Posts Tagged ‘Chronic pain’


Falling Down the Rabbit Hold

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole: Image found on Baby Steps on blogspot by Katelyn Elizabeth

What do you do when you’re falling down the rabbit hole, and the one person who should be able to pull you back is someone who seems to keep dropping pianos, shoes, lamps, couches, teacups, hats, dinner plates, and potted plants down onto you?

I need a new psychiatrist. Beginning and end. I’ve lost all loyalty because I finally realize that the amount of time I’ve spent there can’t be a reason I stay. Reminding myself that she used to be a great doctor with great advice can’t be a reason I stay. Liking who she used to be can’t be a reason I stay. Feeling in my gut that maybe she has something wrong in her own physical health or neurological health can’t be a reason to stay. In the past two years, she’s gone from: a great psychiatrist; to quirky; to OMG Who Is This Woman; to I’m Going To Throat Punch You Hard If I Stay.

The only reason I’m still there is because I’m having trouble finding a new psychiatrist and I need someone who will prescribe the two medications I take. I’m warning anyone right now, there will be cussing. If you have sensitive eyes or tend to clutch pearls when there’s an F-bomb then this may not be the post for you. I think there are more F-bombs in here than I’ve said or written in my entire life. I know God forgives me because he loves me. Baby Jesus might have a hard time with it, but he loves me too so he’ll eventually forgive me. As soon as my stove works I’ll bake him some cupcakes as an appropriate apology.

The reason I’m writing this post is because I needed to get it all, or most all of it, into one spot so that I can see it and realize that I’m not imagining things. I’m also writing it because it’s important for people to see others who are having issues with mental health providers that they’re not alone. Finally, it’s important for others who are experiencing mental health issues to see they’re not alone in having mental health problems, and it’s okay to talk about issues surrounding mental health and the mental health industry. We have to be the ones to change how we’re treated. We have more of a voice than we realize. We CAN self-advocate. We CAN’T wait for other people to do it for us most of the time.

 

Reasons To Find A New Shrink:

  1. She likes to talk about herself for most of the appointment and you still have to pay the co-payment
  2. She’ll even go so far as to walk you out of her office into the break area to show you all of her vacation photos to
  3. She sometimes confuses your file with someone else’s file
  4. She confuses YOU with other patients to the point of calling you a bad mother; too permissive; passive aggressive; not a good example to my children; and you know for sure she’s not talking about you when you’re ready to cry when she finally says that I’m “not strict enough especially my son” except, well, I don’t have a son
  5. She tells you that you have unreasonabe, unattainable high expectations as a complete and utter perfectionist about anything and everything, being rigid and essentially comparing you to Mommy  Dearest when moments before she told you that you were too permission, passive aggressive, not strict enough with your non-existent son, etc.
  6. I’ve been seeing her for 11 years now and she apparently hasn’t heard a word I’ve said
  7. She can’t read her own handwriting most of the time in my multiple files
  8. She complains about how Americans are very petty with the whining they do during sessions
  9. She mocks Americans for “all of the medications” they need when she figured out the proper foods and spices to take to get of any and all illnesses because apparently, ALL ILLNESSES ARE IN YOUR HEAD AND YOU CAN GET RID OF ANY PHYSICAL AILMENT IF YOU ONLY CHOOSE TO
  10. She used to consider herself a one-stop psychiatrist: Talk Therapy plus Meds-If-Needed plus Natural Methods and skills
  11. Not any longer; She seems to consider Talk Therapy beneath her and a waste of her time EVEN THOUGH SHE’S GETTING PAID
  12. She forgets to tell you diagnoses she’s made and lets them slip out such as diagnosing Fibromyalgia within months of beginning therapy with me but waiting until I told her when I got the diagnosis from two other doctors with, “Oh, I know, I diagnosed it seven years ago! See? It’s in your file.”
  13. In spite of physical, documented, scientific, medical proof with DNA and at the cellular level narrowed down to an actual thing of its own…
  14. AND Fibromyalgia having an actual physical MEDICAL diagnostic code of ICD-10 Fibromyalgia M79.9
  15. She thinks it’s a junk diagnosis and purely caused by uncontrolled anxiety a.k.a. it’s all in my head [when she told me that last appointment I said, “Yes, you’re right… the pain I feel in every nerve and cell and fiber in my body is interpreted in my brain and it destroys grey matter. And THAT is in my head but not the way you think it is.”]
  16. This is relatively new: She thinks that childhood traumas should simply be “let go, forgiven, and forgotten” and that’s the path to happiness, especially if you simply look at the situation from the point of view of the person/people who abused you
  17. She used to be nice to work for, based on observation; now she goes through office assistants like Post-It Notes
  18. This is very, very new: She thinks that the way to heal yourself is to simply choose to be happy; choose to never have anxiety again; discover the secret to perfect health and you’ll never ever be sick again and she has found the secret to complete health and happiness but SHE WON’T SHARE THE SECRETS, GUYS!
  19. She’ll share every detail of her life but SHE WON’T SHARE THE SECRETS TO COMPLETE HEALTH AND HAPPINESS!
  20. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!?
  21. I think she’s closing in on 75 and possibly flirting with Dementia because she’s had a complete personality change since I met her and it came on suddenly within the past two years
  22. She holds opposing viewpoints in the same conversation, sometimes the same sentence

 

At least she’s stylish?

Maybe I expect too much out of my psychiatrist.

That would be the old me talking. That would be the old me questioning myself and my  judgment. I may not stand up to her as much as I ought to, but I’m finding that the more angry she makes me the more I’m speaking up. For a while I thought that she was testing me. I thought she was saying some rude asshole things to me to get a rise out of me to see how I would handle it and if I could control my anxiety visibly. Telling me that pain is all in my head, searing screaming pain that requires pain management plus back pain due to injury, is really all in my head and reliance on pain meds is why pain increases. I reminded her scrawny ass how I was completely without pain meds except for occasional Advil for 36 years and she brushed me off. I was SEEING HER BEFORE I EVER TOOK PAIN MEDS. She knew the lengths I went to with naturalistic methods.

