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Permalink 10:01:00 am, by eleanor Email , 788 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: thoughts, Paralympics, The Law, Advocacy, Adaptive Sports


Watching the Olympics was exciting and Inspiring! London was such a beautiful place to have the Olympics. And except for NBC's coverage at times it was fun watching sections of it on TV.

However, I have been left with additional thoughts and feelings that the event brought to my attention. I think Inclusion is the best word to describe it, followed by opportunity!.

I found researching the history of the Olympics very interesting. In the Ancient Olympic Games participation was limited to male athletes only. When the modern Olympics restarted in1896 women again were not allowed to compete. 

But they were finally allowed to compete at the Paris Games in 1900. But most fields of competition were not open to them. Lawn tennis and golf were the only official venues they could compete in. And also most countries did not have athletic programs that would have prepared women to be able to compete in most areas.  For more information on the long road towards inclusion and equal opportunity for women in the Olympics go to the following site, it's fascinating:

This explains to me why it has taken so long for women to do well at these games.  And that calls for an extra hurrah for the 2012 USA women in the Olympics. They actually had more wins then the men. And It's easy to  recognize why this happened.

Because of Title1X women in the USA in 1972 were finally given equal rights with men in the opportunity for a full education. This also including athletics in high school and college.

This law which was passed 40 years ago states: " no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal Financial assistance."

This law started the advancement  of women in many different sports. Just as the male athletes in high school and colleges played other high schools and colleges women were now doing the same.  And their games were changing.  When I was in school in the1950's we played only intra-mural basketball and half court as we were considered too frail to play full court.  As a result the opportunity to learn learn how to train and play real competitive games with other teams was missing.

But over these 40 years with equal opportunity for training those with special athletic abilities rose to their potential and were now going to the Olympics and winning.  That's why in the USA women today earn more medals than men in the Olympics.

The only thing that was keeping them from doing it sooner was lack of opportunity due to lack of inclusion.

Unfortunately this law has been challenged consistently since it was passed. Luckily the challenges were met and though even today not all educational institutions comply it's results are unmistakably amazing!!! For more information on the challenges go to : 

Also it's just not the USA. This 2012 Olympics is the first time every country participating will have female athletes competing too. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Afghanistan and Oman all sent female athletes for the first time. Now woman comprise more than 40% of the athletes.

Seen below are the first 2 women from Saudi Arabia to participate in the Olympics.


For more information on all these remarkable Muslim women overcoming  prejudice to make it to the Olympics 2012 Go to :

And then there is the inclusion and opportunity issue for those persons who have a disability.

Oscar Pistorius (blade runner) made history by being the first person with a disability to compete in the Olympics.  Oscar it is a  Paralympic champion runner who runs with prosthetic carbon fibre limbs due to below knee amputation of his both his legs when he was eleven months old.

He beat the able-bodied competitors to place in the South African 4 by 400 m relay team.  He was determined to be able to compete in the Olympics and not be relegated only to the Paralympics.  He fought the authorities that did not want him to be included.

For most people with disabilities just to be included would be enough. That he had wanted to win and gave it his all was heart wrenching. Oscar Pistorius may not have won a medal but he won so much for us all!!

Equal Rights for all with inclusion and opportunity has come a long way. But it still has much further to go!

Below is a picture of Oscar Pistorius with other Paralympic Runners.

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius stands before Tower Bridge with some of the world's top Paralympians

Be sure to see him in his events as well as all the other events in the Paralympic games. The games are held at the same venues August 29-September 9, 2012. For complete information go to :




Permalink 05:52:00 pm, by eleanor Email , 573 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: thoughts, The Law, Advocacy


22 Years ago today July 26, 1990 President George H.W.Bush signed into law the ADA bill (Americans with Disability Act) which was momentous on giving civil rights to those with disabilities. Before this there was piecemeal legislation that was important but did not cover what was needed by this bill.  And since then there has been additions to make it more complete. But full equal rights is still not here yet and there is definitely more work to be done.

However the work and advocacy of many many people and legislators made the passing of the ADA happen. Because they knew this was the right thing to do!!

If you see more people out in wheelchairs its thanks to the ADA. Because of that law all public buildings had to be made accessible to all. That's why there are ramps,elevators,curb cuts,handicap parking,bathroom access for wheelchairs and grab bars to assist movement. Before this law there was none of these required. And people who were born with or acquired a disability were expected to stay inside and away from society.

The worst possible situations arose from this .There was an unvoiced philosophy that these people didn't matter!! Therefore they must have nothing to offer society. As a result there was no community help for family's to care for their disabled or environmental changes so they could care for themselves. The answer was institutions, nursing homes, homes for the disabled soldiers, crippled children's homes, homes for those with chronic diseases etc..

