Living and laughing with a disability - cerebral palsy; ordinary life, extraordinary circumstances.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

2007 is less than an hour away.

2006 has been a good year, except for this mysterious ailment that has been with me since June, perhaps earlier.

In June I was at work when I shared with coworkers that I was having chest pain. The ambulance took me to the ER. They did an ekg; my heart was fine. I was prescribed antacids and told to stay home and rest a few days. The pain subsided, but never went away.

I went to the doctor in September. X-rays showed the remnant of pneumonia. I took a week of antibiotics, then another week. I have been back a couple times. I had a physical. All tests come out fine. "Pluerisy" is the latest thought of what I have. I have had three chest x-rays. My pain subsided a bit after visiting my chiropractor.

My dr. has run out of ideas and has referred me to Dr. Hoeflich. She is like a neurologist, but a different title. I am a bit hesitant to go to her after my wife's last dealings with her. Molly's solution for pain associated with our disability is to take meds that would keep us from working. This is not an option for either of us.

I have cerebral palsy and scoliosis. I fought hard, as my wife did also, for our jobs. We are not going to let go of them.

My appointment is not until Jan 24. My pain seems to be getting worse...not quite sure what to do. I just took some symptom surveys online. Could I have asthma?


It has been a good year. I am happy we made it to Diamond Lake, and saw Crater Lake. I am happy that I am working with the new Rockwood Branch, and that Mel is my supervisor.

NWBAZAARS.COM was a successful web venture - even if it's primary value was getting the tables and my mother-in-law's 2 bazaars filled. was not successful, but I learned a lot about ecommerce from it. I learned about SEO. My lack of success frustrates me, but I feel good about what I have learned.

13 minutes until 2007.

Monday, December 25, 2006

My favorite Christmas Song....

I should qualify favorite Christmas song beyond the carols of the season.

Dolly Parton - Hard Candy Christmas.

Don't know why the song moves me. It so bluesy, accepting Christmas as it come.

It was a good Christmas. My sister hosted Christmas Eve. Mom, stepdad John, brother Scott, uncle Randy, my sister (and hostess) Tab, niece Tyfini, and Tab's use-to-be boyfriend Ron.

Tab's new condo in Camas is cute. We brought the baked beans from Izzy's. Ham, rolls, potato salad...our typical Christmas Eve fare.

This is really the only time of the year my family gathers. We see my mom and John through the year a few times. They live in Aloha and we in Gresham. My brother, Scott, lives with Mom and John, but it's hit or miss whether we see him the few times a year that we make it over there. Tabetha is across the river - an email away - we don't see each other much, but we do email. Uncle Randy is a mile from our home. He had Jodie and I over for Salmon dinner a few months ago, a big thing because we don't normally see a lot of each other.

It's not to be over analyzed, as I tend to do. It was a good visit with my family. I always feel that since we all happen to gather just once a year that things should be more magic and that we should feel closer, but that is never the case because of the fact we don't gather more.

Last night was a good meal, good visit, exchanging gifts. The trip home on HWY 14 in the heavy rain and a dark stretch of highway was a cause for us to pray. We hydroplaned. I could not see the road. Emmanual - God was with us.

We came home and watched Jodie's favorite old move - "Yours, Mine and Ours." Eric helped pack out the gifts - he knows now, at 11, that we honor the spirit of Santa, but that Santa is not real. I tried to help Jodie wrap the gifts for him earlier in the day. We do our best job wrapping, though our cerebral palsy gets in the way.

Christmas newsleter 2006--never made it to print

So much for good intentions. Here is my 2006 Christmas newsletter that never made it to print.

Procrastinator, writers block, I am guilty of all charges.

Merry Christmas 2006

Family & Friends;

Another year slips by.

Bonnie and Clyde are a year and a half now. Wild, lovable, mischievious all describe their behavior very well. They jump everywhere and chew everything, but they also shower us with their licks of love. They also entertain us very well. Clyde will bark when he feels that Bonnie is getting more attention than he. Clyde likes to cuddle anytime, anywhere. With Bonnie it needs to be when she wants. At times she seems skittish, but then she comes in her own time.

The highlight for us this year was our summer trip. We don't always take one, but this year we decided to go for it. Jodie and I use to take Grandma and Grandpa on trips. The last one we planned was for the summer of 1993. We were going to rent a cabin at Diamond Lake, and visit Crater Lake while there. Grandpa passed away before we could do that. This year, we decided at the last moment to go for it.

