My Brain AVM Story: Michael

This is another essay from my book “Run, Run Because You Can”. It’s a little long, but it’s a reader favourite. I hope that you enjoy it.


Some people that I met during in-patient rehabilitation were part of  my  post-stroke life for only a very brief time, but impacted me greatly. Michael was one of them.  He came to Penetanguishene General about six weeks into my stay. He’d also had a stroke that had affected his dominant side.

Michael was in his sixties. I didn’t hear him speak for several days after he arrived.  His wife was with him whenever possible, and for the first couple of days I mistook his quiet for terror.  He actually couldn’t speak, as his stroke had severely affected his speech as well as his mobility. I was again reminded to count my blessings.

Due to the nature of Michael’s stroke, his recovery process moved much faster than mine. However, it also worked in his favour that he worked even harder at rehabilitation than I did (andbrain avm I was working pretty damn hard). He had the best attitude that I saw in anyone, in all my time in rehabilitation. Before long, he could give one-word responses to questions such as “How are you?” (to which he always gave an emphatic “Excellent!”). He was soon talking in short, halting sentences when his wife came to the hospital to have dinner with him. He did his physiotherapy and occupational therapy exercises diligently and without complaint. When the physiotherapists gave him the “okay” to walk short distances with a cane, he would practice even after daily therapy hours were over, until the nurses would make him stop. His determination renewed mine, and made me want to work even harder than I was.

Kindred Spirits

Sometimes we were in the Occupational Therapy room at the same time.  He did worksheets while I did my arm exercises. One day, another patient was complaining that Jim, one of the physiotherapists, was in a terrible mood. I was struck (not for the first time) that someone was always complaining about something on that floor, and I tried to hide my annoyance.

“He’s probably just having a rough morning,” I sighed as I did a set of reps with the eight-pound weights, using my right wrist. Part of my therapy was to strengthen my right arm in preparation for making it my dominant arm. Being able to lift eight pounds with your wrist is pretty good. Normally, I’d have been very proud to be able to do that. However, it just didn’t seem very impressive that morning.

brain avm“Jim’s. Hung. Over.” said Michael, and winked at me.  Due to his speech difficulties, when he spoke, he had to pause between each word for a short period. That time it didn’t even register; the words were so unexpected and yet so perfectly timed that I’d started to giggle before I could stop myself.

Once I started giggling, I couldn’t stop.  The morning suddenly looked a little less gloomy. Ellen, the occupational therapist, looked over at me to see what so funny, but I couldn’t explain myself, and I didn’t really feel like it anyway. When I looked over at Michael, he was grinning, and I thought, I like this guy.

Another time, as I laboured to stack cups using my left hand, Michael started looking to me for help with his memory worksheet. He was stuck on a grammar exercise.  Thinking back to how difficult it was for him to retrieve words, and how he sometimes got different elements of speech mixed up, I am so grateful that most of the machinery for that sort of thing is on the opposite side of my head from where I bled.

“Take. This….” he read from the sheet. He was to supply a noun.

“Take this…” I wrinkled up my face, hoping that maybe if I thought hard enough, my hand would work and I could stack the plastic cups effortlessly.

“Take. This. And. Shove. It.” said Michael.

I nodded. He’d pretty much summed it up. I suddenly felt a kinship with Michael, perhaps just based on a mutual frustration (and perhaps boredom) with occupational therapy exercises, but a kinship nonetheless. A little while later, during our one, real conversation, I realized that there was perhaps a deeper bond of understanding behind it.

“I. Love. My. Life.

We were both sitting on the porch between physiotherapy sessions. The other people with whom we’d been talking had gone back inside. We were sitting out in our wheelchairs in comfortable silence, enjoying the sunny day. PGH was a nice hospital, on a scenic piece of property. I could almost believe that I was out in the country when I looked off the porch at the surrounding trees.

At length, I started asking Michael about his life outside the hospital. He talked, in his slow, halting speech, about his wife (who still came daily to have dinner with him), his children, and his grandchildren. He talked about how worked in a bank for most of his career, and about how much he now enjoyed doing things outside now that he was retired from his job. He particularly enjoyed snowmobiling.

After a while, he became silent. He stopped looking at me and appeared to be biting his lip.  It took me a moment to realize that he was trying not to cry. I suddenly felt very, very badly. I’d only been trying to make conversation, but obviously I’d hit a nerve. I knew which one was it was, too. When hit it the right way, it was a sharp, stinging reminder that just a little bit of blood where it shouldn’t be could turn your world upside down and change it forever.

