Friday, December 21, 2012

Guardian article re. online dating & disabilities

Came across this little article in The Guardian. While there are obvious differences between the author and myself (he is male, visibly disabled etc) it does touch on some of the same questions I ask myself. The comments are actually more edifying than the article. One comment stood out in particular:

I'm going to have to dispute that. In the dating world the absolute bottom rung is being a single mother. Add being a single mother to a disabled child, and men nearly break into a trot.

I am a disabled, over 40 single mother of a disabled child. Yeah. Exactly.

I'd have to ask the person who wrote the article - would HE consider dating a disabled person? Because I find this rather intriguing. Doing the "Don't blame me I'm Italian!" seems to imply that he's just as lookist as these women are who dismiss him. If a woman such as myself - who used to be an athlete but thanks to a condition that is slowly stripping away everything I was, the weight is back on - walking with a cane, constantly in pain, probably sporting a rash across my face and several splints to keep my limbs and joints from going in whatever direction , I'd probably get an "ew" look and then that would be it, right?

So what goes around comes around, doesn't it?

It's amazing how many people out there feel they can make a statement about fat-people-in-scooters without understanding how issues may affect them. I have a disability. The drugs I take for said disability puts on stupid amounts of weight even though my dietary intake would frighten most people it's so low. I'm Off Limits, even to other disabled people (hell, even to BLIND people, I've tried) because I can't play Aphrodite to their Hephaestus.

My solutions seem to be - get rid of my son (he's moving to a residential school as his current school is failing him) but he will still be disabled, and he will still be my son. Ergo, at some point dates have to deal with that.

Lose weight - and for me, this means starvation. There's no other way. Of course, there's all sorts of health issues with trying to starve oneself down to acceptable level.

Just not date - it's more trouble than it's worth.

Honestly, I've gone with three. I am well aware I'm just too much "damaged" for people to handle and that's not going to change. Unfortunate truth, but there we are.

I guess her post stood out because she used to be an athlete as well, but more because she conveys intelligence, self-awareness and a fiery spirit in her short post. It's just such a shame that a lot of men can't look past the surface to find these things out. I feel the same way about guys who dismiss me because I can't do certain activities any more, but I am also guilty of hypocrisy. I still want to date an attractive, good-looking fellow, and looks can be a deal-breaker for me.  

I don't know what I would say to this woman.

Chris Arnade

Came across this former Wall-Street trader turned photographer/journalist documenting life in Hunt's Point, the Bronx, New York. Not easy stuff to read.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Unearthing gear

Took out my climbing gear out of storage for the first time since the accident. I was curious to see what my reaction would be to seeing all my gear. Strangely, I wasn't flooded with sadness, didn't break down crying. I was surprised however, to find that the harness which I wore that day and my belay device were there. The leg loops had been undone - my rescuers didn't damage the harness at all. I looked at my belay device to see if it had worn away after all that rope zipped through it. Everything looked in remarkably good shape. Definitely felt a little weird though, seeing these objects that made me recall that day. I think the best thing for me to do is to throw them out. I wouldn't feel comfortable using them again if I were to get back into climbing, and no sense in keeping them around to remind me of that day.

My clothing from that day was obviously cut up by the nurses and doctors. Shame, there was some nice apparel there. My guidebook was burned by my mother, without my knowledge, while I was in rehab. My Mum, in a fit of madness/despair, tore the pages of the book and threw them into a fire with my ex-roommate, Jen. I only know this because Jen told me. I wish my Mum had been a little considerate of my belongings, but I also understand how upset she was, at the situation and at my partner. I'm not quite sure what would happen if she and my partner from that day were to cross paths. I do know you don't want to get in the way of Mrs. Ong though.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Turning a page

Last Saturday, I felt this overwhelming urge to tie up loose ends and respond to a Supertopo forum post that had been started about my accident. I even gave up courtside seats to a Celtics game to stay in and write (my friend is still mad at me). It had taken 2+ years for me to be emotionally ready to even skim Supertopo again, let alone post something on it. My posting can be found here. The outpouring of support and encouragement was almost overwhelming and made me cry. In some ways, posting and reading people's responses was quite cathartic. It at least made me feel I was taking one-step forward in the healing process.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Busy being single on a Friday night

Home alone on a Friday night, feeling sad, alone and a wee bit desperate. I have never felt this anxious about being single before and I think my age is part of it, but more than that, it is being single, older, and being/feeling undesirable that is making me feel so awful. I used to relish my periods of single-dom, although I know I much prefer being in a relationship, I'm just that kind of person. I feel a partner helps bring out the best in me, and vice-versa.

My friend Victoria used the analogy of me fishing, and how my fishing "spot" used to be that of adventure/sport and now I have to find another spot. The thing is, I generally like the fish in my old spot, and I used to be the one being fished for, not the one doing the fishing. I have no problems asking guys out, but the constant rejection is really taking its toll on my self-esteem. I feel incredibly vapid, not captivating enough for the guys out there that interest me.

I know my recent postings have been incredibly self-absorbed. Sorry.

