Tag Archives: Hospitals

Blazing my own trail.

18 Aug

As I sit at my desk gearing up for the start of my junior year of college (which begins on Monday), I am amazed at how I was able to keep up with my schoolwork when I was in and out of the hospital for my intense surgeries and intense physical therapy following those surgeries. Granted, I had tutors, and without them, I don’t think I would have been able to get all of my schoolwork done. However, it’s hard for me to imagine that I had so much time. I had time for schoolwork even when it wasn’t the highest priority (though it was definitely the second highest). The first concern, of course, was focusing on getting me as independent as possible through intense surgeries and PT.

I think I’m just very thankful that I was able to stay at the same pace as the rest of my classmates. I still am not quite sure how I did all of it. Maybe I didn’t need as much sleep in those days, or maybe I just didn’t have as much schoolwork as I am remembering. I definitely know that if I was faced with the same situation right now, I wouldn’t be graduating in a mere 2 years. However, that was middle school. Even though my academics were incredibly important, they weren’t as heavily weighted as they are in college obviously. Either way, I feel like I got lucky on that front. Thanks to some really great tutors, I was moving at the same pace as the rest of my classmates even when I was doing schoolwork from the hospital and from home.

All things considered, I am happy that I got the same education as the kids that I grew up with despite my disability. My parents could have chosen a different avenue, but they chose to put me in an environment with every other kid my age, and I’m so glad they did. Yes, I was teased and yes I faced some difficulties that other kids my age didn’t have to worry about. However, I also learned at a relatively young age that I had to blaze my own trail. Best of all, I’m glad that I was put in a regular school environment in the very beginning of my education so that I could get used to being around regular kids. Through this immersion, I learned quickly that I was different, but I also learned that in a school setting, I was treated like every other kid in my class. I was held to exactly the same standards as every other student, and I definitely know that I benefited from that.

It is because of my parents’ decision to place me in a regular school environment and my pure love of learning that has gotten me to where I am today in terms of my education. I am grateful that my CP does not limit my intelligence because school has provided me with yet another avenue that I am able to excel in without being limited. Yes, I may have had to work harder in middle school knowing that I had to get my schoolwork done while also going to physical therapy and having intense surgeries, but I did it. I did it because it was expected of me and because I loved to learn. I’m grateful that my parents instilled in me a love of learning, and I’m happy to say that despite having to focus on my CP as I was growing up, I was still able to blaze my own trail.

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Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten: More Than Just A Book Review.

16 May

A few days ago I finished my fourth pleasure reading of the summer, Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten. This book was an amazing read, and I simply couldn’t put it down. Here is the synopsis according to Amazon,com:

Max Parkman—autistic and whip-smart, emotionally fragile and aggressive—is perfect in his mother’s eyes. Until he’s accused of murder.

Attorney Danielle Parkman knows her teenage son Max’s behavior has been getting worse—using drugs and lashing out. But she can’t accept the diagnosis she receives at a top-notch adolescent psychiatric facility that her son is deeply disturbed. Dangerous.

Until she finds Max, unconscious and bloodied, beside a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death.

Trapped in a world of doubt and fear, barred from contacting Max, Danielle clings to the belief that her son is innocent. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her son really a killer?

With the justice system bearing down on them, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth, no matter what it is. She’ll do whatever it takes to find the killer and to save her son from being destroyed by a system that’s all too eager to convict him.

I connected most with the character of Danielle, Max’s mother. Even though there were certain times when I didn’t approve of some of her choices, ultimately she did what any good mother of a special needs child would do, she fought for him. For me, reading this book reminded me of all the people who have fought for me as I was growing up and throughout my life due to my Cerebral Palsy. Whether it was making sure that I was placed in the same classes as other kids my age in middle school or making sure I could get a single dorm room in college or be able to register for college classes early so I could make sure the classroom buildings weren’t too far apart in between back-to-back classes, I’ve always had people fighting for me. When I was growing up, and even now, that person has been my mom. It took me a long time to realize that her tough love was her way of fighting like hell for me to get the same opportunities as all the other kids my age. Nowadays, one of my previous physical therapists, Meredith, has acted as my biggest advocate in terms of getting a single room for college, etc. However, the strong realization over the past year is that I’m reaching an age where I have to be my own advocate, or at least figure out who the person is that I need to talk to in order to get a certain thing done, has been a little scary. Though I understand that it is because I’m getting older and I have to “take the reins” in a sense, I’ve always had others fighting for me. Though I know that they won’t go away simply because I start being my own advocate, when I was growing up, I was my own fighter in a different way. I fought to get up in the morning and not instantly start crying because of the pain that came so suddenly. I fought to try to keep a smile on my face because I knew that if I didn’t I would just break down. I fought to ignore all the stares, even when I would have liked to just scream at those kids that would walk by with their mouth gaping open, and who would turn around and look at me more even after their mothers had walked them past me already. I fought, every single day, and I still do. And I’ll fight to be my own advocate. It’s just been interesting to realize that I have to switch gears, while also realizing that I’m just fighting for what I have always deserved: the same opportunities that other kids my age have been given.

