When Thank You Is Not Enough

I am not anymore injured, nor I am disabled. I am back to my old self except I have marks to prove something had happened to me before. The scars (Happy Scar) that reminded me that as a person with no superhuman power I am vulnerable physically, mentally and emotionally (My Road to Recovery Is Bumpy, Now that I Am Thinking of It).

What I experienced in the last 5 months of recovery gave me the opportunity to really dig into the issues people with disabilities have in their lives (not that I don’t do it every day for the last two decades). But most of my experience is not comparable to those I’ve seen in the field where I work. The struggles that I complained and whine about are nothing to the struggles people experience living in camps or even within their own community.

Unlikely allies

I become spiritual when the accident happened, and I thank God more and more for the experience. I learn to appreciate more my life and the people I encounter in it.

When I had the accident The Day I Broke My Leg, I was overwhelmed by the attention I got from my landlord and colleagues – that they are willing to look after me until I am comfortable enough to be on my own.

How many people will do that for you? 

The same when I was at the hospital. That one week in January that I was there was both fun and funny (on hindsight). Although I did not cry, I was like a cry baby always pressing the help button and asking the nurses to do things for me even in the wee hours of the morning. I know I disturbed them because I can see sleep in their eyes when I needed to go to the toilet at 3 in the morning or I needed adjustments in my bed very early because I cannot stay still and all my beddings hanging off it. But I don’t see them angry or annoyed. I like to think, I am fun to be around because while I speak English, they answer me in Arabic or French and when no translation is possible, hand gestures and head movements enough for us to understand each other.

It was enough time to have a routine, I eventually became friends with most of them at that time. But I am sure by now I am just a memory or maybe forgotten, but I will not forget them.  I tried to get their names but in the chaos of checking out I lost my list, and photos are all that I have of them. God knows how thankful I am for them looking after me. Extended to the two ambulance guys that brought me to the airport and back to the hospital and airport again until the airlines finally allowed me to fly home.

 

There is not a day since I left Tunisia that I am not thanking God for sending me those people. For crossing their path and making my experience as a person with injury good despite it happening overseas and life-changing. I felt that God is working in them and I pray every day for them, that they continue to be a blessing to others they encounter in their lives and in their work.

Forever grateful 

If I have a way to get this story to them, I would like for them to know that there is no amount of “thank you” enough to show my gratitude. I can only continue to pray for them and ask God to continue to bless them and to let them continue to give kindness to all the people they care in that hospital.

melodybeattie1-2x

From the hospital reception to the ER nurses to my doctors and the floor nurses and aides that kept me company all through my one-week stay at Clinique Amen La Marsa, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018
My nurses, nurse aide and ambo nurse from Clinique Amen La Marsa (Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)

To my family in Tunisia, the couple that adopted me and never left my side, waited for me and being there when I was out of surgery, thank you.  I believe that God brought me to your home for a reason.  When I needed help, you did not hesitate and even offered me a place in your heart to make me feel comfortable being alone in a new country.

(Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)
The family that took care of me when I was in Tunisia (Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)

To the friends I met, truly Filipinos are people of the world. Who would have thought that the first meeting we had would be a start of a lifelong friendship? At my lowest time, when I was not allowed to fly the first time, you were there. You took me back and brought me to the hospital safely and there again the next day as if God has planted you on my side until I am up in the air and landed in the Philippines.

(Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)
Ate Joy (in black beret) angel by my side with her cousin and my ambo nurse @ the check-in counter – Carthage Airport (Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)

Commitment 

With the 6-month grace period of recovery I give myself coming to an end, it is time to express my gratitude to all the people that helped me through this disability journey from Tunisia to France and here in the Philippines.

It has enriched my life and had opened my eyes to a new perspective on the kind of work I do and made me want to do more. Nobody can tell me now that I cannot advocate for disability because I am not disabled, because, with the little time I was in that shoes, I can say I understood the struggle.  Living with it even for a short time reaffirmed that this is what God wants me to continue doing. So continue I will.

0c2e59493fcefa8e4e4283de876e5934I do not wish for this kind of accident to happen to anyone, but this is a good opportunity for me to pay the kindness and generosity allocated for me forward in anyway possible.

Maraming salamat!

Je vous remercie!

Shukraan!

Gabriel and His Wheelchair

I did something of my time last Friday. I went out and met (again) the community I wanted to give some of the wheelchairs I sourced from an organization in Australia and I went to visit Gab and had someone with me to check him and his wheelchair two years after we gave it to him.

