Five Lies You Believe Blog Title

5 Lies About Disability

Synonyms for disability – unwell, unfit, poor shape, invalid, weakness, detriment, inexperience. I’ll be honest, I was heartbroken when I went to the thesaurus and looked it up. I knew it wouldn’t be GOOD things, but now I understand why sometimes society thinks less of people with disabilities. It’s in the definition. Now, I’m not saying create a new word for disability, because that’s going overboard. But I do want to share some lies you believe about people with disabilities – keeping in mind every disability is different and some experiences are different than mine, but many of us do get these all the time.

 

  1. I’m very smart, I can hear, and I can see. Just because I have a physical disability, doesn’t mean I have a hearing or visual impairment, mental disability or a learning disability. And just because someone has more than one type of disability doesn’t make them any less of a person. You don’t have to shout at me to get my attention, or ask my best friend what I want to eat, or talk to me in a condescending tone. I’ll know. And I’ll politely tell you that it’s not necessary. I’ve heard stories of deaf people asking for accessibility and getting a wheelchair. How does that help a deaf person?
  2. We do leave our houses. We do go out and have fun. I have plenty of going out stories that will rival any able-bodied person’s. Some of us have jobs. Although, the employment rate for people with disabilities is extremely low – I’ll write about that monster in another blog. We go on dates, we hang out with friends, go to bars, concerts, and do everything an able-bodied person does. Because we’re humans that have the same kind of interests.
  3. I am 27 years old. I like boys. Many people with disabilities are in relationships and plenty of us are not in relationships with other people with disabilities. I’ve dated both able-bodied men and men with disabilities. Both are valid choices, both can be great husbands (because my main goal is marriage and babies – ask my best friend… I have the worst case of baby fever) Yes, many of us can have children and are terrific, capable mothers and fathers. You don’t need to be able to stand in order to take care of children. (It’d be useful, but it’s not necessary). And no, none of my boyfriends had to take care of me. I’m an independent woman.
  4. I am independent. I can live on my own. I can cook, clean, do my laundry, dishes, and kill spiders. I can dress myself, take a shower and even get into my bed. I’m actually pretty good at sleeping. Yes, it’s nice for some help, but too much help squanders not only independence but confidence as well. I’m confident I can live on my own because I was allowed to be independent. I don’t second guess myself when I’m cooking (mac and cheese, cuz let’s face it – I shouldn’t be around fire and knives ever).

The biggest lie of all – I am not suffering from my disability. I don’t live despite my disability. I’m not chained to my wheelchair. I am free – because of my wheelchair – to live independently as any 27 year old would do. I don’t constantly fantasize about what it’d be like to walk. I don’t dream about walking, and it might be different based on the person, and I’m not saying if God performed a miracle I wouldn’t be blessed and thankful. I’m saying I’m comfortable with my disability, educating others about my disability, and life with a disability. There are plenty of us who have reached acceptance. I can’t miss what I’ve never had. I’m not unfit, weak, or invalid.

One Year Later Blog Title

One Year Thankful

A year ago, I was celebrating Thanksgiving and my birthday in the hospital. I didn’t know I’d be in the hospital til Christmas let alone through the Fourth of July. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me anxiety bringing all of these memories back to reflect on this past year. I turn 27 tomorrow, a year ago I was just thankful a nurse made me a glove balloon and ordered a piece of cake from the hospital cafeteria. Looking back on the last four months of being home (I can’t even believe it’s been four months of freedom) I’m thankful for EVERYTHING. I’m thankful for being able to do the smallest things. I”m thankful for things that frustrate me – because it means I survived and still have independence.

 

A year ago, I got leftover turkey two days after Thanksgiving. This year I got fresh turkey and leftover turkey in my freezer. I got to hang out with my little brother, play games with my cousins, uncle and grandparents, and actually ENJOY Thanksgiving. A year of mine is missing, and everything seems only one year past when it’s actually TWO years past. It all feels so close, even though I just missed out on the last year. It doesn’t upset me. Life is so unpredictable, and I gained a new respect for myself and others.

 

A year ago, my 27th birthday was something I couldn’t see. It didn’t exist. But it’s tomorrow and now I’m surprised it’s already here. It feels like I just had one of these, but then again, it feels like it’s been forever since I last had a birthday. I just can’t make up my mind. I either lost a year or it feels like it’s been forever. It’s a mind-blowing feeling, and it’s an emotional rollercoaster. But it’s no use to look back and wonder what would’ve been different if none of this had happened. If the last year hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have made a trip to Florida, and my trip to Florida was my favorite thing I’ve evr done in my life.

 

In October, two of my best friends and I went on a “celebrate life” vacation to Florida, and I couldn’t think of better way I could’ve celebrated finding myself again. I’ll follow up with more vacation posts because there is A LOT to say about what happened. It was 10 days of constant events and I can’t explain how happy it made me to chase lizards on the sidewalk and lay by the pool reading a book with a margarita. Just being able to be independent, call an uber and go get some groceries at Target made me realize how much I had missed life.