“I. Love. My. Life.” he said softly.  “I. Love. My. Life.”

Yes, I said to myself, looking at my hands.

He quickly turned his wheelchair away from the railing and started to roll towards the door. Halfway there, he broke down and started to sob.

My heart was breaking. I rolled toward him in my chair, absolutely clueless as to what I was going to say or do, but feeling like I needed to do something to let him know that I understood. I had my hand reached out to put it on his shoulder, but as I got close to him, he grabbed my hand and brain avmsqueezed like he was never going to let go.

In that instant, I felt as if I’d found my rehab soulmate. I felt like someone understood how hard it was to get up every day and be positive, work very hard and just be generally “excellent” when there seems to little to feel good about.

One of the hardest parts of rehabilitation was that I just didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to go put as much into process as I could, with no guarantee of how much of my old life I was going to get back. It was exhausting and terrifying…and up until that moment, I’d been feeling very alone in those feelings, despite being surrounded by support.

All this passed through my mind in an instant, as did the sudden certainty that I was not alone in these uncomfortable feelings. To know this so deeply brought tears to my own eyes.

Michael only held my hand a couple of seconds, and said nothing. He then let go, wiped his eyes, and wheeled towards the door to go in for lunch. I might have met up with him a couple more times in occupational therapy after that, but we never spoke of that day on that porch, and it wasn’t long before he was walking out of the hospital with his wife for good.

Sometimes, when I see people snowmobiling, I wonder if he’s out on the trails. I like to think that he is.


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Rick Santorum Misses Taking Iowa Caucus by 8 Votes

After my nightly viewing of “Big Bang Theory” last night, I turned to CNN to see howrick santorum things were going over in Iowa.  I was very uncomfortable to see that the CNN entrance poll placed Rick Santorum in the top three.

For those that don’t remember why the prospect of Rick Santorum as President both disgusts me and scares the hell out of  me, see my previous post about him:

Rick Santorum for the Win??

Discomfort turned to mild fear as the first precincts started reporting Santorum as coming in first. The cursing started when Ron Paul dropped to third overall and Santorum and Mitt Romney began to duke it out. I was a wreck during the last few hours when Santorum was in first place, with so few votes separating him from Romney.

And then, at the last moment, Romney took the caucus by eight votes, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. But I never dreamed that Rick Santorum would come so close to winning. It scares me.

Same Stuff, Different Speech

I read the text of Santorum’s speech to his supporters today.  It was a good speech. He’s obviously personable and engaging and knows how to strike an emotional chord with people. He thanked his wife and mentioned all his children. But one got special attention:

“There’s another little girl who’s not here tonight. She is with a little button (ph). She’s our little angel. That’s Isabella Maria. Isabella Maria, we don’t take her out in crowds. She’s — has a disability. She has a disability that has, according to the records, the statistics, has a 1 percent chance of survival after one year. She is 31 / 2 years old. So Bella is here with us in spirit and is deeply embedded into my heart. People ask what motivates me. I say the dignity of every human life.”

This is consistent with Rick Santorum’s decision to use his daughter’s disabilities in an emotionally manipulative way during his campaigning.

I’m Not the Only One That Thinks So…

@Indecision at Comedy Central tweeted last night: “Rick Santorum: I don’t take my disabled daughter out in crowds. I just exploit her remotely.”

I read a number of commentaries on what happened last night as I prepared to blog on this, and the one that really summed everything up for me was by William Peace of the “Bad Cripple” blog. I linked to him in my last Rick Santorum piece as well. Bill and I are obviously of  the same mind about Santorum:

In the post to which I linked, Bill also does a commentary on Santorum’s Thanksgiving interview about Bella that I talked about in my first post.

A commentary that I read today said that Rick Santorum doesn’t have the resources or infrastructure to run a nationwide campaign. For the sake of people with disabilities, women, and people on any kind of social assistance…let’s hope so.

Read the full transcript of Santorum’s caucus speech at

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More on New York State Group Homes

In case anyone needs a review on what’s been happening with New York State group homes for people with developmental disabilities: group_homes/

New York State Group Homes in “The New York Times”

The latest article in the “Abused and Used” series in chronicling the abuse in New York State group homes appeared in “The New York Times” just before New Year’s. The article focuses on one of the operators: Federation of Multicultural Operators of Brooklyn. The full text of the article is here: Nhrsh5AFVgD828ev1jiW6w.

