The Healing Horse, Ch. 31: The Thrown Glass

photo of Ohrbach's logo on shopping bag

In the first scene of a new chapter, the two mothers bond, and the crystal glasses foreshadow another explosion. 

(Image of Ohrbach’s logo by unknown)

Scene 1: In the Kitchen

Katie admired Patsy’s newly remodeled Mediterranean-style kitchen with its white marble counters and light brown cabinets. She leaned her elbows on the marble island in the middle of the floor. Across from it, near the big farmhouse sink, a small niche set in the wall held a modern electric coffee percolator and other household appliances.

After a few minutes of relaxing alone, the thrum of a car engine in the attached garage came through the kitchen door. It stopped, and a small, broad-shouldered woman hurried in, carrying two large paper sacks of groceries in her muscular arms. Patsy was as tiny as Audrey Hepburn, but strong. She had to be to lift her daughter. She wore her shoulder-length brown hair swept up into a bun, and dressed for comfort in blue jeans and a white knit top. Even in casual clothes, she projected the image of an elegant and successful lady. However, though she and Katie were both in their early forties, she look a decade older. Her twenty-four-hour, seven-day-a-week obligation to her daughter showed in her lined face and the dark circles under her eyes. Katie had never heard her complain about caring for Tammy, but she was grateful her Kitten would never require the same level of care.

Patsy plopped the bags onto the island and wrapped her arms around her new friend in a warm hug. “Katie, how’re you doin’? I didn’t expect to see you here. I thought you were gonna drop off Karen and be on your way.”

Katie had been worried about Tammy bumping into walls, but did not want to imply that Patsy made a poor decision by leaving Sandra in charge. After hearing the girls screaming at each other, she was glad she had stayed. “I thought I should stay in case Karen needed me. She’s not as independent as she looks. Can I help you carry in things?”

“Sure. In the garage.”

A moment later, Katie carried in a large, white shopping bag with the red Ohrbach’s “Oh!!” on its side. Patsy carried in a cardboard carton. Everything went onto the center island.

“What’s in the Ohrbach’s bag?” Katie asked.

“It’s a surprise for Tammy, and a gift for me. I bought it to wear to Tammy’s next PTA meeting. I want her to be proud of me.”

She lifted an elegant, sleeveless oyster white step-in dress up to her chin. Twirling to the left and then to the right, she giggled as Katie applauded and admired the bateau neckline, matching white leather buckled belt at the natural waist, and the straight skirt hemmed just below the knee.

“And these pumps and gloves go with it.” She lifted two cardboard boxes out of the bag and opened them to show off a pair of black shoes and wrist-length gloves.

“You and Tammy will be the belles of the ball.”

“Let me make you some coffee, Katie. I know I can use some. Do you want anything in it? I have cream, sugar, scotch, and bourbon. Personally, I need cream to soothe my stomach ulcer and lots of sugar to keep my energy up. The hard stuff can wait until my girls have gone to bed and are safe for the night.”

They both laughed.

“And I take mine black to keep my svelte figure,” Katie quipped back, as she patted her bulging belly.

While the coffee perked, Katie helped Patsy put away groceries. Within a few minutes, they were sitting side-by-side on sturdy brown leather-upholstered stools at the island in the middle of the kitchen.

Katie said, “You look like you have a lot on your mind, Patsy. Do you want to tell me about it?”

As Katie sipped her coffee, Patsy explained her situation, while carefully taking a set of six Baccarat crystal wine glasses from the box she had carried in. She placed them in a row beside the sink.

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 30, Scene 3: Why Can’t They Understand?

image of man lighting fuse on powder keg

In the last scene of Chapter 30, Karen affirms Tammy’s need to express her true feelings… But Sandra continues raging in the background. 

(Image by Bonnefoy, Jacques, engraver, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 3: Why Can’t They Understand?

As Sandra stomped down the hallway, Kitten hurried to Tammy’s side. She put her comforting, strong right arm around her. That was when the tears again gushed down Tammy’s face.

“I’m glad my sister left and gave us some privacy. I’ve been putting on a pretty face for my family, but I’m exasperated with telling them what they want to hear. You’re an example, showing me what honest talk is. You’ve taught me how to be honest with myself.”

