I Played Wheelchair Pickleball

Let’s go play Pickleball!

While at the Valor Games Midwest, in Chicago, I saw pickleball played for the first time, at Soldier Field.  I did not know that we were being taped while we played, and did some drills.  I did not know I was in this video, but stumbled across it when looking up wheelchair pickleball.

I am the Caucasian woman with dark and grey hair, in a blue shirt.  It shows me doing drills, and actually on the court, playing.

Weekend Coffee Share

Image result for CoffeeIf we were having coffee, I would tell you how my therapy visit was somewhat unsettling.  What am I saying here?  She made me angry.  She made me feel as though I were under attack.  She stressed for about ten minutes, how she spent more time with me than with any other client that she saw.  Was that a complaint?  Does that mean I’m a problem?  Should I be seeing her less often than twice a month?  I should hope not.  She has been my lifeline to my sanity for the past year and a half or more.  I was nearly devastated when she changed my appointments from once a week to twice a month.  And now I have to show up with a notebook, prepared with exactly what I should be talking about that day.  If she hadn’t done so much to bring me so far . . . 

Image result for CoffeeIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this weekend has been one filled with anxiety, last-minute trips to the dollar store for mini versions of toiletries, so that I can travel this week, with only one carry-on bag, my laptop (no matter how hard I try, the decision to leave it at home never lasts) and my CPAP machine.  I don’t want to be tired all day long, because I had a poor nights sleep due to sleep apnea.  I’m trying to avoid 1) Trying to push around my big suitcase, while toting a carry-on, laptop and CPAP machine,  2) Having to wait in baggage claim until my bag finally appears and possibly missing my bus home from the airport on the return trip, and 3) Loading up with all this extra stuff I can do without.  All of this from a wheelchair.  True, it is a power chair, but that in itself is trouble as it causes me to be the last one off the plane, then often having to wait for my chair to appear, which could be a bit of a lengthy time coming home, at O’Hare.  And there is always the risk of damage to my chair, as it is a 400 pound power chair and the baggage handlers in Chicago just never seem to get it right, even though I’ve traveled to and from there for a few years.  I could not possibly tote around all that baggage while trying to push myself around in a manual wheelchair.

Image result for CoffeeIf we were having coffeeI’d tell you about all the exciting things I’ll be doing this week (not including the airports).  I will be checking into the hotel in the evening, and then checking in for the Valor Games Southwest, in San Antonio, TX.  I’d tell you how the elevator has a glass wall which looks out on the inner square garden.  There is also a hot tub, which I cannot go into due to heat sensitivity from MS, and a wonderful pool, lit up at night from under the water.  It is such a wonderful feeling to immerse myself into that cool water, after a hot day waiting to get on and off buses, which are transporting us back and forth from the game venues and the hotel.  I believe my first event will be with the air rifle.  I have rifled through my closets, looking for the eye patch needed to cover my dominant eye, so I am not struggling to keep my non-dominant eye open while aiming at a target which is 10 miles meters away.  And I also have to be wearing my glasses to do this.  I would tell you that another event I’ll be taking part in, is table tennis, a sport which I have played just about every year for the past 8 years.  My last event is Boccia Ball, which I first tried in San Antonio, on my first trip there two years ago.  It has since become an event in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.  The Valor Games do not require that you be in a wheelchair, but just that you have a VA-certified qualifying disability.  I guess mine qualifies, as this is the third year I’ve been accepted to these games.  I’d tell you that just last month I competed in the Valor Games Midwest, in Chicago, where I earned a gold medal in the discus, and a silver medal in hand-cycling.  This is a sport that I’m looking into pursuing on a full-time basis.  And I’d tell you I’ll spend every evening (if I have any energy left) in the pool, and then trying to find a couple of people to drag me out of the pool, as I can’t get myself out with my legs.  I would tell you that I’ll be getting little sleep for the next 5 days, and that’s okay.  I’ll fill you all in with my results, next weekend.

If We Were Having Coffee

Image result for CoffeeIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that it has been a long week.  I have not been able to go anywhere, due to the heat and humidity.  Fortunately, I didn’t have any appointments to go to during the week.  I’d tell you that I have a fascinating (at least to me) idea for a new blog I’d like to start, as well as some changes to the looks (Not the content!) of this blog.  I’d tell you I spent a tremendous amount of time, playing Sudoku online, as I play that to try the repair some of the deficits in cognitive ability due to nerve damage on my brain from MS, by stimulating new nerves to take the place of the damaged nerves, with new ones (not sure that has helped).

