Over 32 years ago, I lay in a hospital bed with a metal halo screwed into my skull, immobilizing my neck. I had a C5/C6 injury due to a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver. I was paralyzed from the collarbones down, parts of my arms and my hands and needed a tracheotomy to breathe.

Yes. You read the title right; this story involves a celebrity. One of my favourite musical artists is a guy named William Fitzsimmons. He’s a tall guy with a killer beard and a disarmingly whispery acoustic style.

Winter Blues

Anyone who relies on the use of a wheelchair will tell you – winter sucks. I woke up this morning, my first day back at school after the holidays, to the first significant snowfall of the season.

People who read my blogs regularly may remember an entry from the summer, where I mentioned a fiasco at a restaurant celebrating my role as a bridesmaid for the upcoming wedding of my best friend. Well, my bridesmaid dress arrived in the mail yesterday. “Yay!”, right?

When I find myself lacking for ideas, I can count on life to give me certain scenarios in endless supply. When all else fails there’s always another list brewing in my brain or in this case, the inescapable ‘You’re an inspiration!’ trope rears its head.

Donald Trump says a lot of extreme, ridiculous and offensive things. When I heard he was running for President of the United States, I laughed. And then I started hearing snippets of campaign speeches and while I continued to marvel at the ludicrousness of Trump in office, I also started to get nervous.

Aren't You Tired?

When you live with a disability, there is an element of leading by example, or living by example that comes with the territory. I have noticed a theme in both of my teacher education programs: no one knows what to do with me.

Last week I told you a WTF story that was a little disgusting, but also so absurd that it is almost funny; there is dark humour to be found in a wheelchair user being asked to walk through the metal detector at the airport. Well, my next story has no humour hidden between the lines.

I routinely joke with my friends, “I’m female, disabled and of Lebanese heritage; it’s like a reverse triple threat. There’s almost nothing I haven’t heard. I’m an open target.” I have indeed been on the receiving end of some truly perplexing sentiments and statements from strangers and I’ve been in countless odd and ridiculous situations.

Canada Votes

On October 19th, Canadians will be casting their votes in the federal election; we may have a new Prime Minister by week’s end. I am not qualified to dissect each Party’s platform with an in-depth analysis – I studied politics in twelfth grade and then I studied political philosophy

Having a disability and being in a wheelchair presents a unique set of daily challenges that are hard enough on their own. Sometimes, able-bodied people add to the frustration. Here’s a short list of things that the able-bodied world does – mostly unintentionally – that makes having a disability harder than it needs to be.

Stranded

As I write this, I’m sitting in an accordion-style hospital wheelchair, my seat cushion haphazardly forced into the frame. I have no back support. My power wheelchair has been taken in for service for the sixth time in barely three months. I’m sitting in a room at my service provider’s headquarters, an hour and a half away from where I live.

Back in June, I started having battery issues – they were dying much quicker than they should.

One of my first blogs was about inspiration porn. That blog hinges around one of my favourite stories to tell; it illustrates the absurd things people say and shows how normal human behaviour (like dancing at a wedding reception) is blown out of proportion.

As the start of a new school year approaches, I feel the need to comment on education as it affects students with disabilities. I have a lot of mixed feelings about Special Education, both as a student who went through the system and now as a certified teacher.

I am only speaking from my own perspective. With that, in no particular order… 

10. The effort that goes into the simplest things: How long does it take able-bodied people to get themselves out the door in the morning? Way less time than it takes me, I know that much.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired from 1997-2003. The show is known and praised for many things: its seamless blending of every genre imaginable (its sci-fi, it has action, drama, horror, romance and comedy) and its portrayal of strong females and its inventive use of language. The show's dialogue still sounds fresh today, twelve years after the final season aired.

Everyone wants love and companionship. This is an extremely sensitive topic, one that I struggle with constantly. Some people may take issue with my views on this subject. I am not aiming to convince others how to think. Mine is just one experience, one perspective.

The “wedding season” of my life is in full bloom. Everywhere I turn, my friends are getting engaged and married. I myself am nowhere close, but that’s another story.

For the first time, I get to be more than a guest. One of my best friends got engaged in May and asked me to be a bridesmaid. I am one of only four, one quarter of her innermost circle.

I'm Not Broken

I don’t know when exactly it started happening, but people have been fixated on healing or curing me since I was a very young child. In a previous piece about Eddie Redmayne, I referenced a blog that accused Hollywood of perpetuating the idea that disability was something to be conquered rather than lived with. While I believe that “conquering” disability is an extremely prevalent notion, I do not think that Hollywood is the only element at the epicenter of this trend.

Barbara Turnbull was a well-known fixture in the Canadian disability community. Her tenacity, dedication and perseverance were second to none. She was arguably one of the most recognizable and effective champions of disability advocacy in Canada.

This is the tale of living life within the confines of Ontario Disability Support Pension (ODSP)... the social assistance that giveth and taketh away. I want to be clear that I am not pointing fingers; ODSP is a flawed system, doing the best it can –a system that is underfunded and understaffed. As flawed as it is, it is one of the better social assistance programs within Canada.

