thanks for Reading,

Sunny

A special thanks to Erin Elly, Rosalie Meyer, Kris Konecny, and Susan Rasmussen for thoughts, photographs, videos and quotations!

 

P.S.  Am looking forward to traveling to The Villages in Florida on February 12th to present at their post-polio support group meeting. The title of the presentation will be “Let’s Think Together, Then Let’s Clink Together.” We will focus on the power of gratitude. It should be a lot of fun!

        Here’s a related post:   http://www.sunnyrollerblog.com/lets-clink-our-champagne-glasses/

        Here’s a related good book (chapter 4)…      :

Contact Barbara Meyers, presentation host,  for more information at: meyers2@thevillages.net

Nourishing the Body, Mind and Spirit: People, Pictures and Pasties

What a great time we had at the Bay Cliff Post-Polio Wellness Retreat this year!

Wonderful people, lots of pictures and finally an official Upper Peninsula (U.P.) pasty to take along for safe travels as we departed.

Desktop9

In mid-September, 45 polio survivors and friends converged upon the tiny town of Big Bay, Michigan to immerse themselves in five days of restorative rest and activity. There is such a wonderful feeling of love, care and complete acceptance at the retreat. People instinctively understand each other and share compassionate support all week long. Smiles are on every face in the pictures because we are so happy together. There have been ten such retreats since the program started at the Bay Cliff Health Camp in 2006 and, boy, did we ever have fun this year!

race

Click on the photo above to see the first annual post-polio scooter race. Average age of racers: 72 years young. (Grrr! After an explosive start, I came in second. I’m already working on a hot new strategy for next year!)

Bay Cliff is located right on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s a perfectbaycliff sunrise getaway spot for our holistic wellness program. The sun rises every morning directly in front of the lodge’s big screened-in porch. Rows of old fashioned rocking chairs invite us to settle in with our freshly brewed cup of coffee in hand to welcome the bright new day. The wind softly rustles through the tall surrounding hardwoods that are just starting to glimmer yellow and orange in the early daylight. The lake begins to sparkle as we inhale deeply, inspired by the crisp fresh air and the stunning sight before us… Cameras start clicking. Then the breakfast bell clangs through the camp grounds, heralding all to join in friendly fellowship for a family style breakfast. It’s 8:00 AM. The day has begun.

From Monday evening through Friday evening, the days were filled with a myriad of educational and recreational activities customized especially for polio survivors. We discussed how body, mind and spirit can all work together to create good health.

bracemakers 2

Fred Maynard, M.D. (top center) and our four orthotists. (left to right) Alicia foster, Ken McMaster, Michelle Carlson, and Joe Baczkowski teamed up to provide customized one-on-one bracing advice to participants at the “Bracing and Mobility” session.

BODY: We learned more about the physical aspects of having had polio–specifically the late effects of polio; what’s new from physicians, researchers and therapists. Throughout the week there was a variety of sessions on relevant topics such as, “post-polio pain,” “aging and general health,” “what’s best for you in bracing,” “food as medicine,” “acupuncture,” and “the benefits of massage.” Speaking of massage, everyone received a free one during the course of the week. Each morning we participated in exercise opportunities such as swimming, yoga, Tai Chi or cardiovascular workouts. Lots to do. One lady, new to the retreat, stated that her primary goal for attending was to learn about “how to keep moving.” She sure was moving every time I saw her!

MIND: This year we watched and discussed an excellent DVD on the mind-body connection and how scientific studies are proving the critical impact that the mind has on healing the body’s variety of illnesses. I highly recommend that you get a copy and watch it. It’s not only helpful; it’s also fascinating. Because it’s about 85 minutes long, this would make a great two-part support group program with discussion. For more information on this DVD, click on the following link: The Connection: Mind Your Body.

SubstandardFullSizeRender (1)SPIRIT: The presentation on spirituality this year was titled, “Spirituality for Wellness: Completing the Healthy Trinity of Wholeness.” After focusing on the wonderful power and value of inspiration in our lives, we got into small groups and discussed the following questions:

  1. What was a time in your life that was a real low point for you? A time when your inspiration had seemingly abandoned you, leaving you alone and miserable?
  2. What were some warning signs that alerted you that you were getting stuck in your doldrums?
  3. What did you do to reach out for inspiration that brought you out of it? Describe your avenues back to inspiration. Was it through your mind or body? Were there spiritual exercises like meditation or prayer that you tapped into? Where did your spirit lead you to rediscover your inspiration? What has worked for you?

The group came up with a long list of spiritual strategies and insights that have helped them get through discouraging times.

Beyond the educational content of the program, there were many recreational activities to join in on every day. These included accessible nature hikes, lighthouse tours, an ice cream social, coloring in coloring books for adults, table games, ceramics class, fishing, movies, and singing around the campfire–complete with s’mores (the American and Canadian campfire treat: a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker).

