I have a whole pile of things that piss me off that don’t bother other people at all.  At the top of the list would probably be someone petting my arm, but I also don’t like cold cereal with milk, white foods, or when people quote The Simpsons.  However, special hatred is reserved for truncations of words.  Those cutesy little shorten-ings y’all so love to do these days?  No.  Prisoners are not being mistreated at “gitmo.”  A bank called “wamu” did not recently, spectacularly, fail.  And I most certainly am not participating in something called (feh) na blo po mo.

That said, I’m trying to do that posting-every-day thing for November.  Because I’m swamped with academic work, I have too much to do, and I get more done when I take on too much.  If the expectations are sky-high, in attempting to meet them I usually surpass what I’m capable of when operating with “reasonable” expectations.  A wildly productive failure, as it were.

This is something I should have realized about myself the instant I got sick.

No matter.  I’m back to the blog and have many, many things to write–all about my year-long spiritual crisis and its possible resolution, my re-dedication academic life, the fact that I’m embracing a couple of “alternative” MS treatments (don’t worry, I still take my medicine) and actually finding it helpful, how I used my wheelchair to build my body back up to a functional state, and how some recent new acquaintances have made me realize that I owe a tremendous debt to the disability community.

This last subject is huge, and I don’t know if I can do it justice.  I’ve now met several other crips or chronic sickies who, for whatever reason, have chosen to be outside the disability community, and their level of debility, of broken-ness really, is simply staggering.  And I know–I know–that I would have been the same god-damned way if I hadn’t found my way here.  The fulfillment of the sick role, as it were.

SO thank you, first of all, Jen.  You were the inspiration.  And thank you Disability Studies at Temple, and Not Dead Yet, and Ragged Edge, and ADAPT, and Katja Stokely and Kay Oleson and Amanda Baggs and Dave Hingsburger and Elizabeth McClung and and and.

My Academy Awards speech notwithstanding, I find myself now on the other side of the fence.

The challenge, I think, will be to extend my understanding, offer options without proseletyzing, and to keep my anger in check.  The anger arises, by the way, when I meet someone who has convinced themselves that a sick person “cannot” or “should not” do X thing–generally something I do–because I experience their defeatism as a direct threat to my own freedom, the freedom I’ve wrestled and fought and clawed to get away from the disease.  So yeah–it gets hard for me to meet someone who not only is not clawing but who smiles patronizingly while intoning what can and cannot be done, without wanting to start slapping them over and over until they get up and stop me.  Because I’d rather see them angry than so complacent in debility.

Over at Multiple Sclerosis Sucks (link forthcoming, it’s a super-cool site) there’s a spiffy little essay about how people who try to tell sickies that “you’re only as sick as you feel!” need to shut the fuck up.  And, well, word.  That is not what I’m talking about  doing.  By all means, tell me how sick you are, and I’ll believe you.  But don’t tell me how sick sick people are in general.  Particularly when you don’t know any, because the community has nothing to offer you, and so you’re the Sick One among your social scene and deeply locked into that role.

I want to start writing again about the pain and anger and sometimes humiliating physical aspects of what I’m experiencing, and I want to do it without seeming like I’m giving up or like I’m “overcoming.”  And yet everything I say seems to fall into one of those categories.

I’m giving up because I accept myself as defined by the diagnosis (diagnoses, now, and I’ll write about that too) and take it as an intrinsic part of who I am.  There’s no “real me” hiding within the illness–it is me.  And the fact that I’ve chosen to live a highly demanding life (physically, mentally) does not mean I’ve “overcome” anything–simply that I, the sick I, have chosen to drag my sick body around in this demanding way, and I have a right to do that.

The world is full of motherfuckers who will tell me I should have the “right” to die, because my life is worth less than a whole, hale and healthy person, but who will deny me the right to push sleep deprivation, exercise, rough sex, whatever to the point that I do.  Because, you know, I’m sick.  And sick people don’t.

Lots more to write, I think.  Happy November.