Posted in News and Opinions, Overcoming Adversity

Shameful? Please

So recently, a video surfaced from a motivational speaker by the name of Joey Papa, whom you can watch here, explaining his way of connecting with “Special Needs” people. In the video, Joey shares a rather unconventional tip for those who can’t seem to find the right way to connect.

In this video, Joey asks his viewers to imagine the “most shameful and embarassing moment of your life” and have it constantly repeated everywhere you go. To him, that’s the way disabled people live their lives. 

Um…what?

Since when did disability turn into a constant show of embarassment and shame? How can a man who claims himsef to be a devoted motivational speaker downplay the lives of so many people who are trying to live their lives like everyone else? Kind of defeats his purpose, right?

There are many different ways to connect with people who have any kind of differences, disability, race, sexualality, or otherwise. Using shame as a way to promote empathy is like comparing a black person to that time you farted in front of your boss, or a person who identifies as transgender to that one time you were embarassed on a date by your parents who happened to be in the same place at the same time. Sounds silly, right? Not to mention stupid. If we don’t use that frame of mind in learning about other’s differences, why must this be a way to teach others about our own? Where exactly is the logic in all this?

The fact that this video exists along with that frame of mind is a common example of why I blog, to educate others about my life experience for those afraid to ask. People who only know about life as an able-bodied person are scared of the unknown and associate our lives with shame and embarrassment. These are the kind of people who make life hell for us. This frame of mind doesn’t create empathy or a sense of bonding, but rather instills the fear of making that connection by associating your most embarrassing moment with another person’s life.

Embarrassing moments only last for a few minutes. My life has been constantly going for about 31 years now. There’s a big difference between the two and those paths should never cross, not even in theory. 

I know at times I tend to have an internal ableist mindset of my own, often setting the bar too low for myself. Although sometimes I feel shame in myself, never would I wish this shame upon anybody else, even if it’s intentions are for the greater good of society.

What the heck is this guy thinking?

To really connect with people with disabilities, one must be open to differences and break that cycle of fear and resentment. A simple hello, a helping hand with consent, and an open mind are all things that can make any connection worthwhile. A disabled person should never be treated like a shameful moment in your life on replay. We are all part of the same human race with the same wants and desires as anybody else. 

Sorry Joey, but I am not your embarrassing moment. I am not here to be shamed by your viewers, and I demand the same respect you would give to anybody that is not “Special Needs.” I feel that your heart was in the right place in attempting to educate others, but you have really missed the target on this one. You want to make the world a better place, but you’re only teaching others to hate by teaching them to shame others that are different from themselves. 

Back to the drawing board for you. Perhaps you might need a Disabilty Consultant to assist you in your speeches. Just saying 😉

Posted in News and Opinions, Ovarian OMG!

It Couldn’t Happen To Me…But It Did #OvarianCancerAwarenessDay

I remember as if it was yesterday, heading to bed after a long day of work, having what I thought was my typical bad PMS acting up again. I checked my calender and my Period Tracker App, only to discover I still had a week and a half to go. Needless to say, I found it odd, but didn’t question it. My periods were always a few weeks off, and when they came, they came with a vengeance. I popped some Tylenol, gave the boyfriend RJ a kiss, and called it a night. I had work the next day and needed my hours. No way was I letting this get the best of me.

“It’s just cramps.”

3am brought a horrible pain in my lower abdomen I have never felt before, it was as if someone was making balloon animals out of what I thought naively was my appendix.  I made myself a hot bath to soothe my stomach, but the pain was so bad, my body went into a shock of sorts, I never felt so cold in a hot bath in my life. 

RJ woke up and saw me curled up in the bathtub in a fetal position, begging me to call 911 because even he knew something was off from my typical PMSing. We must of argued back and forth for what seemed like forever about me calling an ambulance. I had work in a few hours, plus why would I waste time getting help for period cramps? Imagine the medical bills for something so mediocre, even though this was the worst pain in my life.

RJ dialed the phone and passed it on to me as a explained what was going on. I was then whisked away to Dr. Philip’s Medical Center, where it was discovered that the culprit in this case was my left ovary, they originally told me there was a golf sized tumor growing on it, and if I did go to work that day, it would burst and I could of died. They needed to get this out of me fast, then I was warned that in addition to the tumor, the ovary will come along with it. 

I never been so scared before in my life. This was less than six months living away from my family, RJ being the only person I was close with within a thousand mile radius. He moved down a week prior to find work after he wasn’t able to extend his internship working a farm in Arkansas. Lord knows what would of happened if he never came down.

I remember waking up to a catheter in me, as well as a bunch of staples in my lower abdomen. The doctor came in and told me that the tumor size was wrong at triage, it was actually the size of a grapefruit, and because of it’s size, out came the left fallopian tube.

I became half a woman.” was the first thought that went into my head. But despite that odd feeling, I was thankful to be alive. 

A few weeks later, the lab confirmed that there was malignancy in the tumor, early onset Ovarian Cancer, which could of been worse if I went to work that day and let it rupture.

The average age of diagnosis is 63. At the time, I was a few days shy of my 28th birthday. Although it was uncommon to be diagnosed so young, it is a grim reality. Usually, treatment would consist of chemo therapy and laser surgery to keep the cysts and tumors at bay. But since they removed the source of the problem and the surrounding area, the cancer was gone, and about a month and a half later, I was back to work. I have been going for yearly checkups and for the last four years, I have been cancer free. 

