Gimpy Story Time: The Night That I Accidentally Became Part of a Drag Show

I’m going to warn you that this story is going to sound too weird to be true, but it’s not even the weirdest story I have.  However, it is the most fabulous one, featuring a glitter beard, a crocheted ball cap with an attached unibrow, and  veggie burgers.

Before this pregnancy sapped the life out of me, I had a little side gig.  It was basically gimpy mystery shopping, but instead of just reporting on the service, I also had to evaluate wheelchair accessibility and any other accommodations offered.  This job was at a little club that specialized in drag shows and comedy sets.  It was like a knockoff Hamburger Mary’s.

I did my first walk through right before they opened so that I could see what kind of arrangements would be made for my service dog.  I didn’t take her to the actual show because I felt like she would be in the way since she’s a bigger dog.  This turned out to be very fortunate because she probably would have misunderstood the situation and thought I was being attacked.

Once the show started, we were seated at one of the few tables since a booth would be too difficult to transfer into.  This put us right in front of the stage and I was having a ball.  We already had a couple of customers come up to admire my super weird Sasha Velour tribute bald hat with an attached unibrow that I crocheted and my burly husband’s pink glittered beard.  (He’s just as weird as I am).  Keep in mind that I squeeze myself into a 16 inch child sized wheelchair because it’s easier to maneuver in small spaces.  The people who came up to us noticed the chair, but I doubt anyone else did.

Since our tickets, food and travel expenses were paid for by the owner, I decided to use the $100 I would have spent to tip the performer and the waitress.  I’m not sure if it is like this everywhere, but here, you don’t throw money on the stage.  You hold it up and they come by to take it during the performance.

I’m not sure if she thought I was a VIP because we were seated so close or if she was just excited about the $50, but she grabbed my hand and tried to pull me onstage.  I shook my head, but she kept pulling.  My husband and I both started yelling “I can’t!” and point to my  wheelchair. At first I was afraid that she couldn’t hear me over the music.  Apparently she did because she tried to pick me up.  Now this wasn’t some delicate flower.  This 6 foot tall drag queen was determined to pick me up.  Unfortunately, seatbelts are designed to keep me in place through falls, car accidents and, apparently, attempted drag queen abduction.

An audience member next to us figured out what was going on fairly quickly and had the DJ turn off the music so the DQ could hear me.  She was horrified, but the rest of us were laughing like big donkeys.  It was so crazy that everyone assumed that it was part of the act.   To make matters worse, my condition causes my joints to be hypermobile and my shoulder dislocated.  It literally happens 3 or 4 times a week, but it did look really scary when my husband popped it back.

I thought the manager and the DQ were going to have heart attacks.  Once I assured them that I was fine and having a great time, they went back to the show.  The lovely queen refused my tip, but she did take my crocheted “wig”.

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Christmas on Wheels

I think I should start off by explaining that although we are a Christian family, we are not allowed to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.  We don’t have midnight mass or nativity scenes, but we do like the love and charity of the holiday spirit.   There are a few challenges presented by my health, but we still manage to have lots of fun.  Below are some tips that I have found to make the season a little easier.

 

Just Say No:

It goes against everything that you hear, but if you don’t have the time or energy to do something,  then say so.  Between friends’ parties, kids activities,  family gatherings,  and work celebrations,  it can get really hectic.  It’s no wonder that people are so stressed out this time of year.  That kind of stress is harmful to anyone, but especially those of us in poor health.  It’s just not worth it and your real friends should understand.

 

Save a Little Dough with a Little Dough:

Being ill is very expensive so most of us don’t have a ton of money to spend on gifts.  I decided to just make cookies or other homemade treats for most of the adults on our list.  A great way to save time and money is to make one base dough and then use add ins to flavor each batch differently.   I will be sharing the recipe in an upcoming post.  If you can buy the ingredients at a warehouse store like Costco then you could make these for pennies.

 

Release Your Inner Martha Stewart:

Cookies might not work for everyone since some people have special diets or food allergies.   Try making some of your presents.  There are plenty of tutorials on easy projects to make on a small budget.  You can even convince the kids to make a few, Tom Sawyer style.  Here are a couple of videos to get you started.