I reminded her of all of this:

 

“Of course the pain meds work, you want them to work. You’re reliant on them. It’s all psychosomatic. If you could just control your anxiety and eat properly, eat vegetarian, you wouldn’t have any at all. You choose to be this way.”

“Doctor, I’m vegetarian. I use yoga. I do everything right and I still had emergency room level pain. No meds equals level 10 pain.”

“Of course! Because you don’t know any better! You’re dependent on those medications because you don’t know any better!”

“I’m dependent because I want to live and not be suicidal. I’m dependent, not addicted. As a doctor you know the difference. I’m not on anything addictive. But I depend on my medications to work, and because they do, I rely on them and depend on them to keep me healthy and productive.”

“Why are you so argumentative today, Jessica?”

“My session is over. Do you have my scripts?”

“Yes, don’t forget them. You clearly need them. What are they again?”

 

Nope, she’s just turned into some strange, rude, sometimes mean, forgetful, immovable asshole.

I don’t really have many expectations.

I certainly don’t expect that if you advertise yourself as a talk therapist that you should then tell your patients they ought to find a therapist in addition to meeting with her because she prefers not to deal with it. Right. Separate my services so that I have to pay more on a very low income with a tight budget.

I just… I can’t. I’ve lost all of my even. Gone. Withered away.

It’s funny how in the current culture, expecting kindness and honesty are”high expectations.” It’s funny how when you tell someone exactly what it is you need, want, or expect, their response is one of confusion. Now… this following conversation occurred a year ago with The Mister. I remember this conversation well and I’ll simply refer to it for cake-making purposes this year so that the conversation need not occur again regarding cake.

 

“Honey, would you like chocolate or vanilla cake for your birthday?”

“What do you mean? Why go to the trouble?”

“Because I enjoy it and it’s less expensive. Plus the kids want to help. So would you like chocolate or vanilla cake? Or another flavor?

“What? What do you want from me?”

“WHAT what? I want you to tell me what flavor birthday cake you want. I’d like you to do it kindly. That’s all I expect.”

“Oh. Can you make chocolate chip cookie cake? It’s kind of… my favorite.”

“Sure thing. That’s all I needed to know. I love you.”

“Love you too. I have things to go do.”

 

I don’t know if I forgot how to use the English language with my cognitive impairments thanks to ICD-10 Fibromyalgia M79.9 😉 but this isn’t uncommon throughout weekly interactions. It can’t all be me. It’s like people forgot how to interpret language, and their receptive language skills are just dead. I don’t think my expressive language skills are totally shot yet. I know I can be wordy but most of the time it’s in an effort to be sure I’m understood. I try to make sure that my expectations are clear. I guess that makes me a control freak.

I know that not all of my expectations will be met. I don’t expect all of my expectations to be met. They’re just expectations. I’m fine as long as I know that best efforts were made. Best efforts and truthfulness are huge. So is responding to me when I say something. Acknowledge me when I speak. Acknowledge my presence. When I call you, when I say your name, don’t call back “WHAT?” in annoyance or stare into space. Come to me. Look at me. Treat me like a person. That’s a reasonable expectation.

That all said, there are some jobs that you would think have established expectations built in and there are standards for the field that would be observed. A code, even. I know that many psychiatrists are “only prescribers” and don’t offer talk therapy but many, many, many do and so when they advertise their practice that way, then there are reasonable expectations of what that job entails.

Hence:

 

Reasonable Expectations To Have Of Your Psychiatrist:

  1. Listen to your patients more than you speak because that’s your fucking job
  2. Remember that the appointments are about your patients and their lives, because that’s your fucking job
  3. Appointments are not time for the Dr. Whackadoodle-Pants Show where you show your patients how much better your life is; It’s appropriate to sometimes draw a vague comparison to your own life but your patients don’t need or want to know about your personal life because sharing every aspect of your personal life every chance you get is NOT your fucking job
  4. Offer advice, tools for coping, and emotional support because that’s your fucking job
  5. Discuss various additional options for self-regulation with Depression, Anxiety, Mood Disorder, and other psychiatric issues because that’s your fucking job
  6. Discuss pros and cons of medications because that’s your fucking job
  7. When your patient tells you that a particular medication gave her A, B, C negative and/or allergic reactions you listen, take it seriously, and you report it because that’s your fucking job
  8. When you make one or more serious diagnoses of your patient, you TELL THEM ALL OF THE DIAGNOSES like a fucking boss because A. That’s what they’re there for and B. It’s your fucking job
  9. When you feel superior to your patients, as if your patients are whiny complainers, and you can’t get your shit together enough to have the correct files in front of you, close your office and quit your fucking job

 

Really.

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Using All The Spoons

Using All The Spoons

I think it was one of my doctors that said,

“There is nothing noble about having to endure severe pain when there are options that will help alleviate the pain. I don’t care if its severe physical pain, or if its severe emotional pain. We put ourselves through too much pain, because we think that it’s some sort of spiritual, strengthening experience and it proves something about us as an individual. I don’t believe that.  Asking for help and pain relief is not a sign of weakness but of pride. Knowing when to ask for help is a strength.”

That’s been rattling inside my head for months, and I believe it’s true.

I’ve seen people online in support groups and in real life say that they endure the pain of Fibromyalgia and Lupus and other chronic pain disorders without asking for any relief from doctors or any support from friends and family because it’s a test from God. If Jesus could die on the cross for our sins then the least they could do is endure their pain without complaint outside of the Fibro support group.

I want to scream at those people that the entire point of Jesus dying on the cross for us was to sacrifice himself for our sins so that there would never have to be another blood sacrifice again to God. No more pain from sin, because he was carrying it. So any pain we’re going through isn’t because of sin, or because God wants us to go through it as some sort of test. God created scientists and doctors for a reason. God created nutritionists and yes, even homeopaths for a reason. To help us improve our health and ease pain. If we try and it doesn’t work, we simply (ha) having found the right combination yet.

So many of us that have chronic pain like Fibromyalgia seem to think that showing signs of pain and asking for help or support is a sign of weakness, and if we show any kind of weakness then others will walk all over us and take advantage of us.

