Saturday, December 19, 2009

Email Subscription Gadget

Some might have discovered this already, but for those who haven't I just wanted to quickly mention that I added an email subscription gadget to this blog. It's located about halfway down the page on the right side just under the labels section. How that should work is that once you submit your email address you automatically get an email notification every time I put up a new blog post. It should make it more convenient for those who are interested in following my musings from post to post. FYI you can also subscribe to this blog via feeds (e.g. RSS) but don't ask me how that works. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One Man's Annoying/Aggravating/Interesting Access Picture of the Week

I came across the picture below via one of my Google Alerts on accessible parking. Apparently, this is how the rodeo grounds in Wickenberg, AZ designate handicapped accessible parking spaces. Looking at that picture I can't help but wonder if they trace out the universal symbol of access (i.e. the wheelchair outline) and/or the rectangular striped access zone in the dirt with sticks. The other eyebrow raising issue is the sign's use of the word "handicap," which in the disability world is no longer PC and even borderline offensive to people with disabilities (the word accessible has recently taken the place of both handicap and handicapped as the proper applicable disability phraseology). Stay classy, Wickenberg, AZ rodeo grounds, stay classy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Mobility Article on Osteoporosis and SCI

For the last few years I've been a subscriber of New Mobility, which is a magazine that covers numerous aspects of the lifestyle of wheelchair users. I've actually subscribed to this particular magazine on two separate occasions over the past thirteen years. The first time was back in 1996 when I was provided with a complimentary one year subscription from Craig Hospital upon my discharge from rehab. But I hardly ever read it back then. That was even despite my parent's best efforts at getting me to do so at times. My mom repeatedly mentioned how much she enjoyed reading about all of the various disability issues. The implication being that if she, an able-bodied person, enjoyed reading it so much that I certainly would too. And just about every time my dad was on his way to recycle the magazines with the newspapers he would stop by my room and ask me if I wanted to read the latest issue of NM before he tossed it out. Then even after I said "no" he tended to linger with the magazine outstretched in my direction as if to say, "Are you sure? This is why we have the subscription."

At the time I'm sure they figured that flipping through the magazine, which is filled with plenty of insight and useful information about disabilities, might help me adjust to my new lifestyle a little more. But my lack of desire to check out NM back then was pretty unwavering. My rationale was along the lines of "I live the disability lifestyle as it is, so why would I want to read about things I deal with every day already?" The thought of it was kind of a bummer. Looking back I now realize that my ignorance towards reading NM was just a part of the early mental/emotional recovery of learning to live with a spinal cord injury. I was exhibiting willful indifference. In other words, in a small way reading NM and about other people's adventures with SCI made mine very real. And although I started to deal with my situation with a very realistic and healthy manner from the start, in a small way being presented with that magazine each month signified something about my life that I didn't want to be entirely real yet.

Ultimately, my parents quit renewing the subscription for NM because it was pretty much a waste of money since I wasn't reading it. But flash forward to recent history and out of the blue one day I went to the website and ordered a subscription. First, I'm obviously much more adjusted and accepting of my situation and have reached a point where everything that NM is about is a welcome read. Second, I have aspirations of practicing disability law as my primary career focus, so some short time after I became a licensed attorney I saw the magazine as another way to stay in touch with every day issues of people with disabilities, accessibility, and disability rights. And third, me and two good friends in the greater Minneapolis region are starting up a Minnesota chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (, and I saw NM as a good resource for disability related products and services that we might want to incorporate into our own chapter's resource center. So it all came full circle with New Mobility.

That's why I found it so interesting that the December issue of NM features an article about the relationship between spinal cord injuries and osteoporosis. Most interesting of course because I discovered this article just a few days after I wrapped up my own four part blog post about finding out that I have severe osteoporosis due to living with SCI for over thirteen years. Sort of makes me wonder if I either have a little Nostradamus in me or if my apartment is bugged. Regardless, it's good to see that a well read nationally published disability magazine has taken the initiative to discuss a lost in the mix health issue that affects so many people with SCI without them even realizing it. For those interested the article can be found

A few noteworthy things about this article from my perspective: 1) It says that until recently the dangers posed by osteoporosis for people with disabilities was an afterthought, so there are probably tons of people like me over the years who were surprised when they got the same medical diagnosis. 2) Really fragile bones (loss of 50% or more of BMD) can break simply by rolling or stretching. That made me cringe because I roll to sleep on my side and to get dressed as well as stretch my legs in bed every day. Hopefully, mine never become "fragile." 3) The bone loss with paralysis is surprisingly quite rapid. The average male paraplegic loses 25% bone mineral density in the first one and a half years post-injury. 4) There are supposedly no proven treatments for osteoporosis in people with spinal cord injuries, but taking daily doses of calcium and vitamin D helps best for now. As for other tidbits, the article cites a few gnarly anecdotes about how a few people with osteoporosis broke their lower limbs, as well as emphasizes good body positioning and secure transfers in and out of the wheelchair.