The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 16: An Evil Plot Revealed

lipstick ad with satin in backgroundEvil therapists revealing their plans while powdering their noses? A frightened teen hiding in a toilet stall? Read on, as the stakes grow higher in the game of disabled girl versus evil experts.

(Image courtesy of Satin Finish, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 16: An Evil Plot Revealed

The door from the hallway opened. Karen took a deep breath. She did not want to be discovered in the grown-up restroom. The hard click of high heels sounded on the floor. She peeked through the gap between the stall’s door and frame. Mrs. Pinzetti and Mrs. DeLuca stood in front of the mirror over the wash basins, deep frowns on their faces.

Both women took compacts out of their purses and powdered their noses, as they talked.

Mrs. Pinzetti hissed, “We can’t let Little Sugar and her fat mother take control. Lambert is going to blame me, even though he’s the one who let them get away with throwing that tantrum in clinic. Sugar is already slated for surgery. That’s what Lambert cares about. He just wants his fee, and he’s going to make life hell for me if he doesn’t get it. Besides, you and I need our cuts. I wish Karen really were retarded. Are you sure you changed the scores on her tests, so we have paperwork to back us up?”

“Yes,” Mrs. DeLuca whispered. “They were all way above average, but I moved them down to be in line with her paralysis. The only problem with her learning is transposing, and she compensates for that. I can’t believe Muñoz scored her as high as he did! We need to get Lambert to straighten him out. If he thinks he’s going to get his cut, then he’d better get more creative with his testing.”

They closed their compacts and put them away in their purses before taking out shiny, gold tubes of lipstick. Mrs. Pinzetti added, “And I exaggerated her physical problems in my report. She does pretty well for a kid with a weak left side, but I make her sound like that arm and leg are useless and might as well be removed.”

For a moment, the room was silent as they colored their mouths bright red. Then Mrs. Pinzetti said, “I’m going to take a hard line during the eval and break little Sugar right in front of her mother. I’m going to make her look like the idiot we need her to be. And, if the mother won’t approve surgery, now, then maybe she will after I give her daughter a nervous breakdown.”

“A breakdown!” Mrs. DeLuca laughed. “But how?”

“Watch and learn. The kid thinks I care about her, so I’ll just lay on the smiles while I make her therapy hell. Eventually, she’ll crack. Once she cracks, Lambert can order shock therapy to cook any remaining charm out of that little brain. The mother will agree to anything to help her child. They always do. After that, Karen’ll be a slobbering vegetable. Seeing the effect of the shock treatment on her daughter will destroy the mother. It always does. She won’t object to surgery after that. Right now, we need to get back into that room and drop some hints, so Lambert doesn’t object when I browbeat Karen this afternoon. I’m really going to enjoy making her squirm, and I can’t wait to start twisting that left arm and leg in our next therapy session. I heard about the Nazi the school used to have for PT. I’ll be more subtle, but I’ll destroy that child one way or the other.”

Both women finished coloring their lips the red of fresh blood. They put the lipsticks back into their bags, then puckered their mouths and leaned forward to inspect them, looking as if they were going to kiss themselves in the mirror, or suck blood from a victim. Their heels clicked across the room’s hard floor. The door opened and closed with a sigh. Karen’s eyes filled with tears of silent rage.

Shush, Kitten, steady! So that’s what Mrs. Pinzetti meant when she said they were running out of children who needed surgery from Dr. Lambert. She meant they were coming after me.

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 15: Reflection on Clinic

image of gender-neutral toilet signKaren has a moment to reflect and gather her courage. Notice how positively she speaks to herself. Even though she has just been brutalized by the experts and reduced to tears, she never lets their criticism turn into self-criticism. She is her own friend, and she knows who her enemies are. Stay tuned for the next scene, when she discovers how bad things can get, if she does not fight back.

(Image courtesy of Sam Killermann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 15: Reflection on Clinic

The ladies’ room was always quiet and stuffy. A faint odor of urine permeated it. Karen knew it was for adults, and she was not supposed to be in it, but she needed some quiet. The little girls’ toilet was always noisy. It would not help her now.

She locked herself behind the gray, steel door of the stall farthest from the door and sat on the toilet, where she could think and calm herself. She was dazed, her nervous system in shock. She tried to retreat into her imagination by visualizing herself outside, walking on the lawn, at peace and safe from the wrath of the experts. But, her imagination brought her back to the clinic room. The doctors stared at her like robots, their cold, icy, empty looks chilling heart. She did not want to endure those looks again, but she had no choice. She had to withstand them.

