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Wheelchair Users Totally Welcome

31 Dec

Hello, readers! I hope all is well and comfortably temperatured with you (this morning, I was in 0 deg F/-18 deg C. Not what I call comfortable. I feel much better now, three hours south and +60 deg F).

Where was I, you ask, that I was in such cold climes? Why, I was 5 miles from the Grand Canyon*, staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan, Arizona. Let me tell you about the totally awesome Holiday Inn Express of Tusayan and how much they appreciate the American Disabilities Act!

So, there is a 5-foot tall** TV cabinet in the hotel room (slightly shorter than average USian female height, standing). On top of this, the hotel staff had very kindly placed the bucket for fetching ice, so that any guests unable to reach in such a manner are well aware of their body’s lack of a need of frozen water. Isn’t that so kind of them?

Even better, the wheelchair ramp close to the parking lot was covered in ice and snow, as unlike the stair entrances, they had not been shoveling snow or salting the ice to prevent buildup of dangerous conditions (minor caveat here – I’m not sure whether salt damages wheelchairs, though I would be surprised if it damaged wheelchairs more than salt damages cars driving on salted roads. However, I suspect any damage done by the salt would be negated by the increased safety and mobility of less ice on the ramp).

And breakfast may have been the best part! The 3.5 foot tall counter holding the breakfast buffet had much of the food at my eye-level (5 feet, 3 inches or a little less when standing) so that I had to reach awkwardly to access most of it. And they had these adorable signs on top of the 4-foot trashcans stating “handicap assistance available.” Because, you know, it’s easy to see the top of something taller than oneself. And it’s not at all inconvenient to have to ask for help getting food in a busy, overcrowded breakfast room with people surrounding the food so that it becomes difficult to see what types of food there are. The task of getting help is made even easier by the understaffed front desk, which is seeing to the needs of those checking out of the hotel and answering telephone calls. Besides that, I’m sure people with disabilities are never given social pressure to stop overburdening society with their needs. And I’m quite certain that people using wheelchairs have this magical ability to reduce their need to eat, so wanting second helpings of food would never happen like it does to a good portion of the able-bodied people I saw in the breakfast room. I absolutely support this system of feeding people. You can tell by my tone that I have no qualms about this whatsoever. No, really. None.

So, based on this experience, I think this hotel is really awesome. I love how they’ve chosen to implement the ADA!

EDIT: melhoukia’s excellent post on accommodation of disability was on my mind while writing this, but I couldn’t find the link until after I hit the publish button.

*I did not get to actually see the Grand Canyon, as the entire thing was home to a giant pit of fog all day yesterday, the only day we got to spend there. I got some nice snow images, though!

**I only know these measurements in feet, so here is a link to assist in conversion to Metric units.

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Quick Hit: Phone Anxiety

5 Nov

So, the concept of talking on the phone is stressful for me. If I know I need to call somebody (especially if I don’t know them ((really) well)), I get fairly anxious. Dizziness, nauseous, rapid heart beat, minor difficulty breathing, and a general sense of dread are characteristic of this state for me. I may start to dial, then hang up before the number starts ringing. “Oh, I’ve forgotten some minor person’s name, I’d better look it up and call later.” Of course, later usually is an amount of time measured in weeks, even though I usually resolve the problem I was upset enough to hang up over immediately.

Because of this, it’s kind of a big deal to ask me to “just” call someone.  I have to have months to do so, and relative few hoops to jump through. It’s upsetting and, depending on my general mental health at the time, can make me sob and be unable to do anything for hours or days.

Phone anxiety (which, for me, is likely a form of social anxiety) is particularly stressful for me because I’ve been unable to successfully Google it. Depression is easier for me to accept – it has a Wikipedia article! I can take little automated quizzes that say 80%* depression-like symptoms, and no you aren’t alone in that, and, no, really, that symptom’s quite common actually! But approaching anxiety attack because I have to dial a phone is really damn hard to deal with. And since I use the Internet as a coping mechanism, being able to find information on anxiety from phone use that isn’t shaming or preachy, telling me to “just get over it and practice!” is invaluable. And I haven’t been able to find that. Which is so very frustrating and lonely.

The impetus for this post: I scheduled a Well Woman exam today by phone, where the gynecologist and I will hopefully get to discuss birth control (the main reason I haven’t done any period blogarounds in a while is the severe cramping and other PMS symptoms making me curl up on my bed and hide from the world every time I shed my uterine lining for the past 6 months, making HBC sound quite appealing) and antidepressants (while I recognize the value of getting a prescription for antidepressants from a psychiatrist, I would have to schedule an appointment with one. See above why this isn’t a good option for me right now.**)

*I have no idea what my percentage of depression-like symptoms happens to be, so I made up this number.

**I’m mostly justifying this to myself, to make it easier for ME to accept that I have barriers and limitations and can’t do everything. In general, any readers who have a problem with my choices for my mental health are encouraged not to inform me of this fact.

On Anger and Insurance

24 Oct

When I was four months old, I had surgery. The bones in my head had grown together at an alarming rate, and my brain had no room to expand in my skull. If that surgery had not been performed, I’d be dead. If I had no insurance at 4 months old, that surgery would never have been performed. My dad was a teacher at a local university, and my mom was in grad school. There’s no damn way they could have afforded that surgery on their own.

So that’s why my blood boils when I hear about more pre-existing conditions that prevent those who need care from receiving it (I fully endorse amandaw’s post on the cruelty of pre-existing conditions). That’s why my heart breaks every time I realize how very broken the U.S. health care system is. That’s why, every fucking time I hear about some Congress-member stalling the healthcare bill, or rewording it to allow the corrupted system to continue, or not giving a shit that people are dying because of the system they are working to perpetuate, I can barely contain my grief and my rage. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe I need to get good and goddamn angry, and direct that anger at people who are in a position to do something.

