Could You Imagine?

For the past few months I’ve been reading “Best Friends Forever” by Jennifer Wiener and today came upon an “OMG!” moment.

Adelaide Downs is lying in bed thinking about the moment which caused her to realize her weight is not only unhealthy, but is creating barriers to life. In her mind’s eye, she is walking along a street and notices a sign advertising the dessert of the day and decides to go into the restaurant for a treat. The diner is small and has only booths so she knows from the moment she enters that the trip will not go well. After squeezing herself into the tight space between the booth and table, she looks at the menu and overhears a little boy ask his mom why the woman next to them is so large. The mom tells the little boy that it’s because she eats too much and makes bad food choices. Hearing this makes Addie uncomfortable, so she decides to quickly order a bowl of soup and leave. When she’s done though, she tries to stand up and is horrified to learn that she’s stuck! Then to make matters worse, she notices the little boy watching her struggle.

Reading this made me feel terrible. I thought about how awful it must have been for Addie to be in this situation and began thinking about my own weight and wondering if this could some day happen to me. I’m not a huge person, but I’m also not a healthy weight either. I’ve tried cutting this and that out of my diet and have tried convincing myself to go on our treadmill at least once a day, but right now I just don’t have the desire to stick with it. I also understand the risks surrounding my weight, but so far have just not found the spark I require to light my will power to become healthier. I know it will come some day, but I’m just hoping it won’t be too late.

It’s funny to think of all the obsessing I do over keeping my dogs slim and healthy, when to do this for myself seems to be so difficult.

Everyone’s got An Opinion

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

The above quote, was taken from a Twitter feed I follow, that sends out random quotes about life. I know I’ve been blogging a lot about things I’ve read, that were inspiring, but I’m hoping everyone enjoys the break from hearing solely about the fur babies.

When I read the above quote a few days ago, I began thinking about my aunts and how they seem to find it necessary to criticize other family member’s life choices, but seem to overlook the fact that their decisions haven’t been much better.

I know constantly being told what to do or what you’re doing wrong, is just part of being the “younger” generation of a family, but my sister and I seem to be even more of a target now that we’re older and Mom’s not around to defend us. I try and keep my distance. Try not to have to be in a situation where I’ll be alone with an “interrogator”, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe it’s partly because I can’t see well enough to know when others are leaving the room. Or maybe it’s because I’m just too nice, but it always seems to happen at a family gathering and it’s gotten to the point where I dread having to attend.

My family thinks Huib is the greatest guy ever. They have no complaints when it comes to him and my decision to get married, but they still find ways of sticking their two cents into our relationship. They find it necessary to give me advice on having a successful marriage – which they haven’t succeeded in doing themselves, so I’m not sure how their advice is going to help me. They like criticizing the way I interact with Huib and ask why he doesn’t want to go outside with the “boys” rather than just sitting with me – because that’s what all guys do right? And then when I’m thoroughly annoyed, one of the aunts begin asking if we want kids and when I explain that things just haven’t worked out the way we’d like, they proceed to ask if we’ve actually been trying….well, isn’t that self-explanatory? AND is it really your business? I guess it just seems strange to them that their own children could be popping out babies without any real effort, but Huib and I are having trouble.

Then, after all that is over, we come to the weight questions… So you’ve gained some weight since the last time I saw you… – you don’t think I’ve noticed? Have you looked at your own belt size? Oh, the things I would love to say if I weren’t a caring and patient person lol! When I just sit there with a look of shock on my face, someone will proceed to begin advising me on how to lose the extra weight, which would be fine if they, themselves weren’t also fighting a weight issue. It seems as though our family’s genes just aren’t conducive to being thin.

It’s funny to observe them though when the tables have turned. When people begin criticizing them or asking them questions and giving “advice”. They just sit there and go red, not out of embarrassment, but anger because they see the questions as a personal attack. This is when one usually ends up crying or leaving because someone hurt their feelings or offended them.

Do you have any people in your life that you wish could take a moment, and just look in the mirror?

True Equality

“Until the disabled community gets behind the concept of access for all we will never have true equality. Access for most doesn’t count.”

The above statement, was written by our friends over at The Dog House about a week ago – hope she doesn’t mind me posting it here.

Over the years, disability advocates have fought to have the rights of “their” group recognized. Their members bring forth inequalities and the “leaders” begin lobbying the various levels of government for change. Small changes happen each year because of their efforts, but it always seems to be one group working to change policies and practices for their specific “issue” rather than trying to lobby for shifts in policies and practices which will benefit all disabled Canadians. It seems as though the various disability groups are afraid that if they were to ask for changes that will help everyone, then maybe “their” particular fight wouldn’t seem as important.