“Thanks. I know that was hard for you, but if we don’t speak up, people—especially our own families—won’t respect us, and they won’t know how we feel.”

“Darn it, Kitten! Why can’t they understand? Why can’t they see my problem is I have a disability? I am a human being with a disability. I may drool and have a speech defect, and I may need help with everything, but does that imply that every non-disabled person who helps me also gets to control how I feel?”

“No. Of course not. Besides, we must not fear our own feelings, even if they sometimes upset other people.”

Tammy’s tears subsided, and Karen wiped her face with another tissue.

Tammy flashed her a smile. “It’s hard when even your own family says they understand, but they don’t. You try to tell them what you feel, and no one even wants to listen.”

“People who don’t have disabilities can’t comprehend what we go through daily, but you have always held your head high and been strong.”

“Thank you, Kitten. Your belief in me really helps.”

“Many people without disabilities never understand us. And how could they? We have to teach them. We have to become the teachers. Otherwise, the world will never see us as valuable human beings. That’s why we need to be there for each other, like extended family.”

“Kitten, you always express what you believe, gently and directly. This is a genuine gift.”

“Thank you, but we should think of Sandra’s feelings, too. We all need a little of the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“I try. But she’s like a powder keg with a lit fuse…”

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 30, Scene 2: Stomping In. Stomping Out.

photo of erupting volcano

In scene two, little Karen witnesses another bad interaction between the two sisters. The older one erupts like a volcano hiding under a frigid layer of ice and snow.

(Image by McGimsey, Game, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 2: Stomping In. Stomping Out.

Sandra stomped in. “What do you want?”

Tammy frowned and shrank further into her chair. “I need you to transfer me to the couch. My thigh is raw from sitting all morning in one place, and I need some padding between the seat and me until it gets broken in. I would be grateful for your help.”

“It looks as if I am stuck with the transferring job again. Mommy needs a helper, because I can’t be your attendant forever. What will you do when I leave for college? However, for the time being, I shall sacrifice myself in order to help you, my dear, special little sister. Turn your wheelchair parallel to the couch.”

Tammy pivoted the chair into position, and Sandra locked the brakes before slipping her arms under Tammy’s.

“On the count of three. One. Two. Three.”

On three, she lifted Tammy and pivoted her onto the couch. Karen helped adjust the cushions, so Tammy was sitting comfortably.

Tammy’s arms and legs had frozen, their involuntary movements stilled by her fury. “You think I would ask you if I could do this by myself, Sandy? If I can’t ask you and Mommy, who can I ask? You’re lucky. You’re not disabled.”

Sandra hugged Tammy. “Now, don’t get excited. You’re getting all worked up over nothing. You know I love my special sister. I would never do anything to hurt you, angel.”

Tammy shrank away. “Don’t patronize me. I understand exactly what you said, and I will not tolerate threats. Can’t you understand my feelings? It’s bad enough needing help, but having to beg for it… How would you feel?”

Sandra blushed. Tammy had never spoken like this before. Tammy needed protection, even from her own hurt and pain. How could she, the older able-bodied sister, be selfish with her? She looked to Karen for help but received only a hard stare.

She shifted emotional gears into syrupy pity. It was all she had. She tried to put her hand on her sister’s cheek. Tammy struggled to get away.

“Try to calm down, Tammy. I didn’t mean to offend you. It just makes me nervous when you get loud and agitated. It’s hard for me to handle.”

But the anger rose and with it, her voice.

“You get all the attention from Mommy. I get none. Every time you cry for her, she comes running. She never has a moment for me. I was a happy little girl with a wonderful father before you drove him away. You’re too much for anyone to deal with, except a masochist like Mommy. He left because of you and your disabilities.”

Her voice dropped. “I can’t believe I’m saying these things to you.”

She stomped out the way she came in.

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 30, Scene 1: Drool and Tissue

photo of tissue box decorated with kisses

Chapter 30 continues little Karen’s visit to Tammy’s home. As always, she does her best to help her friend. In the first scene, she provides some of the care that Tammy’s sister should. 

(Image by Captain MarcusL, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 1: Drool and Tissue

In the living room, Tammy leaned forward in her wheelchair, collapsed and helpless, both arms and legs trembling and twitching.

