How is your mom?


One of the most hated questions by my daughters. They want to be recognized for who they are, and not be seen as “the kid with the mother in a wheelchair”.

So take that into consideration when you address a familymember of a handicapped person. The biggest mistakes to make are when you are saying: “I wish I could take over the handicap of your mother”. That may give you a fuzzy feeling, but we know it isn’t possible and it makes my daughters angry.

Another one is to assume I cannot do anything and I am not right in the head. Yes, I have a handicap, but I am still me. I love cruel jokes, I can talk, laugh, cry and cuddle, and I am still  me. So when you talk about me as “the woman in her little cart” it is demeaning and disrespectful. Most importantly it is hurtful to my kids. I can still crush your toes with my little card or blatantly say something inappropriate to have my little revenge. But do not hurt my kids!

Do not attribute my kid’s life’s choices to my handicap. They are smart young women who are inventing their life, partly based on the experiences with my handicap but mostly because they have unique talents and want to find their own way in the world.

I hope this column has made you think. I know most things are said well meant but sometimes they hurt others deeply. We don’t need more hurtful feelings. Thanks for your consideration.



The day the world started to spin…


One day the world started to spin so ferociously that I couldn’t do anything. Just lying down motionless was dreadful, and whenever I changed positions I had to vomit. My husband called the nightshift at the doctor’s office.
“You probably have a cold on your equilibrium organ,” was the diagnosis by phone. “You should buy a medicine against nausea and vomiting, and let it heal naturally.”
Reassured, I thought it would all blow over after a couple of days in bed. The pills helped lessen the vomiting, and slowly the world entered into a manageable spin.
The next evening things went from bad to worse. I felt terrible — worse that I had ever felt before — and we called the doctor’s office again.
“I understand your concern, but it is really something that heals by itself,” I was told. “But if it happens that your face becomes paralyzed, then you should contact us immediately.”
When I had to use the bathroom at 11pm, I noticed I couldn’t move one of my legs. Since a leg is not a face, I didn’t think of calling the doctor. At 4am the next day my left arm stopped moving, too. I was so tired that I fell asleep before acting on it.
When I awoke the next morning, I was really concerned, and we called the doctor again at about 7am. We informed him of the new developments and told him we wanted to see a doctor in person at home as soon as possible.
“The doctor is visiting patients,” was the answer we received. “We’ll make sure you are the next patient in line.”
Hubby decided he could jump into the shower so he would be decent to answer the door when the doctor arrived. Within three minutes of our call, an ambulance showed up. With my husband in the shower unable to hear anything, and the paralyzed wife (me) in bed screaming her lungs out, my left arm and leg refused to allow me to do anything. Hubby came and answered the door with refreshing speed, then I was hooked up to all kinds of medical equipment by the ambulance medical technician.
In the meantime, the fire brigade arrived, and my bedroom was filled with 10 unfamiliar men.
“Ma’am, this is probably the first time you’ve had so many men in your bedroom,” one of the firemen joked. I had to laugh at this surreal situation.
After a short consultation between the medical- and the firemen (out the window? carry down the stairs?), I was carried on the shoulders of the firemen down the stairs and into the waiting ambulance. The neighbors came running out of their houses and said they would take care of the kids, and Hubby followed the ambulance in our own car.