Taking a Stab at an Unknown Sport - The Exciting Strategy of Wheelchair Fencing!

By Kara Aiello
Fencer, Ellen Geddes
At age 27, Ellen Geddes is a fierce competitor, and after interviewing her before she headed off to Eger Hungary for the 2015 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships, I came away with that impression.  A fast and athletic sport for sure, wheelchair fencing is as strategic as for those without disabilities, except for the fact that the wheelchairs are hooked into a frame so the competitors cannot move. Other than that, says Ms. Geddes, the blade work is the same.
Getting introduced to the sport by chance, Ms. Geddes came to learn about Fencing after she was injured in a June 2011 car accident and now lives with a complete spinal cord injury level T-10. Upon her time in rehab in Atlanta, GA at the Shepherd Center, she was approached by the Shepherd Fencing Team Captain Dennis Aspy who was practicing at the same gym and asked her if she would like to hold a sword and stab some people. I guess one could say, Ms. Geddes was interested. So in 2012 she began her fencing career, qualified for her first Wheelchair World Championship Team, won her first medal in 2014 on the World Cup circuit in Montreal, and has not looked back.  
Geddes in action at 2015 Wheelchair World Championship, Photo Credit: Ginny Boydston/USA Fencing

Rolling Under the Tuscan Sun

By Wendy Crawford

View from our villa

Last year I had, let's just say, a landmark birthday. I realized that life has been flying by too quickly so I decided to plan a trip to a place that I have always wanted to visit – Tuscany. I happen to come across a villa that looked as though it was wheelchair accessible and the planning started from there. I thought that organizing the trip would be simple so I decided to plan it myself. Stating it was a tremendous amount of work to coordinate is a huge understatement, and next time I think it would be wise to use a travel agent specialized in working with people with disabilities (see resources below).

There were five of us traveling, leaving from three different airports and two countries, so just getting the timing down so we would all arrive close together was no picnic. We decided to fly to Florence, Italy and spend three days there first, since it was only an hour away from the villa that I had discovered.The only problem was that we could not get a direct flight from the U.S. so we had to fly first to Frankfurt, Germany and then had a four-hour layover there before our one-hour flight to Florence. We made certain that we had seats in a row on the plane where the armrest raised up so I could lie across my husband and friend's laps to get a break from sitting. It was fairly comfortable, surprisingly for me, but probably not for them! (Note: My doctor recommended that I take a baby aspirin (81 mg) once per day for the five days prior to my flight and one on the day of the flight. Also, I wore compression stockings, which I don't usually wear but I think was very beneficial on the long flight, as my feet only had minimal swelling.)

The Intersection of Disability and Menopause

By Gemma Fletcher

Menopause is a difficult time for most women, but for women with disabilities, there's more to the story. The symptoms and problems that go along with this stage of life are compounded by the fact that some disabilities and chronic diseases are affected by menopause in unexpected ways.

Women and Menopause

The most well-known symptom is the hot flashes that most menopausal women experience, but there are many others: depression and other emotional disturbances, migraines, palpitations, insomnia, weight fluctuation, night sweats, dizziness, memory loss, and bladder and urinary problems.
For women with disabilities, there are additional problems to contend with. Depending on the nature of her disability, a woman may experience more severe bladder problems, lower tolerance to heat, poor circulation, and skin problems. For women with chronic diseases, menopause may lead to an accelerated progress of disease or a worsening of symptoms.