The Healing Horse, Ch. 23., Scene 11: Regaining Herself

image of white handkerchief
The examination ends, as little Karen retreats to the changing area, so she can pull herself together and put on her clothes. This symbolizes how she turns away from the evil experts, who see her as subhuman, and reclaims the identity she is creating for herself.

(Image courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 11: Regaining Herself

The room fell silent, as she walked behind the curtain. Once alone, in the changing area, her tears returned. Would one of the adults would come to comfort her? None did.

As she dressed, the experts murmured among themselves. There would be trouble, when she faced them.

She gasped and forced herself to stop crying, then wiped her face with the clean, white handkerchief that Mama said ladies always carry. There was no brush for her hair, so she ran her fingers through it, trying to smooth it down. The room did not have a mirror. The experts did not think a disabled child would care how she looked.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

Resume Guide for People with Disabilities

If you want to get a job, or you want to get a better job, you need a resume and a cover letter. This is true whether or not you have a disability. This post will point the way to help writing these and dealing with some of the issues that are especially difficult for those of us with disabilities.

If you have read about my experiences as a woman with two disabilities, you know how hard I had to work to find employment and to build a career as a motivational speaker, an author, a coach, and an advocate for people with disabilities. None of it was easy, but I did it. Today, there are resources to help you, and I want to recommend Resume Builder.

They have a whole guide for people with disabilities. You can get it here. Many thanks to Laura Jacobs for letting me know about this website, and to Jeff Arseneaux for writing the guide. Laura is with Resume Builder, and Jeff is an expert and consultant on disability employment.

I wish this resource had been available to me, when I was a teenager struggling to go beyond a life of assembly work in a sheltered workshop. I hope it helps you get ahead and avoid the pitfalls I had to

Are you struggling with your career? If you are, please share your experiences via the comment box below.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 10: Crisis in the Clinic

This scene continues the story of how a heartless professional can prey upon the children he is supposed to help.

Scene 10: Crisis in the Clinic

Dr. Lambert told her, “Stand up and turn around, so we can see your back.”

Balancing unsteadily on the soft, padded tabletop, her feet apart, half squatting to show her spine, she clutched the gown in front of her and turned to face away from him and the other white coats. Silent tears flowed into a pool between her feet. A bitter smile twisted her lips, as she wondered if they thought she had lost control of her bladder as well as her dignity. She exhaled, and her body shuddered as she sobbed, the tears no longer silent.

He ignored her tears, as he tapped her spine and back with his pointer while describing the near-paralysis on the left side, and contrasting its shriveled muscles with the well-developed muscles on the right. He tapped each vertebra and explained how it was or was not pulled to the side by the uneven muscular development. Then he poked her buttocks and the backs of her legs, as he described the imbalances between them. She did not understand his medical jargon, but his tone was critical. She knew he was preparing to recommend an experimental surgery, like he did every year.

He put down the pointer besides her. His cold hands moved up and down her calves, as he described her heel cords. He squeezed both calves at once to show that the right was much larger than the left. The left spasmed, and she collapsed onto her knees. Gasping in pain, she lost her balance and rolled onto the table, then off it.

The fall to the hard floor shocked her into remembering who she was. She was a human being. She was not an animal on display. Grasping the edge of the table with her strong right hand, she pulled herself to her feet. The experts frowned at her, as if she were the one who had done something wrong. She glared back at them. The tears stopped. She wiped her face with the back of her hand.

“You’ve seen enough,” she said. “I’m getting dressed.”

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 9: Spine and Gate

The scene continues the description of how humiliating medical examinations were for kids with disabilities.

Scene 9: Spine and Gate

“Walk back and forth so we can observe your gate,” Dr. Lambert said without any preliminaries. In spite of his size, his voice was high and reedy. He waved the long wooden pointer from side to side, as if indicating the path she should follow.

She looked at Mrs. Pinzetti and the other white coats. No one smiled, winked, or nodded. No one offered any reassurance or compassion. They stared back as if she were a thing, not a person. She stepped into the center of the room and slowly walked back and forth between the two groups of experts.

She tried not to flinch when Dr. Lambert tapped her back and legs with the pointer as part of his commentary to the other specialists. He told her to face away from him, and then to bend over and touch her toes. He needed to check her spine. Blushing as the gown fell open, she wondered if the white coats were smirking among themselves. She flinched, as he felt her vertebrae with his icy hands.

He told her to stand straight and walk up and down one of the flights of stationary stairs that stood against the wall. She reached behind her back to close the gaping gown.

“Leave your gown open, so we can see how your spine works as you move. It needs to be open,” he commanded, as he tapped her spine with the pointer again.

He continued tapping her back and commenting, as she trudged up and then backed down the stairs.

The ringing sound of the wooden pointer landing on the concrete caused her to pause and look over her shoulder. It had slipped from Dr. Lambert’s grasp and fallen to the floor. When he bent over to pick it up, he staggered forward, and for a moment he grabbed her left calf, trying to keep his balance.

“Excuse me,” he said to the other white coats. “My blood pressure is so high I almost pass out if I bend over.”

