Disabled Fugitive - Fleeing by Foot
February 17, 2020
Oh Jesus Christ.
I have spent my whole life being careful to mostly go for walks in the late late hours of the night when all the other obnoxious humans are the fuck in bed to minimize the harassment from ableds. For two decades, my safe hours were between 11:30pm-5am. That five and a half hour window was a beautiful oasis of doing what-ever-the-fuck I wanted to do for most of my adult handicapable life. I spent that time shrouded in the comfortable privacy of darkness walking or running or bicycling and safely collapsing in the shadows of bushes when-ever-the-fuck I needed to. In recent years, however, the busy able-bodied city has slowly come through and installed super bright LED street lamps anywhere they could. My privacy is gone. Although I wear all black at night, I can easily be seen by anyone passing by on foot, car, or bike – even from across the street.
I am on display.
The new lights have also brought new activity in my neighborhood. People are staying out later and getting up much earlier it seems – constantly encroaching into what used to be my comfort zone. From what I can tell these days, I now have a very narrow window that starts at 2:30am after the bar traffic is done and ends when the overachieving office whores decide to pop up and go for their morning jog around 4:30am. And then, of course, there seems to be the stragglers that are coming home from the bar just a tad bit late or getting up to jog just a tad bit early.
3am. Once every 24 hours I have a fleeting opportunity to take a walk without having much anxiety about being bothered. But if I’m too tired, it happens to clash with my meal time, I’m doing something work related, or suddenly at 2:59 I have to take a shit – that is it. I blinked and missed it. If I leave at 3:30 then the 4:30 joggers will all freak out as I take an involuntary sidewalk nap around the end of my walk.
Tonight was one of those nights.
I missed the magic time deadline but around 4am I gave myself the best handi-fucking-capable pep talk I could muster about how it’s not going to be a huge deal, I’m allowed to take a walk just like anyone else, I don’t have to be afraid, there probably aren’t a whole lot of people out anyway, and I would be fine as long as I take my note.
So off I went.
During a two mile walk, it isn’t unusual for me to have to lay down 3-5 times. Sometimes I’m just resting and I can tell people that. Not that they respect it. Sometimes, I get a bit incoherent, have trouble finding my words or putting phrases together. Other times my eyes may be rolling around in my head a bit and I may be having a seizure. If people ask me questions I can usually respond in a limited fashion BUT IT COSTS ME. The seizure will get worse, the episode will last longer and the next one will likely happen much sooner than it would have. I honest to god just need to be left alone when this happens so I have trained myself to hand anyone who is talking to me a note that I keep in my pocket. It might take my brain a minute and a shit ton of extra work to interpret that this tall long shape wiggling around in front of me and speaking in a strange tongue is a human being who is probably upset that I am on the ground, but it does figure it out and then the piece of paper comes out of my pocket.
This morning I had to use it.
“Excuse me? Ma’am?” Eh fuck. I’m asleep on the sidewalk. Does this guy want money? Or…. no….? No. I think he’s upset because I’m on the sidewalk. fuck. “Excuse me? Are you ok?”
The voice seemed disembodied as I struggled to process what was around me. At times like this, I fall back on the training I designed for myself. Any time I have an anxious thought about collapsing in public, I then say aloud whatever phrase I would prefer to say while I am loopy so that the two things are intrinsically connected in my brain. Often, I can’t answer questions on the fly – I become sort of a loopy Teddy Ruxpin doll. “I’m ok. I’m just resting. I’ll get up in a minute. Thank you.”
“Oh no ma’am. That won’t do. You’ll have to come with me. I can’t leave you here on the sidewalk so you’ll have to come with me.”
The fuck he said?
“Ma’am. You’re on the sidewalk.”
“Yes, I know. This happens often. I have a disability and I frequently fall asleep on the sidewalk” I’m speaking a little easier now as I begin to pull out of it. I still can’t really get up and walk but I’m beginning to understand his speech and form my own somewhat adequately. I’m fine. Thank you for checking. I’ll get up in a minute”
“You’ll have to come with me.”
“Well then I’m going to call 911 ma’am. Because you’re laying on the sidewalk.”
“Oh….. I have… a note for this” I say reaching into my pocket and putting it into his hand before falling asleep again momentarily. My eyes are fluttering open a bit and I see him reading it diligently. Good, I think to myself, man will be gone sooo…n. I fell once again off the cliff of consciousness and into sleep for just a flick. Sometimes in that transitional second as sleep deepens, my brain speeds up and I process things I couldn’t while I was having a waking seizure. I could feel his warm body still stooping next to mine, I could hear him breathing. My brain did a quick calculation of time passed and then frantically hit the alarm before sending out a swift surge of adrenaline: YOU’RE LAYING ON THE SIDEWALK AND THERES A STRANGE MAN JUST HANGING OUT NEXT TO YOU!!!! PROBABLY CALLING 911!!! WAKE UP FUCKER!!! AND WHERE’S MY WALLET?? My eyes snapped open. “what are you doing?”
