Victory!

Today there was a great Victory. Not just for me but for others with animals that are their helpmates. Service animals have always been controversial with in the doctor’s office. I have had to change doctors a few times given the responses, some places just refuse to accommodate your needs and when asked they would rather be reported for an ADA violation than bothering with reasonable accommodation. Today after my appointment I was told I couldn’t bring my service cat back in. I asked to speak to the person who made the decision and pulled out my well worn copy of the law. I realized this copy is the one I used last time a doctor’s office discriminated immediately, there was highlighting on the portions about medical offices.

I asked the why, and I was told something new. This office does allergy shots and the risk of exposure for other patients is a concern. I asked if we could compromise which startled the office manager. It actually made her freeze her eyes wide with shock. Compromise? She asked what I would suggest so using the ADA as an outline I pointed out that I sometimes cannot even get out the door without her, but I do not want others sick. Sprite will wear her most covering outfit when we go in and I will call in advance so I can go straight into the office where I will see my doctor. This was our compromise. This allows me to have my needs met but does not infringe on the rights of others.

I expected a huge battle, but instead I was given victory. I left a copy of the law with the office, and explained what each part meant to the office manager as well. She hadn’t really ever bothered learning the ADA laws and therefore was unaware she had been about to violate my rights. I did remind her ignorance is never a viable reason in the court room, but is instead the fool’s gambit. I said it as nicely as I could of course. Victory, glorious victory. I feel more secure going to the office now, I feel respected, I feel human, and I feel alive.

In other news, I started with my newest caregiver today. The previous person was so great but that partnership is at an end. She has moved on to another client who speaks her language fluently, so her needs are being met. The new caregiver and William are already attached, and she is going to see if she can take him home. William may have a home. She understands his needs, and is willing to make the commitment. All feels right in the world, though it is a bit rainy today. Oh well, it couldn’t be a perfect day… that might be asking just a bit too much!

Oh, and if you want some great audio entertainment… check out Pendant Audio. They do radio shows! I know that not everyone is into this sort of thing… yet their work is really high quality. I am currently catching up on my Earth-P radio listening. The shows are short and make great waiting room time killers for those days when you just can’t read.

The Doom Ship

Not everyone gets to ride the Doomship. I ride, others ride, and yet I often take it for granted. What is the Doomship you ask? The Doomship is the Ship of Life, riding towards the birthday of Death. It sounds horribly dramatic and is.

Children born with serious illness are often told, “You won’t live to be 21,” Or something similar. I have a list of birthdays that have passed, my next is another Doom Birthday. When I broke my back, and it was first diagnosed I had a series of doctors tell me that my organs would fail by 25. My birthday isn’t for a few months, I was reading blogs off of the Disabled Blog Carnival and started reading Temporarily Disabled. Not only is this a great read, though with each post I tend to cry just a little for the child who was aching and the pain she has been through. She turned 26 and posted about the Doomship, sailing past into the great unknown.

With Doomship Birthdays past, it is like looking at a precipice of great unknown. I know I am going to live past 25. I am confident only due to surviving so long. These waters are familiar. I am pensive too, due to my Annual Cancer Scare. I get one a year. This time it is my reproductive system. I had my annual blood work done and my white count is high. My pap came back with abnormal cells. We’re redoing them both to verify before any panicking is done.

I waited three years before getting a pap, because no doctor would accommodate my need to not be in their perfect position, or to even help me balance on the table. I can’t do it myself. I need someone else to help heft my carcass around. I know if I do have cancer I won’t die. I will just get over it. My doctor is more worried than I am.

Right now I am surrounded by everything I have ever wanted. Not the things like the toys I never had, but the love I most desired. On my right I have Sprite, the service cat, curled up and purring against my back. She is helping me to not spasm so I can type the words out. My body is rebelling. I have on my left William drooling into my shirt, and every so often poking the keyboard with a paw to see what is so fascinating. He sleeps, then paws then sleeps a bit more.

In the other room my Person is puttering around, doing the dishes after making a meal of my choice. I had spaghetti with sausage meatballs. I haven’t had meatballs in a long time, but he made them for me, tolerating my lewd jokes. My home is clean, my bed is comfortable. My friends and family are far enough away and close enough at the same time. I even have high speed internet to keep me amused on those days when movement is unacceptable.

The Doomship sails on, the waves splash, the thunder crashes, and my life flashes before my eyes, but, it is the life I am living that I am proud of. Not the memories, not the past. It is my future that holds me in it’s sway. I reach for it, sitting in the prow, praying to my gods, listening to the world, and taking part in changing it.

I write something every day, and each time it is self discovery. I discovered I can write non fiction. I never knew I could. I know the mechanics of writing are sound, as I sell fiction periodically, and write it almost daily. It is merely the fear of my life that has held me back. I feared upsetting those with the power over my life and death. I am now the Captain of my Doomship. I mutinied.

So, as I rest, my ship swaying, I look out and see that everyone else is in a Doomship too, they just do not know it. They do not prepare, they do not adapt. They aren’t aware that they have to. Red sky in morning sailor take warning, the storm is coming and the night is humming… wait not for the red sky at night, for on the Doomship there is no Sailor’s Delight.

