On Bended Knee (Trigger Warning)

Something that I think most able bodied people take for granted is motion. After all they may get sore muscles the next day but, a little sleep and they have this thing called energy (huh? What’s that?) and their sore usually goes away. They may also need a massage or just secretly want an excuse for one.My body is not made for movement. From a professional dancer/ Model this seems a bit funny to say.

It sounds vain as hell but I was VERY good at the dancing I did. I also had to work at it twice as hard as those around me and started dancing tired. I thought this was normal. Being raised to never question the whys of things, I had just begun. After all if you ask why and are going to be forced into prostitution or homelessness or both? It’s just not worth it to question things. I remember my first audition. I am not a formally trained dancer. I watched people and mimicked. The person who watched us commented on my stiffness. I had to learn to relax my body and flow.

I never actually did this. I learned how to create the illusion of relaxation. For as long as I can remember relaxing causes intensive pain. I remember trying to not cry out, because tears meant my father would come and beat us until we couldn’t cry. The first memory that comes to mind is last night, my mental chronology is working backwards. So the last one is when I was three. I have my most clear childhood memories at three. Three predates the “worst” abuses and post dates a lot of trying to learn mobility and the basic survival skills of living with someone who wanted to murder you for existing.

I had been carrying something heavy, something no one else seemed to ache with when they did. The thought memories are vague pictures of milk jugs and boxes. I was so tired that the sun was still up and I could hear my siblings playing but I just needed to lay down. I crawled under the bed with my dog friend Muttlee and tried to get comfortable.

Why under the bed? If I was caught sleeping then I would be hurt worse. I remember the dog friend shifting and making room for my small body. She licked my face and I squeaked at her, as I still squeak at Sprite when I lay down on my bed and she wants attention or wants to help me feel better but I am in that realm of suffocating pain. They both back down and don’t leave me.

I take a deep breath, and it hurts. I lay flat, and stare at the underside of my mattress, the dimmed light of my small space comforting. I hadn’t been tortured with the wool blankets in summer in the closet yet. Small spaces were my friend because HE couldn’t find me. What strikes me most about this memory is I start trying to relax. I even remember why. My Aunt Nan had been talking to my mother about how important this Relax thing was and how it was a letting go.

I started at my toes and let the muscles go. By the time I got to my knees I was in tears. I didn’t stop. I relaxed all my muscles consciously. The little pains (okay really horrible bad pains) that I have felt my entire life upon laying down? This beat them. I screamed. The dog growled and bit me in fear. Even the dog knew to not make sounds. A part of me always believed she was taking the fall for me. My muscles unlaxed and I climbed out from under the bed bleeding, afraid, and aware that there was a precipice of pain that even my father could not inflict.

This lead to my first time running away, while toting a boulder. This lead to my ability to survive in some ways. Most of the memories I  have of torture, such as my punishment for screaming itself I remember thinking “This hurts and I want to cry but you can’t hurt me as badly as I can.” I didn’t know what it meant for a long time. The pain in the relaxation memory was so bad that it was pushed away. My subconscious never let it go and I didn’t try to relax again until I was a dancer and hurt so badly after working that I went for a massage.

I know torture first hand. A lot of the time people make jokes about torture, not necessarily in the Guantanimo Bay sort of way, but often yes. I have been waterboarded. Usually if the toilet wasn’t flushed my father would waterboard his own children. He was the one who didn’t flush it. One of us would eventually take credit, and there would be blood. Now a toilet that is not pristine can send me into panic where I feel like I am drowning.

I have had my toenails torn out. Flat nose pliers work better than needle nose for that. I may someday take a picture of my feet. My toes, if I am not standing, curl inward because of the years of infection and damage to the muscles. The pain  in my feet from dancing? It wasn’t real pain as far as I knew. Real pain was what daddy did.

Most of the scars I should have don’t show now that I avoid things that inflame or damage my skin. You can’t see the stab wounds. Most people when they see the strange little round scars don’t know those are bullet holes in my skin. When people joke about gangrene (I am not sure how that idea is funny) I usually tell them, “Uh that’s not funny. I’ve had gangrene four times.” The modern era of medicine saved my feet.

