Dear Gov. Ivey………..

Congratulations! Because of you, people from both sides of the aisle are coming together…in criticism of the new anti abortion bill you signed into law this week.

You gotta admit, you have to know you’ve done F’ed up when both Tomi Lahren AND Pat Robertson come out against your policy.

Abortion in and of itself is controversial, but when you unequivocally ignore cases of unwanted pregnancy that happen through rape or incest, you manage to re-traumatize victims in the name of saving a life. Trauma that already leads to depression, anxiety and increased rates of suicide

And while I am pleased that there is an exception when the life of the mother is in danger, I think it’s a good idea to point out that I’ve made the conscious choice to not become pregnant because as a **disabled woman, pregnancy would be harder on my body and I’m terrified of the potential complications that could physically harm or end my life.

But I made that choice. And I can control whether or not to change my mind on that.

Unless I am raped. And live in Alabama. 

So this law really pisses me off.

It further frustrates me when we talk about this law and women like myself are told to “get our tubes tied” if we don’t want to get pregnant by rape.

So instead of, I don’t know, maybe telling men not to become rapists and increasing the punishments for those convicted, we are telling would-be rape victims to prevent getting pregnant by first getting their tubes tied.

Alabama is also set to punish physicians who perform these procedures by giving them sentences that are far greater than the rapists who put their female victims in the position to need an abortion. 

Neat. 

“But Laura, what about that clause about the health of the mother?” 

Well…….

I don’t trust the government to make a logical determination of the risks to my life when at the same time, as a disabled woman, I’ve needed a brand new wheelchair and the “options” available to me (through the government healthcare system we have) returned with a substandard product that would have further disabled my body (stay tuned for my 3-part wheelchair buying experience coming soon 😉 ).

In this case, it should be medical professionals and medical professionals only (one chosen by the women in crisis) who are tasked with determining what is the best course of action for their patient.

Abortion is horrible. But what is worse is taking away the choice of a woman in crisis. 

Full stop. 

**I speak only for myself as a disabled woman, and my views do not necessarily represent the entire disabled community.

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PSA: The One Where Lulabelle Reminds You About the Importance of Following Directions…….

A few months ago I referenced briefly how this past summer I developed an ulcer on my hip. At the time I was unsure how it happened, but in the months since I’ve connected the dots and figured out why I ended up with a bullet sized hole in my hip.

The TL;DR-I don’t read directions on things I buy that I assume I know how to clean.

Oops!

So today I decided to pass along my knowledge so what happened to me doesn’t happen to you.

You’re welcome!

So, for the entire story, we have to go back to last fall. That was when Chad asked me to find something that we could put down on the bottom of the inside of the tub so he wouldn’t slip and fall in the shower. The first attempt was small stick on grippy strips that Riley immediately pulled up.

Solution #2 was a squishy tub mat from Walmart.

That seemed to stand up against our youngest cat’s claws and teeth.

But there seemed to be a problem.

I wanted to get into the habit of cleaning more in the bathroom, so at least once a week, I cleaned the bathtub and tub mat in the way I’ve always cleaned them-by spraying bathroom cleaner onto it and scrubbing it down with a scrub brush.

It seemed though that the more I scrubbed it, the dirtier it appeared. I couldn’t figure it out, so I tried to wipe it down with another cleaner-no change.

Around the same time I developed a weird red mark on my hip…..That turned into an ulcer.

Months later the question of how this even happened still baffled me. So I went to the free clinic in town and got it cultured. And it came back a week later positive for TWO types of bacteria.

Yep. Overachiever over here. Go me!

After my ulcer was cultured, I went out and bought another tub mat to replace the weirdly dirty looking one we had.

I found one that I was excited to try because it was a micro-fiber one that could be put in the WASHER! How cool! I also noticed it looks suspiciously like the one we had at home. So we bought it and brought it home and I inspected both and gasped!

Ladies and gentlemen, apparently, MICRO FIBER TUB MATS CAN’T BE SCRUBBED WITH A CLEANING BRUSH AND CLEANER!! Apparently what I had been doing for months with our old mat was actually introducing bacteria deep into the mat and that is how my ulcer formed!

Knowledge is power, kids. Hopefully this story will help you not get an infectious ulcer on your hip.

Cheers!

 

To the 2020 Presidential Candidates…….

