disability

All posts tagged disability

Busy

Published October 18, 2021 by helentastic67

Busy


I have never known how to not be busy. I’ve always been busy. When I was 16 years old (yes! back when there were dinosaurs!). In the 1980’s, I was a full-time high school student, I worked part time as a checkout chick. I was doing hours of art folio preparation to get into college, I was a live-in babysitter to baby sister and I definitely didn’t have time for a social life or boyfriend. I did the household ironing and more than my share of the housework.

All while planning to be a poor art student, didn’t do a 4,000-word assignment until my first year of tertiary. I was still living at home then and it was all hand written. No computers, so many drafts, then only the battle of whiteout back then. You kids don’t know how good you have it.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when I moved to Melbourne to be a poor art student when I was nineteen, that while being a full-time student, I transferred my supermarket job so I was working part time and being 100% responsible for my shopping and cooking. I introduced a little social outing in the form of going to clubs. I met one woman at college that went to a big commercial club very close to me. In simple terms, it was a very big wog club that was like a meat market. Huge dance floor in the middle of the room, upstairs, you spent much time going for a walk around the perimeter with a friend. As you travelled around a line forward and you just kept to the left. To your right was a line of people going the other way. As people passed on your right A guy’s face would loom into you to go for a kiss. Brushing them aside, all of a sudden, they would be pulled away by their girlfriend who had them by the hand and asking why they seemed to be holding them up. This is not why I stopped going to this kind if club.

The first few years I studied in Melbourne (two years actually) and I would go home long weekends and maybe a week of term break.

At Christmas, I’d transfer my supermarket job back to the country and also pick up seasonal work in the farm of blueberry packing. The last season I did some picking too, but while very stressful, packing paid better.

But to take a break from study and be at home in the country over Christmas meant I was literally working from 6am until 9pm with only a few hours off in the middle. Not even after college, I picked up some work in retail and clubs, which I literally set the hours according to what I considered it required to ‘get the job done’. So, my weeks, day and night were full.

I guess I’m saying life before my disability was always hectic, maybe why little symptoms I could later contribute to my AVM diagnosis went unchecked. So busy, my life has always been busy and I’m sure it’s not the last time I will cover this topic, or topics.




Magnificent

Published October 4, 2021 by helentastic67

Magnificent

I have to say, today was magnificent! Wait!

I went to my first of two appointments today in Heidelberg. I have made it a habit to walk to a local take-away shop to pick up a vegetable pide and I book a taxi from there to scoop me up and get me home. 

Today none of my regular taxi drivers could fit me in so, I rang for one. What’s the damn address? I get to tell my regular guys simply ‘the take away place’ and they manage to get a park across the street or call me to tell me they are around the corner. I waited.

I noted there were no free parking spaces for a taxi to pull in. It’s a very busy shopping strip where traffic is non-stop. Car spaces open up and are taken again very quickly. Some spaces become available. I message to see where my taxi was and had the option to speak to my driver that had accepted my booking. I spoke to him and told him I would step into an empty carpark and he could pull in.

I stepped into the back of three empty car spots, in a row of cars, a car went to back into where I was. I shook my head and moved towards the passenger window. I briefly explained my dilemma. 

“Taxi coming to pick me up. He would need to pull in.”

This was fine. He pulled into the middle carpark and as he was getting out of the driver’s side (on the roadside not curb-side), another car also considered parking where I was standing. I stood firm. I looked through the car’s rear window. I could not make eye contact. I should point out; I should be wearing a face mask as Covid is a thing.

I stood firm, other cars were lined up wondering what was happening. I looked to the driver trying to steal my car spot. He was driving a vintage gold Merc.

Say it with me now, three things wrong with that sentence. Ok, two. Vintage is ok.

I realized the driver was an older (he was old!) Greek man, I shook my head, “no!” at him. I pointed to the Audi in the road, waiting for this situation to be resolved. I did my default stone face. “I’m not giving in!” and shook my head again. I asked the man who had parked by now if he could tell the old Greek man why I was not moving. He explained to me that he could not see me.

How could he not? I am dressed in the standard uniform that is Melbourne. BLACK & BLACK & BLACK, TODAY. It’s cold, the end of summer but finally we have some blue sky. 

Quite frankly, just happy it’s not 40 degrees in the shade as it was a week ago, because I could not wear black.

So, where was I?

The Greek man in his vintage gold Merc drove away. I had indicated again to the Audi waiting for traffic to be resolved and traffic continued to move. The man and his wife got out of their car that they had picked and the husband told me the old Greek man had been none too pleased. I smiled and said I had noticed he was rather grumpy.

My taxi driver pulled in and I unloaded all my handful of yeah, bag, walking stick and things. And the day went on.

There are many times I stand my ground as a not young, hot and sexy something-something woman but I will always stand up to people like my disability didn’t happen because there are certain things I don’t stand for.