I cannot wait to see friends in the Bay Area in Jan. There is something so comforting about being with people who know what I went through and love/respect that part of me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Notes from my accident

Right after my surgeries, Justin took down these notes so that the details would be somewhat fresh in my memory. Bear in mind, I was also loopy on all the pain-medication so I was not very coherent. Justin told me that at one point I was asking about the Catholic church in Hong Kong and papal matters. I also recall really wanting a Diet Coke.

I am not sure what I am feeling re-reading all this. Just a numbness.

Talked with Wendy on 10/22/2010 at 3:00pm

At the start of the day I asked what commands Bob likes to use.  Bob said “okay and lower.”  I wanted to use “off rappel and on belay.”

Bob said: “Yeah, I don’t see the point in untying from the rope unless you’re going to rappel.”

I felt iffy.

I said: “I usually append names to commands.”

Bob said: “That is a good point.”

After getting down from a climb, Bob said: “I wish I had brought a radio.”

I said: “Actually, you don’t need them with the appropriate lowering protocol.”

I said: “But this is from the point of view of a trad climber.”

Bob didn’t wear a helmet, didn’t bring a helmet.

At the top of one of the climbs, Bob just signaled “nonchalantly” with his hand that he wanted to be lowered.

On a multipitch climb before the accident... the only other multipitch climb we did.

1st pitch, 10a
2nd pitch, 10b

The name of the climb is “Blood, Sex, …” or something like that.

The climb is located in the Central, Inner Gorges area, close to a river.

The plan was Bob would take the first pitch, I would take the second.

Bob proceeded up the first pitch, 10a with no helmet.  He made it look hard.  He stayed at the anchor and got off belay.  I followed up, got to the anchors, then proceeded to do the second pitch.  One big difference here is that this pitch moves over to the right.  This one would have been very difficult to rap off of.

We got to the top and then Bob went down first.  I owered him to the top of the first pitch.  We couldn’t hear each other.  After the rope lost weight, I yelled and yelled that he was ready to be lowered.  He eventually lowered me.  Apparently, this was normal for Bob but not normal at all for me.  So then we were both at the top of the first pitch.  Bob wanted to simul-rap, but I did not want to.  So we both rapped off individually.  I can’t remember who went down first.  Eventually the pulled the rope down.

So then we went over to do some other climbs, but people were toproping them and they weren’t available.  I recall that they had done a 10c and 10b earlier while it was colder in the morning.

To go towards the next climb, we took a scree trail abutting the rock, next to the river.

Bob mentioned a really fun 10c climb “women and their tits” not in the guidebook.  Very enjoyable.  10c, pretty moderate.  I went up first.

From my recollection, I built an anchor using a cordellette.  I put the rope through, and then asked Bob to lower me.  I went to the ground okay.  Then Bob followed or we pulled the rope and he led.  I can’t remember.

When he got to the top, I lowered him.  Not 100% about the cordellette now.  I remember being dragged by his body weight.  Not comfortable.

Next, I wanted to do other climbs nearby that were taken.  So we went back to near the first climb.

10d, 5.9   “Members Only” ?

Bob had highlighted the first pitch (10d) of this route in his guidebook, and was pretty sure he had done it before.  He wasn’t very comfortable doing the runout pitch, but I wanted to do the 10d, so I led and linked the two pitches.

I said: “What do you want to do when we get to the top?”

Bob: “Oh, we can just lower.”

I then planned in my mind to do that, just like we had done on the previous multipitch climb.

The climb was spicy but satisfying.

According to the guidebook, we had enough rope to link the two pitches.  I knew we did not have enough rope to lower each other all the way to the ground.

Something happened while I was leading the pitch, and Bob called up to her just to lower him all the way to the ground later.  This did not register to me at the time, as I was focused on leading the pitch.

Bob had asked to be lowered to the ground when I was about 50ft up.  He was very nonchalant about it.  You can’t see the belayer after about 50ft.

I got to the top of the 2nd pitch.

I didn’t want to use the shunts, so I tied a figure 8 on the rope and clipped it to a quickdraw, and then a girth hitch on another quickdraw.

The rope was not running through the shunts as I belayed up Bob, but I did use another quickdraw as a redirect.  The quickdraw was on one of the shunts, rope was through that, belaying off harness.

Bob got to the top, and really enjoyed the climb.  He was impressed by my climbing and we talked about the climb.

When Bob got to the top, I tied off my belay device.

I think he stayed a little lower down instead of scrambling to the top of the small summit.  I saw he had enough draws from cleaning to clip himself into the 1st pitch anchors.

He also had some long runners, no exchange of gear.

Actually, he must have come all the way up to the anchor, because I told him to clip the rope through the shunts to be lowered. 

The anchors had big hooks, with no closure.

Aside: I remember I always tied a stopper knot onto the end of the rope while I was belaying, but Bob never did this.  Whenever I was concerned I had to tie one in for myself.  I thought maybe I was being paranoid, but I wanted to stick to my old habits.

Now, he is threaded through the anchors and I am lowering him.  Lowering was difficult because I was being pulled upwards. I was uncomfortable about this because the hooks had no gate on them.