Cornish-Pasties upFinally, on Saturday morning, as we were preparing to head home, our hosts made sure everyone got a homemade pasty for the road. Pasties are a special U.P. delight originally made popular by the Cornish and Finnish miners in the old days. They are made by placing an uncooked filling, typically meat and vegetables, on one half of a flat shortcrust pastry circle, folding the pastry in half to wrap the filling in a semicircle and crimping the curved edge to form a seal before baking.  U.P. insiders told us that the best pasties in the entire area come from Lehto’s Pasties in St. Ignace. They use the freshest meat and have been in business for 68 years.  Pasties are great for road trips. They are a tasty treat that can be a whole meal in themselves. No silverware needed!

As we left Bay Cliff, the joyful spirit of the retreat continued to linger long after. In fact, I tapped intocamp Sign that joy as I  wrote this message for you (smile) …

 

Thanks for reading,

Sunny

 

treesP.S.  Post-polio wellness retreats are a wonderful option for polio survivors who are growing older and seeking strategies to stay healthy and feel good. Since the first retreat at Bay Cliff in 2006, similar retreats have sprung up at Georgia Warm Springs, across Australia, New Zealand, and most recently in Colorado. Perhaps your group would consider organizing a retreat in your area? You’d need to start with an accessible retreat location and a group of skilled organizers. It can be done and is very rewarding.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

P.P.S.  I am happy to announce that I will be guest-speaking at the Power Over Polio Support (POPS) group in the Seabreeze Recreation Center at The Villages near Ocala, Florida at 1:00 PM on February 12, 2016. Group leaders tell me that if you are in the area then, you are more than welcome to attend. Looking forward to this event!

 

P.P.S.S. One major and recurring message from our retreat was how important it is to control the stress in our complicated lives. Having a disability can be more than challenging at times. And too much stress can ruin good health!  Here’s a nicely-written book that might help. Lately I have enjoyed reading the daily meditations in …  

runnP.P.P.S.S.S.  Personal weight loss update: my doctor told me to lose 10 pounds by Halloween. To date, I have taken off 11.5 pounds, which isn’t too bad I guess, since I was away from my routine at the exercise gym and healthy WeightWatcher’s eating plan for five weeks. Vacations.  Now I’m back and staying on track better. Whew!

Gotta keep going! 

————————————————–

 

Way Back When: The Lost Anthology — Chapter One

 

1924619_893466217370802_1088286595911170617_nAlmost 30 years ago (1987), friends, Barbara Pike, Charlene Bozarth, and I sent out a nationwide request to polio survivors who might want to have their writings published in an anthology. Manuscripts came in, but life took over, and we were never able to create and publish the collection, as we had hoped. When I lost track of Barbara in Ohio, and Charlene, who left Michigan for New Mexico,  I protectively stored the writings for resurrection at a later date.

Well, this is that later date! I recently rediscovered them in my files, dusted them off, and now plan to take the liberty of publishing them by way of this blog.  They are heartfelt, intimate and describe living with polio in earlier times. We can resonate with their messages and meanings.

I only know two of the 30 authors. One is a good friend; one was a highly respected disability rights leader who has since passed away.


 At the end of this post is a list of the missing anthology authors whom I would like to contact for permission to publish their work, now, so many years later. If you are one, or know of one, please contact me at sunnyrollerblog@gmail.com. Thank you!


The title of this post-polio collection is,

Way Back When: The Lost Anthology.

The following essay is now officially Chapter One. Future chapters, each written by a separate author, will be published intermittently over the coming months, as authors come forward and provide permission.

This first treasure was sent to us by the late Irving Kenneth Zola (1935-1994). His piece is also published on his homepage.


 

 WHY MARCIA IS MY FAVORITE NAME

by Irving Kenneth Zola

There was no other word for it. My friends were just pushy. I knew they meant well, but the last thing I wanted to do was go to a dance, especially in my condition. ‘In my condition.’ The words rankled. If I just looked at myself in the mirror, I felt okay. Not bad looking. No adolescent acne. Some people even said I had nice eyes. But I was most pleased with my face–no peach fuzz. I stroked my cheeks. This 5 o’clock shadow felt like one of the few good inheritances from my father’s side of the family. Besides, the idea of having to shave every day made me feel masculine, a virile 16 1/2. But if I stepped back, the rest of my image undid me. I didn’t feel strong leaning on these two crutches and dragging myself around at a snail’s pace. And though I knew I’d improve somewhat, my doctor had been brutally honest. “The 1951 Red Sox will have to do without you…Contact sports are out. You’ll never run a race again nor will you ever walk unaided.” Such was my polio legacy.

The phone was ringing. Maybe I could tell Zummie and Hank that I wasn’t feeling well. Besides, it was a long schlep down the stairs and perhaps even harder to get into the Community Center. But as I hopped to the phone, I knew they wouldn’t buy it. They’d already worked out how, if necessary, they’d carry me up the stairs. “But I’ll be embarrassed,” I argued. “Bullshit,” they eloquently countered.

