The link below is an article that features my story enjoy and share with others “Sheila’s Dream”
The link below is an article that features my story enjoy and share with others “Sheila’s Dream”
It was about a week after I had returned from S.Korea when Master McCorry looks at me and says there was another call for you are you interested? I looked at him and asked what are they asking to do with me? He then makes a gesture of someone filming. How many days I asked with a little distress. One day he told me. Good I said because if they wanted more I’m not interested. The filming of my documentary was amazing but by the end of three weeks I was good to never be filmed again. He went on to tell me that a woman from a morning show called “Morning Wide” was interested as they were putting together a show on about Tae Kwon Do in America. He said she would be calling back within the week.
A half hour later a get a call from Ashley we talked for a few minutes and we agreed that she would send myself and the school an email about what the segment is about and what they were looking for from us. Over the next few weeks we spoke by phone and email as details changed and to setup the schedule. They were also interested in meeting my friends so I needed to figure out their availability as well. Finally, everything was agreed the filming would happen on March 19, 2012. The crew would meet me at my work at 5 pm from there they would film me going to Tae Kwon Do. We would stay at Tae Kwon Do from 5:30 until 7:30 and then my friends would come to my house for 8:00. At my house I would have an interview with the host and show them around and then my friends would be interviewed. That was the plan!
March 19, 2012 came quickly and before I knew it the film crew was here. I came down the stairs and I saw the crew outside. As soon as I came outside the host came right up to me and starting talking to me like we were old friends it was a little weird but I went along with it. I told her what my plans were for the night and invited her along. Just before leaving a colleague from the courthouse was coming into the building. Him and I talked a bit and they continued to film our conversation after they did a short interview with him. Then we were off to Tae Kwon Do.
Once we got their I changed into my uniform and went to help with the little ninja class. It was sparring tonight so we paired them up and let them spar. I’m not sure if this interaction was caught on film. When I called one of the kids up to spar he looked at me and pulled his hands up to his shoulders and laughed. I was a little surprised as I had never had this type of encounter with any of the kids at the schools in five years. I dealt with as I always would. I asked him if he would like someone to make fun of him and he said no. Then I talked to him about respect. The rest of the class went smoothly I worked with kids of different ages and we did free sparring and three step. Later I worked with one student on his forms. He did really well forgetting only a few things and so we went over them together.
After the children’s class they interviewed Master McCorry and then we got ready for the adult class. The host, Claire, joined in on the warm up which I lead and then we geared up for sparring. They filmed me throughout the class and interviewed some of the other student here or there. After sparring I ended up doing a short introductory session with Claire. This had been something that had been done with the other Tae Kwon Do schools they had visited here in the US. I walk her through how we started a class and then broke down some of the kicks. She did really and before I knew it time at Tae Kwon Do was done and I needed to meet up with my friends at the house.
When I got home two of my friends had already arrived and the filming started up to get the entering transition (LOL). Once in the house I had a few minutes to freshen up while they got the camera and lighting correct. Then it was rather informal conversation with Claire. We talked about my life, friends, family, and Tae Kwon Do. Then we moved on and filmed my friends and I talking. There were some prompted questions to keep us on target. It was pretty easy going. The director knew what she wanted and was sure to get it. When she decided we should sit in the kitchen there was no changing her mind and at times she was more interested in one of friends answers then another. Then it was time for them to go. They did say goodbye almost five times until they got the right shoot.
The filming experience was a little easier. First it was one day instead of three weeks. Second I’m learning how to hold my own. At one point in the arranging they got a bit pushy and I told them if that was there position then they could film someone else. They changed their tune real quick. Third everyone spoke English and spoke English when around me which was nice because I knew what was going on and what was being said the whole time. I have requested a copy and knowledge of when it will air in South Korea which should be before the summer Olympics. Until next time!
Day two we returned to Kukkiwon and I had the pleasure to meet with the president. He gave me a Letter of Commendation. In recognition of my outstanding contribution to the development and dissemination of Taekwondo. We then visited the open area that the testing took place in the day before and did a bit of filming. I had to do a little self advocacy with the filming crew as they wanted me walk around and then stand still for about ten minutes. After talking with then they understood why that was not going to happen. We then left to go to a local Tae Kwon Do school and spent the rest of the day there.
