It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I have a few reserve posts to use when it's been a few days but I have nothing to write about. They are things I have written for a grade, but apply greatly to the theme of this blog. The following is the end of a paper I wrote almost exactly 2 years ago for an assignment for my Family Resources class. The main part of the assignment involved completeing a minimum of 5 volunteer hours at a community organization. This just happened to be next in line, but it turns out it is very timely to be posting.

Yesterday I had a meeting with my advisor and my department head. When I left I managed to hold it together until I left the building and then proceded to cry for the next hour until I got ahold of my 2 best friends and they calmed me down. This is not the first time I have left a meeting with 1 or both of them and broke out in tears and I venture it will not be the last.

You can not just graduate with a degree in Family Studies, you must pick a concentration. My concentration is child life because that is what I want more then anything in my life: to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. They on the other hand have other ideas. In order to graduate with this concentration you must complete at least 1 hospital field placement. It is absolutely non-negotiable that you are not allowed to complete a hospital placement if you have another concentration. At that meeting I was told that even if I chose not to officially change my concentration on paper I would still not be allowed a hospital placement. Why? Well, child life has the most number of credits to complete. My transcript sucks, so they wonder why I choose to continue with something that is not working? I would like to say was not working. I did not know I was bipolar until October. They are judgeing me based upon something I had no control over. If I do poorly this semester I take full responsibility, but please give me that chance.

The other reason? I had a smaller placement last semester and they say it didn't go well. That there were problems. Besides the 2 of them there is the professor that taught that class and my supervisor who all know what I did wrong, but none of them will tell me. I tried to email my supervisor 6 weeks ago or so, no answer. I thought it went well. I tried my hardest.

The thing is, I know I suck at this. I've known for the last year and a half. I haven't gotten any feedback, but I see other volunteers. I'm not stupid. Doesn't it say something that I still desperetly want to pursue it? Sometimes I wonder why. I have skills in conference planning beyond belief. Why go into a field starting behind when I can go into another starting way ahead. Well because I believe deep down that this is what I was born to do. Tell me what skills I'm lacking and I'll fix them.

After talking to my friends for about 90 minutes and getting my head on straight I called the office. I have a 10am meeting with the 2 of them on Monday. Yesterday's meeting was on their terms. Monday's is on mine. My parents taught me many things growing up. They taught me to be independent. They taught me that CP does not define me. But most of all they taught me how to fight my battles. My parents gave me balls, and I intend to use them. If you read what follows you'll see why I'm putting my game face on and kicking some ass Monday morning. Wish me luck.

I know that they believe that they are acting in my best interest. I know that contrary to the professional boundries that they try to model (all human service workers need professional boundaries and how else are we supposed to learn them?) the 2 of them genuinely care about me. The concern that they showed when I couldn't get out of bed was amazing. I know that they want to steer me towards a path where I can succeed. What they are steering me to is a path where I will feel ashamed of myself. Where I will feel like a faliure.

Maybe I have already succeeded? For the first time I can say that I am an adult, not that I am pretending to be an adult (to which my advisor kept answering "you are an adult"). Except that this time I believe in my heart of hearts that the statement is finally true. No one, absoulely know one stands up to my dept head. She is one of the most indimidating people you will ever meet. Up until May or June the anticipation of having to meet with her would make me nauseous to the point of almost throwing up. Now in stark contrast I think she is a cute jewish mommy, but still, going in on Monday and standing my ground is a HUGE deal. I don't know of one student in my entire department who would take her on. If I have to I think I will make an appointment with the dean of the college of liberal arts. He knows who I am. Not just my face, but my name. I ran into him once and he didn't say hi. He said "Hi Cheryl how are you?" How incredibly cool is that? Back to acting in my best interest, because I went on a tangent, I'm sorry, but no one knows what is in my best interest except for me god damn it.


Prior to volunteering at Mt. Washington I was slightly apprehensive about my ability to handle this experience. I have had previous experience working with disabled children at an overnight camp and found that I felt strong sympathy pains towards certain campers during the entire session. As a long time outpatient of the Cheverly location I wondered if I was too close to the situation. If it turned out that I couldn’t handle it, would I have to abandon my dream of becoming a Child Life Specialist?

What I have found during this experience was the complete opposite. Instead, volunteering at Mt. Washington has reaffirmed my belief that I am a natural in this career field. For starters, having experienced seven surgeries during my childhood has made me very comfortable in a hospital setting. This is an attribute that seems to come naturally to me but not to many others, as I have observed some adults become anxious when visiting a friend or family member who is in the hospital.

Secondly, my first hand experience with post-surgical rehab has made me very adept at adapting recreational activities to meet the needs of various situations. For example, in my first visit to Mt. Washington, I was asked to play UNO with a patient at bedside who could not sit. As I was leaving, my supervisor sort of apologized to me, stating that she realizes how difficult it must be to play UNO in that situation. After hearing that come out of her mouth I was slightly stunned. Two of my operations rendered me both unable to sit or stand for an extended period of time, and UNO comes to my mind as one of the most easily adaptable activities to that situation.

Volunteering at Mt. Washington is also beginning to help me develop skills that I am lacking. Disability has isolated me and I often find it very difficult to interact with my peers. I am very hesitant about walking up to someone and starting a conversation. This is a skill that is now required of me. Some patients with speech disorders are reluctant to engage in conversation with anyone, but such conversations are an integral part of their recovery. While I am not going to go up to another college student and ask them if they remember what they had for lunch yesterday, this setting does give me the opportunity to practice this skill in a much less threatening environment than a college party.

Lastly, it amazes me what an impact I can have on these kids without even doing anything. Last Friday I walked through the door of the CPAR unit wearing a skirt, which exposed several of my post surgical scars. I was immediately greeted by a patient who asked me if I was a patient there. Almost simultaneously as the word yes came out of my mouth, a look of shock and amazement appeared on the face of another patient who was sitting in a wheelchair near by. “YOU ARE?!?!?!” she replied. She then proceeded to open up to me probably much faster than she does with anyone else.

Even though I have only volunteered at Mt. Washington a short time, I have already learned a great deal. I have learned that a gesture that may seem small and insignificant to me (such as wearing a skirt, or playing UNO) may mean a great deal to someone else, and even have a lasting impact on their life. I am a role model to those kids just for being me. I am not just a “big person”, but a big person very much like them who is beginning to lead a very successful life. And that is not something that is seen very often in life.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin


Get your own free Blogoversary button!
design by