I did a quick Google search and found these two references that sort of illustrate my above thoughts.

This link, will take you to the Canadian Human rights Commission, where there is a publication that describes different changes that have occurred in the areas of ATM accessibility, equal rights in the tax courts and accommodations for disabled government workers. With further digging, I learned that that in all cases, the changes were brought about because one disability group complained about an inadequacy and not because the “disability community” as a whole saw it as a problem.

This link, will take you to a blog (I think) where the writer discusses changes that have come about over the past 50 years and shows how disability groups campaign against one another in an effort to bring forth “their” plights as being more important and often refuse to celebrate the successes of others.

I’m not sure if you’ll see these links as true illustrations of what I am describing, but they will at least give you a glimpse in the right direction.

Canadians with disabilities are far better off now than they were even thirty years ago, but I think we could have come much further if it were not for the ongoing attempts to outshine one another. In my opinion, no disability group is better or worse off than the other. We all face barriers in our everyday lives, so maybe instead of trying to work against one another, we should try and work together because until then I don’t see there ever being “true equality.”

General Response

Today I received a response from the constituency e-mail address
of Ontario Health Minister Deborah Matthews. The message sender was not Ms. Matthews, but from one of her helpers. She told me that my message would be forwarded on to Ms. Matthews’ Queen’s park address and that I could always send my inquiry to the Ministry’s general address. I forwarded this message on to Christina’s Mom so she was aware of what I had heard so far and was told she had not gotten any word from the letters she had sent.

Well, this afternoon we both received identical messages from a man named Glenn Oldford, who I guess is in charge of sending general e-mails from some closet within the Ministry called Correspondence Services – our tax dollars hard at work!! I have copied the message below, not because it tells us anything, but because I think it’s important for the world to see how the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care spends our money and responds to a plea for life saving assistance.

Dear Ms. Sillaby:

Thank you for your e-mail message regarding a child’s care at the Hospital for Sick Children. While I cannot comment on the care of a third party, I would like to provide you with some information about hospital funding and operations.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care plays a strategic role in health care, but it does not intervene in the care of individual patients. This involves medical decisions that are best addressed by clinical teams.

The number of procedures that a particular hospital performs reflects the hospital’s decisions about budgetary and operational issues, such as the purchase of prosthetic implants and how to allocate operating room time.

Although the ministry provides funding for hospitals through Local Health Integration Networks, hospitals are independent corporations run by their own boards of directors. Each hospital receives a set funding allocation, and the hospital’s administration decides how to use this funding to best suit the needs of the community it serves. This is set out under the provisions of the Public Hospitals Act and other legislation. The hospital boards are directly responsible for the day-to-day management of their hospitals, including the quality of care provided to their patients.

The hospital administration is best able to provide feedback about a patient’s treatment and its own operations.

Thank you again for writing.

Glenn Oldford
Correspondence Services
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Thank you Mr. Oldford. I can see you put a lot of thought into your response and am so glad my tax dollars are being put towards the employment of such a useless position. I’m pretty sure my dog could have come up with a more creative way of saying “the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is a waste of tax payers money and we don’t care about critically ill children because we just hand out your money and leave it’ up to others to spend it.”

I think I will continue sending e-mails and letters each week on Christina’s behalf because there’s gotta be someone who actually cares out there…

The Timelessness Of Music

Just a quick note before I begin writing. Yesterday I decided to combine “Life and Its Challenges” with “Ruled By Paws” so you will notice some new, but old entries have appeared. When I started “Life And Its challenges” I thought it would be nice to just have a blog dedicated to my personal life and thoughts so they wouldn’t seem strange amongst all of my dog entries, but I just found it hard to keep the dogs separate at times and also didn’t find I had as much to say on a personal level. So, now you will get more of a glimpse into the lives of Huib and myself, instead of just the parts which pertain to our fur babies, as some like to call them.

This morning I’ve been listening to the Lithium channel on Serious radio and the song “What Its Like” by Everlast got me thinking about how some songs just never lose their effectiveness.

From Googling the song I learned it was the first song Everlast did when he left House of Pain. I don’t know his previous band, but I sure do like his first solo. According to Song Facts,
“What It’s Like” is about how society is too quick to judge people. It looks at the lives of three different people and the chorus continually reminds the listener that if they knew what it was truly like then they wouldn’t be so fast to label. Even though this song was written back in 1999, the meaning behind the words still causes listeners to pause and reflect about a social issue which remains unchanged.