I was barely in the door and I was asked to speak. I introduced myself and said hello and then took a minute to set down my jacket. Then I spoke a bit on my life and Tae Kwon Do. The school had a demonstration planed for me and so I was able to sit an watch them. They did forms, breaking, and sparring. Then I was asked to do some Tae Kwon Do and I did some kicking drills, breaking, nun-chucks and sparred with them. Later we some lunch ad talked . Some of the students tried to teach me some Korean and tried to teach them some English. There was some interviewing of the the Master, students and myself. There was also a reporter and camera from a local T.V. Station who wanted to capture the day with me. There was a second class that I joined and that class was for students with disabilities. I joined the class as they were doing a basic class form that I was able to learned quickly and it was lot of fun. After the class some of the parents arrived and I performed my nun chucks. The day was lot of fun by the end I was very tired, sore and hungry.
That evening we had plans to eat Korean Barbecue at a local restaurant. By the time we got there I was very hungry and cranky. The film crew was taking forever to get going and it was cold outside. I went into the restaurant trying to get them moving along but that did not work. Then needed the coming and going. I went back outside annoyed and then back in hoping to eat soon. Next thing I know the camera is in my face again asking me what I thought of the place. I said it was nice. I was then asked is that all you have to say. I responded I am sore, tired, cranky, and hungry I will talk to you more after I eat. I bet that will make the film. Dinner was quick to arrive and I was given kimchi (Korean cabbage) I quickly put it aside knowing that I did not like it as I had tried it the day before. It was quickly questioned why I was not eating it and I explained that I did not like and therefore was not eating it. They did not seem to like that but did not push anymore. Momo was able to meet us for dinner which was great! Then we finished up our dinner and went back to the hotel. All and all dinner was really nice.
On the third and finally day we started the day with a visit to the Tae Kwon Do Promotion Federation. This was the group that funded the first documentary that I was a part in. There was a short business meeting and during that I was asked to write a short message to the Korean people. I was then asked to be a speaker at this summers International Tae Kwon Do camp which I accepted. We then got to see a short video about the Tae Kwon Do Park that is being built. It was a great meeting they gifted me some really nice things.
That afternoon we did some sightseeing. We tried to go to the palace but found out it was closed on Tuesdays. However, we did get to look around the front part of grounds and take some pictures. Then we went to the highest point in Seoul and got to see the whole city it was beautiful. There I learned about the locks of love. People come to this place lock the locks to the fence and write messages to there love ones. I left a lock for my family. Later we went to the largest out door market in Seoul. I was looking forward to getting a necklace for myself. The market place was a lot of fun and bit cold. Later in the day I meet up with a reporter from a Tae Kwon Do newspaper and did a short interview.
Before dinner there was the last formal interview in my room. This was an opportunity for the film crew to ask or follow up on last minute things. At first it was a short laid back interview. Quickly it became formal. They wanted me to sit here instead of there. They wanted me to sit this way instead of that way. It was frustrating because they wanted to sit in a way that was not comfortable for my body. I went with it because I knew it was important. There was one thing that I was not going to deal with and that them physically moving me around without being asked. My chair was being moved and then my body without words well without English words. At last I said to the producer if you want me to move would please ask me in English and I would be happy to do that. He then talk me the camera guy does not speak English how can you ask that. I looked at the producer and said I know he does not speak English I am asking you to speak English not him. He went silent a few minutes later he he asked me to move to the right. I looked at him and said thank you that was all that I was looking for. We then finished up and went to dinner.
My last night we went to a nice restaurant. One of the interesting things I found to happen while eating in Korea was that you did not order individual dishes. It seemed that things came as an appetizer would here and then everyone ate from everything. We ordered pizza that was very different. No sauce and it was on a very different kind of dough, but it was good. Dinner was nice and there was no filming! After dinner I meet up with Momo for drinks and dessert. It was nice to meet up with as I spent a lot of time with him while he was filming me in the US. Momo walked me back to the hotel and wished me good flight home. I went up to the room to pack up. As I packed I was having a hard time fitting everything in the suitcase as I was gifted a number of things over the last three days.