Clinging to the stairs with her strong right hand, Kitten looked over her shoulder at his purple face. He looked as if he might die. She looked to the other experts for help, but they all gave her the robot stare. With compassion filling her heart and empowering her body, she leapt down from the stairs and retrieved the pointer from the floor.

“Dr. Lambert, please let me help you,” she said. He accepted the pointer from her, and his face returned to its normal gray color. He did not thank her. She returned to the steps.

“Climb onto the table and lie on your back,” he said, without recognizing her kindness or his own weakness. “I want to check your hamstrings and heel cords.”

She limped up the stepladder to the table without bothering to keep the back of the gown closed. As she lay down, she tried to make eye contact, but he kept his eyes down on her calves and ankles. She felt as if her mind were leaving her body.

When he looked up, he looked not at Karen but into the crowd of white coats that surrounded her. Speaking in a composed, expressionless tone of voice, he uttered medical statements, using long words she had heard before but only vaguely understood.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 7: The Gown

Left alone and without help, brave little Karen figures out how to put on a hospital gown by herself. Then she steps through the curtain to begin her ordeal.

Scene 7: The Gown

The table in the changing area held a white cotton hospital gown. Karen disrobed as quickly as she could, conscious of the doctors waiting for her. Shaking the folded gown, she opened it and held it up before her. She had worn gowns like this for some of her medical treatments, but she had never tried to put one on by herself. In previous years, the Child Study Team had not provided anything for her to wear. They had let her wear her own clothes. She considered asking Mrs. Pinzetti for help, but since she now knew how the therapist felt about Tammy, she no longer wanted any help from her.

After pulling the gown up and over beautiful weak left arm, she maneuvered it behind and around her neck, so she could get her right arm through the other hole. Reaching behind her back with her right hand, she caught one of the ties, but even though her left hand could grab the string, it could not tie it into a knot, even with help from her mouth. She leaned her back against the table to hold the gown in place and got a pair of ties into her right hand. After a few minutes of twisting them, she succeeded in making a loose knot. She did the same with the other ties.

Under her breath, she whispered to herself, “Oh, Mama, I need you here with me. I may be disabled, but I am not an animal on display. If they view me as an animal, then I will show them the Pegasus in me. I am not afraid, but I wish my Mama were here.”

She stepped through the curtain.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 6: Clinic Begins

image of starry night by van goghThe clinic begins with the evil Mrs. Pinzetti shepherding little Karen through the room of experts, where her orthopedist refuses to return her smile. This is only the beginning of the process of dehumanizing her. At the end of the scene, Karen is left alone to remove the clothing that expresses her individuality and to put on the anonymous gown of someone who is merely the subject of a medical examination.

(Painting Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 6: Clinic Begins

The hallway clock read eleven. Karen had been waiting outside the physical therapy room for fifteen minutes since following Mrs. Pinzetti from the classroom. She sat stiffly, unable to relax, legs numb from the hard seat of the wooden chair. The door opened. Mrs. Pinzetti looked down at her and cleared her throat. “Come this way with me, please,” she said.

Karen followed her through the main part of the room. The silver walking bars, which normally filled the center, had been pushed to the side and replaced by a treatment table. Her orthopedist, Dr. Lambert, stood beside it. As usual, the only bright spot in the room was the dusty print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the far wall.

He was still as tall and overweight as she remembered. Well over six feet tall, he could not button his white coat over his belly, or stretch his tie beyond his breastbone. He was bald, and in spite of having beads of sweat standing on his scalp, his hands were always frigid. His deep-set gray eyes were hidden behind thick, horn-rimmed glasses. He held a wooden pointer in his right hand and a binder containing his notes on her in his left. He always wore a gray suit with a matching tie. She wondered if he wore the same clothes every day, or if he had a closet full of identical gray pants, gray striped shirts, and gray ties. She was sure he owned only one pair of cufflinks, and these, too, were gray. He was no Ben Casey or Dr. Kildare. Rather, he was the opposite of the heroic medical doctor.

He had an audience of at least fifty other white coats. They sat in two groups, on folding chairs, facing each other across the middle of the room, with Dr. Lambert in the middle. They took notes, as he spoke.

She forced herself to smile at him, but he did not acknowledge her. He looked through her and said to the other professionals, “This is our next subject. She has cerebral palsy and dyslexia, so she is unable to describe her own condition, but you will find everything you need to know in the notes I provided.” Then he continued his lecture.

Karen remembered that, in the three years he had been her orthopedist, he had never asked her how she was, how she felt, or what she hoped to get from his treatments. He had never tried to get to know her as a person. She wondered whether he could remember anything about her without referring to his notes. He assumed she was unable to report or describe her own condition, and that only he could observe, analyze, report, and diagnose her needs.

Mrs. Pinzetti led Karen into one of the treatment areas, which had been curtained off for privacy. She said, “Please disrobe and put on the hospital gown. You can do that for yourself, so I will leave now.”

