Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Cindy McCain Takes Migraines to the Disability Forefront

Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain relaxes in her home in Phoenix, AZ. Image via Neurology Now May/June 2010 (Vol. 6, Iss. 3, p. 17)

Over the course of the past year, Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, has spoken out, raised awareness, and even championed for a cure (a cure she promised would happen in her lifetime at the 14 Congress of the International Headache Society last August) for migraines. Through the course of speaking publicly about her migraines, Mrs. McCain has candidly referred to the condition as a “disability.”

What some media sources have called her “coming out”, Mrs. McCain’s public speaking on her migraine condition signified a monumental step for the poised Senator’s wife, who hadn’t even told her husband about her condition until 10 years ago.

Mrs. McCain’s secretive tendencies over her condition were spurned in large part to a borrage of doctors failing to take her severe headaches seriously, often labeling her a neurotic, over-stressed, and worthy of a simple aspirin remedy. As Mrs. McCain weighs in in an interview with Neurology Now (May/June 2010, Vol. 6, Iss. 3), “If I — as a prominent person — was being brushed off by doctors, what about the mother of four in a small rural community whose migraines are never taken seriously?”

During her public speaking, Mrs. McCain has spoken openly about remembering her grandmother suffering from “headaches,” a fact she and her doctor believe is an indicator of the genetic component of her migraines. McCain’s grandmother died before McCain was officially diagnosed with migraines. In fact, Mrs. McCain wasn’t diagnosed until she was 40, a decade after her migraines had actually developed, following her hysterectomy. Studies have shown that hormonal changes can bring about on migraines. McCain own migraines are accompanied by excruciating pain, auras, ringing in her ears, nausea, and even temporary loss of eye sight. All these symptons have been known to be linked to stroke in women, who are three times more likely to have them than men.

The financial implications of the costs of treatment for migraines cannot be ignored as its staggering expenses equally competes with the financial costs to that of some widely recognized disabilities. Mrs. McCain campaigned with these statistics at Capital hill last year, citing that migraine sufferers spent $20 billion dollars a year in lost work time and medical expenses; this compared to the $13 million dollars spent by Congress to research the “disease.” The World Health Organization also estimates that migraines cause more lost years of healthly life in the United States annually than multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ovarian cancer, and tuberculosis combines. These kinds of staggering estimates means that research dollars spent on the aforementioned disorders is more than 117 times greater than that spent on migraine research (Childers, p 18)

McCain stresses that while treatment for migraines has advanced significantly over the past ten years, the bigger battle to receving appropriate treament is proper diagnosis.

You can read more on migraines and McCain’s efforts for public awareness on the condition in her interview with Neurology Now, either via this article page (a printable version of the article is also available via this page), or in its printed format in Neurology Now, May/June 2010 Vol. 6 Iss. 3 (pg. 16-19).

For more information on migraines, what they are, how this affects disabilty rights, and where to turn to for help, visit M.A.G.N.U.M. or simply type in your web browser.

Editors Note:
According to Dr. David, Dodick, M.D., professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, A.Z., in an interview in Neurology Now (May/June 2010), a migraine is a headache usually described as “throbbing” or “pulsing”. It most commonly occurs on one side of the head and is felt to be coming from behind the eye., temple, or ear. Migraines can last anywhere from four to 72 hours. Some of the most common symptoms associates with migraines include sensitivity to light (photophobia) and/or sound (phonophobia), nausea, and vomiting.

For more information on the condition, or to find a neurologist or specialist skilled in diagnosis and management of headache disorders, contact the “American Headache Society ( or 856-423-0043) or the American Council on Headache Education ( You can also search online with the American Academy of Neurology’s “Find a Neurologist” tool at

Sound & Fury: The Cochlear Implant Debate

Part of being a part of the deaf community is that, well…its members are deaf. What qualifies as a level of being deaf isn’t just a consideration that professionals and legislators must consider when formulating laws and accommodations. This qualification has also come under heated discussion as the deaf community considers these implications of hearing on deaf culture. What has really spurned on this heated topic of discussion is the development of cochlear implant technology.

To sum up the whole of the topic of debate would be impossible. Everything from considerations of “Who has the right to make the decision? The child or the parent?” to “If I can hear, does that still make me deaf?” and everything in between would be a good place to begin pondering. In short, many deaf have bombarded the internet with blog posts, website, videoblogs, and more with their opinion on the situation, many even boldly declaring that to have an implant is to be ashamed of or in a great way turning against the deaf community and its deaf culture. Others still argue that if the technology is there, why shouldn’t parents make the decision to give their deaf child an opportunity to be a member of the hearing world. The internet is literally peppered with the writings of experts stating that the very cohesiveness of deaf culture depends on the continuity of sign language, which is virtually destroyed with the use of cochlear implants.

