For this week’s Shabbat Smile, we are honored to share the poignant and personal story of disability advocate Guila Franklin Siegel, Associate Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC).
The ER geriatrician was matter-of-fact. “Your father has probably had mini-strokes. Usually we do a CT Scan to confirm the diagnosis but given your father’s cerebral palsy, we can’t immobilize his head to do the test. We likely have the right diagnosis, so we’ll discharge him with a prescription for blood thinners.”
In one moment, my father’s dual identities as a nursing home resident and a person living with cerebral palsy crashed head-on. Even at age 82 my father was still vulnerable to receiving inadequate care because of his disability.
My father’s cerebral palsy rendered his hands virtually unusable and resulted in head and neck spasms and an unsteady gait. Nevertheless, he graduated college and graduate school, spoke five languages, and had a long career as an urban planner. He used a typewriter, and then a computer, with his toes. He married my mother, also cerebral palsied, and had a daughter. He was intelligent, determined and had a wicked sense of humor. [continue reading…]