But it was the outrage at the care of its disabled clients at our large State Institution's that turned the tide. These Institutions took in the most involved and many of them from birth. It was here that the "these people don't matter philosophy " brought about the most appalling conditions. When the horror of what our country was allowing to happen to it's most vulnerable outrage solidified the vote for the ADA. And every person in our country with a disability was helped! The fight for Civil Rights for people with disabilities is not over...but there has been definite progress.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his Wheelchair with Fala and Ruthie Bie at Top Cottage, Hyde Park, New York: 02/1941

There were exceptions of course like the 32nd President of the United States  Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). Here is a rare picture from the Archives of him in his Wheelchair with Fala and Ruthie Bie at Top Cottage ,Hyde Parke, New York:02/1941. This was a private family picture. He was never seen in his Wheelchair in public. Just think of what he did for our country in the depression and WW II . His motor disability at age 39 from Polio didn't affect his political and cognitive skills. He was fortunate that he had been a State Senator in NY and then the Assistant Secretary of the Navy before he contracted Polio. He had had a reputation as a rising political star. But it was his wife and family as well as other associates that helped him to get back up in into the political world. And having income to hire what he needed to be active.

Stop and think of all the wasted lives that in the right circumstances could also have been active and been able to have lived full lives and also contribute to society.



THANK YOU ALL                                   WHO MADE THIS HAPPEN

For more information on the history of the USA and the Disabled go to the National Archives special page with highlights from their collection to celebrate this day.



Permalink 05:25:00 pm, by eleanor Email , 1019 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: my life, Thoughts, Adapting Activities, information, Gardening

I Must Remember People Don't Understand Heat and MS!


In my last blog I talked about not letting disappointments or people's insensitivity deter you from moving ahead. And most of all not becoming afraid to challenge others and life itself for what you want.

I used a Poem on Roses and it's thorns as a metaphor. And then gave examples on how important Good Samaritans are in my life.

Living with MS is challenging and at times not only difficult but depressing. There are days when everything is great which are extra special. But then there are those days when it seems like there is a problem around every corner. Fatigue, pain, summer heat preventing desired activity or winter storm keeping you inside. And then the outside environment not adapted for the disabled.

So to prevent the loss of some semblance of "a life" you adapt and do what you can. You give up old loves like biking, hiking, tennis, walking a distance or just walking !And of course going out to places because it's a "bad" day.

But you search and develop new loves you can still do with modifications and adaptations. For me one of those new loves was a former love I had given up. I found my love for gardening again.

However, in order to do this successfully adaptations in my environment were essential. My prior blogs talk about how over the past years I with the help of my family have been able successfully to do this.See my 7/25/2009 blog with my practical advice and philosophy on this:Flexible Adaptable Successful Gardening 

There is a ramp to the back deck from the back of the house. There is now another ramp from the end of that ramp down to one side of the garden where my raised lettuce bed was built. Now I also have  strawberries and roses and other flowers there. From there I can also go to the front of the house. I go down the side of the house where there are other bushes etc. as well as on the side of the apt. house we own next door. And in the front of both buildings more bushes and perennial flowers as well as on the other sides of both buildings.

Meanwhile back to the major garden in the back. Most of it is taken up with my son's vegetables. But along the sides are my perennials as well as in front of the deck more perennials. And also one of my birthday presents a Japanese Maple tree.

On the deck there are raised planters with annuals and my inside plants.On the other side of the deck there are raised beds and tall pots with perennials as well as a large raised old bath tub on a bricked in area.

For years I have had a spot on the right side of the deck under the shade of my neighbors old,very tall  7 Norway spruces. Here I could retreat to my chaise to rest cool down and enjoy my outdoors. My Shady Nook!


Over the past years major shade changes have occurred in my yard. It started with our having to take down our old butternut tree due to it's failing. At the same time our neighbor was taking down a tree on her side and convinced my sons to take down  2 of our trees on our side. Our yards became much sunnier which pleased my son's and my neighbor. The  garden's got bigger. And I was able to grow more myself. And I still had my special Shady Nook.

Then my neighbor on the other side and my son's took down trees and bushes between our houses. And more gardening began. The deck and the bricked area also had more sun. And the large back maple provided great shade for my potting area still. And most importantly I still had my Shady Nook until mid afternoon.

My son's put up a rose arbor at the end of the ramp near the deck. And I planted 2 climbing roses as well as another climbing rose plant to go up the base of an old apple tree. We trimmed the apple tree to give them more sun. But they area under the roses was also a shady spot. And I still had my Shady Nook to go to .