We loaded up the car, all five of us, Eric, Jodie and I...and our two dogs, Bonnie and Clyde, and we headed south. Diamond Lake is beautiful. Eric was able to fish and catch some tui chub, just days before the Lake was poisoned to kill them off. The chubs were destroying the water quality of the lake. We stayed in the motel at the Diamond Lake Resort.

Bonnie and Clyde went everywhere with us. Bonnie got car sick a few times. We did not leave the dogs alone at all. This confined us to grocery stores and drive-thrus. We stopped a lot to let the dogs run. They loved running through the sand on the small beach that was at Diamond Lake.

Diamond Lake was a beautiful place to stay, but just south of there was the main reason for coming. Crater Lake is breathtaking. Breathtaking is too simple a word. Eric snapped a picture, and I still have it as my wallpaper on my computer at work. So blue, so rich, so beautiful. Site-seers from around the world were there. If you have not been there, well, you know... We now have the travel bug and would like to go see other national parks.

Baseball for Eric started with batting practice on Sundays afternoons in February. The first real game wasn't until May! Baseball becomes your life when the season is on. Eric pitches, catches, plays first and short. Some days he is on, some days he is not. Check out, a website I made for the team, before I convert it to my next great web adventure.

Eric is a weblo this year, and is getting ready to crossover to Boy Scouts soon. Horses at summer camp was a definite highlight for him this year. He has gone on a lot of campouts this year. Most of the boys in his den have been together the last five years.

Eric ended the last school year on the honor roll and has begun this year on the honor roll as well. He is in the fifth grade at Portland Christian this year. He has taken up the trumpet this year. For some reason, he was surprised at the amount of practice he needs to do, but he is adapting.

Jodie is still managing a crew of 20 plus support staff at the Child Welfare office in Gresham. This year she became a member of the LA Fitness athletic club near the office and has really enjoyed working out with her coworkers.

I moved from the East Multnomah Child Welfare office to the Rockwood Child Welfare office. For now they are right next door to each other, but eventually Rockwood branch will be moving to the Rockwood area of Gresham, which will be closer to home. At nights I have been working on websites, learning more and more. I set up my first online store - And, as a way to promote the two bazaars my mother-in-law organized this year, I started NWBAZAARS.COM as a way to promote local bazaars.

Many blessings for this holy season and for the year to follow.

The Wittren Family

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas is a week away...

Jodie, Eric and I are going to journey to Clackamas Town Center tonight. We are taking our scooters so we can cruise the mall.

Most of our gift giving is with gift cards. It is making less sense to me every year this idea of trading gift cards. Nervous people like me worry about amounts and whether we give enough.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Paying our debt to society

Jodie and I took last Monday afternoon of work to go down to the Multnomah County Courthouse to take care of our disabled parking infraction.

We had Jodie's scooter, but not mine. I used my walker. I didn't realize that the parking garage was so far from the courthouse.

The clerk at the courthouse was very nice. He asked to see ut disabled parking permit. We explained that it was in the car, in a disabled parking spot.

The clerk came out from behind the glass with a piece of paper on a clipboard and asked us to write why our disabled card was not up. Then he gave us a fax number to fax in a copy of our disabled card.

I was very impressed with the kindness and professionalism of the clerk. He did his job well, very courteous.

Lesson learned - never forget to hang the @#!#@! disabled card up!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Over the Edge

I was talking to Gorgeous Mel on the phone. I was lamenting the fact that when the policy comes we might need to stop paying some relative foster care providers.

My office manager and the office manager for our neighboring state office came to my desk. “Uh...Mel...I gotta go.”

I was handed a parking ticket. $360! Illegally parking in a disabled parking spot.

My mind went to this morning. I dropped my son off at school. I raced over to work. I was not feeling well. The nurse from my doctor’s office called it the “Onset of pneumonia” when he called with the results from my chest x-ray. I finished my regimen of antibiotics yesterday. I was hurting today, but I just wanted to get in the office and work through it. Work and a little Advil can chase any pain away.

I hoisted my bag onto the passenger seat, and carefully walked to the other side of my minivan. I opened the side door and grabbed my walker. I was trying to hurry, but with my cerebral palsy, my back pain, and a pain in my chest, I wasn’t moving very fast...but I was trying.

In my rush I forgot one thing: I forgot to hang the disabled parking card on my rearview mirror. I take the card of the rearview mirror when I drive with the windows down so that the card does not blow out the window.

I park in the same spot every day. My van has a inside lift for my scooter and an outside lift for my wife’s scooter. Our van is very obviously geared to the disabled.