She lifted her head, eyes full of tears, chin covered with drool. “This wheelchair is really getting to me. I’m all bunched up. The new leather is stiff and chafing me, and if I lean forward, I can’t get back upright again. I love this chair, but…”

“Maybe I can help you shift around in the seat.”

“Thanks, but no. It takes two hands to lift me. But you could wipe my face with a tissue. I’ve made a mess with my drool. I called Sandy for help, but she’s already in a foul mood.”

As Karen grabbed a tissue and gently dried her friend’s face, Sandra’s voice came from the hallway.

“I’m coming! I’ll be right there!”

Then came a murmur. “Here we go again. Will helping my sister never end?”

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 29, Scene 4: Plans, Clicks, and Sobs

Photo of 45 rpm I Want to Hold Your Hand

In this scene, Karen learns more about what broke Sandra’s soul.  

(The picture is of the first pressing of the 45 rpm disc of The Beatles’ I  Want to Hold Your Hand. Photo by H. Michael Karshis from San Antonio, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 4: Plans, Clicks, and Sobs

As Karen walked down the hall, the click and hum of someone turning on a stereo broke the silence, and then The Beatles’ song, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” shook the floor. She closed the door to the bathroom, and after a moment, the volume of the music dropped to background level. Next to the toilet, she found a worn copy of Highlights—something to occupy her mind.

She wanted to relax for a few minutes. The huge whirlpool bathtub called to her. If she could relax in a tub like that, she was sure that the tension her therapists said she carried in her body would relax. Or, maybe Pegasus would say that no matter how enjoyable it was, it was not a substitute for the relaxation that selflessness would bring.

Through the wall that adjoined Sandy’s bedroom, the beeps of someone using a touch-tone phone interrupted her review. Then Sandy’s voice came through.

“Hello, Peggy, it’s me. I wanted to let you know I wanna go shopping at noon. I’d love to pick you up. I’ll get Liz on the way, but not the Judith. Not until she apologizes. Wait ’ll you see my new wheels—a red Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible! We will look so cool… Didn’t I tell you I could get Daddy to give me his, if I played my cards right? See you at noon! And I have some pot. We’re going to be cosmic.”

The up and down tones of the touch tone keys sounded again, and Sandy’s voice resumed.

“Liz, I was just talking to Peggy. We’re going shopping and cruising on Wilshire. Wanna come along? The movie? I was thinking of Sex and the Single Girl? Okay, that sounds like the purr-fect film for us, when we get tired of spending our parents’ money. Are you sure they’ll let us in?… Yes, of course I have my fake ID. I’m not going to lose it. It’s in the glove box of my brand new Cadillac, along with my real driver’s license! And I have a lid of pot. We can get stoned before the movie. All right! Let’s go! But not the Judith. The Judith can see movies on her own, right? Okay, I’ll pick you up a little after noon, and then we’ll get Peggy. We’ll be the coolest girls in town.”

From the other end of the house, Tammy’s voice cut in. “Oh, Sandy! Sandy! Mommy’s not here, and I’m all scrunched up in the new wheelchair. Can you help me?”

Sandy’s voice jumped an octave. “Did you hear that? That was my sister screeching for help, again. That voice grosses me out. She’ll never be able to care for herself, but my mother doesn’t see that. She’s going to spend the rest of her life toileting and feeding my sister, but I won’t do that! I want my own life, and when I leave here for college, I’m leaving them both behind. Mommy needs to hire a helper. She gives all her attention to Tammy. That’s why we don’t have a father anymore. Tammy and her disabilities drove him away… For now, I have to help my sister, but I will not be a slave to her. Liz, I am sorry. I can’t believe I’m saying these things. This is so stressful. I’ll see you soon. Bye!”

The phone clicked, then Sandra slammed the receiver into its cradle and sobbed. After several minutes, the dial tones sounded again, followed by Sandra’s voice, trembling in desperation. “Daddy—you and your answering machine. You never miss a business call, and you never take my call—here I am, again, restricted to a sixty-second message, and not even hoping for a return call. You must hate me as much as Tammy and Mommy. Please call me back. Never mind. I’m sorry I called you. Goodbye.”

