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Sabrina Cohen works with many support groups, including ones for people with spinal cord injuries like her own. Photo: Charlotte Libov
Birds reader, health book author and public speaker Charlotte Libov urges everyone to vote for health activist Sabrina Cohen, a finalist for an award from America Inspired, the national contest that celebrates extraordinary people across the US. 

Sabrina was one of five nominees chosen from more than 900 nominees.  After voting closes on Jan. 27, the finalist with the most overall votes will win $50,000. Charlotte urges everyone to vote for Sabrina in the Overcoming Adversity Category. You may vote once a day until January 27.

Paralyzed at age 14 in a car crash, Sabrina went on to graduate from the University of Miami and open her own public relations business. Inspired by the hope of stem cell research, she closed her business in 2004 to devote her life to raising money for stem cell research and helping others who are paralyzed. In a few short years, she has raised more than $75,000 and donated it to the top researchers in the field seeking cures for not only paralysis, but also stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, MS and more.

Read more about her amazing life in a story Charlotte wrote for examiner.com.
http://www.examiner.com/health-in-miami/paralyzed-as-a-teen-sabrina-cohen-fights-for-a-cure

If Sabrina’s story inspires you, too sign up for examiner.com, then vote. Good luck, Sabrina!

Here’s an excerpt from Charlotte's story:

Sabrina Cohen has performed stand-up comedy from a wheelchair, rolled the catwalk as a fashion model, and donned scarcely more than a bikini's worth of body paint, all in the name of raising money for medical research. She's also lobbied Congress, hobnobbed with Bill and Hillary Clinton, strategized with Michael J. Fox, and has proved an inspiration to  Dr. Sally Temple, winner of a MacArthur genius grant for her work as a neuroscientist. 

But Sabrina's most satisfying moments come when she's called upon to provide hope to newly paralyzed people whose lives, like hers, have changed in a flash. "These are people who are going through their darkest days. They need to talk with someone who can give them hope. Not false hope, but realistic hope," she says.

Paralyzed at the age of 14, Sabrina knows about dark days. But she also knows about hope. And, for this, she's been honored many times. But she's never lost sight of her true goal, which is overcoming adversity and teaching others to do it too.
_____


Read more about Sabrina's amazing life in a story Charlotte wrote for examiner.com. 
http://www.examiner.com/health-in-miami/paralyzed-as-a-teen-sabrina-cohen-fights-for-a-cure

If Sabrina’s story inspires you, too sign up for examiner.com, then vote. Thank you, Charlotte, for letting us know about her. Good luck, Sabrina! 


 
 
February 3, 2011
The New York Times 

For Tucson Survivors, Health Care Cost Is Concern
By MARC LACEY and SAM DOLNICK

TUCSON — Seconds after gunfire erupted outside a supermarket here last month, Randy Gardner, one of those struck during the barrage, said another looming crisis immediately entered his mind.

“I wondered, ‘How much is this going to cost me?’ ” he said. “It was a thought that went through my head right away.”

Tucson’s medical system quickly swung into action after the shootings, with ambulances and medical helicopters rushing victims to hospitals where trauma specialists awaited them. The life-saving treatment the victims received over the ensuing days carried a heavy cost though, and the bills — the costliest of which may be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for Representative Gabrielle Giffords— are still being tallied.

For the full story, see:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/04/us/04tucson.html?_r=1&hp


 
 
Today is a good day to think about how we can help survivors of the Tucson shootings as well as others who have escaped sudden death.  

Here’s is a rerun of post I ran last year on January 15 that is strangely à propos today (and all days!).  To view an animated recreation of the landing of US Airways Flight 1549, go to the original post at
http://www.birdsonawireblog.com/1/post/2010/01/ptsd.html

Today, January 15, marks the first anniversary of the amazing landing made by US Airways Flight 1549 onto and into the Hudson River. It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since those stunning 3 minutes. Who will ever forget the image of 155 people standing on the wings of their plane, waiting to be rescued in the icy Hudson? 

More than half the survivors have spent a few days together in New York. Today they’ll return to the crash site by boat, then get a chance to personally thank the captain, crew, rescuers and others who helped them through the ordeal, at a special dinner.

According to a story published earlier this week in The New York Times, “For a lot of us, it’s closure,” said Tracey Allen-Wolsko, a passenger who has been involved in organizing the get-together. 

Closure. Yes, it’s important to wrap up loose ends if you are to survive the after-effects of survival, whether you have lived through an act of war, a violent crime, years of child abuse, a horrific accident or even a catastrophic hurricane or earthquake. 