Oh I know pain. Right now the cold snow on this supposedly Spring day, or at least I think it is supposed to be Spring with a capitol S… the pain matches the moments when I pulled out my own toenails. You see, I thought that trimming my toenails was the same thing my father did.

This post is actually about motion however. All of these things have effected my ability to move. Disease, Disorder, Syndrome, Torture, Abuse, and mostly Pain. My pain is omnipresent. I have been in pain since birth. My pain effected my friendships, Schoolwork, and has effected every social interaction. In fact, my ability to walk would be greater if there wasn’t a pain issue.

The wheelchair assessment opened some cans of worms medically and mentally. The idea that I would use my feet when I can is no longer welcomed. I knew it was painful but the pain means don’t apparently. I have never really bent my knees except when dancing. In all my memories good and bad my knees don’t bend. My sister did and hers dislocated. My body is so much more flexible that in order to walk I tightened all my muscles and I heave my body forward pitching to one side.

Totter may be a word. I think of an object that is off balance on a table or something, it goes side to side before it either falls over or steadies itself again. It moves when it rocks. This is how I have walked for my entire life. The pain in my hips and their chronic dislocations has an answer. Walking. If you don’t use the joints properly they will be damaged.

I have little flicker memories, pictures with emotional impressions really, of learning to walk. Most of them come with terror. Anger. Rage. Pain. There it is again. Pain. I can hear my mother’s voice as she cries. “Come on, you can do it. Please walk? If you don’t walk soon he’ll hurt you.” This ignores that he already had hurt us both for years. Those same words can be put on many memories, my ability to talk was born out of terror, my ability to read chapter books like little women came at gun point. Basic milestones that I would probably have been more delayed on, I did them to survive.

I am left to wonder how any doctor could see me walk for my lifetime and not comment on it. Yes, when I was younger it was worse, then when I tried to blend in and during my time of Sports until the end of the Dancing phase I faked it  better, but if you only bend your knees when sitting or in bed because you are in the fetal position crying as you fold up like a rag doll… shouldn’t they notice?

I have been institutionalized, hospitalized, psychiatrized, and called the patient for so much of my life that sometimes that is the name I hear in my head. Why then is it a quest for a doctor to be attentive enough to take note that there is some greater wrong? Medicine cannot be something you treat like a retail job! Medicine must be treated like it is something where every moment can save a life.

I don’t hold my shoulders “right” either. I actually didn’t stand once for this physical therapy evaluation. I moved my legs while sitting and that was enough to startled this woman. Apparently people with my level of flexibility almost never learn to walk. My life time of shoes that even when the doctor’s cronies measure them they do not fit, my life time of aches that I thought everyone had until it was too late, my life time of falls, wobbling tiredness, and sheer frustration that I couldn’t be as fast as everyone else has answers.

Still, when every child I ever knew noticed I moved funny and I had nicknames from “The Robot” on to “Stiff Whore” on to “The Crunchbacked Hunchback”… when I was stigmatized and tormented until the moment of my first self awareness as Woman and often… so very often… after? Why the hell can a doctor not notice that I do not even bend my knees on their stupid tables. I have spent my life running, jumping, plieing, twisting, turning, walking, and shifting but never bending my knees without falling.

It actually takes a conscious thought to bend my knee even sitting. A part of this is life long and some is exaggerated by my spinal cord injury. It takes more than one try usually for the signals to get from my brain to my legs. Then it takes several tries for my body to make the movement happen. It’s a process. It has always taken more time for me to get my leg to go forward. I have to consciously imagine it.

The first time I made snow angels that I can recall, not the actual first time as there are flickers and age disparities in the collage of memory but the first time I think I wanted to do so was also the first time my body was good for something because of the stiffness. I had to walk to school in the snow. It was a snow delay, and I actually never made it there. Another random moment with a random stranger who by the standards of my family I guess I should have feared?

I had sat down on a rock outside some house and was crying because I hurt and had fallen. The trashman stopped. I wish I remembered his name. I asked, I didn’t call him the trashman but the memory is buried under so much rubble. This was the first time I was allowed out alone after my first time in an institution and I was screwing it up. I told him so. He didn’t react like I was a monster. My own mother has just begun to treat me as a person.