 

 

Find Out Ahead of Time If a Venue is Accessible:

I have gone places that I assumed were wheelchair friendly only to find a makeshift ramp/deathtrap or worse, a burly dude who offered to drag my wheelchair up the stairs with me in it.  Some people feel okay with it, but I am just too paranoid about falling.  It may seem a little embarrassing to ask detailed questions, but it is better than being turned away at the door.  It’s not just ramps that you need to worry about.   Doorways can be too small for a standard size wheelchair so take measurements and call to see if it will fit.  If you are hosting a party and plan to have guests, you can usually rent temporary ramps from medical supply stores.

 

Cut Back on Decorating:

Trees can be beautiful,  but they are time consuming.  A freshly cut one is expensive and messy, plus it takes up so much room.  You could hang a few of your favorite ornaments around the house and drape the garland around the doorway.   If you can’t do without a tree, try a tabletop one and you can even recreate the scent with a few drops of pine essential oil.

 

Be Frugal,  But Charitable:

I’m one of those people who doesn’t want gifts.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the thought.  I just feel like it’s a children’s holiday and I don’t want someone to spend money on little old me.  For those who insist,  I ask for them to make donations to my favorite charity.  It’s a special needs child/adult daycare and their clients are always in need.  We like to donate money as well as hand out cookies and things I crocheted throughout the year.   It really gets us in the Christmas spirit to see how happy it makes everyone.  The next time you struggle to find something for the person who has everything,  this might be the perfect solution.

 

A Feast Fit for a King…But Not for a Celiac:

Parties are full of food which can be disappointing for someone with dietary restrictions.   If you are limited on what you can eat, don’t assume that there will be something available.   Even well meaning hosts may think a dish is safe, but youh might need to worry about cross contamination.  I simply pack my own snack.  It might look weird, but at least I won’t get sick.

 

 

 

 

(NSFW) In the Words of Salt n Pepper…

Let’s talk about sex, baby!

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I have had several people ask me about my sex life or just gimpy sex in general.  I thought it would be fun to answer them all in one monster post.  I do think that I should warn you that I don’t have a filter and I’m pretty open about sex.  If you are more modest then this may offend you.  The following post will contain discussions about human anatomy, fetish, sex therapy, sex workers, etc.  If you aren’t comfortable with any of this, then I understand and I will see you in the next post.

Do you have real sex with your husband?  If so, how?

This was by far the most frequent question asked.  I have to admit that I laughed at the “normal” part.  I never really cared for “normal” anything,  but I’m assuming they meant vaginal intercourse.   I have had 4 vaginal surgeries so we couldn’t do it that way while I was recovering each time.  There are other ways to be intimate and we took advantage of them all.  When I am okay for intercourse,  we do it like anyone who is able bodied.  I can even get on top if I am careful and hang on to the headboard for leverage.

 Do you still like sex?  Isn’t it just numb?

The spinal cord is a funny thing.  Someone can be paralysed or, in my case, have partial paralysis and still have quite a bit of feeling below their injury level.  Many people can’t feel anything superficial, but feel deep pressure in the muscles underneath their skin.  Some report that their nerves act strangely after.  For example, someone could be touching their back, but they feel it in their butt.   Others, like me, experience increased sensitivity and actually enjoy sex more after their injury.

 Is there anything different that you have to do, medically or otherwise, to have sex?

For me, not really, but a lot of wheelchair users do have some special needs.   Catheters are very common in the wheelchair community.   I have a sacral nerve stimulator that helps to stimulate the nerves that empty my bladder, but not completely.  I only need to cath 2x a day so I use a straight cath that is inserted to pee, then removed.  For those of us who can’t pee on their own at all, many people use an implanted catheter which means that it stays in the bladder.  A Foley catheter is inserted into the urethra and to have sex, a man can tape the tubing up the shaft of the penis and cover it with a condom.  A woman can simply push the tubing to the side.  This can be very uncomfortable so a supra pubic catheter  (a surgically implanted device that accesses the bladder through the belly) is often used.  Depending on the severity of the injury, men can have issues getting or maintaining an erection.   Viagra and vibrators can help tremendously.