(Dhidhak Collection / Philippines 2018)
I am with a colleague adjusting Gab’s chair. On my feet half the time … I was tired but went home happy! (Dhidhak Collection / Philippines 2018)

Gab is 8 years old last Thursday. I met him in 2014 together with his mom when I joined the local disabled people’s organization in my city. I offered my skills to help but my work does not allow me to fully commit to it. His mom and I continue to communicate. She contacts me when she has questions about Gabs condition and for some other pieces of advice.

He was born with cerebral palsy. He has spasticity on all of his extremities and he has difficulty to communicate. All his 8 years have been supported by therapy whenever money and professionals are available but he still cannot walk but he loves to be around people. So a wheelchair would be very good to have for him to be mobile and social and wheelchair he got two years ago!

(Dhidhak Collection / Philippines 2018)
Gab and his chair of 2 years were recently adjusted. He’s happy to fit well in his chair and to be outside (Dhidhak Collection / Philippines 2018)

When he was 6-years old, I managed to get ten wheelchairs I was hoping to give to children like Gab. At that age, his parents are already complaining that it’s becoming difficult to move him around and the DIY chairs they built him doesn’t offer much support.

He is lucky because his family makes time for him, you can feel a happy family around him when you visit, they seek help and save up for some therapy, while other children have no opportunity to access health and rehabilitation services, no caregivers and often no knowledge of their human rights. I saw many with deformities that cannot be improved anymore, let alone sit in the chair. Some, there’s hope if parents can be given the training on how to manage their child’s conditions if they cannot afford therapy and transport.

(Dhidhak Collection / Philippines 2015)
Immediately after he received a new chair, Gab was able to participate in different activities for children with disabilities that summer. (Dhidhak Collection / Philippines 2015)

What has changed?

When I met Gab, he was smaller. My colleague who made most of the technical adjustment had to adjust his seat depth and more to accommodate his long legs. I also noticed how talkative he has become, although he was talkative then, this time I can understand them more and being able to carry more conversation with the small vocabulary he has. But he also has a shorter temper, which I think was because of the weather (summer temperature reached 35C that day) and being cooped in the house instead of going to the park.

Gab even has his own facebook page!

He follows instructions better. When we asked him to sit straight and put his neck straight, he can do it. He has better trunk control, I guess the time he can have the straight posture would determine his progress together with other activities. With the table attached to the chair, he interacts more with the people around the house, increasing his ability to use his hands. Feeding too has improved, and I noticed no drooling compared to the first times I met him. He will need continuous therapy, but I am happy with what I saw.

I even saw photos of him playing badminton with his siblings and had gone swimming with the family this summer.

What’s next for Gab and for the remaining chairs?

Experts say he needs to be re-evaluated together with his wheelchair. A 3-wheel type chairs that have hip, trunk and head control (depending on the design). The Wheelchair For Kids, Inc. produces these type of wheelchair. The organization is made up of a group of retired volunteer members of the Perth metropolitan community in Western Australia, and they donate these type of chair all over the world.

collage03
Gab is featured in WFK website collage and see how small he was back in 2014 (Screen grabbed from WFK website)

I don’t exactly remember how I got to know WFK, but I remember it was during the time I was in East Timor. Later, when I returned home, I contacted WFK, Inc. and inquired whether they have links with a local organization here in the Philippines where I could get access to their wheelchairs and distribute to the children in San Pedro City.

No, they don’t have specific local partners in the Philippines, but they have better links – the RSL Angeles City, a sub-branch of Returned and Services League of Australia. They send wheelchairs to them and distribute them to children in Angeles City and neighboring province (which is in the north part of the Philippines). They suggested I contact them and request the 10 chairs I was asking them.

I made contact with RSL, after some negotiations, they agreed, and I picked up the chairs. Unfortunately, I only managed to give out 1 out of 10 chairs. For many reasons but one of them was me being called off to join an emergency mission in Nepal. Partly I am to blame for the delay, but I have a pretty good excuse why the delay but don’t worry, I already arranged with someone with technical knowledge on the wheelchair and good network in the disability sector, we hope to give out those chairs in the next three months.

This time, being ambulatory, I tried to revive the project and give the remaining 9 chairs to the rightful owners. I made contact again with experts in the field, and with their help, I would be able to reach out to those kids that could use this type of chair for their everyday lives.

So I ended the day tired, with a swollen ankle but went home happy. The feeling of not being able to do anything worthwhile had faded over the weekend knowing that I will have something to look forward to in the coming days. For now, I will focus on Gab and see how much more we can still improve his chair and until when we can keep him using them until we need to find him a new one.

Postscript:

If you want to know more about disability and how you can help get children appropriate wheelchair send me a message here! Thank you in advance.

