01 November 2006

There was a small article in yesterday's The London Paper about Saw III and how since it's release in the UK, ambulances have been called to three different cinemas to treat a total of 5 people (4 women, 1 man) who've fainted during torture scenes in the film.

Obviously the paper brands the movie ridiculously scary, but, actually, a closer read reveals something else. The cinemas in which people have fainted are in Stevenage, Cambridge and Peterborough - leading me to conclude that there's nothing wrong with the film; East Anglians are just wimps.

Being of East Anglian descent myself, when I go see it I suppose I'd better wear a crash helmet in case I fall off my chair. I did after all faint at Watership Down aged 5.

31 October 2006

Happy Halloween!

As some of you may have already seen, this article that I wrote was published last Thursday.

On Saturday morning, I could've kicked myself - except the floor was wet, and to kick oneself involves standing on only one leg... and wet floors have a long history of slipping me over and beating me up.

I was volunteering on a FOCUS project over the weekend. On Saturday morning I rolled myself out of bed and dragged my sorry, sleepy self into the accessible shower room.

I had my shower, and the high poweredness of it managed to blast most of the sleep from the corners of my eyes. I got out, got dressed, and went to brush my hair:-

There was no mirror.

I had no idea what I looked like as I was trying to drag my fluffy locks back into a ponytail.

Just like a vampire.

Everyone knows that vampires cast no reflection, but something that's little known except for by wheelchair users is that accessible toilets rarely have mirrors in them; and if they do, they're too high to see your reflection from sitting in a wheelchair (well, except for the few that have a full length mirror right opposite the toilet so you get to see far more of yourself than you would like to whilst trying to do what you went in there to do).

Remember in Angel when the gang went to Pylea, an alternate universe where vampires can sunbathe and see their own reflections? Remember Angel's shock at seeing his hairdo for the first time in nearly 250 years?

That was kinda how I felt when I caught my reflection in a window late Saturday morning.

This was where the desire to kick myself came in "that's another parallel between vampirism and disability!" my inner monologue screamed in my ears. But, sadly, it was too late as the article had been published.

Damn.

Edit: This made me laugh.

20 October 2006

This post may contain cheese.

In the very early hours of yesterday morning, I received the most fabulously entitled spam Email.

The subject line was "cheddar attached."

I checked and double checked. The Email came with no free cheese. How fraudulent! The only attachment was a jpeg trying to get me to buy Viagra.

I'm really disappointed. I like the idea of cheese by Email.

Doris Delarosa, if you're reading this: I want the cheddar you promised me.

29 September 2006

21 September 2006

Did you know that when Superglue starts to bond pyjama bottoms to skin that it burns?

The giant and very painful blister on my right knee is evidence of this fact.

In a way, I'm quite glad about the "Oh my god! My knee is on fire!" feeling, followed by an urgent need to detrouser. Because it did prevent me and my pink jammy bottoms with teddy bears on them from becoming permanently as one.

You would think that they'd make an adhesive as powerful as Superglue less runny so it doesn't drip everywhere, wouldn't you?

20 September 2006

Well, my last 2 posts have been about toilets. I might as well continue vaguely along the theme...

Actually, I should probably elaborate on my last post. This time, fortunately, the thousands of people in Trafalgar Sqaure were spared the sight of me weeing when the disabled toilet lock failed. Instead, I had the pleasure of opening the door on someone else. My manners are far better than the Brixton Academy employee who flung the door open on me, and I slammed the door shut immediately. In fact, after I'd done what I needed to and tried to leave, I couldn't get the disabled toilet door open. Some event planner had the bright idea of sticking the disabled portaloo with an outward opening door right in the middle of Trafalgar Sqaure. In the middle of a crowd of thousands.

Anyway...

My BettyCat has been ill recently. The poor little thing has had a poorly bladder. And what do cats do when they're not feeling too good in that area? Yup. Stop using their litter tray and just go wherever they happen to be.

My current disorganisation is all the cat's fault. I had to throw my To Do List whiteboard in the bin after she weed up it. "The dog ate my homework" may not wash as an excuse, but "the cat peed on my to do list" is entirely valid reasoning for not having accomplished all that I should.

By far the most frustrating of her makeshift litter spots was the curtain by the back door. Because it meant I had to take it down to wash it. And I'm 4'10". In a way I was glad the vet kept Betty in overnight that night, because her pointing and laughing at me (don't think she wouldn't...) while I struggled to extract the curtain rail from the (fortunately very low) ceiling would've been more than I could bear.