The phone call set the time. They’d be by to pick me up at 8. For the tenth time I went into the bathroom to comb my hair. I felt like an ass. It was as if this was the only part of my body I could control. “How do I look?” I asked as I made my final appearance in the hallway. My mother stopped washing the dishes and smiled, “Very handsome.” My father shook his head in agreement and came over to give me a few dollars of spending money. My younger brother Michael just giggled. When the bell rang and I turned to go, they all kissed me good-bye, told me not to stay out too late but, thank God, they didn’t tell me to “Be careful.”

My friends were at the door. A little too ready and eager, I thought to myself. It was easier to go downstairs if I didn’t have two crutches under the same arm, so I asked Zummie if he’d take one. Then leaning on the railing for support, I began the slow descent down the four flights from our apartment.

Once in the car, I asked who was going to be there. “Oh, the usual crowd” was the reply, and we began to joke about the likelihood of any “action.” The trip was quick–less than fifteen minutes.

As I slowly climbed the stairs to the Community Center, I realized that no one was paying much attention. Perhaps with no visible scars, people just thought I’d had an athletic injury. The first few minutes were easy. As we settled in a corner, others came by to say “Hello!” “Good to see you again!” “How’ve you been?” The questions required little of me. “Okay.” “Thanks.” “Fine.” I answered with a smile. But down deep I was wondering what the hell I was doing here.

I could hear the music playing but I certainly wasn’t in a hurry to follow it. I would have been content to just sit on the staircase but the casual, “C’mon, let’s see what’s doing!” dashed that hope. Using the banister for support, I was back on my crutches. I wondered where in the dance hall I could hide. But when we got there a moment later, I realized it wasn’t necessary. I was hardly the only guy not dancing. In fact, relatively few of my friends were. All of us milled to one side, looking over the girls, commenting on who was dancing with whom, who that new girl was and wow did that one look great in a tight sweater.

Almost imperceptibly conversation turned to next week’s big event–a images (3) sweenie roast down Nantasket Beach. “Sounds like fun,” I said.

“Who are you gonna take?” asked Zummie.

“My mother,” I answered sardonically.

“C’mon…seriously,” chimed in Hank.

“I hadn’t thought about it.” It was a lie. I’d been thinking about it for weeks but it had been a long time since I’d been out on a date. It didn’t seem fair to call up a girl out of the blue. I wasn’t so much afraid that she’d say “No” but that she’d accept out of pity or worse, ignorance of what she was getting into. I felt girls should at least see me face-to-face before going out. For these reasons I wouldn’t let my friends fix me up.

“Why don’t you take Marcia?” suggested Zummie with a not so believable innocent air.

“Who?” I asked.

“Marcia. You know, the one over there with the frizzy hair.”

I looked over in the direction he was pointing. She was dancing with another girl. At least that meant she didn’t have a steady. I looked at her very closely. She was cute–brown curly hair, freckles, nice Jewish nose, and a figure which showed off quite well in a short sleeve blouse.

“She doesn’t even know me.”

“Sure she does. She was even asking about you.”

“Bull,” I said. Part of me wanted to believe, but I let it go. So did my friends. In reality none of us did. We were merely biding our time.

After what seemed like a decent interval, I asked, “What did you say that girl’s name in the green blouse was?”

“Marcia, you dumb asshole,” answered Hank.

Subtlety was clearly going to get me nowhere. “How do you know that she’s interested in me?”

“Contacts,” he winked.

“What if she says ‘No’?”

“She won’t…You’re too cute,” said Gerry who’d been standing on the edge of our threesome. I tried to hit him with my crutch but I missed.

“What have you got to lose?” asked Zummie.

Everything, I thought to myself. But somehow the pressure was difficult to resist. I knew my friends really cared about me and wouldn’t have set me up for a fall. So, ambivalently, I hopped over to where she stood talking with a girlfriend.

“Marcia?” I interrupted.

images (5)ssShe turned to me smiling. Five minutes after we’d spoken I had no recollection of what I’d said! All I knew was that she’d accepted my invitation and I’d agreed to call during the week to make final arrangements. I was so excited by her reply I didn’t even think to spend the rest of the evening with her. Maybe I thought if she got to know me better, she’d change her mind.

During that week panic set in. Amongst the arrangements I thought of making was calling the thing off. The whole situation was crazy. She didn’t know me. I didn’t know her. Besides a weenie roast was a hell of a way to have a first date.

Somehow the seven days passed and Saturday night was here. Again my parents were solicitous. But when my mother told me to bundle up, I got very upset.

“But it’s nearly 80 degrees out there!” I snapped.

Undeterred she went on. “Still you never can tell…When it gets late, you might get cold.”

Her remark sparked in me a minor anxiety attack. In it I saw a veiled reference to the fact that Marcia might possibly go off and leave me alone. It’s happened to other guys before, I thought to myself. Only my 8-year-old brother’s query, “Why can’t I go along?” kept me from exploding. That weenie roasts were only a place for big boys sent him away in a huff but allowed all of us to laugh anxiously.

