Thursday, August 30, 2012

The New Normal

It has been a whirlwind! Oh my gosh! I have moved into an apartment. I have started my internship at Easter Seals. I have...whoa...let's just start with those two enormous events!

I am so blessed to have an unbelievable apartment. It is so spacious and incredibly accessible. We had to look at so many places before we found the perfect one. It is a condo in the suburbs of Chicago. I'll take about the 800 pound gorilla now sitting on your keyboard. Why does a 22 year old get a luxurious apartment? The answer is that I genuinely need space to move around; room for my equipment such as, my wheelchair charger, my DynaVox charger, and the bathroom needs to accommodate grab bars, and room for my assistant and I to successfully complete personal care tasks. Although I authentically need space, I never imagined an apartment this amazing. I'm beyond grateful.

Now, let's talks about my assistants. It's the same but not really. I have five women working for me at the moment. They all have shifts. They come in and help with getting me dressed, meals, and whatever else I need done that day. However, because I don't live next to an RA like I did in college, I have a roommate. I was incredibly hesitant to have a roommate because I have so little privacy as it is that I was nervous about losing even more privacy. I really haven't lost any privacy. I have my room. My roommate has her room. It's all good. My roommate is mostly there for safety reasons. However, I can also ask her for a snack or for her to take me to the restroom when I don't have an assistant on duty. Could I ask her to help me decorate my room while she isn't on duty? No. She is there for safety and basic needs when she is not on duty.

My roommate for the summer was an assistant and friend from school. Her name is Aislin and she knew I was very nervous about the transition and having a roommate.  She has such a calming presence and I really needed that. I was so nervous because apartment living does not have a stereotype or structure whereas college does. You see college on TV, in newspapers, on the internet, etc. Due to that, I had an idea of what to expect. Conversely, apartment living is quite abstract. I didn't know what to expect. I knew I would need to go grocery shopping but what else would I need? Well, I sure learned. For example, I learned on my second day living in an apartment that hand soap does not magically appear in the bathroom--that and toilet paper. I had my fill of learning moments. Aislin was so understanding throughout the entire summer. We had fun together (i.e. having pancakes at 10:30pm because we were both hungry).

Unfortunately, Aislin couldn't stay forever. I have the pleasure of living with Stefania now. Stefania became my assistant this February and I had casually mentioned the idea to her and it was meant to be. She moved in last weekend and has been so much fun to live with. Along with Stefania and Aislin, I also have Jen and Laura. Laura takes great care of me and Jen is a Phi Mu and we laugh the entire time together.

Speaking of wonderful people in my life, Kim has been my assistant for four years as of August 27th. I am beyond grateful for her for reasons that are tangible but most of the reasons I've grateful for her are intangible and unexplainable. Most of you have seen us in action and its love at its very best.

Easter Seals has been so good to me. I am working with the most understanding people in the world. It's been a bumpy start due to technological failures and very frustrating circumstances but they keep an incredible upbeat and easygoing attitude. I am so grateful for them. Their kindness is like a ray of sun. For example, when I sneeze they say, "God bless you" then blow my nose for me. It's those simple gestures that make Easter Seals so special.

It hasn't been rainbows and unicorns. It's been messy sometimes and very stressful. My mom and dad have been through every moment of frustration, anxiety, fear but they have also seen their daughter living her dream. When my "new normal" becomes normal, the rainbows and unicorns will come but till then I have Mom and Dad.

I have talked your ear off...but you are hopefully enjoying a respite from work or the kids. That is what my blog posts are--good stories. That is my goal each month, to make you laugh, cry, think, and of course, smile! 

Love,
Hannah

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