A few years previous to this for a mothers day gift my son's put in a lovely waterfall and small pond. The birds would come to the birdbaths we had in the shady area "My Special Nook" and with all my cooling aids life was good. I could retreat there after working in the garden to rest and cool down. Or on a bad day just to rest but be outside.

Then this past week my neighbor had a tree remover start the process of taking those trees down. And with it went my shade. My special cool area. My Shady Nook for the birdbath and my spot to watch the butterflies and birds and be quiet and alone when I needed it. The area is now in full sun all day.

I can't begin to explain what I have lost and the emotions I feel about it. I don't have that big a life and this was so special to me.

My neighbor had talked about taking the 2 trees nearest to her garden down and they were going to trim the branches of the others. I knew I would lose some shade and was prepared for that with regret. But it's their trees! And they have  never given us difficulty before. 

But now it's 3 trees. And not a trim to the others but a buzz cut!


This is a big deep thorn...but life goes on !

We'll figure out some ways to get some shade for me for the rest of this summer. I'm being promised a solution by my son's for next year! Unfortunately they are in the midst of finishing painting our Victorians this summer. Our house as well as our apt. house. I will report on our temporary solution as well as plans for next year in another blog.

Meanwhile I'm in mourning.


Permalink 05:04:00 pm, by eleanor Email , 855 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: my life, Thoughts, Adapting Activities


With a little creative thought and some ingenuity anyone with a disability can find a way to adapt their environment so they can successfully have a garden that they will love.  Whether it's a beautiful garden with shrubs, flowers(annuals- perennials) or vegetables you can realize your dream.  A small medium or large garden can be done in pots, raised beds or in the ground.  All you need is the desire and some seeds or bedding plants, good soil, mulch and of course the sun.

However, heat from the sun for people with MS can be the first problem to be conquered. It's a result of the damage to your myelin sheath creating a neurological problem.  So when the temperature increases causing your body to heat up your functional physical ability lessons or just totally goes.

I know this personally. Just the other day I was standing picking lettuce in my raised lettuce bed at 3:00 PM and the temperature was getting close to 90.  My legs told me "you need to sit in the shade now".  But I pushed myself and got up the steps to my bridge-ramp and luckily my wheeled walker with a seat was right there. I was able to push myself backwards into the house.  I then flopped into my wheelchair and cooled myself down with cold water. But it took a few hours before I was up and walking again.  I had no business picking my lettuce in the afternoon in the hot sun I know better.  I usually pick it early morning before its hot then I'm fine.

The point of having a garden is to be able to enjoy what you've decided to plant. Whether it's the smell or beauty of your flowers or the taste of fresh vegetables right out of the garden. You don't want to ruin it by becoming overtired through too much heat or unnecessary effort.  So be sure you have a shady area on a deck or just a grassy area that you block off as your haven to relax and refresh yourself while watching the birds and butterflies visiting your garden.  This time nourishes the soul and revises the spirit!  In fact planning your shady retreat areas must be a central part of your garden plan.  And if your garden is part of a whole family adventure like mine is make sure that they know how critical it is for you.  This is not the time to put up the big front or get into that I don't want to bother people  mode.

And again I am going to use my new garden as an P7180008 example.  I'm sitting on my chaise on the deck in the upper right hand side of the picture.  It is a very shady area.  Thanks to the branches of the  old evergreen trees  of my next door neighbor which hang over our deck.

Notice the umbrella over the table for shady eating.  To the far left is a brick patio with raised beds for vegetables and flowers.  Behind that is a very shady area under a big old maple tree that's perfect for potting  plants and staying cool.  There are other areas further forward that are not visible in this picture.P7180036  But  you can see in the next picture far back on the left on the side of the house there is another old evergreen tree and  the area under it is also very very shady.  And the next picture below which shows my herb bed and my raised P7180027lettuce bed to the side of my bridge ramp from the deck to our house.  Close to the house is a very shady area where we keep a lot of our utensils for gardening.  My son plans to put a roof over it which will also make it shadier.  He also plans to put a roof over the other side of the shed which you can see in the other picture.

As well as having shady areas available and planning your garden time early or late in the day when it's not hot you can't forget to use cooling device's.  I had been using headbands and wrist bands as well as neck scarves in which there were crystals .  When you soaked these in cold water they expanded and retained the cold for quite awhile.  But this year they're just not as effective  so I'm purchasing other devices. Naturally I went to Google and after checking sites I found the  USA Tech Guide site.  On it they have 28 web sites that you can check things out  to find sources.     I decided to go with gel inserts.  I used two different sites. On one I purchased a loose fitting inexpensive vest. On the other site I purchased head ,neck and wrist bans with gel inserts. I'll let you know how they work.  Of course ice cubes or a spray from the garden hose helps too!

