The Art Thing

I have recently had a bunch of questions asked about my art. I am predominantly a writer, and while this is all well and good sometimes I need to get my visual creativity on. I don’t draw any longer, and have explained a limitation a few times that binds me to my mouse. Painting with a mouse is very difficult. Most of the time this unrefined method is eschewed as soon as the artist can afford a tablet. I even own a tablet.

I used to draw, ink and paint. I used to be very good at it. I could do photo realistic art although I preferred to work with an impressionist style. This style doesn’t work with the mouse, therefore my style has altered. I will try and get a few older pieces added to my gallery to show you the improvements that I have made as well. I think I am a better artist because I have to put effort into it.

Recently I have had a few commissions come my way, and had to turn a few down based on their insistence I do my own line art. No amount of money is worth pain that vies for supremecy with a partially severed spinal cord. Holding a round object like a pen, a paint brush and even at times just feeding myself leaves me wearing a brace on my wrist and considering cutting my arm off for relief.

What caused this injury? I consider it a bit of Irony with a capital I that this occured in an art class. It was my first semester of college. I was fighting my broken back that had yet to be diagnosed, dragging myself from class to class but looked forward to my art class most of all. I arrived a bit early, for once. Pulling out my lunch which consisted of a candy bar, rich dark chocolate, I began to eat it. This was my entire food supply unless I could get a ride to the store, and it had been over a month. My roommates didn’t think it was a viable option that I should get food. Last time I had tried to ride the bus I had fainted, so, I was resorting to candy.

My friend, her name will not be mentioned to protect the guilty, came in and asked for a piece of my candy. I said, “No.” This was apparently a mistake, though I had thought that being two adults we could each understand that I really just wasn’t going to share and she could get some for herself later. Instead she decided assault was the best method.

She twisted my arm, and asked again. I said no. She kept twisting and the end result was the reversal of the two bones in my fore arm, all the nerves tearing or stretching, most are torn and a lot of torn ligaments. Most of the injuries will never heal because of the other pre-existing conditions. I had no fine motor skills for over six months, I had to adapt to my other arm, although she had also damaged that with the same method. They managed to fix most of my arm without surgery, and considered the rest of the repair an elective proceedure because I had no insurance. This is the same hospital that missed the break in my spine.

Shortly after this I dropped out of College, I couldn’t take my own notes and my education was suffering. I couldn’t even type them on my laptop, which exploded and the exhaustion I was suffering from due to the physical stress of four 8 hour days caught up to me. I have no regrets about dropping out, and still cannot handle the physical work load going to class would require of me. I have checked in to correspondence classes but none of the offerings actually interest me.

I did press charges against my one time friend, and she has never felt the need to apologize. I was given witness statements by the other students in the class, and as a result of her culpability being proven she was expelled. This effected her entire future as much as mine. I did my own physical therapy and focused first on relearning how to type. It took me two years to get to the point of being able to sign my name.

My hand is getting worse however, and even using a mouse is causing a lot of pain. I still am pain free when typing but, I am going to see a doctor about this problem. Maybe I will relearn how to draw, if there is a treatment. I know it will have to be nonsurgical, so my hopes are limited. I hope this explains to those of you wondering why I only do color work or writing what is up with that.

I wish I had taken the rest of that art class too. I haven’t had much formal training, this was only the second month of class and we’d barely gotten to shading. I am always looking at varying pieces of art, and trying to dissect it. So feel free to critique anything in my gallery, unless it is otherwise marked.

To reach my gallery go here

A Death in the Family

I can remember the first time I realized I rarely am touched by death, even when it is very close to me. Jason Todd was in Batman’s arms and the only one touched by his death was Batman.

Yesterday morning, leaving a party my Step Brother Talon was in a car accident and died. His friends, instead of calling 911 abandoned him. Could he have lived? Most likely, although we will never know.

This isn’t a PSA. This is just my mention that teens do not belong behind the wheel when drunk. No one does. The highest cause of death for teenagers is DRINKING AND DRIVING. What is the lure of alchohol?

