Welcome to my second blog. I feel so much humility because I have received 2500 to 3000 views on my first ever blog in 24 hours! The amount of attention it is receiving blows me away!
Although I did public speaking as part of my various jobs to groups of 100 or more people, I never thought I would ever be reaching thousands, but here I am! I still can’t get my head around it but if my head gets bigger than my belly, please let me know.
To English majors and other writers, I understand that you do not begin a sentence with a preposition, but sometimes I just have to!
Another interesting thing about me is that I actually used to type 150 words per minute before my stroke. Currently I type maybe 5 wpm with the index finger of my right hand. I know that some of you are wondering if I actually do my own typing and editing, and yes I do it, all by myself (I’m a big girl again)! Thank you to my wonderful daughter, Cara Jones, who lives in Alberta and is my technical advisor. Tonight she gifted me with my own blog page on her blog, www.carajonesspeaks.com with a direct domain www.coleenjoneswrites.com where you can view my weekly posts.
Some of you may have noticed me in my black wheelchair, with the awesome bright green wheels and trim. I have come a long way since my first chair ride, and I have made tremendous progress in “the game of life.” The most exciting event for me was to get in my electric wheelchair and go shopping for the first time in 6 years. I never had much time for shopping before my stroke, but time is what I have lots of now. Shopping is exciting but also very frustrating as well because I knew before going out that there would be lots of places I couldn’t get into and lots of dangerous situations to avoid.
Before I could go outside on my own, for the first time in six years, unable to walk, I had to come up with a fail proof safety plan. This was almost more for my husband than for myself (because he’s quite the worrier) but I had a very strong need for some independence and it was a small act to ensure we were on the same page. I was finally excited about something and I had hope for the first time in years!
My mind went back to a Sociology class where a female professor was speaking about “women’s ways of knowing,” (I believe some men have this way of knowing as well). Simply put, most people call it gut instinct. If I had listened to my gut instinct six years ago, I would not have had my stroke. I always understood “women’s ways of knowing” and I sincerely believe that whenever I made a mistake, my internal hearing aid was turned off! I decided that my guidebook to street sense, seizures and low blood sugars would be listening to my gut not my brain.
A good example of this happened last week at Sobeys. I suddenly felt very unwell, my eyes weren’t really opening properly, I was very weak, sweating and felt tingly. My first thought (gut feeling) was that my sugar levels (diabetes) had just bottomed out. My next logical thought (brain) said no, that isn’t possible because I’m now on 50 mg Prednisone daily, which sends your sugar levels soaring and my sugar this morning was about 22. Normal sugars run between 5-7. I decided to follow my gut and I asked for a can of pop and shortly felt better. The next day the same thing happened and after 20 minutes of eating sugar, the nurse told me that my glucose level was only 3. The most important thing I need to say is that if you follow your gut instinct, I believe you will never go wrong. I believe this would work for everyone.
I want to tell this shopping story to alert shop owners to a way to increase revenue, as well as support people in wheelchairs. I needed a wedding gift for a good friend and I found what I needed in Cameron’s Jewellery store window. I started for the door but soon realized the door was about as wide as my mini refrigerator, (seriously)! As someone who spent their entire life solving problems and various issues it took me about 30 seconds to discover a solution. I looked around and in the store was a sign advertising St. Francis Xavier University student rings and below the sign was their phone number. I dialed my phone, explained my situation from the sidewalk, gave her my Visa card and shortly she returned with my nicely wrapped gift, placing it in my shopping bag on the back of my chair. How easy!
The simple solution to this issue is that each business that does not have good accessibility for wheelchairs should consider having a small sign in their window like shown above (with your real number). This would signify to people with access challenges that you are willing to help, perhaps by holding the door to allow them access, or to purchase from their establishment, as I did from the sidewalk. If you think this is a great, simple, and inexpensive way to support the disabled, can you please help me to get it moving? I’ll be happy to get it established in Nova Scotia first, as a pilot project, then work on the rest of Canada. How expensive is a sheet of paper? I love simplicity! Please leave your comments at the end of my blog. Thank you for your support in what I feel will be a very simple step in making big changes for wheelchair bound people in our province, and maybe the world. It’s up to you.