The adults in her life, except for Mama and Pegasus, thought they had all the answers. They were the experts, she was only the patient, and Mama was only the parent. They did not want to help her fulfill her potential. They wanted to make her fit their preconceived ideas. They cared more about proving their theories and enhancing their incomes than they did about her and the other students.

She was not going to allow the experts to put her more on the defensive. She was not going to play their psychological games. She was not going to get upset again. She had a destiny better than their clinical definitions could ever describe. Every meeting with them made her stronger.

She was not going to give them power over her. She was in command of her life and her destiny. This was a big problem for the white coats. They had not dealt with a handicapped person like her before. They had not dealt with a girl who knew their tricks, their schemes, and their ability to manipulate their patients.

They are cold, callous, and calculating. Don’t they know I’m a human being? They don’t ask me what I want or what I need. They are so wrapped up in their own power, they don’t even know I have wants and needs. If only they could use their intelligence and education to help me as an individual, instead of using their power to label and pigeonhole me. And, after lunch will come all the stupid questions as they try to label me retarded. Please, someone save me from their ignorance!

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 14: Outside the PT Room

After the blow up during clinic, Mama and Karen take a moment to fend of the evil Mrs. Pinzetti and regroup. 
drawing of sad face with a drop of sweat

(Image courtesy of Vincent Le Moign, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 14: Outside the PT Room

As Karen followed Mama down the hallway, she heard Mrs. Pinzetti cough and call out, “Mrs. Hershstein, please come back with me!”

Mrs. Pinzetti reached over her, again, and held onto Mama’s arm. Her face was pale and covered with a light sweat. Mrs. DeLuca stood behind her.

“I need your cooperation. I need you and Karen to come back. I know things have not gone well, but we need to work on this together.”

Mama calmly replied, “We are well aware of that, and we will be back, but now we all need a break for lunch. Care to join us?”

“I’m not allowed,” Mrs. Pinzetti mumbled. “I’m supposed to eat with the others in the PT room.”

“Suit yourself,” Mama said. “We are going to the cafetorium, where we can eat with the children.”

Karen watched as Mrs. DeLuca followed Mrs. Pinzetti back into the PT room and closed the door behind them.

“See, Kitten,” Mama said, as she frowned at the closed door. “Mama’s on your side. She intercedes for you. You watch how I handle things, and you’ll learn to advocate for yourself. Then you can teach others to advocate for themselves. When you deal with these experts, you have to remember that sometimes people let their education and authority get in the way of doing what’s right. They’re human beings with feelings, just like you and me, but the educational system has taught them to detach themselves from their feelings and to impose their will on the people they are supposed to serve. And it’s teaching the same thing to the young ones coming into the field.”

Karen knew Mama was right. Mrs. Pinzetti was teaching Mrs. DeLuca to hurt handicapped people, just like Mama was teaching her to be an advocate for them.

“Mama?” Karen said. “I think I need to go to the ladies’ room, so I can have a quiet place to center myself. Could you please get me something to eat? I’ll catch up with you in the cafetorium. This whole morning is having a bad effect on my nervous system.”

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 13: Mama Intervenes

Mama arrives in the nick of time. She tells off evil Dr. Lambert and shames him in front of his colleagues.photograph of graffiti reading shame

(Image courtesy of Anthony Easton/flickr: PinkMoose, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 13: Mama Intervenes

As Karen stepped through the curtain to face the experts,

Mama pushed open the door of the physical therapy room.

“Mama! Mama! Thank God you’re here,” Karen cried, as she darted past the doctors and into her Mama’s protective arms.

“It’s all right, Kitten. I had a feeling I should be here after all.” Mama replied. Her eyes were warm as Karen looked up into them, but her jaw was set and her mouth hard.

“Mrs. Hearshstein, how nice of you to come. We are almost done with the subject,” Dr. Lambert said.

“What do you mean? Subject? Of an experiment? My daughter is not the subject of anything! She is not the subject of your experiment. She is a human being! This is my daughter you are talking about. Look at her! You don’t have the right to frighten her like this, and unless I say so, you don’t have the right to touch her. I signed an authorization for you to perform a clinical review and evaluation without my being present. This did not include terrorizing her. My daughter is not for you to play Henry Higgins with! Every year, you recommend experimental surgery to even her hips, even though she walks better and better on her own, and even though you can’t offer any guarantee that the surgery will help her and not leave her completely crippled. Look what you did to that little boy you left with the dangling wrist! The one who died after the surgery!”