Here is what I remember from my 21st birthday drunk off. Everything tastes like pee or worse. Everything smells like barf or worse. People say the weirdest things when drunk. “You have such lovely eyepatch tits.”

Wouldn’t you rather actually LIVE to be 21? When drinking loses it’s allure? Why not avoid the risk of a ticket, of killing someone, and the guilt that comes with knowing you could have made better choices?

Am I saying don’t have fun? No. I am merely saying stop being a ridiculous entity and try putting the beer away. One way to find out if your friends are friends forevar like you swear they are? Say no to the drinking. Play with their minds a bit. If you can’t have fun without booze, get off my damned roads!

The funeral is on Thursday. I will be there, with the service cat. I will be trying to support my family. I still feel a bit like this is not real. My stepfather is not wearing a cowl, and I do feel sorrow. It still just doesn’t seem right.

My niece put it into words. “My guinnea pig died. Unky Talon Died. Is great grandma next?” My grandmother may not appreciate the sentiment but she is old. She is supposed to be the next to die. The hanging sword isn’t supposed to mark the young right?

Sorry to babble, I know the world isn’t going to stop while I seek understanding, and comprehension. The world will go on, and so must I.

I remember our first real conversation. None of his friends were around, and neither were our parents. He discovered I wasn’t just a two dimensional side show freak and I discovered how smart he was. I was surprised, because in all honesty he didn’t act like he had much of a brain. It turns out being stupid is the cool thing where we used to live.

I will miss him. I didn’t spend enough time around him. I always thought I’d do it next time. I’d visit more. I have a bit of regret there, although there were times when I did visit and he’d say Next time. We all have the person in our lives we next time with. I am not sure this leaves more bad memories than good, or good than bad. We fought often, and I always had hopes for his future I never shared.

It turns out there are now two people I have cried for in passing. Maybe it is a sign of something. Maybe I am just really sad.

The Chronic Life Style

When you live with one or two or even more chronic illnesses your life changes. You lose something. Life becomes medicalized. You are removed from society, even if society doesn’t see it. Some conditions are blatantly obvious, but others may be hidden by clothing, misinformation, or even great efforts by the patient. You become a patient. Likely you also lose patience with the practice of medicine. Depending on the rarity of your disease or diseases you rapidly eschew laymen’s terms, having to research so that you can teach your doctor about the latest treatments.

It may feel like you should give up on doctors, but you may need medicine in order to have any sort of quality of life. Painful procedures including biopsies may become a regular requirement for treatment. You will have a team of doctors, none of whom communicate with one another. The coordination of this team depends on you. Most doctors will try treatments that do not corelate, and many will eventually give up on you. They want to treat you with a cookie cutter treatment, though for most rare conditions these do not exist because the pharmacutical company cannot make enough money and doesn’t really care if you are in pain.

You spend most of your life in a waiting room, and once you have a doctor in a room with you there is often a fight to get them to listen to you. Eventually, you learn how to make them listen, though this comes with practice. You are known by your first name by a pharmacist if they care. You learn to count your painmeds at the counter if they don’t. Sometimes they pretend to care just to steal your medicine.

Your doctors all want you to take dozens of pills, and often put you at risk for an overdose if you do not know why you are taking other things or their side effects. This burden can be very heavy if the pain is effecting your cognitive function. Some doctors will ignore what you want, they will ignore your chart and may prescribe drugs that you are allergic to. They then get offended when you point out that the medication will harm you. You don’t matter to these doctors and they are often specialists. You learn soon too, that you want a doctor freshly out of med school, because they are open minded and are often the ones who remember the names of rare diseases, but you want the experience of a doctor who has been at this for years.

There is no option for both, you can either have inexperience and passion or the doctor who has been dulled by years in the system. If you go to a hospital with even one medical student you will be shown off like a side show freak, because you are rare and fascinating. They will prod you, even if your condition has nothing to do with your visit. If you have an ear ache, they will still want you to flex your joints or to poke your skin to see it’s odd reactions. They all want to interview you or treat you so that they can write a paper on your condition. None of them keep in mind the humiliation that some of their questions can cause. Some doctors do not ask permission before telling these students about you, violating your HIPPA rights.