The debate is wide and varied. And certainly to weigh in on the great whole of an issue that is so very personal and individual would be wrong. But the two video’s below cast an interesting light on the issue.

“Sound & Fury” follows two brothers as they make the decision for their deaf children on whether or not to get the cochlear implant. The documentary explores the interesting dilemma faced as one brother who is hearing makes the decision to have the implant surgery peformed on his deaf son, while the other brother who is deaf faces quite the conundrum when his deaf daughter asks for the implant that he is so adamantly opposed.

Aside from exploring the issue of hearing and the medical concerns that each brother faces in regards to the procedure and the implant, the audience is also treated to an insight into the family dynamic of a mother who wants no part of having a deaf child as she bitterly resents her own childhood being raised by deaf parents, grandparents who, by the way, think that nothing could be worse than making their blessedly deaf grandson hearing. Issues of culture are also explored from several points of view.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sound & Fury: Part 1, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sound & Fury: Part II, posted with vodpod

The full PBS Documentary can be ordered here. The PBS Sound & Fury website also has links to resources on deaf culture, history, and follow-ups on the family; available here.

Color Confusion…A “Did You Know” Service Announcement

Known as the Stroop Effect, after its inventor John Ridley Stroop (1935), the “trick” below is a bit of a colorful brain twister. The color names below are written in a variety of colors. Try reading the list out loud, as fast as you can. It’s harder than it looks. Your brain subsequently becomes confused because of the difference between reading the word and naming the color. Psychologists call the phenomenon interference.

Now try naming the colors of the words out loud, as fast as you can. Ignoring what the words say and paying attention only to the actual colors is a task most people find more difficult. It is harder to supress out well trained impulses to read what the word says–psychologists call this response inhibition. With practice the task gets easier, demonstrating our brain’s incredible ability to rewire itself.

Color Confusion

Want to take this brain twister a step further?

  1. Find the six words that correctly name the actual color the word is written in.
  2. Find the 12 words that correctly name the color of the following word or preceding word. Note: Consider that the word at the end of one line is followed by the word at the beginning of the next line.

Does your brain hurt yet? A color match game based on the Stroop Effect can be played on the game site While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the site’s other brain games and read interesting articles on how the brain works and tips for brain training.

Kim, Scott. “Color Confusion.” Neurology Now 6.3 (2010): 10. Print.

Medical Breakthrough Restores Sight to the Blind

Doctors have successfully restored sight to individuals blinded by burns by implanting the individual’s own stem cells directly into the eyes. More from this Dateline with Diane Sawyer news broadcast:

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Medical Breakthrough: Restoring Sight To The Bl…, posted with vodpod

The Sparkle Effect

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Pepsi Refresh: The Sparkle Effect, posted with vodpod

Visit The Sparkle Effect website for more information on the organization and how to get involved.

Miles Mendenhall from Bravo’s Work of Art

Bravo’s Project Runway inspired reality competition Work of Art: The Next Great Artist has delivered what promises to be a season chock full of amazing art, tempertantrums, and just plain bizarre personalities. One young favorite, Miles Mendenhall (23), a printmaker and installation artist from just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, is among them. Below is his Bravo bio video for the show, but what he doesn’t mention in this video that he does later discuss in episode one (available on Hulu) is that Miles has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

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Miles Bio Video for Bravo’s Work of Art, posted with vodpod

Mendenhall attended the University of Minnesota, though there are some conflicting reports on whether or not he actually graduated. In any case, Mendenhall is an artistic personality worth noting as the University published a video interview on his opinion on art history and where reality tv fits in the larger picture of art history on thier YouTube channel. That video can be seen below:

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Miles Mendenhall on Art History and Reality TV, posted with vodpod


While we look forward to seeing more of Mendenhall’s works on the show (in the first episode he makes a screen print in the style of death photography in a portayal of the inner essence of one of his fellow contestants), a few of his pieces can be seen below:

Examples of Miles Mendenhall’s works via

Check out Miles Mendenhall’s website for more examples of his screenprinted works.

Contestants of the show, Work of Art, are currently competing for a chance at $100,000 and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum.

America’s Got Talent: Connor Doran

Epilepsy, also commonly known as a seizure disorder, is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system and a variety of mental and physical functions. The seizures in epiliepsy may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but in most cases the cause is unknown. The word “epilepsy” does not indicate anything about the cause of the person’s seizures, what type they are, or how severe they are.