The financial history and hiring practices alone of the Federation are shocking enough. But the 27 citations for failing to meet health and safety standards in Federation’s Intermediate Care Facilities (all issued between 2006 and 2010) would be, one would think enough to make New York State want to sever ties with this operator. C.E.O. Danny King, who is a retired police officer with no experience in the developmental services field before starting work with the Federation, doesn’t seem concerned, according to the “Times”.

Just an Observation

Working in the developmental services field, I’ve noticed that we’re learning as we go along.  We thought that institutionalizing people with intellectual disabilities was the best thing for them for a while. Now we don’t. Now we’re becoming aware that even the best of community residential options brings up issues around rights and safety and how people in staffed homes should be interacting with the people they support. In the almost twenty years that I’ve been involved withNew York state group homes agencies that support people with disabilities, I’ve seen ways of thinking come into favour and fall out of favour and settle in the middle and then move toward one side again.

I’m okay with working in a field where there a lot of “grey areas” and issues that need to be worked out. I don’t tend to think in absolutes, and I’ve got a lot of patience. However…

No Patience or “Grey Areas” for New York State Group Homes

I do not see grey areas, and I have no patience, when it comes to people who violate the safety of vulnerable people and of animals.  Abused kids need to go to a safe place and parents should  have to go through a long, comprehensive rehabilitation process before they get them back (if it’s ever appropriate).  People who abuse animals shouldn’t be allowed to own pets.

And a service provider that receives 27 citations within 4 years for safety violations within housing (including the Federation’s failure to investigate abuse, inadequate medical care, and medication errors), should simply not be allowed operate New York state group homes. Period.

The article says that this all started four decades ago with the state’s decision to stop institutionalizing people with disabilities and a the lack of an oversight agency that could do proper and timely inspections of the group homes that people ended up in. Forty years is a long time not to have learned as they’ve gone along with this.  Particularly as the first small public group homes became multi-million corporations like the Federation, one would think that the state would have seen the need to put proper oversight and inspection procedures in place.

It makes me wonder, again, about how much society really values people with disabilities.

I keep seeing evidence that it doesn’t, and that makes me sad.

See the archive for the “Abused and Used” series about the New York state group homes situation here:

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It’s December 31st, and tomorrow it will be 2012.

I started this blog almost 6 months ago. I am really enjoying being a disabilities blogger, and developing relationships with other bloggers who are passionate about disability issues. I plan to keep writing for as long as people will keep reading!

Asking a Favour from My Readers

As we go into 2012, I have some questions for my readers:

  1. Is reading this blog useful for you? How so?
  2. What would you change about this blog?
  3. Are you experiencing any technical problems with the blog?
  4. Are there any specific disability-related issues that you’d like to see
    covered in the blog?

Please leave your answers as a comment to this post, or send me an email at if you prefer to answer privately.  Answering the questions helps me to plan the blog’s future direction and to address technical problems, so thank you for taking the time to answer!

Have fun this New Year’s Eve and be safe!  Happy New Year!

New Year



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Federal judge rules that NYC needs more accessible taxis

Michael Bloomberg’s concerns that accessible taxis are uncomfortable, potentially unsafe, tooaccessible taxi expensive to have on the road, and not really what people with disabilities want will have to be shelved. Federal judge George Daniels has ruled that only having 230 accessible taxis in the fleet of 13 000 yellow taxis in New York City is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Taxi and Limousine Commission can only issue new medallions to accessible taxis until it provides a plan for improving access for people who use wheelchairs.

Why Accessible Taxis?

From the linked article: “As wheelchair users, it is often assumed that we want to stay home, or that we’re satisfied with the status quo. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are just like any other American. We want to live, work, play and worship in our communities. These things, which are so often taken for granted, are impossible without on-demand, low-cost transportation, like taxis. We’re proud to be on the leading edge of this issue and look forward to the opportunities that come with it for people with disabilities.” – Paul J. Tobin, President and CEO of United Spinal

News That Makes My Day

I’ve been following developments in this story since I started this blog. I’ve been really disgusted by the dismissive way in which Michael Bloomberg has responded to concerns about lack of accessible taxis, and at his rationale for not considering adding more accessible taxis to New York City’s fleet. He’s demonstrated, it seems to me, a real ignorance of the transportation challenges that citizens in New York (and tourists) who use wheelchairs face on a daily basis, and a disrespect in general toward people with disabilities.