Can you recommend anything that could make sex easier for someone with poor mobility?

Sex swings are very helpful and a lot of fun.  Many of us have a hydraulic lift that can used as a gimpy sex swing.

https://avacaremedical.com/pmi-hydraulic-patient-lifter?fee=14&fep=11212&gclid=Cj0KCQiAi7XQBRDnARIsANeLIetVdSlSwRDCNKu9_b7b-HkKYrdElLy9iS84gQk9yhkuEcm7rw9NCRgaAl0HEALw_wcB

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Sex furniture is very popular with able bodied people.

https://m.bonanza.com/listings/liberator-esse-lounge-chair-sex-lounger-64l-x-24w-x-24h/434098180?goog_pla=1&variation_id=221967627&gpid=173784728461&keyword=&goog_pla=1&pos=1o17&ad_type=pla&gclid=Cj0KCQiAi7XQBRDnARIsANeLIetgLF6pGuJqFHE894b60sBQlgYFAAylnW2sv7A2OqqbYrc7hDN7QqoaAvJ3EALw_wcB

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00690D9WQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_hXBdAbP4421M3

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For those who have problems with movement,  The Intimate Rider can assist with thrusting.   It’s basically a sexy, gimpy rocking chair.

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So does your husband have a fetish and that’s why he is still with you?

I won’t comment on my Hubby’s kinks in general,  but I will say that he isn’t a devotee and he isn’t trolling the medical supply store for dates.  A devotee is someone who has a fetish for disabled people.  I’m fine with whatever happens as long as it is safe, sane, and consensual, but I do have an issue with using someone as a gimpy sex toy.  Don’t use us as some weird bucket list item, but then refuse to date us.  We’re people, not sex slaves on wheels.

 

 The Happy Ending

This has become a ridiculously long post, but I think I covered most of the questions.  I hope this is helpful for curious able bodied people,  but also for wheelchair users who think they can’t have sex.  Doctors and caregivers often overlook sexuality in the disabled.   Many treat us like children which is very unfair.   Sex and intimacy are an important part of relationships and life in general.   I also wanted to note that I am not a doctor and this isn’t a replacement for medical advice.   This is based on my friends and my experiences so other people do things differently.

Gimpy Spice

Sometimes it’s possible to find something as simple as spices and herbs that can reduce pain and treat inflammation.   Here are some of the ones I use.

 

Capsaicin:

This is of course not a food itself, but a chemical compound found in peppers. You can purchase it in pill or a cream, but it is so easy to add to your diet. You will find the highest concentration in chili peppers, but it is also in bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and cayenne peppers. Capsaicin has little to no side effects overall, but if you have an allergy to peppers or sensitive to hot food you would probably want to stay away from it.

Capsaicin is still being studied, but it has shown positive results in arthritis,  lupus, and other types of inflammation. Recent studies are also showing that muscle pain specifically is affected by the Capsaicin because it has phytochemicals that target it.

Turmeric:

The Mayo clinic and other prevalent research institutions are still studying the exact reason that turmeric is so effective, but it is known to treat pain such as joint swelling and stiffness. One of the chemical compounds in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory properties is curcumin. If you don’t want to go through the entire process of making a meal with turmeric in it, you can take it in pill form. If you notice that you have some stomach upset after you take your turmeric you will want to cut back the dose, higher doses can occasionally cause digestive tract discomfort.

Cherries:

I love cherries so I was very excited to find out about this one. The chemical compound in cherries that makes them turn red is also the compound that will help fight pain in your body, that compound is anthocyanins. It is these nutrients that are antioxidants that help to boost your immune system response and fight off inflammation. Those who have studied how the body responds to anthocyanins will tell you that they have the same effect on your brain receptors as the compounds in basic pain relievers such as aspirin and Aleve.  You can also drink fresh cherry juice or use frozen cherries in your morning smoothie.

