This Is My Vocation

At the last Catholic New Media Conference Pat Padley showed snapshots of the Vatican’s (Catholic) website in comparison to The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints’ (Mormon) website.

The Mormon’s are kicking our ass again, I thought.

My brain was well on its way of solidifying the fact that I should at least attempt to apply to grad school, whether I’d get in was doubtful (or so I thought), but I had to try anyway.

I wasn’t always that into Catholicism. In fact I wanted as little contact with anyone who called themselves Catholic as possible. It wasn’t until I tried embracing my own Catholic-ness I was willing to admit why I hated it for so long in the 1st place.

I felt like an outsider in addition to being treated like an outsider. Any scripture I read in regards to possible disability is always accompanied with ideas of sins of the parents or bad spirits and what have you. Combined that with the fact that I was treated like a leper by both students and teachers during my 1st experience in Catholic schooling, well I think you get the idea. Clearly they didn’t see a place for me, so why should I expect there to be a place for me?

The wounds are still there. I’m not sure they’ll ever heal. However I’ve come to the realization that if I want the Catholic Church to do better, and in my opinion it needs to, it’s better to be a part of it than sit on the sidelines and make comments about what should be done & how.

A few weeks ago I was reminded of another reason why I needed to part of the solution.

I’m not the biggest fan of awareness months (1) because there’s so many to remember, (2) who decides what gets what month, (3) if it’s really worthy of awareness than it shouldn’t be limited to 28-31 days. However when one community decides to dedicate a month that’s something truly unique and similar communities should take note (and maybe follow suit).

I’m tired of the Catholic Church not leading the way when it comes to matters that effect major minorities, like the disability community (obviously). Whenever I’ve asked why parishes aren’t accessible (and I’m not just talking physically) the answers don’t really surprise me anymore.

“We don’t have anyone with a disability that comes here.”

“We’re exempt from the ADA.”

“We can’t afford it.”

“Making the building accessible will ruin the history of the building.”

No offence to anyone who genuinely believes these reasons but they’re pretty shallow.

Maybe people have stopped coming because you’re not accessible. Or maybe they don’t bother coming because they know they’ll have problems.

You don’t have to comply with the ADA however; don’t you want to do better than the bare minimum of the law? You may be exempt, but you’re still encouraged to comply.

If you ask for specific funds you just might get them.

You can make modifications without needing to dismantle and entire building.

It’s time to stop making excuses and be inclusive to all. That’s what Jesus would do, don’t you think?

Long story short, this is my vocation, it chose me. (Aren’t I lucky?)

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To Vaccinate, Or Not To Vaccinate

it’s not really a question.

And I used to be in the “leave it up to the parents” camp.

Yeah, I shouldn’t go there, but I’m going to anyway, because I have an opinion.

I can count the times I’ve heard my mother say “eww.” She’s worked in critical care units or done wound care for her entire nursing career so it’s really hard to get her to say “eww” to anything. So when she does I know its bad news.

She’s said it anytime she’s decided that I needed to go to the Emergency Room and the time the childcare center I worked at had outbreaks of Lice, Pertussis, and Chicken Pox in a 24 hour period.

Oh and I had to help confirm the Chicken Pox case because I had the Chicken Pox (the vaccine wasn’t available for a few years after I had them). It was a delightful experience. Not.

We had to put 3 classrooms into “isolation” which basically meant isolating 6 rooms (without going into the nitty gritty). In a building with just 14 class rooms isolating 3-6 rooms can get complicated if you don’t have experienced staff.

I was quickly put to work reviewing & requesting updated vaccination records. Reviewing over 200 files isn’t really that complicated but it is tedious and agitating, not to mention somewhat unnecessary.

What I didn’t realize is the potential affects the unvaccinated have on me personally. I’m relatively young and healthy so what’s the harm?

A few years ago I passed a kidney stone. After said event, because it was indeed an event, people kept commenting on how amazed they were that I was functioning so well afterwards. I just thought well I have a high pain threshold so that’s what they must be talking about. I was tired sometimes but it was summer so I thought it was related to heat related muscle fatigue that affects me every year.

During a regular follow up with the PM&R Doctor he asked how I was recovering from passing a kidney stone. I told him I was fine, but the summer heat was kicking my butt more than usual. He told me that it probably wasn’t the heat as much as it was the trauma of ridding my body of a kidney stone.

Because extreme pain (Check) and/or illness can be especially traumatic to those with neurological conditions (which CP is) so it can take a while to feel back to normal. So I asked what kind of time frame I was looking at for being back to normal.

About 6 months.

That’s half a year.

I then asked if there was anything I could do preemptively if I was ever in a situation such as this ever again.

Unfortunately no.

I thought about my day in the ER & overnight in an overcrowded room since I was now clear of extreme pain, and then the relief of Morphine, and then the utter exhaustion I succumbed to once they were “pretty sure” the stone had passed.

I could barely walk to the bathroom for the urine samples I could barely give them and my legs acted like independent beings onto themselves whenever I was sitting or lying down (try to pee with your legs going in completely opposite directions, it’s a downright circus act). In hindsight I should’ve brought my wheelchair but that didn’t come to mind in the heat of the moment.

I can try my hardest to keep myself healthy and pray to God that everything not under my control doesn’t happen but I can’t just rely on prayer in this case.