There is a lot I could be unhappy about if I chose to be. Until the day I die I am going to see the glass as half full. God’s grace covers me and carries me.

I saw the “$360" and thought of our limited funds. I felt like crying. We don’t have it.

I called my wife, who is also Mel’s boss. My wife could not believe it. She asked if there was a number on the ticket to call. All three options on the ticket demand that you pay the ticket. You can pay by phone or mail; you can send in a written explanation, but it must include a check; or you can request a hearing, but a check has to be in the mail.

I called the number to pay with a credit card. The parking ticket was not on file yet. If I wanted a court hearing, or the give an explanation, it has to be done in writing.

Felony Mel called. My wife had told her what had happened and that I was stressing. “You know how many tickets I have gotten?” she said. I told her I probably did not have enough fingers and toes to count them.

“Right,” she said, “you just need to go in and show them your disabled card and they will reduce the ticket.”

Some day next week my wife on her crutches and myself with my walker will make our way into the Multnomah County Courthouse to see if we can catch some kind of break.

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Products

New Products for the disabled from the Naidex show in England. I like "The Camel", which helps a person get up when they have fallen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Blogging against diablism is set for May1st.

Disablism is a term new word to me linguistically, but its meaning is something I have known since I was old enough to realize people were staring at me because I was different, laughing at the way I walked, focused more on the strangeness of my speech rather than trying to understand what I was saying.

Retard. There's a disablism that still makes me wince. For some reason, it's the term I most frequently hear from people who are inclined to make fun of me.

The term seems barbaric and loaded with hate.

Perhaps people who call me "retard" because my disability make them uncomfortable, or it might be a chance for them to lift themselves up.

"Crippled" is a term I don't care for, but some people, particularly older people, use it as a descriptive term without meaning it as a slam.

"Retard" is a slam, whoever uses it.

I don't like that word!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Am I really disabled now?

Am I really disabled now?

I took my scooter to work this week. I work in support at a state social service office.

Our office is in a strip mall, and was formerly a grocery store. I sit in the front on one side, and the restrooms are in the back on the other side. It is a hike for me.

Four years ago or so I had back surgery for a herniated disk. It took away most of the pain that I have, but no all.

I have cerebral palsy. I free walk, but my gait is very unsteady. Walking distances has gotten tougher for me.

A couple falls of late have increased the pain, hence I decided to take my scooter to work.

People look at me differently when I am on my scooter. A look of pity, a look of sadness. It seemed like a look as if I had lost something.

I'm not sure how much of their reaction was their perception was theirs and how much of it was my self-consiousness reading into it. It made me feel funny that I was even concerned by it.

When I walk, I have trouble with people running into me. I get cut-off a lot. People race in front of me or around me, and I have trouble stopping on a dime. It usually does not upset me---I know people are in a hurry. Sometimes I wonder why people can't just spare me a second so as not to trip me up.

Now, when I am on the scooter, I am not in the way, but rather the other people are. I just need to learn how to navigate around cube-ville better. I slow around the corners and when I pass openings, but now that I am not at eye level, some people run into me.

One thing I don't like is people hoping on my scooter and going for a ride, as if it is a cute toy. I am suprised that people ask...and some just do it. I need to learn to say "No," a word I am not use to saying.

Taking a trip to the copy room and to the restroom requires much less effort these days. It is proving to be very useful at work.

Is this anything worth dwelling on, a new stage in my life? Or should calm acceptance rule?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Words and Stones

Last Saturday, 4/8/06, I was sitting on the edge of the deck watching the pups. The kids from the house in back of us were out.

The saw me, one was moving under the bushes to watch me. Since the bushes have been trimmed up, he was in plain sight, but he acted like I did not see him.

The other kids started calling me "retard"---I have been called that before, so that was not new. But then, they started throwing red rocks at me. Lots of rocks landed on out roof; I could here them rolling down. One landed right in back of me. I don't know if it was a direct hit or if it rolled off the roof.

A few weeks ago they were throwing smaller stuff and I asked them to stop. It just egged them on more. Eric had his friend Austin over a few weeks back. Both boys, but mostly Austin from what I could see, had been batting pinecones over into their yard. We told Eric that cannot happen anymore.

We drove around to the other culdesac and Jodie spoke with the dad. I think that will solve it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


When I was at Oregon State in the 80's, I had a column in the Daily Barometer titled Witticisms. It was my outlook on the world, with a bent toward light humor.

I miss writing a column. It ran every Friday, and I was paid just $7 a column, but I had a base of fans who use to let me know when I got it right.

