Catnip: My Readers

In my head the title of this post has all sorts of cool robot sounds and lights, it’s half transformer and half comment terminator. Well respondinator. I am still sad, I am still grieving, but I am functional by my normal standard again. I also am well aware I cannot go back and respond to the individual comments of support right now. I know that no one expects me to either, though I try to reply to every comment posted on this blog either publicly or privately. I believe you took the time to write me I should respect that. There are just so many.

I read each one. Each one made me feel loved, supported, and sometimes when I wanted to give up I came and read more of the comments, over and over. Each comment is valuable to me. Each comment is treasured. Every moment when I questioned how much more I could take, there was someone there supporting me. So I could keep going. i could make good choices, I could handle the stress because if I needed to cry, I could either email some of you personally, most of you in fact, or I could write here and I would be supported.

In fact that is just what I did after I realized that I am not alone. I have people here in person and spread across the world who are friends, family, and even really awesome acquaintances that if I really need them will spring into action like emotional support super heroes.

You each are my heroes, you may not feel like it when you seek out words of grief, but groping in the darkness is all there is sometimes and just trying has helped me. I didn’t once get so low I felt suicidal. I didn’t once doubt that there would be another day of living or the value of such things. I didn’t once doubt that I could survive. I did doubt that I could survive without losing my sanity, but, sanity is over-rated anyway.

So this is my reply to each comment. Thank you for your support. I know that though there are only a few words when someone faces loss and they all look the same when you are the one who has to say them, they don’t look the same when being heard. When you really mean it, I know. EAch of you really meant it. In fact, knowing the real support was out there sheltered me from the false support of my enemies, frenemies (I try to avoid having them but some people just don’t let you), and cruel strangers who didn’t understand.

Thank you. I am truly honored to have such a network of fantastic people in my life. I am honored to give you the hard won award for being awesome on this blog. I won’t name names, because the record speaks for itself. (Eventually when there is a certificate for this I will email each of you a copy as well)

Catnip: Aztec Animal Clinic

Aztec Animal Clinic is located at 4340 Coal SE, Albuquerque NM 87108

Their Phone Number is : 505-265-4939

No one ever wants to need a veterinary hospital for their animals, and yet this is the best one I have ever been in. In previous places I had faced discrimination based on my disability, financial recriminations for being a poor person and daring to have an animal companion, and just a general process of humans being devalued. Needless to say my writing this should indicate none of that happened here.

At the Aztec Clinic my cat and I were valued equally, and highly. My financial limitations were respected, and every single doctor I dealt with made me feel safe and I had no hesitation on trusting them. I worked mostly with Benoit Bouchet, but several of their doctors were helpful in dealing with Nymph’s critical illness.

From my first phone call when dealing with their receptionists and asking about pricing on through my most recent visit, not my last by any means, there was no problem with my need to keep in mind my wallet. There were suggestions made on how I could help make ends meet and other hospitals were mentioned as places I might try. Aztec turned out to be the least costly and the best equipped for my veterinary needs.

My first visit we met the founder of the clinic, Dr. Truesdell, she was warm, understanding, and I didn’t feel like there was any grating despite my Autism always being a factor in conversation. Especially during times of stress. In fact, I appreciated how up front everyone was with me, each doctor asked me if they needed to sugar coat things, though they phrased that far better than I did. I was given the communication I needed. I was unaware she had founded the hospital at the time, or I would have had more faith on my next visit where we met Dr.Bouchet. He continued this trend, and each of the techs that I worked with, there were so many and I cannot recall all of their names, each one was the epitome of professional without professionalism being used to distance them from their clients.

Wait, there’s more. The receptionists, I worked mostly with Hope, 9/10 calls Hope answered and that is why she gets mentioned. She was great with me on the phone, and I will be honest, the phone is where I sound like I am a rabid badger. She was great in person. She was great even when I wasn’t sure how to answer a question. The amount of patience and actual care these people have just knocks my socks off. It was at a point where I was actually disappointed when Hope didn’t answer the first time, until my discovery that each of her colleagues has the same skills.

I wish I could go into detail with my experience here, but as I did on other pages of this blog and that writing is very sad, I want to try and keep this light hearted. This Catnip Award is the most well deserved so far, out of a tradition of only the best meeting my standards.