I am magnificent!

Normal Friends

Published September 27, 2021 by helentastic67

Normal Friends

In my earlier years of having case management, I mentioned as one of my goals that I wanted some normal friends and contact with the outside world that didn’t constantly throw me in with people with brain injuries or depression/mental health, etc.

I mentioned it specifically like this as my previous C.M. had a tendency to favour the ‘Clubhouse’ their organization ran. I would joke that they literally did a drive-by, push the door open and shove you out! Exclaiming “Have fun!”

My monthly meetings with my C.M. went on and while trying to maintain my independence, find funding for the different things, refer me to O. T’s and all the ‘other’, more attainable goals finding ‘normal’ friends was always pushed to the side for more important and pressing things.

This new potential friend was occasionally mentioned to me and because I insisted on more details, I was assured she was witty and smart. I confess, I don’t have much time for slow, dim-witted people. 

What? My brain doesn’t have much time for. C’mon! Hurry the fuck up! I can’t help it. My brain is busy and Stephen Hawking I am not. But, over time, I was volunteered more and more info about this new potential friend. I had not been terribly keen as she was living across town. I don’t have the energy to get to the people I already know and love to go across town.

Are your spidey senses going off yet?

Mine have been from day one. I should point out, C.M. works like this. I self-referred. They come see you or vice versa, you sign contract, they get paid.

Everything I said I wanted and needed, which they said they could do, they fuck all did.

They did the easy things.  They only met with me as often as I insisted because I pestered them and because I’m fun and cool and amusing. Imagine, if someone isn’t cool or fun or can’t implement Pester Power?

That part of me is still in that childlike era, I do exceptionally well at Pester Power. So C.M. tried to shake me loose. “Hey? We haven’t done all the things yet!”

You realise, you sign that contract, they get paid and if you don’t keep on them, they can get away with never seeing you again.

So, the C.M. let slip one day, could I help the client with her rostering of carers? She couldn’t manage her roster, didn’t return calls, couldn’t schedule, etc. Could I help her with that?

So, she wanted me to do her job now?

People often don’t even realise I have a disability. Well, several really. So, they see me upright and walking and talking and smiling until one day I make a BOLD statement and people are shocked into a different idea of Helen’s normal.

Go With God

Published September 6, 2021 by helentastic67

Go With God        

There is a weird thing in disability circles, people join groups to find their tribe. You know, other people like themselves.

There is this thing about power in numbers, etc. But I wouldn’t want to be in a room with a heap of people with depression. What do they call that?

A goth club?

Never mind!

Those miserable looking goth kids, from the 90’s? Happiest kids you will have ever met. But, some people with disabilities or brain injury have a tendency to compete. No, really!

Oh, you think that’s bad?! I have this!

In reality, it all sucks. People will imagine their experience is something like what you can imagine or worse than you experience. I like to remind people there is always someone worse.

A guy was in a coma for I don’t know how long. No idea the cause of his ABI or how long he’d had it or anything. However, he seemed very happy and smiley despite his lack of ability to keep his sentences on track or contribute in a big way.

In his coma he was kept company by the radio. I do know, he came out of his coma to a song on the radio, “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.

He would smile fondly…

Did they not think that was wrong?

Did they want him to wake up, or Go to God?

Great Adventure

Published August 30, 2021 by helentastic67

Great Adventure

I always love a reason to get out on hellonwheels, my name for my mobility scooter. It’s also a great way for me to connect with people and change people’s idea of what disability looks like.

The adventure on this particular day, was to get to a dental appointment. I wanted to park my scooter inside but not in the waiting area, in anyone’s way, there is a small vestibule with two automated doors to navigate. So, I got a spot I thought was out of the way. Then I stepped back to assess and then saw this, can you see what’s wrong with this picture?


I decided it was still the best place for it. I stopped to mention it to the Covid Nazi just inside the entrance. She was making sure to check everyone in, take temperatures and quiz everyone on the likelihood they could have Covid. Don’t take my Nazi comment the wrong way, it is what it is and I still have not returned from overseas since 1994. Stop asking! It’s really starting to grate.

Anyway, I digress, I mentioned my parking location and suggested if firemen were to attend, they could pick up my scooter to move it out of their way. She said she thought it would be fine but I had to correct myself. “If they are *Hot* Firemen. Come and get me and have them move me on the scooter out of the way” Yes! It’s inappropriate but who smiled while reading that? She smiled, I got to tell her about my blog and I like to think it made her day.




Opening Doors

Published August 16, 2021 by helentastic67

Opening Doors

Yesterday I went to the launch of a project I helped with called Opening Doors.  I’ve shared the website in the past but in case you missed it.  Home – Opening Doors

I met an advocate there, who deals with people who may be in crisis situations and they become her clients. Example: Couple about to take a newborn baby home where they are living in a brother’s garage. They already have a 4-year-old who is in preschool and because I asked questions, you would imagine they could just move into a room inside the house, so what’s the issue?  They already have three generations living inside the house, twenty people so, no they are stuck in the garage. The top number one question they would get asked. Are you on the public housing list?