My friends soon arrived and off we went to pick up Marcia. Luckily it was the style of the time to announce one’s arrival with a beep of a car horn. Thus I was spared having to climb the stairs to her house and meet her parents. I didn’t know what they would or would not ask me. I just didn’t want to deal with any questions. Marcia quickly bounced down the stairs and squeezed in beside me. The long ride to Nantasket passed quickly as we talked about previous jobs, friends, school, plans.

My sense of ease was broken when we encountered the beach. I’d forgotten about the sand and how difficult it was to keep my crutches from slipping and me with them. Marcia went first. With guiding remarks like, “This place looks solid enough to lean on,” we finally made it to the bonfire. I didn’t feel like moving any further so I suggested a nearby spot for the blanket. When she spread it out, anchoring the corners with rocks, I tried to ease myself down. It was no use. The trek from the car had exhausted me so I somewhat ungracefully plopped to the ground.

Only then did I realize how difficult it was going to be to play the manly role–coming back and forth with drinks and food. But Marcia spared me. “What would you like on yours?” she said, jumping to her feet. It was only then I let myself really look at her. She was wearing shorts and a halter with a pullover tied around her waist. She looked lovely but all I wittily could say was, “I’ll take the works.”

The early evening passed in talk, food, and songs but as the fire died down,images (7)11 couples began to take their blankets and drift away. A sea breeze wafted across the water. Awkwardly I put my arm around Marcia to fend off the cold. At least that would be my excuse if she pulled away. But she didn’t. Someone turned on their portable radio. As romantic music filled the night, I whispered, “It’s beautiful enough to dance to and you are beautiful enough to dance with but I…”

She interrupted me with her lips, answering in that kiss far more questions about myself that I had ever imagined I was asking.

 copyright Irving Kenneth Zola


About the Author…

At the time of his death, Dr. Zola was the Mortimer Gryzmish Professor of Human Relations at Brandeis and president of the Eastern Sociological Society. He had taught at the Brandeis campus in Waltham, Mass., since 1963, and formerly headed its sociology department.

Professor Zola [had] polio when he was 16, and used canes and braces to help him walk. His disabilities were increased by injuries suffered in an automobile accident when he was 19.

Discussing ways to enhance the self-esteem of the disabled, Professor Zola said in 1988, “Until we own our disability as an important part, though not necessarily all, of our identity, any attempt to create a meaningful pride, social movement or culture is doomed.”

Irvpic 1His writings included an autobiography, “Missing Pieces: A Chronicle of Living with a Disability,” published in 1982. He edited “Ordinary Lives: Voices of Disability and Disease,” a 1982 anthology that was praised as a diverse collection of fictional and personal accounts.

He was a founding member and counselor at the Boston Self Help Center, an advocacy and counseling organization for people with chronic diseases and disabilities. He served as the center’s executive director from 1982 to 1987.

He was also chairman of the medical sociology section of the American Sociological Association, a consultant to the World Health Organization and a member of President Clinton’s transition team on health care. He won numerous awards, and was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He was born in Boston, graduated from Boston Latin School and received a B.A. from Harvard in 1956 and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1962.      (Eric Pace, The New York Times, December 8, 1994)


images (6) m

Stay tuned for future glimpses into the younger days and adventures of polio survivors in Chapter Two of…

Way Back When: The Lost Anthology.

Sunny

_______________________________________________

Currently searching for the following missing authors:

Mary Ellen Nyberg Hemby

Floy Schoenfelder

Lee Whipple

William Wild

Alan Oberdeck

Agnes Fennewald

Charlotte Snitzer

Ann Bradley

Toni Keffeler

Sofia Baltodano

Bruce Berman

Roberta Dillion Williams

Becky Lee Vance

Jean Hamm

Norene Senkbeil

Ann Goodhall

Ginger Sage

Shirley Hile Powell

Elizabeth Reeves

Doris Vanden Boogard

E.J. Anderegg, Jr.

Donna L. Mattinson

Marie Galda

Alan M. Oberdick

Emma Blosser Hartzler

R. N. Hackney

Robert C. Huse

 

Are you out there?  images (3)zz


 

 


 

 

 

_______________________________________________

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”–Winston Churchill

BOOK REVIEW

Just read an autobiography by polio survivor and actor, John Mahon.  It’s titled, A Life of Make Believe: From Paralysis to Hollywood. 

10913-3908 jm

John Mahon

This is not a fluffy piece of writing. It is direct, curt and even discourteous at times. In it Mahon describes, incident by incident, his rowdy, turbulent, often agitated journey to become an actor–in spite of being marked by an arm that was obviously paralyzed by polio. For aspiring movie stars, achieving fame, fortune and a sense of professional security is far from easy now, and it was even tougher in recent decades. The 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s especially reeked with harsh disability discrimination. And in dealing with his physical imperfection in a body-beautiful business, John became a fighter–a good looking bad boy–who often barreled and bashed his way through life–chasing his heartfelt dream–to be an actor with a successful and fulfilling career on stage.

