Tag Archives: disability

Want to Thrive with a Disability?

Thriving is what we all would like to do, but when you face a disability you worry about how you can just survive. But you should; not settle for survival! You are now freed from the binds that kept you from thriving before!

We can divide the ways people see their lives into three categories; trapped, tamed or thriving.

Have you been trapped in a life that did not serve you?

If you were trapped you probably knew it. Here are some ways you might have described your life, stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious. All these similar feelings come from a mindset that does not let you be free. There were beliefs that held you back. They made you a prisoner in your own life. Now the musts, should and ought’s that governed your life can be put in their place. When one of these gilt-producing ideas comes into your mind, you can say, “the disability won’t let me…”

If you were lucky, you led a Tamed life.

A Tamed life is one where you find it easy to get along. You do what you must to get what you need. The shoulds, musts and ought’s get met without effort. You had a job, friends and family. If so, you are lucky friends and family are still there for you now that a disability dominates your life. True the disability has put its own set of demands upon you. They too are met with little effort.

When my eye sight got too bad for me to drive, friends and family stepped up and I could still get around. In fact a neighbor I barely knew offered me a ride to a community group we were both in. I still lived a tamed life.

But is a tamed life what we really want? Is it the life that will be best for all those around us? Tamed people are plane people. They don’t make waves or get tossed by them. Are they fun to be around? Do they make you a better person?

The Thriving life is one where we not only get our “needs” met but also our wants. Few of us really want for our basic needs of food, clothing shelter and friends. True, the food we could get in a soup kitchen is not what we are used to or want to resort to for support. It is there if we are willing to set aside the self-image and pride we have and get it. The same is true of shelter, clothes, family and friends. No matter whom I have met they have always had these available. Those who lived on the streets still had some sort of friends. I might not want them. Call me a snob, but then there are many people I would rather not have as friends.

When a disability strikes your old life gets destroyed. We will miss it, but once we realize that we can’t go back, what is there to do?

We must make a new life for ourselves. Few of us consciously created the life we lived. It resulted in many decisions that others made for us. We did not choose our parents. They chose the communities we lived in and the schools we attended. They shaped our attitudes and beliefs about how we should live and how the world would be. Now, much of that does not work! The disability prevents us from believing such things as, “if we are good only good things will happen to us.”

I lost my eyesight due to no fault of my own. I was diagnosed with the disease early on. I went to one of the world’s experts in that disease. I followed his orders. Yet my eyes got worse. I could see less and less until there were major things I could not see and do.

With the help of a coach I now know I have choices. These choices can change my life. I can take charge of my life and Thrive. So can you!

What dreams do you have? If you could be any animal, what would you be? Let’s talk about those dreams and our animal personas.

As all Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

A Disability will make you Depressed

“Dah! You mean the chance that you won’t be able to be the person you thought you were shouldn’t depress you?” say you.
Medical research now shows us why Depression results from the process of becoming disabled. Not only do most people get depressed at the thought of becoming disabled, but actually becoming disabled causes depression to occur.
The chemical marker of depression is low Serotonin levels in the nervous system. This occurs by several mechanisms related to the causes of disability.
“How can such different illnesses such as Arthritis, cancer and Schizophrenia all lead to low Serotonin levels?” ask you.
Stress and fear cause the body to change blood flow in the brain. Blood flows away from the frontal cortex and to the Amygdala. This is the classic fear response. The body releases adrenalin into the blood stream. Adrenalin has effects not only in the brain but throughout the body. Blood flows to the muscles, preparing us to fight or flee.
Adrenalin also reduces blood flow to the gut and other body parts not needed to fight or flee. The gut is one such organ. For short periods this causes no problems. However, over time the gut can’t heal from the normal traumas of digestion. It starts to leak toxins and other substances into the body. Our body’s immune system sees these toxins and responds. The immune system revs up to fight them. It releases many substances into the blood stream. These are many of the same substances our bodies produce in arthritis and related conditions.
These inflammatory substances are good in that they allow our bodies to rid themselves of the foreign materials. However, they have other effects as well.
Our brains are affected by these inflammatory substances. When we have the flu or a cold we don’t think as well. That is the result of these inflammatory substances working on our brains. Colds and flu are short-lived and our brains soon return to normal.
When the inflammatory process keeps going on for weeks, our brains don’t have the chance to recover. The metabolism of the brain gets behind.
Our brains make the Serotonin (aka, 5-OH Tryptophan). When inflammation persists for a long time, very little Serotonin gets made.
As nerve cells communicate with each other Serotonin gets destroyed. If more Serotonin is not being made then we get depressed.
So, what can we do to either prevent or recover from the depression caused by our Disability? I will address that in next week’s blog.
So that you don’t miss that blog, sign up for my newsletter by putting your name and email in the form to the right.
Also, share this with anyone you know who might be depressed for whatever reason. They will appreciate knowing that depression is natural and there are things they can do about it.
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
PS. By signing up for the newsletter you will get the announcement when my podcast, “Recipes for Lemonade: thriving thru Disability” goes live.