As always this means the ADA must be met, and then surpassed. The only flaw is their front door, but as the staff will help you, other clients will help you and I do believe the door was light enough, though M the Carer is the person who handled it the most often, it isn’t an object. The rooms, even their smaller rooms, are large enough for me and my chair, as well as other people. Their wheelchair friendly room is huge! In fact, I could navigate the space easily. There are enough places to sit where I wasn’t exposed to dog without my say so, which is incredible to me.

Even the lighting and decorations are soothing, this place was built to echo the chambers of your heart, a place of love.

Frankly even if they are no longer the cheapest vet, they are my vet. If you want a veterinary experience full of love that helps you and your pet to heal? Go to the Aztec Animal Clinic!

For more, please visit their website. http://www.aztecanimalclinic.com/

A call for writers and some moments of Cats and Awesome

I feel like a character in a musical this morning, my mood is so good. I was actually cranky for the last few days and couldn’t figure out why. I finally had alone time (something I miss with caregivers, alone time to me means days of solitude) but I just hurt and hurt. Sprite and her magic paws of awesomeness found the source of the epic pain. That isn’t the source of my good mood however.

Here is a science fiction writing contest with a theme on disability, the rules stipulate the disabled character cannot be disabled to mark their evil. This is the main reason that I have not read any sci fi in the last year, as I have grown tired of the same tropes, it wounds me. I’ve instead begun to write scripts and dramas that focus on this very thing. I am going to enter (will start that story once I finish my show pitch and between composing for the composition gig). If you are a writer, want to try your hand at it, or know someone who may be interested pass it along. This entire paragraph is a link that is screaming CLICK ME.

Ria, an ally and a friend on Facebook also shared this link with me today. It’s a call for papers about the same topic, disability and literature. I think addressing the treatment of those of us with disabilities in writing is a huge step towards being enabled by our communities. Not tolerated, not accepted, not just respected but enabled and embraced. So this paragraph is also a link that is screaming CLICK ME.

I know that on the competitive side of things some of you may be wondering why I would want competition but, I am the sort of person that likes it. I want to go against the best so that when I win there is no doubt in my mind that victory was deserving and if I lose then I can just try again and again. Sometimes of course I am disheartened but, I feel already a winner with this literary contest. Not because I will win, but because I feel my humanity is being embraced, my flag flown high, I feel enabled. I am enabled to find something to read that doesn’t have me rolling my eyes at the helplessness, evilness, or apparent horror that is NOT actually inherent with disability.

Now on to the crankiness. It’s another Sprite Tale. I have lived with her for five or six years now, can’t peg it today which is fine with me. Each day she amazes me with her intuitive nature. Florence Nightengale wishes she had my cat for her nursing aide. From the waist down for the last few days my pain level has been slowly increasing. I couldn’t peg it and was going to call the doctor this morning although I just saw her. This started the day after my last appointment.

The ache in my knees was bigger than anything the arthritis causes, and since it was rainy I was certain that was the culprit. I did my normal rub downs to check for dislocations and there wasn’t any sign of one. Everything felt normal if a bit squishy. I chalked it up to a few days of a flair up and tried to go with it. Yesterday the pain got worse, and worse, and worse. By the time it was 11 pm I had to throw in the towel and went to try and sleep. As I laid down Sprite did her evening body check.

She started with my head and worked her way down tucking my blanket in around me. This limits how much I can move without waking up, but since I have to wake up anyway and it’s very comforting I don’t mind. It’s one of the very human things Sprite does that amuses me and makes me wonder why people think that the cat has to be the baby. Nymph was helping and worked her way down after, which tickled considerably. I managed to not laugh too much and after Sprite was done she curled up to purr on my knees.

Sprite proved to me long ago that her purring can ease my pain. I am sure there is a psychological component but she usually warms and massages the muscles and there is some mention in a national geographic that I can’t find (or I’d give you the source) that the cats purr can increase bone density. It’s being studied. Cats do purr more when they are wounded and Sprite purrs more and closer to my body’s aches and pains.