Look for the Glitter

Every day, every morning I receive an email from one religious organization – a message designed to be from God and they called it God Whispers. Telling me his thoughts about me and about my life, my dreams, my past and what could be my future.

They are encouraging words at times when I am confused or at a lost for words to describe my day. Or they can be random that I cannot relate to it until after days and there are times I completely forget them.

Yesterday God whispered these words to me

Dear Dhidhak

In a gold mine, you’re surrounded by gold. The problem is that you can’t see the gold because it’s covered by darkness, dirt, and danger.

Look for the glitter,
God

P.S. Dhidhak,  do you have a lot of problems today? The more problems you have, the more gold you have. 

But couldn’t relate it to my life at that moment until after I reviewed how my day was before going to sleep.

Towards the end of the day yesterday I received a letter of rejection from the fellowship I applied last January.  

The application was hanging over my head even before the accident. I didn’t give it much thought because I was busy moving between Turkey and Tunisia and continuing my remote technical support to people in the field until I had the accident.

When it happened, I felt I needed to do something to keep me relevant because I know how long it will take to recover. I decided to finish the application, asking friends and colleagues to give me a reference to help propel it and waited to know if I will have a future with them. My focus changed and applying for the fellowship and hopefully getting it would be a good plan at the time when I was not certain what my future would be.

So yesterday afternoon, for a brief moment I was stunned by the letter.  I will be a hypocrite if I say I didn’t felt bad, and a bit insulted having been told my life’s work is not impressive to a group of people who decides who can join the program and be the best leader after the training. Of course, I did, rejection fuels different emotions – hurt, pain, it lower self-esteem and it is one reason we have a very confused world now. But then the more I think about it, I am more challenged than rejected. Challenged to strive harder.

Image result for rejection

Once the initial reaction subsided, which didn’t take long, I sent messages to my friends who sent me the invitation. If not for him, I wouldn’t know about it and to those who gave me professional references. I regret a little bit not getting in the program because it could be a good platform to promote my advocacy and put disability in the forefront rather than an afterthought in so many global discussions that affect our society now.

I also left a message with my sister telling her the news and what I think it means to me. As always she has the right words to say at the right time, putting me in my place, placated my feelings of rejection and any other negative thoughts that formed around it and went to bed at peace.

This morning, reading what had God whispered re-affirmed my reaction to the letter yesterday.

I realized that there is so much gold around us, around me, and in me. But gold doesn’t come from the ground glittering and glowing the moment you see them.  Like any gems and precious metals, you don’t know them unless you know what you are looking for — they come covered in dirt, in between rocks or found in the darkest part of the earth.  It takes time to get to the part where it glitters, and value appreciates.

Maybe that is how I came across to those that reviewed my application among the hundreds of applicants. It didn’t glitter to the luster that attracts attention enough to offer me the opportunity. But its’ okay, I don’t need to be glowing and glittering to serve and to lead. I may not have a fancy title attached to my name, but I know that at the end of the day your title doesn’t earn you the feeling of fulfillment knowing that you found gold in others and that they see the gold in me.

Image result for gold in others

It’s Time to Get Those Feet on the Sand

Yesterday I talked to my so-called boyfriend and revealed to him my emotional state. He told me that I would feel much better if my leg completely healed and I completely recovered. I cannot complain on his answers or what was lacking in the way he said it. But he is telling the truth because I am slowly getting out of the rut every time I notice something different, focusing on the positive.

He didn’t reveal anything similar happening to him when he had his ankle accident. He very much knew my physical condition; he also had ankle injury when he was serving in the Turkish military back in the days. But I guess that’s where the similarity of our condition ends. His accident happened when he was very young, and from what he told me when he got better he continues to be sporty and changed careers. He used to be a boxing champion for his weight division until ten years ago, and he kept his form up to this day while honing his creative genius in fashion design.

Similar advise given to me by my sister. She also broke her ankle bone (medial malleolus), and a wire was also used to fix it.  It was from climbing Mt. Banahaw* with her students. I was out of the country when it happened so I didn’t know what happened during her recovery. It took her three months to 6 months to fully recover.

She told me she was using the wheelchair all the time and wheeled herself to her classroom. She didn’t use a walker, crutches, and cane nor wore plaster or used a boot to keep the ankle stable – she didn’t get out of her chair unless she needed to, like showering and going to bed. But I guess she was occupied, busy and had a purpose – which was teaching that there was no space to be emotional. I am also sure; she offered her pain and any problem she had with God and continued to be her good natured self.

But my disability journey was different.