Before Eddie Redmayne played Stephen Hawking, there was only one film portraying disability that garnered my utmost respect.

I had several topics in mind for this blog. When I couldn’t decide, I shared my list with a friend and asked him to pick one. Instantly he said “Inspiration porn.”

When Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, I cheered out loud. His acceptance speech brought tears to my eyes.

Honestly, I've never actually thought about a list of things I would specifically do if I wasn't in a wheelchair. Having a disability is the only reality I have ever known, and I am fortunate to have grown up surrounded by family and friends who've encouraged and allowed me the opportunity to experience great adventures. The wheelchair thing doesn't get in my way much.

Before I even start, I want to say “don’t get me wrong.” I really do think Aimee Mullins is fantastic. You know her... double- leg amputee track athlete, awesome public speaker, beautiful make-up model... great advocate for disability community. She’s carved out an amazing career for herself.

Dating sites aren’t always that easiest to navigate, especially if you haven’t used one before. So, If you are currently using an online dating service, or planning to in the future, here are some great tips that will help you be successful at finding someone.

New Game Plan

“The more things change, the more they are the same,” a well-worn axiom, which depending on your attitude, speaks the truth or not.

While I've always said that if I can touch one person's life with my story of triumph through tragedy, then all of the bad that came along with my disability was worth it.

She heard it in my tone. "That was a little rude," my wife called to me from the kitchen as I closed the front door. "Who was that?" she questioned.

We all know about the controversy surrounding the legalization of marijuana in the United States, and just like all controversies, it’s never a black and white issue. There’s always a grey area, which is certainly the case for the disability community when it comes to medical marijuana use.

In my recent blog, “Wheelchair for a Day”, I talked about the idea that some companies are using for “sensitivity training” of employees who work with people with disabilities... able-bodied people using wheelchairs for a day as their only means of mobility to gain a perspective of what life is like for a wheelchair user. I received an overwhelming amount of responses from my readers. One comment in particular brought up a really great idea about how this type of training might be very useful. 

Hot Hand

Come on! Aren't there some lives to save somewhere? Homeless to help? Limbs for the limbless? There must be some better use of time and money than gadgety prosthetic technology for the sake of "look what we did" science.

Wheelchair for a Day

I read an article recently about a company in the wheelchair industry that asked their employees, who were able-bodied, to use a wheelchair for a day to better understand what their customers go through on a day-to-day basis. They were not able to use their legs for the whole day. While I definitely see the idea behind this and think it’s a great idea, as a person who uses a chair I wonder if this exercise really gives a good, or even the right, perspective of what real life for a wheelchair user is really like?

After my recent blog, “I Was Born This Way…Or Not”, I was very enlightened by all of the responses that I got. It is very intriguing how two people who live the same circumstance, living life with a disability, can have such opposite perspectives. The majority of responses I received were from those of you that were born differently-abled.

As someone who lives with a disability that was acquired, I often think about my life before wheels. I remember what it feels like to get up and walk, run, dance, jump, feel my feet, and unfortunately stub my toe. I feel like, despite my current abilities, I am tremendously blessed because I have lived the best of both worlds: able-bodied and disabled. 

In my daily readings, I recently came across this quote from Scott Hamilton: “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” As a person with a disability, I reposted it, thinking to myself, “Wow. How true is that?” My outlook on life is that “attitude is everything.” I know many people who are perfectly able-bodied, but have a bad attitude, causing them to miss out on all of life’s positive opportunities and thus, “disabling” them in life.

Sometimes the simplest moments are those that we hold the most dear…like a walk in the park with a loved one or a holiday dinner with the whole family. Let me tell you a little story about how Bussani Mobility Team helps make dreams come true…

Disregarding the last man I had in my life for those whole two seconds, this is the longest I've been single. It was extremely hard for me at first and with this new rule for 2012 I've made for myself (to stay open-minded) but I've found things to be a lot easier. For the first time in my life I KNOW I DON'T need a man in my life to be happy. I love where my life is at and my mentality about dating. I wish I was this way before all the yearly heartbreaks.

Every once in a while I like to let you know the things going on behind the scenes here at TravelinWheels. We have so many irons in the fire and so many great possibilities to build our future that it is pretty overwhelming. So, what’s been going on?

I love Vancouver and want to live here. The sustainable design of the city filled with friendly, diverse people makes it a model city of the future. From a postman to a Muslim businessman, I had the pleasure of really talking with a several locals, all warm, welcoming and just a joy to be around.

Hooray! Knee high socks are a hot fashion item in 2012. And they are a great solution for “hiding” DAFOs: extra-long socks, worn inside-out and folded down over the top of the brace. Check out these great photos of Faith and her colorful socks! Awesome!

For more visit Cascade Dafo on Facebook.

I'm just gonna go right into this blog! We started dating as boyfriend and girlfriend after a few dates. Sudden, I know. I even had doubts about it... just thought I was being close minded. (I gotta trust myself more.) Anyways, we both agreed we weren't going to see anyone else and just took a leap. Well, shortly after, we noticed the space that we were trying to leap over, was much too big.

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