Shoe Shopping with Cerebral Palsy

Shoe Store Aldo

Cerebral palsy adds difficulty to shoe shopping. Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

When going shoe shopping, what factors do you keep in mind? To the average person I’m guessing common answers might include price and style/design. Now I can only guess since my cerebral palsy (CP) adds factors most people probably don’t need to consider.

Early on in my memoir Off Balanced (available on the Kindle, Nook, and i-Pad via the free Kindle app) I mention wearing high top shoes as a kid. The high tops worked to hide the DAFOs (dynamic ankle foot orthoses) I wore, which aided my childhood agenda to hide my CP.

Years later I still limit my shoe shopping to high tops. These days the reasoning stems from practicality rather than embarrassment over my disability. High tops provide my ankles extra support, support lessening my wobbliness. This support proves essential given I no longer wear DAFOs.

However I still rely on foot orthotics, custom made shoe inserts specifically. Amongst their purposes, my shoe inserts neutralize a significant height discrepancy with my legs. So you might say my inserts play important roles in my ability to move the best I can. Thus I must buy shoes the inserts will fit well into.

My custom made shoe inserts

The shoe inserts I need to keep in mind when shoe shopping.

Finding that right fit can prove difficult. For instance this week I passed on certain shoes I really wanted. My inserts did not fit the 8.5 size. Depending on the shoe I can also wear nines. While the insert fit well into the nines, my foot did not. Too much space up by the toes! Ugh!

From the weekly cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow (Wednesdays 8pm EST/Use #CPChatNow) I know shoe shopping stands a frustrating task for many in the CP community. My own case only demonstrates a couple issues. Some with CP may experience trouble tying shoes. Others may baffle the shoe department staff with two different size feet. Bottom line, the frustrations vary person by person.

If you possess an interesting shoe shopping story whether due to cerebral palsy, a different disability, or another factor please feel free to share by commenting below. Thanks in advance for adding your insights!

Guest Post: Keeping Up with Medical Safety Alerts

After reading Kathleen Statham’s memoir Warrior Woman (my review here) and witnessing my aunt’s continual battle with leukemia I recognize the impact a patient makes in his or her medical case. With that said I want to introduce a special guest post from Mario Trucillo. Mario gives insights on one way you can stay informed about medical safety as a patient.

If you find it difficult to keep up with every aspect of your personal health, including information about medication and medical devices, you aren’t alone. Millions take prescription drugs on a regular basis. Others have found new opportunities to remain active through artificial joints and other prosthetics. With the large number of people now seeking medical attention and the great strides being taken in medical science today, many medical professionals don’t have the time to provide proper one-on-one consultation with individual patients.

prescription drugs

Become more knowledgeable about your prescriptions at Photo: Bmramon at en.wikipedia

If you’ve struggled to understand your medical options or have questions about drug interactions, dietary restrictions, and/or treatment options, you need a place where you can turn for accurate, personalized information. The American Recall Center is here to help. Their website provides up-to-the-minute information on a full range of medical treatments and medications from hip replacement to dangerous drugs. Patients can access this information before an appointment in order to prepare. You can also use the website to acquire supplemental information following appointments or between checkups.

The American Recall Center focuses on empowering patients. They provide easy-to-understand information about prescriptions, medical procedures, and other medical treatments. Their website steers clear of medical jargon and carefully defines terminology in order to help patients comprehend each concept and medical warning. With plain language explanations of medical procedures, you can be full armed with facts at all times.

In order to best arm patients with important medical facts, the American Recall Center provides exclusive Patient Safety Alerts. These personalized messages help keep registered patients informed whenever an FDA message affecting them is released.

To take advantage of Patient Safety Alerts, simply go to the online database listing drugs and medical devices. Select those that affect you. Once this is done, you will receive an email alert anytime the FDA issues a safety update concerning the products you have selected. As long as you keep your selections up-to-date, you’ll never have to worry about missing an important FDA update again.