This man was a mexican. From Mexico. He and I talked about how his father and mother had brought him illegally across the border when he was a small child. He had legally applied for citizenship as an adult was was proud of it. His first winter, they had made snow angels to celebrate. They were too poor for anything else. He asked if I could make one and I burst into tears again, “I always screw them up.”

He asked how. I couldn’t make a snow angel without smudging the wings or body or leaving foot prints. He laughed, not at me but the laugh of an adult who cares. I don’t know why he cared. “See that big pile of snow? Go make a snow angel, I will help you get up without ruining it. At first I was crying while making the snow angel. The snow made it’s crunching sound, I made mine. He made a face when I did. My knees crunched, my hips popped, my shoulders ground. It didn’t hurt, it was just the sounds of motion. He asked if I was okay each time. I thought he was insane.

When my angel was satisfactorily angel like he said, “Bend your knees.” I did, then he said get up. I didn’t. I couldn’t. Instead of yelling at me, as I already expected he pondered the situation and said, “You know the problem with your angel is … where are her feet? Angels have feet and legs right?”So I put my legs out and rolled up until I had my feet. He helped me balance. I hopped away from the angel and my angel was perfect in my eyes. “For you, the perfect angel is going to always be the most unique.”

He had to get back to work, and I spent the rest of the day making snow angels. I have thought of that moment often, usually when winter induces pain levels that make me squeak and cry with every movement of my arms and hands. I am squeaking a lot right now. It stands out as one of those memories where adaptation occurred or I was treated as a person. Those were so very rare until I was 21. At the age of 21 I began to pursue what I wanted.

My dancing career was short. A year at most. I remember always worrying about making it through the next audition. Would I be strong enough? I remember throwing up from pain. I remember too just how cut throat the world of Dance can be. I don’t dance in my wheelchair. I can, I think, but I no longer need to dance. I need to simply allow my body the stillness it requires.

I will think about every time I have bent my knees, I have them bent right now, because this keeps me from falling off of my chair. I will think on every footstep and the pain. A part of me is angry at my mother over this. That part of me needs to heal. A part of me is afraid. A part of me rages at a dead man. Mostly however, I feel relief. I am never going to have to do the basic things that my ability level has never matched. I don’t know how I blended as a dancer, and perhaps it was my unique style that let me work. I am never going to be able to walk normally and it turns out, it was unlikely I ever could walk from the moment of birth. My disability has always been here, now I just need to learn to respect my body and what it needs.

Confessions and Denial

I have a confession to make. I have been in denial about the extent of my back injury. This was partly to survive, but mainly out of fear. What does a spinal cord injury mean? To me it was this frightening set of words that meant I would never do anything again. I have already proven to myself that this is not true, and finally I needed to know. What exactly happened when my spine began to fall apart? What happens as the damage is furthered? Why am I not supposed to exercise? Why do I keep having palpitations and trouble breathing but my heart seems fine? The last one is what made me start learning. Four years of denial, have ended. The answers are frightening but, empowering.

I found this nifty tool, a spinal cord map! This was the first step towards opening my mind to the information. The map gives a general break down of what happens when the zones are injured. My Spinal Cord Injury is overlapping two of the zones, and knowing now what I do, I can understand all of the above. T-12 and L-1 are both damaged, broken, and cutting into my spinal cord. My sacral region is also damaged, though to what extend I am not quite sure.

I still have feeling in my legs, most of the time, but I have limited control over them. I can do a bang up zombie impression when I am trying to walk, my arms outstretched for balance, moans escaping me as I fight to hide my pain, jerking and halting as I move slowly forward. Zombies aren’t diseased corpses. They are people trying to walk with damaged spines!

There is another set of broken bones in my back, between my shoulder blades. Eventually, if the spine goes there, I will be paralysed in a different way. Some of this terrifies me. I am supposed to focus on stillness, forgoing excercise because moving allows the gnawing teeth of broken bone to flex, shift, and cut into my spine. It hurts to move anyway, even my hands moving enough to make these words causes pain, a deep rooted ache that feels as if it will  never, ever end. It might not. If it doesn’t am I lucky? That depends on what comes with the ending of my pain. Death? Not so lucky. Paralysis? Not lucky. Healing?  Extremely unlikely, and that would be better than winning the lottery.