The following morning we went to the airport. I was was flying home on my know because Andrew had business and was staying. The flight home was just as nice as it was going there as I was on the same two story plane. Our flight home was a bit shorter 12 hours instead of 15. Unfortunately, it felt way longer probably because I slept less then the flight over. Before I knew it we were landing at JFK airport and then it was a short flight home to Boston. I did have a few hours in JFK before boarding for Boston. Once through customs I texted home and got my messages from my family. My sister Lisa and I talked for awhile about my trip and all the things going on while I was gone. I had a great trip but it great to be home!
When I look back I’m glad that I did it. There are some things I wish went differently. I wish there was more interpreting there for me. It seemed that there was interpreting only when when I directly needed to be spoken to. I realize this was probably because I was being filmed but it was frustrating for me. I understood hello, thank you and Sheila that is very little. The worst part was hearing my name all the time and not understanding what was being said. I spent my childhood with people whispering things about me and even though this was not the same it brought back some of those memories. I was there three days and going crazy not understanding things I have a new respect for people coming to the US without the language or the culture. I wish I had had a friend with me. Andrew was there as an agent and made sure that things went smoothly but it would of been more fun to share this whole experience with a friend or family member.
The documentary will be out soon. I’ll keep you posted.
US Filming (Part 2)
January 23, 2012
Today I got a little a down time which was needed. I had intended to do a training with Awareness and Action unfortunately I could get consent to have the filming with me advance and thought best not to go. I had given my consent to be apart of this and felt that I should not go places where I knew filming would not happen. Instead I kept my original day off and planned that we would do my formal interview that was needed anyways. I was happy to sleep in a bit and get rest as my knees where bothering me a bit. I ended up with the morning off as Momo was checking-in to things for filming for the evening. We all sat and had lunch and then there was setup for the interview. This took a fair amount of time and the location was chanced a few things before agreeing on the space. The most difficult thing about the interview was how they wanted me to sit. They were concerned about position and lighting I was concerned about comfort of my legs in particular which is something people do not always understand. The interview went well and then they filmed me reading which I thought was rather weird. Then I got the rest of the day to rest as they went to do the formal interview with Sandra and Master McCorry at Martial Arts.
That evening I had plans to hangout with my friend Zayda from work. We planned to meet up at the mall an go on the Jumpy Thing in the center of the mall. I had wanted to do this for sometime but had not got around to do it. It took us a little while to locate the man at the jumpy thing and then got setup. I was nervous at first as I had never done this before and I do not have a great like for heights. I held on tight at first and slowly got more comfortable with it. I did a bunch of bouncing and jumpy no big tricks. I did have a great deal of fun. There was a bit of screaming at first thou that ended quickly. After that we got a drink an headed home. We had planned to make some brownies but ended up doing hair and makeup which was really fun. I can not remember the last time I had done hair and makeup with a friend. We giggled and laughed a great deal that night. Then I got my picture taken. I was told to pose and stuff which had in a fit of giggles because it felt very weird.
January 24, 2012
Filming happen in the evening for me on this day. They had spent sometime filming the north shore because it was pretty warm that day. Also they were really not interested in filming any more meeting at work which was fine with me. I had a very important meeting at work that day and did not need the stress of the filming. At Tae Kwon Do that night there was to be an interview with one of the young students had been bullied at school. His mother was there as well and she was interviewed also. I did a small private with him going over forms, belt combinations and saw his new weapon he was learning. They leaned that he had some knowledge of chucks and wanted him to do the with me. This was uncomfortable on a few levels first I do chucks different then others and did not know if this would confuse him and second I realized he was just learning the chucks. Then there was the fact that he needed to get back to class. They had bee with him for sometime and it was important for him to rejoin class which he did. They then decided to interview his mom. This gave me a break.