I felt it then, I really had dislocated my knee. It wasn’t something I had felt because the bone had tried to go back into place and was pinching the tissues. I could feel the exact spot that was out, it wasn’t my knee cap which is the usual suspect but instead my stretchy tissues had let my knee snap down when I’d stumbled in the bathroom, the one place I have to walk.

With a different type of dislocation I had to figure out how to fix it, but with Sprite’s help that didn’t actually take much. I just dangled my leg over the end of the bed, she went on the floor and pushed up. It hurt, but I could feel gravity pull things apart and with her pushing up, not a lot of force needed, everything snapped into place. It made me feel like I am a giant Lego. The sound was similar.

She tucked me in again and resumed purring on my knees. I slept for four hours uninterrupted, which is twice as much as normal. Nymph and Sprite took turns being closest to my legs when I would shift or roll over. This morning my legs still ache but the pain is almost subtle, almost normal, and it is decreasing rapidly. My muscles are tired from over compensating so it will be a few days but once again Sprite has amazed me with her grasp of how to make her human better.

If I had a million cat dollars (mouse tails perhaps?) I’d give them to her just for her awesomeness.

Catnip: Lobo Anime and Comics

Lobo Anime and Comics is Located at : 1016 Juan Tabo Boulevard Northeast Albuquerque, NM 87112

Their Phone Number is: 505-332-0499 (May be updated if this is an old article)

What Makes them so Awesome?

I haven’t had such good customer service as with this shop. Anywhere. Ever. Not only is this one of only TWO accessible comic book stores, but it is one that has windows, treats their customers so well that it is impossible for me to bedrugde them my dollars that I can spend there, and they work with Comixology, a pick up service that lets me do shopping before I send either a carer or go in the manual chair (Gate and Paratransit access pending at the time of this writing).The other comic book store shall remain nameless because they don’t treat people well and their selection also pales in comparison.

They have a website that could use some professional touches, but over all isn’t so bad that it makes me not want to shop there. This is also where I go to see the Batmobile annually. This comic shop is one that I treasure. Not only do they announce their sales with about two weeks notice, sometimes more, but they throw events. This shop is where I met some of my fantastic artist friends like the ArtAssassin (You can and should google him, he’s a fantastic artist and a real sweetheart). Every year on Free Comic Book Day they give more than just comics. I came away from FCBD with a few things I had wanted but hadn’t been able to give in on because of sales, and they also enabled my purchase of a Batgirl statue which is my birthday present to me.

What makes them deserving of my rare praise for a shop of able bodied people? It isn’t their mom and pop status. It isn’t their customer service. It isn’t their accessibility. It’s what they do beyond those things. Every year they sell hot dogs on FCBD, with relish. Which could send me into anaphalactic shock. This year I decided to call in and let them know. Their accomodation of my need was something that went beyond reasonable, they pulled the hot dogs away from the lone ramp (not their fault) and also made sure that there was extra room on the side walk for manuevering a chair since last year my ogre of a scooter made things beyond difficult. Then to top it off the relish bottle stayed closed and as far from people as possible. I still had a little reaction this year but that is because of people eating the hot dogs and daring to breathe. Since I wouldn’t want them to suffocate I took my allergy pills before and during the event and was prepped with several epipens ready to stab me if I needed them.

It gets better. Since they use Comixology and I can pick things up, I often have to call them and ask them to wait a bit longer with my hold items and they always do. Today I called in and they let me know about a minor error on my order (in my favor no less) and this really means that my statue is THERE. Right now. I can hardly wait to get down there (possibly Friday) but this shop will hold my items until I can because I let them know I am having some transportation challenges. My goal once I have paratransit is a minimum monthly trip, because I want to support this shop. This means I will spend about five dollars minimum getting there and home and around five in the store. Okay so maybe two in the store on the Birds of Prey series but my goal is five! I mean a girl has to get her Oracle and Batman fix right? Plus every so often there is a Batman in the store!

For Albuquerque New Mexico there is really only one place for any true believer, nerd, geek, comic book fan, anime geek, or admirer of graphic novels to shop and that would be Lobo Anime and Comics!

(Trust me on this, their prices are also usually much lower than listings on the internet, there is no shipping, and with my rarely met standards being surpassed you know this is THE best shop in the state, possibly the entire multiverse.)

