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Pain Chronicles: The Additional Cost of Being Disabled

Pain Chronicles is a monthly(-ish) column from Caroline McDonagh-Delves about coming to terms with living with a chronic illness. It will include funny stories and brutal honesty, with some thrown in chats with her mum Shaz, and other friends too, along the way. 


Caroline’s note: I’ve written this month’s column along with my mum, Shaz. You can find my bits in regular type, and hers in bold (because she always is). Hope you enjoy.

I’ll always remember the doctors’ note I got at university so that I could type in exams rather than handwrite. The doctor mentioned I’d been doing the same in ‘A’ Levels. Inverted commas and all. I can’t quite remember how much it was, I think around the £30 mark. £30 so I could access the same education as my classmates. And disabled students’ allowance may have covered that, but the forms were arduous and I really didn’t have it in me to do it.

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“Freedom Day” is Anything But for the Disabled and Vulnerable

So, it’s now “Freedom Day”. After watching people attack disability activists for supporting the delay this last month, here it is. I watched last week’s Downing Street briefing from behind my fingers. The Prime Minister stood there ignoring all of the figures. Chris Witty and Patrick Valance flanking him, giving his b*llocks an air of respectability. Both of them appearing to be trying their very hardest not to outright say “I don’t agree with this decision.”

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Tech Companies: Focus on fixing the Infrastructure, not Disability

It’s like an ableist version of Groundhog Day. Except instead of Bill Murray as a disgruntled weatherman, it’s a young spectacled 20-something in a chequered shirt telling you how the seventh pair of sign language gloves “really is the one this time, folks!”

And if it’s not sign language gloves, then it’s wheelchairs which can make its user stand up or, more recently, vibrating shoes for the blind and visually impaired. Every day tech companies leave us spoilt for choice when it comes to accessible technology we actually don’t need – or want.

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Pain Chronicles: Right Now, I Need the Sunflower

Pain Chronicles is a monthly(-ish) column from Caroline McDonagh-Delves about coming to terms with living with a chronic illness. It will include funny stories and brutal honesty, with some thrown in chats with her mum Shaz, and other friends too, along the way.


When mask wearing became mandatory in July last year, I was mostly still not leaving the house. We’re a high risk family, and I felt the government were too hasty in unlocking everything.

When I did have to pop to the shops, I’d don a reusable mask (trying to combat waste) and more often than not I’d only just finish my shopping before having to run outside to fresh air to stave off a panic attack. Face shields were slightly better, although they did elicit some funny looks, and there was still an issue with allodynia where the sponge rested on my forehead.

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Surprise, I’m a Disabled Person

Today on Twitter, someone informed me I was a person. This may sound weird but if you’re a disabled person who tweets about the injustices we live with it’s actually a regular occurrence.

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#FreeBritney has Shown Just how Damaging Conservatorships are to Disabled People

Last week when Britney Spears bravely gave evidence in her own conservatorship case, the world was rightly horrified to hear how her abusive father and team have controlled her life for the past 13 years. However, the case has drawn light to how similar practices are used to overpower disabled across the globe, as H.J discusses. 

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all disabled and sexual opinion

Disabled and Sexual: Disabled LGBTQ+ People Deserve to Feel Welcome in Queer spaces

Disabled and Sexual is a monthly(-ish) column by Hannah Shewan Stevens which will explore all the challenges, comedy, and fun that disabled people experience as sexual beings, even while we are desexualised by a predominantly non-disabled society.


If you took one look at a Pride parade or any of the capitalist Pride advertising during June, you’d be forgiven for assuming that disabled people are almost non-existent in the LGBTQ+ community. 

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Disabled Representation on Love Island Could be Monumental but Society’s Ableism Won’t Let It

TW: ableism and inspiration porn


Ahead of the new series of Love Island returning to our screens tomorrow, the line up was announced last week. It’s supposedly their “most diverse” cast to date, including the show’s first physically disabled contestant, PE teacher Hugo Hammond from Hampshire, who has played disability cricket for England.

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Doctors Need to Stop Minimising Our Trauma with the IUD and Listen to Our Pain

TW: This article features medical gaslighting, medical cPTSD and discussions of the mirena coil IUD procedure that many who have experienced it may find traumatic.


This week, I sat in the GP’s surgery with my son as she explained his care in child-friendly language; “Pain is the body’s way of letting you know it thinks something isn’t quite right.” The simplicity of such a statement was striking.

Our bodies are complex, yet they have yet to evolve to override pain that has positive outcomes – we still ache after exercise, bleed after vaccinations and wince with the dental hygienist. We generally accept a degree of pain in exchange for our health and bodily autonomy and contraceptive control are undeniable health benefits.

But how can we make informed choices, when pain experienced by AFAB people is minimised, scoffed at or completely denied? 

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The Pandemic Made my Industry Accessible, I’m Worried About Going “Back To Normal”

Back when I was legally blind instead of totally blind, I was lured in by covers just as everybody else was. If I spotted a brown boy on the cover, I’d eagerly pick up the book, wishing to read different perspectives and experiences, and even injustices. I knew a lot about my own injustices as a gay blind man, but I was very ignorant of the system’s ways of stomping on POC every chance it got.

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