As I’ve said elsewhere in this blog…London’s full fleet of taxis is accessible. There’s no reason why New York City can’t do it.

I’m looking forward to seeing more accessible taxis on my next visit to New York City

More posts on this issue:

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Lost a Limb…Regrow a Limb?

Hello again!  I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and that you’re all looking forward to New Year’s!lost a limb

I spent Christmas with my family, at my sister’s house. I got lots of opportunities to play with my little niece and work on my techniques for making her smile and laugh, holding her the way she likes (so that she can see everyone), and picking her up. I’m very aware that there are many childcare that skills I that I haven’t yet mastered, but with each visit with her I feel more and more confident about my ability to look after her using one arm.

I think that’s why I’ve been a bit grumpy about a commercial that I’ve been seeing on television recently. It’s one of those commercials where people with various ailments and their doctors talk about how “We *will* find a cure for ____” (cancer, diabetes, etc.), and of course I know that these research efforts are very important. Besides my AVM (which is not supposed to be hereditary, but I’ve stories that suggest that they do seem to run in families), women on my mother’s side tend to die young from cancer, and there’s stroke and diabetes on my father’s side…it’s not exactly comforting.

Lost a Limb? We Can Cure You!

The part of the commercial that annoys me is when the young doctor comes on and says, “We *will* find a way to regrow limbs.”  Granted, I haven’t lost a limb, but I pretty much live one-handed, and I don’t feel like I miss out on a whole lot. I actually wrote about this in article right before Christmas, about how I’d once talked with a woman online who couldn’t understand why her blind date hadn’t told her before their date that he was missing a hand. I suggested that perhaps he was fine with the fact that he was missing a hand and didn’t see any need to tell her. But clearly she’d had a problem with it.

When I hear things like, “We *will* find a way to regrow limbs,” I feel the same way. I feel like it’s society saying to people who have lost a limb, “We have a problem with you being like this, so we are going to cure you,” when many of these people may not a problem at all with how they are living.  Society has the problem with the disability, not the person living with the disability.

Lost a Limb: Accessibility Woes

Not that navigating society without a limb isn’t difficult, particularly if one has to use a wheelchair. However, much of that difficulty with being in a wheelchair happens because accessibility is so slowly becoming a priority.  I can speak from experience on this one…it’s not so miserable being in a wheelchair when buildings, spaces and transportation are accessible. Again, it’s been society’s problem with people with disabilities that’s made having disabilities difficult. Thank goodness that’s changing.  It will be interesting to see whether medical science can regrow a limb by the time that all Ontario buildings have to be physically accessible (2025).

Lost a Limb, But Still OK!

I’m fine with having little function in my left arm and hand. There are some things that I obviously can’t do, but I manage. I went through a process of becoming fine with who I am with those impairments, as I imagine I would if I lost a limb.

Perhaps some people would welcome medical interventions that took away their disabilities. I’m not saying I wouldn’t try an intervention myself if it could bring back a lot of function in my arm and hand. But the blanket assumption that all people who have lost a limb want/need to be “cured” bothers me. It suggests that they’re not good enough, or can’t have productive, fulfilled lives,  the way they are right now.

And that’s simply not true.


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“My Princess Boy” and My Christmas Wish for the World

I saw a wonderful segment on Dr. Phil’s episode on “Radical Parenting” today. Cheryl Kilodavis talked about her son Dyson and how his love for all things pink and pretty inspired her to write “My Princess Boy”, a book on the importance of accepting differences.

A Little Boy in a Dress

Kilodavis talked about how Dyson, now five, had been interested in sparkle and glitter and dresses from age two. They showed several pictures of him in dresses over his jeans as he played sports, and a video of him showing his three most favourite dresses. He’s an adorable little boy, and clearly seems happy, social and active. Kilodavis said that the doctors that they’d taken Dyson to had told her and her husband that he was a very healthy, well-adjusted little boy, and not to over-encourage the fascination with dresses…but not to discourage it, either. In light of that, the Kilodavis’ decided to support Dyson’s preferences, whatever they happened to be in that moment. If they changed later on, they’d support those too. They would be adults that their son could count on to guide him to be the best that he could be…however he chose to dress.