Pictures from Free Comic Book Day 2010 at Lobo Anime and Comics (yes that chair IS as uncomfortable as it looks):

Kat Fury with Iron Man beside her and another Iron Man Behind her. The first iron man is very adorable and is around four years old. Kat Fury and Batman infront of the 1960s Batmobile. Batman has his cape stretched out behind both people.

Hope for a Cure!

I know, I rarely talk about cures with my disabilities. I don’t believe I have done so with positivity in mind. I have yearned for even hope however, that Celiac Disease can be cured and HOPE has arrived. Not a cure, but a clue.

I dream a dream of pasta. I dream a dream of pizza. I dream a dream of being able to afford things that I want to eat not what I can afford to eat. I dream a dream of cake. I dream a dream of cookies. I dream a dream of a sandwich. I dream a dream of tomato soup!

Oh how many times have I lain in bed longing for variety. I could possibly put away my Epipen. Oh what a dream! What a joy! I dream of a balanced diet, with true balance not “Can I afford this fruit today?”

I know not everything will be cured and it may take decades. There is hope. Thank you scientists, Doctors, and please don’t give up. The Celiac community appreciates even the chance to hope.

I count Celiac Disease as one of my most disabling disabilities. It cuts me off from family dinners. It cuts me off from pizza with the girls. It cuts me off from even a reasonable budget. It limits my life severely. I cannot afford to eat a GF diet but I cannot afford to not be Gluten Free. It is the millstone around my neck at meal time.

To paraphrase the famous quote, “Free at last, I can have bread and I am free at last.” To hunger, to starve. It has made me appreciate food all the more. I feel like Scarlette O’Hara now, this gives me hope that I shall NEVER go hungry again.

I may keep my gluten free brownies though… they are chocolatier!

“Happy” Anniversary (Trigger Warning)

Yes, that says “Happy”. I am not sure this anniversary will ever be happy. I chose today to teach a class. I am trying to wind my brain down from the horrors that are the sound of fireworks. I spent the entire day in my room being cranky with myself. I got over that fairly early actually and enjoyed a mental vent session by reading a site called http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com . Eight hours later I am feeling almost normal and great for a stressful PTSD triggering day. This was the first fourth of July where I did not get sick from the smoke.

I am still feeling like the world is made of sand paper against my skin, but, I can control my snarkiness now. It’s in my head, and that has always been the case. I like to think that even Spock from Star Trek actually thought vindictive things up. “Vulcan Blood. I’ll show you McCoy!” If not, well, I am definately not a Vulcan or a Half Breed so it doesn’t matter. I am just human. That has been the theme for the week. I am just human. I am not Super Cripple, Amazing Woman, or even Functional. Just human. In preparing for the class I am to teach in nine hours, I realized I chose this day on purpose.

This is where I pause, and hide the triggering things, so you have to click a link today to get to the rest of the juicy details. Continue reading

SuperCripple VS Advocate Woman! Issue#1

Sometimes you have days that feel like everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Other days everything goes right, even when you least expect it. Today I had a day of Advocacy. I felt compelled to advocate not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. Each atttempt at advocacy costs energy, so, I am considering taking an epic nap right now. Instead, I see this as an  opportunity to discuss advocacy once again.

I found myself waking up to the phone and I actually answered it. I am antitelephone, and since ours does not have a speaker phone option I get pain when I use it. I still felt the need to answer and found myself being told that tommarrow at nine AM I was due for my mammogram. I had some questions, and was reminded the value of questions. Here is a sort of rewrite of the conversation.

“Don’t wear any make up, powders, deoderants or parfumes. These can cause false positives.”

“Great, I have some questions for you. Do I have to lay down during the mammogram? I am concerned about positioning.”

“Uhmn, you have to stand ma’am.”

“I am a wheelchair user, what is your accomodation for this eventuality?”

“Well the technicians can hold you up?”

I felt anger at that response. I should not be forced to stand during a painful proceedure. I consider mammograms painful, due to the fact that they crush your breasts. I will find out how painful on Thursday.I took my deep breath and responded with this.