A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. One in ten adults will have a seizure sometime during their life. [Via]

With that said, meet Connor Doran. Connor is a contestant on America’s Got Talent. As a young child Connor was diagnosed with epilepsy, a prognosis his doctors saw, as he and his mother describe, as being bleak. Connor, however, found a way to focus his hardships with epilepsy into something unique and beautiful — he began indoor kite flying. The video (below) is his performance for America’s Got Talent set to the music of Sarah McLachlan’s Angel.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "America’s Got Talent: Connor Doran In…", posted with vodpod

For more information on Epilepsy, visit the Epilepsy Foundation.

Jewish Disabilities…A “Did You Know” Service Announcement

Jewish Disabilities Yellow Badge

Image via search on Wikipedia

Did you know…

Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jewish persons in the Middle Ages. These restrictions included provisions requiring Jewish persons to wear specific and identifying clothing, such as the Jewish cap (Jewish males were required to wear while outside the ghetto in order to distinguish them from others) and the yellow badge (a cloth badge also worn to mark the individual as Jewish and intended to shame them). Other provisions included restricting the Jewish to certain cities and towns or within certain areas of town, called ghettos. Jewish individuals were even restricted from entering into certain trades.

Disabilities also included levying special taxes, exclusion from public life, and restraints on the performances of religious ceremonies.

Some countries took Disabilities even further, completely expelling Jews from their country. England, for example, expelled the Jewish community from its island, only readmitting Jews in 1665. Jews were also expelled from Spain in 1492 and were readmitted in 1868.

The Disabilities were lifted in the late 18th and 19th century, Revolutionary France being the first country to abolish them all together in 1791. Prussia soon followed suit in 1848. The United Kingdom followed a deacde later in 1858 and the Jewish Disabilities Bill of 1859 was passed, granting basic civil and political rights to Jews. The emancipation was made possible by the efforts of financier of precious metals Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid. Goldsmid went to become Britains first Jewish baronet. The newly united Germany completed the aboilition of Jewish Disabilities in 1871.

[Via Museum of Learning and Encyclopedia Britannica]

For more information on Jewish Disabilities, as well as services, events, and more on disabilities and the Jewish community. visit Jewish Family Service website.

Wilfred Owen Disabled

Written by Wilfred Owen in 1917, Disabled is a war poem expressing the tormented thoughts, recollections, and ruminations of a teenaged soldier wounded in the World War I. The poem is one of contrasts, that of what the soldier considers a living death, the life he now faces being limbless, with that of the pleasures and frivolity of the youthful past he recalls. The soldier also explains his reasons for joining the military even in a time of war, noting the frivolous circumstances with which he signed up; a great departure from the more sober and less enthusiastic greeting he received when he was brought home injured versus the cheers he received when joining. The soldier speaks of the young women who flirted with him as the strapping young soldier, and who now no longer look upon the limbless man he has come home as. The sentiment is strengthened by the poems jibe at “the strong men who were whole.”


He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,

Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.
About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,-
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands.
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He’s lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he’d drunk a peg,
He thought he’d better join.-He wonders why.
Someone had said he’d look a god in kilts,
That’s why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn’t have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.

Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria’s, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come?
And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?

Owen is regarded by historians and literary experts as one of the leading poets of the WWI. Most of his best known works were publish posthumously, though his poetic beginnings date back well into his childhood. Owen himself admits that he had been writing poetry even at the tender age of ten years old. The Romantic poets Keats and P.B. Shelley influenced much of Owen’s early writings, though his great friend and fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon later had a profound effect on Owen’s poetic voice. Owen’s most famous poems, including Dulce et Decorum Est and Anthem for Doomed Youth, show the direct results of Sassoon’s influence. [Via Disabled and Wilfred Owen]

Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage Dog

"You’re Gonna Be Missed!" circa from the Independence Seaport Museum, Detwiler Collection 1996.37.1b

We’re sad to see him go, but we send him with hopeful hearts and a pocket full or well wishes for his new journey. Bobby Hughes has been a deidcated servant to the students of Gulf Coast Community College for eleven years. Impacting countless lives, Bobby has helped students in the Financial Aid department as well as here with us at Disability Support Services. Behind the scenes, Bobby has sat on numerous boards and committees always championing for a better Gulf Coast for our students.

Now, Bobby is out to conquer the University of Maryland’s Virginia campus where he will know doubt continue his dedicated service to their students. While we are terribly saddened to see him go, and a few of us may even wish horrific torrential downpours of rain daily on the Virginia campus until they return our Bobby Hughes back to us, we wish him all the best and send our love in a travel-on carry case with him.

Be sure to say goodbye to Bobby before he leaves. All attempts to convince him to stay are futile…trust us, we’ve tried. Plans for sabotage, however….well, we won’t deny they’re in the works. Bobby’s officially last day at Gulf Coast Community College is July 1st.

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