The Fun Doctor

by Elizabeth Treston

What I first entered the exclusive club of spinal cord injury my girlfriends and I used to call the gynecologist the "fun doctor". The rationale behind it was that if you were seeing a gynecologist you were having sex. Well after I was first hurt, my first assumption (which is very wrong) was that I would not be having sex; therefore, the gynecologist was not on my list of doctors to see. I was more interested in finding out where I could get a new pair of glasses.

Mobile Women Dress for Pregnancy

by Cheryl Price


The period of time between discovering that you are pregnant and having that bundle of joy placed in your anxious arms consists of a whirlwind of events. You must plan and prepare a nursery, purchase baby clothes and supplies, perhaps register for those all-important baby necessities, and start budgeting for the new family member. While there is much to do, the most important task of all is to take good care of yourself throughout the pregnancy. Proper nutrition, getting plenty of rest and following doctor’s orders are paramount. As you move along in your pregnancy and begin taking care of these tasks and yourself, you notice that your body is changing. Before you know it, your belly is growing…a lot! You know what this means: it’s time to start maternity shopping!

Fashionable Yet Practical: London Clothing Company's Designs Have Women in Wheelchairs in Mind

by  Kelly Rouba

Ms. Wheelchair America Kristen McCosh is a firm believer in the old adage “If you look good, you feel good.” And it certainly shows. Whether she is making a public appearance, going to work, or even just working out at the gym, McCosh always looks her best.
“If I have some dingy, old clothes on, I won’t feel as motivated. So, I try to look good for the gym as well as work,” said McCosh, who resides in Massachusetts.

But, looking stylish is often easier said than done, especially when you have a disability that impairs your mobility. “Because you can’t stand up, you have to buy bigger sizes because you have to pull and tug because your body can’t just step into (the outfit),” said Susan Rotchy, who has a spinal cord injury and is the reigning Ms. Wheelchair California.

Chair Couture

by Amy Saffell

For years, women wheelchair users have had a decent share of options when it comes to wheelchair style and design, but primarily just in the frame of their chairs.  Popular choices include an array of colors from the wild and eye-popping to the classic and subdued and a host of patterns from sparkly to splattered.  Recent years have seen a rise in popularity of colored tires and lighted front wheels, but still there has been one major void in the evolution of wheelchair style:  upholstery.

Too Much to Ask

by Lori A. Wood

Today is a day like no other. Today is a day that could make or break your future with the company that you’ve worked so hard for. You’re about to make a presentation to the company’s president, the success of which might land you the cavernous corner office, luxurious company car, and enormous paychecks that you’ve dreamed about since you were an intern, burning the boss’s coffee and fighting with paper-jammed copiers.

Root Awakening

by Lori A. Wood

Like any ambulatory woman, those of us with disabilities know that maintaining a beauty regimen is hard work. The only difference is, we’re sometimes not the ones who actually do the work. The act of eliminating unwanted hair is part of this routine and is often done in private. Excess body hair, it seems, is regarded as a shameful and unclean characteristic, best dealt with in the solitary confines of one’s own home. Physical disability often necessitates a lack of modesty. Many of us who live with it require assistance in meeting our dressing, bathing and toileting needs. Just the thought of another person holding a razor to our body parts can be somewhat nerve-wracking. If his or her hand were to accidentally slip, or if the woman being shaven were to have a spasm in her arm or leg, she could be cut easily, an eventuality that she cannot control.

Baby Love

by Lori A. Wood

I love babies. In fact, at the sight of a toothless little grin that reveals adorably tiny dimples, I go positively weak in the knees. Also, I’m pretty sure that the intoxicating scent of a freshly bathed infant is a reasonably close facsimile of what the air in Heaven smells like.

When I was a little girl, I listened intently as my friends described the details of their fantasy weddings with meticulous precision. But, even as visions of the perfect gown floated through their minds, mine was occupied with a different kind of daydream. Even then, I was sure that I wanted to be a mother.

Often, if my family was seated next to a baby in a restaurant, my mom would go over and ask his or her parents to bring the infant over to our table, so that I could get a closer look at the little tyke. Usually, this request was graciously fulfilled, and I’d get my chance to visit with their precious bundle of joy. With each of the baby’s sweet gurgles and grunts, the desire to have a child of my own grew stronger.

By the time I was in high school, this desire consumed me. Every time I’d see a baby on television or passing by on the sidewalk, pangs of jealousy would suddenly flare up. I can’t wait to take care of a baby one day, I remember thinking. Will I ever have one? The moment the question would arise, I’d dismiss it. Of course you will, a voice in my head assured. Why wouldn’t you?

Breast Health: Be Informed, Be Resourceful and Be Persistent

by Wendy Crawford

It is easy to focus on health issues related to our specific disability, and to forget that there remain many other health challenges that everyone is vulnerable to, with age. Unfortunately, having a disability does not exempt us from other illnesses, including cancer.

As women, we must still take preventative measures when it comes to breast health although, for us, doing so can be more challenging. Women with disabilities often have less access to breast health services than any other group of women, according to the National Women's Health Information Center. Overall, women who are not disabled receive mammograms 11 percent more often than women with considerable limitations.

