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Blog Title: What I Learn About Living From My Chronic Illness by Shelley Peterman Schwarz
Chronic illness changes every aspect of your life. In my blog, I reflect on my 30+ year journey living with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). I share thoughts, insights, and lessons learned that hopefully will help you or someone you know. - Shelley
By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Monday, December 17, 2012

Wisconsin State Journal logoI love this time of year and if you’re like me, you wish that spirit of giving that infuses us before the holidays could continue throughout the year. And, you know what? It can, by giving the best gift of all — a gift of your time to the community.

                                  Home Accessibility book cover

While I was researching resources for my newest book, Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier, (2012), I visited a number of support organizations that provide assessment and assistance to people with a wide range of limitations/disabilities. I’ve been struck by how much is done with so little, yet how much more could be done if these organizations only had more resources, time, or dollars. 

 

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shelley with TV Anchor

 

  • Today, I will make my monthly appearance on News 3 at Noon.  In south-central Wisconsin, you can watch the program on Channel 3, WISC-TV.  My "Tips for Making Life Easier" segment is on between 12:15 and 12:30.   If you miss the telecast or are unable to get the show in your area, don't worry.  I'll post a video of the program on this blog later today.  (Click on Read More below)

     

In today's segment, I'll share tips and strategies to make home entertaining safer and easier.

 

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Monday, November 12, 2012

Wisconsin State Journal logoI try hard to learn new things, especially computer technology, because it gives me an easy outlet to the world, a world beyond my disability. However, I have cognitive (thinking) problems as a result of MS so learning new material is not easy. Yet, I'm willing to do what it takes to master new computer skills because of the freedom and creative outlet it gives me. 

 

In fact, I recently learned a new strategy that has helped me. I bought an Apple computer last year and signed up to take the workshop and classes. The “geniuses” at the store are darling and endlessly patient. (Thank goodness!)  However, if you’ve ever been in the Apple store at the mall, you know that it’s always an active, noisy place, so going there to learn new things can be a challenge for someone like me. 

 

When I started editing my little family videos, I couldn’t

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DishwasherLittle things can make such a big difference!  And, today I'm so happy because I got a dishwasher that I can open and close myself!  Just look at that beautiful white handle.  Our old dishwasher didn't have a handle so I could never fill it with dirty dishes.  Now, I can clean up after myself and not just leave my dishes in the sink or on the counter for someone else to put in the dishwasher.

 

Getting back a tiny bit of independence and control can make a big difference in our attitude.  At least it does for me!  I just feel happy! 

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Tuesday, October 23, 2012
A few years ago, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society contacted me about doing a series of short videos for people living with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS), (my diagnosis.)

 

The videos are currently posted on YouTube.  In this video, I invite you into my bedroom and share how I manage despite severe physical limitations.  Click on the video below to see the "Your Bedroom and Dressing" video from the Everyday Tips When Living with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Series.  


I hope these tips help you with some of the challenges you deal face.


 

 

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

At a family reunion in Chicago a couple of years ago, everyone walked to Navy Pier for a ride on the 150 foot-high Ferris Wheel with its spectacular view of Chicago. As husband, David, counted the number of tickets we would need, my nephews and son asked me if I wanted to go along for the ride.      

  

              


I admitted that I would love to go. (I wouldn’t have even brought up the subject because of the accessibility issues and had already planned to stand guard over the strollers and diaper bags while the parents and kids went on the ride.)  But the “boys” wanted me to go and were insistent that we could do it! They were so eager to help; how could I refuse?

So, in front of everyone...

 

 

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Monday, June 04, 2012

When Dave and I went to South Carolina, we had to take a “regional” jet, which generally means it’s a smaller plane.  I usually don’t mind because those planes still are able to use a jet bridge or jetway to get passengers on and off the airplane.  Because I can't walk, I need to be carried onto the plane using an aisle chair or "straight back."  



However, some planes may be too small to use a jetway. Or, a jetway may not be available, especially at peak travel times.  If a jetway is not available, passengers must embark and disembark on ...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Thursday, May 31, 2012

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is not flat and when you’re in a wheelchair, (my Amigo TravelMate) that can often be an issue.  

 

   

 

Watch how I get into the Magnolia restaurant in downtown Charleston, SC for dinner with the Benton Harbor boys and their wives.

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Tuesday, May 29, 2012

 

 

Dave and I are tried something new for our vacation this year.  We rented an accessible, 6 bedroom house in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, near Charleston with five couples.

 

 

The "boys" grew up together in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and have stayed in touch over the past 50+ years. We had never done anything like this before, but from what short periods of time we had spent together over the years, I was confident that this would be a wonderful vacation for us.

 

Because of my special needs, vacationing for us is different.  When we leave the comforts of our accessible home, my husband Dave has to basically “do everything.” He has to pack and carry the suitcases, do all the driving, and lift me and my wonderful little Amigo® scooter into and out of the car - not to mention, that he still has to help me dress, get in/out of bed, and onto the bathroom commode.

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Saturday, April 28, 2012
  

I remember years ago when our children were learning to use the potty. Every time we walked into a store, they would ask, "Do they got a potty here?"  And, off we would go to find it.


I find myself asking the same question; not because I have to use the facilities, but because I want to eye-ball the bathroom configuration.  I want to know that if I needed it, I could use it.


This is new for me because ...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm off to a National MS Society event and decided to take the bus to get to Union Square Park.Using accessible public transportation is easier for me; I don't have to transfer (i.e. have someone lift me), out of my Amigo scooter and into a car or cab.  Take a look.

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thirty years ago, a psychic told me I was going to be a writer - even though I had never "written anything." Since then, I have enjoyed consulting a "psychic advisor" from time to time.  So when... 

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Sunday, January 08, 2012

This past summer, Dave and I had planned to attend the Abilities Expo at the Schaumburg (Chicago area), Convention Center. It’s an annual event and a veritable candy store of products and services for people living with disabilities. 

   Dave and I wanted to check out the newest technology in car/van wheelchair lifts. Our full-sized Ford is nearly 9 years old and we thought the Expo would be a good place to see the most up-to-date lift-equipped vehicle options. Unfortunately, that was ...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I loved going camping when I was young and sleep-over camp was the highlight of my summer.

 

However, since becoming disabled, I thought that camping with a disability was impossible? How could I, in my three-wheeled Amigo® scooter wheelchair, with no use of my legs and limited use of my hands, EVER enjoy the rugged beauty of being surrounded by “raw" nature, smelling leaves and fresh air, enjoying the special taste of food cooked over a campfire (even a simple roasted marshmallow)?

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