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 5: Time for Clinic

Photo of dark school hallway
This scene transitions from Karen’s worries into a sequence of action scenes, as the evil Mrs. Pinzetti pulls Karen from the safety of the classroom, so she can undergo a clinical evaluation by the experts.

(Image courtesy of Adammoore426, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

 Scene 5: Time for Clinic

Precisely at ten-forty-five, Mrs. Pinzetti opened the classroom door and walked to Karen’s desk. After clearing her throat, she said, “Come this way with me, please,” and turned back toward the door. Karen looked up at her teacher, who nodded assent. Shivering from fear, Kitten remained in her chair, unable to stand, unsure of herself and of what she could do. She had heard the anger underneath Mrs. Pinzetti’s syrupy tone. She took a deep breath and then followed her down the hallway.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 4: Worry and Courage

image of pediatric examination table
This scene shows little Karen in the classroom, trying to pull herself together, but in a daze of fear of the coming physical exam and evaluation.

(Image courtesy of User:Ragesoss, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 4: Worry and Courage

She could not concentrate. She was miserably, ferociously preoccupied. Although her adrenal glands were in overdrive, her mind was in a stupor. The red second hand of the black-rimmed clock ticked the minutes away. She heard the teacher speak, but the words were meaningless.

What would the experts do to her? Would she have to perform for them, do exercises for them? She promised herself that she would take each minute as it came. She would maintain her composure. She would do whatever it took to get through clinic. She put her head down on the desk.

So much for living serenely in the here and now. Am I a failure at that, too? I want serenity, and I am trying my hardest, but I am just a kid!

For a moment, she retreated into her imagination and visualized herself riding on Pegasus in the sunshine and freedom of nature. As she rode in freedom and imagination, she felt her strength grow and knew it would sustain her through the afternoon.

With an existential jerk, she heaved herself back into reality. She knew she had just experienced the power of imagination that Pegasus had described a few hours before. That moment of freedom had been pure imagination. Yet, instead of being outdoors, in natural surroundings where she felt free, she was now in a classroom and would soon be on a table, undergoing an examination by experts. It would not be a place of beauty. It would be harsh and cold, a place where starched white coats looked down at her with commanding eyes and cold, intrusive hands.

The specialists would confer, command, and recommend. They would speak softly among themselves—not to her—as if she mattered not and could neither understand nor contribute to their discussion. When ready, they would announce their rulings without regard for her feelings. Their rulings would carry the weight of law in her life, but would have no consequences at all in the lives of the experts.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 3: Nutrition Break Worries

photo of cinnamon buns
This scene continues the sequence of little Karen dealing with her fear of the experts, as the morning drags along until she must see them.

(Photo of cinnamon buns by Mack Male from Edmonton, AB, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 3: Nutrition Break Worries

A while later, when Karen got off the school bus, she went to her classroom and tried to keep her mind on what the teacher was saying, but she could not stop worrying. Tammy was absent from school, and Kitten was sure the absence was related to the previous day’s clinic and eval.

The morning dragged on until nutrition break. Since Tammy was not there to share food with, Karen sat alone with a lump in her throat. Her nerves were building, feverish and jittery as she thought about the cavalier attitude of the medical team. She knew they would not snatch her up until eleven. She hoped it would be later. She hoped she could calm herself before they took her away. She tried to use her imagination to calm herself, but her fear was too much for her. She pushed the cinnamon roll away and returned to her classroom.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 2: The Power of Imagination

photo of poppyseed bagel
As little Kitten prepares to face the experts, she wisely turns to her mentor for advice, and he teaches her an important lesson about the power of imagination. Her mother, on the other hand, makes sure she starts the day with a good breakfast.

(Photo by Jonathunder, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 2: The Power of Imagination

Pegasus returned Kitten to her front yard. After she slid down to the ground, he said, “I am on this earth to be of spiritual service, and so are you. Each of us has a unique destiny that we will someday understand, but only as the future unfolds. In the meantime, we must live in the present while not forgetting the power of imagination! Retreating into your imagination nurtures it. The internal world comes alive and manifests in the outer world. Einstein said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ Your inner self is blossoming. You are coming alive to your own true self. Your imagination will give you the power to fight these evil experts and to control your own life.”

With a smile, Pegasus disappeared in a lavender blur. Karen stood still in the quiet morning air. No one else on her street was awake yet. She rubbed her eyes and realized she was crying. She wiped the tears from her face and licked them off her lips. She knew what she had to do. She climbed the steps and opened the front door, just as Mama emerged from her bedroom, wearing her white flannel nightgown and with her hair in a net.

“My Krana Layala, you’ve been out already? It’s early. You’re not cold are you?”

“I’m fine, Mama. I needed Pegasus’ advice about today. I will face whatever it brings with courage and imagination.”

“That’s my girl. Let me give you a hug, and then you need to eat a good breakfast to give you strength to get through the day.”

Karen buried her face in her Mama’s bosom and held tightly to her. After a moment, she slipped away so she could dress in a cheerful pink jumper and three-quarter sleeved white knit top for school. She ate a bagel with lox and cream cheese, and she was ready for anything.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.