Our unsung heroes

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I walk up Broadway with my aching knees and watch the people all bent over, with walkers and canes, some just using shopping carts for support. It reminds me of being pregnant; I noticed everyone who was also pregnant, though I never had before. Now I see all the halt and the lame gamely plodding on; shopping, eating out, just living their lives. Most of them must be in more pain than I am. I don’t have a cane or walker (yet!). I do look bent over, I’m told. Friends are constantly trying to straighten me up as I yelp in surprised pain. My spine has multiple problems though I don’t know what they are; my doctor has learned that I am a minimalist (another word for phobic) and don’t want tests and scary diagnoses. As long as I can get out of bed in the morning I consider it a good day.

And so far, so good. But I digress. It’s the brave souls in much worse shape than I am who leave me in awe. I wonder if they are alone. I am grateful to have a supportive partner, and he’s saved me from many a scary situation (like being run over) by grabbing my arm. Of course he’s not with me all the time, but I can’t imagine being totally alone and braving the streets to do necessary chores when your spine looks like the letter C. These brave and intrepid souls make me feel like a wimp when I say “ouch” or I have trouble going down stairs. These folks are our unsung heroes.

This leads me to a relevant topic. The Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY (CIDNY) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1978, that is part of the Independent Living Centers movement. This is a national network that enhances opportunities for people with disabilities to direct their own lives. CIDNY does not provide housing but it helps people with disabilities and also employs people with disabilities. The staff includes social workers, lawyers and other professionals, including those who speak the many languages used throughout our diverse city. They have many services, including counseling, independent living skills, healthcare access, peer counseling and nursing home transition. CIDNY has advised government officials on how to make public service better for the disabled. Some of their priorities are transportation, health insurance, education and entitlements. The organization offers training and assistance to public officials, healthcare workers and other service providers on disability issues. It also offers help with skills such as finding housing, transportation, budgeting and goal-planning. CIDNY has two offices, one in Manhattan and one in Queens. Their address in New York is 841 Broadway. They can be reached at info@cidny.org and their telephone number is 212-674-2300. A worthwhile organization indeed.

Since I am writing this on the day after the House Republicans’ vote to repeal Obamacare, I feel the need to add that I might be wise to overcome my fears and have some tests and procedures done now, before it’s all taken away from us. I have a constant pit in my stomach about what’s going on in this country, and I know many of you do also. So very scary, so very immoral and heartless. How can these people (you know who they are) jump around with glee while taking away our basic human rights, which of course don’t affect them. I have remained in a state of shock since Election Day. I wish I knew what else to say. If I prayed, I’d say let’s all pray. And hope. And protest and take action. Here’s hoping the Senate will come through for us.

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