“I’m calling 911 ma’am since you refuse to get up from the sidewalk.”
“After I asked you not to? After you read my note?”
“You won’t get up” He says as he waits on the operator. “yes? Hello? I have a woman here who is laying on the sidewalk and won’t get up. I need an ambulance right away.”
Douche. I make a grabby hand signal at the phone until he obliges. “Hi. I have narcolepsy and I am just laying down until I can get up again which will be very soon. I have informed this man that this is what is going on. I keep a note in my pocket with a detailed explanation of my condition and instructions that I do not wish to have 911 called. I also told him this verbally yet he chose to do it. Do not send an ambulance – I don’t need one. If you send one, I will not get on it.”
“Well, one of you is going to have to tell me your location so that I can send an ambulance or the cops” the operator says. He takes the phone from me and begins to try to figure out our location.
I state to him clearly. “you are making me uncomfortable. you are harassing a disabled person and you are forcing me to get up and move at a time when it is not good for me to do so. Stop.” He gives me the side eye as he continues his able bodied heroism. Fuck it. I’m already going to pay the price from the adrenaline rush he just caused. I may as well force myself to get up and stagger off.
He follows me.
“Are you fucking serious right now?! YOU ARE HARASSING A DISABLED PERSON. PLEASE DO NOT FOLLOW ME.”
I walk on a few feet.
He walks on a few feet.
“STOP FOLLOWING ME. THIS IS HARASSMENT. STOP!! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HARASS ME AND MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT MY LIFE BECAUSE YOU ARE ABLE BODIED AND I AM NOT. YOU ARE A STRANGER – PLEASE GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME.”
I walk on a few feet.
He walks on a few feet.
I could hear the 911 operator telling him not to pursue me anymore so he hesitantly comes to a stop. As I stagger away, he begins to describe me as though I’m a suspect in a robbery. “She is a woman in her 40’s. Caucasian. About 5’5 or so I think. She is wearing a black jacket and dark grey sweat pants. She doesn’t have any jewelry on and she is wearing shoes. I don’t see any tattoos but she’s wearing a lot of clothing so I don’t know.”
Thank god for adrenaline – as much as it will hurt later – I am fully out of my episode now. I turn around and walk right up close to his face and scream at him like he is a three year old child that just pulled his pants down and took a shit all over my picnic table. “I AM NOT A FUCKING CRIMINAL BECAUSE I HAVE NARCOLEPSY AND I DECIDED TO TAKE A WALK! THAT IS MY RIGHT. PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON I FELT TOO SELF CONSCIOUS AND SCARED TO LEAVE MY HOUSE FOR TEN FUCKING YEARS.”
His eyes widened. He seemed so confused. I mean he was, after all, only a well meaning man following around a disoriented disabled woman in the early hours of the morning demanding that she go with him wherever he deemed fit to take her and then sicking the authorities on her when she refused to submit herself to his standardly abled will. Hero. Able bodied hero. And like most men, selectively deaf to the word NO. He was looking at me with absolute shock. I could read his mind. If she could get up and walk then why didn’t she just do that? she seems fine now. she must be on drugs or be crazy. what do i do? How do I take control of this situation… I’m scared. Is she going to attack me? I’m only trying to be a good samaritan. I don’t want to get attacked for trying to be a good guy. I think the 911 operator must have heard me screaming in his face and instructed him to leave the area. He turned around sharply, still looking dazed and confused, and left.
Now I’m walking around, knowing I will need to rest at least two or three more times on the way back to my house and I’m most likely being hunted by cops who will inevitably think it’s their job to make decisions on behalf of the ‘irrational’ person who was violating the absolute #1 law of being human being – don’t let your fucking ass and head touch the sidewalk. Ever. I feel so unsafe as I stagger slowly towards the side street I take to get home. I am a fugitive. The only thing I have going for me now is that my city’s response time for ‘unwanted persons’ calls is notoriously slow. A big thank you to the homeless neighbors that share my city. Some of you (and you know who you are) may drop a deuce on the sidewalks of downtown and litter the streets with used needles every now and again – but you are saving my disabled ass today, and I salute you.
Why don’t you just go for shorter walks? Do you have to walk that far? Why don’t you just stay around the house? Just take walks in the parking lot. Why don’t you take someone with you? What if you get one of those mobility scooters and you just go out in that? You should only go for walks when you feel good. The voices of well meaning standardly abled friends and aquaintences rise up and become a symphony of irritation in my head as I make my way home. Like a dumbass I actually start answering them aloud. Because I don’t want a baby sitter and none of you able bodied assholes ever want to take time out of your day to go for a walk with me anyway. Mobility scooter is going to defeat the purpose of walking FOR FUCKING EXERCISE. Jesus. No, I don’t want to take walks in the fucking parking lot like I’m 109 years old. Just around and around in circles saying hi every time to each neighbor as I pass by 28 times like an idiot. FUCK! I JUST WANT TO GO FOR A WALK WITHOUT HAVING TO DEAL WITH OTHER PEOPLES LACK OF RESPECT FOR BOUNDARIES!!!!!