On my next blog which I going to put under Disability I'm going to show how my sons made my raised  lettuce bed. This has been absolutely marvelous for me and could be for you too!                        Ellie


Permalink 01:27:00 pm, by eleanor Email , 985 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: thoughts, Coping, adapting activities



by Elizabeth

A lovely rose with petals soft

A scent so sweet and light

So beautiful a flower

With colors shining bright.


but something not so savory

About the fragrant rose-

The thorns,so sharp upon the stem,

That sharpen as it grows.

Yet still lovely is the flower

Despite the thorns that prick

Just as life and love are sweet

They too have thorns that stick.

But do not fear to live or love,

Life's not exempt from pain-

So pick a rose,you may get hurt,

But you will also gain !

I was pruning in my Rose Arbor the other day when I got pricked by a thorn. It was no big deal as the beauty and smell of roses quite overcame discomfort and pain from the thorn prick.

Then I began to think about all the times when I was out and about like shopping and feeling really great. And then something comes along like a thorn prick and the feeling and emotion of pleasure is gone. This can happen for many reasons. An insensitive remark by someone, a non helpful employee when you really need help to purchase what you want. An architectural barrier or just one of many of the circumstances that being in a wheelchair or using a cane or a  walker can produce.

Sometimes the situations can really be quite amusing and that just takes away  any feeling of being awkward.  Like the time a few years ago when I was shopping in my wheelchair and trying to get to the end of a section where what I wanted was located.The only way to get there was to go thru rows of highly congested racks of clothes. And of course  there was no sales person to help available!

So I manipulated my way thru with my electric wheelchair. It was like going thru a maze but I was determined to get to the section and back to purchase what I came for. And I successfully did so..

However, when I turned my wheelchair to go back out to pay for my purchases a hitch arose. I could feel a real drag on my wheelchair. I looked around and saw clothes dragging behind me! Then I realized my wheelchair had caught onto the clothes racks and they all seemed to be falling in line behind me.

I looked and just couldn't stop laughing. It was just so absurd. Several other customers just looked at me amazed but walked on. As I was trying to decide what to do. Two good Samaritans came up and said, " don't move we can untangle these for you". They were just shaking their heads laughing too!  Obviously it was it was too crowded with clothes racks for a person in a wheelchair to easily get through. But as they stated it wasn't easy for them either. We commiserated on the lack of help and assistance in many stores today. They kept saying it must be very difficult for someone like me!

And it is true in many stores today there is really no help except when they check you out with your merchandise and take your money.

This reminds me of an article in New Disability Horizons by Merry Cross.

In her article she describes about how going to the Mall in England is a real hassle for her. She has found that in the mall everybody is talking to each other or on a cell phone while walking. And unfortunately not looking where they are going. As she has poor balance and uses a cane or crutches she has to keep constant vigilance to prevent herself from  being mowed down and landing on the floor.

Read the article she's annoyed and upset but she's dealing with it with humor, and we all know that's the best way to deal with things most of the time.

But then there are times when people are so helpful. Like the other day for me. I had a list of things I needed from several different stores.

I usually use my electric wheelchair if I want to do a real shopping trip and the store has no motorized vehicle. But I had forgot to recharge my wheelchair and of course my walking distance was more  limited ..I was tired wasn't my best day!

However, I decided to brave the big box stores with my walker with the seat. And my husband promised to do scouting for me on my merchandise locations. So off we went to AC Moore for my craft supplies.

I was indeed in luck! I spotted an employee and explained my limited walking distance situation and showed her my list. She didn't just point in different directions. But walked me to each location and waited for me as I was slower and also while I sat and pushed backwards with my walker when the distance exceeded my ability. And then she took the time to help me find what I wanted.

My next stop was Lowe's for paint and then a plant search. They have an electric wheel chair so once I got to it gimping with my walker I was home free. Again the employee I talked to regarding non toxic paint remover for metal and paint was also so helpful. She brought me to each location. And the help continued as I went thru the store searching for more items on my list.

When my hubby and I finished and we went out for a bite to eat I had such a wonderful feeling. A sense of accomplishment, contentment and appreciation for the goodness of those extra acts of kindness and help I received. Oh and I did profusely thank everyone that helped!

I was so glad I didn't let the fear of thorns prevent me from embarking on a needed shopping trip on not my best day!!


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Ellie’s Rules for Coping Well with MS and Disability
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