Last Friday I asked for help.
It's no secret to anyone who has known me for more than a few weeks that I've been dealing with severe health problems since 1995. Stage IV-B Hodgkin's Lymphoma, messed up lungs, peripheral neuropathy that makes it hard to walk or stand, and of course the stroke that left me unable to function for more than a few hours at a time.
But through all of this, I soldiered on. Literally, I credit my time in the Army for my will to survive. After all, I could be in the ICU, tubes jammed into every orifice that can take one, and still think that I'm good, because Drill Sergeant Colom wasn't there yelling at me. I really hated that little fucker.
Yes, my sense of humor has helped.
But as I was saying, every time I got knocked down I pulled myself off the mat and went back to work. Even to the point of causing myself more injury, because I saw my intrinsic value as a person as being tied up in what I did for a living. I've always been a blue-collar guy. I was happiest when I was working jobs where I could say at the end of the day "I accomplished something." Getting people to and from airports, hauling PODS containers, and best of all, tackling the longest, hardest route at Lord&Sons and rocking it every single day.
It couldn't last. There was just too much damage from cancer and chemotherapy. My body was like a car that had been in a serious accident, repairs had been made but it will never work right again. So I lost my job at SuperShuttle to my health, lost Lord&Sons to blood clots in my lungs, and lost my last job, as a dispatcher, to the stroke.
That was almost four years ago. Four years of not having that essential part of the American identity. "What do you do?" is a question I can't answer. I'm not retired, saying that I'm disabled invites questions I don't like answering or scornful looks, and the idea of an outwardly healthy looking middle-aged man being disabled is something not a lot of people can accept.
The worst part is most days I feel fine. To quote the next President of the United States, Joe Walsh, "everybody's so different, I haven't changed." I really think that I could climb back into my truck and drive the Livermore Valley route, or dispatch for a limo or share ride service. But then reality crashes down. I can't work, not even as a grave shift cashier in a gas station because I burn out too quickly and can't handle stress very well anymore.
Which leaves me sitting here in my apartment. I have plenty to distract me; books, the internet, a TV with a Roku box attached (the Xbox 360 gave me a Red Ring of Doom a few weeks back, we need to find a replacement) but it can feel like a prison. I do get out for my writing group and the YMCA, but that requires me to be functional. Not a good bet on any given day.
None of this has been good for my mental state. I've found myself in a downward spiral of late. Getting angry and frustrated far too quickly at minor things. Catching myself falling into destructive patterns of thinking. Not at the self-harm level yet, but letting my inner demons take over and convince me that I am worthless, that I'll never be published, that I'm a drag on everyone around me. These feelings aren't constant, but they are there and they are becoming more frequent.
So last Friday I was speaking with my Case Nurse at Anthem Blue Cross. And I summoned the courage to ask about mental health coverage. I'm just waiting for a call from their Behavioral Health unit for a referral. I have no idea what kind of help I need, maybe I just need a person I can scream about the unfairness of life too, or maybe I need a prescription for happy pills to help me keep my head above water. Or both, or neither. I just know that I can't dump all this on Kirsten. She has her own issues to deal with and has already been a saint dealing with my decline.
I am entering unknown lands here. All I know is that I've probably needed this kind of help for years, but it took me this long to ask for it.
I doubt he even remembers enraging me. But I almost screamed at him.
I’m still not sure whether it was his fault.
But let’s rewind. I have a friend who has pretty severe walking issues – he gets only so many steps in a day before he collapses. Most days he can get to nightfall without needing a walker – and he works hard, very hard, not to be seen as a burden.
More so, he struggles to be seen as a person. If you’ve never friended someone with a disability, you don’t quite understand how a visible handicap can eclipse someone’s personality. People tend to assume that everyone in a wheelchair acts the same – they talk a little louder, a little slower, they’re quicker to dismiss their opinions because really, do they know what they want?