You need to go back to the scene, safely. Have your fears acknowledged and understood. Get your questions answered. Hear what others remember about the event. Then, face down the demon and see that you can walk away from it, unharmed. 

Without closure, PTSD will keep many from moving on with their lives, even if they think they are fine. 

A few years ago, I heard a story on public radio about several people who survived a brutal mid-day bank robbery. Robbers randomly assassinated customers and employees, then locked the survivors in the vault on their way out.

Years later, those who survived still talked about what it was like to stand in a bank line one second and come face to face with death, the next. By the time they realized what was happening, the horror was over. 

Although many years had passed, disbelief, anger and survivor-guilt remained. You could hear it in their voices. PTSD therapy and emotional support helped some, but not others. One woman still had trouble sleeping.  A man couldn’t seem to follow through on projects, or build close relationships. 

While I listened to this story, something odd happened. An emotional dam burst inside me. Sobs welled up from I-don’t-know-where.  At first, I thought I was just mourning for those unfortunate people caught in a bank robbery. Then I realized I was mourning for myself for I, too, had my own near misses while plowing through life's minefields, and had never dealt with them properly. 

Why not? I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that most people – even family – don’t like to listen to other people’s problems. Also, if they see you’re sitting before them and appear to be fine, they doubt you were ever in any real danger. If you were, there’s always the possibility you brought it on yourself, right?

Funny, because (most of the time) we don’t blame the passengers when a plane falls out of the sky. But, if a person is raped, robbed or beaten by a spouse, we might. 

We fully expect soldiers to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, but what about people who have walked in on a robbery, or were raped by a trusted friend or family member, or beaten by a partner in a fit of rage? Or those who faced danger on the job? Maybe they watched a man shot and killed through the lens of their own camera, and wondered if the next bullet had their name on it. Or maybe, they saw their world swallowed up by an earthquake, or watched a loved one wash away in a flood.

Dear readers, I know at least one of us found herself at the butt-end of a gun on her own doorstep. Another made a crash landing in a small plane, and one was hit broadside by another aircraft in a runway accident.

Certainly, anyone who’s seen battle deserves all the help and support they can get. I’m glad we hang yellow ribbons, erect billboards thanking veterans for their service, and salute them in annual parades. Public displays of appreciation can go a long way to heal the wounds of trauma. 

But we don’t give the same support to victims of street crime, domestic crime, natural disasters and run-of-the-mill accidents, even though you can get just as dead.

I believe every victim needs to know someone realizes how close they came to death and is glad they made it. They need to know they had a right to be scared, and fully deserved their second chance at life. 

If we can’t throw that person a parade, erect a billboard or celebrate their survival with a dinner, at least we can offer an ear, a hand or a hug.  Or, use the Flight 1549 celebration to say “thank goodness” for all survivors. 

So, here’s to you Sully, the crew, the survivors and the rescuers. And, here’s to everyone who’s ever wondered if they were going to breathe another breath, and then did. 

 
 
Today, January 15, marks the first anniversary of the amazing landing made by US Airways Flight 1549 onto and into the Hudson River. It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since those stunning 3 minutes. Who will ever forget the image of 155 people standing on the wings of their plane, waiting to be rescued in the icy Hudson? 

More than half the survivors have spent a few days together in New York. Today they’ll return to the crash site by boat, then get a chance to personally thank the captain, crew, rescuers and others who helped them through the ordeal, at a special dinner.

According to a story published earlier this week in The New York Times, “For a lot of us, it’s closure,” said Tracey Allen-Wolsko, a passenger who has been involved in organizing the get-together. 

Closure. Yes, it’s important to wrap up loose ends if you are to survive the after-effects of survival, whether you have lived through an act of war, a violent crime, years of child abuse, a horrific accident or even a catastrophic hurricane or earthquake. 

You need to go back to the scene, safely. Have your fears acknowledged and understood. Get your questions answered. Hear what others remember about the event. Then, face down the demon and see that you can walk away from it, unharmed. 

Without closure, PTSD will keep many from moving on with their lives, even if they think they are fine. 

A few years ago, I heard a story on public radio about several people who survived a brutal mid-day bank robbery. Robbers randomly assassinated customers and employees, then locked the survivors in the vault on their way out.

Years later, those who survived still talked about what it was like to stand in a bank line one second and come face to face with death, the next. By the time they realized what was happening, the horror was over. 