Yahoo! Voices Closing

On Thursday, July 31st Yahoo! Voices ( will cease to exist and by mid-August the corresponding Yahoo! Contributor Network (Y! CN) will also become history. Yahoo! Voices and Y! CN succeeded Associated Content (AC) after Yahoo purchased AC a few years back. Now I’m mentioning the shutdowns because they will result in bonus posts here. Allow me to explain.

Between 2009 and 2011 I wrote various cerebral palsy (CP) related articles still currently published on Yahoo! Voices. These pieces arranged from book and music reviews to informative articles, interviews with individuals in the CP community, and more. Once Yahoo! Voices ceases existence, I’m free to re-publish said articles elsewhere.

After some thinking I decided to take the best 10 CP related articles and publish them here in a special series. Considering the seemingly increasing popularity in “Throwback Thursday,” Thursday feels like the right day to share the bonus posts.

Yes, I know Throwback Thursdays involves posting old photographs. Why let images enjoy all the fun though? Hopefully through my special Throwback Thursday series you will discover new people with CP or just new insights that you previously missed.

Stay tuned for a set start date to the series. In the meantime you can check out my thoughts on the Yahoo! Contributor Network closing.

*Blogger’s Note- From December 2012 to December 2013 through Y! CN I also wrote select cerebral palsy related articles published at Yahoo! Health. Those articles will remain up at Yahoo! Health thus making them ineligible for the Throwback Thursday series. However, you will find the links below. Enjoy the reads!



Concert Going with Cerebral Palsy

A couple weeks back during the weekly live Twitter chat #CPChatNow (Wednesdays 8pm EST), I asked a question “How does your body hold up during concerts?” The question seemed fitting seeing how concert going feels like a summertime tradition. Below you’ll find select responses.

Answers to how does your body hold up at concerts?Answer to how does your body hold up during concerts

Interestingly enough I find parallels to my concert experiences within Blemi, Hannah, and Kate’s feedback. Those similarities vary largely based on the concert venue. Last year I saw Tim McGraw play at Blossom Music Center. My friends and I bought lawn seat tickets. Knowing Blossom’s lawn seats lay on a steep grassy hill I decided to bring my cane. I wanted to enjoy myself, not worry about my balance.

Lee Brice

Lee Brice performing at House of Blues Cleveland.

Then in November I saw Lee Brice perform at House of Blues Cleveland. Brice sold out the venue, creating a packed house. Standing for so long without a wall or anything to lean on also left me “paying for it” the next day. Heck, I felt the impact walking back to the car. My entire lower half ached.

Another challenge the crowded House of Blues Cleveland presented occurred during the show. Staying balanced becomes difficult amidst a shoulder to shoulder crammed environment. People accidentally knock into you. If not for friends to grab when needed, I would’ve fallen I’m certain.

Ironically despite the venue proving the more difficult one physically, I actually preferred House of Blues. You experience the artist in a closer proximity. Just look at the Lee Brice picture I snapped for evidence. I could never get such a shot with my current camera from Blossom’s lawn seats.

Obviously buying tickets closer to Blossom’s stage exists as an option, but one my budget dislikes. Rather than diving into the financial factors involved in concert going, I will digress. Let us concentrate on the cerebral palsy related variables.

You now know my insights. Time for others with CP to share, how does cerebral palsy influence your concert going? Do your experiences compare to mind? Or, perhaps like Susanne you avoid concerts due to obstructed views. Do tell by commenting below.

Online Work Success Story

Not driving causes obstacles, some which the Internet can help circumvent. For example, non-drivers like me remain at a disadvantage finding work. Thankfully I possess abilities I can implement online to work and make money. In fact my non-driver status heavily influenced my decision five years ago to pursue freelance writing.

Within those previous five years writing on a freelance basis I learned new skills, many revolving around different social media platforms. Prior to freelancing I knew little about social media. Outside Facebook and an abandoned Myspace page I didn’t exist on social networking sites.

Handicap This promotes Zachary Fenell to Online Relationship Manager

Screenshot capturing the announcement about my promotion.

