More

Even If You Don't Know Someone With Parkinson's, You'll Think This Invention Is Pretty Darn Cool

When you have a disease like Parkinson's, your whole life gets harder. Just take eating for example: Shaky hands make it nearly impossible to get food from plate to mouth without spilling — often on yourself. The daily experience of eating becomes frustrating and embarrassing. I have someone in my life who struggles with hand tremors, so I was so excited to see there's new technology out there that can help her with this.It's not a cure, and it doesn't address all the other struggles tremors create, but I'm glad to know inventions like this can make it easier for people with tremors to live happier lives with less effort and more dignity while we wait for a cure.

Even If You Don't Know Someone With Parkinson's, You'll Think This Invention Is Pretty Darn Cool
True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

Keep Reading Show less

This article originally appeared on 08.30.14


This is Skylar.

Even though he was born "Katherine Elizabeth," Skylar lived like a regular little boy for most of his childhood. He was happy.

Keep Reading Show less