Image result for CoffeeIf we were having coffee,  I’d tell you that I spent Friday baking goodies for us to eat with our coffee.  I’d tell you I made a delicious carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and molasses cookies (because they are my all-time favorite, after chocolate),  but the cookies were burned because I forgot to set the timer on these newfangled stoves they put in here.  The weather here has turned a bit cool after the storms went through, and I had to put on jeans for the first time all summer.  The air conditioner is off and the cat is enjoying the open window.  Unfortunately, my flowers in the window boxes on the sills did not fare well due to me or the weather (I’d rather blame the weather).  I may have to try something different next year.

Image result for CoffeeIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I have an exciting week ahead.  I will be going to Chicago for three days, for the 2016 Valor Games Midwest.  These games have been adapted for veterans with many different types of disabilities, ranging from Archery to Tandem Cycling (for the ones who cannot see), as well as Field events, Indoor Rowing, and some exhibition sports that we can try out, and see if it is something we would like to pursue.  I’d tell you that since I’m either sitting, or in bed for the night, I don’t get much exercise, except when I use my manual chair when someone gives me a ride somewhere.  So I play adaptive sports in the summer, both for the competition, the wish to push myself a little further, to meet up with old friends, or just cheer for our teammates.  I’d tell you I went to Salt Lake City the end of June, into July, and that I won a bronze medal in 9-ball, a silver medal in bowling, and a gold medal for the Power Slalom, which is just a fancy way to say an obstacle course for power wheelchair.  I’d tell you that I don’t do it for the medals, but for the competition with friends I’ve met over the years, conversations by the pool that can last half the night, and the opportunity to travel all over the US.  I’ve been to events from the western part to the state to the eastern part, and I have yet to visit a city I haven’t liked, except for maybe the heat.  I’d also tell you that in September I’m going to San Antonio for the Valor Games Southwest.  This will be my third year going, but this year is the first year that I’ve had to pay for everything myself.  I was charged an extra $200 for my flight, because I changed my departure day to return home, from Friday to Thursday.  Then I turned out I had the return flight scheduled on the correct day the first day, but my departure from home was a day early.  So I cancelled the reservation entirely (BIG mistake) and applied for a refund for the entire trip.  I then made a new reservation, on the correct days, but was later informed that I would not be receiving a refund at all from the first reservation.  Any ideas how I can do that??  I would also tell you that I won’t be posting much this week, due to my travels.  And I would tell you to have a great week!

Wheelchairs And Sports

This YouTube video is of the 36th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, in Salt Lake City, in which I took part.  I thought I would share it so you all can see a bit of the types of events I, as well as all the friends I have made over the last 9 years, take part in the course of a week.  Enjoy!

Pain And Determination

I have been here in Salt Lake City, Utah, since Sunday afternoon.  When you are in the sun during the day, it is like sitting in an oven (not that I’ve ever actually sat in an oven).  But yesterday morning was cloudy, and there was a little breeze.  I wasn’t doing anything until 1pm, so I went sight-seeing (and looking for a drug store).  It was really nice and I took a lot of pictures.  You can check some of them out on my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/vanbenschotenk.  Here is a good sample of what I’ve seen and done since Monday morning.

 

During the past four days, I have pushed myself to compete in four events during the National Veterans Wheelchair Games here.  I have bowled Silver medal), ran the motorized slalom (an obstacle course for power chairs – gold medal), played 9-ball with two other women, both of whom I already knew (bronze medal), and played Boccia Ball (no medals, just had fun… I was winning until the last round, when my opponent pulled ahead with a final score of 4-3).

But it’s not about those medals!  It’s about grit and determination, friends and fun, and great competition.  Having MS, I suffer from fatigue most of the time and it’s with a lot of effort that I go out and compete like this.  And I don’t only do it here.  I also take part in the Valor Games (for veterans with all disabilities), in Chicago and San Antonio, where I push myself a lot more to succeed.

Now I am looking at participating in new events through other types of games all over the country.  I also have set a goal to go back to the gym on a regular basis, participate in adaptive sporting clinics, and get myself out of that recliner, where I normally spend most of my time.

I want to get stronger, and more active, pushing through the pain and fatigue and succeeding in doing the most I can do and not give in to this disease (MS).

That will take pushing myself to do more, all that I can do, with determination and grit.  I will not give up!