If my readers think this a good idea, I will contact CTV television to get thing moving and I will keep you informed. Thanks for your support,
Shopping has taught me so much and I cannot believe how much prices have gone up in 6 years. A $0.50 cent bag of chips, filled with air, is now a $1.49. A pack of cigarettes was about $7.00 and now is around $20.00! Grocery prices, especially meats, are unbelievable! The same goes for gas and oil. We all know that prices have been rising constantly (forever), but if you haven’t been in a store for 6 years, the shock kind of blows you away.
What really makes me cranky is that clothing sizes have shrunk. Although I did lose 70 pounds, I still buy the same size I wore before I lost weight and I couldn’t get my new jacket closed today when I tried it on, so now I must return it. Congratulations manufacturers, you can now get 12 jackets out of a bolt of fabric instead of 10.
The most delightful thing I am able to do now with my new freedom is eat out, even though I really can’t taste the food like I used to. My very favourite restaurant in Antigonish is Gabrieau’s Bistro. They do not have a handicapped accessible door, however, if you have their phone number programmed into your phone, they are very accommodating in helping you get in, making ingredient changes to my dish to meet my many needs and even finely chopping my food, if I am alone. Even though they do not have a big space they are very happy to find a nice place for my large chair. They are not paying me to say this, but I do enjoy going there!
What surprised me the most about eating out is that McDonald’s Restaurant does not have a wheelchair accessible door, in other words, I need to ask people to open and hold doors for me. Since I am not shy this is not a problem for me, but could be for others. The same applies to A&W. The Moonlight Restaurant door looks a little small and so I haven’t ventured there yet.
The Maritime Inn is a nice place to eat also and is reasonably accessible. One thing that bothers me is that some establishments have their accessible door opening buttons on their door. This is no good for me because new chairs are larger and I can only access the button by backing up and parking parallel to the door, to try and reach it. This only works if there is enough space, and no Halloween decorations or chairs are near the door. The Royal Bank has their door button on a metal bar, out from the door. This should work for everyone. Good job!
My wonderful friend, Bonnie Quin, gave me a long yellow shoehorn which has become my best friend. With this tool I am able to reach items that somehow find their way to the other end of my night table. Using it I can reach things from the back of my night table drawer, grab my sheet or scratch an itch. This saves me from ringing my buzzer and gives me a bit of freedom. Sometimes the simple things in life are priceless.
I took a trip downtown in my chair today, by myself as usual. Each and every day there is, for me, something new to see, learn or remember. I feel like a 5 year old on a new play date. Although it’s late fall it is 22 degrees. What a blessing to be outside! I feel very grateful to live in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. This town has so much to offer, including a beautiful library building, staffed with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The library offers much more than books, but I haven’t had time to check everything out yet. Stay tuned!
Possibly the most fantastic support for challenged people like me and those without transportation is the Antigonish Community Transit Service. I only found out about this service in July, but because the weather was nice for wheeling, I never used the service until September.
First, I wish to thank those who worked so hard to make this happen. Gifts like this do not just happen by themselves and they do not happen overnight. Since I am not able to get in a car, this service will allow me to get to the mall or appointments as I wish. I was dreading the thought of winter coming thinking I would be confined to the RK MacDonald nursing home but I can now go to the Mall or Walmart when I wish. The fee for a return trip in town is $6.00. The service is available to go far and wide and fees vary according to distance. For information on rates and schedules for the Antigonish community call 902 867 0411. I find that calling a few days in advance of my trip, when I can, makes scheduling easier for both of us. If I need to go to the hospital for a diagnostic test, the cost of an ambulance is over $100.00. I will save a small fortune when I can use our public transit. All the drivers are wonderful and go out of their way to make you feel safe and welcome. Joe is the full time driver and we have already began a mutual friendship after only three trips.
I wish to send a special thank you to my loving husband and grandson for getting me an iPad. Having this technology is wonderful and I can be in touch with the world again.
Please remember, just because someone is in a wheelchair doesn’t mean they are cognitively impaired. In a future blog I will explain why this will probably be my mantra.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I tell you how becoming disabled turned me into an accidental criminal.