I must adapt. I admit openly that adaptation is not a choice, it is the only option. I can risk my life and my health to excercise or I can try to get used to a stillness that is unnatural. It is natural to move, to dance. Watch a small child play, and they are moving, unless in pain. Pain is a rescrictive thing, it constricts us and binds us in ways that our brains cannot always comprehend. That is why I am asking for more help, I need help with food, I cannot always force myself up to get it. I need help to preserve my tattered spinal cord.

In my imagination my spine is like a worn out dress I used to own, it was bright and colorful but eventually it began to wear thin, holes appeared, until one day when giving a speech I lifted my hands and it fell apart. I was thankfully wearing underwear that day but the people watching my speech saw much more of me than intended. I just grabbed my coat and pulled it on, buttoning it, then finished my speech. I no longer have the confidence to fight my body, to risk wearing my spine through. It can’t be tied back together. I cannot move through my life with a tattered spine, pretending nothing is wrong. I must accept it, and adapt.

This is not an act of strength. It is an act of life. I am not exactly sure why, but, I find no inspiration in others who have ‘over come’ their disabilities or adapted. I think it is because the truth is that you die or adapt. That is the exact thing that makes humans what they are. We adapt. We may suffer, we may struggle, but adaptation is not an act of greatness. The acts of greatness come after, with the knowlege gained and what you do with it.

I have admitted many things in my essays and writings here. Now I am admitting that I am afraid. I am afraid to adapt. It means change. I also know that every time I twist, every time I turn, every time I hear loud snaps from my back, this is something I cannot ignore. I already have an appointment in a few weeks with my doctor and I am going to ask for help. I need to see a nuerologist, I need a reassessment of my body. The wheelchair system I have is hurting me. This must be addressed. There is change afoot, and it is unpleasant.

I am admitting too that my mind is dulled often by pills and pain, together, one at a time, seperately. I am not helpless but my body leaves me vulnerable and now so does my mind. I have dreams, I have hopes, but they feel alien. Who am I to dream? Who am I to hope? These are forbidden emotions, just as to dance was forbidden and is once more. The world feels twisted, pulling at me from all sides.

I live in a world of oppression and today it is too big. I am going to write a story in a few moments, for a story telling contest I want to enter. I am going to chase down my dreams, I am going to live, I am going to adapt. I just am not going to give up. I want to. I want to dance, but, if I do I will be paralysed. There are worse things than paralysis despite what people are taught.

A wheelchair is not the end of the world. I just feel that fear anyway. I am in a wheelchair but I am still afraid of it. I am afraid now that I will pass out while using this one, that I will be hurt. This is not the freedom I felt at first, that first taste of being able to go. Now, it is a fear that does not belong. I am afraid too, that when my spine gives I will suffocate. As my spine degrades it effects my ability to breathe. I feel now that I will surely die if I cannot sing. This is silly, of course I can live without music yet I fear it. I once had this fear about my dancing, and although I can dance in my head, I can feel my muscles flexing and moving, I fear that this will not translate through, with music.

These are my confessions. I have been guilty of denial, self harm, and giving in to irrational fear. Apparently I am not super cripple today, just a human. I confess to being just like everyone else who faces adversity and disability, human. I confess that needing to adapt is frightening. I confess too, that I am determined to find a way to get what I want while respecting the needs of my spine.

Dancing with Limited Mobility

I miss dancing. It was one of my jobs, but just as writing is like breathing, it was also a part of my life that I thought I would have forever. I started dancing when I was three, my Aunt’s daughter taught Ballet and we had lessons. I remember my pride at being able to lift my leg high, and the motions, the grace. I felt like a fairy princess during every class. I never wanted it to end. It did.

My father decided that dancing was just too good for his children, so the lessons ended. The ideals and memories did not fade. I discovered Belly Dancing when I was 17, and I once again found myself moving to music. I could feel it in my blood, coursing through my veins and just as singing, it took over my soul. I could leap, I could twist, I could use my hands and my entire body to entrance someone, as I celebrated the life that is in music.

I was the healthiest I had ever been, and I finally had a job as a dancer. I was reading through the contract to sign on as a permanent dancer with a troupe when I broke my back. I knew something was wrong immediately during practice when I first lifted my arms over head and wanted to scream. I still danced, but, quickly gave up on it. I couldn’t make my body move the way it used to. I had lost the silken rhythms and was trapped in a world of pain. It was the first blow of depression. For a time I wanted to die. If I could not move, what was the point of living?

