The Conill Institute for Chronic Illness Increasing awareness, knowledge and empathy Fri, 18 Jan 2013 01:02:24 +0000 en hourly 1 2013: A New Year Begins Fri, 18 Jan 2013 01:02:24 +0000 admin Read More]]> As promised in our last posting, you will find pictures here of the last presentation we gave in 2012.
The participants were 7th graders from Jenkintown middle school in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. They decorated the back of my wheelchair and for the holidays my chair was a Christmas tree! Stickers with meaningful messages were my ornaments.

Group picture after presentation

We meet in a circle...

Decorating my wheelchair...

No Staring please...just say hello or smile

Words, attitudes, actions send messages which may help or hurt.

or put yourself in my place,

Ask if you can help

Dr. C at presentation

My decorated chair/tree

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Wishing You and Yours a Healthy and Happy 2013 Mon, 31 Dec 2012 23:06:34 +0000 admin Read More]]> Early morning on the East Coast of the United States, electronic devices busily spewed audiovisuals from halfway around the planet heralding the new year. Thundering colors illuminating the sky, bubble filled clinking glasses, locking lips and embraces were openly on display. Privately prayers of gratitude and promises of change are whispered, written or spoken in silence.

Scenes such as those described above are repeated every 365 days. This is not a holiday celebrated because of individual religious or spiritual beliefs. For most, it is not a holy–day at all. Yet we are drawn in because on New Year’s Eve and Day, most of us set aside our differences and find commonality in celebration.

It is a clichéd statement that says “some see the glass half-empty and others half-full.” I have taken it further at times and asked “where’s the glass?” However, it would be disingenuous of me if I failed to mention there will be many who cannot find the proverbial glass tonight. There would not be enough room in this writing to list all of them so I’ll only mention one group that represents many. The many have lost something in the prior 365 days which will be irreplaceable.

In mid-December, the Institute did a small presentation at a local middle school to raise awareness about disabilities.
Although this is not at the center of our mission statement, this audience of young people ranging from kindergarten through high school has become one of my favorites. Pictures will follow in January so please check back!

Shortly after this event, 20 kindergartners and 6 adults were senselessly killed. Lives and innocence were lost. It was particularly jolting to me because I had just shared a wonderful experience with 20 innocent youngsters. So on this New Year’s Eve, I ask that we all take a moment to find gratitude for what we have and to recognize that in a moment everything can change.

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Quotation for the week 9/30/2012 Tue, 02 Oct 2012 23:26:24 +0000 admin You do not have a soul,
You are a soul.
You have a body.
–C. S. Lewis

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On the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001 we remember, we will never forget Wed, 12 Sep 2012 04:02:32 +0000 admin Read More]]> Below is a poem I wrote in the aftermath of 9/11/2001. Our freedom was threatened and some of our innocence was lost.


The fragility of our lives has surfaced.
There is no escaping it.
No easy way to avoid the images of shattered glass, seas of ash,
or anguished faces of men, women and children
searching for a loved one
who will never come home.

Fragile, breakable, transient.
It seems to me that the impermanence of life
would force us to never wander further than an arms-length
from the people we most love and cherish.
The words I have heard so many times before
Echo in my head…

“Never go to bed angry”
“Always say goodbye with a hug and a kiss”
How many people will always regret
not having done so
on the night of 9/10/01
or the morning of 9/11/01.

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Quotation for the week 9/7/2012 Sat, 08 Sep 2012 23:40:51 +0000 admin “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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Quotation for the week 8/24/2012 Sun, 26 Aug 2012 00:22:34 +0000 admin Read More]]> “Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms or books written in a foreign language.
Do not now look for the answers.
They can not be given to you because then you could not live them.
It is a question of experiencing everything.
You need to live the question.
Perhaps you will gradually without even noticing it,
one day find yourself experiencing the answer.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke (from Letters to a Young Poet)

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Life, Interrupted: Putting a Positive Spin on Cancer – Sun, 19 Aug 2012 01:02:07 +0000 admin Read More]]>

Another amazing piece by this writer. She speaks the truth in an eloquent and realistic way. I have often felt the same way and although I do not have cancer I do have a chronic, progressive, physically disabling illness that has taken its toll after 25 years. I recall being very seemingly optimistic and at times (albeit less often) I can find that resilience. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.

We do try to protect those we love and shelter them from fears we harbor. Although they likely have the same fears.
Perhaps it is time that we not label feelings simplistically as positive or negative. That would truly be a gift of honesty. Priceless in my view.

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Our Elders Facing Life With Chronic Illnesses Sat, 18 Aug 2012 22:04:35 +0000 admin Read More]]> More Older Adults With Multiple Problems –

I remember being very young and thinking only older people got sick. I was wrong about that. Illness can strike at any age. But getting older can be difficult in and of itself and facing life with increasing numbers of chronic illnesses only makes it more so. This is an issue which will confront all of us as individuals, families, communities and society. As this link to the New York Times health page indicates, it appears that our elders are now facing life with several chronic illnesses.

We have much to learn from those who have lived long lives and have stories to share. Stories that form a tapestry rich in historical detail, with depth and breadth of thoughts and emotions, with longevity likely to exceed their lifespan. And although chronic illness does not necessarily lead to physical disability, let us increase our awareness, knowledge and empathy toward our elders.

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Quotation for the week 8/17/2012 Fri, 17 Aug 2012 23:22:05 +0000 admin Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
Henry David Thoreau

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Freedom: A Different Point of View Wed, 04 Jul 2012 23:43:17 +0000 admin Read More]]>

Refreshingly honest piece.I’m grateful I never had cancer.She’s grateful she’s never been paralyzed.Both of us know losing freedom this way. Well worth reading today, July 4, Independence Day, when we celebrate the birth of our nation. Fireworks, flag-waving, cookouts and a day off from work are all part of the celebration. However, in silent moments, I am grateful for a promise; we are all created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Stay tuned for a larger piece of my mind coming soon!

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