I (and others like myself, and those who cannot be vaccinated, especially) shouldn’t have to pay the price because I’ve done everything in my power to stay healthy while you choose to leave your child (or even yourself) susceptible to highly contagious illnesses just because you read or heard one thing once.

If there were a vaccine against Ebola people would be fighting each other for access to it, while illnesses like Measles and the Chicken Pox are much more contagious than Ebola, yet people choose to forgo those vaccinations.

Bottom line? If your child isn’t fully vaccinated they shouldn’t be allowed in school or in public places where there might be immune compromised individuals, because it’s not just about your feelings about your child’s health. We live in a global society and we all need to act responsibly.

Another Year

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Every year I say if you asked me a year ago if I thought my life would look like this a year from now I’d say no. And this year is no different, at all.

Last year practically everyone I knew had some story about how they lived the year I was about to enter. No matter how many stories I heard from whomever they fell into one of two categories.

It was the best year of their lives
or
it was the worst year of their lives.

I started to ask why that was after the 5th story, for no other reason than people were adamant about the way they felt, but never once provided a reason.

Once I asked “why” some people did provide their reasoning, but very few. It wasn’t because they didn’t want to talk about it or because they couldn’t remember why, they honestly didn’t know why. I then adopted the policy of, “don’t tell me how you felt at my age, unless you can tell me why,” because I just couldn’t stand hearing another story, especially from people who enjoy butting into business that isn’t their own.

Interestingly enough my eye doctor had the most in-depth and straight forward answer (because even he had an opinion). I understand his reasoning and if I were in his position I think I’d agree with him (because being a student for most of your life doesn’t sound like fun) but as his long time patient I’m thankful he spend all that time learning.

As I look back on this past year I’m going to tell you my conclusion of such an infamous year.

It wasn’t the best year of my life
but
it wasn’t the worst year of my life.

And I can tell you why, because I’m saving my ten (to borrow a line from The Fault In Our Stars) and I’m saving my zero.

Why?

While it’s true that I don’t think I’ll live as long as some of my peers I’m not ready to cash in my chips yet and call one year the best or the worst of my life just yet.

There’s also the matter of this past year has been so drastically different from the last few it really impossible to do a valuable compare and contrast.

For example:
Last year I traveled every few months. This year I’ve barely moved from sitting in front of my laptop (even though my laptop is fully capable of being taken on the go).

Last year I worked a lot, sometimes more than I should have, and wondered if I should really go back to school. This year my hours were cut back and I’m learning to balance working and studying (and passing classes).

Last year I read whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. This year I’ve read required and recommended course reading. I think I’ve read one book for fun, thanks to Arleen Spenceley.

Last year I made countless connections on the speaking circuit but very little came to light. This year I gave my 1st of (hopefully) many talks and was considered “Faculty” at a continuing education conference.

Last year I asked for things, as gifts, that I didn’t want to spend the money on myself. This year I asked for textbooks and anything of direct monetary value to help pay tuition.

Last year I watched more friends “finally” (their word not mine) embark on their true vocations while I was secretly hoping to do the same very soon. This year I’m “finally” (again, not my word) knee deep in the ongoing discernment/vocation process and wondering if it’s possible for one’s head to spontaneously combust.

 

Resolute

Resolute: having or showing a lot of determination

I hate getting up early.

I love to swim.

I’ve learned quickly that I have to do what I hate to get to do what I love (no, this wasn’t the 1st time I’ve ever learned this, for the record).

On days off from work (& days I usually have schoolwork due) I get up early and hit the pool. It’s not my idea of a prefect pool day but if I stay under water long enough its close enough. It gets even better if I decide on a longer swim and everyone gets out of the water leaving me all my by lonesome (& it’ll be even better when everyone gives up on their new year’s resolutions).

One of the best sounds in the world is a completely empty pool and all you can hear is the sound of your breathing and your limbs going through the water.

When I decided to take up swimming again I adopted a motto similar to the US Postal Service.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

I wasn’t going to let the early hour or the cold be the only reasons keeping me from the water; which is easier said than done when temperatures are below zero and the parking lot isn’t plowed well.

This motto (if you want to call it that) has worked out well, so far. There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed but I change my mind as soon as I hit the water.

I tell myself I’ll “go easy” if it takes me a while to get into the grove so early in the morning but that changes pretty quickly. Sounds great, right?

It is, unless you have lifelong habits that are pretty bad and pretty unbreakable without supervision.

I was that kid in PT who would lie about how many sets of an exercise they’d done or whether they’d done the home program (honestly I was the same way as an adult until very recently). However in non PT situations (like swimming lessons & such) I tried to get away with “going the extra mile” and denied any possible fatigue (sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t).

The 1st time I swam 1,500 meters after getting back into the pool I felt great, then I got home and could barely get out of the car never mind walk into the house.

See what I mean about benefiting for supervision?

I’m not going to nonchalantly say that it’s OK that this kind of thing happens, because it’s not, but I do have CP so fatigue happens, and to varying degrees. But I wasn’t going to let one incident hold me back because I’m scared of it happening again (it’s going to on occasion no matter what I do or don’t do).

However a good workout does sometimes create a few post workout problems. Like not being able to get up the stairs to hang my suit to dry so I’ve had to improvise.

Suit On Chair

Turns out the back bar of a wheelchair frame is multi-purpose 🙂

I may not progress enough to swim in Rio or Tokyo but I’m making myself happier through hard work.

Although seriously if someone wants to help me (or knows someone who could help me) swim in Rio or Tokyo I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity.