Wordabration 2009

I am a word junkie. I cannot escape them, and they are what I see the world in. I do not see you as colored flesh blobs, I see you as descriptions in text of colored flesh blobs. We cannot have lyrical music without words, speeches, television, even silent films needed words to describe their content. Blogs especially are made of words.

Tomorrow I am giving a speech called Wordabration, it is a speech to introduce me to the Toastmasters’ group. Well, I am going to put words into a context of my existence. I cannot give you a pre-written speech to read, so, when the video is up, I will post it in the blog. In the mean time I wanted to share this video, it uses words to show the entire glut of change we face. Skynet is coming, Bluetooth is the key.

If you know what the music is, I’d love to. It stuck in my head and has me all tingly, with words. Why are words so important? As a culture our language is what gives us expression, and although not all of the words in a language are positive, they still are the keys to  understanding an entire culture. Without the Rosetta stone our understanding of the ancient world would be not even a tenth of what it is today.

The language of a legal document, or the language used when you are mirandized if you are arrested matters. Language is the single most important part of a culture. Language is used to discriminate too, if you do not have a mastery of the language then people presume you are stupid.

I love words. I truly do. Wordabrate with me. What is your favorite word? Mine is Onomatopoeia, a word describing sound. Sounds and words are the same, that is merely proof.

I woke up today ready to resume writing my novel, and, so full of word steam I felt as if I had exploded. I broached new territory for me,describing adult situations in my book. I decided to write the first draft without being certain who my audience was, and today I woke up knowing my audience. The power of my words grows exponentially. I can hardly wait to edit this puppy!

By the time I go agent shopping, I doubt my book will even resemble the mess it is now. I am showing not telling, there are gaping plot holes, inconsistencies in names but that is what a first draft is for. All of the variations of my characters have to melt down into a single and final variation. My Pirate dragon warrior princess has to become a person, instead of a pile of words, while being in literary form. Only words can manage that.

I do not cry over movies often, but, even comic books can make me weep. Words are the most powerful weapons in the world. They start wars, they stop wars. They make people rich and poor. They give the perception of rights, and they can even train those who hear them to believe certain things. Words are used to label people, sometimes to their betterment and most often to their detriment.

Words uplift, they demean, but most of all they are just words. Wordabration means, celebrating words. You can participate in March, my month of Wordabration, by reading the dictionary, read just one page a week, learn a new word, or even just acknowledging what words have given you. They bring you this blog, your news, even if you get it online or from Jon Stewart, words do that for you.

So, here is a celebratory blah blah blah. Let’s go Wordabrate!

Ana Phalaxis- Super Villain!

I made a mistake. I ignored symptoms that could have killed me last week, during an allergic reaction. I have become so used to stifling my own needs through the years of surviving and it nearly killed me. I also have a limited education by my medical staff on how to handle my reactions, most of them writing off my lists of allergies as an attempt to get out of eating food I do not like.

I am not a hypochondriac. I was diagnosed as one when I was a child, because invisible illnesses are very complicated and my mother never told new doctors about the existing diagnoses she had. I have multiple diagnoses that were remade as adults, and only then did she actually believe that these disorders could effect my life.

I was sent to a mental ward for being in pain. This sounds preposterous doesn’t it? Your child is suffering, so, you have her locked up because it must be all in her head. You have her trained in how to lie to herself, so that she will take herself seriously.

I do not personally believe Hypochondria exists. Part of what makes the diagnosis work is that you supposedly get something out of your claims of pain. I never did. I remember telling my mother when my hands hurt, visibly swollen knuckles that would barely bend, and I was told to stop being lazy. This denial and imprisonment escalated changes in my fragile mind, which caused more issues.

Even now, as an adult, I can hardly acknowledge when I need help. I have a caregiver who I still forget to ask to bend and pick things up. I am physically unable to bend over without fainting, yet, I tell myself to not bother him. He is paid for this, which has helped me begin the process of healing, yet, I still hurt myself out of habit.

I did make it do the doctor in time, it took me three days. Three days of being barely able to swallow or breathe, and three days of repeat attacks without exposure. I also could not eat. Then, and only then did I seek medical help. The last time I went to the ER for an allergic reaction was when I was very small, usually I self medicate yet, I also know just how stupid this is.

This time, in the ER I had an experience that woke me up a little. I had a doctor who not only took at least ten minutes of inspecting my body and asking questions about my needs, but, he never once denied that I have severe allergies. Instead, he prescribed the necessary medication to help me heal. He also suggested I try and see an allergist, because the severity of my reaction without eating the food is rare. Most people with food allergies actually have to at least put the food in their mouth or to physically contact the substance.

I have documentation of my reactions changes, and I do not doubt that my primary care physician will send me to an allergist but I do believe that this reaction will change the level of care I receive. Last time I went to an allergist they gave me the blood and skin prick tests, yet they claimed that I did not react to either. Instead of telling me that I do not have allergies, I was told they were merely minor, and nothing to worry about. They took away the epipen, despite my having gone into anaphalactic shock repeatedly in my life. Not once, not twice, but over 20 documented times.

I am only twenty four, and my body rejects so much but, my allergies are not severe? This confused me, yet I did my best to follow orders, though, the doctor turned out to be wrong. There are other tests they could perform to check for allergies, yet, I am hoping this time all it takes is my handing over a list of the foods I react to.