Fast forward half a decade and Handicap This Productions (HTP) announces my promotion to Online Relationship Manager. Talk about an online work success story! How did I go from a social media novice to someone a respectable company trusts to expand their online presence?

The answer includes past clients and self-publishing my teen memoir Off Balanced. The now defunct Disaboom pretty much mandated their writers share their work on two platforms. So I ended up creating a Twitter account (@zacharyfenell). A conference call Disaboom held provided advice on how to use Twitter. Additionally I learned through trial and error.

In late 2012 Special Education Guide became my first client to request I join Google+. Seeing how well Twitter worked out for me, I welcomed Google+. Google Hangouts alone makes Google+ worthwhile.

Researching publishing made evident to me my best chance to reach readers as a self-published author involved social media. The more I put myself out there on social networking sites the more dialogue I could start or partake in. Over time I began my blog here, expanded my Twitter following, joined various author groups on LinkedIn, and regularly uploaded video blogs to my Youtube channel.

Overall a motto Tim Wambach and Mike Berkson often say comes to mind “Improvise, adapt, overcome.” When set upon graduating college I improvised to adapt and overcome my transportation challenges by focusing on freelancing. Freelancing I improvised to adapt and overcome the populous Internet by sharpening my social media capabilities. That positioned me to become HTP’s Online Relationship Manager and tell others my online work success story.

Please offer your own online work success story by commenting below.

Social Media Connects the Cerebral Palsy Community

Social media really does build community, a fact I’ll happily verify. Prior to writing professionally about cerebral palsy (CP), I knew no one else with the disability. Certainly others somewhere lived with CP but their existences remained abstract to my world. Social media changed that.

Meeting Blake

I met Blake at Union Station in Washington DC.

Last Friday I enjoyed the pleasure to meeting in-person a young man with a bright future, Blake. We initially connected thanks to the live weekly cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow. Next month Blake will intern with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Considering this I figured Blake must live somewhere close to the DC area.

Back in February my buddy Pete and I planned a road trip to DC for May to visit our good friend Rob and his wife Kelly. You may recall Pete and Rob from my teenage memoir Off Balanced (available on the Kindle, Nook, and i-Pad via the free Kindle app). Once I received approval from my friends I went about arranging meeting Blake.

Blake’s eagerness to meet me in-person proved flattering. Initial schedules conflicted. However, Blake adjusted his to make getting together work. Thanks to his patience and flexibility we enjoyed insightful conversation at Union Station. Two individuals with cerebral palsy sat across from each other engaged in dialogue due to Twitter.

Meeting Blake only represents the latest example where social media connected me to others within the CP community. You might recall in January I met motivational speaker and author (Someone Like Me) John W. Quinn in the flesh. My first contact with John back in early 2011 came via Twitter.

Meanwhile Twitter and Facebook fostered my connection with Tim Wambach and Handicap This, a connection originally started by email. Knowing the Handicap This crew, John W. Quinn, and Blake all enrich my life someway. On a less me-centric note our connections also demonstrate social media can meaningfully connect the cerebral palsy community.

Do you want social media to better connect you with the CP community? The live cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow every Wednesday at 8pm EST offers an optimal starting point. Please join us by using #CPChatNow.

Resuming Regular Posting- Take Two

Clapperboard, take two!

Resuming regular posting at Off Balanced, take two!

Good news! After failing to resume regular posting here in April I’m back for take number two. This time I feel more confident I will enjoy success. My confidence stems from my ability getting back on track the past few months with my Youtube video blog posts.

Longtime readers should recall last year I began publishing two video blog posts to Youtube a month. Due to various issues I managed to post only one video the first 84 days in 2014. Since though, I returned full force. Now I’m looking to resume my regular weekly WordPress posting schedule.

Scheduling change to note, my posts will go up weekly early Saturday evenings. Until next Saturday I leave you a few recent vlog posts to satisfy your viewing pleasure.

“Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse with Cerebral Palsy”

“Would I Take a Magic Pill to Cure My Disability?”

“Laughing at Your Cerebral Palsy”