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

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Childhood was on TV Last Night

And I don't know how I feel about that. I have to sort my feelings out, and I don't know how. My shrink and I don't really do that.

It all started with Table for 12. A half hr Christmas episode. Eh. I'm Jewish. I don't do Christmas. Then the moment I'd been waiting for--The Hayes visit Special Strides, a therapeutic riding center. I rode from when I was 3 to when I was 16.

Now I'm sorry, but when they first went in the place made me uncomfortable. Too clean, nice and neat looking. Although that ramp was cool. Real horseback riders get down and dirty. Real horseback riders like dirt and get messy. Real horseback riders come home, collapse until dinner and then take a bath wherein a ring of dirt is left around the tub. And oh yeah, this has absolutely nothing to do with the show, and don't ask me how I remember this, but real horseback riders do not wear hot pink nail polish even if each hand does happen to have a horseshoe decal on it. I think I was 6. I thought they were cool. I got a talking to from my trainer about that. You just can't get dirty enough with nail polish on. How in the world do those things pop back into consciousness?

The whole family got a tour around the barn and then 9 of the kids got to paint horseshoes while Becca got an eval from the OT & PT who work there. I want to paint a horseshoe. I think I did once, but I don't know what happened to it. FYI when painting horseshoes you MUST use an old worn out one, NOT a new one (new ones are not lucky), and everyone knows you MUST hang them open end up or else the luck will fall out.

The OT/PT eval, that is an area where I need to evaluate my feelings. For one, OTs and PTs have no place in a barn or within 500 feet of one. Riding isn't therapy, it's "therapy" and the sanctity of the experience demands that lessons be facilitated by a trained therapeutic riding instructor solely. When you're riding with a trainer (even if you have volunteers assisting) you concentrate, you try hard, you strive to learn new skills. You do learn new skills and that's an incredible sense of mastery. An incredible sense of pride comes over you when suddenly after months and months of not being able to do a new task something clicks in your brain and it tells your hands and/or your legs exactly what to do in exactly the right way, with the exact amount of pressure, and the right shift of your body weight, and it is easy. Until of course things become so easy that you out master that horse and the new horse requires a more sophisticated amount of pressure and a more sophisticated shift of body weight and you have to start all over. So frustrating. I just don't see this process being facilitated through an OT and/or PT.

But back to the eval. That had nothing to do with the eval. I spent my entire childhood in therapy it seems. Sometimes up to 15 times per week. Yes that is more then once a day and did include weekends. I was tortured. I was in regular therapy of some sort of another (most likely multiple) up until I was 9 I think, and then I had surgery at 10, 13, 14, & 17 and back into PT I went. There is a reason why, when talking about my "therapist" and not referring to her by name, I most often refer to her as my "shrink" and not my "therapist." When I think of the word therapist I think of a physical therapist. That's the automatic association. Not a psychotherapist. And what I do with her does not need to be associated with what I used to be subjected to against my will.

Against her will. That poor little girl had to be subjected to TWO therapists manhandling her against her will and there was nothing she could do about it. One is bad enough, but TWO at the same time?!?!?! To do that to a 4 yo is unconscionable. Especially when you are non-verbal with no established communication system and thus no means with which to bitch and moan and try to fight back, to fight them off. It's not fair. My heart breaks for her.

I still haven't figured out how I feel about the episode as a whole. You know, in terms of my own personal flashbacks to my torturous childhood and my empathy towards Becca. I also don't know how I feel about watching a kid on a horse in general. Any kid on a horse. I haven't ridden in years, I no longer can afford to go nor would I have the transportation if I could. Paratransit only goes w/in 3/4 mi of a fixed public transit route and no barns are near buses. They're out in the country. I like to look at horses, but it gives me that mixed feeling I'm trying to identify. On the one hand horses make my face light up. It'd be interesting to have an MRI and see how much my brain would light up; how much my "happy centers" would be activated. But on the other hand, I get this incredible sense of longing for something I cannot have. Disney World is not "the happiest place on earth," barns are. Having feelings of happiness and depression at the same time is just odd.

