Thursday, January 22, 2015

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Join me as I share my Becker Muscular Dystrophy Story.

My name is Brad Miller I am a freelance journalist living with Becker Muscular Dystrophy, a condition which limits my ability to walk and gets progressively worse over time. I created the My Becker's Story blog in 2010 to share my story and to help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy. Along with sharing my story I also raise awareness about accessibility and the issues people with disabilities face. When it comes to the My Becker's Story blog even though the focus is on Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I also want to encourage those affected by other conditions even other forms of Muscular Dystrophy to join in as well. I truly believe when we join "Together" we can make a difference in our communities and raise even more awareness about Muscular Dystrophy and the issues people with disabilities face. The main focus behind the My Becker’s Story blog is to tell my story in hopes that it will somehow help those living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, as well as their families and friends.

What people are saying about the My Becker's Story blog:

"Hi there, I also suffer from BMD. Just read the blog and the first half is like reading my personal history!!"

"I ran across your spot today, you sure have a lot on here I will have to check in a lot. I also have BMD and everything you say resonates deeply."

"I am also in my mid-30's with Becker's from the UK so thought i'd join and say hello! Struggling with all the same things as mentioned in the blog!"

"I am new to this group. Just want to say it is nice to meet people who understand."

 "I love your blog and it is nice to know there are others out there facing the same challenges as I do each and every day."

If you would like to read my personal story about growing up with Becker Muscular Dystrophy please click on the image below.

When it comes to living with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I intend to take what I have been through in my life and some how use it to help those going through a similar situation. When it comes down to it the main idea behind My Becker’s Story is to help those like me who are living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, by creating a place for us to connect. I truly believe that we are in this "Together". And I believe that with every one’s help that together we can help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy around the world.

The Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

Team Brad at the 2013 Durham Region Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

 Along with sharing my story I also aim to make a difference in my community. Since 2010 my friends and family have joined "Team Brad" in support of my efforts to raise funds that benefit people like me who are living with Muscular Dystrophy. The Durham Region Walk supports Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s mission to enhance the lives of those affected by neuromuscular disorders. To learn more please (Click Here)

Thank you for visiting the My Becker's Story blog!

Join the My Becker's Story blog on social media

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Smoke-Free Ontario Act putting people who live in Apartment Buildings at Risk

When it comes to breathing in second hand smoke many of us already know the dangers that come along with inhaling the many toxins found in cigarettes. So in an effort to help protect it's citizens many years ago the Province of Ontario introduced the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Which was created to help restrict the areas in which people are allowed to smoke. This is in place to help and protect people including children and youth from the harmful affects associated with second hand smoke. Currently the Smoke-Free Ontario Act restricts people from smoking in many public areas covering bar and restaurant outdoor patios, child care facilities, hospitals, schools, vehicles with children inside, common areas of hotels, motels and inn, around children’s playgrounds and multi-unit residences. 

The main reason why the Smoke-Free Ontario Act was put in place is to protect works and the public from exposure to second-hand smoke. Many place have also been required to remove all ash trays as well. Like many people I fully support the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. As someone living with Muscular Dystrophy breathing in second hand smoke can put me at risk. The last thing I ever want to have is issues with my lungs thanks to inconsiderate smokers. Now the Smoke-Free Ontario Act does go a long way in protect a small group of people from second-hand smoke. I do have to be completely honest that with all the good this act does it is still failing a major part of Ontario's population. That would be those of us who live in multi-unit residences mainly those living in apartment buildings. Currently multi-unit residences are included in the Act but the rules that apply simply don't go far enough. Currently the law states that you must not smoke in any common areas of condos, apartment buildings or college residences. This includes elevators, stairwells, hallways, parking garages, laundry facilities, lobbies, exercise areas and party or entertainment rooms. What it doesn't cover is apartment building entrances and exits. 