At other hospitals the internists may be in the same position as medical students, though they are much rarer. Often the internists will arrive and will ask permission. The curiosity still gleams in their eyes but they are not going to ask the questions with as much bluntness, a sign of mental maturation. Still, even if you are a small child, you forget to have a childhood. Doctor’s don’t really seem to understand that you lose your personal life.

The condition may have treatments, but many of them might be surgical. You could have a few conditions that cancel out the treatment options of others. The horrible sensation of turning into a grotesque monster may hit you. At this point, or even before, many with Chronic conditions turn to thoughts of suicide. Some even commit suicide, abandoning their families and lives. Some choose this route because they were abandoned instead. All Chronic Illnesses come with a side risk of severe and Chronic depression.

You might start laughing at every new diagnosis. You might hear the words “rare” or “genetic” and burst into giggles. They aren’t sounds of joy but it is really a mask for your horror. Each diagnosis has the same grief process. Sometimes you may be able to skip denial but you can never skip over the tears that you cry when you are alone. Even when you have a support system, they can’t always help you to feel better.

As your condition progresses you forget to do things such as buying groceries, or you have to choose between the medication that is vital to you and your pain medication. Many people with chronic conditions are looked down on if they need a handicapped space to make it through their shopping. Some careen through the store in a rush trying to get everything done before the pain overwhelms them, or the fatigue. Others use a motor cart provided by the store, praying that some little old lady doesn’t see them. They might feel guilt the first few times, but the ability to buy groceries with diminished pain is such a huge relief that they continue to use the carts.

At this point some continue to work, though others may lose their jobs. Not only are most people with Chronic conditions, even those which are supposedly pain free, fighting depression but the treatments may cost them their ability to work. If, as with Hidradenitis Supprativa, there is no treatment beyond surgery the patient will likely wait until the condition has debilitated them completely depriving them of their livelihoods. Some of these conditions are listed in the government’s database of conditions which need expeditious approval for a Disability claim.

Due to the listing in the Disability Database, the patient may run across a person who desires their disease or at least the diagnosis. This can be in the waiting room of the doctor, in line at the Social Security Administration Office, and even online, when seeking information and hope. This can often prevent a patient from seeing this doctor again. The patient might notify their doctor or the receptionist about the conversation. Instead they likely are too ashamed by what they have heard. Usually the person who has stated they desire this horrible condition believes it is truly painless, and considers it the easy way out. They are unaware of the detrimnetal effect that their words might have.

The patient with disability still faces the cyclic visitations to a doctor that the patient who has retained work or has made the choice to try and deny the need for Disability Benefits does. No chronic patient is exempt, though there may be enough relief from their condition to give them the sense of remission. Sadly due to the Chronic nature of any Chronic condition, there is no truth to this and they face the risk of a deepening depression or the onset of depression depending on their personality.

It is recommended by most physicians that patients seek therapy, although the psychiatric community eschews supporting most pain patients, preferring to tell them that their condition is in their head. The patient likely has spent years fighting for a diagnosis and will often have trouble with the notion of seeing a therapist again due to the traumatic treatment recieved before. This is not universal, though it is more common than a happy history with a therapist. This does not mean that therapy is not a good choice, as the state of mind can effect the reception of treatment by a medical physician.

Many patients will seek a support group before seeking out a therapist. With the advent of the Internet there has been an upsurge in email groups. Some patients may struggle with finding a group where they “mesh”. This struggle can be due to race, religion, or even prejudice faced against certain conditions. The rampant discrimination with in the chronic illness community can at times push people back into the mental distress mentioned previously. Many support groups try to modify the twelve step system or insist on a certain religious belief. Some members of support groups may be religious centric, focusing on prayer. Not every chronic patient wants to pray constantly. Many have had crisis of religion and are also seeking out their beliefs. This means that the religious patients who have turned to god may agitate their mental stress further.

