Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Senator DeMint

July 24, 2012

Dear Senator DeMint,

I want to thank you.

Thank you for blocking the Senate from ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sure, there’s bipartisan support for it proven by the fact that the U.S. signed the treaty way back in 2009. But why should the Senate waste its time on a document that calls for a better standard of living and greater accessibility for people with disabilities worldwide?

Thank you for helping the hospitality industry’s lobby groups push to extend the deadline for the installation of permanent lifts in every public pool. After all, fighting for fairness and equality for all just takes up too much time when it pertains to something as silly as swimming! Besides, how can the federal government expect these fancy-shmancy hotels to understand what a permanent lift is in just two years?

Thank you for working so hard for that $175,000.00 paycheck you receive from the American people, including those with disabilities.

Thank you for your efforts to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Thank you for holding back the progress of not only Americans with disabilities but also individuals worldwide. A legacy to truly be proud of!

Melissa Dinas

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Let's Go Swimming!...Maybe - Accessible Pools in Public Places

Public Pools and the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines the rights of people with disabilities and forbids discrimination of any kind towards this group. In 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to apply this regulation to public entities that offer a pool or spa, such as hotels, by requiring them to make these amenities accessible. 2 ½ years later we are still waiting.

Apparently 2 years is not enough time to sort out what exactly the government means when it says “pool lift” or “sloped entry”. So no swimming for you if you’re unable to get yourself in and out of a pool and there's no one around to help you, buster!

Thanks to hotel lobbyists, such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), who pushed hard to extend the deadline for compliance set forth by the DOJ and Senator Jim DeMint (R) who introduced a bill to do just that right before the previous deadline of March 17, 2012, the NEW, new deadline is January 31, 2012. To some people, I guess as long as THEY are not affected, accessibility doesn’t matter too much. Official deadlines for when these public entities were supposed to be in compliance have been extended repeatedly since 2010 – at least a half dozen times – even though these businesses were well aware that they were obligated to make these changes.

"Reasons" Against Making Pools Accessible

Some hoteliers who oppose the DOJ requirements threatened to close down their pool entirely or to fill in their spas. BOOO-HOOOO! WAH-WAH-WAH! You sound like a bunch of crybabies – “If you make me do that then I just won’t have a pool for ANYBODY!” The image of a two year old stomping his feet with his arms crossed and his bottom lip pouting springs to mind. Fine by me; lose ALL your business if that makes you happy… Another argument made by the competent and crafty hoteliers is that installing a permanent lift will increase their liability during times when there is no lifeguard on duty. UHHHHH, hold on a minute. Are you saying that able-bodied folk NEVER go in swimming pools outside of posted hours? DAMN those insolent handicapped rejects! Why can’t they obey the rules like their astute counterparts? You know, the normal people!

Family Ties

Imagine going on a family vacation with your children and leaving one of your kids at home or pool side or in the hotel room because they were too big for you to lift in and out of the pool. Imagine if your husband or wife was a quadriplegic and had limited use of their arms and couldn't help you help them get into the pool. Imagine if it was YOU; watching from the sidelines or just not even going at all!  This does not sound fair. It sounds miserable, depressing, demoralizing. To be treated as less-than, unimportant. Am I taking this too far? Really? My daughter’s ability to be able to socialize and vacation with her parents and brother is directly related to whether or not we can get her wheelchair where we are going. Read about when we were on a family vacation and couldn't get pizza and ice cream. Saying to her, “You can’t go to there because your wheelchair doesn’t fit there” is the same as saying “You’re not important enough to make a change that can open up your world”. Literally.

Any one of us (yes, even YOU, dear reader) could BECOME disabled by an accident or fall, sickness or aging; just because you weren't BORN disabled doesn't mean you never WILL be!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Keeping My JOY When Family Life is Difficult

I have been thinking a lot about joy lately. JOY. That’s not a word used very often today. We talk about being happy or good. “Yeah, I’m good.” But joyous? Doesn’t the word ‘joyous’ evoke something different inside you? When I think about how it is to be ‘joyous’ I feel like it’s something I really REALLY want; like it’s more than just being happy or content or fulfilled. Like it’s all three of those things plus more.

My emotions can be so up and down. One week, I feel empowered, optimistic, strong. I conquer the world, take care of the kids - one in a high chair and helpless, the other in a wheelchair and helpless - feeding them breakfast, lunch & dinner; entertaining them; developing lesson plans for home-schooling while on summer break; giving infusions and administering medications; scheduling all the doctor appointments for all the various doctors they each have. I cook; do the laundry; go to the grocery store; I try to be a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter.

Then, in a matter of a moment all of that rolls down the drain like dirty bath water and I am overwhelmed, feeble, exhausted. I can’t fathom getting organized enough to make myself coffee let alone getting breakfast going for the two of them. And then, when I have the both of them crying and needing my attention…? It’s all too easy to get sucked into the depressing role of the harried mom who hasn’t had a chance to shower, one needy baby on the hip, the other wanting to eat (but mom needs both hands free to feed her), the kitchen sink full of dishes and no food prepared for dinner for when hubby gets home from a long day’s work.  Just re-reading that is exasperating.


In 2007, I went through my “religious revolution”. I grew up catholic, went to catholic school K-8th grade, went to church, had my baptism, communion & confirmation like a good girl. After middle school we pretty much stopped going to church except for holidays but we were still believers, Pope-sters. But then, my daughter happened. A very uneventful pregnancy turned into a Nightmare on Hospital Road (the hospital she was born at is actually on such named road!). My just-barely-under-the-radar anger I had developed starting around the age of 15 or so exploded and I was on the attack against anyone, including God Himself. Oh, I cursed Him; hated Him. How could He let this happen?? What did I do?? What did SHE do??? Why, why, WHY?!? Long story short, I was very hateful and bitter and most of all depressed. A very deep and very real depression settled over me. It came in fast and furious, whooshing dust and dirt up around me in filthy clouds and like a betrothed lover, never left my side. It engulfed me. I walked this earth in the middle of this foul bubble; everyone could see me and I could see everyone else but I always had this grimy lens to look through. I always felt out of place. I would hear people laughing and see them having fun but I felt like I was juu- u- u-ust out of reach of having that for myself. This bubble would not let me out!
Then I finally opened the door to Jesus. He had been knocking and knocking, patiently waiting for me. And I felt brand new. Like a whole different person, truly. I wonder still how in the world did I survive all those years with so much pain in my heart. Truth be told, I almost didn’t. There was a close call in the middle there. But here I am still.


And I want to be joyous! I want to figure out a way to feel that joy as much as possible. During those “Why ME?!?” moments that can sometimes stretch into hours and days, I want to know how to find that joy. In John 16:22 we read that no one (or no circumstance) can take our joy from us. In other words, my life doesn’t have to work out the way I planned it to in order for me to be happy. Having two children with life-long chronic medical issues is upsetting, and there will be times that I will feel overwhelmed, but do I have to let it take my JOY from me? Can I let it go?

That’s a huge endeavor I’m asking of myself: let it go. Submit to God, bring my worries and anxiety to His altar and leave it there for Him to take. I think writing this is a beginning to me being able to do that. I work it out in my head and put it down on the proverbial paper. I also get some feedback from some of you and it’s a beginning.

So thanks for listening.