Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Assistive Technologies are incredible!

I had an assessment today (more like a meeting but she did assess my needs, so I'll keep it as assessment) with an assistive technology specialist, and I was amazed at the items they have out there to help disabled individuals! I have adapted most things I already have to accomodate my needs, but today I found products specifically designed to make life easier. For example I found out that there are mice available that would keep my wrist in a natural position allowing more time that I could use it. Then of course there is a mouse that you don't even have to touch, it's called "Tracker" and works by watching the movement of a reflective disc on a headset or front frame of your glasses. I was blown away! I also found that they have a portable adjustable arm rest, it attatches to tables and/or chairs for proper support!
This was all preformed by an employee of the Neil Squire Foundation (their website can be found in my previous post), which I set up but Worker's Comp approved and will now pay for the necessary equipment. I have to admit that seeing some of these things like the armrest made me a little emotional, you see I've been trying to adapt everyday items to fit my needs but it never seems to work as well as planned or hoped for. So when she was showing me things that I knew would help me deal with my condition better, I have to say I got a little damp in the eyes. It hasn't been very often in the past 7 years that I've had any kind of real from Worker's Comp, and it's a little overwhelming at times.
Now I have to wait for a report from the specialist, and then I will submit to Comp the quotes I got for some of the equipment and software that is readily available to me. Then it's a matter of getting everything, setting up my workstation and I'm ready to go. Meanwhile I still need to work on getting my transcript, as well as getting ready to apply for University. There is still some work to be done in the area of school, but it's amazing how God is really in control.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Heading toward the mark.

After meeting with the disability office at the UofR, I was given the name of a foundation specifically set up to assist disabled individuals with proper equipment to return to as normal a life as possible. For me this means ergonomic specialty equipment to accommodate keeping my pain down, thereby making it feasible and possible for me to return to school and work towards employment. The name of the organization is The Neil Squire Foundation, their website is Neil Squire Foundation. The foundation called me back today regarding their ergonomic specialist coming out and assessing my needs for this upcoming endeavor, I'm looking forward to this as it is a chance to learn what's available out there to assist me.
Last week I also met with the career counselor I've been working with, and she helped with the decision about what I should take. She did this by telling me that some of the things I want to do are only available with certain credentials. We also came up with a plan that would let us start anytime now, which involved taking a disability management course and transferring those credits into a B.A. in psychology. The major two factors that delay the start date are, first I need to have all the equipment in place and ready to go by the time I submit the application and secondly I need to get my transcripts for the application. I see the former being the largest challenge at present, mostly because I don't know what's available out there to help.... YET... However that is being taken care of very smoothly on both ends, that of the assessor and of the insurer! (As much as I dislike shopping for the most part, I have to get quotes for a lot of the equipment myself *ugh*)
That pretty much covers what's going on for now, assessment, shopping, getting transcripts and then submitting the application. I have no idea if it's going to get interesting yet or keep running this smoothly, but I'm trusting God to keep things smoo-ooth! *Grin*

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

December 1st - Career Options.

I met with my Vocational Rehab CSR from WCB yesterday, and once again it was an enlightening and productive meeting. This lady is incredibly supportive and helpful, it's like the complete opposite of what I had to deal with at the beginning of this ordeal and I thank God for it! She is letting me put together my own program specifically designed to assist injured workers! I see this being a combination of things like Disability Management, Occupational Health and some Rehabilitation Services. I do want to be careful not to duplicate materials from the individual programs, and at the same time I want to be thorough and complete for the best opportunities for employment.
I was very surprised at one point, when she said that she would not be opposed to my taking a BA in Psychology. A BACHELOR'S IN PSYCHOLOGY!!!! This is 3-4 years of full time studies, and she is well aware that I may be only be able to work at it a MAXIMUM of part time! The most exciting part about all this is the limitless opportunities that are being presented. I do understand that some of the things in a Psych degree would be unnecessary to do the particular job that I'm working towards, but there are other avenues I can explore that may reduce the "fluff"(as my Voc CSR called it, and she should know as she has a Psych degree) information.
So I'll be meeting with the Career counselor again next week, as we had a mix up in this weeks meeting when I missed a message to reschedule. The meeting yesterday was actually meant to be with the Voc CSR and the Career counselor, but it was most likely Divine intervention as we got to discuss much more than just career objectives. And the extras we discussed were very important, they involved things like personal care as well as what they cover for medical equipment (some of which we've bought ourselves because they were needed, but didn't claim for them).
Needless to say these are very exciting times in my life. I'm really enjoying it even through the added pain levels, which is very cool! I would really love to help injured and disabled people like myself and that looks to be the way things will work out. It's just a matter of collecting appropriate information from employers on employment requirements, then finding the right courses and creating a program to encompass it all. There is still a fair bit of work to do, but it's getting closer every day!!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Not an easy task.

