The Life of Nancy Blose: A Guest Blog Series


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Jason’s Connection is excited to introduce our first Guest Blog Series. This is where a guest blogger will bring us new blogs about themselves and their lives over a course of time. To kick us off we have Nancy Blose. “I share my own experiences of the opportunities and obstacles that I have had since June 22, 1997 in hope that it will inspire you to take action and engage in life completing your own bucket list. Today brings new opportunities to live boldly.”

The life of Nancy Blose is divided into two segments; before accident and after accident.

Before June 22, 1997 I was a participant in the rat race. Employed full-time as an administrative assistant to the vice president at Kelly Service’s headquarters, shuttling two children between early morning daycare, school and extra curricular activities and responsible for household requirements that accompany adulthood.

My life changed in a second. Returning home from my sister’s wedding, my father fell asleep while driving 75 mph. When he awoke, he overcorrected the steering, propelling my Jeep into a rollover – five times. In that moment I became paralyzed.

After three months in the hospital and surviving multiple medical complications and surgeries, I was discharged as a quadriplegic only able to shrug my shoulders. Making a promise to myself that if I lived, regardless of the loss of my physical being, I would live each day with purpose and gratitude.   I choose to greet each morning as a gift with infinite possibilities.

My motivation to live was fueled by my children, Kelly and Kurt, then ages 8 and 6. They needed a mother and I refused to relinquish that position. With the support from my husband and the nursing staff, I resigned the title of patient and returned to being a mom and a wife.

I believe that with a change of attitude, an altered approach and the commitment to take action that anything is possible. I have had the privilege of attending two high school graduations, one college graduation and Kelly’s wedding. My journey has taken me to living in the Caribbean, rafting the Arkansas River, skiing the Rocky Mountains and bonding with whales in Maui.

I Ran Away

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” ~ Wayne Dyer

There was no compelling reason to stay. Friends and family were disappointing. It is not unusual or should I say, it is usual that following a major incident or accident, that friends often become fair weathered. A divorce, loss of a family member, a catastrophic illness or accident can all end with the same result. Those that you thought would be by your side have disappeared but others, completely unexpected, appear. I called them hidden angels.

In late September, 1997 I was discharged from the University of Michigan Hospital and faced my first winter in a wheelchair. I survived by hibernating inside except for attendance at mandatory doctor appointments. The winters in Michigan start early and end late. Halloween costumes are always disguised under winter coats and it has snowed on Mother’s Day. Michigan is the 3rd cloudiest state, tied with Ohio and following Alaska. Everything turns gray in the winter. The sky is gray, the snow is gray, the air is gray. I realized that I could not survive five months of gray every year trapped inside by home. Good for the bears not so good for Nancy. I concluded that if I was now required to sit then I needed to sit where I could look at beautiful scenery.

I decided to approach my new state of unemployment as early retirement. It had always been our plan to retire in the Caribbean. We were former scuba diver junkies, requiring an annual fix every January when Bill (my husband) and I would drop Kelly and Kurt off at the grandparents and head south for six day adventure underwater. We had visited Grand Cayman twice, for a total of 12 days, and this somehow made me an authority of the Island. Granted, the majority of our time was spent either underwater or at the bar, and I’m not referring to the sandbar At Stingray City.

There were ample naysayers providing 100 reasons why I shouldn’t go. I did not listen to any of their negative rhetoric, and became an eight-year-old child silently chanting “I can’t hear you” and shaking my head “no no no”. After all, I did not know a soul on the island, I had no connection to the medical community or care providers, and there were hurricanes.

My rationale was simple. Grand Cayman had a developed infrastructure having two hospitals and over 400 banks. The bankers needed medical services, so they must exist in the bankers had children so decent schools must exist. There were ex-patriots living on the island, so it was possible. Grand Cayman is only 90 miles south of Miami, less than a 60 minute flight. As for hurricanes, I had had three close encounters with tornadoes which only came with minutes of forewarning. Hurricanes come with days notice – piece of cake!Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 7.26.55 AM

The logistics were a nightmare but I never seemed to notice, probably because this nightmare was by my own creation and motivation. Bill had been on the fence of staying in Michigan employed as an automotive engineer or joining me as early retired. Once Kelly and Kurt decided to make the move to Grand Cayman Bill too made the decision to join us. The requirements in short were:

  • find a place to live in Grand Cayman
  • find a school for Kelly and Kurt
  • buy ALL new contents; furniture, kitchen gadgets,
  • ship everything to Miami, load a container and shipped to Georgetown allowing three-month lead
  • sell the home in Michigan
  • sell ALL contents, more items than purchased above
  • obtain the correct state certified documentation for our cat, Zoe

And it wouldn’t be my life without having a few more surgeries added in for good measures. This time it was to close my still open head wound and to rotate my bicep to tricep on my right arm.