 

This year is my golden birthday – I turn 27 on the 27th for those of you who have no clue what a golden birthday is – and we’re going to do the same thign I’ve done since I was a child, go to a movie. Disney movies always come out Thanksgiving weekend. We’ve always gone – from Lion King to Frozen.

 

Thursday, I’m celebrating life with my best friend since 8th grade doing the thing we haven’t done together since right after high school graduation – go to a concert. It’s not my first concert since the hospital, but I believe it’s the one I’ve been anxiously anticipating for a year. It’s essentially a repeat of my first ever show at the Ryman Auditorium – except it’s in Milwaukee, and I’m with a different friend. Regardless, that concert has a very special place in my heart and I’m sure this one will too.

 

It’s been four months and I honestly can’t remember 90% of the last year. It has taken me three weeks to write 500 words because I don’t remember most of what happened. I know it happened. It’s probably better I suppressed most of these memories. I still don’t remember calling my best friend right after surgery crying to her that I love her for an hour. But apparently I did. I do, however, remember that I thought I was fine when I wasn’t. I was telling myself I was fine when I definitely was having a week long panic attack. But – I survived it. I’m still here for a reason I haven’t found yet, but I’m thankful for every opportunity I’ve been given in 26 years. So, here’s to year 27. It’s brand new.

Words That Confine

Everyone has words they hate, or names they hate being called. As a person with a disability, there are words that are considered “hateful” and “not politically correct”. Each person with a disability has a different opinion to what they prefer. To me, “physically challenged” is offensive, however, “crippled” has no effect on me, but to a lot of people, it’s the worst. Here are some explanations for phrases and words common in our society that people with disabilities consider confine them to their disability.

 

Wheelchair-Bound: This one is the biggest NO. It’s just misleading. We can leave our wheelchairs. I don’t sleep in my wheelchair, I can sit on the couch, in a car, in a booth at a restaurant. We’re not tied to our wheelchairs. They’re simply used as legs.

 

Confined to a Wheelchair: see above. But also, would you like to be confined to anything? Are we prisoners?

 

Crippled: I don’t have a problem with it when used in the right context, but it can be used as in a derogatory way, and many of us aren’t frail as porcelain china as the word makes us sound.

 

Inspirational: This one is purely situational. There’s a difference between inspirational and inspiration porn. We draw inspiration from a lot of places. But if you’re making yourself feel good by doing something out of pity for a person with a disability (i.e. the prom proposals from “able bodied” teens to their “disabled” classmates) that’s inspiration porn. There’s a fine line and society loves inspiration porn. (This topic will be discussed at length in another post this month)

 

Special: What. Makes. Us. Special? Most of us just want to be treated equal. We’re no better or worse. We don’t poop rainbows and definitely don’t feel special most of the time when addressed as such.

 

Warrior: I’m not aiming this at parents of children with disabilities. But please, please, please think of your child when calling them this. You may think you’re helping their confidence and making them feel better. But many, many, many of my friends with disabilities think this does more harm than good and it was a common word brought up when asking what to write for this. . Yes, we experience a lot. But EVERY HUMAN experiences pain. Someone’s level 10 pain, could be our level 3 pain. It doesn’t mean that person’s level 10 pain isn’t valid.

 

Gimp: Another word I don’t mind hearing and I don’t hear often (except between my friends with disabilities) I guess it’s like the black community having names for each other. It’s not allowed by anyone other than a person with a disability. I don’t hear it often enough to have more of an opinion, there’s just a derogatory nature about it, and there are WAY better words.

Are You a Bad Person for Not dating Someone in a wheelchair blog title

Are You a Bad Person For Not Dating a Person with a Disability?

The answer is short – no. What would make you a bad person is refusing to consider why you wouldn’t date someone in a wheelchair. If you’re just not attracted to the person, fine. That’s normal, I won’t shout ableism at you (although I never shout ableism – sometimes I think pulling the alarm on ableism does more harm than good – but that’s another topic for another time)

As a society, we seem to want to find some self-righteous human rights movement to join, help those “less fortunate” than us… and then continue about our selfish lives. It includes me, so don’t worry about it… it’s a human problem, not just an able bodied problem. I mean, worry about it because it causes hypocrisy among humankind – everyone’s a hypocrite sometime in their lives – and no, I’m not sorry for saying it.

I live in America, so I know how selfish, self-righteous and hateful we are. We hate the good, the bad and everything in between. It’s so easy to sound the whistle on someone who says something negative about a person with a disability. I’m not made of glass. I can handle someone not liking me. I have, and I’m sure I will again. The fact is, if you’re not attracted to a disabled person, it’s okay. As long as you treat that person like you would another able-bodied person. I would assume that’s with empathy and respect for the other person. Attractiveness is subjective, cultural and sometimes (a lot of times) superficial. Features, looks, personalities are different for a reason, and even I have a very superficial, specific type – bass fiddle guitar players with tattoos I mean wait… my grandma reads this – no one is exempt. We can try all we want to be fair, but life isn’t and neither is humankind.