So after getting in touch with my local bylaw enforcement officers I learned that apartment building entrances are not covered in Ontario's Smoke-Free Act. They explained to me that multi-unit residences are treated the same way as people homes. Going on to further explain that the law prohibits them from telling people that they can't smoke at the entrances to there homes. They actually told me that apartment building entrances are not considered to be public spaces. Though the bylaw prohibit smoking in the common areas of multi-unit residences. Are they kidding me? I also brought up the issue of there being an ashtray at my building entrance. They told me that Ontario's Smoke-Free Act does not prohibit ashtrays outside the entrance of multi-unit residences. So I am sure you can guess where everyone who smokes in my building goes when they want to light up a cigarette. To make matters worse our apartment is on the ground floor with our windows next to where the entrance is - so when people smoke there and if the wind is blowing right way that toxic mix blows right into our apartment. To me it is very odd that who ever designed the Ontario's Smoke-Free Act decided to exempt apartment building entrances from the list of common areas. After all a common area is defined as an area which is available for use by more than one person. A common area should also include apartment building entrances since tenants and visitors share that area. So at this point in time Ontario's Smoke-Free Act is putting it citizens who live in Apartment Buildings at Risk. This means that the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy to greatly reduced tobacco use and lowered health risks to non-smokers in Ontario is failing over a million people who live in apartment buildings across this Province. 

Ontario Health Minister - Dr. Eric Hoskins
 So the time has come to bring this to the attention of Ontario's Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins. We need to let him know that it is his responsibility to take the health of those who live in apartment buildings more seriously. So at this time I would like to encourage Dr. Eric Hoskins to introduce new Smoke-Free legislation that adds condo and apartment building entrances to Ontario's Smoke-Free Act. And to require the removal off all ashtrays found at the entrances of every apartment building across the Province on Ontario.

This is why we have created a petition to help bring more attention to this issues. So I would like to ask that you sign this petition to show Dr. Eric Hoskins that this is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

Please sign this petition by visiting: today! 

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Did Target miss the Bulls-Eye in not hiring people with disabilities?

Since the news was released that Target was leaving Canada there have been many stories on how this will impact their employees. After all 17,600 people who currently work for Target Canada are losing their jobs. More recently there is a story being shared through social media on the impact there leaving will have on those they hired who had disabilities. This story claims that Target did a great job of hiring people with disabilities in Newfoundland which is great. Like most people I feel really bad that they are now losing their jobs. One part of the story that is being left out is the poor job Target did in hiring people with disabilities in other provinces. You see from my perspective they actually did a very poor job. As an individual living with a physical disability I was one of the many people across the province of Ontario who applied for a position. Many months before Target opened their very first store. Like many people I applied online and was lucky enough to secure an interview. My interview was set up and would take place at a local convention centre located about 30 minutes away. I am sure you can understand I was excited to have been chosen for an interview. After all like many people I was excited about Target coming to Canada.

Target Interview: Part One

So after a few months of waiting the day of my interview arrived. On that day I was so excited that I forgot my wallet at home. I was almost half way to my interview when I realized this and then had to race back home to get it. You see it was very important for me to have it with me as having some form of I.D. was required to be provided during my interview. Thankfully I made it just in time and when I arrived I was greeted by a few Target employees who welcomed me with a smile. It was actually a very friendly environment which helped to set my mind at ease. After all who isn't a little nervous before and interview. Eventually I was called in for what I could only guess was a pre-interview to make sure I was a good candidate for the position. This part of the interview went very well, I even explained to the two the ladies who were interviewing me that I had a disability and that didn't seem to be an issue. I let them know that I believed that the position I was applying for in there clothing department would suit me perfectly. They were very friendly and from what I could tell the interview was going very well. Eventually this part of the interview came to an end and then they asked me to take a seat back in the waiting area. At this point I was very confident that things were going very well. 

Target Interview: Part Two

After a few minutes of waiting I was called back in for the second part of my interview. It was a huge relief to know that I had made it. At this point I was greeted by two male employees, one who I believe was the manager of the store I was being interviewed for. Yet again the interview was going very well the other interviewer even said to me that my call centre experience would really help with answering the phones in that department. I felt like everything was going very well until the man I believed to be the store manager opened his mouth after I mentioned I had an disability. He started saying to me that I would have to help out in other departments with carrying out furniture and TV's. I was open and honest with him that due to my disability that simply wouldn't be possible. To be honest at this point I felt as if he had already made up his mind to not hire me. Next thing he tells me is that I would have to start a 4 am if I was hired and he asked if I could handle that and I said it wouldn't be a problem. I felt as if he wasn't open to hiring me simple because I had a disability. Maybe it was my fault for being so open with them after all I have heard from others with disabilities who suggest if we can - hiding the fact that we have a disability. Anyways this part of my interview came to an end and I was asked to have a seat back in the waiting area. 