Poverty and Cultural Hate

I grew up hating my state. It took me a long time to see the good points of living here, especially when the only things that seemed to come up were Bad. Growing up in a myriad of small towns I was never an insider, and I did develope a good deal of hatred for my Hispanic neighbors. I hated the rednecks, the popular girls, I hated the girls who put out and the other outsiders who were still virgins. Eventually I was the only virgin in my school, and the pressure was unbearable. On top of that I had to hide self loathing. My family sucked, as far as I was concerned. We were poor and white. That meant we were just trash and no one wants trash.

Today I found out about this. Cheese Sandwiches do not accommodate potential allergies for these children, and they do humiliate. I was humiliated often by my peers and the adults in my life as a child. I never got to eat the school lunches because they made me sick but we could not afford anything else. I can taste my own cheese sandwiches, the ones I ate during my tenure in this same school system.

I also know how APS (Albuquerque Public Schools) is going to handle the repercussions of media attention. They will instead offer Peanut Butter Sandwiches. That is how they handled it when I was a student there. This is not a new policy, this is instead just a new excuse to deprive.

New Mexico has a fundamental hatred of it’s children. I have yet to see much proof to the contrary, when, the school systems are cut first, then public health. Anything that benefits the children lacks security. I do wonder, when we are of the age of grandparents, wizened and realizing our errors, if it will be the lack of care our children show us that makes us stand up and say “Sorry.”

The only things I really gained from my APS Education are an overwhelming sense of regret, and a GED. I am one of the infamous drop outs. I was always hungry, I was rarely reached out to by my teachers, and I am aware that the problem has merely gotten worse. The hunger I felt masked any outreach that was there. How can we expect these kids to learn when we starve their bodies? Some might not even get to eat at home. School might be the one meal they get a day.

So much for the economic stimulus package. Now we will have another generation of hate filled youth. Few will wind up okay, those kids who are singled out now are at greater risk for mental difficulties. They might have easy access to guns too. Albuquerque has a healthy gang community, and, improper diet will cause more drop outs.

Children need to feel loved. They need to feel like the adults want their success. I never felt that. In retrospect I can see it, but, it was so rare to have anyone wanting me to succeed that it never made a big enough impact. The impact that good people are trying to have is being deadened with this stupidity.

How can I help these kids? I am not sure. I do know that the public being made aware is a step. Maybe Bill Gates will remember being in APS and will provide the funding for food. He still has a charity right? Oh, top it off with the local coverage. There is so little it didn’t even make the news advertisements, instead they talked about the Governor being busy. I found out about this on my favored Feminist Blog, Womanist Musings. The local news has not aired yet, but will they even cover this topic? they did not mention it yesterday either.

Are our children truly this disposable? I look forward to the baby boomers joining me on the caregiver train. This generation which we just sentenced to starvation will be theirs. Perhaps they will find that anger in youth begets anger in the adult world. I am not wishing them harm, but, I am wishing that the adults and people with the power to change the future see that the future is in our children. They will someday make the policies that shape who gets to eat, and they will take away from those who wronged them.

What is a Service Animal?

Here we go, another in my Guide to Service Animals Series. This question is asked often when you present yourself as a service animal user. When it is asked how do you respond? Through a process of trial and error, here is what I say and do:

Step 1. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that this is not common information and is only common sense once you learn about it.

Step 2. Talk about it!

The simple step guide is short for this one, and here is what my practiced response is.

“According to the American’s With Disabilities Act, a service animal is any trained animal that assists a disabled person with their daily activities. What this means is that a person who has at least one part of their life altered by a disability has the right to train a dog, a cat, a monkey, a horse, or any trainable animal to assist them. Some assistance activities include medication retrieval, assistance with carrying items, walking, balancing, and even dealing with Seizures.”

If they need more explanation at this point, if I can, I show them the command “Balance” that Sprite and I have worked out, and let them see her assist me in walking five steps. Usually this covers it all. If I am not up to it I respond by citing examples of how she works, or, how other service animals work.

“Only Dogs can be service animals!”

Response.

Step 1. Deep breath, remind yourself  that they are likely uneducated and it is your duty to teach them while being calm so that they actually learn.

Step 2. Recite the practiced statement.

According to the federal law as it currently stands, any trainable animal can be a service animal. Although they must meet specific behavioral requirements such as being quite during a movie, or staying with their human, even a cat or a monkey can be trained. In Albuquerque, New Mexico there is a man with a service duck, a service parrot assists a woman, and recently the New York Times printed an article on Miniature service horses.

“Animals are Dirty. You might make my customers sick!”

The recited and practiced statement:

The federal law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of personal religious belief towards animals, allergies, and therefore you must admit me into this building. My service animal is a requirement for my own well being and as you can see she is wearing a dress. I dress my service cat so that she doesn’t shed as freely to protect other persons. I cannot predict their allergies, but, I do my best to reasonably accommodate their needs, while expecting you to follow the law and allow this reasonable accommodation.”

If there are more questions that need answers, post a comment. If you wish your question to remain anonymous, note it in the comment and I will not make it public.

A side note, there are places that the law does not require access for service animals. These include, religious buildings and private homes. Doctors offices, hospitals, stores, and buildings are required by law to admit all service animals and their users. Any public place must let you in.

If you run a shop and are not certain how to ask about a service animal, ask calmly if the person bringing their animal in is a pet, I can guarantee that the response for a true service animal will be, “No, this is my service animal.” Most people faking the use of a service animal will slip.

Other Posts in the Guide Series: The Antidote for Discrimination Is…

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