We think that obtaining pain relief and admitting that natural remedies we’re trying don’t work well enough or are no longer working and we need to try something else is a sign of weakness.

We don’t want people to think we’re faking.

We don’t want people thinking we’re exaggerating.

We don’t want people thinking we’re whining.

We don’t want anyone to think we’re trying to suck The System dry and take Your Tax Dollars In Benefits We Don’t Deserve.

We believe that you have a right to judge our pain relatively while at the same time, believing that you have no right to judge.

We believe that we should be able to endure any kind of pain in silence, that we shouldn’t burden other people with our pain.

We believe we’re burdens.

We hope our spouses and loved ones stay by us steadfastly  no matter what, and refuse to see us as burdens and make great effort to understand us even when we’re at our worst moods and least ability.

We believe that our children shouldn’t see our pain and disability and how we handle it…. just like how so many people believe children should never see their parents fight and make up… without realizing that children who witness and learn to deal with disabilities in their families grow up with compassion and an ability to understand disabilities.

We believe we’re burdens even to our doctors ( if we don’t already believe Big Pharmacy is out to get us, poison us, take all our money, and all doctors are in on it). We forget that doctors are our employees who work for us and with us, and we get a say in our treatment. We forget that we have a voice, but that we need to learn to use it.

Our burden shouldn’t ever be someone else’s burden. Yet… when our loved ones don’t ask us how we’re feeling or offer to help us, offer to try to relieve us some how, some way, so many of us are hurt and insulted and complain that our friends and family must not care. We spend so much of our lives hiding our feelings, emotions, pain, and disability that we forget we’re not really letting them in. They don’t really know us because they only know what we’ve shown them until now. If it appears as if we don’t need help or care or support, they’re not going to offer it. If we don’t tell them we need anything, they won’t offer it. If we don’t ask, no one will help.

And if we don’t inform spouses and children that they’re expected to help, they won’t.

Yet we take on their burdens as if they were our own without complaints even if we can’t afford it, and we’ve nearly run out of spoons. Why do we do that? Because we need to prove ourselves. We need to prove that we’re fine and can handle our own burdens, those burdens that no one else is supposed to notice, as well as be helpful and loving to everyone else.

We need to prove that we can overcome. We can bust through disability that’s in our way. We need to defeat disability and illness and disorders and differences. If we can’t we need to pretend and try to pass so as not to make others uncomfortable.

We need to always be Hope and Inspiration. We need to be wanted.

The stigma of pain and disability has been built into  our society for so long that people who endure challenges from disabilities and chronic severe pain perpetuate that stigma by behaving as if we’re ashamed of our pain. That’s what hiding our disabilities and pain really does. When we minimize our experiences and we even go so far as to say,

“Someone else has it worse than I do. I shouldn’t complain.”

We’re saying that we don’t matter enough to be taken care of and to be paid attention to and to be pampered. We don’t matter enough, period.

Do I always want to look for strength in my disabilities? No. Hell no. I have some terribly horrible days where I don’t have any strength of any kind at all mentally, emotionally, or physically. I’m not an inspiration or hope to anyone on those days. I’m not trying to be.

The strength lies in our ability to ask for help.

More of us need to learn to insist on help from our loved ones, and explain what we need when we ask for help and support.

It’s not enough to hope and beg and pray that our loved ones will simply know that we need them, and that they will know what exactly it is we need. The problem is they’re not mind readers. How can they possibly know what we need if we don’t tell them explicitly what we need. Our doctors don’t even know unless we tell them explicitly. And when we tell people we love, as well as our doctors, we need to use a strong voice. We need to use our no nonsense voice in order to get our message across. I’m known for bringing printouts with a list of things I want to talk about. I’m also known for bringing printout of research I’ve done, and I bring links to online research which I know my doctors probably should have done or have already done so that they know there’s a resource that they can go to. When loved ones don’t seem to understand what I’m going through I have learned to show them research. I’m still learning to show my pain rather than hide it. I’m learning that hiding my pain and enduring my pain is not Noble. It does not make me a stronger person. When I need help I am learning to ask for help.

But perhaps even more importantly, when I need help and someone offers their help I am learning to say yes and accept it. It’s hard to do that because of pride, but I have learned that more people than not do have a good heart and even if they don’t understand what I’m enduring if I let them see my pain even if they cannot empathize with me they still want to help. If they can see an actual physical need that’s obvious to them they’re more likely to help. Someone sees simply pain and they don’t know what to do it’s hard to endure it it’s hard to know how to help. People feel helpless when there’s not an obvious task to say here let me help you with this. It’s hard to say what can I do to help you when there’s no clear solution to expect the person they want to help.

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This came to my attention on Frday of last week, and I’ve been trying to write something that isn’t using profanities every other word. I’ve had about 60 drafts. [There is a new edit at the bottom of the post]

There’s a YouTube video called Autism Mom FURIOUS is over Steve Harvey’s comments – 3.26.15 – YouTube that brings attention to something despicable, something that she has every reason to be furious over. Something that I’m furious and sickened over.

Steve Harvey used his radio show as a comedy platform (as Sister Odell) to make fun of disabled adults attending Church.

I’m not being overly sensitive or too politically correct. If you were to tell me that, you’re defending his actions and diminishing the lives of disabled individuals everywhere.

I’m not infringing on anyone’s right to free speech to call out a comedian’s, or anyone else’s, behavior and speech. This may be cliche at this point, but if he has the freedom of speech to behave badly and speak in a degrading way about disabled people and laugh like a fool over his own (lack of) cleverness, then he’d better be damned sure to be ready for others to use THEIR right to free speech to call him out.

His words were like acid, caustic and issuing a damaging blow to the disability movement. It tells people in cultures where shaming and being embarrassed about their disabilities and their disabled family members that it’s appropriate and even “funny.”

It tells people that those who can’t always speak against this very same sickening attitude that the world is not even attempting to change to be more sensitive, let alone accommodating, to them.

It tells them that this hatred, being thinly veiled with so-called humor, not only exists in their own homes with family members, but likely at work with employers and co-workers, with neighbors… and out in the world in the media and with other people in the public eye that are looked up to for heaven knows why.

