I have recently returned home from a rather lengthy stay (three years and
five hospitals later) during which I also had a total of 21 surgeries (all relatively small) to correct a disability-related issue that, quite frankly, I had put off time after time, where I waited too long and it almost got the best of me.
The last two years of my hospitalization and surgeries was in Washington, DC at the Washington Hospital Center, for all of my surgeries, followed by almost six months of rehabilitation work at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. Both are affiliated with the same umbrella ownership and are, literally, across the street from each other, connected with an enclosed bridge to go back and forth from one to the other.
I think (I hope) I've learned that lesson the hard way. My point here
is this: If you are a person with a disability, and you just happen to
have a disability issue (as almost all of us do), that needs medical
attention, don't do something dumb like I just did and keep delaying
taking care of it. Have it taken care of NOW! Don't wait. That
issue(s) will, probably, just get worse.
At least, I was able to have my trusty laptop PC with me, which allowed
me to stay on top of the various newspaper articles that I write and
then send them via e-mail to my editors. It also helped me to stave
off the boredom that almost anyone would have to deal with over that
lengthy a hospital stay.
With that preamble, leading to the middle of this past November, I
hope you'll indulge me this wrap-up of a number of muses that
have been accumulating in my own mind during the past 28 years of my own disability, embellished by my past 23 years of volunteer disability advocacy work, as well.
Here, then, in no particular order, are the various musings that have been accumulating in my mind during the past 28 years of my own disability; 23 years of advocacy work; and three years of hospital, surgical, and rehabilitation stays.
Those musings are:
* That doctors and other medical professionals should help the parents
of children born with a disability to celebrate that birth, and not
dwell on predicting all of the negatives that can arise. Why? If
nothing else, because medical and pharmacological advances have begun
to accumulate and build on each other more rapidly. As such, I would
suggest that something will have been developed to, if not recover from
many different disabilities, at least make them more easily overcome
while that child is growing up and learning how best to survive and
succeed in a world where discrimination still exists;
* That individual autonomy is valued, especially in children with a
disability, rather than pushed into conformity or lost in the PC world
* That the parents of children with a disability work on dreaming big
dreams for their children, while ignoring the doom and gloom words of
* That other children treat my child(ren) just as they would any of their other friends. This also means that, since most children learn from their parents, that those parents don't put into the heads of their children the same old biases and stereotypical attitudes, most of which those same
parents had been taught, while they were growing up.
* That educators recognize that almost all children with disabilities
are also learners with great potential
*That educators begin to recognize the fact that the opposite of inclusion is exclusion. In so doing, would you also accept the fact that your child would be excluded from the same education and teaching that their non-disabled classmates are getting
* That educators and others, after relearning themselves about
the clean slate they have been given in the minds of these younger
children, most of whom want to learn with a mind, in most cases, that is really eager to be filled with perennially new ideas
* That all people, especially those potential employers, will be able to look beyond a person's disability to see the abilities that will be there
just waiting to be tapped, and finally;
* That medical professionals, parents, friends, and caregivers don't
talk to each other about the person with a disability as if that person wasn't even in the room.
Paul Rendine is chairman of the Disability Advocates of Delmarva Inc.
group. He can be reached at his e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org
with any comments or questions.