And don't ask why I didn't just take the curtain off the rail rather than taking the whole rail down. I was poor when I moved in here (nothing's changed in the last 18 months), and I found a curtain rail in Ikea costing the grand sum of £1. Cheapness comes at a price, and, in this case, the price is a design making it impossible to take the curtain off the rail without taking the rail down.

Prescription painkillers and a step designed to facilitate small children's access to a grown up toilet made it possible to eventually get the curtain down. But, of course, gravity was working in my favour too. Trying to get the curtain back up? Yup, gravity becomes more of a foe than a friend.

So, the curtain is still draped over the kitchen radiator, where it was spread to dry. Fortunately the glass on the window in the door is frosted, so passers by can't see me running around in my pyjamas (OK, like I can run, but, you know what I mean), but, the frosting doesn't stop the street lights from flooding my room with brightness throughout the night.

I find myself remembering a line from a Barenaked Ladies song... "who needs sleep?" and blogging at 3:15 in the morning.

As for the cat? The vet gave her anti-inflammatory drops, and she's peed nowhere but her litter tray since she got home. And annoyingly the little ball of trouble can sleep anywhere, anytime.

16 September 2006

What is it with Scissor Sisters concerts and disabled toilet doors that won't lock?

Edited to add: This was what happened last time...

06 September 2006

I've just finally gotten around to watching F*** Off I'm Fat.

Very near the start of the documentary, there's some footage of Ricky Grover doing some stand-up, and joking about being fat. I gigged with him once a while ago, and some skinny student started heckling him, and then disappeared for a piss.

So, Ricky got down off the stage, walked over to this kid's seat, and took the coat off the back of it. One of the issues explored in the documentary is how hard it is to buy clothes if you're fat. Needless to say, Ricky expected the coat to not fit, and look comical.

The kid came back in the room, and Ricky put on the coat. It fitted perfectly. Nothing could've been funnier as no-one in the room saw that coming.

The thing I found most interesting about the documentary was the parallels you can draw between fighting for fat rights, and fighting for disability rights. For instance, an issue that came up was the problem that restaurants try to cram as many seats into as small a space as possible. Which of course leaves little room for anyone oversized, whether that is because they are fat, or because they have a set of wheels that makes them take up more space than the interior designers ideal diner.

In fact, as an example of a restaurant that doesn't cater for fat people, they showed a shot of the Chinese/Thai/Vegetarian restaurant on Golders Green Road. A restaurant which I've felt slightly confused by in the past. This place has a really evil step to get in, another step down to the toilets, yet, once you've tackled those 2 steps, there's an "accessible" toilet. Someone didn't quite think that one through, did they?

Design issues were the focus of the documentary, and Ricky's appeal for inclusive design is something that most crips would be familiar with.

As part of the documentary, Ricky launched the UK's first "big loo." It featured a toilet tested to take the weight of someone up to a ton, and had a much larger than average seat, which everyone who used (even the skinnies) commented was far more comfortable than your bog standard (pardon the punning) loo seat.

Ricky appealed for more "big loos" around the UK, and summed up that segment of the show with the following quote:

Instead of segregating fat people, and having one big loo for them; why not make them all big loos, then you segregate no-one.


Slight flaw in that argument: Ricky had designed the "big loo" with 2 steps to get in, and a further step to mount the throne.

I'm feeling segregated by the "big loo" already...

22 August 2006

Yet more hospital appointments continue to take up vast amounts of time in The World of Lisy Babe.

While the staff at the Royal Throat, Nose and Ear hospital don't claim to have time travelling skills, nor do they expect me to demonstrate some, they still know how to confuse me.

I've had problems with my sinuses for most of my life. But in the past year they've actually become quite an impairment as I'm spending around 2 days a fortnight stuck in bed with the ability to do nothing except swallow more painkillers. Yesterday I finally got the chance to see an ENT specialist about this.

Upon arriving at the hospital, I was asked if I'd used Patient Transport Services to get there.

"No, I pushed here." I thought this was an obvious answer. If I'd said "I walked here," he'd have looked at me like I was A Mental (because apparently wheelchair users aren't allowed to use common parlance).

"Yes, but did you use hospital transport?"

I had no idea that patient transport vehicles were now fitted with treadmill type things so it would be possible for me to simultaneously push all the way there and catch a ride in an ambulance.

I do love the belief held by most members of NHS staff that it's not possible for crips to make their own way to hospital. Obviously, for some it's true. But when I had an endoscopy in March they sent an ambulance to pick me up (without even consulting me to find out if I needed or wanted one). I live a 10 minute walk/push/whatever from the hospital. There is no way in the world I'm going to be up and ready to leave the house an extra 2 hours before I actually need to leave just because someones made an assumption about my abilities. Thank you very much, I'll spend those 2 hours catching extra kip. And to add insult to insult, the patient transport people kept calling me "Mrs Lisa Egan." Now that I seriously considered making a complaint about. Mrs indeed.