It tells disabled children in school that the bullies who claim they’re just joking, using humor as their mask, will be allowed to get away with it because they’re not really doing any harm. And no one will do anything until someone commits suicide; then everyone blames the child’s parents for not realizing how disturbed s/he was in his disability and why didn’t the parents get him/her the right help or realize how mentally ill they were before s/he committed suicide, when the real issue is that demeaning disabled people and making them Less Than Human is damaging.

Disabilities do not make disabled individuals Less Than Human. They… we.. are fully Human. We’re simply different. And in the words of Temple Grandin, disability (although originally from the point of view of Autism) merely means Different, Not Less.

It’s not unrealistic to expect that some things should be completely off limits as jokes. It’s more than “in poor taste.” We can take poor taste. What Steve Harvey did is cruel, bullying, and calling it comedy somehow gives it free license to say truly hurtful things and it shows exactly how he feels when he sees someone with Autism or similar disabilities that have nonverbal learning disorders and additional conditions.

Calling it comedy means that some people will repeat the so-called jokes because it’s “funny” and of course funny means that people won’t be able to conceive of the idea that it could be hurtful. They’ll repeat it because they’ll have reinforcement that attitudes such as Steve Harvey’s about disabilities and disabled individuals are acceptable and correct. You know, because we’re the ones who are humorless and touchy and overly sensitive.

Those attitudes are not acceptable. Not. Acceptable. But I suppose with Steve Harvey being who he is, I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’m disgusted and sickened. This is the sort of attitude that I feel I’m swimming upstream through chunky peanut butter to end. I’m allergic to peanuts.

No, Mr. Harvey, there’s no way you’re getting out of this with anything less than some very public reconciling to do as well as some reconciliation of the divine sort.

Share. Please. Share that link. Listen to what Steve Harvey thinks about disabled people from his talk show. Then boycott him. If you can’t do that, then write to his producers and tell them exactly what you think about his behavior. Let them know that if you were a fan, you’re not any longer. Let them know that if you hadn’t watched or listened before, there’s no chance in hell now.

More importantly: If you ever have behaved or spoken in a way that’s degrading to any individuals that have any disabilities at all, please stop. Think about the damage you’ve done and are doing if you don’t stop. You don’t know who has an invisible disability that hasn’t come out to you about it, so you don’t know who you’re harming. Be an ally instead of the villain.

#BeAnAllyNotAVillain #FlashBlogBoycottSteveHarvey #BoycottSteveHarvey

[EDIT: I really didn’t want to add what it was he said because I think if you watch that video above, she illustrates what’s wrong with what he said. But I should have included that he joke was made during his morning talk show on March 26th as his character “Sister Odell.” He has since apologized except that his apology wasn’t really an apology. It was a “y’all can’t take a joke” jab.

It started out on Facebook as,

“To everyone, please accept my sincere apologies. It was not my intent to hurt anyone.”

He should have stopped there. That would have been perfect.

He continued with:

“Sister Odell is a made up character, she is not real and my intent was not directed at any other real person. And most certainly was not directed at anyone you know. Again my apologies. The problem with comedy is ALL subjects can offend someone. Please forgive me if you were. DON’T TRIP HE AIN’T THRU WITH ME YET.”

Apology? Do you see what he did there? Exactly what I said he’d do. He excused his behavior. He blamed those offended in the disability community, for being offended that he said offensive things he should have never said. Under the claim that it wasn’t really him but the character he was playing.

When you apologize to anyone you’ve offended, you simply apologize and you don’t qualify the behavior. You don’t excuse the behavior. You don’t turn it around and blame the massive group of people you offended for being rightly offended.

This was a non-apology.

How does one exactly blame the fictitious character that one writes and plays? It’s not MY fault, it’s Sister Odell’s fault for making fun of someone that doesn’t actually exist.

No, it doesn’t work that way. It can’t.

Those “jokes” only barely thinly mask a very real opinion. He wasn’t being sarcastic in the jokes, using them to describe a behavior about disability bigots that he was disgusted with. He was the one making fun of disabled individuals. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t directed at a specific individual… that makes it even worse because now we also know what his stereotype of a disabled person looks like. They’re all intellectually disabled, unable to speak, unable to control themselves and their bodies, unable to control the sounds coming out of their mouths, looking foolish.

This is what such “comedy” perpetuates. That a thin mask of hate of disabled people and their disabilities, and hatred their audacity to be disabled in public, can be called comedy and therefore not be considered hate speech or discrimination. No, if it’s comedy, it couldn’t possibly be a mask of hate and discrimination.

What saddens me is that there are people commenting on his pages that they are or know someone close to them (like a son or daughter) who is disabled, and not only are they not bothered but they found it funny too. They want him to continue, and they support him and believed an apology was not necessary. That anyone offended had no reason to be offended and basically, we’re all party poopers without a sense of humor.

That’s what couching hatred of disabled people in humor perpetuates. Not acceptance, not a desire to learn more, not even tolerance.]

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A very important concept in fighting for Disability Rights is moving away from the Medical Model and towards the Social Model. Acceptance over a cure. Creating Universal Accessibility ideals that are helpful for everyone so that no one may be excluded.

To make it easier to understand I’ll give visuals:

This staircase is lovely, with a ramp built into it as an integral part of the architectural design.

The ramp is built into the architecture as art rather than an afterthought at Robson Square in Vancouver by Arthur Erickson

Robson Square in Vancouver by Arthur Erickson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This design below eliminates the staircase altogether in the form a beautiful circular, winding red ramp that everyone uses at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, California. It’s difficult to see from the photo below, but the doors are also wide and airy, and it’s reported that most visitors find this layout to be very warm and inviting.

Circular Ramp Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, Calif; example of Universal Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greendale Villa near Disney World is known to be disability-friendly and uses Universal Design in its architecture. They even use it in their swimming pools.

Accessible Universal Swimming Pool at Greendale Villa in Fla.

Accessible Universal Swimming Pool at Greendale Villa in Fla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The examples I gave are easy to understand because you can see them. They’re also easy to understand because they’re inclusive for people that have visible physical disabilities for people that use wheelchairs; parents using strollers or are holding a wobbly toddler by the hand; aging individuals or others who need a walker or a cane; people that have a cast on their leg and use crutches; a postal delivery person carrying or wheeling heavy packages; a student lugging around heavy books or an enormous art project; a caterer making a delicate delivery. The fact of the matter is that stairs are clumsy and difficult to navigate.

