Sunday, February 23, 2020

Undergoing an MRI Scan with Physical Disabilities

Two days ago, I went to the Melbourne (Florida) location of University Center Imaging (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary) for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. The purpose of this procedure was to get a more detailed picture of a cyst in my abdomen. (The cyst is most likely non-cancerous, but to be on the safe side, I wanted to confirm this.) As a person with physical disabilities, having an MRI is challenging for me, but it was manageable with assistance from my dad and the imaging staff members' patience. While I was in a pre-exam room, one of the staff members told me I'd have to be transferred from my motorized wheelchair to an MRI-safe wheelchair. This wasn't necessary because my dad was able to carry me to the MRI table, but I wasn't aware of MRI-safe wheelchairs. They look similar to regular manual wheelchairs but are made of non-magnetic and non-ferromagnetic parts.

Before I went to the MRI room, an intravenous (IV) line was inserted into my left hand for an injection of contrast material, which makes images brighter and clearer. (Getting an IV isn't easy for me because my veins aren't very accessible.) If you're claustrophobic or your disability makes it difficult for you to stay still for more than a few minutes, you'll need to take a sedative before the MRI scan takes place. My dad placed me on the MRI table, and the technologists made final preparations. The movable table took me into the tube-like MRI machine. In an effort to stay relaxed, I kept my eyes closed during the scan, which took more than 30 minutes. Every once in a while, the table suddenly moved, and I often heard noises from the machine, but listening to country music through a headphone made the experience more pleasant.

An MRI scan is recommended for examining tumors and other abnormalities in your body. However, you shouldn't do this if you have certain metals in your body because the magnetic field would move them, possibly leading to internal damage. Verify with your doctor and the technologist that the metals inside you are MRI-safe. For more information, go to

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An MRI machine
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Monday, February 17, 2020

Remembering Presidents with Disabilities

Presidents Day, also known as Washington's Birthday, is a day to remember the men who held the top leadership position in the United States. Did you know 11 of them had a disability? Franklin D. Roosevelt used a wheelchair due to polio. His fifth cousin once removed Theodore Roosevelt wore glasses because he had a visual impairment from an eye injury during a boxing match. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy had learning disabilities. Ronald Reagan wore hearing aids because of a hearing impairment; so does Bill Clinton. James Madison was diagnosed with epilepsy. Abraham Lincoln (whose birthday was on February 12) had major depression and Marfan syndrome, a disorder affecting connective tissue. All of the above shows even a person with a disability can be president of the United States. For more information, go to

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Franklin D. Roosevelt with his dog Fala
and Ruthie Bie (a caretaker's daughter)
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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Product Spotlight: Xfinity X1 Eye Control

The telecommunications company Comcast offers customers with physical disabilities a web-based remote called Xfinity X1 eye control. This free feature is connected to the users' eye gaze system, enabling them to carry out TV-related tasks such as changing the channel and recording a show by looking at a button on the remote. With a service center for customers with disabilities, Comcast (also known as Xfinity) has made its products accessible in other ways. It introduced the first talking TV guide and a voice remote control and produced the first live entertainment program in U.S. history with video description for people with visual impairments. Comcast is the cable provider for which I monitor phone call recordings between sales agents and customers as a quality analyst for J.Lodge, a Cognosante company. For more information about Comcast and its Xfinity X1 eye control, go to

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Comcast logo
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Monday, February 3, 2020

Spotlight: Lily Rice

Lily Rice of Pembrokeshire, Wales, is a wheelchair motocross (WCMX) rider. She was born with hereditary spastic paraplegia, a disorder in which symptoms include weakness and stiffness of the legs. (Her mother has a milder form of the condition.) Rice received her first WCMX wheelchair right before her 13th birthday. She became the first European female to do a backflip in her wheelchair after only seven months. Last year, she won the Women's WCMX World Championships and was given the title of Young Sportswoman of the Year at the Welsh Sports Awards. Rice, who is also a swimmer and a student, was recently featured in a Community Voices video on Facebook. She and other WCMX riders along with adaptive skaters will participate in the 2020 ASF Adaptive Sports Jam February 14-16 in St. Petersburg, Florida. For more information about Rice, go to

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Lily Rice
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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Program Spotlight: C.H.A.N.C.E. Alert Card

Beginning on Saturday, February 1, residents and frequent visitors of Brevard County with autism, hearing impairment, and other communication disorders can sign up for a Citizen Has a Noticeable Crisis Episode (C.H.A.N.C.E.) Alert Card. The individual with a mental or neurological disability would show a law enforcement officer the card during an encounter to prevent confusion about how to communicate. Enrolling in this program may also help a missing special needs child or dependent adult be found more quickly. To obtain a C.H.A.N.C.E. Alert Card, one must fill out a registration form and turn it in along with a photo and supporting documents at one of the five Brevard County Sheriff precincts. For more information, go to

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Brevard County Sheriff's Office badge
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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Spotlight: Foundation Fighting Blindness

I recently saw a commercial for Foundation Fighting Blindness, which funds research specifically on retinal diseases such as achromatopsia, choroideremia, and macular degeneration. (Retinal diseases affect tissue on the back of the eye internally.) I spoke with a woman who has macular degeneration at a writer's guild meeting yesterday. Foundation Fighting Blindness has raised more than 760 million dollars since it was established in 1971. There are four chapters in Florida, including one in Orlando, where its 15th Annual VisionWalk will start at 9:00 A.M. on Sunday, April 19, at Cypress Grove Park. For more information about the Foundation, go to

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Foundation Fighting Blindness logo
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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Local Center for Independent Living Changes Name

Last year, the name of the Space Coast Center for Independent Living in Rockledge was changed to the Resource Center for Disability Solutions (RCDS). What didn't change in the organization's rebranding is its mission: "to inspire persons with disabilities to lead lives free of systems of self-imposed limitations and cultivate confident self-advocates." RCDS provides transition and transportation services, medical equipment, and technology tools among other services for free (monetary and equipment donations are accepted). It also gives referrals to other helpful organizations. Some clients participate in independent living skills, home modification, peer support, and advocacy programs. I've received home modification services and an amplified-volume telephone from the Center and plan to go back in the future. There's an RCDS office in Vero Beach as well. For more information, go to the new website

Resource Center for Disability Solutions
in Rockledge
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