Four years, maybe more as my time line sense is skewed, and I find the music still stirring my body. Every time, if I twitch my hips slightly my spine begins to burn and I cry. I am failing to resist the lure of a simple beat. I can hear it in my head, my heart pounds and I want it. I cannot strike the poses from my modeling career, I cannot dance… or can I?

Thanks to William Shakespurr I discovered a new method for dancing. He has mastered the remote control just as Sprite has and was watching fashion shows. He has a love of the bright colors and I think it is the techno that is the latest in fashion runway modeling that draws him. I could not resist the music. Tonight after a satisfying, if exhausting Career Builders Toastmasters Meeting I flopped into bed and got comfortable. I left the TV going and reminisced.

I remembered walking on the catwalk, Striking a pose, my body in line, my face the face that the people watching wanted. My body the perfect display for clothing, to make you want to buy it. I struck a pose, laying flat. I crunched horribly but despite the protests of my frame, I felt free. It wasn’t nostalgia, my mind was not trapped in the past, it was just the giggling and playful side that I do not let out as often.

A commercial came on with music and I moved my arms, my back is supported when laying and so it doesn’t have me tipping out of my chair. I was dancing again. This is how I dance now, a fresh discovery. I can twist, I can move, without really moving. I can feel the rhythm and I am not trapped now. My limbs feel freed. I know there will be conecquenecs in the morning, there are already now with my hands refusing to respond as fluidly as normal. I am forbidden to move like this by my doctors, yet, I need it for my soul.

I will have no regrets tomarrow. I have none now, and I am free. I am dancing in the air, I am floating in the sea. Nothing can stop me, for the melody frees me. Twisting, twirling, weightless, and so alive. I burn, not with pain but with Passions that have long been starved. Model, Singer, Dancer, Teacher, Writer. Who I have been? Who I am.

Corned Beef Homelessness

I was humming “The Rising of the Moon,” today and remembering Saint Padraig’s Days past. Part of it was the entire discordance in my body, the rest of it was a mixture of too much green and random facts about Saint Pats. I had seizures all day, starting directly after the TVC Toastmaster’s Meeting began. This left me exhausted, and my mind was not on the evaluation.

I still did my best, but, instead of baseball I wanted to think about the children i used to know. When I was homeless, at the first shelter I was running under the presumption that there was no joy to be had there, no safety, no happiness, no love. So far this had been proven correct, until I woke up on Saint Patrick’s Day Morn. This was about four years ago, I was all alone in the world. What woke me was a soft bundle of skin clinging to me tightly, crying.

The little girl was blind, and could not tell where her mommy was, and I felt nice and safe. So, sitting up I carefully ran a hand down her back and asked her what her mother’s name was. It was an hour before wake up call, and the girl had just gone to the bathroom, but her mommy had left her there, or so she thought. I put my shoes on and forced my body to move. Once I had my footing we walked to the bathroom, through the snow, my coat wrapped around the girl. I was cold, but, she was smaller and I decided she likely needed it more than I did.

I could hear someone calling, “Maggie?” In the darkness, I could not see but I could hear her. “I hear my Mommy!” The relief filled the child and she wanted to run off, but was afraid because this was their first night at the Shelter and she had fallen a few times, trying to find her mother. We made it to the bathroom, over 500 yards from the main building. Her mother was in tears when she saw her child and scooped her up. “I thought you were gone forever.” They said this in unison. I took my coat, her mother had hers, and wrapped myself in it, creeping back to bed.

I tried to go back to sleep but it was too late for extra rest. Still, I reasoned this wouldn’t be a big deal. They often treated women like garbage there, I am certain they still do. This day was different, if you could ignore the fact that the men had a restroom inside the main building and did not have to go outside with wet hair, they even had six toilets instead of just two and theirs was accessible. I couldn’t ignore it but was told if I so much as protested I would be out with no shelter.