Anyway, after that rather odd exchange with the receptionist, they sent me for a hearing test. I'd been complaining of sinus pain, not hearing loss. But the NHS does like to waste it's limited budget (like by employing people who can read the future) so I dutifully headed towards the hearing test dept and played along by pushing a button every time I heard a beep.

And, why? "You've had hearing problems in the past." Said a nurse who'd clearly only skim read my notes. Had he bothered to read properly he'd have seen that, actually, no. There's nothing wrong with my hearing. I have Auditory Processing Disorder. Telling me I have hearing problems is like telling a dyslexic that they're visually impaired. Idiot.

Fortunately the doctor I finally saw had a slightly higher IQ than most of the staff at the hospital. Though he did say "I see from your notes that you have Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Is that why you use a wheelchair?"

I was tempted to reply "No, my sinus pain is just so bad it's fucked up my knees." (But it still doesn't beat an anaesthetist asking Loudgirl "if she'd always had dwarfism?")

After sticking several things up my nose he informed me that I have Rhinosinusitis to add to my ever expanding list of diagnoses. This apparently does not mean that my sinuses have been invaded by Rhinos (though it often feels like I have a wee one growing in there and trying to burst out. I keep waiting for my face to explode in a similar fashion to John Hurt's stomach). Nor does it mean I have sinusitis of rhino-like proportions (though, again, feels like it). I think it simply means that whoever hybridised "rhinitis" and "sinusitis" got bored of the letter "I" and decided to throw in an "O" for some slightly variable vowel sounds. It's basically a fancy and mammalian sounding word for "chronic sinus inflammation." Which I could've told him I had on my way into the clinic.

Before departing from the hospital, I was sent to pick up a list of things to squirt up my nose to try and ease my suffering, and to have a blood test to see if there were any obvious causes for my sinuses to be so enraged.

Upon arrival at the blood test room, the phlebotomist asked me "Are you a difficult one?" As I sat there with my rear wheels wedged in the door frame I replied:

"Well, I can't even fit through your door for starters." Despite the popularity of the medical model of disability in certain quarters, apparently we wheelies don't need to be able to make our way around hospitals.

Anyway, I must go. The baby rhino in my sinuses is trying to make another break for it I think.

14 August 2006

Over the last week I've had the following exchange more times than I can actually count. I'm mainly posting this post as a public information announcement, so, should you ever meet me, you don't ask me the same bloody stupid question.

Me: I'm a vegetarian.

Them: Do you eat fish?

I know Kurt Cobain claimed that "It's OK to eat fish, cos they don't have any feelings."

He did also blow his own brains out. Remember that.

30 July 2006

Just because the appointment bookers in UCH's Maxillo Facial Unit can travel 3 days forward in time to know that I was going to fail to attend an appointment, they seem to think I have the power of time travel too.

Though, I wasn't planning on missing the appointment. But, who knows, maybe had the sound of the postman at 8am on June 19th (delivering a letter telling me I'd failed to attend an appointment 3 hours into the future) not roused me enough to get out of bed, I would have missed the appointment. So, it's possible that their on-staff mystics are right.

I was a little perplexed to receive a letter telling me that on the day of my operation I had to be on ward T14 at 7:30am. Now, anyone that knows me knows that asking me to be somewhere at 7:30am is asking a lot. Hell, most days I'm not even out of my pyjamas by 7:30pm. But the time they expected me to be there wasn't the aspect of the letter that left me befuddled.

What was confusing was the paragraph following the time they expected me to be there. The letter asked me "to call the ward between 9am and 5pm on the day of arrival to check there is a bed available for you."

So, I'm supposed to go an hour an and a half forward in time to call the ward to check that an emergency admission hasn't been dumped in my bed, before showing up?

I wish while I was in there, they'd taught me how to do that. Time travel would be fun. I'd never have to worry about oversleeping again. My alarm clock goes off, I want to roll over and go back to sleep for a few more hours? No problem. Just go back 2 or three hours and get that bonus kip. Lather, rinse and repeat as needed.

I'm incredibly jealous of that girl from Out of this World. Always have been. I wish my Dad was an alien (though, sometimes I think he might be. He's not allowed to eat grapefruit because it interacts negatively with one of the medications he's on. Part of his birthday present from me this year was some grapefruit shower gel. He asked my mother if he would be OK using it. I now think my Dad has a policy of washing from the inside) and I'd inherited from him the power to freeze time. Just how cool would that be? You'd never need to run late again! I think all punctually challenged people like me should be awarded that gift.