In spite of numerous disorderly encounters while working toward his vision of becoming a successful entertainer, John Mahon never, never gave up.  He got shot down, rejected, and swindled, but he got right back up and kept on fighting.

His endurance reminded me in some ways of Winston Churchill, who fought World War II, quote-continuous-effort-not-strength-or-intelligence-is-the-key-to-unlocking-our-potential-winston-churchill-37149 wcpersevered, and eventually won the peace. Churchill had so much to teach the world about the value of continuous effort and the courage to keep going.

He may not know it yet, but I believe John’s story runs parallel to each of our own life-with-polio stories. Our individual goals may have been different, but we each had to work so persistently and diligently to prove ourselves–to excel with a disability in a non-disabled culture. To survive, many, probably all, of us worked every day at minimizing a socially-obvious disability with braces or crutches; or at passing for normal, hiding an impairment, like a weak hand, that, if discovered, would reveal our “malformations.”  I did it too. Whew. Makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

That was not easy.

At all.

Because as a reader, I vicariously trudged through John’s hellish-battles and hardships (fist-fights, doors bashed in, getting “canned”) with him in the first chapters, I was genuinely relieved to finally immerse in his later life moments of  peace and soul-nurturing insights. I believe that age, experience, real love, and conscious efforts at deep introspection have awarded John with a hard-won personal treasure–his momentary and penetrating glimmers of God.

Thanks for sharing the following moments, John…

After a breakdown, John’s good friend, Jack, takes him in. John writes with gratitude about his peaceful Pacific coast moments…

Jack had rented an apartment on the second floor of a home located in the north end of Malibu, on a palisade overlooking the Pacific, with a panoramic view of the ocean and coastline. We all know the ocean has boundaries, yet, from that bluff, it appeared to travel into forever…that sight in Malibu was magic. In the evening I would listen to the sound of waves coming to rest. Sometimes they would roll in gently; other times they crashed onto the sand below. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for those many evenings viewing the most gorgeous sunsets and starlit skies imaginable.

A few years later, he describes how he was “touched by an angel”…

I once flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, where the series Touched By An Angel was being shot. When I walked into the makeup trailer, Della Reese was sitting having her makeup done. I remember her saying to me, “God bless you today,” as she rested her hand on my shoulder. I swear a feeling of peace and harmony overtook me…Meeting  and working with such an unquestionably incomparable spiritual individual was a gift.

Laying out syntax that is not only brisk, but downright brusque, the author also describes a redeeming moment when he finally begins to find meaning in his disability…

Any number of times I had wondered why I was the one decked by polio. In 1979, walking on that sound stage, I may have discovered the reason. Infantile paralysis gave me an opportunity to help others; it only took twenty-nine years for me to discover it. My involvement with the Media Access Office[teaching the trade to young actors with a disability] made it clearer than ever that I had been living in two worlds: the gimp world, and the “normal world.”

download

John Mahon today

John’s book, A Life of Make Believe: From Paralysis to Hollywood, is filled with unique stories and snippets about the many famous movie stars he encountered as an actor–some he liked and respected; some he didn’t. From his seasoned actor’s perspective, he discusses his not-too-positive impression of reality TV today. From a polio survivor’s perspective he comments on the American with Disabilities Act. And from a father’s point of view he describes the ongoing devotion he holds for his children.

Mahon’s autobiography is also in a constant state of revision, John tells me. But I guess that’s true for all of us–as our perceptions and memories emerge, our life stories continue to morph and unfold.

If you are a movie buff and want to learn a little more about an array of great stage and screen stars like Al Pacino, James Garner and Broderick Crawford …if you want to get into a terse guy-story that is easy to read and definitely straightforward, then get yourself a copy of John Mahon’s new book.

Click on this link to have it sent right to your door:

To connect with John Mahon directly, write to him at:  alifeofmakebelieve@gmail.com or find him on Facebook.

At the end of his narrative, John candidly reveals, “I have not considered myself successful in any typical, conventional, usual or ordinary way…

My success was in continuing the journey.”

____________________________________ 

P.S. I believe it’s much the same for most of us. When we’ve gone through hell, as Churchill asserted, we have indeed, kept going.

Through the tough times with a post-polio disability, that magical life spirit deep inside our souls popped up and nudged us forward. 

Lately, as we’ve grown older, we’ve needed to astutely adapt and update our strategies and tactics a bit.  And as we do, we demonstrate to those around us our visibly unique, but certainly viable ways.

May we all continue to proceed, flourish and endure as we …  94d5ebc810b2dc69f3ebaf919b973ba7

Winston Churchill, also known as “The British Bulldog”

 

 


 Have you ever noticed how much super-persistence you continue to have?  

Is it still working for you?


If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive private updates about the newest post, consider becoming a subscriber. Just sign up at the subscribe box on this page’s right sidebar. It’s free and convenient.

