Guest Post: March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

The month of March is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the first tendrils of spring, Daylight Savings Time, and March Madness for collegiate basketball. March is also Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and I’m here to talk about this invisible illness which affects 2.3 million people worldwide. My name is Kacee Cole and I was diagnosed with MS on Christmas Day 2013, just a hair over a month after my 27th birthday. I will begin with general information about the illness, some myths and facts, and finally wrap up with my personal story with this complicated, difficult disease.

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Guest Post: March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
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What About People Who Want a Cure?

When discussing the Social Model of Disability, one of the questions that comes up is: what about those people who actually do want a cure, or would benefit from one. What about the people with chronic pain, with terminal illnesses, or with degenerative conditions that do interfere with a person’s ability to function, regardless of accommodations? This very question occasionally leads to clashes within the disability community. Some believe that people with chronic illnesses should not be included under the definition of Disabled People. Still others use the existence of such people to push the Medical Model rather than the Social one.

I’ve seen the argument before that chronically ill people are not disabled in the same way as people with more traditionally defined disabilities like paralysis, hearing loss, vision loss, lack of mobility, and so forth and so forth, because they don’t perform disability the same way as others. The article I read, went on to describe examples of how their white cane, their dark glasses, their inability to navigate unfamiliar environments, even their service dog, all added to the disability performance. With a chronically ill person however, they argued, there is no performance. The ill person can maintain privacy or invisibility, thus not being treated the same way that “real” disabled people are. That chronically ill people are not disabled or even impaired, but rather sick.

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What About People Who Want a Cure?

Disability 101: Understanding the Social Model of Disability

Often times, the most difficult part of solving a problem, a social problem or others, is about framing it in the right way. If you are dealing with a situation, but you misidentify the source of the conflict or barrier, then any solution becomes impossible, or at least incomplete. The same is true of discussion of disability justice and issues of equality.

Many of the conflicts that arise between abled communities and mindsets, and disabled ones step from different framings of the problem. While many different constructs and models exist, the two mainly accepted ones are the Medical Model and the Social Model.

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Disability 101: Understanding the Social Model of Disability

Accessibility Hunger Games

There is this episode of House, where the hospital hires a doctor who uses a wheelchair. As a result, House loses his parking space and is forced to relocate slightly further away. During this episode, House, the doctor in question, and Cuddy, engage in an argument over who deserves the closer spot. The audience is predisposed to assume that House is a selfish jerk, and so an important point about disability is missed by the majority of watchers – namely the way in which disabled people and different disabilities are pitted against one another in order to keep us from uniting in a way that might pose a threat to abled power structures.

The debate that takes place raises some of the many ways that disability concerns are generalized in a way that hurts some people while it helps others, and imposing an ineffectual rating system regarding what qualifies as disability and what doesn’t.

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Accessibility Hunger Games

Save a Life: Turn off the Flash

Spring seems to come earlier and earlier each year, and with it comes the increase in bike traffic. There is a lot of good that comes from bike riding. People get more exercise, less fossil fuels get used, there are good reasons to ride a bike. Bikers also deal with a lot of dangers. Most cities have insufficient bike lanes, and drivers are not taught how to handle bikers on the road. As such, there is a need for security measures to prevent fatalities and accidents. One of these methods is the use of a light to make yourself more visible to drivers.

Most of these lights have two settings – solid and flash.

In most cases people only consider their own personal safety, but there is one major problem with that. You see, those flashing light settings can be a trigger for photosensitive seizures.

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Save a Life: Turn off the Flash

How the Current Disability System Puts us at Risk for Abuse

The way that people with disabilities are kept in poverty cause problems on many fronts, including reducing the access to healthcare and accessibility, and making just basic survival more difficult. In addition to those problems, however, the current set up of the disability system puts people with disabilities at higher risk for abuse with less possibility of getting out of abusive situations.

Financial abuse is a common tactic employed by abusers. It both keeps the victim isolated and makes it more difficult for them to leave and escape the abuse. When it comes to disabled people, the reliance on disability support payments makes it easier for abusers to maintain financial dominance. Continue reading “How the Current Disability System Puts us at Risk for Abuse”

How the Current Disability System Puts us at Risk for Abuse

Understanding Ania’s Weird Body things

I write a lot about my disabilities and illnesses. I’ve discussed what trips to the hospital are like and what a regular day can look like. I’ve shared advice for new patients based on what I’ve discovered myself in the time I’ve lived with them. I have never, however, taken the time to just put together a list of definitions of what those various conditions and disabilities are.

So without further ado, I introduce a glossary of my weird body stuff.  

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Understanding Ania’s Weird Body things

Frost on the Sand

This is the only thing I can write today.

My Canadian residency is in doubt. My denial may soon be final, based on something so perverse and so trivial as my being a member of an ODSP-receiving household. My appeals may yet save me, as Ania and I exhaust every remaining option to secure my life here in Canada.

Because there is no life for me elsewhere.

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Frost on the Sand

Fear of Menstruation Is Why I Can’t Walk

On my Facebook memories page, I found an old Tumblr picture that includes stories from a series of girls talking about how their appendix burst because they didn’t realize the pain they were feeling wasn’t cramps. The post goes on to explain the difference between menstrual pain and appendix pain. The stories were a way for girls to discuss just how painful cramps can be – that appendicitis, which is known to be extremely painful, was not different enough from their regular menstrual pain to be noticeable.

I had shared the post, along with my commentary that the suggestion to talk to your parents or school nurse about pain, even if it was “only cramps”, ignored the reality of most people who experience menstruation who are told that they are overreacting and to suck it up. Many of us have been told that all women deal with it and that it’s not that bad. Even when my cramps would leave me shaking and with a fever, I was expected to go to class and carry on as though everything was normal. After all “every woman goes through the same thing”. (Not all women actually, and not all people who do are women, but that’s another post for another time). Continue reading “Fear of Menstruation Is Why I Can’t Walk”

Fear of Menstruation Is Why I Can’t Walk

Casual Ableism

CN: Ableism, Police Violence, Sexual Violence, etc.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed late at night, I came across a Jezebel article on the subject of the Fascist authoritarian in control of the US. In contrast to all of the serious articles going around this week, and especially this weekend after Trump triggered a constitutional crisis with a hateful law targeting Muslims and immigrants of color, the jokey nature of the headline and article stood out. It was mocking the newly sworn in president for an alleged fear of stairs.

To most people, the idea of a grown man being afraid of stairs seems silly and joke-worthy, but it made my stomach drop.

You see, in a sense, I am afraid of stairs.

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Casual Ableism