Actually, I think I should have the power to freeze time awarded to me as a reasonable adjustment under the DDA. It takes me longer to get anywhere in London than it takes non-disabled people (or disabled people whose impairment doesn't affect their ability to use stairs/escalators) because I can't get on the tube. This means that to get somewhere at the same time as non-crips, I have to get up earlier. Meaning I'm deprived of sleep. If I could freeze time with a clap of the hands, all would be equal in this animal farm we call London.

On the subject of being deprived of sleep, of course on that morning I had to be at UCH, I didn't bother to go to bed the night before. I was being given a general anaesthetic, it's not like I didn't have an opportunity to sleep during that day.

Or so I thought.

Many people wake up from a general rather dopey and spend the rest of the day sleeping, but, I've always woken up and immediately taken on behaviour resembling that of the Energiser Bunny. This was my first general since the age of 9, and I know the effects are often different on adults than they are on children. I was fully planning on sleeping like my mother does after an operation.

My mother is the woman who had her only child, by cesarean, under general anaesthetic. Instead of waking up and being overjoyed by the sight of her newborn bouncing baby girl, and being so excited by parenthood that she just couldn't get back to sleep; she took one look at me, said "Oh," rolled over and went back to the world of dreams. What a welcome into this world I got. "Oh." I suppose at least in her bleary state she didn't start calling me "Peter" which was going to be my name had I had a winky.

So, fully expecting to have turned into my mother, I was planning on catching up on some kip. I was so sure I'd be out for the count that I didn't even bother to pay the exorbitant fee to have the TV by my bed turned on.

Instead of course I woke up insanely hyper, with a major case of verbal diarrhoea (quite impressive given how swollen my mouth was having just had a bone saw in it). Much to the annoyance of the nurse overseeing the recovery room. Eventually she told me to lay down and shut up. You can see why with a bedside manner like that she opted to work with patients who are mostly unconscious.

The closest I came that day to proper rest was when I decided to change from blood stained hospital gown into my own pyjamas. Despite being rather squeamish, I was OK with the sight of dried blood on my surgical attire. I was even fine with the Lisa-juice covered blanket I woke up wrapped in. But, still, nighties aren't very me, I wanted my proper jammie bottoms on, so I decided to go in the toilet and get changed. Drip and all.

Changing from something with sleeves, into something else with sleeves, while you've got a drip in your hand is rather challenging. Still, I was confident I could manage it without having to ask a nurse to help me with all the tubes. As Julia Roberts once said "Big mistake. Big. Huge." Taking the drip down off it's stand to get it through various sleeves meant that my blood started flowing up the drip tube where gravity was no longer pushing the saline in the right direction. One notice of "Ooo, my blood's flowing in a direction it's not supposed to," had me laying on the floor, attempting to preserve what little consciousness I had left.

Actually, I wish I could go back in time and rethink that decision. How embarrassing.

19 June 2006

Carry On... Hospital Managers

Or, why I ♥ the NHS.

On one of my thighs right now, I have resting a letter inviting me to attend a hosptial appointment this morning at 11am. Obviously, this appointment hasn't happened yet, what with 11am still being an hour and a quarter in the future.

On the other thigh, I have balanced a letter, posted 3 days ago (on Jun 16th), claiming I failed to attend my appointment on June 19th (later today, not happened yet, stick with the program).

Honest. I couldn't make this stuff up.

28 May 2006

Last Saturday I gigged in a venue that is currently undergoing refurbishment.

It was interesting. The compere offered a prize to any audience member that could find a health and safety violation that the venue wasn't at the time in breach of.

Performing underneath exposed wires is a bit of incentive to do well. If they hate you, they could just throw water at you and watch you sizzle.

Anyway, possibly the most distressing part of the evening was going to the toilet. They'd removed the ladies toilet doors. (Don't bother asking why I didn't use the crip bog - it was a comedy venue. Don't be as daft as to think there might be one).

To offer some privacy for the ladies peeing, they'd provided curtains. Except, they were so short that if you were seated on the throne, they covered your face - and nothing else.

This made for an interesting alternate game of "Guess Who?" during the intervals...

"Are they bald?"

"No."

"Do they have short hair?"

"Yes."

"Are they blonde?"

"No."

"Any piercings?"

"Yes."

"I think it's Gilly."

In the 2nd interval an audience member informed me that the toilets were full of women with their Sun-In dying their minges "because, well, you've got to with those curtains."