For Valentine’s Day, I posted about a blind date gone wrong (link) – that scenario came to mind writing this, because I questioned if I was right to feel as hurt as I felt when I was rejected. The fact of that situation was he liked me before he saw that I was disabled AND I SAID I WAS DISABLED. He just ignored it until he saw it in real life. So there’s the difference. He liked me and then he judged me for physical reasons. IT’S OKAY. I dodged a bullet obviously.

Here’s where everyone can relate: NEVER be in a relationship because you think it’s right, or to spare someone’s feelings. In the end, it’s a toxic relationship. You mean well, but it does serious damage to self-esteem. It doesn’t matter age, gender, race, disability (and all the ones I missed) – it hurts no matter who you ask. Never stay in a relationship if you don’t want it, or it’s abusive, or you think you’re not good enough for someone else… chances are you’re too good for the one you’re with.

 

And that’s my two cents. Take it.

 

What I Meant to Post a Week Ago…

I wanted to post five days ago, but there wasn’t much to say. Nothing too major has happened. Nothing too exciting. Basically I’m just sitting here, waiting on my my appointment to see my surgeon – which is a week and a half away. Most of my time last week was spent sleeping… I mean SLEEPING. To the point of I was only awake about 3 hours a day. I’m still sleeping a LOT but the nurse who has to look at the wound every day says it looks a lot healthier. I also fought a cold this past weekend, so I really didn’t want to blog all about the boring stuff. Also, writing all of these things down and editing and pictures take a LOT of energy that I just didn’t have until today (Thursday, April 11th) Honestly, all my energy has gone into prayer for my best friend, Hannah. She had surgery this week to correct one of her health issues, so really, I wasn’t very focused on what I was doing. I was focusing on what she was doing, how she was feeling. For once in the last almost six months, I wasn’t thinking about what was wrong with me and it was SUPER refreshing. Spoiler: She’s doing well, so now I can go back to what’s going on with me.

 

Focusing on my recovery is a huge battle. It’s not only keeping myself physically healthy and fit, it’s keeping myself MENTALLY healthy. A lot of this recovery IS a mental battle and there are a lot of times where I need to put in headphones, tell everyone to leave me alone and read a book, or pick up my Bible and open to a random chapter and read. I find the best verses when I open my Bible at random. During the day, I do keep the radio on a lot. I use the radio because it tells me events going on, and gives me some sort of feeling of being in the community. Not just what’s going on in this wing of a skilled nursing rehab where 99% of the time some person is yelling for help – that’s not an exaggeration.

 

A lot of my mental health isn’t even about what’s going on with me. It’s having to listen to other residents who are in the end stages of life, knowing people pass away just doors away from me. At 26 years old, I’ve learned about my own mortality. Life is precious and it’s very easily ended. We think we’re doing great in life and then one thing happens and you’re in the hospital for a year. (I hope and pray it won’t be a year, but I love exaggeration) So watching other people being moved to a hospice or not making it through the night can be intense.

 

Being aware of how I feel has been part of my every day routine. Do I feel like getting out of bed? That’s usually very ambitious of me. Do I feel like putting on makeup? SUPER ambitious. Do I want food today is the biggest struggle I have – I’ve mentioned how terrible food is here – Sometimes I just don’t want to eat. Actually I just don’t want to eat 75% of the time. It’s not a new thing for me either. I just don’t like eating. I forget to eat if I’m not around people who eat. Unless it’s french fries and honey mustard. I’d eat that forever. I have to tell myself every day that If I don’t at least TRY to interact at least on social media, I’ll feel even worse tomorrow.

 

Thankfully, I have super amazing friends that hardly ever let me not talk to them. They keep me in the loop with what’s happening in their lives so I feel like I’m still part of everything. I get videos from shows/concerts/events. Because if you know me, you know I would go to a show every day if I could, and I think I did that for a month once. It was exhausting. But that’s the kind of exhausted I miss. The kind from being outside for too long, or from traveling a long distance, or sitting outside in a line for eight hours (I’ve only done it three times, and all three times it was necessary for me to be able to see the concert – the fourth WILL be in September when we’re at Justin Timberlake. We will definitely be on the look out for him… because… it’s Justin Timberlake)

 

The kind of exhaustion I feel now is an overwhelming need to shut my eyes or the inability to even open my eyes. It’s not even being able to lift a three pound weight in my left arm because for more than six weeks I had a PICC line in my arm and hardly moved it at all. It’s the fact that my left arm actually has a TREMOR now when I use it in an activity that’s anymore than lifting a pillow. It’ll correct itself in time, when I’m not sitting in a bed 22 hours a day. Also, I’ve been commended for STAYING in bed by the nurse who looks at it almost every day. She said to stay in bed, and sometimes that’s impossible. Like tomorrow, it’ll be 60 degrees outside. I think it’s supposed to be sunny. Even five minutes of light therapy will be goodness for my body and soul. I’m not complaining. It could be so much worse, and even though this is very, very bad… it’s more of an out of body experience where it doesn’t feel like it’s really happening, but it is. I have weird pains every once in a while, because I don’t have much feeling past my waist, but I seem to have enough to get weird uncomfortable pains when I sit or lay in certain positions. I’m just exhausted.