Disabled people struggle to be seen. And my friend, well, he worked really hard to be more than his disability –
– which meant he pushed himself hard at conventions. Lots of covert sweating, casually leaning on bars, sitting down when they could. Because if he displayed weakness, the conversation would shift from all the happy things that made his life worthwhile and would focus on “Are you all right?” – which is a question he asks himself entirely too damn much as it is.
He wanted the con to be a vacation and not an explanation. Which was why his disability was, largely, not quite a secret among friends but something where the extent wasn’t entirely revealed unless you were in the know.
And my friend had held up well during the day but was starting to fade in the evening. He was looking for, well, let’s call him The Guy Ultimately I Wanted To Yell At, or Tguiwtya.
He was looking for Tguiwtya. Because he was good friends with Tguiwtya, and and wanted a few moments to hang with Tguiwtya to hang out before he collapsed. And my friend texted Tguiwtya to say “Hey, I’m on my way,” and Tguiwtya had said “I’m in the back of the ballroom.”
Tguiwtya was not in the back of the ballroom.
I ran into my friend, looking exhausted, who asked me if I’d seen Tguiwtya. I knew he’d walked all the way down from their room to meet Tguiwtya, exhausting the very last of his daily steps, and getting back up to the room would be an effort. I said I hadn’t.
He plopped into a chair, sweaty, miserable, waiting for Tguiwtya to show. I kept him company, brought him water. But Tguiwtya wasn’t responding to texts. And eventually, my friend said, “Well, let’s see if I can find him,” and staggered off, leaning heavily on his cane.
I wondered if he was going to make it.
I left. And lo, a couple of hallways down, there was Tguiwtya! Merrily laughing with a bunch of his friends. I collared him.
“Hey. Our friend’s walking the halls looking for you.”
He looked puzzled, as if unsure why I’d bring such a trivial thing to his attention. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s fine.”
I almost screamed.
What I wanted to yell was, “Do you fucking realize how much effort it takes for my friend to find you? You said your dumb ass would be at the back of the ballroom, and they exerted themselves to get to you because they like you, and now they’re straining themselves to find you again, and your answer should not be some pudding-faced ‘that’s fine’ but ‘Yes, sir, I will get right on that.'”
Then I saw Tguiwtya’s friends, crooking their necks at me.
Did I want to make a scene?
Was it worth looking like a fucking maniac in front of all these people, just to make a point about someone’s condition? Because they didn’t know. They couldn’t understand unless I literally barged into their conversation, twisted it, made it about this, and….
Shit, that’s gotta be what it’s like all the time, isn’t it?
Let’s be honest: Tguiwtya should have fucking known how much effort it took my friend to walk all the way down to meet him. I know for a fact that my buddy had talked to Tguiwtya about his illness. He was one of the inner circle, one of the folks who’d pushed a walker for my friend.
But how many times do you want to call some able-bodied person out for not comprehending something that they cannot experience? For Tguiwtya, “walking to the ballroom and back” was such a trivial effort that I doubt he even contemplated it as an effort.
Would I be damaging Tguiwtya’s friendship with my friend by explaining what an accidental asshole they were being?
That was, I realized, a brief window into being disabled. People don’t see your illness, even when you make it clear to them. They can’t comprehend that this background static of their lives could be a deafening uproar to anyone else.
And you always get to choose: make an embarrassing fuss and maybe get accommodated, maybe get rejected – or keep the peace and keep a friendship that means less but at least you get to keep it?
To this day, I’m still not sure if I should have yelled at him. Maybe I should. But he wasn’t my friend, and even if he was, I’m not sure I wanted to dress him down in front of a crowd of people.
What I do know is that I doubt Tguiwtya even ponders that moment. If he does, he thinks of me as the asshole who gave him a vicious side-eye when he didn’t break off his amusing anecdote to rush to meet our friend in the ballroom.
But I remember.
I learned something that day.
I hope I learned to listen.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
Recipients: while it's in no way a rule and requirement to comment on your gift (and most of you have done so already), it is nevertheless highly encouraged. Someone created something especially for you, and the least you can do is say thank-you, even if you yourself had to drop out.