Let Disability turn on Your Light?

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elizabeth KГјbler-Ross

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Becoming disabled puts one into a dark place. Few of us shine when we first become disabled. In fact it might better be called, “A Dark Place of the Soul”. For that is what it feels like.

When first Disabled, We tend to do a lot of soul searching.

This soul searching takes many forms. All tend to start with looking backed over what has happened to us.

Initially, we try to find our footing. What is going on? Will it change more? Hopefully for the better, and not for the worse.

When I left medical practice, I started on a medication for another potentially life threatening illness. That medication made my eyesight could up overnight. I paused in the treatment and found that it would reverse. Then I had the question of would it reverse after months of use? If it did not could I live with the clouds? I took the medication and the clouds stayed, but the illness was cured. I don’t think the clouds are gone after 10 years.

I was already legally blind and thus could use rehab services. I did not have to try working. I did look for non clinical jobs, but with no luck.

Had my physician messed up?

This is asked my most. For me I had gone to one of the world’s experts. I had often talked to him and he had recently written the article about glaucoma in my favorite medical journal. I do have a few questions and suggestions for him, but no major criticisms.

Did God do this to me?

Many people have an image of an all controlling God. As long as this sort of God let’s things go our way, we don’t challenge this God. Job of the Bible struggled with such an understanding of God.

Job was faultless, but we are not. It is easy to blame ourselves for becoming disabled. Some will try to repent and bargain with God. Others reject God. That only punishes themselves. They have cut themselves off from god.

Finally, we are where we are, like it or Not.

That is when we must rekindle our light within. If we don’t we remain like that stained glass window, hard to see its’ color. Those who remain bitter and angry never shine again. Those who find ways to enjoy life shine.

How will you rekindle your light for life?

Rekindling your light for life takes help. Friends and Family have few resources to offer. Rehab professionals have programs to fill. Life coaches need for you to succeed and refer others.

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

Lost in the wilderness?

“A voice is heard calling from the willow, but you turn your head. A caress comes from the wind, yet you tighten your coat. The sun infuses you with knowledge, instead you feel scorched. Surrender to the forces, become one, and let them lead you to your greatness.” ― Shaman Elizabeth Herrera,

When we find ourselves stopped by a disability we become lost in the Wilderness. Yet as this quote suggests we need to calm down and become aware of our surroundings.В  Our surroundings nurturer us constantly, but in our busy lives it gets overshadowed.

While we are morning for what we have lost, our dreams, our self-image, our identity, we need to be loved. Our impulse is to crawl into our shells and hide. Pulling back and taking a pause in our busy life plans is necessary, we also need to get in touch with what is our true essence.

There is a voice with us always. In our busy lives we rush to and fro and only listen to that voice that says do this and that. When we can no longer do this and that, we have the opportunity to listen to the quieter voices in our lives, the ones that come from our core.

As we listen for the quiet core messages we find other things too. We discover that we are not alone. We feel things, too.

