wheelchair-pink

My First Time in a Wheelchair

As many of you know, I’ve a disability that affects my mobility. In 2016, I decided enough was enough and I would make use of mobility devices so that I could have a better quality of life and stop saying, “I can’t,” to events. The reason it took me so long to get there mentally was because I was giving into other people’s ideas that exercise can cure me forever and ever. So, I suffered needlessly as a result. A singular thought– I am the boss of my body changed my attitude for the better.

Around my house, I very rarely use a cane. I mostly rely on my own power. Outside of the home, I carry a cane because it helps me to keep better hip posture and I walk faster. It also helps me when my knees randomly conk out. My next purchase will be a rollator (a walker with wheels) so I can spend more time at conferences or CONs, and to be able to stop and sit in the thing. Standing in line is extremely painful for me.

This past December, I sustained three sprains in my feet after a mishap on some stairs at a restaurant, which created a whole new world of nope for me. However, I was not going to miss seeing Kinky Boots at the NAC on Dec 31. I remembered that they had wheelchairs at the NAC, and when my husband and I went to the show, I used one to get around.

I must say the staff at the National Arts Centre are wonderfully helpful. They were stellar. But I didn’t have a great experience. Not because of NAC staff, but because of the NAC patrons. Humankind disappointed me that afternoon. I thought certain behaviour around people who are disabled would be common sense, but apparently it’s not. So, the next section of this article will be called:

Bleeding obvious things you shouldn’t do when someone is in a wheelchair

wheelchair-pinkI’m sorry if this insults your intelligence, but some people need to be schooled.

1. Talk down to us

Speak to me like I’m a grown-up person, okay? I’m just a woman sitting in a wheelchair. I can understand what you’re saying without you talking to me as if I’m four. You don’t have to patronise me because you feel sorry for me, either. I don’t feel sorry for me, so let’s put that one away, mkay? Thanks, doods.

2. Squeeze past me on a narrow ramp

OMIGOSH, can you not wait the 30 seconds my husband needs to negotiate the chair and me down the accessibility ramp? So many people pushed past us in a very tight space. This ramp is for people like me, not able-bodied people trying to dash by as if their trousers just caught fire. WAIT! Wait for us to go through. What is the matter with you???

3. Push past us into the smallest elevator in town and insist there’s room

This is when I wanted to slap people upside the head with my cane. My husband and I were all alone, waiting at an elevator, when several people arrived. The elevator doors opened and they piled inside, shouting, “There’s room, there’s room!” Yeah, no, you clueless trolls, there wasn’t enough room, because the wheelchair needs to be turned to fit inside the thing. I barked at them and told them we’ll take the next one. They looked sheepish, but I was fit to be tied.

4. Use the washroom assigned to disabled people

You know how I know when someone who is able-bodied is using the accessibility bathroom? The expression of extreme guilt on their face coupled by a bolting escape. This was rich, too. The only bathroom I could access because of construction at the NAC was through a parking garage, by a men’s washroom. Now, peeps, you know that men take no time to pee and flee from their washrooms, right? Welp, one fellow decided to use the accessibility washroom and the look on his face when he saw us waiting outside told it all. My husband was the one to pick up on that. I was still fuming from the ramp-crowding people. (This wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced this at the NAC, btw.)

Come on, people, you can do better than that.

I wrote a letter of complaint to the NAC about my experience, asking them if they would post signs and such at elevators and bathrooms, telling people to give priority to people in wheelchairs. The person who wrote back sympathised with my complaint and will take actions to inform staff to be diligent. They agreed with me that these things should be obvious.

Are we so disconnected from each other these days that we’ve forgotten common courtesy? Are we so self-centered that our being in a rush for everything makes us too impatient to (1) wait a few seconds for a wheelchair to pass, and/or (2) to catch the next elevator? Do we just have no more freaking manners?

I’d like to believe we can do better than this. However, it seems like we need reminders. So, here’s the thing, in a nutshell:

Make life not so much about you, but remember to consider others. Treat people with dignity and respect. If you have the privilege of being able-bodied, then kindly give priority to people with disabilities and don’t use their designated spaces as shortcuts for your own convenience.

Do we have that? Good. Because holy schnikies, peeps. Don’t make me come over there. I might have a disability, but I can go from friendly to cranky in six seconds if you disrespect me. Irish, you know.

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ‘Cosm, a space opera about aliens with issues (Renaissance Press). She’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.