Although many years had passed, disbelief, anger and survivor-guilt remained. You could hear it in their voices. PTSD therapy and emotional support helped some, but not others. One woman still had trouble sleeping.  A man couldn’t seem to follow through on projects, or build close relationships. 

While I listened to this story, something odd happened. An emotional dam burst inside me. Sobs welled up from I-don’t-know-where.  At first, I thought I was just mourning for those unfortunate people caught in a bank robbery. Then I realized I was mourning for myself for I, too, had my own near misses while plowing through life's minefields, and had never dealt with them properly. 

Why not? I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that most people – even family – don’t like to listen to other people’s problems. Also, if they see you’re sitting before them and appear to be fine, they doubt you were ever in any real danger. If you were, there’s always the possibility you brought it on yourself, right?

Funny, because (most of the time) we don’t blame the passengers when a plane falls out of the sky. But, if a person is raped, robbed or beaten by a spouse, we might. 

We fully expect soldiers to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, but what about people who have walked in on a robbery, or were raped by a trusted friend or family member, or beaten by a partner in a fit of rage? Or those who faced danger on the job? Maybe they watched a man shot and killed through the lens of their own camera, and wondered if the next bullet had their name on it. Or maybe, they saw their world swallowed up by an earthquake, or watched a loved one wash away in a flood.

Dear readers, I know at least one of us found herself at the butt-end of a gun on her own doorstep. Another made a crash landing in a small plane, and one was hit broadside by another aircraft in a runway accident.

Certainly, anyone who’s seen battle deserves all the help and support they can get. I’m glad we hang yellow ribbons, erect billboards thanking veterans for their service, and salute them in annual parades. Public displays of appreciation can go a long way to heal the wounds of trauma. 

But we don’t give the same support to victims of street crime, domestic crime, natural disasters and run-of-the-mill accidents, even though you can get just as dead.

I believe every victim needs to know someone realizes how close they came to death and is glad they made it. They need to know they had a right to be scared, and fully deserved their second chance at life.  

If we can’t throw that person a parade, erect a billboard or celebrate their survival with a dinner, at least we can offer an ear, a hand or a hug.  Or, use the Flight 1549 celebration to say “thank goodness” for all survivors.  

So, here’s to you, Sully, the crew, the survivors and the rescuers. And, here’s to everyone who’s ever wondered if they were going to breathe another breath, and then did. 

 
 
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We went to hear Rani Arbo and her band Daisy Mayhem, the other night. As usual, we were not disappointed.

It was an unusually wet and cold Saturday for May, but all of the wooden pews and folding chairs in the old Unitarian church were filled. All you had to do was look around to see evidence of the hall's former use. What a perfect use for a former church! 


And, could there be a better venue for a band that describes its musical genre as “agnostic gospel?”

Aside from the flat-out excitement and originality these four classically trained musicians bring to everything they play and sing, we enjoy their song choice. On any given night, they'll play Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan tunes, old hymns, folk tunes, American classics, spirituals, and  sometimes country swing. Sit still long enough – I dare you! – and you’re bound to hear songs you know, or almost know.

Rani, herself, is a cancer survivor. She’s probably pushing 40, maybe a little older, and I could be wrong, but I believe she once said her breast cancer was diagnosed shortly after she gave birth to her son. To the delight of everyone in the audience, he sometimes runs around the stage while his parents perform. 

Daisy Mayhem’s latest CD, Big Old Life, focused on survivorship: hers, theirs and ours.

Survivorship was one of the building blocks of birdsonawireblog, from the very beginning. I saw this blog as a safe place for survivors of one threat or another. Sort of a virtual cafe where we can sit around, sip coffee and gain strength from each other.  

Almost half the women I invited to read this blog are cancer survivors. Some are dealing with it right now, today, as you read this post.  

Others, like me, escaped with their lives long ago. My cancer was detected so early, I’m a bit embarrassed to put myself in the company of those of you who endured hellish treatments and relapses. Still, even a "little bit" of cancer left a big imprint on my soul. That's plenty for me, thank you.  

When Rani started singing “Shine On,” it was all I could do to stay in my seat. I’m surprised every woman in the church didn’t rise up and join in to Daisy May Erlewine’s anthem to surviving whatever it is or was that scared them. My grandmother used to say, a little bit of fear is a good thing. I’ll take just a little bit, please. 

For a taste of Daisy Mayhem, go to http://www.raniarbo.com. They travel all around so, if they’re in your area, I encourage you to go hear them. We keep going back, and always have smiles on our faces when we leave.