Ginger:

This is another spice that can be added to foods or made into a tea. Ginger has been a favorite for calming upset stomachs. Ginger is known to block the certain receptors in the brain that causes vomiting, but calming your stomach shouldn’t be the only reason you reach for the ginger. It is known to help with inflammation, chronic joint pain, migraines, standard headache pain and arthritis. Ginger is a very easy supplement to take because you can put it in so many different things.  Ginger ale contains little or no ginger and a lot of sugar so it’s best to avoid it. You can, however, use ginger in smoothies, juice, make tea as well as cooking with it. There are lots of great recipes with ginger, but my favorite is Asian style stir fry. It can take 7 days to start working, so be patient.

Yogurt:

Chances are you have seen commercials about yogurt being good for your digestive tract, but you likely haven’t heard that it can also help you when it comes to chronic pain. The same bacterial strains that help with the bloating you can get in your stomach attack inflammation if you start ingesting it on a regular basis. The key is making sure the container says active live cultures on it. If you don’t have a yogurt with those cultures in them, chances are it will not work.

I am certainly not a doctor and can’t give you medical advice.  I just wanted to share some of things that have helped me based on my own experience.

Gizmopal 2 Review

This is not a sponsored post. We have really enjoyed using N’s and I just wanted to share our experience. It has given us a wonderful sense of security that is worth more than gold.

I suppose I should start with a little background on N. He was diagnosed with classic autism before ASD was redefined. I’m not trying to get into a “my kid is more autistic than your kid” contest. I just wanted to illustrate his level of disability. He is verbal with people he knows well, but even then he has a very hard time reading a situation and communicating what is going on. For example, he is convinced that Jesus is a zombie because He rose from the dead and no one can convince him otherwise. It’s adorable, but he would really be at a disadvantage if he needed help.

When we decided to send him to school part time, I really worried that he might get lost and not be able to ask a stranger or even a police officer for help. It’s a very real threat that often ends badly. This study shows that almost half of all children with ASD wander regardless of where they are.

https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/study-confirms-autism-wandering-common-scary

We both wear medic alert bracelets for our genetic disorder, but it is so rare that it is more likely to confuse EMS rather than help. I looked into a GPS device so we could at least track him if he wandered off. Some were crazy expensive and some were very unreliable according to other reviews. I had a hard time finding something that would work for us and still be durable enough for a nine year old boy.

As luck would have it, dropping my phone in the tub was the best thing I ever did. When we were at the Verizon store, our friendly sales associate immediately offered to show us the new Gizmopal. He has worked with us before so he knew about N’s condition. It’s going to sound like I am exaggerating, but it really is this awesome and the perfect solution.

Some of the features include:

  • Program up to 4 numbers that can be called by the device. Other numbers can’t be dialed.
  • Two way calling so I can call him and it will automatically pick up after 10 seconds
  • GPS tracker that can be checked in real time through the Gizmohub app
  • The app is super easy to use. I am not very tech savvy, but I was able to program his numbers and set location boundaries in a couple of minutes.
  • It’s very reasonably priced at $80 with a contract.
  • The best part is how kid friendly it is. In addition to making phone calls, the buttons make cool noises and tell time. Of course, it is comfortable, durable and waterproof.

Here is a link to more information and a store locator where you can pick up one of your own.

https://www.verizonwireless.com/simulator/LG/gizmo_pal_2/embedded.html

Be Frugal, Not Cheap, And Keep Your Friends In The Process

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There really is a difference between being budget savvy and just being an annoying cheapskate. I think attitude has a lot to do with it. Living within your means, appreciating the value of a dollar, and creating a lifestyle that centers on relationships rather than stuff is what being frugal means to me. Using others for money, refusing to pay a fair price on things, and using your finances as an excuse to avoid helping others is what being cheap and tacky means to me.

All About Me

I have been asked several questions about me in a personal sense rather than general gimpy questions so I decided to dedicate my first podcast to my personal life.   If I missed anything,  please let me know.   I am not sure if I can post the podcast here so I just decided to post the transcripts.  I will try to correct any mistakes,  but I think the speech to text function has finally learned my accent.

