Memories of the SWC 2004 Convention in Minnesota

By Donna Penman

July 13 Today I flew to Chicago to meet Linda Stock.  I had a good time getting through security at the Philadelphia International Airport.  I was wearing my Body Worn Processor and would not go through the mental detector but requested to be searched by other means.  I was given a very good pat-down by a female security officer and made to remove my shoes which were put in a bin to be inspected in the metal detector.  Everyone in the line was made to take off their shoes.  I had only seen them do this randomly in the past.  Each step of the way I also had to show my boarding pass as well as photo identification. I wore my "Please face me I read lips" button and it worked very well. I had requested assistance when I made my reservation and I was pre-boarded and the attendants asked me what assistance I needed as I boarded the plane.  They offered to explain the evacuation procedure but I have flown many times so told them that was not necessary.

My plane left Philadelphia late and I was worried that I would miss my flight in Chicago.  I expressed my concerns to the attendant and she took my boarding pass and told the pilot about my concern.  She returned with a written message saying that the pilot was going to get me there in time. Sure enough, when we landed in Chicago the other plane was waiting and I boarded and the door was closed and off we went.

Linda and I then flew to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport where we waited and waited for the shuttle to appear.  We were tired and hungry when finally the shuttle appeared.   It was great to arrive at the Thunderbird Ramada and be able to go right to our room.   We then found Cathy and made our plans for the rest of the day.

I don't know if all of you are aware of the fact that Cathy Hilden, Chair of the 2004 Convention, had an accident and fell and broke her arm. Fortunately, she was able to get a family member to drive her and her car and supplies to Bloomington from her home--a three-hour drive away.  However we had to go grocery shopping when I arrived and Leslie Cotter (Connect) saved the day and took Cathy, Nancy (Cathy's hearing dog) and me for groceries and the wine for the Welcome Reception.  We were a sight, I am sure: the three of us and Nancy (a fairly large dog) riding along in Leslie's convertible.   (I am sorry I did not have my camera along.)

I had requested the ADA kit and when it arrived I set it up and then realized there was no lamp to hook it up to.  It took a few hours for the hotel people to understand why I needed a lamp and then to locate one.  They were pretty good about wanting to know how things worked.

Julie and Maurice arrived. I of course, knew Maurice as we have met a number of times now but this other person walked in with two dolls in a baby holder; I did a double take and then the light dawned that this had to be Julie.  I sure had a good laugh.  What a fun time I had with Julie at the convention and her "babies" were a hit.  Again I wished I had my camera for her first entrance into the hotel.

In the evening, those of us that were there met for dinner and then sat in the bar for a while, enjoying the time together and getting the opportunity to relax and know each other better.  Then it was off to bed and a good night's sleep.

Wednesday July 14 Up bright and early, even earlier than when I am at home! After breakfast in the café, Linda and I got the tote bags ready for the Registration and then had time to wander around looking for new people arriving for the convention. It was great to see old friends and to meet new ones from all over the country.

In the afternoon Jo arrived and when the Hospitality Room became free we were able to get things set up for the Welcome Reception.  We had a nice crowd and I think people enjoyed the time to get to know one another.  For those of you that haven't attended a SWC convention, at registration each person gets a name tag with their home list under their name and this is a great help in people knowing who the other person is and what list is their home list.  Later people gravitated to the bar and those that were not night owls went to bed.

July 15 The first full day of the convention: We started off with a Circle Discussion with Bob (one of the founders of the SWC).  To be honest with you, I had not planned to attend but the Discussion was held in the same room where the food was!  I sat down with my food and listened to what Bob had to say and the next thing I knew I was participating in the discussion and did so each day the Circle was held.   The name was misleading as we sat at tables but I think that each day the people that attended came away with a good feeling about the discussion and it was agreed that we certainly want to have it again at the 2005 con.

By the way, each morning we were able to enjoy coffee, juice, fresh cut up fruit, pastries and bagels.  Then, Sunday morning, before the Town Meeting, we had a delicious brunch.