Sandra’s phone clicked, and a series of deepening sobs began. Karen tiptoed back down the long hallway with a heavy heart and a mind full of questions about Tammy’s family. Her earlier fantasy about the happiness of the Beaumont home had been replaced by a more accurate understanding that it was a dark prison for Sandy, and perhaps for Mrs. Beaumont and Tammy as well. She looked deep within her soul for kindness and wisdom. Right now she would help Tammy get comfortable.

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

Ch. 29, Scene 3: Sandra Raised Her Eyebrows

image of cadillac convertible

In this scene, Karen rises above the temptation to lash out at a wounded soul, no matter what. Read on to see how she does this. 

(The picture is from, a great place if you love beautiful cars. Unfortunately, someone bought this car before I could. Just kidding…)

Scene 3: Sandra Raised Her Eyebrows

Sandra raised her eyebrows before adding, “Oh, and Karen, would you forgive me if I changed the subject for a moment and asked you to do me a favor?”

“Sure, Sandy. What?”

“I’m expecting a phone call from my friend the Judith. If the Judith calls, don’t let her know I’m taking care of my sister. Tammy can’t hold the phone, so you’ll have to answer or hold it up for her. If you answer, it will be better. Tammy’s hard for regular people to understand. At least you’re a little better. I have to study now. I’ll be in my bedroom.”

Karen reflexively nodded, but then caught herself. Sandy was asking her to lie. “I’m sorry, Sandy, but why can’t you answer the phone yourself? Don’t you have an extension in your room?”

Sandy laughed over her shoulder as she swaggered away. “Oh, naïve child, of course I have an extension. I made Mommy buy me a brand new pink princess phone with the lighted push buttons, and I made Daddy give me his brand new Cadillac Coupe DeVille Biarritz convertible. But I don’t want the Judith to know I’m studying at home. I want her to think I’m out having fun with our friends. And she wasn’t invited. That’s the point. She needs to learn she can’t criticize me for wearing bows in my hair like Audrey Hepburn. Can you please help? It will help Tammy. Besides, I have some calls to make, so the line will be busy most of the time. It is highly unlikely that the Judith will even be able to get through.”

Karen watched Sandy disappear down the long hallway. Feeling indignation rising, she paused and looked within her heart. Sandy called her friend “the Judith,” as if her friend were an object and not a human being. And over her hair-do? But then, how had Judith made Sandy feel? Karen knew how much pain teasing and excluding caused. She had gone through them. Sandy needed help, not fury.

After clearing her mind, she focused on Tammy. She was here to be with Tammy, however unfortunate Sandy’s state of mind.

She smiled. “Maybe we won’t answer the phone. I don’t want to lie or hurt her friend’s feelings.”

Tammy rolled her eyes. “And you don’t want to let Sandy turn you into her weapon.”

As she and Tammy laughed about the challenges of using a power wheelchair, Karen’s stomach knotted. She wished Pegasus were with her. Something terrible would happen soon. Something to do with Tammy. How could she protect her friend, who had no defenses of her own?

Karen’s stomach clenched. She needed to excuse herself.

Tammy said, “It’s at the end of the hall, Kitten. Just past Sandy’s bedroom.”

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


How I Manage My Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

How is your health? I thought mine was good, especially for a woman with CP and a sensitive immune system that reacted to everything. Then I started feeling bad and found out I had two serious health problems. But then I cured myself of both using natural means. This post is my story. It may inspire you to do some research and make some changes in your life.

Here I am with raging diabetes. I was bloated, tired all the time, and looked like I had two black eyes.

Karen with raging diabetes

Here I am eating Keto/Paleo. The black eyes are gone. I feel great. And the shorts need a belt to stay up. Before, they were tight. I went down one full dress size in a few weeks!
Karen eating keto and paleo

I was born a healthy baby, but a disastrous reaction to a DPT shot when I was five months old put me into a coma. I nearly died, but I didn’t. My will to live was too strong. However, when I came out of the coma, I had cerebral palsy and a learning disability, dyslexia. Those stayed with me all my life, but despite them, I had a successful career as a dance teacher and fitness instructor.

Most of the time, I was energetic and enjoyed life. Then I lost my get up and go. I didn’t want to exercise, which was not like me. I felt lazy and listless, and I had a fungal infection I couldn’t heal. Despite overwhelming fatigue, I wasn’t sleeping well. I was miserable, sitting on the couch, too sluggish to get up, watching daytime TV.