Target Interview: Opportunity Missed

Well after a few minutes another Target employee came out and thanked my for my time and told me that they would call me once a final decision was made. I left the interview with a feeling that if they were going to hire me that they would have called me in for the third part of the interview - instead of sending me home. The reason I believed that there was a third an final part of the interview process was due to the fact that while I was waiting that some people didn't even make it past the first part of the interview. See I was there long enough to see someone called in for the third part of the interview. This is where new hires sat at a table where they provided the interviewers their I.D.'s and fill out what ever forms they were required to fill out as a new hire. It was obvious to me that the last interviewer had and issue with me having a disability. To this day I wonder if those who worked in the clothing department ever had to do carry outs of large heavy TV's or furniture. I also have to wonder did anyone who worked in the clothing department at Target ever actually start a 4am? Was the interviewer lying to me? To this day I truly believe that I was discriminated against simply because I chose to be open and honest about having a disability. So when I hear that some people claim that Target was good at hiring people with disabilities in my experience I know first hand that this isn't true!

Even though I feel that I was discriminated against I also wanted to see Target succeed in Canada even if they didn't want me. The people I do feel bad for is the 17,600 Canadian employees losing there jobs.

Good-bye Target Canada!

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Monday, January 19, 2015

When life throws you a curve ball start cleaning?

I am sure we all know that in life we will face many challenges some that we can anticipate and others that come as a surprise. When it comes to my situation it was over 5 years ago when I suffered a work related injury and had to stop working. Since I was no longer working and my wife works a full-time job it has become my responsibility to take care of the majority of household cleaning - I guess this is when I became a house husband. As my wife works a full time job I believe it is only fair that I help out as much as I can. After all in any marriage or relationship it is our jobs to try and help each other out.      

Now I must be completely honest that there are times when having Muscular Dystrophy tends to make household cleaning a little more challenging. Especially when it comes to cleaning dishes which can involve standing for a long period of time and the over use of our arms muscles. Thankfully a few years ago we were able to purchase a used portable apartment sized dishwasher. This made life so much easier resulting in me only having to load and empty the dishwasher. This took away the physical demands I was used to dealing with when washing dishes the old fashioned way. But like most things in life good things don't last forever as just a few months ago our dishwasher broke to the point it would be too costly to repair. So now it's back to the pain in the arms of washing dishes by hand. Thankfully my wife pitches in as much as she can but I simply don't think it's fair for her to come home after a long day of work and have to wash dishes. So currently I do my best at trying to stay on top of keeping the dishes clean, but it really doesn't take long for the sink to fill up again. So a few weeks ago we tried using paper plates but that can get pretty expensive as well - plus it's not very kind to the environment. I guess for now a dishwasher is something we have to do with out. All I can say is that dishwashers go a long way in making the lives of those living with physical limitations so much easier.
Next comes the household chore a vacuuming, one aspect of cleaning that some people hate but I actually enjoy. Over the last few years I have found that when it comes to vacuuming that small light weight vacuums work best. Especially for those of us who find it difficult lugging around your old fashioned upright vacuum. I can't even count the number of times mine has tried to trip me up having me come pretty close to being the first person to die or break their leg from vacuuming.

Dyson Digital Slim
 Anyways when it comes to vacuuming the most popular yet very expensive light weight option is the Cordless Dyson Digital Slim Multi Floor Vacuum. Being able to own one of those would be a dream come true. Currently I am using a much larger and heavier upright Bissell vacuum which someday's seems to weight at least 20 pounds. Which only helps to make vacuuming a major workout. Since I am unable to afford the high price of the Dyson one cheaper option would be the $20 Bissell light weight 3-in-1 vacuum. Sure the Cordless Dyson Digital Slim Multi Floor Vacuum would make cleaning so much easier but sometimes the cheaper option is the better choice - especially if you live life on a budget.

Next up it's the most hated cleaning task ever created which to me would have to be cleaning tile floors. The most common option is mopping the floors but take it from me all it takes is one slip and fall on a wet floor to have you considering other options. Biggest issue with mopping is having to deal with a bucket full of water which can spill over and become a safety hazard. So when it comes to cleaning the floor up until recently I was using the Swiffer but a few months ago I switched to using the Vileda ProMist Mop. My only complaint is that squeezing the trigger to spray the cleaning solution too often tends to aggravate my arm. If I clean the floors throughout the day and not all at once it tends to not bother me so much. Some days though I do wish I had the iRobot Braava™ Floor Mopping Robot. That way I can sit back and relax and not worry about cleaning the floor everyday. But like the Cordless Dyson Digital Slim Multi Floor Vacuum any iRobot device is it's going to cost you a lot of money. That just the way things are when it comes to products created to make our lives easier. So for now until prices come I will have to settle for the Vileda ProMist Mop.