About two blocks into the side street I spotted a good collapsing place and took it. It was up against a random little section of fence. This is fine. This is good. Sit down now before I fall down. Humans like that. If I sit against something it looks more intentional and they freak out less. Don’t lay down. Oh god. Don’t lay down. Don’t lay down. A sense of dread comes over me as I realize it must be getting closer to 6am. The whole neighborhood seems to be slowly waking up. I could hear a woman in a nearby driveway start her car. Another woman in a very brilliant white puffy coat was rounding the sidewalk corner with a flashlight in her hand. I could feel her watching me sink into my spot as my pain episode started to fire up and I felt my face scrunch involuntarily.
“Are you ok?”
“Yes, I am. Thank you” I said trying to straighten my face out somewhat “I have a… chronic fatigue conditon. I frequently rest when taking walks.”
“oh ok. But you’re ok? You don’t need anything?”
“Yes, I’m ok. Thank you for checking.” I gave a pained thumbs up.
“You’re welcome. Have a good day” she said as she walked off.
Relief. I can rest for a moment YOU SEE THAT YOU ABLE BODIED DICKWRENCH?!?!?! I screamed the words silently out into Mr. 991’s psyche THAT is how you act like you have a little bit of fucking class. Stop trying to be an abled hero and clean up your fucking act.
Since becoming disabled in my teen years, I have been treated like a drug addict and a criminal wherever I go. Mostly by men. Many of whom start off the conversation with a confrontational “YOU NEED TO GET UP NOW.” They treat me like a dog caught fishing through the trash. When I try to explain what is happening I’m offered three options: Sit up. Ambulance. Cops. If I tell them I have a medical condition and that I need to lay down frequently they demand to know what I have. All too often, it does not sound like a question of care and concern. It is an accusation. Oh yeah? Prove it. There is no official diagnosis for having a brain and neurological system that can’t regulate any part of your body adequately or consistently because your parents spent the first 20 years of your life pumping you full of date rape drugs, cocaine and hallucinogens trying to get you to cooperate with being violated all time.
When I typed up my note last year, I felt somehow Obligated to put some sort of diagnosis on it – so I chose Myalgic Encephalomyelitis because it sounds very close to what I have in every way. I tell people who only need to know the short version “I have narcolepsy” because it explains why I’m on the floor and I figured that no one would actually be stupid enough to call an ambulance for a narcoleptic falling asleep now and again.
Apparently, I was wrong.
Fuck this guy. Fuck him so rough and creepy-deep right in his misguided able bodied mouth. “no one has the right to demand our private medical information just because we have a disability”. It took reading an article by another disabled person for it to finally dawn on me. I don’t owe these people shit. I’ve had a couple of able bodied friends tell me “It’s your responsibility to educate people”. Really!? Most days I can barely feed myself and sift the turds out of the cat box. Do you really think I want to spend what precious little time I get outside of my jail cell ‘educating’ able bodied snowflakes about every aspect of my life like I revolve around them and have energy to burn? NO. Fuck no.
I had a distinct shift in my consciousness while writing for MADcripple last night: Life does not fucking revolve around white, middle class, able bodied people.
I know. This is shit that I’m 40 years old and just now realized that. It’s something I always knew intellectually, but on a visceral level I have remained just as socially enslaved by white able bodied culture as ever. When I read an article, I assume it is written by an able bodied white person. When I watch a movie, I assume it was made by able bodied white people. When I am writing for my own blog, I assume it will be read by able bodied people. Unless I am smacked with evidence that proves otherwise. It makes sense. I grew up the only mixed child in an all white family and went to school with mostly white kids. I was sold only to middle class or ‘better’ white men.
I am fucked in the head.
Able bodied white people: I swear they are an alien species born of the devil with the ability to leach mind altering pheromones out into the environment so that we’re breathing them in all the damn time. A twisted mess of head trip chemicals that make you feel like the world can, does, should, and always will revolve around middle class or ‘better’, able bodied white folks. They are laying their eggs in our fucking brains.
When I first started writing pieces for this blog, I found myself under constant anxiety – worried that I might chase away my whole audience. As I wrote angry things about ableds I would fret and think ‘who is ever going to be willing to read this? All I’m doing is insulting people…. I can’t imagine anyone will stay….”
Am I fucking crazy?!?!?!?
I swear sometimes the fever and flu aches that rake over me constantly must somehow be my spirit trying to burn sick white man’s culture out of my body – to kill any biological material those rich perverts left behind that may still be raping my mind.
I am not writing for them.
And I am not writing for ableds.
I’m writing for me.
And I am writing for you.
Love and Kisses,