This does not mean that any of these groups should disband, it merely means that a further support structure must be created and maintained by the patient. The patient has at this point forgotten that they can be more than a last name in a waiting room, or a first name if their last name is moderately difficult to pronounce. The patient may have had multiple personal crisis, and many years may have passed. Each patient progresses through various points in this article, and perhaps all of them. Some may be exceedingly lucky and find the perfect doctor, therapist, and have the perfect family who supports them unconditionally. These patients are rare. They also live with Unicorns.

Depending on the condition and the level of gore that the patient faces romantic interludes might be impinged. It may become difficult to hold their children, or to touch their pets. Fear may also be an issue with the patient’s spouse. Sadly, many chronic pain patients face marital crisis though a significant number of these crisis actually strengthen the relationships. Chronic Illness does not preclude the patient from desiring romance, love, or affection despite the potential for an increased level of anger as a side effect for the pain. The patient might begin to display outbursts of rage, instead of depression. They may also seem to mirror the bipolar patient (if this is not their chronic condition) with Mood Swings.

Some of these emotional reactions are the natural response to the brain altering it’s function to try and work around chronic pain. Others may be a response or side effect to treatment. Some medications excaserbate depression, others may mask the symptoms but only for short periods of time. The end of the masking period will be followed by a worsening of the condition.

With patients who have only surgery as an option there is the risk of being scammed by snake oil salesmen, untrained herbalists, and finks. A patient must research every medication, doctor, and treatment. It has become the patient who knows more than the doctor.

In order to return to being a person instead of the patient, a patient may tell their doctor to sod off. This is otherwise known as firing the incompetent buffoon. This is not always effective, as the medicalization of their humanity may have progressed rapidly and with great depth. The patient has found that resistance is futile. It appears that the Chronic Life Style is much like that of the Borg, as the patient has lost personal identity with in their medical file, beyond DNA evidence. The patient has discovered the medical hive mind, and thus their own knowledge has given them the ability to connect to it.

Published By Dr. Sarc A. Sim in the American Muddicle Association Joynal.

Author’s Note:

This was my attempt to try and vent. I spent last night trying to find out if I needed surgery for a very painful abscess that stayed hidden in my flesh for a good while. The cavernous hole was larger than a baseball, and showed up only as a small spot. The current treatment prescribed was oral antibiotics, which I stopped this morning. They made my stomach hurt and effected my reactions to the sun too much to continue.

The incompetent dermatologist I wrote about before prescribed this and a topical antibiotic that I used last night. I am now being forced to choose between improvement in the skin itself with the sensation of being burned alive or a faster progression of this illness that has no real treatment besides surgery and skin grafts. I haven’t decided yet. I am not sure I can handle that much pain.

I also am trying to get over the feeling of being alone. I wrote before about my rejection of mainstream religion, and all of the HS groups I could find last night seemed to talk about how prayer is the only treatment. This left me feeling as if I should just go to sleep and never wake up. This is a step away from suicidal thoughts for me, but is very close. The urge to give up is universal, with any challenge.

The final nail in my emotional coffin was seeing pictures of the treatment for HS. My skin is unable to hold a stitch, which means that where someone else could have the skin literally cut out completely and grafted over I could not. I did determine, as my doctor never knows and I have yet to find a Dermatologist willing to treat me more than once that I likely do not need surgery as long as I drain the abscess hourly. I am doing this and the wound is already shrunk down to the size of a golf ball.

I know I have support here, and someone else who is reading this probably found out they aren’t alone. I am considering doing something that feels drastic. I am considering building a website to host an email support group, a forum to discuss medical things, and a place to discuss non medical things. This would be a place to congregate. There would be a selection for those with the need to talk about their religious choices, but it would be seperate from the main support group as those persons are more likely to find a support group that fits them. I hope that it is clear that I am not judging anyone based on their religious choices with this, yet I want to make a place where you do not have to be religious, of the same religion, or can be an athiest without being judged.

I dislike reading about how once someone started praying, eating parsley, and did penance they realized they are marked as a sinner and that is the end cause. Yes, this is an extreme form of self belief, yet with the more untreatable conditions, of which I have many, that this form of extremism is more prevalent. I believe that some persons who happen to believe in the more widely accepted religions just as the less widely accepted religions may go to extremes but the main groups do not.