The following blog post will be short and sweet. Yesterday I posted the following on my Facebook page, but decided it needed a blog post of its own. I’ve never really cared about politics all that much in my life but, as I’m nearing 40, God and the universe has placed it on my heart to cast my vote for the person that not only promises the following, but follows through.

I don’t know who I’ll be voting for this year, but as a person with a disability, I believe that person HAS to offer a comprehensive health care plan that doesn’t fault people for being disabled and will be affordable to all. And will not exclude ANY medical equipment the person needs to have a decent quality of life (including covering a crappier product that is cheaper even when doctors recommend a higher quality product that costs more).

And forgive me if I’m not interested in dissenting arguments at the moment. If you want to offer that, I’d first ask you to think about having a wheelchair, used on a daily basis, so broken half of the brakes don’t work anymore and everyday you are out and about you say a silent prayer that the wheels don’t go flying off and you end up hitting the ground on your bum.

**drops mike……..on foot accidentally and now needs to go to the ER but doesn’t have insurance so just soaks it in Epsom salt and slaps a band-aid on it**

In Defense of Dr. Phil…….When “Outrage Culture”Shifts Focus from the Real Issue……

Yep. I’m going there today.

And yes, I’m just as surprised as you. But here we go.

Two weeks ago Tuesday, Dr. Phil’s daily TV program was titled, “I Swiped Right On My Quadriplegic Boyfriend.” The basic premise of the show was that the girlfriend had become her boyfriend’s full-time care giver because they couldn’t find proper caregivers for him.

And ever since the episode ended, the internet has lost their collective minds over some of the contents of the show.  Specifically over two things that Dr. Phil said:

“You have a choice to make you’ll have to make it today. You can be his caregiver, or you can be his lover, you can’t be both.”
and,
“100 out of 100 times, this won’t work”

Now, knowing what the episode was titled mixed with these statements, one could draw the conclusion that Dr. Phil was pissing on interabled relationships (where one partner is able-bodied while the other is disabled) and declaring that you can’t be a spouse/partner and a full-time caregiver simultaneously. Because “100 out of 100 times, this won’t work.”

Infuriating, right? Makes you want to take your wheelchair down to the TV lot where the show is filmed and “accidentally” run him down.

Except that both of these statements that I’ve seen posted on disability blogs (the first of which appeared on a prominent internet space where disabled writers have a voice but curiously are not paid, all while the site grows in popularity-and where I used to regularly contribute), are taken WILDLY out of context.

And I get it. As a person with a disability, I first saw those clips of the show and those words come out of his mouth and I lost my mind. How dare he say that! I decried him on Facebook, shared the article in several places and almost bought (in bulk) a tee-shirt that said, #100outof100.

Then I took a breath. And decided I needed to watch the episode in its entirety before making a take down response. Because, I reasoned, I like to be fully informed before I take someone down on the internet. 😛

So I decided to seek out and watch the entire episode.

And then I realized, after watching the episode, that instead of writing a take down piece, I would have to write this.

I understand difference of opinion but when the conversation in the disability community shifts away from the truth that those who abuse can be disabled, it takes away from the serious nature of the actual problem and therefore those who are in interabled abusive relationships can’t get the help they need.

Yep.

Turns out the couple featured on the show were in the midst of a toxic relationship. The boyfriend had become a quadriplegic after a racing accident (he was a motorcycle racer) and was still so bitter that he refused to allow anyone in to take care of him full-time besides his girlfriend and would call her names and berate her when he was angry. At one point they mentioned he spit on her in anger.

Meanwhile, the girlfriend was so burnt out from taking care of him full-time on top of the verbal abuse he lobbed at her (she was also losing weight from stress) and THAT is why they were on the show. She would also lash out at him in response to his abuse.

Now back to those inflammatory comments:

After hearing both sides of the issue, Dr. Phil declared to the girlfriend that, “You can be his caregiver or you can be his girlfriend, but you can’t be both.” This only pertained to her situation. She was mentally drowning and needed to make that choice. Dr. Phil in no way implied that everyone in an interabled relationship as a full-time caregiver couldn’t also be a good lover. This advise was for her and her alone.

For the boyfriend, Dr. Phil brought on another interabled couple to help him understand that he can overcome his anger over the accident that landed him in a chair.