Mrs. Pinzetti turned pale. She coughed and cleared her throat, as she approached, smiling sweetly, putting her arms around Karen and her hands onto Mama’s shoulders.

“Mrs. Hearshstein, please calm down. We’re here to help your daughter, and I know you are too. But please calm down.”

Karen twisted her neck so she could see Mrs. Pinzetti. After watching her throw her coffee cup onto the hallway floor while talking about Tammy, Kitten had trouble believing how sweet Mrs. Pinzetti’s smile was. She looked up and caught Mama’s eye with a frown that told Mama not to believe any of this.

Mama took a deep breath. Her voice dropped an octave, and she replied, “Mrs. Pinzetti, I am here for the same reason you are, to help my daughter. I can sense that the room is close to exploding with tension, and I am here to defuse it before it destroys my Karen. I’m not going to let you constrain my daughter’s potential so she can fit into your preconceived ideas of what she can do with her life. Karen is not only going to throw away her leg brace, soon. She is going to accomplish more than you and all the other experts gathered here can imagine.”

Mama shrugged the fake friendly hands off her shoulders and looked straight at Dr. Lambert. Her voice grew higher and louder than before. Karen knew she meant business.

“My Karen is a beautiful little girl who happens to have cerebral palsy. We are dealing with a human life here, not a puppet! She has her whole life ahead of her. If you were in my shoes, would you trust your doctor who wants to cut up your child’s body for no apparent reason but to make money? She’s the one who has to live with whatever treatment she gets. Once the cuts and scars are there, they are there for life! What are the risks involved? If this doesn’t work, how much is Karen going to suffer? You know it is going to affect her emotionally, physically, and mentally. Are you going to be the one to prepare her for this? Are you going to sit her down, wipe away the tears, and tell her everything will be just fine? Are you going to be the one holding her at night, when the pain gets so bad she can’t stand it? Are you going to take responsibility if this doesn’t work? Or will Karen have to pay the price of your arrogance all her life? You make this process seem so easy and so routine like you’ve done it a million times. Tell me, how many times have you actually performed these procedures? Is my daughter going to be your guinea pig? You want to make decisions for Karen, but you’re not going to be walking around with scars on your body. You’re not risking a dangling wrist or permanently damaged hips and spine. She will have to suffer the consequences of your decisions, and I am not going to let you make bad ones for her.”

Looking at the wall clock, she added, “It’s past noon. We all need a break and some lunch, doctor. I’m taking Karen to the school cafetorium. Would anyone like to join us? We would be delighted to have your company.”

Neither Dr. Lambert nor any of the others replied.

“Never mind, then,” Mama concluded. “If you need us, you will know where to find us. We will return at one.”

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

The Healing Horse, Ch. 23, Scene 12: Meanwhile, at Mama’s Work

The story jumps from the evil experts in Karen’s school to Mama at work. She hears her daughter’s pleaphoto of clayton moore as the lone ranger atop his horse silver and races to the rescue like the Lone Ranger.

(Image courtesy of ABC Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 12: Meanwhile, at Mama’s Work

Meanwhile, Mama sat at her desk at work, typing a brief for her attorney boss. As her fingers pecked the typewriter keys, she repeated to herself, “Karen can handle the clinic and eval on her own. She’s a big girl now. Karen can handle it.”

But then she heard her daughter’s voice in the air, just as if she were in the room. “Oh, Mama, I need you here with me. I may be disabled, but I am not an animal on display. If they see me like an animal, then I will show them the Pegasus in me. I am not afraid, but I wish my Mama were here.”

Her eyes filled with tears. She gasped for air. “Sir,” she said to her boss, as she stood up. “I’m sorry. I should’ve asked for time off, but I thought Karen could handle this by herself. She needs me now. Those experts don’t even recognize her as a human being. I have to go. I’m sorry.”

He looked up from his desk, and she realized he had no idea what she was talking about, except that her daughter needed her.

“Go,” he said with a nod.

“Okay. And I’ll get the brief typed this afternoon or tomorrow morning.”

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

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.