I feel that this all needed explanation as some people may be offended by my words, and that is the last thing I want. However, I needed to vent my emotions in order to subvert the depression that is trying to take over my mind.

If you would be willing to help create a system as described, please either use the contact form and drop me a line or post in the comments section. I cannot do it alone, and I do not have enough time to make this a reality at this time. This of course is logical as any group needs more than one person. I am looking at the Yahoo Groups System, as well as some of the free services for a website.

When Kindness is Repaid With Need

I am writing this post to try and distract myself from the distress of my neighbors. At this moment their infant is very sick, and they called upon me and my Person for help. I did my part, but, my Person is still in action. Why did they come to us? Complete strangers? The love of parents will cause the strangest actions.

I live in a very bad neighborhood. It is not bad enough to qualify as a gang war zone but it is still in a location where the middle class is almost non existant. I am far from middle class, though I am making strides to escape poverty. I believe most Americans are however, which means I have competition.

My Person tends to be on guard with everyone here. He has to, in order to feel safe. I confound him by being nice to everyone we meet. Some of the people here could be quite dangerous, yet, I will not back away just because of stereotypes. I trust my instincts and feel that most of them are acting as thugs in order to feel safe. It is a cyclic sort of violence that feeds on itself. I made friends with our neighbors who had immigrated. When they vanished I mourned. I believe they were evicted but I will never know. The neighbors who called on us for help bear the marks of multi-generational poverty in New Mexico. The men are bent over from hard work, the woman is often exhausted from her own work of mothering and having a job. Their children are at a higher risk for disease because of a lack of medical care.

Some of this comes from the prejudices of those who are in power. It is harder to get a job or even a decent education. A very high percentage of people in the local school system are so under educated that they cannot function in any other state. This is the worst state for raising children. This isn’t my theory or opinion but is based on the polls that the government takes Annually. Most of the people I went to High School with were illiterate.

My neighbors face these challenges, and yet as their baby who was smiling and waving at us from the balcony as my Person and I left this morning fell ill they knew that there was a bastion of kindness. I have had small conversations and made the effort to introduce myself before they went upstairs. I wave, I smile. They didn’t know if we had a phone but as they do not they called the hospital. We live right next to a hospital but the Ambulance will take over half an hour to arrive. Though they could walk to the ER from here, it is safer for the child to be driven. My Person is taking them now and will sit with them for a while.

I feel worry for the baby. I have no idea what is wrong with her and the millions of things that it could be rush through my mind. I remember looking up at her, and seeing so much brightness in her eyes. She waved, and I waved back. She giggled and kept waving. She isn’t even three yet. She has barely begun to walk on her own. Her dark hair was up in a little pony tail atop her head. She looked healthy. No child should suffer illness.

I know her mother is ten thousand times more worried than I am. I know she is holding her child in her arms and is praying to whatever diety or dieities she believes in. I hope after she has her child back home, safely in bed, she remembers that she can call on her neigbbors. This isn’t done here. It is agains the entire rule set that is taught.

When you knock ona door, it is usually to beg for money or food. It may be to try and over power the weaker neighbors to rob them. It may be to sell something. This is the presumption you must live with to live where I do. It can be terrifying. I do not answer the door, because it is not safe to do so. My person does. We have had to replace our sign of places that people can go for help with a sign that simply says in two languages, No Solicitation. The list was ignored and instead drew more harassment for what we have.

The culture of fear that pervades the people here is more frightening to me than the threats that are offered through actions. I do not know if it is my unique perspective on the world or if it is because I have broken free from what I was told I had to become in order to live but I hope my example plants the seeds of kindness in some of the people here. Adults can learn to talk to one another, the children can see that it is okay to play even as an adult. A simple hello may have saved the life of a child. It may have made it possible for her mother to get her to the hospital.

Despite the dark world that we live in, a world full of lies, isms, discrimination, and even torture there must be kindness. I have said before that people across the minorities must band together, and I say it again. Even a simple smile, wave, nod, or hello can build a bridge. I did not see the bridge until tonight but it was there, a tenuous connection that has grown stronger.