I have to say at this point the filming was getting to me. It had been a week and everyday they were there with the camera. They wanted to know what we were doing next or they were trying to interview my friends and family while in the middle of things. Everyone seemed ok with it but I felt uncomfortable for them. I still had a week to go. It was at this point i remember why I had originally agreed to seven to ten days not to fourteen. Fourteen it was going to be and I just reminded myself that this would make a difference for other people.
The second class started an we broke up into groups. I was in the front part of the class with another teacher and we were working on forms with the students. This was a little nerve racking as do not usually lead a class and was getting the feeling that is what they wanted. I continued with want I usually do never the less. The next class was my usually class. They were very interested in me sparring and asked if we could do that tonight. I told them it was not up to me it was up to Sandra. As it turned out we were doing weapons and breaking that night which was fine with as I enjoy both of those things. They were excited to film both of these things. They also continued to randomly interview my friends in the middle of class which was a little uncomfortable. Class went well I did have a little trouble breaking the board with my hand but in the end I succeed. My hand hurt a bit and might have bruises in the morning but that was part of the process sometimes.
January 25, 2012
I have been told that I’m really going to Korea. This is exciting! I really wish they would confirm some details. Filming today is Tae Kwon Do again. They are interviewing another student and then I will have my regular Wednesday night class. The interview went really well. I learned that she had been bullied at school as well and did not know that before. She also told me that when I presented at her school last year it really made a difference for her to know that I was bullied when I was a child and that she was not alone. After the interview we joined the stretch and then there was class for her. We did kicking drills during class and I went around helped with kicked and tried to keep the students focused. My regular class was next. I learned just before that we would be sparring tonight which made me very happy. Then I learned that they wanted my friends to to wear a camera on their heads when sparring. I did not like this idea. I told Master McCorry hoping he would tell them no but he said I needed to tell them if I felt uncomfortable about the idea. I tried to convince him that it was a bad idea. That did not work. Finally I told him that I would not ask my friends to do that it made me feel uncomfortable. I understood it would get better shoots with the camera but people were here to do class not to do things differently because of me. So he had to film with the other camera. Class was great because we were sparring and moving around quickly there was no time for questions/interviews of me or my friends. I was free to focus on Tae Kwon Do and I really needed it. Work had been very stressful and I was not getting my usually stress relief at Tae Kwon Do because of the camera being there. After sparing there was some questions but I was too tired to care.
January 26, 2012
Today there were two things planned to be filmed today a presentation about HAWC at Endicott College and roller skating after work. I arrived a early for the presentation which is a norm for me. The filming guys were late and then I realized that I had given them the wrong address to the main entrance to the college. I started the presentation with a video and then went on to present. The filming arriving a few minutes into the video. The presentation went great I had candy and gifts to give out this made a good interaction between me and the group. I was throwing candy around the room without that much difficulty. After the presentation I had checked with the professor about and interview which he was agreeable to. Then all of a sudden he wants to film me driving on the campus. I understand the need to film the coming and going but he had ever asked this of me before when we planned the day. I needed to get back to work as I had many things to get done. He went without this filming as I went to work. I left feeling rushed that having the filming was keeping from doing my job properly, even thou it was not.
Everyone was getting sick at work which caused only a few to be able to go roller skating. I was fine with it but they kept asking me were are your friends it was annoying even if it was not meant that way. As it turned out my sister, nephew, dad, and two friends were able to come. When we arrived there were more issues because the rink was in use for lessons already. We were able to made it work for about a half hour which was good for me as I had not roller skated for a while. While waiting to figure things out we come to realize my old roller skating teacher was there doing lessons, small world. It was a lot of. It was a lot harder then I remember. I skated around with everyone and was having fun. Then Momo put this camera on my head which messed me all up. I was thinking and feeling that and within seconds I was on the ground. I also feel to the side that the micro phone was so it hurt more then it should with the little box on my hip. While there they interviewed friends and family all the while this not so bad because they all were there for filming so it did not feel weird. Until they tried to interview my old teacher. He was teaching lessons that did not feel ok to me. He was ok with the request and declined. His wife was there and did remember me and was interviewed for a few minutes. They wanted me apart of it as well I last only a few and left my legs were tired and I needed to sit down now!
