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Friday, May 22, 2009

Update May 22, 2009

I feel like I have been running around the past few weeks, but it has been a great few weeks of going places and seeing people.

On Mother's Day, I took my caregiver Ellita to Applebee's for a Mother's Day lunch. And one Friday night Judy visited and we went to Anna's on Queens Blvd. Any opportunity to get out of the house and see people, is so welcome! I am grateful for the fun I had this spring. The three Saturdays in Valerie's van, two to the beach, were glorious!

On May 11, I was invited to a research reception hosted by MDA-ALS Division and Wings Over Wall Streetat Chelsea Pier. One of the best parts was utilizing the hour before the event started to explore the pier, which I hadn't visited in years! But I couldn't believe how nice this reception was, and how everybody from MDA and Wings treated me with such attention and caring. I felt so comfortable.

I also attended my annual shareholders meeting at my co-op. I had to laugh when the management company talked only to my aide -- "tell her to sign here", "ask her...etc etc...." the ignorance of people toward the disabled still makes me frustrated, but I don't express myself too much anymore because a) it's an exhausting waste of my precious energy, b) they never get it anyway, and c) when I try to to talk it makes it worse because it scares them, they think I'm mentally challenged, or they think I'm crazy, or all of the above, and if I write on my board, it takes too long. I rely on the aide or friend who is with me, to say "She can hear you; please speak to her", and I am so grateful when that happens. Caregivers and friends of people with disabilities have to advocate for those who can't do it themselves, And the second indignity, if you will, was that my ballot was already signed by the co-op president. "Hahahaha" I said to myself, "I'm here, and I am voting"

May 16 was the 2nd annual Manhattan Walk to D'Feet ALS along Hudson River Park from Charles Street to West 54th Street. Despite rain in the early morning, and dreariness at the beginning of the walk, it turned out to be a beautiful day. I had two new members of Fern's Fighters -- Jessica Aguilar, one of my former AES students, and her friend Jennifer. After the walk, we went to grab a bite. This was a reality check, especially for Jessica and Jennifer. We went to Tenth Avenue between East 56th and East 57th Street. There must have been about 10 reasonably-priced places to have lunch, and I could not get into any of them, because of steps and no ramp. A Boston Market looked promising because they had about 5 steps going up and a wheelchair lift. But, as usual in places with lifts, the lift "wasn't working" , which usually means a staff too lazy to get the key and operate it, or just too lazy to report it broken and get it fixed. The thing with the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act], is that there is nobody going around to check that retail establishments are complying; they wait until someone puts in a complaint. I may send an email to the corporate website, but I am not about to fight local eateries in a neighborhood that I don't even frequent. So the others went inside to eat, and I waited outside while Ellita got me a takeout meal for later. But I kept thinking of a scene from a movie that I saw recently that took place in the South in the 1930s, where a singer was touring, and couldn't go into certain restaurants that wouldn't serve African-Americans. So his white band members went in to eat and brought food out to him. Hmmm, do you see a parallel here?

One disappointment was that, for the first time in four years, I could not join the Ride for Life, because they did not come within the five boroughs this year. They stayed in Long Island, primarily in Suffolk County. My plans to meet up with them in Nassau County by an Access-a-Ride and Nassau Able-Ride had to be scrapped because of an uncertain ending point and time. People with wheelchair vans don't know how lucky they are. Those of us who rely on public paratransit, though we are fortunate to have it in this area, have to give times and places for pickup; we can't be spontaneous at all.

My quarterly visit to the ALS Clinic at Beth Israel was positive. I am pretty stable -- legs pretty useless, but arms even stronger since physical therapy. So the doctor wants me to continue PT, since it is benefiting me. I have to get my braces adjusted because they are cutting into my feet and killing me. And the shoes I wear with the braces are very stretched out, adding to the problem. So off I go to buy another pair of grossly overpriced shoes. Oh well.......
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