After working diligently all my life, I found myself in a sobering situation. I thought I had everything under control, but I didn’t. Homeopathy and other alternative therapies were having little effect. I tried to get up and do the things I had done before, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t a question of willpower or intention. My body was seriously ill.

So I did what I do best. I became more mindful and proactive. I looked inward and asked myself, what do I do now?

Dr. Number One

I got up my nerve and made an appointment to see my medical doctor for an examination. Why didn’t I do this first thing? Because my body reacts to most western medicines. I swell up. I feel horrible. They don’t heal me. Natural remedies work better for me, so I won’t see an MD unless it’s an emergency. This was.

She said I had a yeast infection. Not a cause for joy, but at least it was something doctors could cure. During the same visit, I agreed to some necessary blood work and found out my A1C was off the charts. Out of control. That explained everything—No wonder I was feeling so awful. Even though I wanted to be told I was all right, I knew I wasn’t. The A1C test confirmed my fear. I had raging diabetes. I had ketoacidosis and needed to inject insulin.

The diagnosis was grim enough, but the way she said it really hurt. It was like she was proud of it. Now I had to do whatever she said, or I’d shrivel up and die.

I knew about diabetes because many of my immediate relatives had it. Back in the 1960s, we didn’t understand everything diabetes entailed. No one knew it affected the kidneys, brain, and heart. My information was out of date, but I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life on insulin and other drugs while I became obese and eventually died in misery.

Frightened to my core, I released what she said and empowered myself. I took control of my feelings and lightened my spirit as I prepared a plan of action.

Dr. Number Two

First, I changed doctors. But it was the same story, though without the emotional bruising. My new MD looked at my medical records and immediately pushed blood pressure medication on me.

I have had white coat syndrome for years. Every time I get ready to go to the doctor’s office, a nervousness takes over my body. I say my affirmations silently as I drive my car, but no matter how hard I try to release my mind and body, the sensations get worse. The last ten years, it has gotten more intense, not better. My heart pounds. I tremble. My blood pressure jumps. That is white coat syndrome. Maybe you have it too.

Because of this, I always have high blood pressure when a doctor checks it. However, it was now way high. Way beyond white coat syndrome. I had to bring it down before I got a stroke or heart attack.

At that moment, it was all I could do to look at her without contorting my face. My bubble of distrust was ready to explode. The appointment ended a few moments later. Walking to my car, I calmed myself, breathing slowly and deeply. I had to find sound techniques that would not set off reactions. I couldn’t continue like this.

When I got home, I didn’t take the medicine she prescribed. Instead, I did some meditation and visualization. The following day, I looked online. Within minutes, I found a research-proven method that was natural and would lower my blood pressure. I tried it, and sure enough, it worked. It was so easy. I took warm baths, and they lowered my blood pressure. Why couldn’t she tell me about that after I was so straight and honest with her? I couldn’t go back to this doctor either.

Dr. Number Three

I had to do more than get back control of my life. I had to get my health back! So I pressed on. Got with it. And made a start. I allowed myself to feel my feelings, write them down, burn them, and release them so I wouldn’t stay hurt and angry. I had to find peace of mind within my being.

I followed up on the referrals Dr. Number One had made. She was not a bad person, and I know she didn’t mean to upset me with her tone of voice when she said I had diabetes. Maybe she was afraid I would ignore the dangers because I was trying to project a nonchalant attitude, so I didn’t explode with panic. She said I should see an endocrinologist and a dietician. The endocrinologist was an expert on diabetes, and the dietician would help me eat healthier. I took her advice and went to see them.

The endocrinologist was very straight with me. I needed to inject insulin. When I got my numbers down into a safe range, I could stop. He spoke truth to reason, unlike some other doctors, so I knew I could trust him. I told him about my sensitives to drugs, herbs, and foods. I needed to have another healer check me for insulin to make sure I wouldn’t react. If she said okay, then I would take it. It took a while to get an appointment with her, and then it took time to get the insulin prescription filled and get a blood sugar monitoring device.

The dietician made only one recommendation—eat protein with fruit instead of eating fruit alone. The protein would keep the fruit from spiking my blood sugar. She thought my diet was otherwise healthy.