The first workshop was "Medical Care" with Jane Schlau as moderator and Linda Stock, Jan Christensen, Susan Dohne and Jack Nichols as the panelists.   They discussed a variety of concerns in regards to going to the doctor and hospital and did several skits.   One of the things that we learned from Susan, who works in medical records, is that there is not supposed to be anything marked on the outside of our records saying that we are deaf.   I was surprised to hear this as I would prefer that it be on the front of my charts.  We also were given some good handouts from the members of the panel to bring home.  The handouts included: "Requirements for Interpreters in Physician's Office", "Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Tips for Working With Your Doctor", "ADA Business Brief: Communication with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings", "Hard of Hearing Awareness Kit for Hospitals and Medical Facilities" and last but not least, Hospital Kits that can be ordered from SHHH.

The second workshop was titled, "Captions, O My Captions."   It was a little too technical for me and I did not get as much out of it as all the other workshops.

Then in the afternoon, a number of us took a bus tour of the Twin Cities.   I think the highlight of the tour was the Minnehaha Falls and Park in Minneapolis and the St. Paul Cathedral, which is modeled after St. Peter's in Rome and seats 3000 people.  I also enjoyed seeing the Snoopy Houses and would like to have gotten photos of the various ones.

Thursday evening many of us went over to the Mall of America  for supper and then to the hotel bar where we had a good time chatting together.

Saturday found us again enjoying the Circle Discussion by our own Bob  Elkins.  He admitted he had expected different people to attend each day  and since some of us went each day he had to change his opening story!

Following the Circle Discussion we had a most interesting speaker,  Kristen Swan, who spoke on depression.  She gave us some handouts to take home, including a Patient Health Questionnaire.  Ms. Swan gave us some clues as to what depression is, what it isn't and what we can do about it.  She said there was good news and bad news in regards to depression.  The bad news is up to 20% of the adult population will have an episode of depression and women are more than twice as  likely to develop it.  She said that a person who has a family member with depression is at higher risk for depression and that 15% of those that experience depression commit suicide.  It is the second leading cause of death among teens.

The good news is doctors now know more about depression and that 80 to  90 % of depression can be treated.  There are also new and better drugs, and more being developed all the time.  She stated and emphasized that depression is an illness and it is NOT you fault!  You are NOT alone.

There are a number of causes for depression including trauma, biological  and genetic.  Others are cognitive thinking (thinking negative thoughts) and personality (low self-esteem, low tolerance for stress, negative attitudes).

She offered some coping solutions that included exercise, plans or  goals, socializing, do something enjoyable everyday and most importantly: DON'T BLAME YOURSELF, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT, BE PATIENT, AND YOU NEED  TIME TO RECOVER.

Some of us were also able to get a Self Care Handbook entitled "Hope and  Help for Depression."

The second workshop on Saturday was about Cochlear Implants and was very  well attended.  Representatives from Cochlear Americas and Advanced Bionics spoke. They explained how the cochlear implant works and showed some of the  auxiliary equipment that can be used with a cochlear implant, and then  they opened up the floor to questions.

Saturday evening was an exciting evening.  Maurice and her committee had  some great things for all of us to bid on, and there were a few items that were wanted by a number of people.  During the Social Hour, people could look and place their bids. Then it was on to the Banquet which was quite good even though I ended  up with pork rather than the fish.  Bidding was closed and then it was  time for our most wonderful speaker for the evening: Jane Schlau. Jane has been involved with education for a number of years  and she has just completed her doctoral studies at Hofstra University. She did her research on acquired deafness; some of us at the convention answered questions in the past for her research.. She had us laughing, crying and relating in so many ways.  You will just have to come to the  next convention to hear her speak.

Sunday morning we held our Town Meeting with Bob leading the discussion.  One question he asked was:  "What did we like and not like about the  convention?"  The overall response was very positive and the one suggestion that some liked and others didn't was to start a little later in the morning. Other suggestions were to have the hospitality room opened after  the bar closed (can you guess who wanted the con to start later?)  The BOD asked for suggestions for future locations for conventions and there were a number of places suggested, such as San Francisco, Boston, Denver and Thunder Bay, Canada. There was also a reminder and promotion for  next year's convention in Clearwater, Florida.  Some questioned the heat but it was pointed out that there was air conditioning, a beautiful  beach and pool and that the humidity wasn't worse than in a number of other spots in the country.  We liked the size of our convention and  gave a great round of applause to Cathy Hilden for all the great work  she did on the convention and its success.

We then say our sad goodbyes and with many hugs and promises to keep in  touch via Commons and seeing each other next year went on our own ways.

Hope to see many of you next year in Clearwater, Florida.


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