It is easiest for me to connect to people that I perceive as like me. My neighbors seem very much the Other to me. I catch myself reciting the lies that the “Man” has taught me. The propoganda of education, media, and even previous experience has left me having to fight myself many times over to continue my campaign of genuine human kindness. Sometimes it is forced. Tonight will remain as a reminder to me that this Kindness will be repaid.

This is what I get for being kind. This is what I get for saying hello. This is what my Person gets for answering the door at two o clock in the morning. We get the chance to protect the innocent. We get a chance to show someone else love. We get a chance to do the greatest things in the entire world. We get a chance to give hope. We get a chance to help a child reach adulthood. We also get a chance to break down barriers between two cultures. These people are no longer the Other. They are simply people.

It occurs to me as well that any single person could do as I have done. Anyone could answer the door, hand someone a phone, or even drive them somewhere. Anyone can offer hope, kindness and love. It isn’t anything special I have done, nor should it be rare. It may have been missing with in the lives of these people but it is here now. They will hopefully plant their own seeds of kindness.

It is said that Misery loves company. I believe instead that Misery is really a mask for fear. I will update anyone who reads this as soon as I know what is going on with the precious little girl who lives upstairs. I know too, that after this our greetings will move beyond hellos and our interactions will grow. We planted the seeds, now the garden has begun to grow. Have you planted your Garden of Kindness yet? When it blossoms it will begin to change the world. The world is as large or as small as the people who act and live with in it.

A Moment Please…

This isn’t a real post. It is just me asking for you to head over to this link and vote on a contest. I do not expect to win, but, follow the directions and vote.

I appreciate any help that this contest can have, as this contest has the potential to make or break careers for art professionals! This means you have the power in your hands!

Again that link is http://overground-eic.deviantart.com/journal/24827240/

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella

There is this claim floating around the world, people are passionate about it. Autism is caused by vaccinations. I disagree. I know this makes me a target. There are people targeting advocates that do not want to cure Autism. I can’t cure myself. I am not a problem, I am just different. I almost didn’t write this because I am very afraid of whack jobs. I come from a family of them.

I am Autistic. I am a woman. I also did not get vaccinated when I was a baby, or at least not the MMR Vaccine. I had Measles. I had Mumps. I also had Rubella. I had each one. I remember little about the measles, I barely remember much aside from my face hurting about the mumps. I was a bit older when I had Rubella and I remember my skin burning. I didn’t have a clue about the dangers I was facing. More reasons that I am angry with the parents in my life.

I am certain that Autism has been around for as long as people have been breeding. I say this because to me, the way I think is perfectly natural. You may not get from my point A to MY point B. It may be point Z for you. For me it is what is logical. I am not a machine. I am not a robot. I am capable of emotion and love. I dislike the proverbial chick flick because it plays on emotions cheaply. I love action movies, because I can cry when the hero gets blown up but he gets up and keeps fighting at the end.

I am an adult who was recently diagnosed with Autism. I am still learning what it means. I have learned that it explains a lot of what makes me who I am, little quirks that I was punished for. Violent punishments. I wonder too, if my mother’s improper diet, diseased body (She has lupus and it has never been treated), and my genetic history with so many mental health issues contributed. I know the violence in my home helped me mask it. I can make eye contact without appearing to flinch. I can also steal a car, and lie to your face about it. This doesn’t mean I want to do either, or will do either now that I know I do not have to hurt myself.

Still, at times I question the validity of my diagnosis, when I hear these claims. Only boys can be Autistic. Only children who had their vaccinations can be Autistic. These are fallacies. Autism isn’t a disease. It is something that creates people like Albert Einstein. I do not know if he was Autistic but, I have often believed he showed signs of what I know Autism to be.

I feel fear when I hear talk of a cure. I feel frustration when I see that all of the care and support vanishes completely once an Autistic person reaches adulthood. I feel loneliness when I am singled out by my disabilities and am then told that Autism makes me inhuman. All of this is wrong. As you advocate for yourselves and others, you must remember that there is no true inhumanity, except those that refuse to see that genocide is imminent. I understand that living with any non standard deviation is frustrating. I do this daily.