 

 

 

Resurrection Weekend Blog Title

Resurrection Day

I took Resurrection Weekend seriously this year. I guess it can have different meanings for everyone, but to me it means, new life, new health, defeating death. Starting over is hard. It’s scary, it plays with your mind, it’s not convenient. The best part about a setback, is coming out of it the winner.

 

The day after I posted my story, anxiety hit me HARD. It made me physically sick almost to the point of having to go to the Emergency Room. I even asked the nurses to do the paperwork so I could go to the hospital. The Nurse Practitioner talked me down and I was eventually able to fall asleep. My grandparents arrived and made sure I was comfortable with a cold washcloth and a stuffed animal. I took a breath and my body seemed to restart itself. I was fighting fevers, and I haven’t had a fever in a few days. I couldn’t eat, and I ate A LOT Friday and today. I had my first home cooked meal today. It. Was. The. Best. (Thanks Grandma!)

 

Friday and Saturday were great days. Saturday I felt like a totally different person. I had two more doses of IV left, I ate a lot the day before, and I was wearing pretty lipstick. I’m a girl, pretty lipstick is my thing. I knew this weekend was a holiday and I was going to get out of the rehab for a little bit. So I felt better.

 

This morning my mother was going to shave my hair. But someone in the building who was working did it instead because they’re going to beauty school and wanted to practice. So she did. And I had 50 chances to turn back.

 

I never wanted to turn back. No matter how much my mother tried to talk me out of it. I buzzed it, and I love it SO much. It’s a reset. It is something I had control over. I had control over what to do with my hair. I don’t have much control about this infection beyond doing what the doctor asked of me and prayer. But I control who I wanted to cut my hair and how I wanted to have my hair. I can control the fact that my hair was sick and it needed to be gone to heal.

 

I am so excited about how it turned out, I want to keep it this way forever. I won’t. But it’s so nice to have one less thing to worry about while recovering. Any suggestions on headwear, let me know. I have a few saved in my cart on Amazon. I’ve received one donation of headwear, but I will never have enough scarves and hats for this summer. Most of the ones I have now will be too hot in summer. Direct me in the right places please.

 

From now on, I’m going to try to post one update a week. I’m off antibiotics, waiting on blood tests, and I see my surgeon at the end of April to talk about surgery. The price I pay for going to one of the best hospitals in the country is I have to wait three weeks to see a specialist. Thankfully, it’s not an emergency surgery. It’s an elective, even if I want it NOW. I’ll survive. I feel good today. It’s one day at a time. I’m praying for healing 99% of my day because I want this to heal faster than what the doctors say.

 

The encouragement from the last post was INCREDIBLE. I was so overwhelmed. I cried. But it was everything I needed. Thank y’all so much. I’m so thankful for such encouraging people in my life. I love each and every one of the people who reached out the past few days. It’s farm more than I ever imagined. Keep sharing the story though, because it might do someone some good. And that’s all I ever want with what’s happening to me. Be a little happy, even in times where it’s not the easiest thing to do in the situation. I’m still okay, I’ll be better soon. But for today I feel like I could conquer the world, and I live for these days. This is my Resurrection Weekend. My defeat of dying from this infection.

Where I Have Been

Back in November, I didn’t think my situation would be as lengthy or difficult or as absolutely mind numbing as it has proven itself. I developed sepsis in a pressure wound in my sacral area. I have no feeling from my waist down so I did not know I had it until it was way, way, way too late. I thought I had the flu for over a week until finally I agreed to go to Urgent Care and they told me to go to the ER. This was after they were about to send me home with an inhaler as a precaution for a respiratory virus although I tested negative for everything. The first lesson I learned that day is you know your body and doctors are supposed to work for YOUR health, don’t let the doctors tell you have something when you KNOW it’s not correct. Ask for more testing if needed, get a second opinion, go to the ER – because if I would’ve gone home that night I probably would have died, and that’s not even being dramatic. I wish I was being dramatic.