How Well Do You Know Me?

Do You Really Know Me?

Child Within

I have done several challenges, but I’m not so sure about surveys.  Maybe I’ll even get to know me a little better.

1 – Boxer shorts or budgy smugglers? I don’t know what budgy smugglers are, and I don’t wear boxers, so I guess I would have to answer with neither.

2 – What color of underwear are you currently wearing? Pink.   They match the shirt and socks;

3 – How long have you been wearing them for? About 3 1/2 hours

4 – Do you ever use binoculars to watch people?  The only pair of binoculars I own can’t see through walls, and I don’t usually take them with me when I go outside, so no.

5 – Have you ever kicked someone in the groin?  You have no idea how many times I’ve wanted to do this, but I’d just lose my balance and fall down.

6 – Would you pull a trigger?  Would and have (I was in the military).

7 – If you met your favorite celebrity, and they wanted to make out with you, would you? No, because I know it would lead nowhere, and I want to go somewhere.

8 – Have you ever slept in the same bed with someone you were not in a relationship with (not talking about sex and one-night-stands)? Yes. He wanted sex, but I didn’t. He ended up staying for the night though.

9 – Have you had one-night-stands?  No.

10 – Does sex have the same importance to you now compared to when you were younger? Due to aging and medical issues, I would have to say no.

11 – Have you ever eaten a worm?  They look like fat mini-snakes, and snakes is what I hate the most. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

12 – What’s the grossest thing you’ve eaten?  Raw squid.

13 – How long do you spend sitting on the toilet?  As long as it takes.

14 – What do you do when you sit there (besides the obvious)? Play Sudoku on my tablet.

15 – Have you ever been peed at?  Why would someone even do that? No.

16 – What’s the grossest thing you have ever swallowed?  That goes back to the squid.

17 – What’s the constantly dirtiest place in your home?  The bathroom. No matter how hard we try, neither my aides or I can ever keep up with the cat litter. You can sweep the entire floor thoroughly, and when you have finished, there is still litter on the floor.

18 – Why don’t you clean it?  It’s hard for me to do that from my wheelchair.

19 – Do you eat your boogers?  That is absolutely gross. No.

20 – Can you describe the one smell that makes you gag?  Vomit

21 – Have you ever had head lice?  No

22 – Have you ever been utterly disappointed in someone?  Absolutely. It was someone I trust completely, and yet they let me down.

23 – Have you ever been scared of someone?  This one is easy. I was afraid of my mother for the first 53 years of my life.

24 – What do you do when you’re drunk that you wouldn’t want anyone to know about?  I no longer drink, and I can’t remember much of what I did when I used to get drunk.  That’s probably why I quit drinking.

25 – Have you tried pole dancing?  The only pole I get close to is the one in my bedroom I use to transfer back and forth from my chair to my bed.

26 – Have you been in a strip club? I’ve never even seen one from the outside No.

27 – Have you ever run over an animal?  Back home I would run over the occasional woodchuck.

28 – Have you ever peed in snow? I would freeze my you know what off if I tried to do that. No.

29 – Have you ever made fun of someone and then regretted it? Way too many times.

30 – What’s your favorite kind of question on Cards for Humanity (if you know the game)? Do not know this game.

31 – If the father of your best friend hit on you, what would you say to him? Get lost mf.

32 – Would you go out on a date with someone half your age or double your age? Not half my age, but I did end up in a relationship with someone who was two years older than my mother.

33 – Do you clean the sink after brushing your teeth? I rinse it out.

34 – Have you ever spat in someone’s food or drink?  Never. I have such a bad case of dry mouth from all the meds I take, I would have to build up enough to even be able to spit.

35 – Have you ever kissed someone only to be grossed out afterwards? More times than I care to remember.

36 – What is your number one goal in life, and are you living it? When I learned I had MS, I started setting goals. The number one goal is to never give up.  I’m still here so I guess I haven’t given up.

38 – Have you ever danced and/or cried in the rain? I don’t like being out in the rain. No.

39 – Have you ever ditched work to just chill out on your own (with or without Netflix)? When I was a whole lot younger than I am now.

40 – What do you wish you were doing right now (anything goes)? Shopping. I love just going out to find something to buy.  But it’s raining outside, and I would have to wait in the rain, in my power wheelchair to catch a bus.

This was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. There was no nomination list, so I nominate you all to take this survey, so we can all learn how bad each of us are.