I'll never forget the column I wrote for disability awareness week. I spent a long night writing, rewriting, and starting over again. I was ranting, raving and yelling at people. I didn't want to do that! I wanted to touch people.

Somewhere in the wee morning hours I felt my spine tingle. The Pepsi induced inspiration was pouring out my fingers. I wrote about a day in the life of my best buddy.

I have always identified with Mr. Magoo, rambling my way through a challenged filled world, and somehow making it to where I need to be, never aware of the odds against me.

People who knew me knew exactly who my "best buddy" was. I remember getting a call from the sports editor --- the sports guy --- praising me for the column. I didn't know those guys read anything but sports!

People who didn't know who I was probably thought it was just a nice story, but one that made them think.

I am hoping to use my new Blogger site "witticisms" as a way to get my juices flowing. I want to get a domain for it, but is taken. Hmmm...

Blind tech exec knocks down walls for disabled | CNET

Very cool story about technology aiding the blind.

He is amemmber of the British blind water skiing team...

Blind tech exec knocks down walls for disabled CNET

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life is good for us...but we feel like there is something more we should be doing.

My wife wants to be a speaker; I want to be a writer.

My wife manages over 20 support staff at a DHS Child Welfare office. Her days are so packed that she often does not realize that she has missed lunch. My job is as support at another Child Welfare branch as a IV-E Eligibility Specialist, as technical as it sounds.

At night I work on my computer at home, designing websites, reading blogs, and writing my own blog. I have designed a website for myself, for my son's scout pack, his football team, his baseball team, and our church. A couple years ago I had the inspiration to design and publish My idea was to provide a place to list the military and other personnel who are serving our country during this time of war---for the purposes of praying for them. I paid for "Traffic Blazer", used Google Ads, even have a small sign on my car, but I have not found a way to draw people to the site.

If I have learned anything, it's that web design is the easy part. I have become pretty adept at putting together sites using Mambo and Joomla, a open source content mangement system. Getting a site out there, making it interesting enough to draw people in...that is the hard part.

My wife is very busy with her job as office manager, but she misses the days when she was involved with Toastmasters. She loves giving speeches, and would like one day to speak on behalf of the disabled, to educate people on the needs, hopes and the dreams of the disabled.

For myself, I do need to return to writing. I spend way too much time spinning my wheels on playing with my websites. Even though I feel I have a lot to offer as a web designer, competition is fierce and finding the business is difficult. Writing, though, if I could get that going, I have a story to write that no one else has.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Scammed...I can't believe it!

If it sound's too good to be true, it probably is. I know that!

A couple weeks ago, in my quest to check out ways for my wife and I to get an accessible van, I stumbled across a Google ad regarding applying for federal grants for just about anything.

I submitted the information in my previous post regarding our situation and our desire to get a full size accessible van, along with my home and work phone numbers. I don't remember what other information I gave, but I know I did not give my ssn of checking account#.

Last week I received a call from work. This lady said that we easily qualified for a $5000 grant, and probably more. She then asked if I had a checking account, and if I could pay a $295 application fee.

I was so duped! I forgot to look at my phone screen to see if a number appeared. I don't think we get caller ID at work.

I just said, "No thank you," and I hung up.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Making our way....

My wife and I both have a physical disability. Cerebral palsy to be exact.

It has not stopped us from leading a pretty normal life. We each work, we have a house, a son, a couple dogs and a minivan. A pretty normal life.

My wife uses crutches. I walk without crutches, but my unsteady gait seems to be getting more so, complicated by back surgery a couple years ago. I now have some pain when a walk, especially when I stand still.

We don't complain, but we want to prepare ourselves for the next stage in our life.

A couple years ago we were able to get a doctor prescription for each of us to get a scooter. Insurance did not cover the whole cost, but they covered most of the cost. Their consideration was based on us needing the scooters at home, but our whole thought for the scooters outside the home, to allow us to go more places with our son and to do more with him.

Insurance would not cover any modifications to out van. We had a lift installed inside the van so we could carry my scooter. A short time later we had a lift installed outside the van so we could haul my wife's scooter.

It had gotten to be difficult for us to load and unload the scooters from our minivan, not to mention hauling the one scooter on the tailgate in the rain. Manuevering my scooter in and out of the back has gotten tricky. I have to pull it out with all my strength as I let it down. It has gotten to be pretty ackward for me to do.

We are thinkng that a full-size van with a rear lift would make our life that much easier.

Jodie and I visited Performance Mobility last week. I rode my scooter up a lift and into one of the vans. I asked the guy how much that van was. "Sixty five thousand," he said. Total sticker shock!