When it comes to the disabilities that you can’t see, the Universal Design within the Social Model is still not only an ideal, but a necessity. We’re not demanding that the world change to give disabled individuals “special treatment.” We’re hoping that the world will understand that a level playing field is the goal. We’re hoping that by showing care in being inclusive to all, people might start to figure out that disabled individuals are valuable and have as much to offer and contribute as anyone else does.

I see resistance to these ideas because I think some people believe that acceptance of disabilities means giving up, not trying, not caring, being willing to somehow not be enough of something. Human maybe? Even though disabled people are fully People, fully Human, no matter the disability. But for many people, the Social Model means that those who have disabilities have the audacity be disabled; to not hide the disabilities adequately enough to appear to have no disability at all or, worse, to not have overcome the disability or disabilities. The problem with resisting the Social Model is that the Social Model benefits EVERYONE. That’s how inclusion works. Funny, that.

Imagine these ramps that are inclusive of everyone as communication barriers that have been broken down for people that have mental health disabilities, developmental learning disorders, cognitive function disorders, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities, impaired vision, impaired hearing… and all of the other invisible disabilities that so many people forget about when it comes to universal designs.

It can be as simple as recognizing that there are multiple ways of communicating. Even a newborn baby can communicate through facial expressions, body language, different types of cries, different vocalizations, eye contact, and even how fast or slow they’re breathing. Someone that is classified as non-speaking and “incapable” of speech is still always capable of communicating.

So if you have someone that’s Autistic or has a speech delay and their parents have been told they’ll “never” speak because they seemingly aren’t verbal since they haven’t  (yet) communicated verbally, what do you think the assumption tends to be?

“My child can’t communicate and never will, and therefore they must be intellectually disabled.”

That sounds so dire, doesn’t it? I would bet my left butt cheek that their child uses body language, facial expressions, other sounds, or possibly even sign language of some sort to attempt to communicate. Pointing, shaking the head, refusal of performing a request and performing a different behavior instead… that’s all communication. It doesn’t mean that the child doesn’t understand what’s being said or asked; it simply means they need another way to communicate.

Hear this well: non-verbal learning disorders and delays don’t mean someone has an intellectual disability, or that they’re incompetent. While neurological disorders and other disabilities such as Autism and Non-verbal Learning Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder and Cognitive Delays can co-occur, they are mutually exclusive of each other.

This means that you need to assume that your child or any other disabled individual you come across should be presumed to be competent. Presume they can hear you and understand you, and maybe even read. Maybe learn to use cards with images on them. Offer a computer keyboard or a tablet. See if your loved one enjoys drawing, painting, or a craft. Art is also communication. So is music. So is math. Everything someone does or doesn’t do is communication of some sort.

Disability does not make one less. It’s not something to be ashamed of. As someone with disabilities I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say that disabilities are fun and everyone should join me and have them. I’m not going to say that the challenges aren’t incredibly difficult, and that some obstacles don’t really seem impossible to ever overcome. I’m not going to say that it isn’t discouraging at times. Being disabled often sucks, but it doesn’t mean I’m miserable.

And that’s something else.

One big assumption about individuals that have disabilities that needs to disappear forever is that “being disabled means being miserable and life isn’t worth living.” That statement is a myth and it’s offensive. It’s why I found it heartbreaking, tragic, and ridiculous when people decided that Robin Williams’ suicide was understandable when they discovered it was so he wouldn’t have to progress with his disability rather than because it was part of his lifelong depression and, thus, “selfish” of him to commit suicide.

Life is more than worth living when one has one or more disabilities and it’s no one’s place to put value on someone’s life, to measure their worth or right to live or whether someone’s life is a tragedy based on the single fact that they have disabilities or make assumptions on someone’s suffering levels. Life is still worth being part of society, part of family and friends, and having society recognize that individuals who are disabled have just as much to contribute and deserve to earn a living wage, with voices and opinions that are strong.

Part of making society acceptable, part of the Social Model needs to be dispelling myths and incorrect stereotypes about disabilities in general, and disability-specific. For instance, individuals who are autistic are not “suffering with Autism” and nor are they emotionless. They are autistic. Very often, in my personal observations, it seems that autistic individuals are more sensitive to emotions and they most definitely aren’t suffering due to their Autism. The suffering occurs from the treatment of others who may be abusive and less understanding, less accepting, and being in environments that are not disability friendly. For instance, lights that are too bright and music that’s too loud in a store that can already be disconcerting makes the experience nearly impossible for some. It’s an assault on the senses.

There are movie theaters that now offer sensory friendly screenings of movies. They will advertise a specific movie with the times, locations, and accommodations being made: raised lights; reduced level of sound for the movie; allowing wandering during the showing within the theater itself; allowing talking; providing ESL interpreters; allowing carers such as PCA’s to accompany without having to pay additional fees.  Universal acceptance, Social Model.

Assimilating universal designs into our society is an acceptance that everyone of any ability is valuable and worthy of having access to anything and everything. It’s a recognition that everyone’s needs are different. It’s difficult when much of society isn’t just afraid of acknowledging disabilities, but disgusted by them. There is a lot of fear of being seen as different, as Other, because once someone sees you as disabled, you’re also seen as weak and incompetent. There are a lot of people who try to take advantage of that perceived weakness, and there are those who use their physical intimidation to put themselves in a powerful position and misuse it. It’s called bullying.

For me to accept my disabilities relating to Fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety is not giving in or giving up. It’s not accepting a suffocating, negative label. It gives me a name for the obstacles I have to cope with, and a starting point to learn. It means that while I accept my disabilities I can still do my best to help myself feel better. I may have some cognitive issues and massive physical pain that would bring down a horse, but I am not weak nor incompetent. I have strong opinions. I’m a self-advocate and I advocate for my children and others. It’s not easy for me to accept my particular disability because it’s physically and mentally taxing. It’s scary to realize that it’s going to progressively get worse. That just makes me work even harder to take care of myself.