Happy thinking…

~ van ~

Winter And Fear

I’m not too fond of winter these days, for many reasons. My body can’t regulate it’s core temperature, so I can’t be out in the cold for long. I get around in a wheelchair and do not have a vehicle of my own. Therefore, I must rely on public transportation that is door to door, which can cost as much as $5 each way.

The wheelchairs that I use are not snow friendly at all. I can’t move around in snow at all with the manual chair. I can move around in my power chair, but it slides on ice and can lose traction in the snow. Therefore, I’m not too fond of winter, though I do like to take winter photos.

Many years ago, and I mean MANY, when I was a child, winter was fun, except when it snowed so much that school was closed. That meant that I had to stay home and suffer through whatever mood my mother might be in.

When it snowed, we wanted to go out and play in the snow. We lived out in the country, on two acres of land that had a bit of a slant. That made for excellent sledding. Sometimes it was so good we might not stop in time and either run into the trees on the edge of the yard, or go between them and right out onto the road.

The problem, though, was that whenever we wanted to go outside, we had to ask permission first. For me, this was a scary action. I was always afraid of my mother. Living like this caused great anxiety, GERD, and other behaviors such as theft and arson. Yes, you read that correctly – arson. There was also other behavior problems but I’m not going to go into them here. That is for another post.

If she was in a bad mood, she would not allow us to go outside to play. This doesn’t make any sense, as that meant we were trapped inside with her, and subject to her moods if we played too loudly, or ran in the house.

If she was in a good mood, she would let us go out, but only after bundling up in so much winter clothing, we could barely move. But once we got outside, it was great. We would slide down the hill if the snow was right. We would build snow forts and fire snow balls at one another. We also dug tunnels and caves in the snow that piled up high from the driveway being plowed. This was one of my most favorite activities, and one of my fondest memories. When we were cold and wet enough we went back inside.

I had an escape route that could take me away from my mother’s moods. When I started learning to read, I was hungry for more and more books to read. Once I was older, I could spend and entire day, in my room, reading books that I brought home from the school library.

Reading was an activity that grew with me, and stayed with me, until I got sick and my cognitive abilities and memory were very poor. Due to a lack of concentration, I could never stick with a book long enough to read it and enjoy it. To this day, I have several books around my apartment, with bookmarks in them, never to be picked up again.

This was a sad turn of events for me, but my appetite for the Internet turned into an obsession, and it still controls me to this day. I just switched from one kind of control (my mother) to the Internet, to which I can honestly say I am addicted to. It controls me by causing me to miss medication doses, ignore the TV entirely, and even forgo meals.

I have to admit that I’m not even trying to break this form of control. It’s my only opening to the outside world, where I can go wherever I want, whenever I want.

It makes me feel that I am finally in control.

Turning In A Different Direction – Dungeon Prompts

As a child, I was abused physically, sexually, and mentally, and this shaped my life for many years to come. I started off in the wrong direction as a young child, causing trouble, and allowing others to abuse me, as that is the only way I knew how to behave.

It took many years of more abuse, drowning myself with alcoholism, and sinking into the abyss of mental illness. I was hospitalized, jailed, and put myself into relationships where the abuse continued. When I wasn’t in a relationship, except for the last, I subconsciously sought out people who would sexually abuse me. The relationships I had, were all abusive in one way or another, except for the last one.

After years of living alone, and staying by myself, I was diagnosed with a disease that was incurable, that would gradually debilitate me throughout the rest of my life. This changed my whole perception of what I was doing and where I was going.

I no longer put myself into the hands of others, but into the hands of the Lord. I stopped abusing myself, and letting others abuse me. I wanted to obtain goodness and a different direction in which I wanted to walk, and eventually roll, in a wheelchair. I thought that everything was about this disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and where it would take me, and decided that there had to be more to life than just sitting in a chair.

cropped-035.jpgI started going to a biker church, which is quite different from the church your grandma went to, to quote my pastor. The majority of people who were going to this church at that time were, of course, were motorcycle riders. And they did not act like what most people would think. They lead decent lives, try to raise good families, and try to be quite faithful to God and to the Bible. They also ride motorcycles, and even I got a chance to ride along with someone on three separate occasions, during a church retreat for bikers and anyone else who wanted to come along.