Anyone who is on that list, asks when will they get a home?  How long is a piece of string? That is a list you need to be on, but it doesn’t guarantee you will get anything.

So, the significance of one’s home is even more important to anyone with a disability.  It’s a place to be safe, to keep one’s precious things, to build important memories, to regroup at the end of the day, to replenish energy, to sleep. Then to get up the next day ready to fight another day.

So, in short, keeping this in mind,

·         Brain injury: 47 years

·         Moved out of home at 19 years

·         Moved lots until 30 years

·         Diagnosis of ABI at 34 years

·         Since treatment at 30 years, onset of severe disability where I can no longer work and need care.

·         Have moved: 4 times!

Keeping in the back of your mind, I had a boyfriend, sorry I thought I had a boyfriend when I first developed my disability. I digress or context done.

As I mentioned my situation to the advocate, how many times I’d had to move since my disability and while in comparison to her clients with the new born baby, I had told a friend that finding decent housemates since my disability had been like getting my heart, soul and wallet robbed by complete strangers. A friend had bitched to me when he had his disability, he had, had to give up his awesome housemates and he couldn’t understand why I had not been more empathetic towards him.

So, I pointed out, while I’d moved four fucking times and had lived by myself for seven years or more, renting. His family bought him a fucking house!  Now admittedly his house is in the outer suburbs, he owned the house. No renting.

and now 10-15 years later, he’s moved into an apartment in Abbotsford where he can walk to the city and he still thinks I should be all empathetic towards his plight.

Sound bitchy don’t I?  Yeah, the inner bitch comes out occasionally.

Please Don’t Call

Published June 7, 2021 by helentastic67

PLEASE DON’T CALL

I really want to thank you for calling me today to tell me all the things I should be doing. You haven’t responded to any of my friendly messages for months now.

I had some good news to share, but you didn’t ask, nor could I get a word in edgewise. I’ve just had a 4-day weekend on the 4th lockdown in Melbourne, some appointments cancelled I’d been trying to get done since they didn’t happen in 2020.

Fuck you COVID! No, I really mean it this time!

It is imagined that people with disabilities have not been financially impacted, since we don’t work. We haven’t lost work and why should we matter.

Well, I shall tell you how. Allow me.

These days I do take more ‘healthy pills’ than medications so I can live to the at least 65. I can afford to live till then.

herbal pills in wooden spoon with ginger root, Kaffir lime fruit and flower on dark brown wood background with copy space. Above view.

Shut up! I will explain that expiry date another day.

COVID has meant everyone and their cat and dog has been out buying ‘healthy pills’ to avoid getting or dying from COVID. It’s a fair call. I can’t blame you all. However, many of my healthy pills I buy in bulk so I can get bulk discounts and pay less over time and because my suppliers have had limited stock, they have not allowed me to do this. I’m not talking about truckloads, just 2 x 200 tablets of magnesium. Just an example.

But I don’t need someone who is not on the ‘coal face’ of living on the edge financially and choosing what I’m meant to do without to ‘help’ me decide I can give up my weekly chiropractor visits.

You all realize I have lost many of my pain management appointments due to lockdown, right. And you want me to deal with a rib out as well. The rib still hurts despite being put back in last Friday. It’s Thursday night as I write this.

So, it’s really shitty when people who are meant to love me are awfully opinionated about what I can do when they are not me.

You know that moment when if there was a statistic that said if there was one person in every family of four to have a disability. The only person in your family who could deal with said disability well, it’s you. Yeah, I knew this some years ago.

Now I needed to ask for a loan, quite happy to pay it back. But without even knowing what it was for, you decide to give me a lecture about managing dollars better. Stop helping!

You are upset, because I didn’t ask how you are. It was hard to get a word in edgewise, and I was already having your opinions and the opinions of other people who are not me to get a word in edgewise.

So, now my days is not done, I don’t have the energy to ‘deal’ with anything else today.

I’m feeling really shitty. My head hurts, my left eye is pounding (the indication of my migraine these days). So, I’m going to bed for a cry and a kip.

Now I need to feel like eating sometimes so I can sleep tonight and get up and do all the things again tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the rent gets paid. The lights go on. I’m not starving and I can put one foot in front of another knowing I don’t ask for help often but when I do, I really need it.

Then, maybe I’ll be able to smile a little. Or I can try and if that’s how you are going to be, please don’t call.

Family

Published April 26, 2021 by helentastic67

Family

Family is a beautiful and evil thing when you have a disability and life in general, I often feel like my contribution is undervalued or thing’s I could do to contribute to get together’s, it’s assumed I would break things rather than help.