05 May 2006

Well that was a strange pop to the shops to buy some toilet paper.

I was waiting to cross the road, and, naturally, with it being Camden High Street, the queue to cross had reached a few layers of people deep.

This woman at the front steps aside to let me cross. Sounds polite? Yeah?

The traffic was still flowing.

I did have to point out to her "It's alright, I'm going to wait until the man's turned green."

I waited for about a minute, the man still not turning green (I wonder if he just caught his girlfriend in bed with someone else? That'd explain the constant changing between angry red and envious green), wondering "Oh, no, I'm not now one of those crips that people moan about that 'give "the disabled" a bad name' am I?" When I got completely outshone...

A guy in a wheelchair deliberately swerves from the path he'd been taking to crash into the side of my wheelchair (also crashing into the leg of the lady who'd moved out of my way); turns to me and calls me "disabled scummy" and swerves off in the other direction again!

I would hypothesise that he mistook me for his own reflection, except, I'm far prettier (which is truly an insult to him if you know just how rancid I look).

I guess at least he didn't call me "handicapped".

01 May 2006

BADD

Today is BADD.

No, I haven't woken up with amnesia thinking I'm stuck in the 80's

And, no, today hasn't been really shit, necessitating the extra "D" for emphasis.

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (The brainchild of The Goldfish, inspired by Blogging Against Sexism Day, Blogging Against Racism Day, Blogging Against Heteronormativity
Day and others).

You may be thinking "Why does Lisy need to participate in a designated day? All she seems to do is winge about the discrimination she faces." And you'd be right. I asked myself the same question many times. But, in the end, faced with a shiny, exciting bandwagon - I just had to jump on (the bandwagon had working ramps, how could I resist?).

It comes at an apt time for me, as I'm suddenly in a state of heightened awareness about being disabled. Why? Because, for the last fortnight, I haven't been disabled.

Did my Osteogenesis Imperfecta vanish for the duration of my holiday? No. Of course not. But, for the two weeks I spent in America, I was not disabled. There was nothing I was stopped from doing because America (or at least the state of California) has almost entirely ridded itself of disabling barriers.

During my holiday I found myself able to go wherever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. All buses, trains, underground trains, trams, etc... are accessible. Whereas here in London of course, I'm disabled. Not by my Osteogenesis Imperfecta, but by the stairs/escalators on the underground and at train stations, by buses with ramps that don't work, etc.

And it wasn't just in the arena of getting around that my disability was removed. I could go into any bar, I could eat in any restaurant (well, not *any* because Americans just don't seem to "get" vegetarianism, but my impairment proved no disability), I could visit any tourist attraction, safe in the knowledge that there would be access, and I wouldn't be disabled.

Now I'm back in the UK and, whilst my impairment is at exactly the same level as it was on the other side of the Atlantic. But now, I'm so severely disabled I can't even get into my local organic food store - because it's their steps disabling me, not my impairment.

I even did two gigs in San Francisco. Both clubs were fully accessible from the point of view of audience members (and so, *gasp*, on both nights there were actually crips in the audience) and one, with it's level performance area, was even accessible to wheelie comics. That's a 50% rate of full access. I must've played in over 50 comedy clubs in the UK. And how many of those were fully accessible to a performer? 3 (incase you're wondering, my criteria is: access to the entrance, an accessible toilet and either level access to the performance area or a ramp up to the stage). And only a handful more have access for audience members too. It seems that only time you're going to hear the word "access" in conjunction with the words "comedy club" here in the UK is if you happen to overhear a conversation between me and Liz.

Attitudes in America are completely different too. During my trip, two whole weeks, only one small child pointed and stared at me like I was a freak of nature. That was at Universal Studios, so I'm assuming that she too was a British tourist.

As I said in a previous post - in California, wheelchair users can get everywhere - so we are everywhere. Here I know far too many people (my parents included) who, due to disabling barriers, leave their own homes far less often than is healthy. I'm guessing British tourists going to America for the first time probably think there's been some kind of plague because there are so many crips about - shopping, socialising, taking the bus to work. (I guess technically there has been a kind of plague - war veterans who've become disabled due to the Bush family's tendency to pick fights with countries they don't like).

Of course, disablism isn't only about the barriers preventing us from getting to public places. Many of us face discrimination the second we get out of bed in the morning, before we've left the house. Laurence, in this article points out that there is an estimated shortfall of 300,000 wheelchair accessible homes in the UK. I live in an inaccessible flat. There's 3 steps to get in (fortunately each far enough apart from the others for me to bump my chair up and then regain my balance before tackling the next one) and my flat is far too small to move my chair around in.

