A few days ago, Katja, over at Brokenclay, followed her awesome post on disability and empowerment with the Lovely Blog Award, an exercise in which the writer honors blogs that inspire her by listing them on her site and providing a brief description of why she finds them interesting and inspiring. This particular grrrl was utterly flattered to see Aided Mobility in Katja’s list of honors. Katja is one of my blogging heroes. I stumbled upon her blog when I was living in Paris this past fall and really struggling with pain and mobility issues. As someone with spina bifida and hypermobility EDS, I’d heard the words ‘mobility aid employment’ in more than one past appointment with assorted Esteemed Medical Professionals. For years I’d managed to successfully dismiss all such suggestions, assuring myself (and equally frequently said Esteemed Professionals) that they were overacting, being too “Western” in their understanding of the body, and swearing that all I really needed was to intensify my exercise regime to strengthen a few core muscle groups.
(Note: I am NOT dismissing the beneficial aspects of exercise, and especially strength training. It is not only beneficial for someone with EDS, I would go as far as to argue that it is imperative for maintaining and maximizing function. However, exercise in and of itself doesn’t always bring about a miracle cure. Sometimes the employment of other aids becomes necessary in order to maximize the benefits of all forms of movement, including strength training.)
In any case, the physical symptoms I’d been experiencing with increasing frequency over the years became so severe, in Paris, in the fall, despite an incredibly vigorous exercise regime, that I began to wonder if a mobility aid might really actually be in my future after all. I tried my usual denial tactics. And I increased my exercise regime. But I also started reading disability blogs, including Katja’s, you know, just in case. Hearing empowered individuals describe the experience of living full and active lives with the help of a mobility aid or two made me think for the first time since my official EDS diagnosis (which I received when I was twenty) that if my (then) worst case scenario–needing a mobility aid–ever came to pass in what I still believed would be the distant future (oh say ten or twelve years from now…), it might not actually be the end of the world.
Well. Apocalypse now. My mother, after hearing about and seeing the shape I was in post-Paris/before-Moscow, insisted I see her physical therapist, a specialist in spines with rare knowledge about EDS, as well as a real doctor. I saw the physio, who remarked that there was a definitely a problem, a kind of sort of significant problem. A problem that would only get worse if left alone. Enter the Evil Aid. I’ll be honest: my first couple of days with the Evil Aid were marked by sadness and fear, and even a hint of despair and, gasp, shame. That’s when I went back to Katja’s blog. Reading her posts about adapting, innovating, and moving forward pulled me out of a place that can best be described as way down in the dumps. Katja was the first person I contacted for advice when I decided to start my own blog; it’s thanks to her that this little outlet exists at all. Thanks again Katja, for helping me come to terms, and then, move forward.
The second stipulation of the “Lovely Blog” designation, after thanking the person who honored you, is to list up to fifteen blogs that you would like to honor. Here is my personal shortlist:
1.) … …. Wobbly teetering blogging. An excellent, empowering, and highly amusing blog about coping with MS, mobility issues, and a world that is too often not malleable enough. Her mobility aid and air travel reviews are particularly amusing and informative. I highly recommend consulting them.
2.) Wheelchairkamikaze. Also an MS blogger, this man writes about his life in NYC from a seated perspective. He is also a photographer and frequently updates his image stream. Exceedingly well written.
3.) Bookmaniac. Liz Henry is a feminist writer, activist, and computer expert living in the Bay Area. She also happens to rely on mobility aids and writes frequently about crutching, wheeling, and scooting around the city. This is one of my favorite blogs.
4.) Flotsam. Not a disability blog per se, but Alexa frequently offers witty and pointed commentary about the American medical industry and its Esteemed Professionals. She writes about living through infertility, pregnancy loss, and parenting a micro-preemie (Her oldest daughter was born at 24 weeks gestation.) A professional writer who also happens to be laugh-out-loud funny. Check it out!
And now, without further ado, I’m supposed to tell you seven (random) things about myself:
1.) I used to draw a lot of primitive and unskilled cartoons, which I collected and distributed in a self-published zine. (This was before the word blog entered into the common vocabulary.) I keep meaning to take this up again, the old fashioned way, with pencils, paper, glue, and a copy machine, and without the internet.
2.) I used to be a coxswain on my college crew team.
3.) I took biology in college. I hated it. I passed the time by reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood clandestinely, in the back of the room.
4.) I became interested in Russia and learning Russian, because I used to be a serious gymnast (The gifts of EDS in one’s youth.) I idolized the Soviet women’s teams and had a poster of Svetlana Boguinskia on my wall.
5.) I am not cool. And I am not a hipster.
6.) I’ve been to Belarus.
7.) I’ve never seen the third Star Wars or Dirty Dancing. I do not own a television.