Also, if you have a book you would like reviewed on this blog, write to me at sunnyrollerblog@gmail.com.  


 

Free Shipping on orders over $50. Regain your freedom. Find scooters, wheelchairs, lift chairs and more.

StarbucksFire Mountain Gems and Beads Shutterfly Photo Books 300x600

Prayer, Prioritizing, Patience, Persisting and P…

BOOK REVIEW

All the Steps I Have Taken Then and Now

by Linda L. Christianson

 

10636304_889537991096958_7636276891998002501_n (1)

“Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.” –Anonymous

 

Linda Christianson loves to quilt. Writing her memoir, much like creating a quilt, must have given her an important chance to examine and then thoughtfully interlace the pieces of her life together.

As she put pen to paper, Linda had to examine and reflect upon each piece of her life– growing up as a child who was living with polio, starting a career as a young woman, getting married, having children and now enjoying grandchildren. Weaving with words, she put her life in order–just as the quilter does when methodically sewing together colorful fabric shapes into what eventually becomes a fully congruent work of art.

Taking a look at one’s life with polio can be a grueling experience that takes gut-wrenching courage. One must unearth those deep childhood sorrows, the agonizing emotional horrors, physical losses, and frightening medical lacerations. Then the writer must somehow put them into perspective–explaining the pain and healing process from an adult point of view. That’s a lot of work.

But the reward for that arduous research and reflection is being able to finally and fully see the fiber of our life as a whole–to know our personal story as its own unique, intricate, even awe-inspiring narrative. Once the big picture crystallizes, the question soon becomes “how will we choose to frame our autobiographical portrait?” What spin do we want to put on our life as a whole?

Christianson has clearly chosen her spin. As she reviewed her life’s difficulties, she also took a fresh look at all of the wonderful people, family and friends, who had influenced and strengthened her through so many decades.  Having developed a strong spiritual life, she reassessed with gratitude the fortunate circumstances and beautiful places she has known.

As she revisited her hospitals, and recounted her numerous summertime surgeries, her split sized orthopedic shoes, crutches, and unwanted leg braces, she also described sunshiny childhood memories on the family farm…

“Despite the crutches, I was still able to get to the top of the corn crib, which was where we had a playhouse. We would build all our furniture and cupboards out of wooden peach crates left from my mother’s  canning. Climbing up wasn’t very easy, but my arms were strong, and the slivers I got in my knees as I pulled myself up were easy to get out. What fun we had!”

Then moving forward, as we all do somehow, she described pulling herself through adolescence and up into adulthood.   She worked hard, went to school, established a career as a helping professional, married, taught her kids to always do well at whatever they tried, and now in her sixties, is quoted as saying, “busy people always have time to help out.” Today Linda visits classrooms of elementary school children and is an invited speaker at community meetings. She wants to provide support, encouragement and a little enlightenment about life’s possibilities. She shares the “Four P’s” which are her personal guidelines for weaving a rich and colorful life:

Prayer, Prioritizing, Patience, and Persisting

images (5)kincade

1. “Each day must start with time for PRAYER using my Thomas Kinkade devotional book and having my first cup of coffee.” Her daily readings are from Beside Still Waters, published by Thomas Nelson in 1994. “It has the most beautiful pictures on every page.”  She also reads Seasons of Light  and Beyond the Garden Gate. “Any one of these books I can pick up and read and feel so relaxed from the words and from the paintings I find there.”

Click here to find Thomas Kinkade’s devotionals on Amazon

2. PRIORITIZING  is very important for me as I always want to accomplish more than I should. Planning to do the things that must be done is necessary and then I can look ahead if my mind and body agree on doing more.

3. Next is PATIENCE as I [carefully place and strap] my long left leg brace [on my leg] so that I will be able to walk. 

4. PERSISTING is just sticking with the project until it is completed.

Poliomyelitis, at a very young age, is the reason for all these “P’s.” I stay focused on them all day through, and with God’s guidance my days are wonderfully full. It is important to me that I live my life as a canvas, putting all the color I can into it.

Actually, I think Linda might want to incorporate a “Fifth P” into her schema that can be seen as a metaphor for what she is doing these days as a woman who had polio and has made life work.

That obvious “P” to me would be her productive, passionate and pleasurable post-polio pastime: Patchwork Quilting!  She even says, “My favorite pastime is quilting– putting those pieces together to blend and make a most beautiful piece of art. It is like…. all the happiness and goodness…in my life.

Desktop7 lc

“I weave in faith, and God finds the threads.” –Linda L. Christianson

 

Linda welcomes your messages to exchange ideas about quilting or to discuss her book about growing up with polio in rural Minnesota. To connect, send a message through her Facebook page.  Or use this email address: llcallthesteps@gofast.am

If you would like to have a copy of Linda’s 93-page chronicle for your personal library, here’s how–click on the picture below…


P.S.  Have you written a book?  If you would like to have it showcased on this blog, please contact me at sunnyrollerblog@gmail.com.