You may be wondering why a feisty character like me would accept such sub-standard accommodation. Simply, when I was offered the flat it was more accessible than where I was living, and I knew it was going to be the best I was going to find for a long time.

But, why is there such a shortfall of accessible accommodation? You guessed it - disablism. If architects, builders, local councils, etc could just bear in mind that building accessible houses would not only eliminate the discrimination disabled people face, but, more importantly from their point of view, would bring in a profit - cos, guess what, crips pay rent and even buy houses! Shock, horror!

That is of course the other side of disablism. Not only do disabled people face inequality, but also, landlords, shop owners, restauranteurs, etc, etc lose profits by excluding crips. Sadly, maintaining inequality and an unjust society seems more important to these people than raking in the profits. Which seems like bizarre business sense to me. You'd never see a pub with a sign outside saying "No blacks!", so why are steps at the door acceptable? It's tantamount to the same thing.

And, at the end of the day, while all prejudices are wrong, disablism is the least rational, yet the most rampant (though white, I am a woman, and I am gay. I never experience sexism or homophobia, yet, as I pointed out, I encounter disablism before I've even left my flat of a morning). Tomorrow you could get hit by a bus. You wouldn't wake up suddenly gay, you wouldn't wake up suddenly black, you wouldn't wake up suddenly female, but, it's highly likely that you might wake up disabled. And if you're a pub landlord I bet you'd really find yourself wishing you could still kick yourself for not making the place accessible when you spent all that money on refurbishing last year.

A friend recently suggested meeting up in this pub. Notice the access comment: "Disabled access (access only, no accessible toilets)". So, an accessible drinking establishment, as long as you don't want to drink anything. That'll bring in the £80 billion crips collectively have to spend every year.

Though many crips do have money, disablism is also an economic construct. Using my holiday as an example: A non-disabled person carrying a suitcase would have no difficulty at all walking from my flat, down to Euston station to get the 205 bus to Paddington, so they could get the Heathrow Express, no difficulty in getting the case onto the bus, and off the bus. I can't. With a case, I have to get a taxi. That 205 bus in London costs £1.50. Taxi's cost considerably more. Mobility impaired London residents can get a Taxicard, and that reasonably short journey to Paddington, with a Taxicard cost me £1.50. The same as the bus would cost a non-crip. See how the Taxicard eliminates the financial penalty for having a mobility impairment? I recently heard someone argue that Taxicard should be abolished because "Why should disabled people be able to travel however they want, whenever they want? If disabled people can have a Taxicard, I should be able to take a limousene to work on my monthly travelcard!"

Yes. Let's bring back the financial penalties for being disabled just cos you're jealous that you have to take the tube. At least you can take the tube.

That's a very small scale example of economic discrimination. This woman claims that her £110,000 compensation doesn't cover the extra living costs of being disabled for life. Quite rightly so.

Someone I used to know received over £1 million in compensation from the hospital trust responsible for causing her Cerebral Palsy to cover her extra living costs for being disabled.

Both these people are eligible for Disability Living Allowance. A benefit which is supposed to cover the extra costs of being disabled.

From these amounts of compensation, we can ascertain that, during the course of the average disabled person's life, they are underpaid between £110,000 and £1 million in DLA. I fully agree that where there is blame for an impairment, the "victim" should be compensated for the trauma. But, to include living costs in the compensation calculation? That shouldn't be neccessary. Surely we should *all* have our extra living costs met. But, no. We're financially penalised and economically discriminated against.

And someone can begrudge me paying a taxi fare equal to the bus fare they would pay.

All over London there are these Chinese Herbal Clinics, with displays in their window offering treatments and pain relief for impairments such as arthritis. Obviously, I'm not one of these people that believes that alternative medicine can provide cures, but I do firmly believe that many can offer some degree of pain relief. So, these clinics are offering to help crips ease their pain - but have I ever seen just *one* that didn't have steps at the door? No. Not even one. You'd think that if they're targeting their services at people with chronic pain, that they wouldn't exclude most of their potential clients by renting inaccessible premises. "Oh, hi. Yes, we can treat you. As long as there's nothing "wrong" with you to begin with of course."

Duh.

Other places you'd think you wouldn't find disablism would be in services specifically for disabled people, right?

As I've mentioned before, my father went to a "special" college for disabled young men, when he was a disabled young man. The entry criteria? You had to be able to walk. I love all his old college photo's, full of people who should be wheelchair users, but were forced to prop themselves up with every walking aid going, just to get some semblance of an education (no-one taught my father to read until he was 21). When you look at the pictures you get to play "Guess who fell over just after the picture was taken!" I think it was Dad several times.