If you haven't added your fanwork to the AO3 collection, and you want to, you can add it here: Holmestice Exchange - Summer 2017.
And now, without further ado, the Grand Reveal!
( Artwork )
( Fiction )
( Podfic )
Many thanks to everyone who participated! If you see any mistakes or omissions in the master list, please email the mods and we'll get it fixed up ASAP.
ETA: All posts have been updated with author/artist and beta info! Please double-check our work, and send us an email if you spot an error.
A mama robin has taken up residence in a nest in a tree next to my back patio. The nest was occupied last year by a robin, too. Of course, there's no way to know if it's the same robin sitting there now as sat there last year. Regardless, I was surprised to see the nest occupied again. I didn't think robins did that sort of recycling. From what I was able to find on the subject, it's not common but does happen occasionally. Has anyone else seen this sort of reuse of old nests?
I'm feeling less confident in my ability to weed up the stilt grass. In the sun, it seems, it spreads and crawls, and i don't think i can get all of it easily. I whacked some last evening in frustration, knowing it just leads to even lower growth and a seed set in the fall. I know a growing percentage of the yard is mown stilt grass, the winter greens fading, and even where we had lush clover is being replaced by another unruly grass (although i don't know what that one is).
By the way, just to give a scale, crab grass is well behaved compared to some of these grasses. We've got that, too. What i really want is for the native Dichanthelium species to take it all back. Doing what i can to further that goal.
Christine is changing elephant handling protocols. It's rough on her, scaring her as she goes through this period of instability with management. I trust that it will settle back down, noting her awareness and capacity despite the instability.
Making analogies is usually seen as a sign of flexibility and creativity in thought processes. This is the thesis behind Douglas Hofstadter's epic book on intelligence, artificial intelligence, and the relationships between them: Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies. Recommended.
29-July 1, 2018.
- Guest of Honor: Cecilia Eng
- Toastmaster: Errol Elumir
- Fan Guest: Filthy Pierre (Erwin S. Strauss)
- Interfilk Guest: Gabrielle Gold
More information at concertino.net.
This will, in all likelihood, be the last of the rotating northeast filk
conventions. Three meetings took place at Contata to plan the new
NEFilk, an annual convention with a single committee and geographic
area. Watch nefilk.us for updates.
the water was still warm
so I washed my hair,
doesn't take much when
there is so much less hair.
watered the plants
made bread dough,
after rise/knead/raise bake.
ate it a little bit ago.
"bottoms up"( Read more... )
found a person that makes little cuss pots.
i'm going to make some hehe they're cute.
been working on a hat
I want to talk about one of the exercises, which aims to shake out key bits of "how other people should change to make you feel valued". To do this, one is to quickly and without thinking much, complete the sentences:
* I wish other people were more ______.
* Why is it so hard for people to ______?
* For a change, I would love someone to treat me like ______.
* Maybe one of these days I'll find someone who will ______.
* In an ideal world with good people, other people would ______.
( Continued inside... )
by Dialecticdreamer/Sarah Williams
part 1 of 1, complete
word count (story only): 1755
:: Meanwhile, back in Mercedes… This is part of the Road Trip, the Mercedes story group, and the Polychrome Heroics universe. ::
::Pay Special Attention: Benjamin Smithers is an old-fashioned guy, so he deliberately frames his comment about Shana's behavior as “something MIGHT have happened,” and because he is a bigot, he made no attempt to soften that phrasing. Frankly, whatever Shana and Anthony got up to on Joshua Tull's sofa, well, the sofa is glad to be well beyond recovery, and anyway, Shana started it! ::
“I didn't mean to!” the girl shrilled, making Benjamin grind his teeth harder. She babbled the explanation for the third or fourth time, and it still didn't hold water with him. “Anthony found a pack of cigarettes when he went looking for the television remote in the drawer of the end table next to the and--”
Benjamin took a steadying breath. “And those were someone else's property, stolen while you were BOTH trespassing in his home! What on EARTH were you thinking, to do that?”
Okay, the deep breath didn't help.
( Read more... )