 

Me: Welcome to the first episode of “Gimpin Ain’t Easy”.  I’m joined by —

A: Hi, I’m Artemis.  I’m G G’s sister from another mister.

T: Hi, This is Tammy, the token able bodied person

A: weirdo

Me:  Although Tammy is not disabled,  she has known us for long enough to be gimpy adjacent.

A:  OMG!  Did you just say “gimpy adjacent?”  That’s amazing.   I’m totally stealing it!

T:  Y’all are so hilarious!  I know this is going to be fun!

Me:  I certainly hope so.   I was a little worried about how to dive into this so I think having y’all here will give a more balanced view. I thought it would be nice to have an AB person reacting all of this because Tammy obviously knows I’m a wheelchair user,  but she doesn’t know the full story.  Why don’t we start with a little bio on each of you and how we know each other.

A:  We met in the 2nd grade, right?

Me:  Probably.   I think we have always been friends so I don’t really remember.

A: You don’t remember a lot so I won’t take offense to that.  (Laughing)  I am a mom of two, a 9 year old boy and a 2 year old girl.  My husband works out of town so I have traveled quite a bit.  I have a invisible disability, generalized anxiety and type 2 diabetes, so a lot of times I don’t really fit into either the disabled or able community.

Me: You know,  I really don’t understand why that is, but I have heard it from many people.   Looking normal and still having to deal with health problems on a daily basis is harder in my opinion.  Some people cut me some slack because they can see how I am struggling,  but a lot of them don’t give the same compassion to N when he has a meltdown in public.  I have even had a old lady yell “Your mother shouldn’t have to put up with this in her shape!”

T: Are you kidding me?!?  How was that supposed to be helpful?  Did her screaming cure his autism?  We all have our trials to deal with. Everyone’s pain is valid.

A: You are so wise and should pass the wisdom onto the normals for us  (odd voice)

T: shut up, you goofy butt! (Laughing) Wait….I’ve got a question—

Me: you just can just can’t follow the schedule can you?  Troublemaker! (Laughing)

T: you shut up, too! (Laughing) Seriously,  why are you calling your kid, N?

A: Now we must be SERIOUS (odd voice)

Me: Come on, we have already annoyed her enough.  (Laughing)  Tammy, I thought I should protect his identity since he can’t really give consent for me to air his dirty autistic laundry.

A: she didn’t even notice that I called you GG.  That’s for Gimpy Girl, T.

T: you’re right!  I didn’t even notice  (Laughing)  ok, so I am a law student who still mooches off her mom.  I met you at church a few years ago.  Once I said i wanted to focus on civil rights, you tracked me down and asked if disabled people are included in that.

Me:  What did you think about that?  I bet it was weird.

T:  to be honest….it was a little weird.  (Laughing)  I had not ever really thought about disability rights and it had not been covered by school yet.   The professor looked taken back when I asked.

Me: really?

T: yeah, but that kind of shows how much awareness is needed.

A: okay,  enough stalling.  Gg, let’s get down to business …

T: and defeat the Huns?

Me: Holy crap!  A Mulan joke?  I love you  (Laughing)

A:  since you don’t usually make us laugh like big donkeys,  I think we need a Tammy Scoreboard.   It’s at one right now.

Me:  Y’all almost made me pee!  Ok, we could do this all day so let’s get started.

A: question one- what is your official diagnosis?  Well, this could take all night! (Laughing)

Me: my primary is marfan syndrome with hypermobility, variant strain.

T: wait… you need to explain each of them because we aren’t doctors.

Me: well, half the time, new doctors don’t know what these are either.  I always call ahead and say “look this stuff up so I don’t spend half the appointment explaining it”.  (Laughing)  Marfan Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the elastin in your connective tissue.  It causes the ligaments and tendons to stretch and tear so it  causes severe joint damage.  That’s the hypermobility part.  It also affects the skins so my skin will strech and tear.  Like if it get stitches, they just tear out of my skin.  Thankfully,  we have a variant strain so we don’t have the heart problems usually associated with marfans.