Have you ever thought about the major turning points in your life with polio?

What kept you going?

Ever considered writing a personal memoir describing your life experiences–for your children and grandchildren to read and treasure as they focus on living their lives successfully?  Bet you’d have some great ideas for them.


Starbucks

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads

Online Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist Class

From Personal Experience: Give a Holiday Gift That Really Helps

images sa

“Hmmmm…What’s a better gift for my buddies who are living with polio?”

Uh, oh. There are only a few shopping days left until Christmas. Are you a stumped shopper this holiday season?  Do you have no idea what to give that dear friend?

Well, I might have an idea or two for you. As a person with a post-polio disability, I have received many thoughtful gifts from friends and family over the years. They are presents that have helped me be healthier, more functional and better connected to the world around me.

If you have no idea what to get that favorite person this holiday season, there’s still time!  Maybe I can help.

Here are 7 gifts that I have appreciated receiving. Maybe your friend or loved one would benefit from having one too.

415y8r1IK8L._SX42rival1. Crock-Pot

Many years ago, when I first set up housekeeping as a 20-something single woman with a demanding teaching career, my good friend, Rosalie, bought me a crock-pot. Looking back, that was one of the best all-time gifts I ever received. I could put my dinner in to cook before I left for work in the morning and when I got home after a busy day–wa! la!–a tasty one-pot supper was ready for me to enjoy. And the whole house smelled wonderful as savory dinner aromas wafted upon entry. I used to joke that maybe it was the work of an altruistic “crackpot” cook who broke in and did it all when I was away.  Anyhow,  a crock-pot can make cooking so easy for someone with limited time and physical energy. Because my hands don’t chop vegetables as well as they used to, I now ask my grocer to cut up the fresh vegetables I purchase, which he is happy to do at no extra charge. Then I am ready to crock-pot it all up!  By now, crock-pots are common household items, but these days they come in all shapes and sizes. The shops even sell cute little ones to serve up warm cheese dips for holiday entertaining. Crock-pots are about half the price they started out at 40 years ago, too.

Check out:    Crock-Pot SCR400-B 4-Quart Manual Slow Cooker, Black

  2. George Foreman Grill

41-T6zwOwNLgrill

This little table-top grill was another great gift!  It has also been around for many years. I especially like it in the summer when the aroma of steaks grilling is in the air and I want to create a summertime barbecue that is manageable. Besides a nice steak, hamburgers and veggies are also easy and quick! I can grill without having to go outside, pull out the giant cooker, feverishly scrape the grate, and be sure not to get blown up when I light the gas. I am happy Gerorge Foreman came up with his idea.

Maybe your friend would like a red one: George Foreman Champ Grill, Red

 

 3. Philips Sonicare Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush

 

5192e89PJjL._SL1500_tooth

This was a very smart gift that my sister, Holly, and brother-in-law, Kris,  gave me a couple years ago. They had just been to their dentist and were passing along the recommendation for keeping our aging teeth healthy and happy. It is an excellent appliance. It brushes like no other, it is easy to use for those of us who have limited hand function. Plus, it is great to travel with. It has its own travel case and holds a charge for at least 2 weeks. But what really sold me on it were the cheerful comments my dentist made when I went in for my semi-annual check up. He said that my teeth had really been cleaned up well and there were no dental issues to report. All I had done was use my new toothbrush. It is definitely worth the small investment. This gift will keep everyone smiling. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Here it is: Philips Sonicare HX6731/02 Healthywhite Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush

 4e0370d343671dd427c0373fab1d6afa  massage4. Massage

The gift of an in-home massage is also wonderful. When I was going through a life-altering crisis 11 years ago, a colleague at work said, “I want to help. I am going to buy you a massage.” She gave me a gift certificate to a local massage center. It was such a thoughtful present! I loved it more than I ever thought I would and started the practice of getting a massage whenever possible.  A good massage is great for sore muscles, poor circulation, and stress, which polio survivors experience so much of the time. In fact, right after a massage is my most pain-free time. I was able to find a therapist who could come to my home for an extra $15.00 which made all the difference because changing clothes, taking braces on and off several times can be a real hassle. It’s much more do-able at home. They have portable tables. Contact your local massage center or the American Massage Therapy Association  to buy a gift certificate. You might even see if they have a therapist who is trained in massage for seniors. Some are.

 5. E-Reader

feature-accessories._V325436015_kA couple of years ago my sister and brother-in-law gave me a NOOK for Christmas. It’s an e-reader.

An e-reader, also called an e-book reader or e-book device, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital e-books and periodicals. Any device that can display text on a screen may act as an e-book reader, but specialized e-book reader designs may optimize portability, readability (especially in sunlight), and battery life for this purpose. A single e-book reader is capable of holding the digital equivalent of hundreds of printed texts with no added bulk or measurable mass.