All I can say is when it comes to being responsible for cleaning around the home with any type of physical disability you have to find what works best for you. All I can recommend is finding light weight products that help to make cleaning less physically demanding. If you are lucky enough to have someone do all the cleaning for you then I hope you appreciate all the hard work they do. If there is anything I have learned over the years it's that cleaning is very physically demanding. Sure some of us might be at the point where we are unable to help clean but for those who can we should pitch in however we can.

Related Posts:
My Personal Story: Growing up with Becker Muscular Dystrophy,
Living with Muscular Dystrophy & Dealing with "Weak Days",
Living with a disability & suffering a work related injury,
The importance of having an accessible kitchen,
Tips for creating the perfect accessible home &
When stairs become your worst enemy

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Laps for Muscular Dystrophy was a huge success in 2014

Laps for Muscular Dystrophy 2014
Laps for Muscular Dystrophy is a new fundraising campaign in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada that was created by the My Becker's Story blog. As many of you may already know I started sharing my story about living with Muscular Dystrophy almost 5 years ago. Along with living with BMD I am also a huge motorsports fan. I actually grew up around racing and I am thrilled to be able to combine my love for motorsports with raising awareness of Muscular Dystrophy. I truly believe that Laps for Muscular Dystrophy is a great opportunity for Canadian race car drivers and teams to join together to help make difference in the lives of those affected by Muscular Dystrophy. In 2014 Race drivers who joined in support of Laps 4 MD helped to raise funds by donate $1 from every lap they lead to Muscular Dystrophy Canada. It was amazing to have the support of some of Canada`s top race drivers and I am really excited about the future of Laps 4 MD. 

Shelby Mills
In 2014 Laps for Muscular Dystrophy was supported by Dirt Track racer Shelby Mills. Shelby Mills is 22 years old and her home track is Brighton Speedway located in Brighton Ontario, Canada. She was excited to have the opportunity to support Laps 4 MD during the 2014 race season and helped to raise $100 in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada`s mission. She says; "As a nursing student, and now as a nurse I wanted to incorporate that part of me into my racing. Supporting Laps4MD allows me to continue to participate in the sport I love but also help people and raise awareness for a great cause."

Joey McColm
During the 2014 race season Laps for Muscular Dystrophy also welcomed well known race car driver Joey McColm as a supporter. Joey currently competes in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and is based out of Ajax, Ontario Canada. Joey McColm is pleased to be competing the in the #25 Canada’s Best Racing Team Dodge. He is also a top contender to win NASCAR Canadian Tire Series most popular driver. All year long during pre-race autograph sessions you could find Joey surrounded by a large crowd as he is truly a fan favorite. We are really looking forward to working with Joey yet again in 2015 as we have big plans in store. We thank Joey for all his support in 2014.
Ben Young
There is no doubt that in its first year Laps for Muscular Dystrophy has already been a huge success. Brad is happy to report that Laps 4 MD has done a lot to raise awareness of Muscular Dystrophy amongst many race drivers. So much so that at the end of the 2014 race season added to more racer this included Canadian resident Ben Young, who competes in the British Superbike Championship with Team WD40 who supported Laps 4 MD in his last two races of the season. Ben says: “It’s an honour to help support Laps 4 MD and their efforts to help make a difference in the lives of over 50,000 Canadians affected by neuromuscular disorders.” In support of Ben's effort our friend over at Infinet MotorSports donated $25 to Muscular Dystrophy Canada. 

Matt Garwood
Near the end of the 2014 race season Laps 4 MD was happy to welcome Canadian race drivers Matt Garwood to the long list of those support Laps for Muscular Dystrophy. Matt Garwood currently competes in the Formula 1200 Series and in 2012 was also awarded Rookie of the Year. Brad is so excited to have Matt join in support of Laps 4 MD and is assured by Matt`s comment found below he is excited to be able to play a role in helping to improve the lives of over 50,000 Canadians affected by Muscular Dystrophy. Matt Garwood says; "It is an honour to support and represent Laps4MD throughout the conclusion of this year and in to the 2015 racing season. Laps4MD has been helping people with Muscular Dystrophy and I am thrilled to lend a hand"

As you can tell by the comments from the drivers who are already supporting Laps for Muscular Dystrophy the future seems bright for this new fundraising campaign in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. We simply can’t wait till the start of the 2015 race season which is already shaping up to be even bigger and better.

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