Now let’s talk about outrage culture. In this instance, the calls for Dr. Phil to be cancelled and the outrage that he disrespected the entire disability community takes away from the real issue of this couples pain and shedding light on interabled domestic abuse. Which for some reason not a lot of people want to talk about and statistics on abusers who are disabled seemingly don’t even exist. 

However, stats on disabled domestic abuse DOES exist and according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “police are less likely to respond to reported violence against people with disabilities” (At 70% as opposed to responding to non disabled reporting at 90%)

Based on the above statistic (and the fact that March is domestic violence awareness month), articles and commentaries really missed the mark by not shedding more light on this topic after the Dr. Phil episode aired. 

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship you can anonymously call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233 or go to https://www.thehotline.org/ 

Storytime: Abducted by Customer Service……..

*Blogger’s note: I have masked the location of this incident and am not using real names because I truly believe this person meant no harm whatsoever and I want to use this story as more of an educational tool to teach others what not to do. 

Also, while this post contains heavy doses of sarcasm, that has more to do with how I cope with these situations and less to do with the actual person.

As of this upload, the museum in question has reached out and offered a formal apology. 


This weekend Chad and I went on a mini get-a-way. As part of our weekend, we toured a vintage 1950’s style home that has been turned into a museum. Although I was using my wheelchair, I was able to tour it because they had put on a ramp at the back of the house to accommodate wheelchairs.

After we toured the home, we began to make our way across the street and up the block to go to the next gathering of this event. All of a sudden this woman, wearing a museum badge, approached us. She was very excited to greet us and told us that they had just put the ramp in last year and she was SO glad we were there to tour the museum.

And I’m pretty sure I was the first person in a wheelchair to come through the museum. 

Why? Keep reading…….

She introduced herself as one of the curators of the museum and then the conversation took a turn-Her: “I used to work in healthcare. What is your diagnosis?” Me: (Slightly flustered as people ask me all the time what is my disability, but her way of asking was a bit more unique.) “Spina Bifida,” I said.

“Oh wow!” she said. And then it happened.

My husband had been pushing my wheelchair this whole time as we were walking to the next event of the weekend. And suddenly, without asking, the curator GRABBED MY WHEELCHAIR from my husband and started PUSHING ME!!

Now, Chad and I were so shocked we didn’t say anything, and I know that probably wasn’t the best course of action, but here’s the thing: when you’ve been disabled all your life, stuff like this (normally not exactly like this) happens frequently and honestly you just have to pick your battles or you’d end up in an early grave, a victim of repeated 2nd hand social awkwardness.

So we let it go, for about half a block until Chad casually told the lady that he could take over pushing me. Her reply?

“Oh don’t worry, I used to work in healthcare, I know what I’m doing!” 

Um……

Listen, Linda!Can I call you Linda? Cool. Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time someone in a wheelchair comes through the museum: 

1. When you see a person in a wheelchair, you may approach but DO. NOT. TOUCH. The wheelchair is an extension of the person’s body and is therefore off-limits unless the person specifically asks for help. 

2. Throughout our entire interaction, you mentioned several times that you used to work in health care. I’m just not sure how relevant that information was to the situation. Especially since when we came to a curb cut and you took me down backwards, I almost fell out of my chair. 

Yeah. That was a fun experience.

When you have a situation like this, ask the person in the chair which direction they prefer to come down. 

Also, after this incident we could only assume that when you said you worked in healthcare, you meant to say front desk or billing department of the hospital. 

3. Honestly I would have still told you what my disability was even if you didn’t tell me you used to work in health care. I know others in the disabled community have a different opinion to sharing their diagnosis, but for me, I’ve always had the opinion that others will never learn if they don’t ask. I know this can be confusing, so a good way to ask is this, “Would you mind if I asked you your diagnosis?” 

4. Your museum is awesome and we thoroughly enjoyed our tour. I promise you if you implement the suggestions above, it will be an enjoyable experience for all attendees. 

Cheers! 

Why I’m Glad HUD Secretary Carson Got Stuck in an Elevator…….

This afternoon I read an account of Secretary of HUD Dr. Ben Carson becoming stuck in an elevator in the midst of his “listening tour” of affordable housing across America.

And I have to say, I’m more than glad it happened.

No, not because I don’t agree with some of his policies or political beliefs. I respect Dr. Carson so much as an uber-talented neurosurgeon and his story of growing up poor in the projects and being raised by a single mother to rise to where he is today is truly inspirational.