There are other songs which come up on the radio from time to time that get me thinking about their meanings and how even with time the message rings true.

Are there any songs out there which make you stop and think?

Canadian

On Monday, Huib and I were in Kirkland Lake so I could get blood taken in preparation for my lumbar puncture that is scheduled for a week today. The doctors still don’t know why my vision deteriorated so suddenly and then came back after a few weeks, so as a last ditch effort to figure it all out I’ve been scheduled for an LP. I haven’t had one since I was a teenager, they were terrible and the thought of having to endure one makes me cringe. But, we’ll leave that for another day and move on because I’m just not ready to talk about that. So, Huib and I were in town and decided to get a coffee at one of they’re two Tim Horton’s locations – yes, Kirkland Lake only has about 8,000 people, but has two Timmy’s! After ordering our coffees at the speaker, Huib moved up to the window and saw a sign for “Roll-Up The Rim”. “Roll-Up The Rim” is an approximately two week promotion Timmy’s runs, where people can win things just by buying a coffee, hot chocolate or tea. The promotional television ads last year for “Roll-Up the Rim” had a guy call his friend to inform them that it was time and instructed him to grab his toque (for those non-Canadians, it’s a winter hat) and jump on their moose so they could go grab their timmy’s double double. I used to laugh each time I heard the commercial and thought it was funny how they were able to incorporate several “Canadian things” without making it sound dumb.

This got me thinking about what other things are “Canadian things” and wondering why we take such pride in them. Last year Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and I remember Huib and I watching the closing ceremonies and laughing. The organizers had decided to showcase some of our Canadian talent and began everything by presenting a little skit of sorts to make fun of the various Canadian images – the beaver, the RCMP, and the maple leaf, among other things. I’m not sure if other countries are like this, but for some reason it seems as though Canadians find it necessary to make fun of themselves and be sure others don’t mistake us for Americans.

I think it’s wonderful to have such pride in your own country, but I’m also not sure I believe we are better than other countries. Yes, we have a wonderful public health care system where no one ends up in debt because of illness or dies because they couldn’t afford care, but what about the seniors who are struggling to survive on a less than adequate income or the Canadians suffering from mental illness who can’t afford help and end up in prison or living on the street?
I’m thankful to live in a peaceful country and know that when I wake up in the morning my neighbour’s house won’t be replaced by a bomb crater, but how can we take pride in a country that allows their veterans to live below the poverty line and when someone tries to speak up, information on his financial, medical and psychological condition is given to a cabinet minister? I’m not sure about you, but these facts sure don’t make me feel pride in my country… I will always be thankful for living in Canada and will wear the Canadian flag on my dog’s harness or my backpack with pride, but I will never see myself as better than Americans or any other country’s citizens because no matter what, they all have their “skeletons in the closet”. So, instead of trying so hard to be “un-American” maybe we should take a better look at Canada and focus on trying to solve our own shameful social problems.

And…to think, this was all started by ordering an extra large one and a half Splenda, two cream and a large black I wonder if Terri Clark was onto something when she released her song “I Think the World Needs A Drink”…

She would Have Been 52

On Sunday (February 6th) my mom would have turned 52, but in September of 1998 diabetes decided she should forever be 39.

When Mom first passed away, I found it hard to think of Christmas, Mothers Day, her birthday, and the day she left us (September 25, 1998) without getting teary or feeling generally miserable. I would get moody or easily upset without warning weeks beforehand. I found it hard to listen to friends and other students talk about what they’d be doing with their mothers on Mothers Day or what they got them for Christmas. I felt as though the world should know Mom was gone and therefore no one should be talking about their mothers. Well, it’s been almost twelve and a half years and I’m noticing the days now sometimes pass without thought.

I still think about mom when I’m having a bad day or when something exciting happens. I think about her when I visit my sister and see my step-dad. I think about her when I’m not feeling well and wish she could be there just to offer a finger to hold – something I always did as a kid. I wonder what she would have thought about Huib and where we’d be now if she was still alive. Would we be living in Northeastern Ontario? Or would we be living closer to Aurora because that’s where her and Dad live? Would Brandi be the way she is? Would she still have that feeling of entitlement and expectation that I be there to catch her every time she fell? Or would Mom have made her grow up and make something of herself sooner than we were able to do so? All of these thoughts and questions move through my head whenever I think of Mom and what life would be like if diabetes had not decided she would forever be 39.

Even though you’re no longer with us Mom – Happy 52nd Birthday!!

