This past week in Washington, D.C., was another such chance to shed some of the concerns of daily living (don't know how I survived three days without being screamed at or screaming at anyone), be pampered by a hotel microcosm and enjoy having all my needs met within a square mile radius of the lobby (if not in the lobby).
We, the members of Brain Injury Voices, were afforded the opportunity to focus our energy and, yes, our voices on speaking about very personal issues with people we could normally not easily access. A very busy Sunday through Tuesday shaped up thusly:
- Flew in Sunday afternoon. Air travel gave us a good opportunity to get our routine coordinated -- me in a wheelchair while my left-hand entourage cared for my luggage (I'm one of the most physically disabled of the group).
- Sunday dinner in one of the Washington Hilton's excellent restaurants (paid for through the vast generosity of many donations).
- Early Monday morning breakfast and Hospital Award for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE) ceremony with members of the American Hospital Association. While delivered right in the hotel, this event did give me my first opportunity to ride on an escalator since my stroke. That personal achievement and our group's award are emblematic of all we've been able to accomplish in spite of (and because of) our brain injuries.
- Monday's lunch, also courtesy of the AHA, was most noteworthy for the keynote speech by "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg (more about that another time).
- Monday afternoon gave me and some members of the group a chance to talk with a representative of a disability insurance Political Action Committee. While I may have to walk a thin line of conflicted interest when it comes to disability advocacy, I've realized more and more how important and advantageous my unique perspective (as both a disability insurance claimant and employee)
- can be in influencing both public and private policy changes on brain injury, disability income protection, and return to work.
- Monday dinner was with the Brain Injury Association of America, which shed a lot of light on the need for work to bring attention to some of the unique challenges of brain injury (an often "invisible" condition) and build awareness toward easing those challenges, including the reauthorization of the TBI Act (which I didn't even know existed).
- Tuesday was our most politically-charged day -- a visit to Capitol Hill and meetings with staff from Senator Angus King's (I-ME) and Representative Chellie Pingree's (D-ME) offices, with about a mile-long walk and secret subway ride through the Congressional catacombs between lobbying sessions. These conversations renewed my faith in our political system.
Why is it we "practice" things like politics, law, medicine, and religion? Maybe because they're all activities without definitively successful outcomes? Parenting should definitely be added to that list. Hell, living, period, should be on the list. I, for one, am a practicing human being.
|My first attempt at a "Scalpie" in Senator King's office (not sure how he procured that sign).|
|Then I thought it might look better without the nose.|
|Proof of Legitimacy|
|We got everything we could have wished for, and more.|