Archive for August, 2013

How to Know You’ve Read A Song of Ice and Fire (and may be obsessed…)

August 28th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

If you’re already lost; A Song of Ice and Fire would be the Games of Thrones series.

Some readers have mentioned it on the Facebook page enough to where I knew I needed to check it out. I am in the middle of the 4th book (A Feast for Crows) and have watched the HBO series. I realize it has been a bit, well, consuming.

How to Know You’ve Read A Song of Ice and Fire (and may be obsessed…)

10. You think of your dog as your direwolf…

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9. When your kids come running in the house with a he did it story you ask them if they swear it to the Old Gods and the New.

8. As soon as you realize you have a favorite character again you get nervous.

7. You watched the series and at some point stood up and yelled “THAT IS NOT HOW IT REALLY HAPPENED!”

6. You start panicking that you’ve not made any betrothals for your children yet, all the good matches are surely already taken.

5. Although you love the Stark family Winterfell is much too cold, your next thought is “I am going to have to be from Dorne or maybe Highgraden…”

4. You have a friend who watches the series but hasn’t read the books, you question the strength of said friendship.

3. The kids look at you odd when you refer to them as ser or lordling.

2. You know you’d be an excellent Mother of Dragons.

1. You feel the need to write a blog post because it’s been awhile but you kind of want to get back to the book…

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Service Dog Partners Samantha and Ivy

August 8th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

I am so happy to bring you a guest post from Samantha on her partnership with Ivy. We hope to help bring awareness to the work service dogs do during International Assistance Dog Week 2013. Without further adieu, Samantha.

To most, their pets are their companions but to me, Ivy, my service dog, is much more than that. She is my independence, my arms and legs.

My service dog journey started in 1998 when I saw a puppy in training during an appointment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. From that moment on I knew I wanted a service dog so I could be more independent. Six years and one denial later (I was turned down by the organization the puppy in training was from), I found myself starting Canine Partners for Life’s team training with Ivy.

Like anything else in life, service dogs have both pros and cons. A lot of people assume that when you receive a service dog from a program that the dog requires no other training. This most certainly is not true. They are dogs, not robots, and their skills and obedience need to be worked on, “brushing up on” if you will. Sometimes a service dog will just have an off day and, although they know what they are suppose to do, they decide they just don’t want to do it. In the case of Ivy, she has what I like to call her “diva moments” where she throws in some dramatic flare when doing tasks. Service dogs also need high quality food, regular grooming (remember they’re out in public and need to be presentable, aka looking fab-u-lous!), and, Ivy’s favorite…LOTS of exercise and playtime.

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For me, the pros definitely out weigh the cons. The independence Ivy provides is immeasurable. I have a progressive neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It affects the connection between the muscles and nerves, making the voluntary muscles get weaker over time. I use a power wheelchair full time, have limited use of my hands and require help with all activities of daily living.  Simple things that most people take for granted, like picking up a glass of water, I cannot physically do myself.

Ivy enables me to go outside by myself or in a different store in the mall with out worrying about being stuck if my hand falls off the joystick. Someone doesn’t have to stop what they’re doing to help me, I can just ask Ivy. And she is willing to do what I ask in exchange for some verbal praise and some treats.

Besides the service skills she does, having Ivy helps me in other ways. My days of sleeping in until noon are over, I have to be up and ready at a reasonable time to make sure she goes out to potty and gets fed. Sitting inside all day is not an option, we go out for a walk and some playtime, weather permitting, everyday. She knows even before I do when I’m about to get sick, she lets me know by becoming extra cuddly. She allows me to not focus so much on my disability because I focus on her and her needs.

Ivy and I have been together now for 9 years. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs and seen a lot of milestones together: I graduated college (including walking across stage together, Ivy wearing her very own cap, of course, and retrieving the diploma!), gone to camp and a few retreats by myself (fun), had a hospitalization (not so much fun). Ivy’s working career will be coming to an end soon (she is 11 years old after all) but I know neither of us would change anything about our partnership.

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Disabled, Mobility Aid, and Chronic Illness

August 6th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

When I was younger I didn’t give much thought to things like the meaning of disability, mobility devices, or a chronic invisible illness. To me disabled meant something clear, something visible. Mobility devices were things like wheelchairs, for those undeniable and clearly disabled people, or maybe a cane or walker for some who needed stability. I would have assumed the stability was needed because of age or maybe some accident.  Again, these weren’t well thought out opinions just an assumption at a moments glance.

If you’ve followed for a while you’ll know many women in my family suffer with a chronic invisible illness called Dysautonomia, but we didn’t always. I didn’t grow up thinking that something inside of me would someday change, I never thought I would slowly become disabled.

I am now much more familiar with what disabled means, what mobility aids are used for, and what a chronic invisible illness is. Though my personal awareness has changed I am forced to relive my old assumptions through others, some parts because of the assumptions they have and others because of my own fear of being judged.

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These are some very recent photos that I have seen online. I know the people who posted them believe that they are defending the “truly” disabled, you know, the definition a person may have of disabled before being thrust into the world of invisible illnesses.

Some of you may know me personally or follow my blog regularly and think that no one would think this of me, but each of these photos could easily be someone’s impression of me. I have been blasted with a series of questions about my illness in an interrogation style, I have darted from my wheelchair to get in the car because I felt someone was watching, and I have had my use of mobility aids discussed without my being there and heard about it through the grapevine.

Yes, I’ll stand up to reach something if there isn’t anyone there to ask… and yes it may be for some Skinny Girl. Yes, I can walk and I use a wheelchair.

Though I like the idea of you defending the disabled, a sign like the one below confirms that you have a specific idea of what disabled looks like. A person with a disability that is not so clearly seen may be concerned about meeting your definition of disabled. Your intent of defending may in fact look like a judgment of the very group of people you think you are defending.

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The fact of the matter is I am permanently disabled, after many tests and many doctors weighing in I am listed as being “unable to ambulate or walk 50 feet without stopping to rest due to a disabling neurological condition.” This is not a fact I have come to accept easily.

Now for my own personal reasons I do not receive SSI disability, mostly because I can only tackle one beast at a time. I have started the process with my insurance for my power wheelchair and have been using a power and manual wheelchair regularly for months. I will pick up my placard Thursday. I have put off getting the placard for some time, let’s just say I’ve had more than 2 forms expire while making excuses.

So yes, I’ll use the disabled parking placard even though you might not look at me and be able to tell why. Fact of the matter is on a good day many people will look at me and assume I am abusing it. Sometimes I use a cane, sometimes a wheelchair, and sometimes I may just walk in. People will see me walk from the passenger door to a wheelchair, or may see me in a wheelchair one day and not the next. A wheelchair is a mobility aid, I personally use one to help stabilize my blood pressure and heart rate as postural changes cause drastic instabilities for me.

I understand how confusing it may be, and I know when you see someone using a handicapped parking spot and walk in to the location looking “fine” you may want to give a look, leave a note, or even confront them. I ask you to come away from reading this knowing that neurological, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, along with many other invisible illnesses, do warrant these accommodations. A doctor must grant these accommodations and the doctor will benefit in absolutely no way from doing so.

JMM gal in wheelchair

Love,

The Just Mildly Medicated gal