“Ma’am that is wholly unacceptable. Not only could that damage my body further but it puts me at risk for passing out. I find the notion that you can just hold me up until you are satisfied humiliating as well.”

“Please hold.”

I was put on hold for disagreeing with her, though it wasn’t for very long. I hadn’t even decided what to feel about her thrusting me into Hold Limbo. This was good, I dislike being on hold and forced to listen to cheesy instrumentals of current pop hits. I once heard an instrumental of some Eminem music. That was just weird.

“Ma’am I see here you are not over fourty. I am cancelling your Mammogram, you can just get an ultrasound.”

“No, my doctor and I discussed the need for a mammogram. My doctor knows what I need, and you are not a doctor. You are a receptionist. It is your duty to follow the orders given to you by doctors. You can cancel the appointment, but, I would like the number for the head of radiology please.”

I was wide awake now, and having dreamed last night of a future when I was fighting for the rights of others on a National Scale, I felt inspired. In my dream I was the next Civil Rights Leader for the disabled community. My voice was the voice that pushed for training for the police, that pushed and pushed until finally equality came. It was a good dream and pushed me into action. I was put on hold again. She came back and said something I found shocking.

“I don’t have the head of radiology for our hospital.” What? Why not?! Instead I took a breath and asked, “Then, is there someone else I can talk to?” She was quiet for a moment then said, “I think the Women’s Hospital can accomodate your need.” Not only is the Women’s Hospital my neighbor, but, I love that place. When I need an ER I can get in, almost immediately. She did give me the number for the head of Radiology for the Women’s hospital.

I called and made my appointment, and then I left a voicemail for the woman who runs radiology, expressing my concerns and my challenges with the Mammogram. I wasn’t even ready to drag myself out of the bed yet. This takes time and my body wakes up paralyzed. She called back before I had even managed to scoot to the edge of the bed. We’re meeting on Thursday to discuss accessibility with in the confines of her hospital, and to discuss a plan to raise awareness for other hospitals so that women can get their mammograms. She agreed with my statement that a woman should not be denied a medically necessary and preventative screening based on her ability.

On Thursday I will be in a nonchair, but I will not be standing and she promised options for adjustability in seating to protect my body from the risk of fainting. There will also be extra nursing staff incase of the inability to accomodate that. This is challenging, at times my wheelchair isn’t adaptable enough. This was a victory. I negotiated for what I needed and am in return going to fulfill a need for others.

After getting dressed I was going to grab Sprite to take her with me for my speech, because I miss her working and she has finally begun to regain her Meow. She had a temperature. Instead of letting her come out, I had to let her stay in. This either was helpful or harmful, a mixture of the two most likely. Right now she is so glad I am home, that she is curled up on my knees with a little kitten grin. I need some blood work done, and after fasting and making myself drink only water (makes me queasy) I went for it.

My person unloaded me and my chair, and while he hefted the ramp back into the car I went on my merry way to sign in, that way I wouldn’t have to wait. I did not make it in the door. The curb cut was blocked off by a car, a woman sitting inside waiting for someone. I considered my options and decided for passive protest, waiting to educate the miserable soul who could be so inconsiderate. Out came a man who wore a hat declaring he fought in World War Two. He is the first veteran I have not thanked for their service to this country. I feel slight guilt at that, but only in the form that I could not undermine my own rights.

This converastion was full of his hatred of the disabled. His wife had just broken her leg and couldn’t walk to the car. I understand needing to use the curb cut for a chair. Instead of making sure anyone else who might be in a chair could use the curb cut and go inside, he felt the need to take fifteen minutes of my time with his selfishness. He felt the need to make it appear that it is my fault I cannot go over a curb, and that because he fought in the war he gets a free pass. I did my best to keep a calm tone, and success was had. He was not happy when he left, though I did try to accomodate his need to enjoy his able bodied superiority, his white priviledge and his manliness. I did not want to upset him, I wanted to educate. Here is my conversation summary there.

Him: “Move. I can’t pull forward with you there.”

Another car had come up behind him after I had made myself cozy blocking him effectively in his spot.

“Sir, you are breaking the law. You left your car illegally parked. blocking me in the street. Not only did this endanger my saftey but it is a federal crime. ” I then started to move out of his way.