That being said, read this book. It’s amazing.

To Grace (Part 2): Walking Through The Fire.

25 Apr

Since I got such awesome feedback from the first post I wrote To Grace, I decided to write a part two. Who knows…this could just be the beginning of posts I write out to kids who have CP just like me. But this “letter” in a sense is simply reflecting on what I have gone through while having CP. By addressing it to Grace, I am connecting with someone I know personally who also has CP. However, this can apply to anyone who has CP, so I’ve decided to not include a “To:” line, and instead, I’ll just jump right in.

First things first, don’t be afraid to cry. I know that you have been faced with so many struggles and you feel like you need to act like you’re not afraid so that other kids who don’t understand will refrain from taunting you. However, you can be afraid. I know that you don’t want to, but you shouldn’t feel bad about being afraid. If anyone else was in your situation, they’d be terrified. Anyway, as I said before, don’t be afraid to cry. I know that you want to be strong for your family and your friends, but crying doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes, it means you’re that much stronger because instead of holding back how you feel, you’re letting it out, tears and all.

Find your own sense of security, something that makes you feel safe. For me, that was my stuffed animals. For every one of my surgeries, I took a stuffed animal into the operating room with me. My stuffed animal of choice even got a hospital band of its own so that it was like we were experiencing the pain together. When you split fear or pain between 2 people, even if one of them isn’t a real person, it’s as if there’s someone holding your hand as you walk through the fire. I mean, it doesn’t make a huge difference….but it could be the difference in feeling like you have a friend beside you and feeling totally and utterly alone.

Find a release. Whether it’s watching tv, reading a book, or writing in your diary…find something that can get your mind off of things for a few moments. Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done. When you’re in the hospital or you’re going to PT, all you can think about is the fact that in a little over an hour you’ll be crying. And you wish that just for one day, you could not end up hurting so much after that hour of PT. I know how hard it is. I’ve been there. In your mind, you wish you could be anywhere else, and in your mind, enduring that pain, even for only an hour, is the worse kind of pain. That’s why it’s good to find some sort of release. Some way to let out some of the anxiety. I’ve suffered with a lot of anxiety throughout my life, but it was especially bad when I was going through all my surgeries and PT. My way of letting out my anxiety was through writing. I’d write about what I was feeling. I’d write about the fact that I wish I could be anywhere but on my way to PT. I’d write about how much it hurt, and how I wished that there was someone who could understand. I’d write any and everything, and even though all the pain and fear was still there when I was done, I was happy that for a few precious moments I was able to vent to not a person, but to something that seemed more trusting at the time: a blank sheet of paper.

Lastly, probably one of the most important things I could say, is smile. I know it seems like such a simple task, but some days, even though they could be few and far between, are good. Some days aren’t quite so tough, or rather, parts of some days aren’t as tough. Smile during those times. Though it may not seem like it, you are so awesome. You’re facing a level of pain that few people can even imagine, and best of all, you’re getting through it. You’re not letting it tear you down. Yes, lots of days are hard, but you’re fighting. That counts. Rather than sitting on the floor feeling sad that you can’t do things as well as other kids, you’re standing there trying to figure out how you can do it in your own way. It may not be perfect, but guess what? It doesn’t have to be. All that matters is that you’re walking through the fire that’s your life, but instead of standing around and letting the flames consume you, you’re running straight into the flames and that, my friend, is so freaking awesome!

NPR: Music Therapy Treats Stress And Speech Disorders.

5 Apr

I just listened to this on NPR’s website, an article about the benefits of music therapy in the field of mental health. Here’s the story: Treating Stress, Speech Disorders With Music

This was a really interesting story for me to hear. I was introduced to the concept of music therapy when I read Jodi Picoult’s, Sing You Home, last year. Though I had heard that music could have an impact on the mentally ill and those who are sick, it was interesting to read Picoult’s novel so that I could learn more about how music therapy works.

This NPR story explains music therapy in greater detail, so have a listen if you’d like. Within the story, when a musician gives a snippet of a musical therapy session, it reminded of meditation and visual meditation. According to the musician, he instructs one to listen to the music that he is playing while focusing on your breathing. Therefore, I found it interesting that music therapy has a strong connection with yoga and guided meditation.