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Chapter 2
Snowflakes

I have a patient who has been blind most of her life. She is an avid hockey fan, and has held season tickets to our local hockey team for many years. Whenever I speak of her, everyone thinks, "How can a person who is blind go to see a hockey game?

She has a friend, also a hockey fan, who comes to the games with her. This friend will do a "Play by Play" for her, describing to her the action going on down on the ice. When the friend is not able to go to a game, my patient will take a small portable radio and tune in to the play by play being broadcast.

She can feel the cold. She can hear the puck whizzing along the ice. She can hear the sounds if the skates gliding or the whistles of the referees when they are stopping play. She is able to "feel" the contact as the players bounce off one another or bounce off the boards. In sum, she is able to use other senses and coping systems to let her "see" the game. In fact, there have been times when this patient has come into my office for care and we will discuss a particular game. It is clear to me that she "sees" a great deal more than I do, because she is forced to rely on a greater combination of senses than I do.

The point of this story is that the term HANDICAPPED, or if you prefer, PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED, lumps together many different conditions. To make this book relate to you, you must understand that in Nature, no two things are ever exactly the same. Did you know that snowflakes, like fingerprints, are all different, no two alike?

But let's flip to the other side. All snowflakes share certain things in common. For example, they are all made from water. All of them are cold. All of them will melt when it gets warm. This same, double-sided relationship exists when we are speaking of handicaps or physical challenges. No two are exactly the same, but all of them share certain characteristics with other physical limitations.

I ask you to keep this in mind as you read this book, because your situation will be different from the one Nancy and I have. Not everything I write in this book will apply to you, but the approach I use to solve our problems will help you think of ways to adapt what we have done to what you must do, whether you are in a wheelchair- or not.

Regardless of the challenge, we must use our imaginations to find appropriate solutions. As in the examples above, all of us deal with uniquely different challenges, but all of us share the gift of imagination. We can use this gift to resolve problems and find solutions which permit us to do what we desire.

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