I forced myself to exercise every day, but it took several weeks to get anywhere close to my regular exercise routine. I also began several herbal medications. It was three weeks before I could get the insulin prescription filled, get the blood sugar monitor, and get confirmation insulin was safe for me. During those weeks, my body did not respond well. It reacted to the herbs. My numbers fluctuated as I tried eating foods my research said might reduce my blood sugar level. But as soon as I started the insulin, it kept my sugars in the safe zone most of the time. However, they still spiked when I exercised and in the morning. I wanted them an even 100 like they are in a healthy person.

Overeaters Anonymous

I joined OA in 1971, but it did not work for me. I actually put on weight with it because I couldn’t handle the strict food plan and binged on and off for ten years. That would mess up anyone’s metabolism.

The foods I ate for the last thirty-five years were healthy. Three fruits a day and three unprocessed grains a day, plus my protein and veggies. I wasn’t eating badly. Something in my body just switched on the red light. All my relatives who have diabetes got it in their early forties or late thirties. So I must have been doing something right to avoid it until my seventies.

It was not unhealthy food, but that I could not metabolize carbohydrates normally. This was determined by my DNA and illustrated by my family history. That played the most significant role.

Paleo and Carnivore

At that point, my blood sugar was in the normal range most of the time. My blood pressure had normalized too. I would not dry up or have a stroke anytime soon, but I still did not feel great. I felt better, but not normal. There had to be a better solution than taking insulin.

A friend was worried about me. He knew something was wrong because I had stopped taking part in activities I used to enjoy. I had almost given up on writing and stopped communicating. He asked what was up, and I told him. I’m so glad I did. He told me about his own family. Diabetes all over the place. Then he told me what he did to keep from getting it. He eats the Paleo Diet and mostly carnivore. He emailed me some links about these ways of eating, and I thought, “Mama! Mama! This is how you raised me and my sister.”

Growing up, we ate lots of veggies, some fruit, and as much meat as we wanted. Bagels were a treat, not something we ate every day. Mama fed us a diet that kept me slender and healthy. Then, when I grew up and moved out on my own, I adopted a more standard American diet. That was when I began putting on weight, even though I was a fitness and dance teacher. I led exercise classes and danced every day, but I still put on the pounds. Of course, I eventually got diabetes. The food I ate gave it to me. Just like a high-carb, low-fat diet has for millions of people.

Two months later, I am pleased to say, My blood pressure is normal and so are my sugars. I still have diabetes, but I have it under control. It does not control me. I have to watch my sugars, but I changed my outcome because I caught it in time, and I poured effort into getting well. As a result, I have my essence back. I had to believe I could do this at the core of my being. So it was done unto me as I believed. Once again, with all due respect, I fooled the doctors. I healed myself and have the respect of one doctor.


To conclude, a diagnosis of diabetes does not have to be a death sentence. You can beat it. Remember, if Karen can do it, you can do it, too!

©2022 Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 29, Scene 2: The Studio

The Scream by Edvard Munch

In this scene, Karen learns more about the roots of Sandy’s bitterness. Abandoned by her father, criticized by a respected teacher, and without the spiritual strength to keep her balance, she hides her broken heart behind arrogance. 

(Picture is of The Scream by Edvard Munch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 2: The Studio

Karen needed to digest what had just happened. She stood and looked at the paintings hung on the walls. They made a gallery dedicated to Tammy and her family, drawn from scenes in their home. Even glancing at them, she could see the suffering of the artist. The pictures were in chronological order. They began with the crude drawings of a toddler, but those radiated happiness and artistic promise. Then they went through several years of elementary school. These began with the bright light of happiness—the view of life of a contented and talented child. But as the years passed, a dark aura grew around the subjects. Mr. Beaumont gradually disappeared, while Patsy aged decades in a few years, and Tammy grew from a tiny, disabled baby into a huge disabled child in a wheelchair. The pictures that included Mr. Beaumont were all bright, but as his image disappeared, the pictures grew darker. She asked Tammy who had painted them.

“My sister Sandy. She’s a genius artist. She can paint your portrait in a flash. Even something ugly, she can make into a beautiful painting.”

“Is that her studio?” Kitten asked, pointing to the open, light-filled space next to the living room. “Your mom converted the sitting room into a studio for her, right?”

“Actually, Daddy did that before he left us.”