The show was over and then Jon & Kate Plus 8 went on. Not something I was particularly interested in watching last night so I was going to turn it off and go to bed. Except that what was on was a rerun of an episode that ran in the fall where the family went to Memphis to visit St Jude's. I knew of the episode and watched it after I heard about it through the child life listserv. Child life held a prominent role in that segment of the show. How odd, I thought, that the two episodes would be aired back to back, in the order in which my life unfolded. First came therapy, starting when I was 6mos old, then came riding at 3, and then at 5 the surgeries started. I had surgery at 5, 10, 13, 14, 17, 17 (7 weeks apart, absolutely brutal) & 19. Two more to go eventually. I also traveled for 6 out of 7 of those surgeries. Twice to New Jersey and 4 times to Minnesota (see previous post).

Therapy, riding & surgery have always been intertwined in my life. Therapy and riding both stopped when the surgeries stopped. Therapy, riding, and surgery were my life. When I think back on my childhood, which being a Family Studies major I've had to do from time to time, all I can remember are therapy, riding, & surgery. I remember my PT taking a theraband and tying my ankle to her ballerina pole (somehow that seemed especially devious) and playing with shaving cream w/Mrs Meanie, my OT (she made me eat w/a fork, a very mean thing to do in the mind of a little kid). I remember having to ride backwards on a pony just like Becca did, except that I remember being absolutely petrified that I was going to fall off (even though I had someone at the horse's head to steer and a volunteer holding each of my ankles) because I had to put my hands on my head. It's good for balance. I'd do it now w/o complaint. I remember being in the hospital in Minnesota twice during Christmastime and the ridiculous amount of visitors that came. 7 Santas in one hospital stay. And just to let you know, when Santa comes to the hospital he is equal opportunity. He gives toys to the Jews too. In case you want to know, I can tell you how to attach underwear to a full body cast if you're afraid people will know there is no underwear under your dress, and I can tell you that a male orthopedist is not fazed at all when he is about to operate all up in your private area and is told that his 17 yo patient has her period and doesn't wear tampons (I was very embarrassed).

I can also tell you about how I took Star, my stuffed clydesdale (pictured right) to the hospital with me when I was 5. A nurse put a hospital bracelet on her bridle that had her name on it. My parents wanted to keep it on there but I insisted they cut it off after I got home. Now I wish they'd left it on. That blanket she's on, I got that in the hospital when I was 13 or 14. I woke up from a drugged stupor and it was covering me. I had no idea where it came from and neither did my mom who had left the room. Volunteers donate them to the kids I found out. See, I have good memories of the hospital too as odd as it sounds. That blanket stays with me at school even 10 years later (WOW, where did the time go?). It makes me feel good. Star ended up at school after I had my first major melt down in recent history and on rare occasion I sleep with her when I need to now. At 24 I am not ashamed to admit that.

I did belong to girl scouts from 1st grade through 6th and back in elementary school I did have friends over on non therapy days to play house and school, but it takes a much more concentrated effort to drudge up a "normal" childhood for myself. Therapy, riding & surgery were the dominant forces in my life, not friends and play. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Whenever I have flashbacks to my childhood either through random TV shows or a forced exercise in class I get that same feeling I cannot identify. Do I want to identify it? I don't know. That would mean involving my shrink, and as I said, we don't do this kind of stuff. I don't particularly agree with that approach to solving my issues and neither does she. "Now" is probably more important. Although I don't really know for sure. We'll see.


therapydoc said...

Such a fabulous rant, purge, call it what you will. You're amazing.

Cheryl said...

Thanks therapydoc. I appreciate it (although I'm not so sure you'd think I was amazing if you knew me in real life). I didn't know you read my blog. If you like this one, go back and read my very first post from Dec 07, What Does Disability Mean to Me? Not a purge (I like that word) like this one, but equally introspective. When I wrote it 20mos ago I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

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