When we cleared the floor, set the tables and had our breakfast, a bowl of sugary cereal each, the children came in. They rarely got breakfast, unless someone saved it for them, first come first serve, and children without a home are just as reticent to leave their warm beds as those with. I often saved my cereal for a child, and this morning I presented it to Maggie, after it turned out there was no more food. She recognized my voice and told her mother I was the nice lady who had saved her. I smiled for the first time, since losing my home. For a moment I didn’t hurt so much either. Then my stomach started whining at me, it wasn’t hungry it was just the sheer amount of allergens I had to eat in order to not die. The knife’s edge I walked on had become narrower and more harrowing.

I pulled on the very shirt I wore today, one of the few I managed to salvage. It was my only green at that point. I let my hair down, liking how it felt. I felt pretty again, a first since my back injury and homelessness. I wanted to dance, though I did not trust my legs for that. Then the staff asked for volunteers to run arts and crafts. The adults all grumbled, no one wanted to bother with the kids. I raised my hand. I have this strange reaction to chances to do things, I usually say yes.

There were acrylic paints, glitter glues, glitter, glue, and a lot of paper. I was given the one pair of scissors and we set out to work. Maggie was the first to want to try something, so, I helped her cut out clover and let her smear the glue all over the paper. She was having a blast. I remember her laughter, “It’s gooey!” Her mother watched, but less carefully since I had returned her unharmed without knowing either of them. Another girl came over, then a boy, and they made green paper chains, then, on white paper we painted leprechauns. Soon, the entire building was covered in green.

That smile kept returning too. After the first chain was hung, a few of the men began to pin the decorations, growling out playfully, “We need more green over here.” Smiling as one of the kids ran a decoration over, the smiles started to spread. By the time the annual news cameras came, filming us just to show how great the people who run the place are everyone was smiling. I remember the reporter, a short man with a puce tie, muttering, “Why are they so damned happy? Don’t they know they are homeless?”

As we sat down, a kind man bringing me a plate as I had begun to fall over again I realized why I was happy. I had stopped focusing for one day on my homelessness, and had instead focused on making someone else happy. I wanted to make sure that those kids had a happy day. I wanted to see their smiles. It was cold out, snowing, but inside the warmth of family and friends was found. I also had the first meal that was not going to make me sick since arriving there. Corned Beef with a side of freshly mashed potatoes. There was enough for everyone, a rarity there. I even was allowed seconds on the meat and potatoes.

I hid from the camera, this was helped by the smile that would not abate, I could not stop grinning. After all, the children were laughing, our temporary home felt like a home for once and until it was time to sleep no one fought, there was no need to try to steal food, and we were all content. The next morning there was no green, just the cold snow. There was too little food once more and it all went back to being a gray existence, dull and painful. Except, that I still felt happy.

My happiness was not permanent, yet, my acceptance that I could feel happiness made it easier to exist in a state of contentment. Without that day, I might very well have been too depressed to fight for survival a month later, when I nearly froze to death. That shelter is a special hell, for those in need, for those who no one cares enough about. It is not up to code, safe, and they do not try to make you safe or happy. It was merely a whim that lead to that one day, a kindness so rarely given.

As more and more families lose their homes, they head to shelters just like that one. Today, I remembered my own agony as I fondled a bit of green paint hidden just inside my sleeve, the paint stain is left over from that day. I too considered why I kept the shirt, and I realized despite it being a bit uncomfortable, always too warm , I keep it because this shirt has memories attached. It isn’t just the shade of green that sets my hair afire, smooths my skin, and makes me feel absolutely beautiful. The beauty I feel is instead in the subconscious associations with happiness.

When you have nothing, you still have your soul, your life, and the ability to love.
Happy Saint Padraig’s Day. May the road rise to meet you, your friends and family greet you, and love fill your heart today.

Spiderweb has no Spider

March is Brain Injury Awareness month. I have brain damage in my fine little skull, all from untreated concussions, working through the pain, toughing it out and yet, I am never certain what issues spring from what challenges. Since I have autism and brain damage, as well as visual and hearing ailments, what causes what?

Too, when I sit out in the sun for five minutes and note my pustules later, reacting to the presence of the very thing that makes food grow and light fill our world, I have to guess, is this exact blister from Hidradenitis Supprativa, a side effect of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, an actual pimple, sun poiosning as my mother calls it or is it still something else.

Then, with the issues with walking. It could be a side effect of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the Spinal Cord Injury, or just a minor pelvic dislocation, but is it something else? Did falling through that chair do more damage elsewhere that no one can see?