My behavior at home changed. I started to treat others with respect and kindness, and was shown the same in return. I started learning about God, and the Bible. I started to live my life, as best I could, according to the Bible. I no longer look at the disease I have as ‘my MS’, but just plain MS. And I want more out of my life than being a recliner potato. I learned how to play the guitar, which I seem to have an affinity for, to play the piano, and a host of computer abilities, where I took courses in programming, and in accounting.

ViviLnk

I was also introduced during that ensuing year, to wheelchair sports, adaptive sports that were designed for veterans from all over the country, and Puerto Rico and Great Britain, that use wheelchairs to participate in adaptive sports. I started going to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games every year, each year in a different city, all around the country, including Denver, Dallas, and Tampa, to name a few.

I had found my niche. I started to spend more time out of that recliner, and started seeking out different venues for adaptive sports, and become involved with the Valor Games, which are held in the Southeast, which is in North Carolina somewhere, Chicago, which is the Midwest, the Southwest, which is held in San Antonio, and the Farwest, held in San Diego.

I am also discovering other events held for veterans, all around the country. There are the Golden Age Games, for 55+, the Endeavor Games, and the Wounded Warriors games, which are held in Quantico, I believe.

Run Off TrackStarting this past year, I have tried playing different events, pushing myself to become active in different sports, such as Track and Field, Hand cycling, Kayaking, and even wheelchair basketball.

ViviLnk

ViviLnk

ViviLnk

To this date, I have won medals in almost every sport I have participated in, including two silver medals in Kayaking, a silver medal in basketball, a bronze in hand cycling, and numerous gold medals in everything from 9-Ball and Table Tennis, 100-meter track, and both the motorized Slalom, and the manual slalom, which are obstacle courses, with the difficulty varying, to accommodate different levels of ability, to name a few.

I have started living a whole new life, with sporting activities, doing volunteer work at the VA Hospital Clinic, in the next city, and going to church. I am meeting new people, and making a lot of long-term friends, both locally, and from around the country.

I have found a life where I don’t put myself in abusive environments, except for the physical abuse upon myself playing wheelchair basketball. I have also discovered that I have the ability to write, both prose and poetry, which sort of just IMAG0006started on its own, when I started writing a blog. I found great satisfaction in photography, specifically things that are in patterns, things of beauty, and pictures from cities all around the country.

IMAG0011I have learned that I am not a bad person, that I can live a positive life, that I have a plethora of abilities, and that I can help others obtain what I have obtained, not just sports or writing, but in living in the way of the Lord, by what is written in the Bible.

I turned from a life of self-abuse, and abuse from others, to a life filled with many different types of activities. I am not going to sit here and let myself decline both physically and mentally, but push myself to be a better person, to take part in new activities, and most importantly live as godly a life as I possibly can. My life no longer revolves around ‘my MS’, but in positive activities and adventures, that have become available to me, both as a Navy veteran, and as a good person; I have learned to love my God and myself, and to live a life free from abuse. I am living a life filled with as much as I can find available to me. And I love every minute of it.

Yet Another Day

There is more to do than sit and sleep,
I have some goals I need to keep,
Look for ways I can do more,
Remember to go to the store.
Sometimes, my memory escapes me,
I wonder what it is that others see,
When I stop dead still in the room,
Peering around in the impending gloom.
Sit back down and read some more,
Oh wait, I was going to the store,
I was going to go for a ride,
Go for one which will increase my pride.
The more I go, the better I get,
The more I go, the less I forget,
The more I go, another step near,
The more I go, not bringing up the rear.
I must push myself to make me strong,
In this I see there’s nothing wrong,
But I know, that step I have to take,
Is definitely not a piece of cake.

Child Within Is Starting To Grow

If I want to get somewhere,
I need to find a way to get there,
It’s hard to get there on my own,
I need a vehicle of my own.

Child WithinMost of my life was full of need,
But somewhere there, existed a seed,
When this seed started to grow,
It seemed that I was the last to know.

Last to see a whole life new,
From this seed it grew and grew.
Now I see that I can do,
Much more if I really want to.

The child that still lives inside of me,
Can be whoever she wants to be.
The labels that held her down,
Only cause her now to frown.

As this child starts to grow,
I can do much more, I know.
I can do what pleases me,
If only every one could see.

Run Off TrackThe chair that tries to hold me back,
Tried to run me off the track,
The track that leads me up and out,
Helps me make the whole world shout.

I can do whatever I please,
I can be whatever I please,
I just want everyone to know,
The child within continues to grow.