Last year, I received one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. A kind family donated their departed matriarch’s wheelchair to me, after I had previously been told that my pain and inability to stand or walk far distances was not valid criteria to qualify for the accessibility device program.
Having access to the chair opened up worlds to me that I had long been unable to experience. I was able to go back into nature again, to explore my neighbourhood, my city, more thoroughly and comfortably. I was able to enjoy the outdoors more thoroughly than I had in years. I could even play Pokémon Go, without having to be the passenger in a slow-moving vehicle.
I met many of my neighbours and became an actual part of my community.
Although I was facing the fact that my marriage was falling apart, that I was facing even more financial vulnerability and hardship than I had already dealt with for the past seven years, I felt better about myself than I had in a long time.
I felt more a part of the world than I had before.
Continue reading “Stolen Freedom”
In the last few weeks, the increasingly frequent straw bans have sparked debates across social media and even the news. For those who are unfamiliar, the Straw Bans are a new fad of laws that ban plastic straws in an effort to reduce ocean waste and plastic. The popularity of the law was inspired by a viral video featuring something sad happening to a turtle. Environmentalism is great, so what’s the problem?
The problem is that plastic straws are necessary for the survival of people with certain disabilities. Necessary for Survival. Without them People Will Die.
I wish I could say that that statement marked the end of the matter and the question of whether or not it is worth proceeding. Instead, what’s followed is endless weeks and arguments about whether we’re really sure that’s we will really actually die, and don’t we know that that doesn’t really happen.
While I’m not one of the people directly affected by this ban, I say we because while the specifics here don’t apply to me, I recognize all too well ALL of the arguments that showed up during the debates. They’re the same arguments I’ve faced whenever the subject of any disability accommodation comes up. These same themes form many of the backbones of systemic ableism. They are the arguments that are essentially used to excuse banning people from immigration on the basis of disability, the arguments against raising disability support payments, putting together socialized pharmacy care, building accessible housing, providing easy accessibility, and so on and so forth.
Continue reading “5 Things the Straw Ban Argument Shows us About How we Treat Disability”
CN: mentions of suicidal ideation
For the last little while, I’ve been struggling quite a bit. I’ve been trying desperately to fix the situation I was left in last year. I’ve been just barely getting by with help from friends, by taking out more debt, and by surviving off of stores I’ve had sitting by just in case.
Rather than getting any easier however, things have just been getting worse. My roommate had to move to BC for work and while I was able to find someone to take over his room, the rental agency had issues with him replacing my former roommate on the lease. I couldn’t very well leave my old roommates name on it, and my own financial situation means they are not willing to have it be in my name alone.
As such, I had to give my notice for the end of summer.
I knew the rental situation in Ottawa had gotten worse in the years I’ve been living at this place, but even so I was unprepared for the reality I am facing. The rent costs have skyrocketed to such a point, where $300 over what disability considers a reasonable housing allotment gets me a room in a house with six other people, and I can forget about the house being accessible, meaning I have no idea what to do with my wheelchair, let alone how to be able to live in a place I can’t physically navigate.
Essentially, the way things stand right now, at the end of August I am homeless.
Continue reading “I NEED YOU TO STAND WITNESS”
On Saturday July 14th, I signed up to attend a community consultation on Strategic Priorities for the Ottawa Police Service for the coming years. I attended at the request of a friend, an anti-torture activist who is desperately trying to convince the police force to stop the new policy that would give a taser to every police officer in Ottawa.
I agreed to attend not just because she asked me too, but also because for some time I’ve been thinking of ways to improve accessibility in Policing. Also, because I wanted to be a white face bringing up racism against people of colour.
Institutional Racism in the force is a problem that is starting to be talked about by more people not directly influenced by it, as it should, and is a major issue that needs MORE attention than it is currently getting. A related issue however is Institutional Ableism.
A recent review of fatal police interactions in Canada shows that most people killed by police are disabled. Something like 72% of those killed in police interactions were shown to be mentally ill or to have substance abuse problems, which is itself also considered a mental health issue.
In the US, 1 in 2 people killed by cops is disabled.
Continue reading “Let’s Chat: Ignoring Community Input on Strategic Priorities for the OPS”
A while back, I wrote a post begging the Canadian Government to open it’s borders to Americans with Disabilities as refugees from a slow-motion genocide. Someone left a comment on that post to which I’ve been meaning to respond for a long time.
CYNTHIA: I had previously mentioned this to Michael.
Reluctantly, as a fellow Canadian, I cannot fully support this.
As you know, the United States has 10x the population of Canada. It is a first-world country.