 

So after they admitted me into the hospital I spent three weeks in patient. I underwent surgery twice to clean out the wound I believe the first measurements were over 14 cm (Which means huge) and it was deep down to the bone – that’s important later. The plastic surgery team placed a wound vac, a very common treatment for a Stage 4 wound. (Google is your friend if you need more explanations on anything I’m talking about, that’s how I learned what was going on with me) I had two blood transfusions because they found I’m anemic. I’m now on iron to correct it. And I really don’t remember much of the hospital because I was still SO SICK. I do remember they had good food and made me protein shakes. One of the things I’m SUPPOSED to be doing is eating a lot of protein because your skin needs it to heal. We’ll get to what happened to food later.

 

I spent three weeks in the hospital. I got my first PICC line. The most traumatic event of this whole thing… and then they took it out and two months later I needed it again. I cried both times. Not just a little tear. I sobbed.

 

Once I was able to be admitted into a skilled nursing facility to get 24 hour nursing care, I felt okay. The wound continues to heal and each day I’m getting closer to some sort of health again. In February, I started getting feverish. They took blood (the first of many, many, many times) PS – Natalie, if you’re reading this. I’m very very sorry for the number times I’ll say the B word in this. The results showed MRSA, which is quite common in these places, however, you do need IV antibiotics for six weeks for treatment. So back to another PICC line. I’m still on that antibiotic for another three days. It’s been since beginning of February when they started me on Rocephin only to find out I’m very allergic to that medication. One night I itched my scalp for an hour with no relief. I finally had to sit on my hands at 2 AM. They finally switched to a different drug and an admiration time that wasn’t as insane as midnight. (Just 5 AM and 6 PM – 5 AM is hard) Midnight administration meant no sleep whatsoever.

 

This six week treatment of antibiotics has tested every single one of my limits, physical, emotional, mental, my patience… I wouldn’t have made it through without faith, friends, family. I have the BEST family and the BEST friends I didn’t ask for, but I’m sure glad I have them. From getting me out of here for a few hours (and almost breaking curfew) to sending me stuffed animals or junk food, and just texting or facetiming me to include me in everything going on at places and events I would normally attend. It’s the biggest comfort to me. I’m extremely blessed.

 

A lot of days aren’t good. But the good ones are GREAT days. I finally got into therapy and it’s helped retain some strength although I’m still very weak. Gaining even a pound is a win. It keeps from needing a feeding tube. Even though with the food at the facility being as terrible as it is, it sometimes sounds like a good option until I remember how a feeding tube works. It’s not fun. My grandparents show up with food sometimes and it’s the best thing that happens that day, because food = good mood. Today I’m in a terrible mood because the food choices were terrible. (Has anyone heard of just a plain chicken breast and putting ranch or BBQ sauce on the side? No? Just me?) They wonder why I don’t have enough protein in my system, but either the protein they provide isn’t enough, or it’s covered under unidentifiable substances that make me gag a lot. High gag reflex is part of my disability, and yes, I’ve tried so hard to correct it in 26 years. To the point that I threw up an onion after I was dared to eat a tiny little chopped piece. I still won the dollar from my big brother though!

 

I’ve already said I had a wound vac as a treatment early on, when I got MRSA, they took it off. I’m still unsure why, but they kept citing the infection. So they switched me to a regular dressing once a day. It’s easier, but it doesn’t seem to promote healing as fast. After 30 days of very stagnant healing, physical therapy started on diathermy to promote healing. I don’t mind it. It gives me the excuse to nap for half an hour during the day. It’s only the second week of this treatment and it has been recommended to go through a 30 day cycle. Still not mad about it. Still using it as an excuse for a nap. Honestly, I use healing my body as a reason for a nap. It’s a good reason.

 

The worst part of all of this has definitely been the toll it has taken on my skin and hair. It’s the most vain thing I could be worried about when my body can shut down from what’s happening in my body. I’ve always had really thick curly hair that has thinned so much and fallen out to the point of almost being able to count the number of hairs on my head. Another friend, Hannah, is sick and in bed like me, so we talk nonstop every day… unless one of us says they’re not up to talking to people that day – and it does happen, even when you feel socially deprived (I just wanna smell a guy who ISN’T treating me or related to me and visiting I’m 26 that’s not weird… is it?) I don’t even remember the point of what I was saying.

 

After four weeks of this infection I finally got in to see an infectious disease specialist to get his opinion, and an MRI to confirm I have osteomyelitis in two places in my sacral bones. So not only did I have a blood infection, I also have a bone infection. They won’t treat the osteomyelitis until the wound is closed because the treatment is very harsh and only want to treat me once for it. If the wound is open it’s always going to be susceptible to infection. I finally decided on surgery to close the wound. We’re finally to today. I’m still waiting to talk to my plastic surgeon about surgery, I slept three hours last night, I tried to eat, it’s nice outside and I don’t even feel well enough to go outside and enjoy it. I’m feeling new pain that I never felt (up to this point the pain has been nothing since I can’t feel where the location of the wound) It can be a sign of nerve regeneration, but that also means I may start feeling more pain especially the osteomyelitis.