I am so nonstandard I cannot have a cup of coffee. It makes me faint. I am so nonstandard I cannot go into a burger joint without risking death. I am so nonstandard I think it is wrong that people are discriminated against for every possible thing. There is a lot of discrimination with in the disabled community. There are people who use walkers and look down on wheelchair users, there are wheelchair users who think that fat wheelchair users are somehow less than. Every chance we get, we need to not pick at the little things but band together.

I will always bear the scars of my childhood, and I display them here so that someone else knows they are not alone. For all of the Autistic persons who read these words, no matter what you are told the cause of Autism is, what you believe it is, or what you know about yourself. I accept you, I do not want to cure you. You are exactly who you should be and you are beautiful.

Personal Space

Before I set into writing the latest post, which proves of all things I am still alive and kicking I have a few updates. First, the biopsy came back, and I do not have cancer. Second, I just painted seven paintings in five days. My hands are sore. Why would I paint seven paintings in a week? One was for fun, six were for a contest. I really want to win, but, only time will tell if I actually do. I am certain a few of you will want to see these pictures. The contest was run by Overground EIC, and as I cannot draw yet, I used their line art. The seventh picture was drawn by a local comic book artist named Paul Ziomek. He’s a really nice guy too. So, here is a link to my gallery on DeviantArt and just in case you want to support artists who are local (to me) here is a link to 7000BC, a local comic book group. They have some really cool stories.

I am actually hoping to start a weekly web comic with someone, so if you know any artists who want to audition, let me know. I will be hosting a contest soon. I already have a few scripts, and it doesn’t take too much time for me to write. In fact, I might even update the blog more often if I do that.

Now, here is the actual blog post for today:

Personal Space:

The issue of Personal Space comes up frequently when we are children. We are taught boundaries, we are taught that we cannot just touch strangers. I was taught this at least, and reminded often that my own space was worthless, but I had best not encroach on anyone else’s territory.

As an adult this was the norm until I started using assistive devices. It was then that I learned another facet of ableism included touching these devices, leaning on them, and even hitting them. Would you ever touch a person’s purse? The answer is usually not without permission. Why is it alright then, for people to smack my chair, try and take the key, or even tell me just how cute it is that I use a wheelchair?

You are probably confused by their actions as much as I am, and you also probably experience versions of this as well. I am not sure why it has become the norm for people to tell me that my wheelchair is cute. I understand the perspective of another person who is shopping for a chair deciding mine is really cool and asking me questions, that is perfectly reasonable, and is something I have done myself. I understand a child needing to ask me what I am driving a miniature care for. I do not understand walking up to someone and smacking the top of their chair and telling them how cute it is that they have a sunshade on their wheelchair.

This happened at a Walgreen’s that is just a block away from my house. My Person and I were there, getting some snacks and were going to rent movies after. I was in glee as I had found lotion I could use with minimal reaction, my arms stayed red for only an hour and eyeliner that I was not allergic to, could use properly, and is hard to obtain. This Walgreen’s carries authentic Egyptian Kohl. I am so excited by this that I actually spent all of my extra money on make up. We were about to check out when the Cashier gushed at me, “Oh how cute your chair is.” I looked at her and told her, “Excuse me?” She repeated it. Then, another employee smacks my sunshade and tells me it’s cool. I decided then and there to put a stop to this.

“Do you really think it’d be alright to smack someone’s cane? Do you think I would go around telling you that your crutches are cute if you broke your leg or your cast is cute? Don’t patronize me, don’t touch me or my assistive devices. I happen to think it’s a shame I no longer get to walk through your store. I happen to think it’s a shame you think that acting like an idiot is going to make me want to shop here. If you touch my chair again I will report you to the management, and if you,” Gesturing to the other person, “Speak to me like a child again, I will also report you to the management. This is not how you treat a customer, or any other human. I am sure you think less of me for saying this, but I think much less of you for behaving in an inappropriate manner.” The woman looked as if she would cry, and the young man who had thwapped my chair had backed up considerably. It took a lot of will power to not curse at them. I wanted to. Instead the woman said, “But it really is cute.”