There is no way that the math works for Canada to be able to support the complex heath care needs of Americans with pre-existing conditions. As you mention, the system is already at capacity when it comes to providing proper health care with disability support programs for Canadians. No system can function unless you have a large base of relatively healthy people paying into the system to cover the costs of those who are using it more.
Of course, in a situation of someone being a genuine refugee from any country, humanitarian considerations should come into play. That can’t be extended to American “medical costs refugees”, though, because it would break our system.
In the long run, Canadians need a system that is sustainable – and ultimately, that benefits all Americans as well. Americans are looking at us to see how our single-payer system is functioning. If it works relatively well, that increases political support for it. If it doesn’t, that increases the dire warning about “socialized medicine”. The most vulnerable Americans ultimately need an American health care system that works, and they are less likely to get it if the Canadian health care system breaks or if ordinary American voters stop fearing the consequences of repealing Obamacare because they think that free health care will always be available to them in Canada. Right now, that fear has managed to stop the repeal attempts, to the benefit of all Americans who will ever need health care.
Continue reading “Ableism Kills”
The type of writing I do, the type of people I connect with, I tend to come into contact with a lot of people who are struggling with medical systems. Because of my own experience navigating these same systems, as well as because of the way some of my areas of privilege align – and sometimes not even privilege but just random chance that turned out well, I have also been finding myself more and more acting as a patient advocate for people.
This can mean helping someone find a doctor, helping them come up with questions to ask or ways of phrasing things, making phone calls from location to location, and sometimes even showing up to physically advocate for someone.
There are many people who I have been able to help in some small way and it was enough for them to be able to move out of trouble enough not to need me anymore. There is one core group of people, however, who no matter how hard I advocate, what strings I try to pull, what privileges I bring down to bear, I never seem to manage to get through to their primary caregivers enough for them to start receiving the help they need. Continue reading “I Can’t Move On, It’s Not Over Yet”
For the last year or so, I have been basically living out of boxes.
Alyssa’s and my breakup took place right in the middle of my attempts to rebuild my office. I had to halt construction and rethink how to reorganize the smaller bedroom from being an office into being an office bedroom. Then as our actual separation approached, things were packed away and divided. I’ve been struggling for the past year to put everything back together; my room, my apartment, my life, myself. ‘
Continue reading “I can’t just put my disability on hold”
CN: Discussion of Statistics in relations to disability, other social issues, sexual assault, and abuse.
There are times when I am talking to someone about my life- about the fact that I’m scared of new proposed laws making it harder for me to survive in Ontario, or about how I’m one particularly unlucky day away from being homeless – when I get the feeling like the person I’m talking to thinks I’m exaggerating. They get this look on their faces that makes it clear they’re just humoring me by not pointing out how ridiculous I’m being. Meanwhile, I’m already minimizing how severe my situation is out of fear of being accused of exaggerating. Worse still, my circumstances are relatively minor compared to that of many of my friends and readers.
When they don’t automatically dismiss what I’m saying as being hyperbole, the people I speak with assume that my case is rare – an exception. A circumstance not worthy of planning against because it’s unlikely to happen again. And yet? Every day I meet someone new in the same type of situation I find myself in. It’s become so textbook, some people look at me as though I’m performing magic when I manage to guess the ridiculous circumstances they find themselves in or repeat almost verbatim what they’ve heard from doctors, therapists, or other people.
It’s a matter of framing, of perspective.
To someone in the mainstream, what is happening to me must be the result of either something I did wrong, or something extremely rare, or impossible. It seems like the probability of all the things going wrong that go wrong happening seem impossible.
What are the chances that every relationship you’ve been in is abusive?
What are the chances that so many of your doctors end up incompetent? That so many doctors end up holding biased opinions?
What are the chances that everyone around you is so terrible? Doesn’t it seem more likely that you are the problem? Statistically speaking that is?
By Kella Hanna-Wayne
CN: ableism, chronic pain
With every new person I meet, I have to gauge just how much to tell them about my disability. I try to be as open as possible about my health issues because I want to reinforce the idea that people who look like me- young, relatively fit, no noticeable limitations- can also be disabled. But being open about my disability means opening myself to potential scrutiny of my body, my diet, my medications, my exercise routine. Any decision I make about my physical health becomes fair game for intrusive questions. Until I get to know a person better, I have to assume they will default to treating me as if my health history is in the public domain.
Continue reading “GUEST POST: Why It’s Hard to Reveal My Disability to Strangers”
…that moving things from place to place, isn’t cleaning.
Continue reading “My mom used to say”