When I thought I was recovering faster than usual, I was pulled back by pain in my foot, and my emotion went down with it (My Road to Recovery Is Bumpy, Now that I Am Thinking of It). Hearing what Hajj has to say about it made me realized that there is truth to what he told me. And since I am not my sister, my take on my emotion is very different but knowing she’s there ready to catch me gave me assurance enough to stop whining and complaining.

**

Right now I busy myself with writing and catching up on some online courses that I can use when I am ready to find work again.

I am reaching out to more friends whom I haven’t heard for years. I am sorting my photos and trying to see which ones good to showcase here and which ones worth keeping. With all the travels I’ve made and all the parties I attended imagine how much digital photos I had accumulated in my hard disk and sorting them out requires full attention.

Looking at my photos made me laugh out loud, made me remember people and places and good old times. Of course the array of food photos dictates that I entered a new decade, it means the millennials had all grown up and dictated a new trend that I was happily subscribing to.

**

I guess there’s no more room for drama in my life now. I am almost ready to go back out there. Find new adventures with my new scars.

Capadocia with Paulina (26).JPG
It’s time to get up now and see the bigger picture (I am with my friend in the balloon overlooking Goreme Valley at sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey/2017)

I am not wearing a boot around the house and not anymore using any of the assistive devices I accumulated over the 3-months and if you didn’t know you will not anymore notice the swelling that accumulates in my foot when I sit here too long.

I’ve repeated this track of post for a while now, and I think its time to let go and see what this month would bring me … a looser ankle, a sexier ankle, a better gait or all of the above.

When I Tried to Get To Know Myself

This write up about me appeared in my other blog. It was an introduction to who I am. In fact it was a self-promotion.

A summary of who I think I am and how I think others perceived of me when I tried to describe me to myself. It happened one weekend at the time I am taking my break from the last long term missions in 2014.

It was never validated. My friends, those I can count with my fingers and toes, are far apart and those I encounter during my sojourn never stay that long to tell me who they think I am. But I am pretty sure all of them have met the me I described below at the time we were together.

SAM_4775
My afternoon shadows while waiting for the sunset at the French side of the Pyrenees

I am considered to be good-natured, one who enjoys getting along with others. My friends consider me helpful and generous, and considerate. Striving to be friendly in social situations and empathetic in interpersonal ones. Because of my tendency see good in people, others generally like me.

When in conflict, I prefer to use effective tactics. Because sometimes it is better to preserve the friendly situation than the actual winning.

I also tend to believe that most people are honest, decent, and trustworthy but doesn’t get surprised when the unkind nature of others becomes evident. We’re human after all.

I tend to be more responsive to other’s needs than my own, so not to be overwhelmed I try to balance others needs with my own from time to time.

I am the type of person that likes to ask questions and equally interested in others inner feelings.

I have an appreciation for the arts, as an evening listing to music, going to the museum, movies or talking about poetry intrigues me. I have a wide variety of interests, driven by the fact that I incline to try new activities, visit new places, and try new foods. I may even appear to be unconventional to some! This also makes me appreciate diversity, as discussing others’ religious or political views rarely threaten my own.

Sometimes I like to be involved in large group activities and get energized by a crowd, and other times I would prefer a quiet evening alone. I have my own personal threshold for sociability, and the time I spend alone makes me feel more ready to conquer the world.

I am generally comfortable around others and good at adapting to social situations. I can find myself being contemplative one day, or in the mood to be more adventurous the next. Some situations call for watching before taking action, and others call for being more outspoken. I don’t mind being a leader, but I don’t seek the position. When part of a couple, it’s important for me to balance time spent alone with time spent together.

I am considered a person of character. My actions follow my conscience and are rarely impulsive (except in shopping). When working on something, I tend to be careful and deliberate. In fact, I work best with a schedule and due dates, I can be reliable that way.

At times, I have to watch myself, or I may become a perfectionist. I enjoy being organized, a trait that helps me to reach the goals I set for myself.

My friend consider me to be highly dependable. I am focused when there is a task at hand because it allows me to consider others before making decisions or taking action. Although sometimes situation requires me taking calculated risks.

I navigate the waters of my emotional lives, and some days I feel in control while other days they get the best me. This is most likely dependent on the situation, as I know how to make a good day last and I have learned how to tolerate my negative ones.

I don’t like feeling angry, so I try to be tolerant and learn to accept moderate frustrations. Friends would consider me to be stable and content. In general, I consider myself well-adjusted to the ups and downs of life.

And lastly, I consider myself to be religious, and my faith is essential to me. My relationship with Christ and His Church is paramount in my life, as a source of healing and strength for me. My faith is important part of my life, my relationships, and my journey.