I am still struggling to breathe today, but, I can think once again. My throat is still visibly swollen, but my inhaler for asthma is finally making a difference and I can feel the air in my lungs. The doctors are worried I will develop pneumonia now, though, because my lungs shut down for so long without treatment and even when I went in to see the doctor my heart was responding to the reaction.

I did spend the last few days reading up about allergies, reeducating myself, reinforcing my value and the value of my body and it’s needs. I need to protect myself, I need to love myself, and I need to teach the people around me how to identify anaphalaxis.

Until this experience as an adult, aware that it is not all in my head, I have always thought anaphalaxis meant I had to go to a doctor to survive. My thoughts were wrong. Some people survive anaphalaxis without medical care, though the extreme nature of the reaction does make this often true, there are some reactions that are still Anaphalaxis that do not kill.

In all of the times I have known about being in Anaphalactic shock I did seek doctor’s care, but, the times I have dealt with the symptoms of an attack, the times I have felt my throat starting to swell, my head getting light, and the times that my hives have burned through me, causing fevers and chills? I have no idea how many times I have dealt with that.

I am going to write an educational program with my doctors’ input to teach people about allergies, or I am going to find an existing one and take part in educating myself and others. Education can save myself, and it might make it easier for me to ask for accommodation with my allergies.

I do not want to spend the rest of my life in the apartment, I do not want to have to hide anymore. I have stopped attending too much of life’s fun parts and I miss it.

Toasting the Masters…

Today I found my Toastmaster’s group. First try too! That part was utterly unexpected. Usually it takes a few trips around the group sets to find where I belong. Not today. I am still planning to go to the Albuquerque Toastmaster’s meeting tonight, but only to reconnect with oldfriends and really, only if I have the energy. I am kind of beat. The good kind of exhaustion come from energy well spent.

First, we had to find the place, and via Rand Mcnally’s better than Mapquest map maker (you can get turn by turn maps!) we had success. Walking in, there was a lovely security guard. She not only opened the doors for me but cheerfully gave me instructions on how to find the group and didn’t hesitate to allow Sprite the Service Cat into the building. The meeting was on the second floor of the building, and we entered it… the most awesome elevator I have ever seen. It was awesome despite my fear of heights. The back half was clear so you could see exactly where you are. If you fall you can see you are falling! The ride was smooth, and it was roomy.

Backing out I took note of the hall of doors and entered the first room, after seeing the Toastmaster’s TVC banner. I had a second to breathe and then the greetings started. Every person there had such genuine kindness and they were all excited at the prospect of meeting someone new. I transfered from the Scooter into one of the rolling chairs, because they looked really comfortable. They were sweeeeet. I volunteered myself to work if they needed anyone, and it turned out they did.

Today was their Club Level contests for the Annual International and Table Topics speech competitions. I was secondary timer, one of the required and more relaxing jobs. I had little to do but relax and enjoy myself. I did have bouts of nostalgia with the memories of Toastmasters Once Was, but, the toastmasters group I was in snapped me back fast, with their own brand of awesomeness. First and foremost the concept of a service cat was greeted with , “She’s adorable, and what a neat idea. You’ll have to give a speech about that sometime.” My brain almost broke with the acceptance.

It turns out that there is at least one, but I think two, service animal users. They often have a dog there, though the dog doesn’t react well to cats, so there is some coordinating to be done. I introduced myself, and went ahead and mentioned that Toastmasters is going to help me achieve my goal of Miss Wheelchair USA. This was met with excitement. I forgot most of the TM Groups names, but, they are so wonderful, I am going to join.

The speeches were all top bar, as a contest requires. One of the speeches was about the Superhero Inside, and almost made me squee out of habit at the words Batman, Superman, and of course Wonder Woman. This speech had appeal for any age group, and was so well delivered. I laughed, internally I cried just a little, and I laughed again. This speech will go far. The sec9nd place speech was just as fabulous, and it was about the discovery of Service Animals. The speaker talked about the joy and sorrow in sharing your life with an animal and encouraged the audience to get a pet of their own. The third speech was also good, though, it needed more polish and talked about the challenges of industrial labour. Each speech taught something, and each speech had a unique element. It was a hard contest for the judges. I got to count their sheets with the other Timer (Head Timer) and the Head Judge.

I came full circle. I left Toastmasters long ago (Six year!) just after the first round of contests, and I am returning just as it begins. I only felt welcome, even when Sprite spooked a member. She went under the table and rubbed against her legs, the poor woman (in a really snazzy outfit) was startled but again, so very gracious. I did not feel anything but that warmth of belonging.

I am going to start my speaking path over, as I am relearning about delivery from a wheelchair. it will be a challenge, but, how can I live without the joy of Toastmasters? Especially when the people are not discriminatory but accepting, the space is beyond ADA compliant, and, they will support my dreams? Just before I left a suggestion was made about having a Service Animal and Companion Pet gathering, that is a great idea with planning, though it must be done carefully to prevent fights.

I came away feeling energized, and only  grew tired when my wheelchair broke, though that is a post for another time.

Links:

Toastmasters International: Find a club near you, find information, or even renew your membership!

Toasmasters District 23: My home District

Toastmasters at TVC: My Group

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