Lowering was awkward.

Bob went down and down and down.  I didn’t think about how far he had gone down at the time.  There wasn’t a huge amount of rope left, but there was a good 10-20 meters of rope.

Rope drag was a big factor in this climb.  We used his rope and draws.

Then I felt his weight go off the rope and yelled, “Robert, Robert, ready to lower!”

In hindsight, this was mistake: I was still hooked onto the anchors, but wasn’t taught at the anchors.

The rest of the rope pulled through the anchor.  All loose rope got pulled through the anchor.  It felt just like a tension.

I yelled more, “Robert, Robert.”  So then I unclipped from the anchor and started to go down.  There was a bit of tension.  Not down climbing, it felt like tension.  I was holding on to the other side of the rope initially but then let go when it felt like I was being lowered.

Eyes open the whole way down.  Didn’t know what was going to happen.

Then, I felt a jerk.  So I thought that… didn’t know what it was.  In hindsight it was probably my foot getting caught around the rope or something like that.

Then, I hit the ground.

“Bob, Bob, what happened?”

Bob said: “You were supposed to rappel!”

Then I was screaming, screaming in pain.

When lowering off I did not remember that Bob had asked to be lowered to the ground.

Bob told it to me while I was climbing and I was not in a great position to acknowledge or hear it, but I nodded.

Bob always seemed in a rush to get down to the ground as soon as possible.

I am trying to remember if there was ever a plan to get lowered to the first pitch immediately after climbing…

After the accident, I talked to Holly.  They logrolled me onto a rickety stretcher.

Dating and Relationships

I am not someone who can be happy alone in life, without a partner/soulmate/lover/friend. I broke up with Matt at the beginning of September. Even so, I miss him. I miss having someone so completely adore and respect me. 

When I’m on flat ground, I walk pretty normally. I’m glad that I’ve come this far - no one expected me to be able to walk without a clunky leg-brace. I often walk the 4 mile Mass Ave loop. It is hard not to feel sad/shitty when you see all the runners pass you, remembering how I used to be able to run like a race-horse. I miss the endorphin rush, I miss that community.

Before my accident, I was used to guys approaching me all the time, and I certainly wasn’t used to rejection. Now, things are quite the opposite. I’ve been rejected so many times now and it is really taking its toll on my self-esteem. If a guy isn’t put off by the mention of a “serious accident” in my online dating profile, when we meet, they are put off by my injury and its implications e.g. I can’t really dance anymore, or at least I would be so self-conscious about how horrible I would be. I’ve tried the fire-hose approach, where a lot of details of my accident are revealed right away. This seems to be a bit much though, so now I’ve gone to the other extreme of blowing off my injury as this trifle of an inconvenience, and haven’t revealed the emotional toll it has taken/takes on my psyche. Then I worry about how to parse out the full details over time. I don’t want to be deceptive, but I guess there is such thing as Too Much Information (TMI). 

I had the embarrassing experience of peeing while I was having sex with a guy who had no idea about my bowel/bladder issues. I had not emptied my bladder and quite a bit of urine came out. Fortunately, this guy does not have a sense of smell so he just thought the mess was from my wet vagina. You would think that this experience would be quite mortifying, but I remember seeing the pee come out and just thinking, Oh Fuck.

No one will ever be able to completely understand the emotional and physical ordeal of my accident and subsequent recovery, but my partner would have to at least have the compassion and willingness to try to empathize and understand a little bit.

I feel like I am such a boring, uninteresting person, because I’m not doing interesting things any more, like my frequent weekend adventures. I feel that part of my mind is stagnating, and again, it is really hurting my self-esteem and how I view myself as a potential girlfriend. I feel like the combination of me not being to do certain activities and my vapidness will drive any guy away.

Matt is a really special person. I cannot convey the magnitude of his love for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t love him back like he loved me. But Matt’s attitude and approach to my accident and injuries were incredible. Matt completely embraced my disability, not seeing it as an impediment but this thing that was a part of me that made me a stronger human-being and gave me qualities that only made him love me more. I don’t know many guys who would have that kind of attitude.
Re-reading my notes from almost 2 years ago fills me with so many emotions. Recalling my huge tracksuit pants for easy on-off, how flaccid my left leg was, the frequent bowel accidents, being scared to eat and drink for fear of having an accident, getting a wheelchair in and out of my car, having people stare at all seems like a different universe. I remember how happy I was when I was able to put on my first pair of jeans after the accident. How I had to sit on the floor and writhe around to get the pant leg over my left leg. I do miss how skinny I was though - my jeans were practically falling off me. That was pretty much the only physical positive of that experience.  

I'll post my snippets of my notes from two years ago, bit by bit, later. I should be doing problem sets and studying for mid-terms right now, but I'm not. Clearly. My body is softer and fatter than it used to be, no muscle tone anymore. But aside from that, I don't look too different than how I looked before my accident. I just look like an average female, who isn't overweight, but isn't athletic. The thing is, I've always been used to looking like an athlete. I miss that feeling of feeling completely hot.