It's been about a month now since I did the testing with the career counsellor, and in 2 weeks I meet with her and my Vocational CSR from Comp (Worker's Compensation Board) to evaluate where we are at. However things have not gone as smoothly as they might have hoped, and I just hope that the Voc. CSR understands that this isn't as cut and dried as a normal case. With all the restrictions I have, finding an appropriate course to fit the strict criteria from my assessment team is tough going! I have an idea of the areas I'd like to move into, it's just hard finding suitable educational options. But even though there have been disappointments (wanting to do a certain course and then finding it unavailable to me), the level of it and stress has been minimal. I thank God for the way this has all been working out because I'm usually FAR more high strung concerning things like this, but that's not the case this time! So I'll update further on this subject when I know more.
But stay tuned for more "Stupid Politician Tricks", a week doesn't seem to go by without them doing something ridiculous!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Test results

I went today to find out the results of the CTBS tests, and the combination of it with the Myers -Briggs Type indicator and Strong Interest inventory. And to be completely honest some of the results really surprised me, and then gave clarification to my personality.
The Myers-Briggs really nailed down my personality (which at first I doubted it would do), and the career counsellor helped explain how to use these traits to choose a profession to compliment and capitalize on my strengths.
The Myers-Briggs type indicator showed me to be an ENTJ (which is an acronym for: Extroverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging) personality. A short explaination of ENTJ is: "The Executive" externally focused, rational and logical, natural born leaders, quick and decisive judgements, easily take charge, dislikes seeing mistakes repeated and having no patience with inefficiency. This is of course far from complete, but I was surprised at how I saw myself in the descriptions. For more about ENTJ you can see ENTJ personality , which goes into much (MUCH) more detail, and even includes relationships, strengths, weaknesses as friends, lovers and parents.
The combination report (Strong Interest Inventory and "MBTI" or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) gave some suggestions for employments that were based those and Holland's RIASEC theory of careers. Holland's theory classifies 6 occupation themes, R-Realistic, I-Investigative, A-Artistic, S-Social, E-Enterprising and C-Conventional. These traits are placed the points of a hexagonal pattern, and the closer the two traits are along the lines of the hexagon, are our stronger traits which will help us locate a more satisfying career. We have the all the traits from around the hexagon, it's how they work together that is hard to describe here. There is obviously far more to this as well, and it's how I understood things from speaking with the career counsellor. My occupational suggestions went like this:
Occupational Therapist, Dentist (this one really surprised me), Photographer, College Professor, Engineer, Biologist, Psychologist, Audiologist, Chiropractor, Flight Attendant, Housekeeping and Maintenance Supervisor, Military Enlisted personnel, Nursing Home Administrator, Paralegal, Reporter, Science Teacher and finally Sociologist. However my choice of career possibilities is not limited to just this list, but it gives me an idea of possibilities to look into further.
And lastly came the CTBS (Canadian Test of Basic Skills), this is the same test you probably took throughout high school. However something I never realized was that it is far more complex in it's depth than we imagine. It bases your Grade level on the percent correct, and goes on past simply grade 12. I completely expected to need upgrading in certain areas (I don't care for math, and my Capitalization and Punctuation leave a bit to be desired and I thought I totally messed up with Sources of information!), however the tests threw me for a loop! Out of the total 6 tests, my average grade level is grade 15 and 6 months. THAT INCLUDED MATH AND WRITTEN! (Am I shocked and amazed, yes! but it was a nice boost to my moral!) A breakdown of grade levels went like this:
Vocabulary, grade 18 and 5 months
Reading and Comprehension, grade 14 and 6 months
Written Language, grade 14 and 9 months
Sources of Information, grade 15 and 8 months
Quantive Thinking (Math), grade 14 and 4 months
Science, grade 16 and 2 months
And what all this means is that I could walk into a college level course TODAY without any type of upgrading! I was very pleased with the results, especially since I was sick as a dog when I took the tests.
Now comes the decision, what do I think I'll be able to do long term, and remembering to factor in all the intricacies of my disability. It's exciting (and scary at the same time) to go through this procedure, but it's worth it to take the time and do it right.

