Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

I’ll Take My Coffee in Liquid Form, Please

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 6:15 pm on Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recently I discovered a quite acceptable alternative to my favourite beverage, an iced mocha: chocolate-covered coffee beans! Popping a few of those yummies in my mouth was way easier than going out for a cold beverage. They were on the verge of becoming addictive until…

I bit into one that seemed as hard as a rock. It felt like a jagged piece scratched my gum, which I was aware of when I ate but I didn’t think any more of it.

A few days later the apparent scratch was still bugging me. I stuck in a finger to feel for the scratch and, much to my surprise, a tooth wiggled like a loose tooth. Huh? I didn’t dare try again to confirm in case I caused more damage. But, I had a sinking, panicky feeling that I had cracked or broken my back molar. Up until now, most of my dental work in my thirty-fifteen years has been done in hospital under general anaesthesia – an experience I have absolutely no desire of reliving.

Monday morning Darrell called the wheelchair repair guy to cancel the pick-up of his power wheelchair and put the repairs on hold for another week. We had to get to the dentist and couldn’t wait around for the guy to show up.

Thankfully the 5 centimetres of snow had not materialized overnight and, except for wishing power chairs came with onboard heaters, we made it to the dentist without incident.

After poking around in my mouth, the dentist, without saying a word to me, went out to Darrell to deliver the news. After living this game for 45 years, I should be used to people, particularly medical professionals, not speaking directly to me. But, it still hurts, still stings. I was on the verge of tears.

Just because you don’t understand me (due to a lack of even trying) does not mean I do not understand you. Speak directly to me, especially when it concerns me and my health.

I called for Darrell and we quickly corrected the dentist’s uncertainty of me being able to understand him.

The verdict, after four x-rays, which is not easy with shaky cerebral palsy and an over active gag reflex: one broken tooth and one cracked tooth. He was able to remove the broken hunk. Now I need that tooth crowned or extracted, and the other tooth filled or crowned. The Ministry does not cover crowns, of course.

i now need to find a dentist who can do the work in the office; again, tricky with athetoid cerebral palsy. Otherwise I face a hospitalization, which I really want to avoid if at all possible. I am all for facing one’s fears, but some are meant to be left alone and, based on previous experiences, being in hospital can be left in my distant past.

I have learned to stick with my coffee in cold, liquid form. It is less expensive and less terrifying that way.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Steve Jobs, Thank You for Contributing to My indePendence

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 6:55 pm on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

With the rest of the technologically innovative world, I am saddened by the passing, today, of Steve Jobs due to pancreatic cancer.

Damn cancer.

I have written many posts on how the iPad changed my life in a relatively short time; on how the iPad gave me an affordable, acceptable and cool communication device and how that has further opened the world and opportunities to me.

But one intended post I didn’t write – partly because I didn’t know how to express my sentiments and partly because I thought I still had time – was a thank you to Steve Jobs for his innovative vision and to the Apple Development Team for turning his vision into reality. 

Steve, your iPad gave me something that no other device has: a way to communicate with those who are not familiar with my unique accent Glenda-ish. I cannot find the words to express how grateful I am for that; something which others may brush off as insignificant, but, for me, is a life changer and hugely contributes to my independence.

And, I am not the only life you have changed with the iPad and other Apple devices. Because you were visionary enough to include accessibility in the product development phase, rather than as an afterthought, many people with disabilities have benefitted and have had their life changed.

For this, I thank you, a little too late. I just hope you knew, somehow, before today.

Thank you for your vision, for living your passion and for changing the world in the ways you did.

You will be missed.

(Please excuse any typos or other errors. Typing through tears  is difficult.)

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Some Small Things Are the Most Meaningful

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 3:03 pm on Sunday, August 7, 2011

While responding to a message in Facebook from a friend, a text chat message popped up:

“hi auntie glenda”

Auntie who? Oh, right, that’s me!

The message was from one of my young nieces now on Facebook. While we chatted about going camping, roasting marshmallows and shopping for makeup, I realized this was the first conversation I had had with my niece.