At most Christmas gatherings, I offer to help because I want to be apart of things and not feel like a freeloader, but it becomes easier to stay out of the way and come in later to pack and unpack the dishwasher. I may offer to hand wash (carefully) some things that don’t go into the dishwasher and I’m told very quickly “NO” like I might smash the Fine Bone China cups and saucers.

No, I will not, I hope to inherit a share of those one day. Three daughters, is cups, saucers and cake plates. So, no would definitely not smash them.

Fun Fact: You can put Wedgewood in your dishwasher just without the detergent and likely on a cooler wash.

You’re welcome.

Hot Off the Press – 19th May 2020

Published May 19, 2020 by helentastic67

Hot off the Press!

Sometimes, blogging about the here and now and the most important reason to blog gets lost in all the detail. So, being careful to consider someone else’s privacy.

Imagine being 29 and all you want to do is survive, to thrive, with a pre-diagnosed medical condition, you have a stroke!

Again, not my story, but a friend.

After over a month in hospital, being tested for everything including CoVid19 and with no answers. Sometimes, this is the way. No answers.

Being kept company by parents, day and night so nurses give the best care. The same care they would give to anybody without disabilities or pre-diagnosed medical conditions. No matter what they are. A short stint in in-patient rehab, where physio appointments went cancelled because of the low expectation of recovery. Parents needing to still be there to advocate for their child to make sure they get what they need.

What to do now?
Well, the hospital and the patient, to be fair want the patient discharged ASAP. The patient obviously very keen to be home where his parents can arrange the best for their child. Well, adult child and the parents could get a reasonable night’s sleep, to continue to love and care for their child as only parents can.

So, in a perfect world, a caring parent/advocate/carer applies to the NDIA for a change in circumstances, so the patient can go home. Extra carer hours can be utilised to provide adequate care in the home. Plus, some much needed respite for the parents. And sufficient physio and Occupational Therapy to return to at least the bare minimum or return to the same level of independence my friend had in the comfort of their wheelchair, not so very long ago. Is it too much to ask? Is it even possible? I guess we don’t know until my friend is in the best environment for this to happen. Which is clearly at home.

They can’t go home until these things can happen.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t have the funds to pay for these kinds of things, so the NDIA, a government organisation should prioritise these things, no? Let’s see how long it takes for my friend to be able to go home.

And lastly, I’ll leave you with this great quote that I only know about because a great Aussie disability advocate used it.

Disability is seen this way………
“The soft prejudice of low expectation!”

Please share through your networks to show your support. While these stories go untold people get away with providing sub-standard care. Let no single person with a disability be left behind!

Cheers,
H

Grumpy Old Lady

Published March 9, 2020 by helentastic67

Grumpy Old Lady

Ok, for once I’m not writing about me. Ok, the grumpy old lady in question is not me. I was there and there was a grumpy old lady and for once it wasn’t me.

You know those accessible toilets? The ones with the heavy door (we work at that first) because it’s operated with a button. But I never see the button until I’ve put my whole-body weight against the door and sworn a bit at how hard it is to open and because it’s operated by a button, there is a light to indicate if it’s engaged.

I mean, no one pays attention if the normal lock states if it’s engaged anyway. People still put the stall door and sound surprised when it’s actually locked.

I know, right. I don’t know about anyone else, but I always call out “I won’t be a minute” and I take as long as it takes.

I’m not the one being rude. But I digress, frankly I get access to the accessible loo, I take my bag off and hang it on the strap on the wall and I hang my walking stick on the other. Don’t worry, this will not be a blow by blow account. But, while I’m “busy” the door opens wide and a woman, older seemingly “well to do” looking down her nose at me.

I can only describe this woman or her personality in these words. The look on her face told me she felt her shit didn’t stink. It is a pure Aussie Bogan term at I can’t sugar coat it. There it is.

And I’m 100% sure she looked at my face and thought I was ‘young’ and didn’t belong there. I’m also sure she considered I was on her throne and I should feel shamed enough to just get off. I did not move.

She just seemed happy to stand there in an authorative pose to argue and debate it with me. The damage was already done. She had seen me on the toilet (not that there was anything to see) but no one else needed to see me.

I was ready to suggest if the conversation wasn’t over, she could come in or go out, but could she please close the door. When she decided to leave.

I finished my business and left without another incident. The following meeting with my local DAC (Disability Advocacy Committee) in my local council, I mentioned my fun ‘little’ story of total humiliation.

I learned the lock automatically disables after ten minutes, so homeless people don’t go in there and spend the night and so junkies don’t go in and overdose.

Ok, I get it. But ten minutes, I’m one handed. Have you ever tried working these toilet rolls one handed? That is frustrating too. That is the making of a serial killer.

 

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