Grand Cayman has strict immigration requirements. These include a deposit to pay for one-way tickets off the Island for the entire family, filing paperwork every six months to renew our temporary resident status and paying a fee for the privilege of living there. Believe it or not, every other country has some form of security at their borders and a way to monitor and remove those who are no longer welcomed.

We celebrated the new millennium at our new neighbors in governors Harbor in Grand Cayman. I could not have imagined two and half years earlier that I would be confined to a wheelchair nor could I have imagined I would be living in Grand Cayman as a temporary resident. But both were true.

 

Hidden Illnesses: An Infographic


Living with an illness such as lupus, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis is hard enough without having to face ignorant accusations of ‘milking it’ from people who have no idea of the pain you’re experiencing every day of your life. Sadly, most invisible illnesses have no scientific treatment, but even a basic degree of understanding from others can make a huge different to the morale of the hidden illness sufferer. Rather than making assumptions, ask how they’re feeling or if you can help. It’s a sign that you are at least aware of how tough life is for that person and that you want to do something to relieve their suffering to some extent.

Made by: Burning Nights http://www.burningnightscrps.org/

Hidden illness

MOVING AND LEARNING: Physical Intervention for Children With Special Needs


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By Yuji Oka

The sensorimotor period is an important pre-cognitive stage where children learn how to interact with the environment through their own physical experience. Many children with special needs are non-verbal and remain in this stage much longer than typical children. This extended sensorimotor learning is important for them to build a foundation of self-awareness and self-regulation that they can use to support their cognitive, emotional, social and motor progress.
When my partner and I received an arts grant in 1996 to work with children with emotional disturbances at a large mental health agency, we found only rudimentary motor programs were in place and there was a lack of sensorimotor learning. Children had access to playgrounds, gyms, and motor equipment, but most of the motor time was unstructured and unsupervised. Specialized services such as Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy were usually individual-based and not integrated fully into the curriculum. Despite some advances, things have not changed much since.

The Need to Integrate Physical Interventions in the Classroom

aidan4_DxOFPPhysical intervention is a term that describes a new holistic way to work with children with special needs. Rather than focus on linguistic or academic learning, one attempts to reach children through experiential activities that help them understand new concepts through their own bodies. Physical interventions can be taught to whole classrooms of children with special needs. This is important as children themselves become active participants in a collective learning process. They participate in motor activities and watch each other, share body weight, try to synchronize their movements, take turns, and practice other pre-academic skills. These experiences can profoundly change a child’s attitude towards learning, because they see for the first time that they can understand in a simpler and more direct way.

What are Some Examples of Physical Interventions?

Having worked with hundreds of children with special needs and disabilities in both Canada and the US, we have learned one fundamental thing: all kids love to move and experience life through their bodies. Physical interventions can be used for all people in the special needs population, from infants to young adults. The techniques can be simple or sophisticated depending on the situation, but they must be concrete and something children can understand.

For example, in our MOVEMENT! programs, we teach children a base vocabulary of movement skills, which they then learn to apply different physical operations to. They may learn how to sequence the movements, variate them in speed, energy or spatial configuration or synchronize and/or partner them with other children. This playful exploration of movement coordinations, patterns and sequences allows them to learn many valuable lessons about the nature of cognitive structure, but also of self-regulation and group dynamics.

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For children with disabilities, we often use bodywork as a means for children to learn about the most fundamental aspects of motor control. Through simple somatic release techniques, teachers can learn how to help their children relax their bodies so that they feel less tense and more calm. More sophisticated techniques can be used to help children awaken contracted areas of their body and learn how to re-initiate movements, often dramatically — we have had children with cerebral palsy, partial paralysis or ataxia learn new movements through re-patterning activities.

Finally, we often make use of touch techniques at the end of classes to help children make the transition from motor play to other activities. Touch techniques involve the use of different massage textures accompanied by songs and/or stories. These simple touch techniques can be performed by virtually anyone and are very helpful to teachers, parents, or caregivers in calming and relaxing their children.

The Future of Physical Intervention

As our children spend more time in front of TVs and computers in this digital age, there is more and more of a need for them to reconnect to their bodies and discover a simpler approach to learning. Many curricula have begun to include programs such as adaptive yoga, sensorimotor rooms, and expanded motor facilities, but we believe there is still a disproportionate emphasis on abstract and symbolic learning in the classrooms. This must change in the future.

We encourage teachers and caregivers to creatively begin to use physical interventions in their relationships with children. And remember this also can mean even simple gestures such as lifting, carrying and hugging! The sense of care and trust that can be conveyed through simple physical gestures can often, by itself, help a child with special needs gain the confidence to move to the next step in their own progress.