People Fear “Different”

I like Dr. Phil because he’s very committed to child welfare and because he has taken bullying on as a personal cause. In the interview with Kilodavis, he identified people who are “different” (specifically, people of a “different” ethnicity, who have disabilities or who are struggling with GLBTT issues) as the most common targets for bullying behaviour. I found Kilodavis’ opinion that kids are becoming such bullies because adults are modelling bullying behaviour really intriguing. I was also deeply touched by how she talked about that she’s just trying to support her little boy, who’s secure and happy with who he is, and trying to give others tools to do the same thing, hoping that they’ll say, “Yes, we will.”

Dr. Phil seemed to think that “My Princess Boy” would go a long way toward helping children learn about accepting differences. I will be buying a copy of it for my personal library.

“My Princess Boy” and Other Beautiful People

Between personal experience, experiences of people that I’ve supported, experiences of friends and of their children, and even the experiences of children (and adults) that I hear on the news, I feel like bullying, hate speech and hate crime has taken too much of me. I feel like it’s taken too much of us as a society.

My Christmas wish is that everyone finds people that will say “Yes, we will” while the rest of the world is smartening up about learning to accept differences. Because life’s a lot more pleasant when you’ve got people around you who will love you unconditionally while you’re just being who you are.

Thank you to the Kilodavis family for what they do to educate people about the importance of celebrating our differences.

More on “My Princess Boy” here:

Interview with Dr. Phil about “My Princess Boy”:

I’ll see you after Christmas. Happy Holidays to you and yours. :)

my princess boy

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My Brain AVM Story: Leaving Ottawa

I was in Ottawa today, and it brought back a lot of memories. It’s almost 11 years ago to the ottawaday that I walked out of the Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre after being in hospitals since the end of May. I’d be going home for good.

Ottawa, December 21, 2000

My last day at ORC was marked by my infamous tantrum about a day nurse that lied about me at a previous meeting being scheduled to represent Nursing staff at my discharge conference. Administration eventually declined to send someone from Nursing if I refused to have her there. This was fine, as far as I was concerned. My psychologist read Nursing’s notes, and the nurse who’d thrown me under the bus (as far as I was concerned) didn’t get to speak. It was a win-win for me, really. The whole sordid story behind that is here:

All of us on the unit were leaving that day, because the unit was closed over Christmas. Some people would be returning in the new year for more inpatient therapy, or for outpatient therapy. I wouldn’t be, so I said good-bye to all my friends: Nick and Angela, and Helene, and Alison, and Katie. Some of them I’d see again. Angela and I spent a week together at her home in Ottawa in the next year, and I saw Katie a few times when I went to Kingston to visit my sister. The others slipped off my radar. I’ve tried to find some of them through the Internet, and haven’t been able to. Angela kept in touch with some of them, as she went to ORC for outpatient therapy. But some even she lost touch with some of them. Perhaps they wanted to forget that time in their lives.

I said good-bye to all my physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and my social worker and my psychologist, and the doctor that oversaw my team. I was nervous. The hospitals were friendly places for disabled people. The buildings were accessible and people were okay with me moving slowly and I knew that if I had a seizure I was surrounded by people who knew what to do. I knew that the “real world” wasn’t always like that.

Good-Bye Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre

I walked into ORC using a cane. I was shaky and I didn’t get very far before I needed to use my wheelchair, but I walked in. I was a lot less shaky when I walked out, but my wheelchair was right behind me. I needed to use it when Dad took me to the mall so that I could do my Christmas shopping before we left town.

Today, nearly twelve years later, I did my Christmas shopping without a wheelchair. I walked into McDonald’s without my cane, in fact. We don’t need a disabled parking placard for Dad’s car anymore because I simply don’t qualify for one.

It’s taken a lot of hard work, and I know that there’s still hard work to come. But things are very different than that day that I walked out of Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre, and that really struck me today.

I think I needed to remember that today – that I’ve faced challenges before and worked hard and gotten to a good place, and that I can do it again.

What reminds you that you can get through the tough times, when you need that bit of encouragement?

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Decisions, decisions…

Elizabeth McClung and I have been having a conversation via comment on my essay “Get Up” decisions(from my 2006 book “Run, Run Because You Can”), which I recently posted last week. It’s got me thinking about decisions. Specifically, it’s got me thinking about how everyone has the right to make bad decisions.

Elizabeth Said:

“Trying 10 times and failing might mean setback right?