By the same token, by accepting my daughter’s Autism, I’m not throwing her to the wolves and giving up her, drowning her with alphabet soup letters and labels. Discipline doesn’t go out the window. Education doesn’t get tossed in the wind. I’m helping her along with her sisters learn about who they are, what they’re going through, and working out the process with them. We’re learning together how to identify their strengths, talents, interests so that they can learn how to best communicate and what their best learning methods are.

Along the way, we’ve figured out which clothing can trigger negative behaviors. We’ve learned which ingredients in particular foods and drinks to avoid. We’ve learned what weather changes can do to health. We’ve learned how to adjust our thinking, our language, our expectations. We’ve learned that these things change and are fluid and that being flexible as parents and caregivers is simply the best approach.

In doing so, I’m trying to make the world more accessible for her. I’m letting her be who she is without trying to change her. I’m not trying to make her “pass” for neuro-typical or, as those of us who are non-autistic are sometimes called by some people in the Autistic Self-Advocate Movement, Allistic. I’d like her to know that she can change her world. She does need to learn how the “Allistic” world works so that she can navigate it, but whether she ever appears to be like her non-autistic peers isn’t really on our radar.

Would you like to know why? Because I don’t want her to grow up believing that Autism is something she has to overcome or that she has to try to cover up in order to make other people feel more comfortable. She should never have to feel like she has to overcome herself or something that is such a major part of what makes her who she is at her core. Her pride in who she is should be empowering for her.

I see the discomfort people feel when they see my cane, see my pain, and they don’t know what to say. I see it in the faces of people who haven’t seen me in a long time and see me now, or those who just can’t get used to seeing me with the cane. That used to make me feel bad, and as if I had to apologize for it. Then I realized that I shouldn’t have to apologize for having a disability. The discomfort of others regarding my disability or them realizing my daughter has a disability isn’t my problem to work out. It’s up to them to figure out how to accept it and make it part of their reality. Maybe I’m not entirely comfortable with my own disabilities, and that’s okay because I’m learning and it’s a process. I go back and forth between accepting it and not… but as someone who is a do-er I tend to lean towards accepting and moving along so that I can find the new path.

It starts in the classrooms, and I’m hoping that these inclusive classrooms are encouraging children to bring their acceptance and generosity of spirit home to their families. If that happens, their parents bring it to work and it spreads.

We’ve learned that neurology is diverse and that they don’t need, or want, a cure. I’ve heard the words come from Sweet Girl’s mouth herself. She just wants to be accepted for who she is.She embraces her Autism and wants to be accepted. That’s all any of my girls want regardless of their neurology. They are not weak nor incompetent. They are not damaged.

We just need a pool that we can ease into rather than having to jump into all at once.

They Don’t Want an Autism Cure – The Daily Beast.

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I had a 6-month check up with my PCP on Wednesday.  Since my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, this has been something she insists on in order to see the progression of my pain and how I’m handling it.  She does what amounts to a physical except I get to keep my clothes on at these check ups.  

7 Kinds of Fibromyalgia Pain

7 Kinds of Fibromyalgia Pain

We talk about exercise (yoga and some walking) and my diet (vegetarian with little sugar, plus no HFCS or food dyes; reduced dairy and reduced animal byproducts).  She checks my weight (hey, I lost ten pounds since my last appointment!).  She checks how I move; motions I can and can’t make; triggers for pain and other issues; posture; word recall; language usage; asthma and lungs; ears; spine; skin issues; eyes; mouth; reflexes; asks questions about the pain itself regarding location and the nature and quality of the pain.  Um, I forget the term for that.  The… the… diffuse pain and describing what it feels like.  It has to do with the seven types of pain that Fibro-sufferers feel.  There’s an info-graphic I’ll have to try to dig up.

My PCP wasn’t happy with the progression of my pain because A.) the flare ups have increased in frequency and I rarely have occasions of tolerable or “feeling really good.” I have a majority of time where I feel sick from the pain it’s so high, and it affects my sleep, moods, and anxiety levels.  B.) Even when I’m feeling “good” the pain is high, which means my baseline pain, the pain I feel at the lowest possible pain level all over my body, can be distracting.  C.) I have a lot of breakthrough pain where I have to take something in addition to my daily med.  And yet, when I’ve accidentally missed a dose of the Gabapentin/Neurontin (only 200 mg, taken 3X a day = 600 per day), the pain is quadrupled.  I don’t feel side effects, I just feel pain so excruciating I feel like throwing up and wish for nothing but being unconscious.  I didn’t explain things quite like that to my doctor, but gave her an abbreviated explanation.  I tried to hold it in for the appointment.  

She was able to see through my bravado (I had one of my daughters with me) that I was in severe pain in spite of taking my meds exactly as prescribed, and with my insistence that they’re working and minimizing the pain. I insisted I was tired, it had been a long day, and the weather being so cold wasn’t helping matters.  She said,

“Mmm hmmm.  The weather.  Yes that has a grande effect but it can’t always be the answer.  You are doing everything right to minimize your disease and it’s not your fault.  But you know Fibromyalgia is progressive.  You are in a lot of pain.  I see it and you need something more than what I can prescribe.  Your current dose of Gabapentin is as high as I can go.  You take the Tramadol for breakthrough pain, but you don’t want to take it often and usage is increasing, so the answer is the pain management doctor.  I know you don’t want to do that, but my dear, you are at the point that you need it.  Please trust me.”

Sigh.

I had refused a referral to a pain management doctor a year ago and again six months ago.  I think this time, I need to trust her as she asked.  Luckily it’s one in my own doctor’s group, who has a great reputation, and my PCP knows her as a coworker in the same building.

Then she asked me about my current Rheumatologist.  

“So, my dear, I have your list of medications: one for allergy, migraine, one for depression, sleep, and one for pain plus the occasional Tramadol.  But I have nothing listed from your Rheumatologist.  What is she treating you with? How is she treating your Fibromyalgia?”