So why am I glad for the misfortune of someone I respect?  Because it shows how low-income housing has taken a back seat to quality. As if it doesn’t matter that the elevator doesn’t work because they are poor people anyway so why fix it?

This is the same attitude to the one found in my old HUD building where I lived for almost 3 years before my husband and I were married. The elevator was so old and seldom worked that one summer the leasing office asked us not to use it because it was overheating from use……for a building full of elderly and disabled persons this was not acceptable.

Do you know what ended up happening? When the building was bought for local college student housing the elevator, deemed not fixable before, mysteriously was fixed and the ENTIRE inside of the building was gutted and renovated for the new tenants.

Dear Dr. Carson, you have now been reminded how the other side lives on a daily basis. Here is your opportunity to fix it. To give low-income housing the dignity and care its residents deserve.

Please take it.

Not Acting: How to Advocate For Yourself When You are a Young Adult With a Disability……

Now before I get into our topic of the day today, a small caveat: The particular person mentioned in the post below meant no harm, even though they didn’t think of the implications of their words. I wish him no harm, so please be kind in the comments (As always I reserve the right to delete any and all comments that are rude and disrespectful 😉 )……


Regrets. We all have them. Things we wished we hadn’t done. Or things we wished we had. Today I wanted to talk about an experience I had in college and what I wish I would have done……..

Our church denomination makes bulletins that follow the lectionary for the entire church. However, not all churches in our denomination use these bulletins. The church I grew up in does not. They make their own.

The denominational newsletters more often than not use photographs of stock images, ect…to convey the message of a particular Sunday. Sometimes pictures used would be of a church in the area or some such.

While on summer break from college one year, I attended my parent’s church (the church I grew up in). A member approached me after services one Sunday with an idea. He had been picked by our denomination to produce a concept for a new set of newsletter covers to be distributed to churches denomination wide. The scripture used would be Luke 14:12-14…….

“Then Jesus said to the man who had invited Him, “When you host a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or rich neighbors. Otherwise, they may invite you in return, and you will be repaid. 13But when you host a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Since they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”…

Now of course we don’t use words like, “lame” and “outcast” to describe people with disabilities anymore. Those words are terribly outdated and offensive. Thankfully other translations of the bible use more appropriate wording that doesn’t change the meaning of the original passage.

But semantics isn’t the point of this blog. I want to focus on my conversation with this producer.

After he approached me to ask if I wanted to be a part of the photo shoot, he described his idea. I would sit in my wheelchair in the front row of the church next to all the other disabled people from our church. Then we’d hold hymnals and pretend it was a regular church service as photos were being taken.

As a young adult, I instantly had a few misgivings about this concept but didn’t immediately decline to participate. The first of which was that all the disabled people in our church didn’t sit together in a group. Not that we all didn’t like each other, we just chose to sit with our families.

The second misgiving was that, at the time, I didn’t use my wheelchair during church. Just crutches. I even suggested I would just use my crutches during the photo shoot. After I mentioned this concern and the follow up suggestion, the producer looked at me a bit smugly and said, “Just pretend you are acting! You are playing a role!”

Um, what??

Now the 37 year old me would have laid down a litany before him of why that statement was offensive and SO rude to even say aloud. But the 21 year old me just stood there in disbelief. Wondering how anyone could think that suggestion was OK.

And in a move that has haunted me every day since, I decided to go through with the photo shoot. After it was over I ran into the bathroom and cried. Feeling so ashamed that I hadn’t spoken up and told him I wasn’t going to participate because it was an offensive idea. The idea that I can pretend to be disabled.

My life is not pretend. Every day I wake up in a disabled body and go about my day. It is not an act.  And years later I wish I had stood up for myself and told the producer that what he was doing was damaging and exploitative.

So what should you do when you are young and a situation like this happens? I have a few options for you below. Things I wish I would have said:

1. “No.” Just simply say no. Don’t feel pressured to give a further explanation. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
 
If you’d like to give an explanation, say:

2. “I don’t feel comfortable pretending that way.” 

3. “Doing this would make me feel exploited.”

Being asked to do something you don’t want to do or feel uncomfortable doing can be awkward. But advocating for yourself in these situations can help others to understand your point of view.

Cheers!