“So what? I needed to put her wheelchair back inside. She broke her leg.”

“Sir, there is a parking spot less than three feet from us. You should have used it. Next time, please make certain that you are not denying persons access to the emergency room.” The ER is right across from the medical lab. I found myself at that moment wondering if today was ADA Awareness for the folks at the Women’s Hospital courtesy of yours truly.

“Well I fought in World War Two.” That part made me want to snarl at him about rights, priviledge and why he fought. I wanted angry discourse. Instead I took a deep breath and responded with this.

“I do appreciate my freedom, but, that does not give you the right to violate the federal law. My civil rights include access to this hospital.” I was out of the way of his car now, and he had begun to snarl. I lowered my voice, just a bit, “You should be aware that I could call the police to have them enforce the Americans with Disabilities act, having you fined. Instead I chose to make you aware of the law. ”

“No one reads the ADA anyway, you’re the only wheelchair person who has.” This man was using the ADA for his wife, so that she could have a reasonable accomodation of transport to their car. The ADA protects his right to medical care for service related disability, as do other non ADA laws.

“Sir, I am afraid you are misinformed. Most disabled people discover the value of knowing their rights, so that when people discriminate they can educate. You should try reading the ADA, you might be surprised at how much it effects you.”

He finally got in his car and snarled at me, “No one cares about you gimps.” It was difficult to not give him a rude gesture. Instead, I smiled and said, “Sir, I am not a gimp. I am merely wanting to go and get a blood draw. I need my cholesterol checked.” He turned purple. When people turn purple I always want to see if a purple people eater is around. This makes me relax, internal laughter at their overreaction feels good. “Have a nice day sir, if I see you doing this again I will call the police so that you can pay the fines. The minimum, I believe is about $500.”

I was reacting to my sun exposure at this point. My right ear was throbbing, as it had been for some time, and my back ached. I signed in for my blood draw, then began to see about getting my sleeves up. My good arm for blood had developed a giant sore right over the spot where the needle had to go. I have two spots to draw blood, one in each arm. Everywhere else is not an option. This meant that even the small children’s needles aka Butterfly Needles were not only necessary but any deviation could result in my bleeding. I have the hemophiliac gene and often display symptoms, though, my doctors assure me this is not true hemophelia. I agree with that diagnosis as I do not always bruise easily. At times I am injured and no bruises appear in my flesh.

My next and third for the Women’s Hospital opportunity to advocate came as soon as I went back with the tech. I reminded her of my need for a butterfly needle, and she went off to gladly accomodate me. She was great, and it turns out a med student. First, I had to argue with her teacher about the butterfly. They apparently keep them locked up now, to cut costs. This means if she is not there, a person needing a butterfly cannot get their blood drawn.

“Ma’am my student tells me you are requesting the butterfly needle. We reserve those only for people who actually need them.”

“Without the use of the butterfly needle I bleed enough to require hospitalization. Also, most of the time I then require six or seven attempts at penetration.”

“Are you a hemophiliac? You don’t look like a hemophiliac.”

Slow deep breaths. I had left my person out in the waiting room. I may be terrified of needles but I am not about to have him hold my hand when I can control my terror.  “That is discriminatory. Not only do I suffer from excessive bleeding, as I stated to your technician, but, declaritive statements that try to diagnose ability based on appearance are disabling to this hospital.”

She made a face and said, “I’ll call the head of security and have him escort you out.” Disagreement means I cannot have my blood test? I put on my inner Mule and let my stubbornness guide me.

“I’ll be contacting my local ACLU to sue this hospital. In this economy this hurts more than just you. I do not want to have to sue, and yet, people like you perpetuate the stereotypes of disability. Calling security merely proves your need to dominate the wheelchair user who knows her body. You will provide her with the butterfly needle, you will also apologize for your bigotry. I do not care if you actually mean it, but, if you want to discriminate, I will fight you. I will fight you so hard that you memorize the ADA just to survive the onslaught. I am just one woman, who has made a reasonable request. I have a speech to give in the next hour, and I would rather do that than bleed out in your hospital over your under educated notions.”