Sounds like something that wouldn't happen "in this day and age"? This evening I had a telephone conversation with an old school friend. He now lives in a segregated community specifically for disabled people (in a first floor flat with no lift up the stairs). He was saying that they're currently evicting all the residents who are *too* disabled and actually need any assistance with, anything.

It is now just before midnight, BADD is nearly over, and much like realising you've got three minutes left of your exam - I feel I should write a conclusion.

So, much like drugs, disablism is wrong. Just say no, kids.

There.

This public information post was brought to you by vast quantities of tea and the letter "Ouch my arse hurts from sitting still at the computer for too long."

24 April 2006

"You're Australian, right?"

"No."

"New Zealand?"

"No. British."

"Oh..."

I've also been asked if I'm South African, Welsh and accused of being Irish.

"Why San Francisco?"

Like it's a shithole not worth visiting. Obviously if I met a tourist in Clacton On Sea I'd ask them that, but, San Francisco - while it doesn't have the shiny sun of LA - is actually a pretty cool (literally) place.

I rented a car and drove up here from LA. Having never driven on the right hand side of the road, and having never driven a left hand drive vehicle - it was something of an experience.

A few years ago when The Thrills released their album "So Much For The City" I heard the song "Big Sur" on the radio a lot.

Obviously, on the radio you can't here spellings, so I thought the song was "Big Sir" - perhaps a song about a dodgy, well-endowed teacher. Turns out that actually, Big Sur is in fact a place on the California coast.

Looking at the map, I thought it'd be an ideal distance along my way to stop overnight for some kip. Until I got there. Then I fully understood why the lyrics went "Just don't go back to Big Sur..." (and from that lyric you can also understand how I came to my misunderstanding over what the song is about).

I did pass a couple of inns/hotels/motels, drove past them and thought "You know what. I'd kinda like to stay somewhere that looks like it's got electricity. My iPod needs recharging if it's going to see me all the way to San Francsico."

So, I passed through the town thinking of one of The Thrills other songs "Oh Santa Cruz, No, you're not that far..." because I was getting kinda tired having been driving for 11 hours and I was looking for a place to crash. As in sleep - I wasn't looking to wrap my rented car around a pole, even though it was insured.

When I finally reached Santa Cruz, I checked into a motel. The first time I've ever stayed in a proper park-your-car-by-your-bedroom-door motel. I was somewhat nervous about the prospect, especially the thought of having to take a shower the following morning. I wanted to survive to see San Francisco and not to wind up with the contents of my veins flowing down the shower drain like I was circulating chocolate syrup. I've seen that movie.

I was nervous enough on a plane to Los Angeles - I was convinced the tail section would snap off mid flight and I'd wake up on the beach on a desert island, strangely no longer disabled.

I survived the night and the next morning packed my stuff back into my proper grown up car (seriously, Hertz gave me a Toyota Camry. What do I need a huge family car for? There was just me, and I'm used to my ickle 206) and discovered that I do, in fact, know the way to San Jose.

From there I headed towards San Fran via one of the US's infamous Outlet Malls. Can you believe they had a Skechers store and I managed to resist buying any footwear at all?

I arrived in San Francisco and checked into my hostel. I haven't seen that movie yet, so wasn't so afraid of getting butchered. I have bought the DVD whilst over here though. But I figured that was one to watch when I was safely back in my flat. However Massacre in a one bedroom Camden Council Flat is one I shall be avoiding.

15 April 2006

Yesterday I felt truly at home, here on the other side of the world.

It absolutely pissed down. How British.

"What the hell am I doing drinking in L.A. at 26?" Sheltering from the rain. That's what.

And as if that wasn't enough... I spent over an hour waiting for a bus with a lift that worked. I really felt like I was back in London. Except of course for the fact that I was having to wait for the bus on the other side of the road.

The one thing to constantly remind me that I was, indeed, in America, was the fact that as I waited for my bus:

1) No-one asked me if I needed any help crossing the road.
2) No small children pointed and stared.
3) None of the passing dogs started yapping at me because they've never seen a wheelchair before.

In America, we can get everywhere (hell, even the Lush store a block from my hostel is accessible. You know you're in a crip friendly country if you can get in a Lush with ease), so, we are everywhere.

As a result, your average American is used to seeing us wheelies everywhere and doesn't look at you like you're a piece of modern art on wheels.

When I did finally board a bus, only one person on board did an owl impression (the head rotation) to see how the lift worked liked they'd never seen a crip getting on a bus before.

You know. I could get used to this...

