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The new Disability Access program at WDW and the MSEP

A couple of weeks ago I had emailed the good folks at Walt Disney World with a bit of a query.  On our last trip, in spite of the fact that members of our group have several disabilities, we avoided using the Access program.  I believe one should do what they can to avoid any misuse of equal access programs, and while we certainly qualified to use it, if we could do without, it’s what I’d prefer.  I don’t want my daughter or much younger sister growing up thinking they deserve special privileges simply because they face different challenges than others.  And with the old program, anyone with an access card skips to the front of the line – which is clearly not about equality but about special privileges (which is why it was so abused).  Anyway…

I had emailed the people at WDW to ask about seating for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  This was one time when I desperately wished we had requested assistance on our last trip.  The wait resulted in a lot of anxiety for two members of our party, a melt down for one, and a whole lot of pain for two.  Sitting on the concrete for over an hour trying to hold a spot was not good for any of us.  I was hoping there would be some kind of reserved seating available.  Turns out not… they only have special seating for those guests who are non-ambulatory.  She did give me some tips for the parade though, so hopefully that will help.  Because in spite of the pain (both physical and mental) the MSEP remains on our must do list.

So while that wasn’t great news, she did fill me on on the NEW Disability Access program at Disney World – and that is something I’m excited about.  She encouraged me to participate on our upcoming trip, because the new program addresses the concerns I had with the old program.  Now, instead of ushering people to the front of the line, offering special privileges and inviting misuse, it now works more like the old Fast Passes.

Individuals with special needs request a special card, and instead of hoping into line, get it stamped at the entry to the queue.  It is stamped with the time they are to return, so they are waiting for the same amount of time as everyone else in the line.  But instead of having to stand there (and cause anxiety or pain flare-ups or what-have-you) they can then go sit down, eat, run in circles, meditate, draw, go pee… whatever they need to do to mitigate their symptoms, returning for the time on their card.  At which point they rejoin the queue at the place they would have been standing when their card was stamped.  Now, that doesn’t mean they won’t have to stand in line at all, but it does reduce the time in the line without removing the wait.

I love this new accessibility program.  It ensures those with special needs are able to have equal access to the rides, shows, character meetings, etc without granting an advantage and inviting misuse or program abuse.  And I do think this is a much better idea, and is a change I’m looking forward to experiencing.  Granted it doesn’t help with the MSEP, but hopefully by lessening the stress throughout the day (both physically and emotionally) it will be a little easier too…  because it really cannot be missed!  😉

Leaving Home

The big move is only four sleeps away.  The girl says she’s excited about it, and I believe her…  but I know she’s feeling some anxiety too – even if it’s below the surface.  The way she’s cuddling in extra tight at night, and has been keeping me awake (even though she’s fast asleep herself) the last few nights tells a very clear story.

We are all excited…  but it’s tough to leave your home behind.  For the girl, this is the only home she’s ever known.  For us “grown ups”, it’s the longest either one of us has ever lived in one place.  Nine and a half years isn’t so easy a thing to shrug off.

All the anxiety and stress though?  I have a feeling it will melt away once we walk in the front door of our new house.  After all, we wouldn’t have chosen it if it hadn’t felt like home the minute we had walked in the first time we viewed it.  And it did.  It really did.  So I know we’re leaving behind a home we love, but we’re gaining a home that I think we’ll come to love even more.  🙂

Friendship is Magic and/or Mental Health

I was thinking about the title Friendship is Magic, and while it may not really be magic, it can grant you mental health – which is pretty darn close.  Friends keep you grounded, they kick you in the pants when needed, and provide support when no one else can.  A good friend is like having a mental health provider on your speed dial.  And that, my friends?  That really is magic!

I’ve been stressing out about this whole ear issue of mine (and if you could hear the voice in my head, you’d note I said issue in the very proper British form where you hear the S sound vs the American ishu which is why it appears in italics.  Because while I’m Canadian, and we SHOULD pronounce everything in the proper British way, American English has ended up rather prevalent.  So you KNOW I’m taking pains to bring attention to a word when I pronounce it – even in my head – properly).  I’ve been worrying about the possibility of long term effects, and whether or not I’ll be able to continue with some of my very favourite things.  My health has taken a lot from me over the years, and the idea that something else may be taken away is a whole lot to digest.  When I brought this up with her, she reminded me that while some of my symptoms may be explained by the Eustachian Tube Disorder (and therefore possibly scary and somewhat permanent) that the severity of these same symptoms could be related to other related problems that are just as likely temporary.  Which means while I’m taking a break from one particular favourite activity right now, that things may still get better and I may be able to get back in the saddle (as it were) before too terribly long.  Without a good friend in whom I could confide, I’d still be stressing myself into a tizzy.  I still have a twinge of worry, but I’m definitely feeling better.  Friendship is Magic when it comes to Mental Health!

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Oh!  See http://howjsay.com/index.php?word=issue to hear the difference in pronunciation.  😉

The worst kind of bad dream…

We’ve all had bad dreams.  The kind where some horrific thing happens to “your” family… but they aren’t really your family, it’s your dream family…  and you are kind of there as both a character and silent observer.  So you feel the pain, but are also able to be detached.  It’s scary, but it’s not real.  A normal bad dream.

