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The Queen's Chair: Better U Program: Week 6: Got Thick Skin? (279 hits)

A heart attack or a stroke can't stop people from changing their perception of you. People think they know what you can and can't do. They think that know all about you. I had to develop a thick skin quickly.

I'm used to people NOT liking me because I'm black. I never expected some people not to like me because I was temporarily disabled. That's a type of discrimination I had never experienced and I lost some friends because of it. My only crime here was getting sick.

The irony of my stroke was that I was a former athlete and was still active playing sports in my 40s. When I worked in corporate America, I participated in healthy eating programs, walked around during lunch hours and my neighborhood on weekends and weeknights, if I got home early, and managed a work-family balance. However, two things played a role in my stroke: stress and family history.

Let me address family history. Turns out women in my family who have had strokes-- died. I was the first one to survive. My docs attribute my athletic background to this. The men in our family who have had strokes all survived, but loss something in the process. Recently, my favorite uncle (on my mom's side) had one. He survived, but his mind is pretty much gone. I miss our talks now. It's like he doesn't know me anymore.

Stress...sigh. I've reduced that in my life. Got rid of the drama kings and queens in my life. False friends. Left a job that I didn't love and the "sophomoric people" I worked with who never played nice. I also ended my 12-year marriage to a spouse who thought caring for me and dealing with my "physical limitations" was too much for him. So much for the vow: "For sickness and in health."

I'm not bitter. I've had to put up with lazy people parking in handicap parking spaces, handicap accessible doors that don't work, people who don't look at their surroundings as they walk, and "rude" comments. I had to deal with a lacrosse player at my daughter's school, during registration, who made fun of her and said: " At least my mom can walk." Kids are so cruel. She was so embarrassed by my appearance and told me at a home game to "Stay in the car, so no one could see my brace." Talk about hurtful.

My situation is temporary. I've had friends (I never expected) draw closer to me. God and Mother Nature are taking their time healing me. Re-hab helps, too. I start getting deep muscle massages next month to "fix" some of the muscles. I don't apologize because I'm walking slower than normal. I'm happy that I'm here and still moving. But, I am taking notes. Taking names. Speaking up and out. Things have to change. I'm working on that.
Posted By: Marsha Jones
Thursday, April 7th 2011 at 10:26PM
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Ha! I've always thought that there were too, many handicap parking spacing but I guess you have brought some light to the challenges that people with handicaps face. Last evening I took care of a man who had a double amputation some years back and my goodness he was the most independent person that I'd seen in a long time! Totally independent getting himself on and off the bed and in his chair as well as to the washroom. He'd had another heart attack and needed another Angioplasty after only 6 months from having the first one. When I tried to speak with him about "kicking the smoking habit", he told me that he'd not come into the hospital to quit smoking. I guess he didn't see the correlation between smoking and the heart attack. Later that night after he went to the washroom to smoke and the smoke sensor went off in the washroom, security came to check right after he'd gotten back to his room; he was shaken (not because he was caught smoking) but rather he had another twinge in his chest... Strange how he wanted to know more about the smoking cessation program we offered... That morning before I left duty, he was reading his smoking cessation brochure and asking to be referred to cardiac rehab~Ha! God is good inspite of all the things that we as people face. I'm sure you can attest to this fact Sister Marsha. And let me close by saying that my patient was not the kind that wanted a woman holding a washroom door open for him, because he was still a man whether or not having feet to stand on or not. Keep up the good work Sister!!!
Thursday, April 7th 2011 at 10:42PM
Jen Fad
I can honestly tell you there needs to be more handicap spaces. In my neighborhood, I didn't realize how many elderly/disabled and temporarily disabled persons there were. I'm so disgusted with able bodied people who take these spots because they are tired. Prior to my stroke, I never parked in these spots. I don't know why people do and I wish they would stop. If there is no license plate or sticker to indicate that they can park there, I rat them out. They need to respect and obey the laws. I do.

I think stores also need more seated electric carts for shoppers. I have had to alternate my shopping habits because stores like Wal-mart and Tops Friendly Markets are too cheap to buy more carts. I'm sure if an abled- body person had to wait more than five minutes, it would be addressed immediately. I've been told by the stores that I have to sit and wait. Forty handicapped parking spaces, but only two carts. That's just not right. Who did the math on this one?
Thursday, April 7th 2011 at 11:26PM
Marsha Jones
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