I can’t stop thinking about the complicit attitude and acts of visitors, nurses, and others in keeping this man who wanted to not be in a wheelchair to force him to be there…..for his own good (determined by others).

You wrote that your safety when climbing a mountain is not assured. So why did you get to climb and he got locked down against his will? Without further information I don’t know but it doesn’t amuse me or delight me, it makes me alternate between nausea and anger, as it seems a recorded discrimination based on age, not on will.”

I always appreciate Elizabeth’s feedback, because she often helps me to view things in different ways. I’d never viewed the story in the way she suggested. I’d always assumed that the staff had what they considered a good reason for keeping this gentleman from leaving, which was obviously what he wanted to do. Her comments made me start to think about what I would I would have done as this man’s worker if he was person with an intellectual disability.

What Would I Have Done?

It’s difficult to say, truthfully, because there’s a lot of information that I don’t have. Perhaps, like I was right after my stroke, he was confused about the new limitations on his body and didn’t realize that he couldn’t walk anymore.  Perhaps he had severe dementia and didn’t even realize where he was. Perhaps he was simply too ill to go home and didn’t want to accept it.

I realized after thinking about this that I really don’t know much about the policies for keeping someone in the hospital who doesn’t have awareness of how ill he or she is. If there are psychiatric factors associated with the person’s diagnosis, then the doctor may choose to keep him or her in the hospital on that basis.  This man may also have had a power of attorney making decisions for him. Or he may have been waiting for transfer to a physiotherapy unit. I had to wait awhile.

But, assuming that none of these were variables, did the hospital really have a right to keep him in when he’d so strongly expressed a preference to leave? Plenty of people without disabilities choose, for a variety of reasons (some of them not-so-logical)  to leave hospitals against medical advice.

The Right to Make Bad Decisions

I’d need someone who works in a hospital to answer me for sure. And I know that on some days I certainly wished I could “save” the people I worked with from making decisions that I knew were going to make life infinitely harder for them, especially if I couldn’t understand why they were making those decisions. But making decisions for people wasn’t my role, ever, and I would never want it to be.  It wouldn’t be fair of me to say, “This is better.” I just tried to present options, emphasizing that the choice was the person’s.

Everyone’s allowed to make bad decisions, no matter how much we wish they wouldn’t. I hope that if I’d been this man’s worker, I’d have fought for his right to make the decisions he wanted, even if they were ones with which I didn’t agree.

And I certainly would have had a conversation with the staff about the belt restraint on the wheelchair. Restraints should *always* be a last resort.

Thank you for the conversation, Elizabeth. I always enjoy talking with you.

Check out Elizabeth’s blog at

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Practicing My Auntie Skills

I’m blogging from my sister’s house today. I’m visiting with her to help her get ready for Christmas.

Practicing being “Auntie Sarah”

brain avm

Rachel and Gillian

Of course, this means that I get to spend some time with my adorable little niece, Gillian, and practice my “auntie” skills. She’s now almost four months old. She grows and changes so much that she’s practically a different baby every time I see her. Now she’s very strong: she holds her head up, and tries to roll over when she plays on her floor mat, and screws up her little face and tries to pull herself out of her ExerSaucer when she’s had enough of bouncing around in it. She looks around the room to find the source of new sounds, her blue eyes wide and alert. She loves looking at faces. When she’s in a good mood, she’ll smile and giggle when I make funny faces at her.

I could play with her for hours.


Me and Gillian (first thing in the morning)

You Never Know What You Can Do                           Until You Try

However, it’s still felt strange, when I’m around her. I always feel like I’m the only adult who can’t pick her up  and soothe her when she cries. But today Rachel talked about how she often scoops Gillian up with one arm      while she has to carry something else, and speculated on how I should easily be able to do that given the strength   in my right arm. So I gave it a try. And I was thrilled to discover that, yes, I’m able to scoop Gillian up from a lying-down position using my right arm, bring her up to my shoulder, and even turn her around to have her lie over my arm (her favourite position, and Rachel’s favourite position as a baby as well, come to think of it).

I was over the moon. Rachel and Gavin were very        pleased. Even Gillian was happy, once I got her in her favourite position.

So, to date, I can change Gillian’s diaper with one hand, and also pick her up from a lying-down position. I also gave her an afternoon bottle.

I feel much more like an auntie.  It’s a very nice feeling. :)


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