Stephanie Gottlob & Yuji Oka are currently co-directors of the Spiral Movement Center where they use their innovative somatic techniques to help children with special needs and disabilities. For more information please visit http://movementforkidswithspecialneeds.org/ 

Going Through The (E)motions


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53034773 – emoticon colorful vector icons set. emoticon faces , set of icons. different emotions collection. emoticon flat pattern design

Written by a Guest Blogger: Serena DeJesus

Life has it’s ups and downs like an EKG monitor.
If it’s flat, it means you’re probably dead, but, I mean this more in a mental sense.
I just came back from watching my best friend, Roxy fight for a title. Unfortunately it didn’t go her way. In watching the judges make their call about her fight, it made me relive my own recent loss in the cage and how even though months have past it still (as it should) stings, so I was all messed up for two reasons but more so for my friend.

To top things off things that stress me, I managed to pick up a souvenir in Kansas City, a fungal skin infection (ringworm) which will prevent me from training… the one thing that helps keep my sanity.

So it sit here, quietly reflecting about my life and the people in it.

Out of all the people I have met  my best friend Roxy may be the only one to ever fully accept me for who I am, including all the quirks that come with my form of autism. From my knack of focus on academics, watching the movements of the human body when drilling to make a deeper imprint on my memory to the anxiety attacks and social anxiety that have plagued me since I can remember…she gets me.

People have always made jokes that Roxy and I are yin and yang. Two parts of a whole, and I believe it.

She’s the very graceful, polite, more experienced individual who favors grappling and won’t say a curse word no matter what…

Then there’s me, her polar opposite. I’ll drink on occasion swear so much truckers shake their heads and sailors blush, I’m very blunt (even though I know it gets me in trouble) and I like to punch and kick to my heart’s content, but, at the end of the day I too, care for people.

As I have been sitting around trying my best to “adult” by setting up appointments, doing chores, etc., I have noticed that my agitation and anxiety has seeped back in, and it has taken an alarmingly short amount of time to do so.

Something as simple as trying to navigate an insurance company to get a therapist for me to talk to on a semi regular basis was enough to put me over the edge. The whole process was entirely too stressful.

My insurance carrier was not as helpful as they should be, and sadistically give me the run around, as they have since April. I tried to do it on my own, over and over, without success, to the point my mom intervened, leaving me feeling very inadequate. Thankful, because it’s done, but inadequate.

I kept thinking to myself “I’m 24 years old and I can’t do this stuff by myself?

Everyone else around me is successfully “adulting,” and here’s my loser ass on needing my mommy to come to my rescue.

This isn’t the only incident that’s happened this week.

Earlier this week, Roxy and I were at a leasing office trying to get an apartment together.

When handed the background checks, I could feel the gears in my head slow down, which I know means an anxiety attack or a full on shut down is imminent.

I filled out my paperwork to the best of my ability, and because I work sporadic odd jobs such as freelance writing, tutoring, etc, for cash, I have no trackable income. So I have been emailing people who I work for to prove I get paid monthly.

As I finished I looked back to Roxy, who looked completely fine, but knew I wasn’t.

As the leasing lady walked out of earshot, I told her what was going through my head, and she simply smiled and told me, “believe me I’m stressed too”.
That simple sentence both blew my mind, and also helped me a bit.
I always judge myself, often feeling inadequate when it comes to me dealing with emotions.

I see everyone around able to do things expected of them, with no problem.
No mental break downs.
No overstimulation.
Nada.

Then we have me, who lives by the motto, “fake it till you make it.”

I attempt to look and act normal to the outside world.

Here’s the thing though…when out of sight,  I collapse, and ball up in the fetal position in the corner, trying to sort things out.

I have at least a biweekly existential crisis that I talk myself down from.

After my most recent crisis, I decided to take time off from writing  to watch an old favorite anime movie of mine, “Ghost In The Shell,” which was both a good and bad idea.

The plot follows a cybernetic soldier working for a secret group of the Japanese military alongside other members who have cybernetic parts to enhance their senses. They jump through a vast network of information, using their “ghost” which is more or less their consciousness as they track down a hacker who can hack into the brains of others and their “ghost”.

In this movie I related to the main character, Makoto Kusanagi, as she confronted the hacker.

Like me she’s very philosophical and goes through her own existential crisis as she tries to rationalize what defines “being human.”

In my case I always try to “be normal,” and try to figure out what “being human” is. But, as always what’s normal for a spider is chaos for a fly.

Most days, I feel like the fly.

This week’s theme has been one of accepting my shortcomings, and embracing the fact that although I’m autistic, “everyday people” struggle too.

And I’m not inadequate, but rather still trying to figure out the controls like in a video game.

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Serena DeJesus is a mixed martial artist on the autism spectrum. She’s 4-1 so far in her mma career and is an active autism ambassador for the non profit Fighting For Autism. When she isn’t training or fighting you can find her nose buried in philosophy books or video games. 