13 April 2006

"On behalf of British Airways, I'd like to welcome you to Los Angeles. Oh, but we've lost a bit of your wheelchair."

I found myself remembering the final shot of Serenity as a piece fell away from Serenity itself. A piece about the same shape as the one missing from my wheelchair. I could even picture the Captain, somewhere over the Atlantic, turning to a somewhat unstable co-pilot and saying "What was that?"

As I sat at the customer service desk and they showed little interest in either finding or replacing my skirtguard (like I'm ever gonna wear a skirt. They should call it a buttguard) it all came flooding back to me why I was never going to fly BA again.

In 1997, they lost my suitcase. And then found it about 10 minutes before the deadline by which they'd have to compensate me. Of course, I didn't get it for a couple more days by the time it had been sent to the hotel.

I'm not much of a crier, but, yesterday I did discover the power of turning on the waterworks. As the tears rolled the Duty Manager fo BA pulled me outside, whipped out his mobile (or "cell" I suppose over here) and called the manufacturers of my chair - who handily happen to be here in California (which does make it somewhat slow when Camden and Islington Wheelchair Service have to order parts to be sent to the UK. Maybe I should stock up on spare wheels while I'm here?). As the LA sun baked dry the tears on my cheeks, he was getting a quote for a replacement part. He still wanted me to buy it and claim the money back when I pass through San Francisco airport on my way home in a couple of weeks, but at least a weeping girly prompted him to at least be somewhat helpful.

The irony is of course, once I got out of my chair to load it into a shuttle to head for the youth hostel, the buttguard fell out of the backrest. How the hell it got in the backrest I do not know. But, hey. I got got bemused look as I shrieked with excitement at the shuttle driver who presumably thought me less than sane getting excited over a funny shaped bit of plastic. Those two hours of weeping and trying to elicit some kind of helpful response from anyone working for BA were for nothing.

I'm in California. It is sunny. I am indoors. Must fix that.

13 March 2006

Paper bags.

What is the fucking point?

"Oh, well, they're better for the environment cos they biodegrade unlike plastic bags..."

Yeah. Let's save the world by cutting down the trees!

"But, recycled paper."

If I wanted to wipe my arse on one of my old degree essays I wouldn't sent it via the recycling bank.

I did slightly go off the point there, moving from paper bags to toilet roll. But, as far as I'm concerned paper bags are more practical for wiping your arse with than they are for carrying your shopping home.

So, you leave Lush having spent most of this month's pay cheque on ridiculous expensive but oh so pretty smelling, erm, smellies. Can you get the bag to hang on the back of your wheelchair? Can you fuck. 8 out of 10 plastic carrier bags will hang on the back of a wheelchair... But paper bags? I'm yet to meet one...

What can you do? You need your hands to push so you end up carrying the bag home in your teeth, fully reveling in the pain in your jaw from where you need to have your sideways wisdom to be sawn in half to be removed (bone saw in my mouth! What fun. Thank fuck I'll be asleep). Spot the problem? You have saliva in your mouth which is wet. Wet dissolves paper. You seeing my problem here? By the time you get home you're dribbling black ink from the bag, and the handles have disintegrated so nothing but luck gets your goodies home.

This of course adds to my theory that Lush don't want "us" buying their stuff. Don't believe me? Check out the inaccessibility of all their London stores. Covent Garden possibly qualifying for "the most inaccessible store, in the world... Ever!"

And the paper bags is not just a cripple issue. This is Britain! It rains all the damn time! You spend a fortune on smellies, go out in the pissing rain and the bottom has fallen out of the bag by the time you get to the bus stop. You've just spent a fortune on fancy shower gels et al only for some tall bloke reeking of alcohol to tread in them when the bag loses the will to live. His shoes get nice and clean, but, what about me? Maybe that's their marketing ploy so you have to go back and buy more?

"But small children and animals can suffocate in plastic bags!"

I don't have small children and my cat likes to lick plastic bags. Licking paper doesn't seem to please her nearly as much.

05 February 2006

Dear Anonymous Commenter;

Thank you for your question, it is indeed a valid one.

However, you are incorrect to assume that this blog is dead.

I metioned back in November that I was having some health problems. In other words: My stomach was kinda fucked and causing me a lot of pain.

Well, two and a half months on, I'm still ill, and still in a lot of pain. As a result, I'm not feeling up to spending as much time at the computer as I used to, hence the lack of bloggage. My stomach sends it's most sincere apologies for not only ruining my life, but also the lives of my readers who clearly depend on reading what I have to say about the world.

Normal blogging service will resume once normal stomach service resumes.

Yours Faithfully,

Lisy Babe.