Since then, those crazy death like periods began to subside, my cycle became more regular, and the cramps that would confine me to bed for days became mostly a thing of the past. I was told I could still have children but it will be a tough process, which isn’t a top priority for me as of now, but good to know for down the line. 

So pretty much, I became a ticking time bomb years before landing in the hospital. I knew something was up, but I wasn’t the kind of person to run to the doctor. Insurance is expensive and I went without it up until I got Medicaid, and even that became hard to use since not many doctors take it and many of those doctors aren’t accessible in public transit. Health became a bottom priority over work and paying my bills.

Guess the most important lesson is to learn to take care of myself. Cancer DOESN’T discriminate. Even Ovarian Cancer. It’s always best to get checked out often. Many free clinics and Planned Parenthood offer screenings. Your life matters over anything else. The bills and adulting can wait, your life can’t. If you show signs of irregular periods, frequent cramps and abdominal pain, loss of appetite, frequent urination, indigestion, weight loss, and changes in bowel movements, please consult a doctor. Although you think it might be nothing, it could be something you never imagined. Always play it safe.

Posted in News and Opinions, Out and About in Orlando, Overcoming Adversity

Love Trumps Hate in the Sunshine State

Mandy Ree at Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando. Sign reads “Women’s rights…it’s not an ovary action.”

In my typical anarchist fashion, I took the streets of Orlando (well, more of a jogging path) to rally aginst the many issues women and minorities face during Trump’s reign as president. A lot has happened within the first 24 hours that has added fuel to the fire, amumg them several government sites regarding the White House’s take on minorities, disability rights, and the LGBT community being taken down and replaced by Trump’s agenda, leaving us out in the cold. 

The rally took place inside Lake Eola Park, which showcased stories from local speakers involved in the local political scene. Many of the addresses touched on topics of racism, sexism, right to healthcare via Planned Parenthood, islamophobia, LGBT rights, and many more. But what surprised me most was that the disability community was well-represented, thanks to these two wonderful ladies from the Florida Democratic Disability Caucus and the National Federation of the Blind. 

Check out their awesome speech here.

Needless to say, it was a surreal feeling seeing the community come together as one. Men, women, and children of all races, ages, abilities, and orientations came out today on the lake to raise their voices and take action against an already hate-filled cabinet. 

Please enjoy some of my favorite pictures from the Rally below. 

Posted in News and Opinions, Overcoming Adversity

What Defines Hate?

When one talks about a hate crime, what does one think of? Does your mind go to race, as in the whole #Blacklivesmatter movement with white cops going over the top on their right to draw their weapons? What about the Pulse shooting where a man killed a mostly LGBT crowd of people in a murder suicide due to his ISIS like beliefs? 

Both are considered a hate crime. 

But has anyone ever thought for a God damn minute that bullying and abusing those with special needs can fall under that umbrella too?

Apparently, not many see that as a probable case. Take the most recent story about a group of black teens who tortured a special needs man and documented it on Facebook Live. Every article so far is so hyper focused on the racial aspect of the story since the teens were caught on tape using racial slurs against whites and anti-Trump references, that the very thought of this being related to the victim’s mental capability is forgotten. 

The judge and the police commissioner seem to tip toe around the idea that a hate crime can be ableist based. Multiple news sources claim the police never confirmed or denied the idea of a hate crime being committed, much less it being based on taking advantage of this young man and his disabilities.

Ummm…..HELLO?

It’s quite obvious these teens took the chance on befriending the man in an attempt to use and abuse him. While we don’t know the reasons why, considering there are reports of the teens trying to get something out of the victim’s family, it is still relevant that the man and his disabilities made him an easy target.

So many questions have been raised about this that I would love to see answers to. Why did the man’s mother allow him to hang out with sketchy people like this? Why does it seem like the community dismissed their crimes as “just kids being kids” when they are all of legal age, one being a 24 year old…a 24 YEAR OLD? 

The most laughable moment is the grandmother trying to come to the defense of her grandaughter, saying that “she was such a good kid” and that “she would never raise her that way.” 

Well guess what, grams? Somewhere along the lines, you effed up. Never did your granddaughter learn compassion, nor did you keep tabs on her as she grew up. You led her to this by your own ignorance. And to me, that’s a crying shame. 

What I find ironic is in cases like this, the ones who cause the crimes are celebrated as victims due to their enviroment, one where kids don’t have daddies and live off the welfare system, apparently never taught that they can end the cycle and go on to different things and be successful. While that may be the case for some, it shouldn’t be used as a crutch for ignorance to be acceptable. You control your own destiny. And if committing crime for your 15 minutes on Facebook Live is your idea of being famous and successful, then it makes me wonder who exactly in this story should be classified as “special needs.”

This man has suffered an unbelievable two days held hostage that could very well ruin his life and well being completely. Those two days of hell will forever live on in his memory, his trust lost, his emotions forever screwed up. I have seen things like this happen to many with disabilties, myself and Bill included, and let me tell you, that pain will never go away. You can bleach the blood stains away and cover it up, but it’s still there. 

As a victim of hate crimes growing up, this isn’t OK. To make light of it as kids goofing off or bullying, that my friends is a crime in itself. There is a difference between bullying and what was done to this young man…actually, come to think of it, there really isn’t. 

I pray these teens will be held accountable for their actions. They chose the wrong path out of hate, now that must face the consequences. There is no room in society for a hateful heart. 

If only the media and the numbnuts taking over this case could see what I see.