Headspace

20 Oct

My mental health lately: not so good.

Thursday, I went to some museums in Houston. It sounds like such a simple process, doesn’t it? I mean, I like art and going to museums. And I’d made plans with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while to meet up there, so a splendid time was guaranteed for all, right? So. I went to class that morning, and as leaving campus to go to the museum district, I got crowded by a bunch of people. It was my school’s club fundraiser day (there was a snowman on the gazebo, for some obscure reason) at lunchtime, so half the campus was in. my. space. And I started to get anxious – not too noticable, just about the level of anxiety I get when I’m grocery shopping at the beginning of my period. And then I had to deal with Houston traffic. And then there were schoolkids at the museum. And then I had to deal with more traffic. And then, because I was driving around an unfamiliar part of the city, I got lost. And I was thirsty. And the convenience store didn’t have much parking. Or plastic-bottle drinks. And the glass bottle wouldn’t open. And I started crying, badly parked in a convenience store parking lot, because I wanted a damn Sprite (which, once opened, was flat). And then, I figured out where I was. And then, I found the biggest art supply store I’d ever seen. And then, I headed home, in what for the most part appeared to be a pleasant mood. And then, the shit hit the fan.

A part of the way home, which should have taken me 15 minutes, took me an hour. And finally, I got home. And I saw the house, and I stopped lying to myself about what that house means to me, acknowledged how much I hate it for just a moment, and then I had an anxiety attack.

And then I went over to the lover’s (L) house, and tried to pretend everything was fine. And for a while, I got to a point where I believed it myself. And then L’s myoclonic jerks – twitches – started. They’ve been pretty bad lately, and I started crying. Again. And couldn’t stop. And I finally told L about the anxiety attack.

So then, it was Friday. Started out okay. Took L’s sister to buy Guitar Hero 5, so L and L’s mother could watch House together. And that worked out alright, except GH5 had to be in L’s room because it wouldn’t really fit anywhere else, so L and I couldn’t really be alone. Do that whole couple’s bonding thing. And then we went to a movie (Zombieland was fairly fluffy – a bit too “one true love and virginity is teh suxxors and LOL @ fatties” for my tastes). And the line to the ticket booth was long, and there were a lot of flashing lights (because, for whatever reason, the movie listings are surrounded by a Broadway-style marquis), and this creepy kid behind L and me started being creepy (as you can probably tell by my incredibly descriptive adjectives, thinking about it makes me all squicked) and I started shaking and I could feel the anxiety setting in again. I felt better as soon as I got out of the line, and was okay for most of the rest of the night, except for when I spilled a drink and nearly started crying again.

So, Saturday and Sunday kind of blended into each other in my memory. L’s sister played more GH5, and I decided to install the Sims on my computer to somewhat alleviate the general feeling of ennui. Except, it took almost an hour to install and I didn’t want to run any programs while installing it and once I installed the program I couldn’t find it in my directory and once I found the program and figured out how to run it I couldn’t figure out the controls because they were by no means intuitive and so I started crying and shaking again. And then L and L’s sister told me to calm down because it was just a game, so naturally I cried harder. Because telling me to calm down makes things worse, because it’s telling me to stop responding to things in the way I respond to things when I’m stressed and feel like I’m on the verge of an(other) anxiety attack, which isn’t possible because it’s how my brain fucking works and adds another layer of frustration over my current emotional response, because I’m trying to do the impossible to make other people happy (because one mustn’t allow others to feel like they have contributed to one’s poor mood). And I’m trying to process all that and avoid biting L and L’s sister’s heads off at the same time, so I went and hid (sat on the bed with the door wide open) in L’s sister’s room for a bit so I could avoid people. Once most of that frustration had bled off, I went back to L’s room and worked on learning the controls for The Sims. At some point, L told me that L’s parents think I’m gaining weight and should exercise more. And my face crumpled again, and I felt (once again) tears forming as I tried (once again) not to cry. Because of course I’m gaining weight – my bodyweight has a range of 20-30 pounds it cycles through. Because of course I’m gaining weight – I’m trying to make myself eat on a more healthy schedule, instead of not eating even though I’m hungry because I’d have to go to the kitchen which is all the way over there and I’d have to stand up to cook anything and it’s not like I have anything premade. Because of course I’m gaining weight – I’m stressed out, which means my body processes food differently than when I’m feeling well.

But I still feel like I shouldn’t be gaining weight. Because that’s bad, right? Even though I’m usually pretty sure that I don’t care about what I look like, even though I’m pretty sure that my weight won’t affect my health, even through all that, it still stings like hell that I might be gaining weight.

I’m going to schedule an appointment with a doctor this week, so hopefully having this shit documented will help me explain what’s been going on and why I think I need some anti-depressants.

Quick Hit: FWD/Forward

12 Oct

Apropos of my last post concerning the Feministing debacle, a bunch of awesome feminist writers have teamed up (including friend to Foxtrot Chally *waves*) and started a group blog discussing disablism, accessibility, marginalizing language and lots of other cool goodies.

It looks like a useful resource. It’s new, so reading the extent of the archives is easier than older blogs (in other words, go! Read!).

Why I’m Angry

7 Oct

You may have heard of Feministing’s recent refusal to acknowledge disability as a feminist issue.

You may have heard about the systematic othering of disabled people at Feministing.

You may have heard that Feministing commenters continue to engage in problematic behavior, in spite of being called out on TAB privilege.

You may have heard that Feministing moderators allow (and, by silence, encourage) the marginalization of trans people and denial of trans rights.

You may have heard that Feministing encourages multiple forms of kyriarchy, consistently and without apology.

You may have realized by now that I’m cosigning meloukhia’s letter.