I told her the simple answer: She’s not.  You don’t see any medications or treatment plan from Dr. Rheumatologist because although she considers herself a diagnostician for Fibromyalgia, she doesn’t feel comfortable prescribing medications for it and believes it’s a sleep disorder.  She refuses to accept that an inability to sleep well is a result of being in too much pain to sleep.  She also believes it’s related to anxiety, caused by anxiety and depression refusing to see those things as being mainly/partially caused by Fibro.  She doesn’t even believe it’s a neurological disorder yet feels a Neurologist is better suited to prescribing Fibro meds or barring that it’s the job of the PCP.

I think my doctor’s jaw dropped. Her lips pursed and she huffed through her nose.

And then:

“Hmm.  I know a Rheumatologist who will accept this referral I’m sending, and since you have the diagnosis and this doctor is my colleague, he should accept you into the practice.  Fibromyalgia is one of the specialties.”

 

Guess what? I  had a message on my home voicemail when I got home from work today.  It was from the new Rheumatologist inviting me to call as soon as possible, and if I couldn’t get to them before noon today to call them on Monday to set up an appointment.  

Suddenly I’m remembering my prayer… and The White Rabbit.

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I figured it out! Why my shoulder/shoulder-blade/myofascial pain has been so agonizing since I got up yesterday.  I blamed my PCP from my Monday physical.  I think she’s only partly to blame.  Well, not her directly but those terrible examination beds.

I think the real cause was getting kicked and punched all up and down my entire right side from my thigh up to my shoulder from a particular child who really, really, really didn’t want to get out of bed and then didn’t want to get off the couch to continue getting ready to go to school.  I think she hit a Fibro trigger point and some nerves.

It’s only slightly better this morning.  I can function better, since I was able to keep up with the pain management, and getting some coffee into myself this morning = happier Jessica so far.  By the time I got back from, well, all appointments yesterday I was nearing “vicious” and I hope to avoid that today.   My mood certainly didn’t improve by getting stuck in traffic for two HOURS yesterday coming back from another annual appointment that women love during which my mood had lifted somewhat when I saw that their weight scale weighed me seven pounds lighter than my PCP’s scale.

A drive that usually takes 15-20 minutes.  Two hours.  No.  I almost got smushed and shoved off the road by a pair of semi-trucks when trying to merge into the insanity from other insanity because they were at the point where, you know, I had no choice but to merge and they just wouldn’t allow ANYONE to merge.  So I ended up having to take an exit and I got lost in Hartford and ended up over the river in East Hartford but got home far faster than if I had stayed in the traffic anyway.  So thank you, asshole semis.  You saved me even though you almost killed me.  It almost made the earlier 1 hour and 45 minutes worthwhile.  I should really thank my GPS for this one.  You know, since I got lost.

I need to remind myself to stay off of Facebook on the worst of the worst days.  I usually do, but not yesterday.  😦

Ok, so can I grow flowers if my husband let grass grow in my plant bed and we just rototill? Or do we have to lay down topsoil before planting? I have a fairy garden to put out and it wouldn’t have been a problem two summers ago.  😉

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Source: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&docid=NuIqSZjxBauA8M&tbnid=S6HgtM3YkTX2-M:&ved=0CAQQjhw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhittingthewall.paulglover.net%2F20130509-fibromyalgia-awarness-day-2013-show-someone-in-pain-you-love-them%2F&ei=QSgwU-n5OcK0yAGF8oGwCA&bvm=bv.62922401,d.b2I&psig=AFQjCNEOFLYng877JZKQ1bt8jREYuBaWug&ust=1395751334502767

Fibromyalgia Awareness: Pain Flare Up

I’ve been working my way through what feels like an endless flare and as each day goes by, it seems harder and harder to get through.  Of course I still get up each day and as each individual day goes by, the day is harder to get through.  It’s par for the course, really, but this has been a really long flare that’s been going on for well over a month.  I’ve had mini-flares within the flare.  Weekends let me know just how badly I’m really taking care of myself during the week by slamming me with the CFS.  I wish I could give in to it, but 3/4 of the time I really can’t.  When I do, it’s sweet heaven and drifting into sleep, pained as it is, gives me the only relief I can get sometimes.  I’m still on a half dose of my Fibro med and have about seven days left on it before I can titrate up.

But now? During this past week specifically? The CFS is starting to kick in during the week.  I’m having worse trouble in the mornings not just getting up out of bed (that’s always a given) but waking and shaking off the grogginess.  I’m afraid it won’t be long before I can’t hear the blaring alarm that’s next to my head nor feel the vibrating phone alarm under my pillow.  I’m feeling the CFS at work now.  I’ve been successful in shaking it off at work, but I’m worrying about reaching a point where I can’t shake it off so that I might not be able to drive home. I already keep my cane close by and use it frequently.  During my flares I use it nearly constantly.  My balance is much worse; I can fall over out of nowhere for no reason; my sciatica gives me bursts of searing pain and completely goes out on me; I get other back pain and myofascial pain and other random pain that requires the support of the cane so that it helps ease things.

I was out at the store a week or so ago to run an errand and a lady came up to me to tell me that she used to use the same cane.  It’s purple with colorful flowers all over it.  I thought she was coming over to be nice.  Then she said,

“I was at a therapy session one day and my physical therapist saw my cane and asked me why I used it.  I told him why and his response to me was to throw it away and just stop using it.  And do you know he was right? It was the best thing I ever did.  You should do the same thing! It will be the best thing you ever do! You’re too young to use a cane!”

The smile that I’d had on my face must have faded instantly and I must have had daggers suddenly shooting out of my eyes, because the smile she had been showering me with faltered.

“That’s so nice for you.  I don’t suppose you have Fibromyalgia like I do.  I wish I could just throw away my cane.  I’ve done physical therapy but it not only didn’t work, it made my chronic pain disorder worse.  The cane helps me relieve some of the pain, but without the cane I wouldn’t be able to rely on my balance and I would fall more often.” 

Then I saw a light bulb.  I had been afraid I would see a slack jaw.

“Ah, I have a friend that has Fibromyalgia.  My mom, God bless her, had it too.  I understand.  Bless you.”

