Today I played Monopoly with a couple of friends--Alan and Jeff--over the internet. It is a lot of fun, especially since we converse during the game using the Skype internet phone. There are many laughs, and friendly competition--with a few barbs of the joking kind thrown in.
The internet has really opened up the world for people with disabilities. It allows me to meet new people all over the world and to communicate with them. If not for the internet, I would not have found the DMD Pioneers internet group, where I have found much support, and given support to others living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and their loved ones--parents, wives, girlfriends, friends, siblings. We are a group that does not give up, and goes boldly forward like a group of pioneers. It is great to be able to talk to people with similar issues, complaints, concerns, and experiences as me. I no longer feel alone in this world. I am part of an international community. There are members from all over the U.S. (Alan is from Pennsylvania, Jeff is from Kansas), Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia. This is all thanks to Jeff McAllister(1977-2005)--the founder, and a moderator. We lost him last year to heart failure at the age of 28. He is still missed. But, others have taken over the mantle to keep the group alive in Jeff McAllister's memory.
I also am part of the the Vent Support Network, an internet group founded by Mark Boatman of North Dakota for all ventilator users and their loved ones. It is yet another great source of support and information. Happily, Mark is still with us at the age of 30. Mark has been forced to live in a nursing home in Jamestown, North Dakota for the last three years, but the good news is that he will be gaining his freedom next month after much persistance. He is moving to Missoula, Montana where he will receive in-home nursing care and not be confined to an institution. I celebrate his coming independence.