Multiple disabilities are a huge challenge. When i thought I had a single disability, I had unanswered questions. When I thought I had two, I thought the world was ending. Then with three, it all began to feel alright, but with four I was once more mourning, and with five I became angry. With six, I felt as if i should just die. With seven, I just stopped caring about how many I had, and began to fight to thrive. With eight, I found it status quo, with Nine, Ten, Eleven, I began to count it all over again.

I am a spider’s web, everything is connect, everything has always been here it just has a label. The labels are flies, sticking in my webiness, wiggling and shaking things up. So far, the labels have done very little to better my life. Usually they complicate it. If I tell a doctor about more than one disability, they usually give up on me. What right does that give them to deny me a quality of life?

I want to see, I want to hear, I want to live in a world without fear, I want to dance, I want to be just me, yet me is not without disability. I no longer believe in a cure for any of my ailments, except the spinal cord injury. I do not want them. I fear the changes to personality that treatment could’ve brought. Sure, I might not have had it as hard as I have. I might have had more than just a single man to teach me how to be a person. I might have had friends.

Or I might have been worse off. I get tired of able bodied people, those in denial of disability, or those who think we are all cookie cutter identical creatures telling me what works for their disabilities.

I have tried experimental treatments, mostly for my PTSD and they made it worse every time. EMDR, I have no idea what the letters mean but I remember the treatment. It worked for every other patient, so I was just a failure for not becoming magically better. Penicillin allergy even has an example, a doctor wanting to see just how allergic I was, because of course it costs more money to have another medication and money has more value than the patient.

When I was younger, long before my autism diagnosis I had an Occupational Therapist funded by the school. She did teach some neat things, we worked on my fine motor skills, which still suffer, and made earrings. We did all types of activities, molding things in clay, dancing. This was what I did for recess, another bit of isolation granted by my abnormalities. I was lonely, until this program came forth however. There I met the other kids who were a little like me. This woman decided to have my mother take a rubber brush to rub all over me, to try and desensitize me to the world. She did not ask me, she just called my mother in and during school one day she grabbed my arm, while talking to my mother and began to scrub my flesh.

This worked on the other children, so it had to work on me. I started screaming. It felt as if she was pealing off my skin, I screamed, and screamed. She told me to shut up, it would all get better. My mother took the brush out of her hands and asked why she would do that, when I was sobbing. I don’t know the end result of the conversation, but we took that brush home. It was just like the ones sold to wash dishes with, and that is what my mother did with it. I think she chose to lie to this therapist. I do not remember because I went into my head, flashing back to times when my father did try and peal away my flesh.

The sensory overload pains me to ever remember, it wasn’t just a sensory overload it was a flash back and a denial of my right to unique treatment. I never accepted the treatment of this OT again, I went, but I became surly because she wanted me to be like the others. She wanted to scrub me, until I just didn’t care. It did not matter to her that it hurt. I still have nightmares from her scrubbing.

I wish I could say it never happened again, but, she would scrub me herself, at times using this as a punishment. Too often the medical community does this, forgetting that each body has a unique chemistry, each brain a unique perspective. Now I fire doctors who do not listen, they get one shot and that is it with me. I have to be harsh like that to survive.

My cat William, the one with brain damage, has a similar problem. Touching his paws hurts him. He has dangerously sharp claws, cutting me when he doesn’t mean to, but to trim them means to cause him that same sort of pain. I figured this out after I had used our PetoFiler nail trimmer on him, it vibrates, rotates and basically sands down the nails. Sprite loves it. William was in pain for days and I barely tipped the claws off.

Each method for a traditional manicure fails him, I have yet to find out how to protect us both, but knowing what it is like to be tortured by someone thinking they know what is best, I back off. I would rather have cuts than send him into a world of pain. If you are a doctor, reading this, try and remember your patient might feel pain differently than you do. Sometimes I have to go naked because the pain from cloth rubbing against my flesh is as potent as that scrubbing brush.

It was yellow, it was multi-textured, and it is one of my worst nightmares. Those moments are on par with time spent in the care of a diagnosed psychopath. Do not traumatize your patients by thinking you know it all, or that every treatment should work for them. Humanity is full of individual people, not a bunch of identical organisms.