What to say or not to say when you meet someone with a Physical Disability


 

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69121018 – hand writing the text: what do you say?

Written by Guest Blogger 

I am going to start the article by stating that not all disabilities are visible. We all know this, but this article is written concerning those of us that have physical differences that bring the weirdest questions and look imaginable to humanity. Everyone is different this applies to people with disabilities just as much as anyone else, but people do not seem to realize this fact. It seems especially now that because there are individuals who have disabilities that love to tell their story in the public eye, everyone thinks this characteristic applies to everybody he or she may meet that has a physical disability.

The thing is those people are celebrities, and they are motivational speakers they took something tragic and made something positive out of it in the public eye. They are comfortable sharing their story; I am not. People always want to know “what happened” this is not a story I want to tell while I am having a great day running errands. I do not want to relive my accident over and over and over again to satisfy everyone and their cousin’s curiosity. It is incredibly frustrating to be made to relive one of the worst days of my life so that someone can run home with a new story to tell.

This article is not to gripe but to only say, please be considerate. I am currently teaching my 9-year-old daughter how to tell people that her hearing aid helps her hear politely and that is all she wants to discuss right now. People have told me that I am wrong for this that it is her responsibility to educate the public, but that would be a mistake. She is a 9-year-old girl that loves to read, watch YouTube and tell me that she is almost a teenager, she has no interest in the inner workings of her ear. If she ever goes to medical school to be an ear doctor, then it will be her responsibility to tell the world about hearing disabilities. However, as her now, it is only her responsibility to be a 9-year-old girl, just as it is my duty to be a good wife, a good mom, a good student, a good

teacher, and everything else that defines me. The chair I use is not something that represents the people that use them. I know there are many well-meaning people out there that only want to learn about a different culture and that curiosity is a powerful motivator, but please try to refrain from asking because you never know when you are the 5th person to ask the woman in a wheelchair to relive the day she lost her best friend to a drunk driver, or was shot by an abusive boyfriend, or survived a failed suicide attempt.

The stories are endless and so is the pain they represent. If someone is comfortable telling you his or her story, then be honored that he or she wants to relinquish that part of his or her identity to you. However, also remember, that many people are like me where we do not wish to give that part of ourselves away, and we do not owe it to the general public to be advocates or inspirational to people.

MeCarmen is a graduate writing tutor at Liberty University where she also attends school gaining her Educational Specialist degree in Leadership and Administration.  She currently holds a Masters of Teaching from Liberty University.  Carmen enjoys spending time with her family.  She is married to her best friend of ten years, and they have two beautiful children together, Kendall who is 9 and Jacob who is 7.  Carmen is a staunch supporter for employing people with disabilities in the education field gain representation for the Special Education population just as any other demographic.  She believes that this community would benefit from role models in the education field.  She has paraplegia due to a surgical complication in her childhood. 

5 Flexible Part-Time Work Opportunities for Veterans with Physical Disabilities


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Finding fulfilling part-time work can be a challenge for anyone, but it can be especially tricky for veterans with physical disabilities. The good news is that there are actually quite a few opportunities if you know where to look. Here are a few ideas for rewarding, part-time work if you have a physical disability:

Work right from home.

Use SkiptheDrive.com to find remote work opportunities in just about any field: networking, design, accounting, software, insurance, and even economics. The service is totally free for job-seekers and doesn’t require registration. Listings include both part time and full time positions so you can see all your options. You may even find that with the right remote job, full-time hours won’t be as demanding when they’re worked from home.

Hang out with dogs.

Many of your neighbors probably need help looking after their pets. Become a pet sitter or a dog walking extraordinaire with Rover.com and get paid for snuggle time! You can opt to have your furry companions stay in your own home to avoid accessibility issues, and your registration includes access to 24-hour veterinary assistance and pet support.

Find a job in retail.

Depending on your physical abilities, a job in retail could be the perfect opportunity. Malls, shopping centers, and stores overall have strict guidelines to follow to meet ADA requirements, so getting around should be no problem. Plus, you offer a valuable perspective to customers: a shoe saleswoman with cerebral palsy will have special insight into which shoes are the most comfortable, and a salesman with limited upper mobility will have the best advice on which cookware is easy to handle. If you have strong flexibility in your hands and prefer less customer interaction, you can seek out a position processing shipments or creating basic displays.

Become an online tutor.

If you think you might like teaching, become an online tutor with Chegg. Create your own hours, pick a subject to work on, and the website will send you work accordingly. You can even make extra cash if you choose a subject currently in high demand! Pay starts at $20 an hour and you can work as often or occasionally as you like.

Still not feeling inspired? Try a few different options to see what you like most and take it from there. Narrow down your interest by field — be it customer service, technical support, data entry, education, or design — and extend your search from there. Remember, there are plenty of simple accommodations that can be made so you can fully embrace your post-military dream career!

Written by a guest blogger