 

I remember my point from two paragraphs ago. Hannah has to shave her head for surgery, so I’m going to do the same to regrow my hair. It’s going up on a Sunday… not a Tuesday… in my room… not a club. As scary as that decision was to make, now I just can’t wait for it to happen. I’m ready to not brush my hair anymore or think it looks so bad, or wash it. Once I’m back to health, I’ll let it grow out again. In the meantime, if you have suggestions for cute cap/scarf places let me know, because I’m not about to hide the fact I did this. I’ve already been called insane for doing it, but I think makes the MOST sense out of any of my blind decision making. Someone told me I’m an adult and this is what adults do. So, four year old me, you’re never going to call the infomercial number to buy ZooBooks when you’re 18, so stop saying you want to be an adult.

 

We’re good. I’m going to make it. I promise I am. I’m just really annoyed with the “I hope you get out soon” comments from well meaning friends and family, and I KNOW it’s my fault because I didn’t disclose this much publicly until just now. I’m doing it now not just for people. But for me. To see how LONG of a process this has been. And these are only the details I WANT to share. I’ll probably go back and elaborate in other blog posts or updates now that I’m finally gaining enough confidence and not worrying about feeling pitied.

 

I just want to be thought of instead of “Oh, she’s young, she’ll recover fast.” No, this is not a fast recovery. Once I TALK to a surgeon the surgery won’t be for most likely another two months. In the meantime I get to sit in a not very comfortable bed trying to reposition to NOT get another sore, in a small room with old people screaming down the hallway, and try to stomach a bite of their terrible food. (Again, I’m not the only resident here that complains about the food daily, the CNAs feel bad passing trays at least twice a week)

 

After surgery, it is required that I am in-patient for 3-4 weeks while I lie flat on my back, not moving in an air-flow bed; the worst bed out of all beds, but helps keep pressure off the wound/surgical site. It isn’t til after that 3-4 weeks I can start therapy, and sitting up starting for 15 minutes a day until it is increased all the way to a few hours. So I may be BACK in this same facility for a few months after surgery. It. Isn’t. A. Fast. Recovery. Yes, in the grand scheme of things a year is nothing, but we are NOT promised another day.

 

Things I’m looking forward to in the coming months because this has been a lot of negativity and I didn’t even touch half the points I wanted to make: God showing me my path of recovery did mean something to not only me, but other humans, being able to be in my chair for a longer period than a few hours without feeling guilty I broke the rule, a home-cooked meal (at this point Kraft Mac n Cheese is acceptable), no curfew that I need to be back before midnight, Justin Timberlake concert in September, Ed Sheeran in October and being home for Christmas next year, going back to Nashville because I miss it dearly and realized what great friends I left behind and how few I have in Wisconsin, to not have to worry about my hair for the rest of my healing process, and the most important one – to pet a dog. Somehow whenever there’s a dog visiting here I miss it by five minutes or I’m in a treatment. It’s a terrible chain of events.

 

Speaking of dogs, I blame a dog for my favorite song right now. I listen to the radio to make myself feel like I’m still part of the world, listening to people talk about events NOT in these four walls or worried about what my blood pressure or my temperature is today. My favorite song on the radio that makes me smile INSTANTLY is The Long Way – Brett Eldredge. Every. Single. Time. I smile. I think it’s because he has the cutest dog ever and I just picture the dog, but maybe it’s a little bit the sweetness and innocence of the lyrics, and maybe it’s because I’ve grown a liking to Brett Eldredge. Whatever it is, thanks Brett Eldredge for the endorphins multiple times a day (smiling releases endorphins, y’all) and by multiple times I day I mean every other hour because that song is reaching that #1 spot (hopefully) soon. Music is healing. There’s so much research that shows it makes you happy, and being happy makes you healthier and that makes your body want to heal more. That’s my scientific explanation for the day. But thanks, Brett… And I didn’t think I’d thank another Brett since Brett Favre winning the Super Bowl when I was a starry eyed kid.

 

I wanted to thank the people that have absolutely been the best the last few months when they didn’t have to be. Hannah I already mentioned,  Lisa, you get it. Because you were me once, and I made it through this with more positivity because I saw my best friend fight this and live to tell the tale. You are still my role model and I still am cheering you on with every battle every day. Taylor – who has always been the SWEETEST but brings food sometimes weekly but at least a couple times a month and she lives an hour away. Oh, and she helps me get out to concerts and make it back before midnight aka 11:59 and encourages my plotting to meet Justin Timberlake with her in September – it’s gonna happen. I didn’t want to turn into a pumpkin, after all. Natalie, you’re the only person I’ll ever FaceTime looking like a complete troll, and your friendship and keeping me in the loop with what’s happening in town makes me so happy. I really, really appreciate you so much.