Then her smile returned and I felt at ease again enough to return her smile.  As I continued shopping I started to feel a different kind of unease and my frustration returned because I kept turning that incident over and over in my mind.  As I’ve gone over the past week (or more) I’ve continued to think about it.  I’ve been trying to figure out why it continues to nag at me.  It’s more than the immediately apparent unsolicited advice.  It’s more than the rampant incorrect assumptions being dumped all over me in that exchange that lasted all of 3-5 minutes.  It’s more than how quickly a seemingly positive random interaction soured.

Then throughout the past week or so, I found that I was paying more attention to how people respond when they realize I’m using a cane or I’m in visible pain.  When they can “see” my invisible disability by proof of the cane they’re very polite and smile and will give way.  People sometimes will offer to give me their place in line if they see I have fewer items in my cart/basket.  People are even more compassionate if I have my girls with me and they’re on their best behavior with me.  If I’m feeling tired and I’m sure it’s on my face, again, people are even more compassionate.  If I’m moving slowly, carefully, and purposefully, people are kinder and gentle.

But only if I’m smiling.  Only if I don’t let the pain visibly show too much in my face and posture.  Only if I can manage to control vocalizing unexpected bursts of severe pain that take my breath away.  Because if I’m not smiling… if I look like I’m ready to cry… if people can see just how much pain I’m in and maybe even hear it then the discomfort is palpable.

As it turns out, my pain and discomfort and feelings of sickness due to the pain aren’t really about me.  Of course not, why would my disability be about me? The things I go through are about everyone else.  I’ve always known this on some level, but I didn’t realize until recently just how much.

I can’t just deal with my pain and try to get through it.  I have to help others through my pain as I’m trying to cope with it myself.  I have to reassure them and explain it to them.  Until I thought about it, and thought about specific recent incidents in a new way, I didn’t realize just how much effort it takes to put up the appearance that my pain isn’t nearly as bad as it is even when it’s so bad that I can’t hide it and it breaks through and takes my breath away and I shriek.   I realized that I could not only see the discomfort others feel over my pain but that I was actively pushing against it trying to care-take others’ feelings and worries about my obvious pain… even strangers.

I reassure people that I am, in fact, all right (fine, even) and “this is normal for me.”  Because somehow, if “it’s normal for me” then I must be used to it and I must have a high pain tolerance.  I do have a high pain tolerance, but come on.  Pain is pain.  Severe pain is severe pain.

People will ask with fear, “Are you all right?” and I can tell that they’re hoping I’m going to minimize the situation, brush it off for them.  It’s rare that I tell the truth about how bad it is.  It’s par for the course.  It’s my normal, yes, and I have to get used it.  I have to endure it. Even when my baseline pain increases, I just have to get used to it.

I have to say I’m fine because it’s expected.  No one wants to hear the details of pain or what Fibromyalgia is like or what it means for my life and my family.  No one wants to know what struggle it is for you to even be standing up right in that moment.  You suddenly feel like you’re that elderly relative that’s asked how they’re doing and they give you the laundry list of every single ache, pain, illness, bowel movement, skin tag removal, kidney stone, colonoscopy, and family gossip because you see That Look come over the other person that lets you know they just don’t want to hear it.

Except I’m not really all right. I just can’t let anyone know how “not all right” I am because pain like this? Nonstop, constant, chronic pain that has severe flare ups? It’s taboo.  I’m not really supposed to say, “No, I’m not all right.”  If I say that then that implies, apparently, that I have expectations of other people to actually physically or verbally or emotionally help me and I shouldn’t impose that on people when it’s not their business and they don’t know what to do.

Maybe that’s what’s most uncomfortable for other people.  It’s uncomfortable because they don’t know how to make it better (they don’t have to make it better), they don’t know what to say or do, they don’t know what’s appropriate because there’s no rule book.  If someone else’s pain can’t be easily soothed because it’s more than surface pain (or what I call Less-Than-Labor-Pain Pain or for men to relate, Less-Than-Kidney-Stones-Stuck-In-Your-Urethra-Pain Pain that never, ever stops) this “look” comes over someone’s face.  This look that says my pain is not only uncomfortable emotionally for them but it’s an inconvenience.  I’ve put them into a position where they have no choice but to think about and deal with something that they haven’t ever had to think about before.  I’ve put them into a position where they can’t actually help.  I’ve put them into a position where they have to witness someone else’s pain and discomfort and yes, agony, and they don’t know the right thing to do.

 

What’s right is:

  • Please, try not to make someone else’s disability be about you
  • Please remember that those of us who have chronic pain are not lazy or making it up
  • Please don’t judge us as drug seekers… we are trying to relieve pain that causes many people to commit suicide; and if we are on pain relieving medications, don’t assume that we’re addicts.  If the medications work in some manner then they’re doing their job
  • Please remember that we are not intentionally inconveniencing you no matter how frustrated and annoyed you may feel over our pain
  • Please understand that we are not choosing this and if we had the choice we would make it stop forever and ever, Amen
  • Please know that without a doubt, we have tried every natural non-narcotic remedy that we can think of because we are desperately afraid of the mere whiff of appearing to be a drug seeking narcotics addict even if the pain relief medication/s we take are not narcotics nor addictive
  • Please remember that as uncomfortable as you are about someone else’s chronic severe pain, that other person is far more uncomfortable than you are 24/7
  • Please treat people with respect… not just people that have disabilities, but all people and that way when you see someone that has a disability you don’t have to wonder how you’re supposed to treat them
  • Please don’t apologize
  • Please don’t assume that you’re required to help unless we ask you, but we always appreciate heartfelt offers of help
  • Please be compassionate

 

Do I sound bitter? My apologies.  This flare up over the past nearly-two full months is having an effect on me that’s not pretty.  I’ve had ever-increasingly worse CFS due to the pain.  I think I said that already.  Fibro Fog is sort of chucking me on the chin here.  It’s easy to tire because the pain comes on so badly that all my body wants to do is attempt to sleep in order to escape.  Soon I’ll be allowed to titrate up from the lowest dose of the medication I’m on, which should help, so I pray that my insurance won’t take the stance that I’m a drug-seeking addict even though my prescription isn’t for a narcotic.  You know, because they’re idiots.

After all, I have laundry to do.

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