We find the caresses that abound. Those soothing caresses come in the gentle sound of rain, or wind in the trees. They come from the concerns of friends and family. Suddenly we find we are loved not for what we can do, but for ourselves.

If we relax and open up, we can feel the sun. If we but open our eyes we can see what is around us. The splendor of a cold winter’s day, the shimmering green or summer leaves. Life goes on in its rhythm of contraction and renewal.

With the onset of disability, we have entered a time of contraction. Like the World in winter we must hibernate and prepare for the renewal to follow.В  In the winter snow we see tracks of animals scurrying about. Few are around to be seen. Yet these animals are pregnant with new life.

New life to be born as spring thaws the snows. Most animals birth their young in the spring. So too, we will be reborn when our spring comes.

When I entered my Winter of Disability, I got in touch with Spiritual things I had put aside for my career. I read and studied the book of Job. I read Herbert Kurshner’s book “On why Bad things happen to Good People”.

For me the message of Job was to let go and let God hear my pains, to let God respond to my pains. In those moments of surrender I felt caressed and not alone, I found opportunity and freedom.

When you find yourself stopped by disability, use it as an opportunity to return to your core, Pray, Journal, meditate. Become grounded in what you have walked away from in your formerly busy life. From that time extract your story. Find who, you have really been, consult family and friends, about who they think you are.

When have you needed to pause and reflect/

How have you been able to get back in touch with yourself?

Share them in the comments here. Share your brokenness with those you love and trust.

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

Ps, share what you enjoy here with others, send them the link.

“Does he take sugar in his coffee?”

“No Irish whiskey,” you might reply for yourself. How would that sit with a server who asked such a question? After all, He treated you as if a child!

Do we want to be treated as children?

Of course not. We want to be treated as anyone else. We might need some special assistance with a special type of task. Blind people benefit from others “Lending their eyes”.

I often ask my wife, “Can I borrow your eyes?”

This often happens when I am on the web and want to sign up for something. They have these anti-spam systems that ask you to, “Type the letter you see in the box below”. Often my wife struggles to read them, too. The “Audio capture” fairs little better. We both have old ears that don’t always hear clearly.  My wife and I have learned to dance around our disabilities.

I haven’t danced with many other people, have you?

Getting to know the moves or needs of others can be difficult. I struggle to read bus numbers. Seeing these strangers will tell me the number. Some times that leads to a pleasant exchange.

“Thank you”

“Which bus are you waiting for?”

“The four” is my usual answer.

: Me too. It should be along shortly.” Little do they know that I just checked the schedule on my phone? Still the technology won’t tell me which of the three busses that just pulled up is the four. I must rely on my eyes or others for that.

Back to the server who didn’t know how to approach a blind person. What can you do besides making the server feel bad? Naturally we want to defend our honor. We trade insult for insult. We stand up for ourselves.

Does that get us better service? Probably not. How might we get respect?

I usually tell the host, “I will need some help with the menu,” as I make my white cane obvious.

When the server arrives I say, “I will need some help with the menu. What are the specials?”  This keeps the relationship respectful and I retain some control.

Besides setting the tone of the relationship what might we do?

Several years ago a national convention of blind people came to town. As a board member of the local chapter, we prepared to hotel for their arrival. A week before the event we met with staff and went over the arrangement. Since many of our members have guide dogs, those special needs needed to be addressed. Lots of dog urine on the sidewalk would not be good for business. A special site was assigned for dogs to relieve themselves, and staff instructed on how do direct guide dog users to it.

Crossing busy streets causes problems as well. Guide dogs help but not all of us can work with them. You might have noticed beeping at some intersections. This comes from Accessible Pedestrian signals. Organizations of blind persons have worked with governments and engineers to create these. The newest ones will tell you when it is safe to cross which street. Imagine walking across a street only to realize it was the wrong one, especially several blocks later?

I have covered three ways to be assertive yet respectful.

  1. Self-advocacy
  2. Education of others, and
  3. Collaborating with local government.

Can you recall examples of other ways to prevent, “Does he take sugar?”

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave

Host of the upcoming podcast: Recipes for Lemonade; thrive thru Disability