 

My grandparents have been super great at stopping by to keep me company when they can, making sure I get to doctor’s appointments – I’m sorry grandpa that I made you walk all that way one time we got lost in Froedtert, and love you for still giving me a hard time even when I’m sick. Grandma I love you so much for all the prayer, unconditional love, supplying food that I’ll actually eat, and checking on me even when you’re so busy yourself. There are so many people I could sit here and thank. My mommy of course who talks to me 7 times a day at least. I’ve never talked to my mother more in my life. I’m just making sure she doesn’t have a panic attack daily. I love my mom. I do. I promise. Thank you EVERYONE who has sent me care packages full of M&Ms and stuffed animals. They’re my favorite things. Just, thank you so much.

 

If anyone has book recommendations, Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime recommendations, basically anything to recommend to pass time for the foreseeable future, leave a comment, send an email, send a Facebook/Instagram/Twitter private message… keep me entertained. This is the most I’ve been able to write in MONTHS. It takes a lot of physical and mental energy to write and think this much. I’ll try to continue with little events that happened over the course of five months, but I’m not going to force myself to write if I don’t want to write. I WANTED to share this. I WANT people to understand. It’s a COMMON problem with disability. This is just one story, but I feel it’s an important story.

 

Please Don't Tell Me Blog Title

Life Worth Living

The Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect 26 years ago today. I’m 25. I have never seen the US without the ADA, and quite frankly, I don’t want to – because accessibility is still hard even when bare minimums are met.

 

The question I’ve been really thinking about lately is “why do people think that a people with disabilities have terrible lives?” Everywhere from the “Inspiration” overload to movies where the “happy ending” is the person is no longer disabled. Can’t I just be disabled and happy? Yes, it’d be a stretch for me to say that being disabled is awesome and fun and glorious. It’s not. There are plenty of times when I get frustrated by my own disability. But it doesn’t mean that my life is terrible or I wish I could walk. I never knew how to walk, so I can’t miss it.

 

Having a disability is just another way to live life. It’s different than 80% of the population, but it’s still just life. I still can feel happy, and I still get sad. I get angry, I make mistakes, I learn lessons, I grow as a person – I still have a life. And yet, I am sometimes portrayed as worse off than everyone else. Yes, I have way more medical issues. I’m more prone to kidney failure, meningitis, pressure sores, and blood clots. I have had more surgeries than I can count on both of my hands (although, not in 13 years) I have way more work to take care of myself and sometimes it gets hard and discouraging, but that doesn’t mean my life is any less.

 

My life is worth living. I love my life a lot. I have a great family, friends, and I’m blessed more than most. I know I deserve this life, and I’m stumbling my way through it to figure out how I’m supposed to live. But isn’t everyone my age doing the same thing? No matter how much I tell myself that I’m okay with being disabled, and I’m confident, I’m always constantly getting the condescending “bless your heart” or the “I hope you feel better” — which I don’t feel bad, I don’t know why I need to feel better. It tests me sometimes, but I gracefully accept that they’re just trying to be encouraging to something they don’t fully understand – and that’s okay.

 

One of my best friends in the entire world has the same disability as I, and when we’re out together 1) we have way too much fun 2) we often get asked plenty of questions, and 3) we don’t care. We wave at the little kids that stare (because let’s be honest – even I stare at people), we joke too much about our disability, and honestly, it’s no different. Except when there’s an item on a very top shelf when we’re at a store and we both stare at it like it’s going to just fall down on its own. BUT everyone has their problems, just have to own up to them. The jokes we tell about ourselves offend other people more than us, and that gets us laughing until we cry. Seriously, lighten up… Many of us don’t get offended that easily. If we’re joking about it, it’s okay to laugh.

 

Every disability is different. I can do things that another person with the same disability cannot do, and that’s okay. I can’t do things that people with a milder form of my disability can do, and I’m okay with it. Yeah, sometimes we have frustrating days. But doesn’t everyone? Sometimes we all want to sit down and cry and sleep through the week. We’re all human. We all lose ourselves at one point just to find happiness again. My happiness is no less than any other happiness in the world. In fact, I believe it’s better.

 

I’m very happy, optimistic, and I love to spread the positivity. I share positivity with people who think that my life is less than theirs. I want to make sure they know I’m Okay. I’m more than okay. I haven’t lost anything recently, and it’s okay to be happy for myself. I didn’t gain the ability to feel my legs or walk, and that’s okay. I’m temporarily on this earth and I know it. I can wallow in the fact I can’t walk or I can embrace it and just keep traveling, learning, writing, doing what I love, and facing challenges head on. I’m in love with what I’m trying to create at the moment. It’s not here yet, but it’s in progress – and it’s okay!

 

My name is Samantha, I have Spina Bifida, I’m a paraplegic, I suck at people skills, confrontation, and hand eye coordination. But I’m good at staying positive, writing, and listening to people. My life is worth living, and it gets as time goes on. Not every day is good, but it’s leaps and bounds over what anyone had planned for anyone with a disability 26 years ago. The Americans with Disabilities Act is far from perfect, but the number of people with disabilities who are just living their life are slowly making this world a more accessible place.