And as I go along I gather support from the people, today I got another vote for the "Vote Bob" campaign from my career counsellor! *grin*

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Relating to others

A lot of Christians today have become accustomed to using certain language and phrasing specific to regular church attenders, and we call this Christian-ese. As I'm watching football on TV (Go Riders!!), I caught the announcers using football specific terms, something I never really paid attention to before as it made sense to me. Then I thought to myself "Would that make any sense to my wife Dee?". As I watched and thought more about it, I realized a parallel between Christian-ese and football jargon. Both of these modified languages use terms that would confuse someone not familiar to them, and that makes it difficult to relate to anyone outside that group.
If we want to get Jesus' message out to everyone, we have to be able to relate to them. I'm not talking about using them same words (cursing etc..), or by spending time with them putting yourself in a position to sin. I am saying is don't talk in church code (Christian-ese), it just tends to make people tune you out and I don't think that's what God would want. Also simply understand that we are all susceptible to sin, so don't be as willing to judge as we usually are. (And whether you think you do or not, understand that you do, that we all do.)

The need for the return of manners

Holding the door for a stranger, please and thank you, even these small courtesies have lost a place in modern society. Are we too civilized to show respect to those whom we are destined to share time on earth with? Our efforts to be tolerant of everything makes us complacent to the moral decline of our societal etiquette.
It appals me when I see today's children interacting with others, the complete lack of respect for their elders is disgusting and they way they treat their peers is horrifying. Between our quest to be open minded and trying to obtain the "American Dream" lifestyle, society has stopped "raising" their children. We've left that to schools, daycares, babysitters, television and last but far from least their friends.
I'm not saying we need to pull the chair out for a lady (at least not every time, but wouldn't it be nice to make that person feel special?), however teaching our children that it is unacceptable to be rude or disobedient should be of utmost importance to us all. It's a simple thing that we think we're all doing, but we're not seeing the results in real life, are we? We get out of our kids what we put into them, and when we started taking God out look what happened.
I got all this as I watched a Saturday afternoon movie "Kate and Leopold", it made me think of how much we've changed since the foundation of Canada and the fact that a lot of it wasn't for the better. "We have every comfort and convenience, but no time for integrity" Leopold said, and doesn't that sum up the way of the world. It's up to all of us to change it!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

How annoying

I know that the internet is still confusing and new for a lot (most) of people, but instead of learning more about it they jump in with both feet after the absolute minimum of knowledge. I'm not saying that people with less experience should not use things like e-mail, I AM saying that if you're going to use it take the initiative to learn more about it!
Let's take forwards for example:
When you forward anything by just blindly following the instructions that come in the e-mail, you are putting your address and the all recipients adresses out there for hundreds, thousands etc.. of others to see OR USE as they wish. So let's protect each other online, LEARN as much as you can and ALWAYS BLIND CARBON COPY if you feel you must forward something!