This device is so handy–quite portable around the house and on trips, and I can buy a new book instantly. No trip to the bookstore needed. I especially appreciate the kind of e-reader that has a lit screen for reading outdoors or at night in the dark. Sure, good old paper books are a source of tactile comfort and feel like the real deal. But having a choice of reading instruments is a new pleasure because it’s such a convenience. This device makes life a little easier. The most popular e-readers are NOOKS and KINDLES.

To check out the NOOKS, go to: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook/379003208  

Search for a Kindle on Amazon at: Kindle Voyage, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Adaptive Built-in Light, PagePress Sensors, Wi-Fi

 images sm6. Smartphone

A smartphone is a mobile phone with an operating system. Smartphones typically include the features of a phone with those of another popular consumer device, such as a personal digital assistant, a digital camera, a media player, and/or a GPS navigation unit. Later smartphones include all of those plus the features of a touchscreencomputer, including web browsing, Wi-Fi, 3rd-party apps, motion sensor, mobile payment and 3G.”

Just received an iPhone as a gift from “The Merry Meyers,” my long-time ever-loving “extended family.” A few weeks ago, we added me to their “friends and family phone plan.” For the same $40.00/month as my dorky cell phone, I suddenly not only feel more hip-trendy-cool; I am now super-connected at home and when I’m on the go! I am the proud owner of a smartphone. Somebody told me once, “If you want to stay in touch with the kids in your life, you have to text. They respond immediately. They text at lightening speed. Much faster than returning our phone calls.” Texting is much easier on a smartphone.

Oh my gosh!  With my iPhone  I’m suddenly part of that high-energy worldwide subculture that is willing and able to connect anywhere immediately. It’s different and it’s better. Of course it will never take the place of real life, in-person touching, talking get-togethers, but it does come in second. Now I can access the internet, including email, anywhere I go; and can make a phone call on the spot. I can take photos and send them to friends and so much more that I’m still discovering.

Once again, I had no idea I’d love this newfangled convenience so much, but it opens up fresh avenues of connectivity for me. As my friend said, “fighting and criticizing the flourishing new world of electronics is foolish. It won’t stop the change and the progress. Everybody’s on the moving train. So let’s jump on and enjoy the ride with all our friends.”

Look for smartphones all over–at your Apple store, or at Best Buy or on Amazon:Smartphones

Well, those are a few gifts that have helped me through life. But they would all be worthless without the most important one…

7. YOU

all-i-want-for-christmas-mirror-960x1280 mWe all know that the very best presents you could possibly give your friend at this time of year is your physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual presence.

That’s YOU–up-close and personal.

Give Generously!


2543837_f260hug

 

Do you have any ideas for great gifts that others may enjoy receiving next week?

Please share them here, quickly.  Before Santa flies.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Share Our Favorite Websites

I’ll Start…

This scooter goes everywhere!

This little travel scooter goes everywhere…

spinlife.com      Spinlife is a great place to buy travel scooters and lots of other medical equipment. I purchased my Go-Go Elite travelscooter from them and it was delivered right to my door. Been using it ever since!  The people on the phone are efficient, courteous, helpful and scooters are well-priced.
Free Shipping on orders over $50. Regain your freedom. Find scooters, wheelchairs, lift chairs and more.

    • post-polio.org   Post-Polio Health International (PHI)  fosters education, advocacy, research, and networking regarding all post-polio topics.
    • polio place  Polio Place  is a website library collection created by PHI to showcase the past and present stories of polio survivors around the world. It is fascinating.
    • polio australia    Polio Australia  is fun to read! There are all kinds of post-polio things going on down under!
    • ncphd  The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) is positioned to affect change in health promotion/obesity management among people with disabilities through its existing 15-year history of providing advocacy, services and programs to numerous organizations and people throughout the USA. This website has all kinds of useful information for those of us who are living with polio on how to stay active and healthy.

  • Amazon.com is such an efficient bunch for us. I discovered that I can purchase Travel Johns there. These are nifty go-anywhere disposable urinals that can be used on long road trips, camping trips, inaccessible bathrooms, or discreetly on airplanes. Check them out: Travel Johns
  • Amigo Mobility  Amigo Mobility International, Inc.  The scooter I use all day every day at home and when I’m out and about is my mid-size Amigo. Al Thieme was a young man working as a plumbing and heating contractor in Bridgeport, Mich. when a family member began to lose her mobility due to multiple sclerosis. Witnessing this loss of independence, he worked in the evenings, after his day job, to create an innovative form of mobility. Thieme went on to invent the first ever power operated vehicle/scooter – the Amigo. The rest is history. There are Amigo dealers all over the world.

…And I do mean everywhere!

 Now it’s your turn…

  • The Michigan Polio Network offers great support to polio survivors everywhere. President, Bruce Sachs invites us all to check out their website…

    Webhomegreen

    Click on this logo and link to MPN website.

 

 

 

 

  • pappsnThe Pennsylvania Polio Survivor Network has a new website: http://www.papolionetwork.org/ Check it out!  It’s comprehensive and easy to navigate.