Breast Lump, the Sequel: The Black Hole

(I’m not a doctor, so please don’t take this article as a substitute for medical advice. This is my personal story. Always consult with your physician and/or specialist. Cheers, Cait.)

Today I went for my mammogram and ultrasound because I’d found a breast lump over the Christmas holidays. Yes, that was super fun. I blogged about it in Breast Lump: The Sequel

In the time since that last blog I went from planning my grave site, to picking rainbow wigs, to thinking about cupcake nipple tattoos, and to writing some of my second and third books in the Life in the ‘Cosm series. My brain went boing, boing, boing and I had all the emotions. GO ME!

Apparently this is normal behaviour. So, wow, I did something normal in my life. Who knew I could? Makes me sort of proud, really.

I did receive my results this morning. A large cyst, benign. The technician, after consulting with the radiologist of course, gave me the good news. She explained it was a liquidy type of cyst and she pointed to the image on the screen and said, “See? It’s like a Black Hole!”

Can I get an Amen for being a writer of comedic space operas and having a Black Hole in my boob? Anyone? Anyone?

theblackhole

While I am relieved, this has been a sobering experience. I diligently tend to my breast health but I must confess I’ve been delinquent on my self-exams. I shan’t be (love finding an excuse to write shan’t) any longer. I think it’s so important to know how your boobs feel, so you can note any differences and bring up any question you have with your doctor.

If you’ve not done a breast exam, perhaps ask your doctor to give you a chart and info about it, or to show you how to do it. I was lucky in that I’d done many in my adult life, so even though I was a bit lax in this last year, I’d enough of a memory of how I felt to go, “Hey, what’s that?”

Twice I’ve caught a lump before anyone else had. Each time it turned out to be benign, but I was glad that I found the problem. The only thing I want to get better at if this happens again is saying to myself and truly believing the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic!  Not panicking is easier said than done, but it’s also a much better lifestyle choice.

Anyway, it looks like all is well with the fatty orbs on my chest. I still might buy long multi-coloured wigs, though. BECAUSE MULTI-COLOURED WIGS, YO! Am I right?!

Take care of yourselves, peeps. Imma do the same. Where da cupcakes at?

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ‘Cosm, a space opera about aliens with issues (Renaissance Press). She’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.

making-the-splot-face2

The judgy Ovum known as Splot.

He’s oozy and slimy, resembles a fried egg, and is probably judging you right now. He’s the Ovum known as Splot.

In Life in the ‘Cosm, we learn that several years before the story begins, Virj Ofreesin finds an alien known as an Ovum on his breakfast plate at a cheap diner. Instead of eating him, or reporting the restaurant to Planet Cinneh’s food inspection authorities, Virj takes the little guy home as a pet and gives him the name Splot.

The two beings form an interesting pair-bond, and Splot begins to communicate with Virj telepathically. While the Ova use telepathy to talk to each other all the time, an Ovum can only choose one person outside their species to speak to in this fashion. Splot chose Virj. Sounds sweet until you discover the types of things Splot actually says.

“Seriously, what are you, some kind of numpty?”

“Not now, Splot.”

Poor Virj can also pick up Splot thinking aloud or speaking to another Ovum, just like one’s overhears someone talking.

“Don’t look at me! It’s not my fault he’s useless with women!”

“I heard that!” shouted Virj from the hallway.

And it’s extremely difficult for Virj to have a bit of erm, um, self-caring private time, because the Ovum crawls all over the flat and can appear out of nowhere.

[Virj’s] breath burst out of his lungs. That didn’t take long.

“What the blazes are you doing with that thing?” asked Splot.

I had a lot of fun writing Splot’s dialogue, because it was often one line here and one line there. (Personally, I think Splot says the things that many of us are thinking. ) And because he only has these huge eyes to gesture with, I needed to face the challenge of making that work, too.

One time I was fooling with my stylus and I came up with this sketch:

His expression made me laugh so hard. I felt it relayed the essence of his character, and used it as an emoji of sorts when communicating to my friends in private messages. Often, I prefaced the image with the line, “I’m making the Splot face.” It’s such a perfect catch-all for when you want to be a little judgmental, but still funny.

Whenever I hear a reader tell me they also love Splot, it makes me happy. I love him, too. He’s on my screen looking at me right now, just like that sketch, wondering why I’m not writing my second book. An odd sort of motivational poster, but it works for me.

You can read more about Splot in my book, Life in the ‘CosmAvailable on Amazon and Renaissance Press!

/cg