Monday, October 18, 2004

A simple truth

As I sat here getting more and more angry at the copious amounts of pain I'm in, I was raging at God that I wanted my life back...... My mind finally went quite and I heard the simple truth, "It's not your life".
If you not a Christian and you're reading this it might not make any sense, even as a Christian it may be confusing. Christ gave us a mission when He came, to let people know about Him and His gift of salvation. When Jesus died so that I can have eternal life, He paid for my life. God gave His Son to the world, and Christ willingly died for every person on earth. Jesus not only died for us, His gift gave us the promise of heaven if we simply accept it. How selfish am I to think that what I want is more important than what God's wants, and when you know that ALL God wants for you is the best of EVERYTHING, it borders ridiculous!!!
There is way more to this subject than what I posted, and I hope you'll look into it whether you believe it or not.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Last 2 weeks

This whole thing actually starts July 12th, 2004. That's the date of the assessment that started a rollercoaster of pain. This assessment was three days of incredible pain as they pushed, pulled and prodded my arm trying to assess my functional limitations. It took 2 months for me to get used to the new pain levels, and no they never decreased to where they were prior, I have had to adapt myself to these new levels. I then went to a second assessment on August 5 with an Orthopedic surgeon. This assessment I must say was a FAR more humane than what I was put through in July, and I use the word humane because what they put me through would be considered cruel and inhumane if it were done to an animal.
Anyways on to the title subject. The last 2 weeks I have been going to InTouch Career College, these test are a personal interest inventory, personality type and to find my high school levels (to see if I need upgrading to take anything more post secondary, dependent of course on what field I choose ie: math upgrading for computer programming). It sometimes even surprises me how physically draining it is to go out and do even simple things, and that's due to the varying pain level. And that is still a major concern where retraining comes into play, are the going to flexible enough to accommodate my varying pain and level of ability? But we'll leave that in God's hands, after all His plans always work out.
It is very interesting to have this opportunity to find out where my interests and personality would be best suited in the workplace, it's something that not a lot of people get the chance to do but I believe we'd have a lot more satisfied workers if this were more available to the average person. We'll be able to go through the results either later this coming week or early the next. Either way I'm really grateful for the break now, because I kind of feel like I'm coming apart at the edges (because of continuous elevation in pain through recent testing). I'll post more once we go through the results!

Winter came in like a lion.

It started to sleet last night as we came home from friends, and then this morning I found out how bad it was on the way to church.... the roads are NASTY!!!! Now, I don't have a problem driving in winter, because I actually use my signal lights, shoulder check and pay attention to the road conditions. This is NOT however the case with the majority of drivers out there! I am appalled at the number of drivers that consider a signal light "OPTIONAL"! Last I heard it was still a ticketable offence to not use indicators, I guess if this were enforced more strictly it would be less of a problem. But then the police and RCMP would be considered hypocrites if they were to ticket the public for the same offences they commit. I know I drive better with one arm than most people do with two, and that fact in itself frustrates me about other drivers' laziness. And then there's the subject of driving while using a CELL PHONE... I have to words for these hazardous drivers... "HANDS FREE"!!!!!!!!!!! How hard is it to use an earphone??? I go back to the lack of using common sense and laziness being the main problems here too. There is a whole new level of danger when you factor in how poorly some people drive and add on the distraction of trying to talk on the phone.... It's bad enough trying to figure out what the person in front of you is going to do on dry pavement, now we're dealing with sleet, snow and ice on top of it! Now add all these problems together, multiply by the number of drivers that do these idiotic things and it's one heck of a mess out there!!!
Just because this makes me angry doesn't mean I had an accident, you'll find if you continue reading my posts that I am an advocate of common sense and the lack of it's use is a sore point with me. God didn't put a brain in your head to hold your ears apart, it actually has another use called THINKING!

Friday, October 15, 2004


I wish I would have had the opportunity to start a blog several years ago, when I was first injured and needed an outlet to express myself. See I'm terrible at Journaling or keeping a diary, so a lot of what I went through is lost in the mists of time and medications. What I have written from what I remember is on a page that I will link, it's a combination of writings from my wife and I on some of the going ons of my disability and dealings with those involved.
I'll ask for one indulgence if I may, with the fact of having only one arm to work with I ask that you forgive the spelling mistakes that are bound to pop up (I tend to forget to use spellchecks).