Anniversary

On Friday (February 4th) Huib and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it was 5 years ago that we said our vows in front of family and friends at the Waterloo Inn and spent the evening celebrating. We’re still paying off the wedding, but it was a memorable day for everyone.

Huib and I have decided to mark this anniversary and every tenth one after (15th being our next) by creating a slide show of pictures from our years together. This one will include pictures from our full ten years together, but the ones following will only include pictures from the last slide show up to the current year of the anniversary. If I can figure out how to do it, I will post the slide show here and on Facebook for everyone to view.

Being Huib’s wife has been an indescribable experience. He’s one in a million and I’m blessed to have him all to myself. I know I write about how amazing he is all the time, but you really have to know Huib to understand that I’m not exaggerating. He’s extremely caring, overly loyal and wants nothing more than for me to be happy. Whenever we’re out and he sees something I might like he’ll show me and if I even smile, he’ll say we should buy it or tell me we’ll get it when it goes on sale. When at work he e-mails if I haven’t already to see how I’m doing or calls during his breaks just to hear my voice. When his co-workers ask him to come out for a drink after shift or invite him over for a party, he’ll either tell them he has to get home or ask if he can come later with me. I’m not sure people understand our relationship at times, but from day one Huib and I have always tried to include one another in everything – not because we have to, but because we want to.

I love you Huib with all my heart and could never imagine life without you by my side. We’ve made it this far, let’s try for a lifetime!!

When I Was Young

Currently I’m reading “Best Friends Forever” by Jennifer Wiener and it’s got me thinking about my days in elementary school and how friends come and go. “Best Friends Forever” is about a woman named Adelaide Downs who has worked hard all her life to be liked. As a child she was overweight and kids at school never wanted anything to do with her. Then a mother and daughter move in across the street and Addie learns what it is like to have a friend. The book chronicles their friendship and the ups and downs that go with such intimate relationships.

So far I’ve only read about seven chapters, but already its got me thinking about my childhood and how I used to dread going to school as a child because I knew what was coming – non-stop name calling and the occasional eraser or elastic in the back of the head. Ever since I was two and a half years old I’ve had no hair. The doctors don’t really know why it fell out, but since a young age I’ve had to deal with the torment that goes along with being different. I remember wanting so badly to be a part of the “in-crowd” and almost wanting to cry when I was overlooked every day. It wasn’t until high school (I had lost my sight during the summer) that I actually learned what it was like to be welcome and a part of a group.

I had friends as a child, but not many stuck around long-term – either they’d move or we’d grow apart. I remember how hard it was at times to make friends and then hoped that they would not end up turning on me in the end because someone decided to befriend them from the “in-crowd”. I think the most heartbreaking friendship I lost, was when I was in grade 7 and had befriended a boy named DJ. DJ was new to the school and became my friend almost instantly. We’d get together after school to toboggan or just hang out at each other’s house almost every day. As our friendship grew, other kids began to tease him and I watched as he started to move away from me out of embarrassment. I actually liked this guy, he was the first guy I truly liked as a child and it was hard to see his behavior change towards me just because others didn’t see what was so worthwhile in being my friend. Even to this day I think about DJ and what great friends we could have been if he had just seen past all the comments made by others.

In high school everyone knew me and would offer help whenever they thought I needed it. I remember kids who had teased me during elementary school running over to be of assistance, only to be turned away because I didn’t want to be their “good deed for the day”. I would eat lunch with a group of kids each day and meet up with others during spares. Life in high school was so much different from the days I spent in elementary school, but still there were friends who came and went – the difference this time was that I often chose to part ways.

As you can see my childhood was quite the experience, but it only helped to make me the person I am today. I’m an independent-minded, caring and welcoming woman, but I’m also not one to let someone walk all over me. Reading “Best Friends Forever” has really gotten me thinking about my past and wondering what the future will bring.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell

Some Great news!

I had to share this link because it is welcome news and hits home for me not only as a person with a disability, but also because I see myself as somewhat of a “side lines advocate” (for lack of a better phrase).

My sister works for Community Living and during a recent staff meeting was informed that they would now need to take extra care in documenting all bruises, injuries and complaints of clients since the police could be called to investigate at any time. My sister is worried about this because bumps can happen without notice, but she also takes comfort in knowing her clients will now have a voice and will be watched more closely. I’m guessing this policy has been implemented because of the changes mentioned below.

Rolling Around In My Head: By God Finally A New Year: “It should be a given. People with disabilities have a right to be safe in care. Organizations and the governments that fund them need to ens…”