Category Archives: Ableism

Life In Status Epilepticus, Or, What To Do When You Think You’re A Jellyfish

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The Jellyfish

One day she awoke in her room

And discovered she had become

A jellyfish

Her tentacles retracted

Her body shrunk

And she sunk to the ocean floor

She had neither a brain, nor a heart

And she realised she was a butterfly

Who had reverted to its cocoon

A chicken

Who had crawled back inside its egg

She had become a blueprint

Humans would try to use without success

To potentially cycle indefinitely

Between baby and maturity

Maturity and baby

But she realized regeneration

Was a pendulum between

Good death and bad death

Bad death was to lose fertility

Good death was to accept

Damaged crops and replant

But what could she do as a jellyfish?

A jellyfish had no hands to hold

No legs to chase

No lips to kiss a lover

No time to waste

What is the point of living with no love to give?

No thoughts to share?

No lungs to breathe?

One day she awoke in her room

And realised she would never die

Her tentacles retracted

Her body shrunk

She sunk to the ocean floor

And never came up for air.

‘The Jellyfish’ – Claire Fitzpatrick, 2017

1.

In 1894, railroad worker Phineas Gage changed the study of neuroscience forever. His job was to clear rocks for railway tracks, however, one day his iron rod – which he used to tamp down explosives before lighting the fuse – scraped the side of a pile of rocks, igniting a spark which set off the gunpower prematurely. The explosion sent the iron rod straight through his left eye, into his skull, through the back of his head, and back out to the ground almost thirty metres away. Miraculously, Phineas survived, yet became unreliable, partial to swearing and inappropriate remarks. Because of the sustained damage to his frontal lobe, Phineas developed Epilepsy as well as Witzelsucht, a neurological condition characterised by the impulsive and often uncontrollable desire to tell jokes, puns, and pointless stories. In 1860, at the age of 36, he died ‘in status epilepticus,’ described as a single seizure which lasts more than five minutes, or two or more seizures within a five-minute period without the person returning to cognitive normality between them. [1]

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Nervous Systems: Part 7

Previously: Parts 1, 2, 345, and 6. Image descriptions can be found below the .jpgs, under the “read more” tag; click the images for larger versions.

Regarding the “tender point” test referred to in this installment : In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) revised the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia so that rheumatological exams do not utilize the “tender point” test. The new diagnostic criteria include a Widespread Pain Index (WPI) and Symptom Severity (SS) Scale.

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Nervous Systems: Part 2

Here is the second installment of my theoretical/graphic memoir on disability, visibility, and gender! Previously: Part 1

Image descriptions can be found below the .jpgs; click the images for larger versions. Should you need more background on the “Supercrip” trope, a piece that I wrote for Bitch on the topic (all the way back in 2009) is cited on page 7.

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Roundtable: Project Semicolon Promotes Mental Illness Eugenics

In case you missed it, Project Semicolon posted a video by Wesley Chapman for World Mental Health Day, proposing an ‘end to mental illness’ by 2025. Complete with sappy music and a series of bucolic landscapes, the film is a strikingly disablist (notably, there are no captions or transcript) screed against the mentally ill community.

The faith-based Project Semicolon has exploded into the news of late thanks to its hallmark tattoo, but the distribution and support of this video illustrates a fundamental lack of understanding about mental illness, complete with eliminationist attitudes.

We decided it was time for a line by line breakdown, featuring s.e. smith, Lisa Egan, Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project, and David M. Perry.

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Nervous Systems: Introduction and Part 1

Note: The following graphic work was part of my Master’s thesis. Rather than letting it sit and collect dust–and, just as crucially, now that I have a bit of distance from it–I have decided to share it. It will run on DI in several parts; since the chapters are quite long, I’ll be dividing it up for maximum readability. Image descriptions can be found below the .jpgs; click the images for larger versions.

Text description for this comic can be found below the jpegs.
Text description for this comic can be found below the jpegs.

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Here we go again: Oscar season and disability porn

The 87th Academy Awards are this weekend, so it’s a good time to talk about a familiar old friend: Oscarbait. Three films this year were definitely having a go at taking home a gold statuette via one of the most time-honoured traditions of Hollywood: Cripping up. On a routine basis, one or more actors dons disability for the year, usually in a film that critics refer to as ‘inspirational,’ ‘heartwarming,’ and ‘profound.’

This year, The Theory of Everything, Still Alice, and Cake all gunned for Oscar gold and other awards, with Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Aniston playing disabled characters for the big screen. None of these actors has publicly identified as disabled, while all three are being taken as authorities on disability — after all, they’ve done a bit of research and it can’t be that difficult. Moreover, the fact that these kinds of roles set actors up for awards hasn’t escaped them, rest assured.

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