Every other time we’ve been together, which I can count on one hand with a couple of digits leftover (the tough part of having family spread out across Western Canada), a third person was needed to translate Glenda-ish for when I did say anything, which was typically little.

She and I now have a way to develop a connection and be “auntie and niece”. The most impressive aspect – and for which I am thankful – was she initiated the chat herself. A high water moment ensued while typing.

Auntie Glenda needs to brush up on near-teen conversation topics so as to no come across like she is playing Twenty Questions.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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When Disabilities Collide…Whip Out the iPad

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 5:38 pm on Friday, July 22, 2011

One day at university, many moons ago, I was heading towards the residence’s main door as a man with a white cane was coming out. He couldn’t see I was there and I couldn’t step to the side. We collided.

i ran over his foot. He was understandably surprised and bewildered by what had just crushed his foot. I felt awful.

Jokingly he said I owed him my name, at least, for running over him. A fair request I thought and I gave my first name.

Having been double-blessed with a significant speech impairment and a less-than-common name, he, of course, didn’t understand it, even after several attempts.

The alphabet card Since he hadn’t seen me in my scooter coming at him, whipping out my low-tech, no-battery-required alphabet card would have been futile.

Jack began saying the alphabet, “a b c d e f g”


“G? Okay. a b c d e f g h i j k l”


“g l?”


“a b c d e”

Five minutes later he had “Glenda”. We stayed on a first name basis. After a brief conversation of yes and no questions, he limped off on his way to class.

Since then I have given people with white canes and guide dogs a wide berth. I wasn’t avoiding them, not exactly. I was taking the easy route while minimizing inflicting personal harm.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago: while in Mississauga for work, I had the opportunity to meet Jennison Asuncion in person – a meeting I was apprehensive about because he is also visually impaired. I wanted to avoid running over another blind man.

Like so many relationships nowadays, we met somewhere online – Twitter, a web accessibility forum or elsewhere – at an unmemorable point in the past. Technology makes our disabilities compatible while interacting online.

It was the face-to-face interaction I was unsure about. However, Jennison was amazingly good at understanding Glenda-ish and, because we already had a certain degree of familiarity, of intimacy, we had a meaningful conversation.

Proloquo2Go ap on the iPadWhen he did get stuck on a word or when I wanted to give a somewhat longer response, I turned to the Proloquo2Go ap on my iPad and used the speak feature for the first time. As online, this iPad ap worked great in bridging our two disabilities.

Thanks to Jennison, I now know I am able to communicate with individuals with white canes or guide dogs. Future collisions of disabilities will be mitigated.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Chowing Down with Glenda

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 6:01 pm on Sunday, June 26, 2011

If I ever pass through this World again, I am coming back as a foodie — one who handles a knife and a fork with surgical precision to saviour each delicate morsel.

Much of our culture involves gathering with friends and acquaintances to enjoy a meal together. Depending upon the degree of friendship, this isn’t an enjoyable, relaxing activity for me. I am extremely self-conscious about how I eat. I am not graceful, and, sometimes, I am messy. I know that.

Over the years I have discovered some foods that are relatively Glenda-friendly: forkable pasta, like tortellini, penne and ravoli, are great; fish is also good because it breaks apart without needing a knife. Soups, forget it. Rice is easy to choke on, which tends to freak out people. Greek salads are fairly easy; green salads not so much.

In the past I was quite skillful at opting out of such gatherings, unless with close friends. More recently I have been trying to force myself out of that pattern, no matter how uncomfortable.

While in Austin earlier this year, a group of friends headed to a nearby burger joint. The whole way there I was dreading the meal. How was I going to manage a slippery, sloppy, overstuffed burger? (Not the kind in a tinfoil wrapper from the food court.) I was never relieved to find Grilled Cheese Sandwich on the menu!

Thank goodness iced coffees are all the rage right now; they are drinkable through straws without risk of burning my mouth. It makes “going for coffee” a nice starting point when getting together with new friends.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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