After skating I decided to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things for my house party tomorrow. They seemed taken back by this expecting me to go tomorrow after work before the party. That seemed crazy to me because needed to be getting for the party at that point not going shopping. I ended up going shopping with Michelle because they really wanted to go with a friend. I guess it makes for better filming to have another with me. I think they thought I was going to prepare more for party. It was was a potluck this is how parties happen with us. I was a little stressed and grumpy with work so when asked about food I was quick that was not cooking. The shopping was fast. I am not sure if it was what he was looking for but did not really care.
I was scheduled to meet at 11am so I went to the office early to start to get things in order and have the time to leave the office for a few hours without issues. I already knew that I needed to know to set good boundaries as the film crew was already asking to film before we had our schedule meeting. I told them no. I meet with my supervisor to be clear on what could be filmed during work hours. We also discussed what time off I might needed because I was still waiting on the decision to send me to S. Korea. I had everything as organized as possible and to the meeting I went. We meet at the martial arts school with Andrew and the producer Momo.
They explained to me that the overall purpose of the documentary was educate youth about bullying and offer them inspiration towards improving themselves. The documentary would have four themes: my personal life including family and friends, my professional life including my work at HAWC and my motivational speaking, Tae Kwon Do accomplishments, and my trip to South Korea. We then went over the schedule for the next week. I spoke to them about my commitments at work and what things could filmed there. We worked out a schedule that worked for Master McCorry’s Martial Arts school. Last we discussed how to include my family and friends.
The filming ended up going on a little longer then I first thought. I had been told seven to ten days however they were here for fourteen. I think the best way to explain the two weeks is to reflect back on each day as best as I can. January 18, 2012 the filming started with and afternoon meeting with other advocates. We were meeting to discuss changes that we were making to our manual for the HAWC’s required training. My friends were great at work being willing to be filmed. They had me wear a microphone and then began filming it was a bit weird because the camera was at a distance one minute and then almost in our face in the next. Then there was light that I was told was not bright but it was in my opinion. They left after this meeting and meet me at my house after work. At the house they filmed me coming into the house and then getting ready for Tae Kwon Do. They were interested in simple tasks like eating dinner and cleaning up. They then filmed Tae Kwon Do I warmed up the class and then we did kicking drills. As they started to film I started to see how this filming going to play out. They filmed me along with other students. Then they were interested in impromptu informal interviews. They filmed Master McCorry asking him random questions along with other students and myself. Once class ended we all went home and they planned to film me getting ready for work the following morning.
January 19, 2012 I woke up and got showered and dressed. Then I waited for them to arrive. I thought they would be there for 8am however they were late. They arrived about twenty past at first they wanted me change back into my pjs but I explained them I needed to be at work in a half hour so that was not possible this morning. We agreed that we could do that part Saturday morning. It took them a few minutes to setup the camera and then got some breakfast, washed so dishes, brushed my teeth and a few other morning activities. There were several times when I was asked to repeat an action so they could get a better shot. The setting up and repeating of things seemed less real life to me. I guess I had this assumption that they would just film the day to day as is but I was learning that was not the case. This was explained to be the difference between reality tv and a documentary which is what we were doing.
Momo then drove with me to work that day. This allowed him to film me driving. We got to the office and I introduced him to everyone. They he asked to go back outside and come back in because it was important to film transitions. Everyone was cool with this and so I came back into the office as if it was first thing in the morning. The filming then captured a meeting with a volunteer. Then they interviewed HAWC’s executive director Candace. She offered I thought to see if the District Attorney’s Office would be interested in being interviewed as they do much around bullying and teasing. That after I had a personal presentation at Salem Hospital where I was talking around my experiences growing up within the medical field. The hospital was kind enough to allow this to be filmed. They filmed most of the presentation and then left and said they meet up with me later that afternoon. They needed to get permission from the pizza place for tonight’s dinner with my parents. We went to dinner at my favorite pizza place Santarpio’s in Peabody. My parents and I beat them there so we needed to reenact our arrival for the camera. My parents laughed when I had told them this might happen because the coming and going was important to film. We sat down and had some casual conversation at first. Then there some informal interview questions to both of my parents. The filming stopped for a time to eat and times we repeated stories that Momo wanted capture as we talked through the evening. Over all it was a nice evening.