My person knows I dislike advocating. I don’t know anyone who really enjoys it or wants to spend all their time arguing with people about their own right to exist, but, he has accepted that I will and must. He also has accepted that at times, he must as well. He spoke up then, “Don’t patronize her. Trust me, you don’t want to continue down this path. It’s not a threat, it’s just a warning from a fellow Walgreens Employee, that she knows her rights, and you are infringing on them.” He used to work for Walgreen’s, and as a result I know that the staff are taught to be courteous. I am certain that these two people have never really had to interact with a disabled person.

I am not proud of having to put them in their place or making sure that they feel a little bit less than but, I am still reeling with confusion at their actions. It has been almost a week but I cannot figure it out. This isn’t the first time people have told me just how adorable it is that I can shop, or function in society. Each time I have explained, to the best of my ability and as calmly as I can. I have also learned that it is alright to show anger. Any ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ or able bodied person would be angry if I told them how cute their flaws were, or how cute it was that they were absolutely stupid. I am learning that I have the right to anger.

I will go back to this Walgreen’s. It is a very nice store, and they actually measure their aisle displays for accessibility. I caught them in the act, the manager was correcting an employee on the placement of a standee that held some make up, “You can’t put this here. People will be unable to pass.” The employee walked around it, “I can get past it just fine.” The manager then said, “What about people who can’t walk or use a walker? How about this, if you don’t move it, using this measuring tape for a 28 inch radius, you lose your job. I don’t want anyone to sue me over the ADA or anything like that.” He added something else too, “Oh and what about customer service? It’s gotta be a pain in the (censored) to have to ask for help to reach a bottle of lotion.”

I hadn’t had to advocate to them, but I was watching. I was paying attention. I know that the management at this Walgreens cares. If when I return this patronization happens again, I will bring them into it. I will also offer to train their employees. The only reason I did not have to fight them more was that I had left Sprite the Service Cat at home. She wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to go out.

It was still a lovely afternoon, but, it left me chewing over the concequences of their actions and my reactions. I am proud to state that I did not punch the man who touched my chair. I almost did, but I managed to catch my impulse in time, and used my words instead. I have been having a lot of trigger issues with men and my chair lately. They come up behind me and I want to run them down to make them go away. I haven’t given in yet, but, when the strange males who trigger me then touch my chair, all bets are off!

I haven’t much else to say on this matter, beyond, advocate for your personal space. I didn’t at first. When I used the walker and my abusive roommates would pile heavy objects on it so that they didn’t have to carry them, or when they kept dumping things into my chair so I couldn’t use it when it was brand new, I at first kept my mouth shut. I was so used to staying silent so that they wouldn’t punish me or decide to expose me to even more allergens. At first I let people do things like this out of the house too, because I was afraid. I feel less fear when I advocate. I also worry at times that I am being too sharp, too harsh. There have to be times when I am the gentle advocate, and there are. I worry over it even when I am putting in extra effort to not hurt people’s feelings despite their refusal to let me have my basic human rights. It sounds preposterous when I say it or write it, but it feels right to try for extra kindness.

I am also learning that my Autism may factor into my need to not be touched. I have always been extremely sensitive to touch and texture. I like to control what things feel like around me. I once could not adopt a very adorable and well behaved puppy because his fur felt too stiff. I found him a good home but, I couldn’t cope with the texture. Sometimes texture can even cause nightmares. This adds to my unwillingness to let strangers touch me. I don’t hug people often. I do make sure to touch my Person, but sometimes it takes massive amounts of effort. He is understanding when it comes to my reticence, but I also want to make sure he has nothing that he wants or needs for.

What about you? When you advocate does it help your anxiety level or make it worse? Do people infringe on your personal space? This goes for those with sight issues or hearing issues, do people at times touch you just to try and make you function the way they want? What are your reactions? If you are an Autistic, do you also have touch issues? What forms of contact ableism are you familiar with?

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