At that moment, Sandra returned and stood before her easel. Taking up a piece of charcoal, she sketched Tammy and Karen sitting together in the living room. Karen wondered how many sketches of Tammy Sandra had done over the years. It took only a few minutes. Then she lifted the canvas board from the easel and showed it to them.

“That’s really beautiful, Sis,” Tammy said.

“Only because you and your friend are in it. Mrs. Zawinski didn’t think I was good at art in second grade.” Sandra’s voice cracked.

“That was a long time ago, Sandy.”

“Oh! Right! Don’t patronize me. I know my artistic talent doesn’t amount to anything. It’s for personal use only and not for public display.”

Karen tried to steer the conversation in a positive direction. “Sandy, your art is so beautiful! Do you think you could paint me and Mama sometime?”

Tammy added, “Maybe things would be different if you believed in yourself and this God-given talent of yours, Sandy!”

Sandy glared at them and replied with an icy voice. “Even great artists starve, and I know I’m not great. So if you don’t mind, I’ll keep my focus on fashion design, and I’ll keep my artistic talent for a hobby. Artists struggle while fashion designers become millionaire celebrities, so why should I waste time trying to become an artist when I can use my talent to become famous and rich?”

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

Bringing Home Baby When You’re a Parent With a Disability by Jillian Day

Pregnant, Woman, Maternity, Motherhood, Parenthood

Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

[Editor’s note: Jillian Day created to help people all across the web make their sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. A close family member, who has a visual impairment, had trouble finding a dinner recipe online that he could read easily. This inspired her to start she’s not chasing after her little ones, Jillian enjoys being outside, whether she’s fishing, hiking, or geocaching with her family.]

Bringing Home Baby When You’re a Parent With a Disability

by Jillian Day

Disability or not, preparing your home (and life!) for your baby’s grand entrance has its challenges. If you are one of the many people with a disability who will soon be a parent, you may have some unique challenges, but you’ve also got some unique strengths. What some new parents may see as insurmountable, you may see as simply a minor bump in the road. When it comes to some of your unique challenges, though, here are some invaluable tips and tricks presented by Whispers of Hope to help you prepare for this amazing time in your life.

Identify Your Needs and Make Modifications

Take a tour of your life, beginning at your front door. Picture yourself navigating with a baby. Evaluate every step and every action you’ll need to take, and then come up with any necessary modifications you’ll need. If carrying your baby up a flight of stairs feels out of the question, look into getting a ramp installed or buying a prefabricated one.

If you use a wheelchair, you’ll need to modify your baby’s crib. While there are expensive adaptive cribs available, another option is to shorten or remove the legs of a standard crib. You may even want to keep the crib next to your bed at first. It will make those middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes so much easier!

Assess what you will need for your baby’s bath time, too. Handling a slippery baby is a challenge for anyone. It’s a good idea to enlist the help of your partner or a friend at first. If you don’t already have a hand-held sprayer in your tub or shower, now is the time to get one. It will make bathing your little one a lot easier and safer. Also, set a safe maximum temperature for hot water (no higher than 120 degrees F), and invest in handrails by the tub and non-slip mats wherever needed.

Find a Better Fit

If, as you review your home for your new parenting needs, you feel upgrading your current property will require a little too much work, remember that moving is always an option. There are many accessible homes on the market, many of which may be within your price range. Research mortgage rates and get a sense of how much a new home would cost you monthly. Then, come up with a budget and calculate how much you can afford to spend. Depending on how close your due date is, you may be able to out-wait higher interest rates. But if you don’t want to risk cutting time close on upgrades and moving, you may need to move forward regardless of the current rates.

Not sure how to look for an accessible home? Get in touch with an experienced real estate agent who can help you navigate the local real estate market. They can help you find the right property, whether it’s an as-is house that could use some TLC, new construction, or an older home that needs slight modifications.

Utilize Available Resources and Support

Some healthcare providers include home visits where an expert can evaluate your living space and offer modifications to make parenting chores easier. They’ll also lend out adaptive equipment for you to try, and will offer suggestions on ergonomic best practices.