Thank You is Sometimes All You Can Say.

This feels strange, to write. I am going to go for a crown. It took me a very long time to become aware of my own value, and through the Ms Wheelchair USA program, I can not only show my own skills and confidence but I get to hopefully inspire other women and men to be confidence. I have conversations daily with my friends, sometimes strangers, and every so often in the mirror with myself when my pain has me grasping for strength I am sure I will not find about confidence and value.

I minister aid to those in need. Today I recieved two gifts. One, is the first donation for my campaign towards the Crown, and the other was a bottle of holywater. I will not discuss my religion here, as I do not think that has bearing on who I am or what I am capable of doing, but I see this as a beautiful thing.

The woman who sent me the holy water is one of my strangers. It was just before Christmas and I went with a friend to the bookstore. Meandering we agreed to meet at the coffee shop and I went rolling through the shop. She looked happy, except her eyes. I remember how utterly void of joy they were, and she couldn’t seem to stop staring, so, I struck up a conversation with her about the books on the table. She didn’t take long to open up to me. I remember my utter shock at her telling me she was going to commit suicide. I responded before I thought with, “Why would you want to do a thing like that?” After an h our of conversation we hugged. I rarely hug people because it pains me, but, she needed a hug more than anything else. She told me she wanted to send me a package and after meeting me she couldn’t kill  herself. Our conversation touched on the spiritual, but mostly her need to be someone. She had forgotten herself for years to be a mother to a disabled child, and now her own grand child was disabled and she couldn’t fathom happiness for anyone. Today I recieved a thank you card, and the bottle from a local blessed spring. It reminded me of my power to inspire people. I did not need a reminder to know I am good, but, the reminder that I can touch people by being who I am was a surprise.

I then talked with a male friend of mine who often forgets to love himself. For years he has battled this and tonight I shared with him how I learned to love myself. I started telling myself three times a day in the mirror I love you. That was all I saw myself, when washing my hands. Then, I wrote on my stomach, legs and anywhere that was invisible to others, I love me. I love me. Over and over. It took a long time, then I started to believe it. Mike and I met over something daring, I did something that I might be ashamed of now, online as many others do. The evidence is thankfully washed away by server errors and time. I had made myself do something out of character, to see what would happen. I never went back in my shell. I instead became a real girl. No more hiding, no more sorrow. Shortly after this I broke my back, and had to resume chanting how much I love me. I still do some days, to help myself along when the pain burns me through and I forget that I am more than a disabled chick who can barely walk. When homeless Mike fed me, he even helped pay for Sprite the Service Cat’s vet bills. He is amazing, and, I hope that he remembers that. He reminds me of who I used to be, and even admits when he is wrong. A very rare individual whom I appreciate. He is who I turn to when even my well worn tactics fail, he can always make me smile and is the Brother of My Soul. He is greatness himself, and proved to me, before any other male could, that not all men are evil. Without him, I would still be fighting daily to not feel afraid in this world. Instead I feel love and warmth even in my darkest hours.

Then, I went into my favorite IRC, dedicated to graphic programers who make animal skins for IMVU, a 3D Instant messenger and started talking with a brilliant young woman. Her name, posted with Permission, is Weesha. We talk often, though the last few months before I started this blog that contact was rare due to no internet connection. I told her of my discovery, just before the deadline and without enough time, this year, to dedicate to my new goal of Ms Wheelchair USA. We brainstormed for ways that she can help me to spread the word about MWUSA, to reach my goal, and so that people can learn about my Platform. I haven’t finished fine tuning the platform yet, but tonight she spread the word far enough that the first donation was made by Jen, a person of similar interests, taste, and a person who deserves a very special thank you. My wonderful day started off in tears and has blossomed into a garden of delights.

I just want to say thank you, these people are beyond special. May any who read these words have as dear friends and family as I have. They feed my soul, they nourish my dreams, and wish for the dreams of all to come true. They deserve as much as they give. Each one has their hopes and dreams and this, dear readers, is my hope for them.

For Information on Ms Wheelchair USA please visit their website. There you can learn about the current Crown holder Beryl Holzbach.  I saw some of her youtube videos today and was brought to tears, mourning what is, and hoping that her advocacy brings great strides to the medical field.

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