January 20, 2012 on Friday there was only a little amount of filming done. Momo installed a small camera at my desk to capture things that I did throughout the day. I was able to get a hold of my friend Misty and was able to confirm that we could come down to the Cape on Sunday before the game. Misty’s son has TAR Syndrome as well and we hoped to have this trip work out. Throughout the day I tried to reach the roller skating ring so we could go skating unfortunately I was having no luck so we decided to just go and hope for the best. Throughout the day Momo was filming the Northshore and the Boston area in order to capture the area I grew up in. That night I meet them at the roller ring with a few friends. Unfortunately, when we arrived we found out that we could not film because it was open skate an far to many kids arounds and we could get releases if the kids got filmed. Despite the no filming we decided to go skating anyways. This would be only the second time in 15 years that I skated I was here with friends why not. We stayed for about an hour and a half had dinner and fun.
January 21, 2012
They arrived a little early to filming my morning routine. They had me wake up which had me in giggles at first. Then I got some breakfast and got ready to go to Tae Kwon Do. After getting changed they wanted me to put on different cloths that I had on earlier when they had filmed the morning routine. I explained we will be late for Tae Kwon Do if you want to do that and I do not want to be late. As it was it had snowed the night before and I still needed to clear the car off and that was going to take sometime. We all agreed it was time to go. I went out side turned on the car and started to clear it. It only took a few minutes since there was not a lot of snow. As the cleared they filmed me and asked me a few questions. I bringing to get use to the random questions during activities. They then filmed me driving a bit in the snow and wanted to do more however again I expressed that we were going to be late for class especially since it snowed last night. I got into there car and we went to class. We arrived late has I feared but not to late. We did a variety of things in Tae Kwon Do that morning forms, kicking drills, and belt combinations. They also did some impromptu interviews with some of the other students.
After Tae Kwon Do we went back to my house. I had collected pictures, awards, medical papers, school records etc from my childhood and they were interested in get all of that material. Also my friend Danielle was coming over for lunch. Danielle and I have been friends since I was maybe ten and she had told me how our friendship had made a positive impact on her life. When she was fourteen she had cancer and us being friends helped that experience. Danielle and I had a great lunch and I made her food which might of been the first time ever. She was then interviewed and talked about our friendship when I heard her speak about me it brought tears to my eyes.
Later that evening I went to Drum and Dance with my mom. This is a spiritual space for me and many of my friends. I checked first to see if it was alright to have some filming done. It was decided it was fine conditions. Momo would not be able to use the light because it was to bright and it would only be allowed for about a half hour. We had a small group that night probably because of the snow. It was very enjoyable for me. Momo did not seem to getting the footage that he would of liked because the room was rather dark. Nothing could change that because this was community space was not all about me. I think of all the filming this was the place that I had most nervousness about because I did want disrupt others. There was opportunity for and interview but Momo left before the end and missed the chance.
January 22, 2012
We got up really early to get to the Cape by 9am to visit with Misty’s family. We had plans to join Michael at his Kung Fu class. I had been excited to learn that Michael was involved with martial arts and was loving it. Michael has TAR Syndrome as well I had meet the family through Shriners about five years ago and we became close friends. Michael’s leg problem were different then mine and so he is still learning to be able to walk. This weekend I was able to see him walk for the first time and this was very exciting. Michael Kung Fu class was a lot of fun I learned that I knew a lot more about Kung Fu then I realized. After the class ended Michael and I worked together to see how each of our styles could help the other. Then we went back to house to have lunch and hangout. Michael showed me how played video games using one hand and his chin. I realized that this worked out pretty well. Momo then interviewed Misty and Johnny about our friendship. He also interviewed Michael as well. Over all it was a great day. Shortly before the football game we drove home.