Make Safety Your Priority

Having a baby brings safety to the forefront of your mind. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to baby proof your house and make keeping your baby safe even easier. Here’s a list of all the safety items you’ll need to childproof your home before baby makes their debut:

  • Install baby monitors.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor if your home has an attached garage or is heated by oil or gas.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors are in working order.
  • Get an air quality monitor for extra safety, especially if you live in an area with poor air quality because of smog or fires.
  • Have several fire extinguishers on hand for emergencies, especially in the kitchen and around any sources of heat.
  • Put corner guards on all furniture with sharp corners.
  • Have a first-aid kit for babies and take an infant CPR class.
  • Install childproof locks on all cabinets within reach and any containing poisons, medicines, and cleaning supplies.
  • Install stair gates or even gates to separate off areas of the house that are less baby friendly.
  • Eliminate any dangling cords, particularly window blind cords and power cords.
  • Cover any electrical outlets with caps or sliding plate covers.

All of this modification and safety talk may seem daunting right now, but all the time and effort will be more than worth it when you meet your baby. You’re about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Yes, there are some exhausting days ahead of you, but you’ve also got some of the best days of your life ahead as well. Between your prior life experiences and these tips and resources, you’ve got this. Enjoy your baby, and remember to get your rest!

Whispers of Hope advocates for and works with people with disabilities. We want to destigmatize disability so that people will see the entire human being, while appreciating what we offer to the world. We also offer support services, so visit our website to see how we can work together towards disability acceptance.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 29: Before the First Argument, Scene 1

photo of rainbow over lighthouse

In this scene, Tammy confesses her darkest feelings about herself, and Karen draws on her spiritual wisdom to reassure her.

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(Image attribution: Solarence, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 1: Miniscule Bumps and Scrapes

Rainbows from the beveled glass windows floated above the glistening, distressed oak floor. A huge color RCA television in a wooden cabinet dominated the room. Karen arranged the beige and powder blue pillows on the sectional so she could sit near her friend.

She pointed at her friend’s forehead and tried to be tactful. “About that goose egg? Maybe someone hit you in the head?”

Tammy laughed and rolled her eyes. “Using a power wheelchair is a skill, and I need time to master it. I keep running into walls, but at least I’m the one doing the running into. I’m not an inert cargo someone else has to wheel about.”

“How’s your mom with that?”

“Mommy is terrified I’ll kill myself, but this is the first time in my life I’ve been able to move around on my own, and I will not give up my new freedom, just because I may have to endure a few minuscule bumps and scrapes. I need this motorized chair for my future independence.”

“You mean for when you grow up?”

“It’s more complicated than that. And you have the same issue. Barring disaster, we will outlive our mothers. And who’s going to take care of us then? At least you can walk. I can’t even feed myself. Anything I can do to become more independent is a victory.”

“I agree. Mama is always telling me I have to become independent, but I thought Dr. L wanted you to move into Sonoma so you’ll have care for life.”

“No way. Mommy read they torture people there. She’s set up a fund to pay my expenses after she’s gone, but I don’t want to be any more helpless than I have to be. Besides, my mother is exhausted right now. With the power chair, at least she won’t have to push me everywhere. She already has too much to deal with. There’s me, and then there’s my sister, who is totally out of control, and then there’s my father, who isn’t around, but she still has to deal with him and his attorneys. If it weren’t for me, Sandra would be a well-adjusted teen with a bright future. Dad would be by Mommy’s side. They would all be happy and normal. But I’m here, so Sandra is counting the days until she leaves for college, and then all of my care will fall on Mommy. Daddy left ages ago because he didn’t want to be burdened with me and my disabilities.”

The room fell silent as Karen searched her heart for how to respond. “Tammy, you’re my friend. And your mommy loves you. She’s glad to take care of you, just like mine is with me. We have disabilities, but we’re human beings who deserve to be taken care of.”

Tammy nodded. “You’re right. Self-loathing doesn’t help anyone. Did I tell you I have a clinic appointment this coming Thursday?”

“No! No, you didn’t. What time is it for?”

“It’s for ten-thirty.” Her arms thrashed with nervousness.

“I had mine in January. Why are they re-evaluating you in March?”

“I don’t know. It must have something to do with the power wheelchair. I just hope they won’t take it away from me. I hate clinic. I can’t stand the feelings I get when I roll through the doors, and they all gawk at me and want to run my life.”

“Stay strong, Tammy. You can handle it.”

“Thanks, Kitten. You’re my lighthouse of hope and my rainbow at the end of the storm.”

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