 

Just Wheel Life

Being yourself should be the easiest thing you do in life. After all, you’re you. But many of us lose ourselves along the way to what we think we want to achieve with our lives. We chase after a dream of fame, fortune, family. Losing yourself is the one thing that we don’t expect and yet we know it happens to everyone.


Weather the Rain

I know around middle school age, I started questioning who I wanted to be when I grew up. By high school, I had a boyfriend and I had this vision of living in the city of Chicago, married to him with two kids before I would turn 25. But guess what, I’m now 25, single and childless and I’m so thankful I didn’t get what I wanted back when I never even had a chance to see what life held for me. I’m so thankful I learned what I had wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life. I look back on that now and it’s funny how we don’t get what we want, but we get even better than we imagined most of the time. It doesn’t come without hardship and struggle. The only way to see the sunshine is to weather the rain.

 

Lessons Learned

If I became who I wanted to be when I was 16 years old, I wouldn’t have known people I know now, and I wouldn’t have experienced all I have experienced. I never could have imagined this life. It is so good. Life has taught me so many lessons – love, faith, adaptation, loss, hardship, and forgiveness. The trials in life are meant to make us stronger, more faithful, really meditate on who we are, and who we want to be. I’ve learned happiness can’t be bought, can’t be given to you by someone else. You create your own happiness. I don’t put too much pressure on someone trying to make me happy. It can turn into the biggest depression.

 

How I Stay Positive

I tell everyone I meet that I am a very positive person, and I do get comments that I am positive. I’m hardly ever in a bad mood. I have way too much to be thankful for. I’m alive. I’m alive and I’m healthy and I’m so blessed to have a family and clothes and food and my faith. I have faith in the good in people. I see the smallest gestures as positivity and light in the world. It doesn’t take much to just let go of the negative and grasp a little bit of happiness. Nothing is so terribly wrong that I can’t fix it. It takes a bit of patience. We all have bad days and we all make mistakes, but we need to make the mistakes to stay humble. So next time you’re out enjoying the world, smile, say hello to a stranger, you might just make that person’s day with your positive greeting. It shows even when you only utter one single word.

Disaster Date

I had to do a special Valentine’s Day post. It’s SUPER personal. I didn’t think I’d WANT to share it, but I thought it was perfect for Valentine’s Day (A day I really have never celebrated even when I was in a relationship).Y’all know by now that I’m a positive person who is really comfortable with who I am. It took me a long time to figure out how to accept myself… I assume that’s every teenage-early 20s female. I set myself to go up on a date. This guy, I had never met in person, but we’d been talking for a bit. It was my first date in three-ish years.

It’s good for me to mention I hadn’t catfished this guy. I had been talking to him like normal, and I had disclosed that I was in a wheelchair, but it apparently just went in one ear and out the other, because when he came to pick me up at my apartment, he was shocked. He was mortified. He came inside to talk to me and I was okay. I had expected some questions and he had SEEMED open, but only because he hadn’t taken all my cues and thought deeply about what I had told him.

 

This guy sat down, and he kept repeating “I don’t know if I can do this”. He shook his head over and over like I was an alien. Like I could never be desirable to anyone – I felt unhuman. Here I was dressed up to go to my favorite restaurant, and here he was asking me questions and trying to struggle with his moral complex. I almost felt bad for the guy. I said almost.

He then agreed to take me out to talk, but that it would just be that one time. I was okay with that, because 1 – I was starving, 2 – I’ve learned that in a relationship if someone doesn’t pass a first impression it’s never going to be a relationship, it’ll be pity. I value myself way more than settling for pity. I choose to educate and move on with life.

 

So after half an hour of back and forth conversation face to face with this guy, he said (and I remember this so vividly) “I’m sorry, but I think I need to just leave. This is too much of a shock right now.” TOO. MUCH. OF. A. SHOCK. I fought for days after that to reason that… yeah… it is a shock… it’s different for the able-bodied to wrap their head around not being able to have use of half of a body. But I couldn’t justify it, and chalked it up to him just being a person who doesn’t practice what they preach.

He didn’t even take me to dinner. He just left. He said “I know I’ll regret this and it will haunt me forever.” I’m probably an awful person for hoping it did haunt him at least for a little while.

 

It hurt. It hurt a lot. I did sit in my room and cry about it for maybe an hour. He texted me for two hours after trying to explain himself… like there’s some other way to explain how he’s shallow about his women. We all have body issues and things we can’t change. This guy tore me down for a bit, but I got back up. I’m okay again and it’s just some story I’m telling all y’all.

Just think about this, when you say you’re a non-judgemental, loving person… are you really? Are you really going to protest racism, but preach ableism? Before you tell me that it’s different… it’s not. A person is a person is a person. A black person didn’t choose to be black. I didn’t choose to be a paraplegic. Just. Think. Please….