Well…

Several weeks ago I had a bad dream.  And not your average, run of the mill, bad dream.  We’re talking the kind of bad dream that keeps you from sleeping for an entire week, and leaves you quaking in bed unable to move because of fear.  Where you wake up and it takes time to realize that it all was a dream, and that your family is fine, you are fine, and they’re all sleeping soundly right next to you.

It was such an odd experience, because it really was unlike any dream I’d ever had before – ever.  I didn’t know it was a dream.  I wasn’t an observer.  I was me.  We lived in our house.  My dream family was MY family.  So when the terror began?  There was no separating myself from what was happening.  I felt it all as if it were real.  And the fact that the dream even followed a real time line, it didn’t jump around, I didn’t change from one person to another…  It really was an odd thing to experience.  Dreams are usually odd, let’s face it, they’re downright weird…  so for this one to play out as if it were really happening was weird within weird.

The dream started with my seeing something in the field near our house.  Even in the dream I wasn’t clear on what I saw.  Just something unusual.  And like in reality, I blogged about it that night.

The following day, government agents showed up at my door, asking about what I’d seen.  They then asked me to come with them to discuss it.  Damon was home with the girl, so I agreed.

It became very unreal as things unfolded…  I was never truly clear on what was happening, but the mounting panic was clear.  Something was going on.  Something terrifying.

We were rushed out in vehicles, a procession led by police, clearing the way.  The sky had become incredibly dark in just a few hours, when it still should have been bright daylight.  I tried to get on my cell to contact Damon and Lily – to tell them to stay inside, in the basement.  Reception was bad, and I could barely hear them.  I knew they were scared.  I tried to tell them what little I knew.  Tried to offer them some comfort.  I wanted to tell them I’d be there soon – even though I had no idea where I (and others) were being taken or what was really going on.  And the phone cut out.

I tried to reach them again, but got dead air.  I couldn’t text.  Couldn’t get internet.  There was no way to get a message to them…  Then there was just a deafening bang, and darkness.

I woke up in a total panic.  Sleep paralysis.  I could barely breathe and I couldn’t move.  I hadn’t felt terror upon waking like that since I was a kid (I used to suffer from night terrors).  But I could hear them breathing in the darkness.  And slowly I got to the point where I could open my eyes and look around.  Saw the light on the alarm clock, the standby light on the tv and the hard drive…   The anxiety didn’t fade, but the panic did.  Slowly.

I didn’t sleep the rest of the night.  I just laid in bed next to Lily and Damon, listening to them sleep.  And I had a difficult time sleeping the rest of the week as well.  Just fitful bursts of sleep – dreamless, but not restful.  Thankfully it wasn’t a repeating dream, but it was so vivid that even now, weeks later, I can recall it with clarity.

I’d never had a dream like that.  Ever.  And I’d always been a very active dreamer (it wasn’t until having Lily-Ann that my brain finally slowed it’s night life).  It really was a crazy ride.  The idea that it was the end, whatever it was…  it was the end…  and I wasn’t there for them, I wasn’t there with them.  It was just so beyond terrifying.

 

Amazing what a difference half a decade makes!

On Friday, I received my new drivers license in the mail.  A lot has changed since I had taken my previous DL photo.  Not just in my life, but procedurally as well.

Now they require a new photo every five years.  I think it used to be every seven (but don’t quote me on that).  It used to be you could wear glasses, smile, act and be natural in your photo.  Now, even if you wear glasses full time they have to be off, and not only are you not allowed to crack a toothy grin, you aren’t allowed to smile at all.  But, as you’ll note from my new license, a wry smirk is perfect acceptable.

My Driver's License Photo - Old and New

My Driver’s License Photo – Old and New

 

I have to admit…  when I received my new license and pulled the old one from my wallet, I stopped and stared at the photos for a while.  What a difference roughly half a decade makes.  The first photo was before I was married, before Lily-Ann was even a vague idea.  It was before I’d changed focus from my work as an expert in Canine Communication to Professional Photographer.  I voted Green back then, but wasn’t a member of the party, and would never dream I would run the provincial party and run for office during a provincial election, a national election, and a provincial by-election.  It was before I returned to my roots and realized how much I missed working with youth.  I hadn’t outed myself as a former victim of sexual assault, and was ashamed of the fact that I had FMS and IBS.  It was a very different me – who was plagued by social anxiety disorder and had a specially trained Service Dog because I couldn’t leave the house alone.

Now?  Wow.  There really isn’t much of that girl left.

I chose my wording carefully, the use of “girl” wasn’t an accident.  I was a girl.  I was a nervous, scared, girl.  I hid it pretty well from most folk…  but I really did live my life scared that I’d be found out, that someone would realize I wasn’t actually good enough to be worthwhile.

I said it once already, but for emphasis, I’ll say it again:  What a difference roughly half a decade makes.

Now?  I’m probably a little too self-assured…  I’m actually downright cocky.  LOL  I know that who I am matters, and what I do makes a difference.  I’m a proud woman.  Confident and ready to tackle pretty much anything that comes my way.  I live out loud, and tend to over share.  Want to know something about me?  Ask.  I’m not afraid and will happily talk to anyone about anything.  I’m doing some pretty amazing things.

Someone asked me if I felt old now that I’ve turned 35, and you know what?  I totally don’t.  I feel like life is just beginning.  I’ve just hit my stride.

 

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