This was a bit harsh, but, being straight out nice was not working. I said this mostly tonelessly, trying to not let my anger win. Yes, I threatened to take legal action. This is my right. I have the right to sue for action when I am being discriminated against, denied proper medical care, and I also know the power of my words. She apologized, gave the tech the b utterfly needle and walked a few feet away to watch the student work. Her apology was a muttered thing that I barely heard, but, she relented. Before I tell you about my educational moment with the tech, I will say this. She stopped me on my way out and asked me where she could read the American’s With Disabilities Act. I wrote out several URLs for her. She will not make the same mistake again, especially as she is now educating herself.

The tech was curious. She asked me how I knew what to say and do. She also discovered that aloe allergies exist. I watched her reaching for the green gloves, the name on the box actually clear enough for me to read.

Me “Do those contain aloe? I am allergic to it.”

She grabbed another nonlatex glove, “Really? Sorry about that. I never considered allergies beyond latex. Do you have a lot of allergies?”

“Yes, I have enough that I have to be on constant guard against them.”

She nodded then and asked, “So,  how did you learn about the ADA?”

“I was told I was healthy as a child, but crazy. I was told I hurt myself because of the sores from one of my genetic conditions, supposedly rare. Hospitalization trained me to try and hide everything wrong with me. As an adult this challenged me to accept my diagnosises. The doctors had been wrong. I was treated for hypochondria.”

The H word caused her to roll her eyes, “So, you really didn’t need the butterfly then.”

“No, I do. I have medical documentation for the need. Hypochondria does not exist.”

“Ten percent of the US population has it.”

This made me smile. I love the statistics game sometimes, it can be an easy win.

“Okay, how many people have hard to diagnose, rare conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrom or Fybromyalgia?”

“Uh 30%.”

“So, with these numbers increasing daily, people suffering for years with their invisible illnesses and the like, what would you guess the percentage to be for undiagnosed illness?”

“40%.”

“Well, if Hypochondria is in just ten percent of the population, then, that covers your instances of hypochondria. It does not exist. I am in this wheelchair because my pain was not allowed to exist for so long, that my invisible illnesses became visible.” She was quiet, and finished the draw before she said.

“So, what other disorders of the mind aren’t real?”

I shrugged then, and answered honestly, “I do not know, but, statistics cannot accurately guide you or any other medical profession. They can only analyze the data that is present.”

This was the fourth chance to advocate. I am not counting the usual advocacy for safe food at fast food resteraunts. Dairy Queen had an employee who didn’t comprehend about no bread and no pickles. Her manager is going to read the new ADA ruling, I gave her a heads up that more people with food requirements will venture out now, and she should be prepared because when her employees tell someone to just eat paper and ruin their food, it will hurt her. Some advocacy and education comes from the strangest places.

I made it in time for my speech, the first speaker, Don Dubois, is an advocate for Lupus. He gave an educational seminar on how to negotiate. I learned from this, and had some of my own self discoveries reenforced. I picked up new techniques I will try, and, I got to see a great speaker. His disability melted away as he worked the room.

My speech, Wordabration was hard. I admitted for the first time outloud to a nonmedical group that I have suffered abuse. I admitted the challenges behind why, and honored the words that lead me to my freedom. I explained my wordabration, and recieved a standing ovation for my speech. I am so happy to return to my Toastmasters Family, that I used the words. I even remembered my closing.

I never use notes for speeches, I panic if I forget something, and then I ruin my flow. Everything felt like a scene from a movie. Everything felt wonderful, safe, and I was awarded the best speaker award for this week. To me, for my first speech in six years, this is a great honor. I am going to evaluate a speech next week and volunteered myself to work more speech contests.

I came home to a half dozen voice mail messages, and ran out of advocatability today. I had to have my Person make some calls for me. Walgreens automated system had gone insane, trying to deny the prescriptions, deleting one, and filling one.I also had my right earlobe explode. Apparently, since mid December when I last wore earrings, I had a growing abcess. It hurt, and now I have five holes in one earlobe. I am certain I just lost the ability to wear earrings.

This is a fairly average day, when I think on it. Every chance to educate must be taken. I feel at times like the world expects me to be SuperCripple, flying my way around their bigotry. Instead, I aim for Advocate Woman, Advocating her way to JUSTICE!

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