The last month has been a bit of a whirl wind. January 11, 2012 a call came into Bruce McCorry’s Martial Arts from S. Korea and they wanted to speak to me. Later that night I spoke with them and it turns out that there was a coming attractions to a documentary that myself and our school were figured in and people were really interested in my story. They wanted to produce a five part series documentary on my life featuring me here in the United States and then going to visit S.Korea. They were very eager and wanted an answer immediately however I thought it best to think it through and check with other people who would be affected by my choice as well e.i. Friends, family, and work.
The following day I started to speak to work, friends, family and called Andrew. Andrew worked with me on the prior documentary and was friendly and knowledgeable about the system. As soon as I called him he was quick to help I gave him the contact info to the people calling me and he said that he would check into things for me and would be in touch. Meanwhile friends and family were on board and excited for me. I was a bit hesitate as I wanted the full picture before I made a decision either way. Andrew became my agent immediately and had conversation on my behalf so I could truly understand what they wanted from me. In the end I agreed to the filming and they were set to arrive Tuesday night January 17, 2012. At this point I was aware that they wanted to film me doing everyday life with my friends, family, work and Tae Kwon Do. It was not as much detail as I would of like but it was enough for now. We were set to meet with the filming crew Wednesday morning January 18, 2012 to setup a schedule for the next 7-10 days.
At a very young age I was giving a tool that was the beginning of myself independence it was my hook my parents understood the importance of me becoming very independent and they decided they would take a broom and cut it down which ended up being about 21 inches and they took a metal hanger and they cut it down formed it into a hook and then put it into the end of the stick that is what became what I call my hook and later many of my doctors and therapists called my dressing stick it was not always easy to use my hook nor did I always want to use my hook. No one was able to truly teach me how to use my hook because their theories didn’t always work for my reality . Therefore I needed to figure it out on my own and that took time I struggled at first because I needed to figure out how to make this hook help me be able to pull up my pants. It didn’t always work when I slid into the lining of the pants I needed to roll it sometimes or not just use my hand when holding the hook with time I realized it was a combination of my hand and my chin and figuring out where just right was when trying to dress.
As much as my hook gave me independent . It also required me to rely on it and I didn’t always like that I remember when I was a kid deciding that I was going to figure out how to put my pajama pants on without my hook. I was on the floor in the back bedroom of my grandparents house and I decided that I can reach or maybe I could wiggle and somehow this would work. It did work it took a lot of effort and I think I gave myself a pulled muscle here and there but I succeeded in being able to pull up the pajamas pants by being very flexible and wiggling. That success made me feel so good because I realized that there were times that I could do something without my hook and that mattered a lot to me. As my preteen years came and I started really not liking my Hook and it came to the point that I stopped just hiding my hook when I have to go to the restroom at school to just deciding that I didn’t need to go to the bathroom until I got home. The thing that really made me ask my parents to do something different with my hook was sleepovers I was at the age where sleepovers were important. I used to go to the YWCA as the time and they were doing different sleepovers and now there was no way to not go to the bathroom anywhere but home and I decided that I needed a travel hook because this hook didn’t fit in my backpack at least that’s what I told my parents.
I remember the two trial hooks. The first one looks just like a ruler. It was flat and it folded up which I thought would be perfect. Unfortunately when I took it to the sleep over and tried to use it is extremely difficult and I needed to ask for some help which is really embarrassing I learned that was important to make sure that it works just right before leaving the house. The second hook was made of metal and had a spring in it. The idea was that you pushed down it to made it longer and pushed down on it to close it down. In theory it was great in practice not so good. When I went to use it I pushed down on it a bit hard and before I knew it the spring sprung out of the metal and I jumped under the bed. Back to the drawing board my dad went and the third one was prefect.
The hook I use today is a cylinder made of aluminum which is collapsible into three sizes 7, 14,or 21 inches. It fits in my purse very easily and is very light. Through the years I have grown to accept my hook as an extension of me. I’m no longer embarrassed by my hook nor do I try to hide it when I have to use the restroom in a public place. My hook has given me independence that would never have been possible without it. Now when someone sees my hook I’m open to questions and see it as an opportunity to educate another about disability.