A: So that’s why your incisions open up so easily after surgery.  I remember when you had your butt surgery and the incisions on your belly kept popping open.  Speaking of your butt…

Me: What a beautiful segway!  Yes, because my tissue is so damaged, I developed a rectal prolapse, which is when the rectum separates and falls out of the body.

T:  wait– your butt is inside out?!?

Me: it was but it was pulled up and nailed down to my sacrum. (Laughing)

A: when was this?

Me: I was 29 the first time, 30 the second time, 32, 34, and 36 the other times.

T: didn’t they do it right the first time?

Me: oh, yeah, but my tissue continues to streach and tear so it doesn’t last more than a couple of years.  It’s worth it so that I don’t have the pain or problems with it, but the surgery sucks big time.

A: What about your spine?

Me: Again, it’s because of the weakened ligaments, but I have spinal instability.  That means that I have partial paralysis in my lower spine.  I can stand, but I can’t walk and I don’t have a lot of feeling in my lower half.

A: and your neck and brain?

Me: my neck is unstable too so it created a Chiari Malformation.  Basically it means that my brain has drooped down into my spinal column.

T:  How are you alive right now?!?

Me: by the grace of God?  It sounded horrible to me too, but I have managed it okay.  We decided not to try surgery because I have had some serious side effects complications from minor surgery and this certainly not simple surgery.

T:So the plan is to just walk around with a fallen brain?

Me: I don’t walk. (Laughing)

A:  OMG !  What would we do if we couldn’t laugh at Tammy’s shock at all this?

Me: see, this is why I am kind of vague about it.  It scares away the normals!  (Laughing)

A:  so we are running out of time.  Let’s just do some rapid fire questions to wrap it all up.  How many surgeries have you had and what was the last one?

Me: 22 and I had the rest of my teeth pulled a couple of months ago.

A: The best thing about being in a wheelchair?

Me: I always have a comfortable seat while hubby has to stand most of the time.  Oh, and wheelchair seating at events are always awesome.

A:  The worst part?

Me: I always have to call ahead to check if a place is accessible.

T: ADA laws have been around for literally decades.  Are there really places that are still not accessible?

Me: Loads of places aren’t or they have strange instructions like “drive around back, call us, we’ll put out the piece of plywood that we use as a ramp, then drive back around and park.  When you leave, give us 20 minutes notice to get the plywood and have someone lock the backdoor again”

T: are you serious?

A: OMG,  do we have to be SERIOUS again? (Odd voice) This isn’t how you do rapid fire questions!

Me: Oh we will get back on track.  Tammy, to answer your question,  yes, it happens,  but I just don’t go there.  I’m not going to fall of some ghetto plywood ramp.

A: what’s the biggest misconception about your life?

Me: so many people assume that if I’m not crying about being gimpy then I must be a sicko that enjoys being “broken” or they see me doing something mundane like grocery shopping and call me inspirational.   I don’t know why buying cereal is inspiring,  but apparently it is.

A: What are your hobbies?  Let me guess, wheelchair basketball!  (Laughing)

Me: yeah, my brain injury would love it.   No, I watch way too much tv with my husband,  build crazy stuff with N, read crazy books, cook, and I have a huge yarn addiction.

T: that’s true.  I saw you crochet in your sleep once.

A: Aside from medical equipment,  what is your favorite thing to help you feel AB?

Me: Definitely the internet.   I can buy almost anything from Amazon.   I can network with others and I have a lot of friends who I only see on Skype or Facebook.   I was also surprised to find women in my same position — homeschooling moms with special needs children who have a disability of their own to deal with.   It made me feel kind of normal.

A: What is the one thing you would do if you weren’t disabled that you can’t do now?

Me: Smile pretty? ( laughing)  I really think that my life wouldnot be all that differentif I was AB.   I have found ways to adapt most of the things that normal people do.  It’s more about being willing do something in an unconventional way as long as you are living your life to the fullest.

A:  I don’t want to sound goofy, but that was pretty freaking inspirational.  I think this is a great place to stop.  Say goodbye, everyone!

Me and T: Goodbye everyone! (Laughing)