Answering the Call

by Lori A. Wood

What would you do if you found yourself completely alone in a medical emergency? Would you be desperately calling for help with none in sight? It’s an especially unpleasant thought for anyone with a disability to ponder, but, for one Florida woman, it became a terrifying and tragic reality.

On August 27, 2004, two weeks after her thirty-ninth birthday, Virginia “Ginny” Ellis, a quadriplegic, tragically died. Her mother, Barbara, details what happened:

My Experience with Bladder Augmentation

by Jenny Smith

The Process Begins

It all started with the catheters slipping off the leg bag that I kept tucked in my underwear at my right hip. I’d look down and see my pants wet from where the catheter would simply decide to slip off. After 16 years of having an indwelling catheter, I didn’t know why this was happening. No representatives from medical supply companies had any answers. After talking to another female quad with an indwelling, she told me she uses latex catheters because of the same thing happening to her. I tried the latex catheters. They were so tight that I could not easily change the bags myself. Yes, the catheter stayed on the bag…. just a little too well.

I moved to Arizona for two semesters during the 2005-2006 school year. It was there, at the University of Arizona, that I met Katie, a graduate student and female quad. I don’t know how the subject first surfaced, but I ended up learning from her about the stoma and bladder augmentation she had done several years prior that allows her to independently cath. This is procedure entails surgically making a small catheterizable stoma (hole) that is in the abdominal region and enlarging the bladder. Katie had the surgery due to recurrent UTIs due to an indwelling catheter. In my own mind, there was no reason for me to have this procedure done. Yes, it would be nice to not have the bag and to be able to wear the clothing I’d prefer. But I was independent in the bladder regimen I had, I rarely got UTIs, and I rarely had problems with leaking. Except for vanity’s sake, why fix what isn’t broken?

Ms. Wheelchair Maryland Promotes Self-Defense

by Kelly Rouba

Cathy Porter, Ms. Wheelchair Maryland 2007, is more than just a pretty face. She is also a woman of remarkable strength. And in an effort to carry out her platform, Porter is on a mission to help other wheelchair users learn self-defense techniques that could save their lives in the event of an attack.

“The most important thing, you’ve got to know is what your wheelchair can do,” said Porter, who has cerebral palsy and worked as an in-store security guard for over 16 years. “When somebody’s trying to take you down, you use that chair any way you can because they can’t move it.”

Knowing the strength of her own power wheelchair helped Porter to ward off a mugger when he attempted to steal her purse in her own neighborhood about three years ago. “He came up on my lap first and went nose-to-nose with me. And it really did scare me because, to tell you the truth, I never got attacked before, even working in the field of security, I never did,” Porter said.

Someone for Everyone?

by Lori Wood

It was 1994, and I was sitting in the commons area of the community college I was attending. I was a part-time student, and, between classes had over an hour for lunch. In the span of that time, about seven of us would congregate in the commons, listening to one another’s gripes about papers we had to write, or professors we wished we had known to avoid.

It was during one of these gripe sessions that I first saw him. This is probably the part where you expect me to describe his disarming good looks, or his winning smile. Truthfully, though, Pete* was not what you’d call “movie-star handsome.” What attracted me most to him was that he was just so darned nice to me, in a way that, as a young woman with a disability, I’d never experienced.

Sexual Selves

by Vicki McKenna, BA Lic Ac

Sexual Alchemy

Many of us who experience the combined effects of aging and disability may often have very little interest in sex - experiencing pain, fatigue and weakness affects our sexual drive. Furthermore sometimes, because doctors have treated us as a body part –a spinal injury, a good leg or a bad leg, we come to think of ourselves in this way rather than as sexual selves.

Women and Aging: Taking Care of Ourselves

by Vivian Silva, MSW/Gerontologist


What have you learned from the older women in your life? What is the best advice given to you about aging from the older women you know? Students in my class “Women in the Second Half of Life” at San Jose State University often ask me what they should know about becoming an older woman. Many admit fear regarding aging.

Perhaps they didn’t have a positive role model to learn from but I am able to give them information from the many women I’ve worked with for almost twenty years. Participants in my discussion groups such as Lady Guinevere’s Round Table and A Women’s Circle in Northern California senior centers engage in a variety of topics but for the purpose of this article, will share key points regarding ‘taking care of ourselves’ as we age.

Let Every Day be a Good Hair Day—Follow the Advice of Stylish Mobile Women

by Wendy Crawford and Cheryl Price

When you are sitting most of the time, there are some important points to remember for beautiful hair. Take the time to really think about what would work best for you. Decide on a great overall look, remember to be practical and resourceful, and the result will be a more beautifully-coifed you!

Color

There are so many options out there, it can be confusing – highlights, lowlights, color, rinses, etc. Unless you know what you are doing, it’s probably best to go to a professional who can help you choose a color compatible with your skin tone and who can best apply that color. The closer to your natural color, the less often you will need touch ups. Highlights show the least growth and only need to be done every 2-3 months. Since the top of your head is more visible than that of a standing person, it is a good idea to be diligent with touch ups. The right color can completely change your look, take off years and brighten your face. Don’t be afraid to give it a shot!