You are shaken awake by the person trying to sleep beside you. You were in the fetal position holding your hands up to protect yourself from an unseen demon. Again, you were screaming for mommy to make him stop. No you’re not 10, you’re 48 and you have PTSD.
PTSD was a medical description first developed to replace what used to be called “shell shock,” a condition when even though the terror physically stopped day, weeks, months or in some cases even decades ago you still are haunted by the all too realistic memories. My regular readers will know that as a child from 3-14 I was habitually molested by a family member totaling over 5,000 times. In November 2010 the nightmares became too much and I sought out help, first while living back in Australia for 6 months then with a new therapist upon my return to New York City. The problem with PTSD, unless you’re military there are huge walls blocking me from most services offered by the rehabilitation community. I have been told I would benefit from a service dog because I have epilepsy, am disabled and permanently in a wheelchair on top of the PTSD which causes another whole plethora of symptoms in and of itself.
Most days, nightmares spill over into the daylight. Suddenly drifting off and losing concentration for a mere second can find me in the middle of a hi-def screaming memory. Even if for but a second it’s terrifying none the less.
To people who don’t know me they wonder what the strange woman in the wheelchair is suddenly crying about or why I just fall into convulsion or why is my face ticking? They are physcogenic non-epileptic seizure responses to terrors caused by PTSD episodes. To the untrained eye you cannot tell the difference between them and epilepsy and even to people like me who live with and through them on a daily basis we cannot discern the difference. When we can discern the difference, there is nothing we can do once we’re in their midst.
So to the medical, rehabilitation and therapy providers out there who do discern tear down the walls. Please, although my horror was not in some foreign land fighting a war, its my terror none the less and I need your talents just as importantly as the brave wounded warriors. Our government is finally seeing the light and getting them help.
To those who might wake up in a new relationship next to an infantile human screaming in the fetal position, run if you must, but if you choose to stay it’s a rough ride. Know your love can make it easier one middle of the night loving hug after another.
To my readers, when I say I had a rough night I wish I meant the cat was loud next door or a siren on the street below kept me awake, but more likely the rape when I was 3 years old that kept going for over 50 years in my mind was playing on hi-def rerun. We’re not asking for sympathy and please don’t say “oh I understand” because I pray to all the gods that you don’t.
Blessed be. I have therapy tomorrow so if anyone wants to hang out in Manhattan drop me an e-mail because the first half is going to be hell and you can only make it better for just a few minutes, but I’ll take as many minutes as I can line up.
Mia’s Thoughts – the comments in this article regarding speaker christine quinn, while being the honest experience of the writer, are very different from my experiences with her on the subject of disability. it has been my experience especially since my involvement during hurricane irene thAt christine quinn’s office has done been my greatest “go-to” office in the city of new york on disability issues.
Reposted from a story By Robert Slayton / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, March 22, 2012, 4:00 AM
I’m a New Yorker, in my heart if no longer in residence. Born in Manhattan at Mount Sinai, my parents took me home to their apartment near Crotona Park in the Bronx. Every summer, I watched my Yankees struggle, and, in those days, usually triumph.
And now my city has failed me.
In 2008, I contracted an extremely rare spinal cord disease, transverse myelitis, which left me a hemiplegic — paralyzed on one side of my body — and in a wheelchair.
Before you bemoan my fate, though, I’m doing fine, contrary to the stereotypes. My classes at the university are filled, several new books are in the works, I drive everywhere in a specially outfitted vehicle, and my marriage is beyond solid.
New York, however, is a problem. Rolling into the world of the disabled, I discovered that Gotham has a well-earned reputation as the worst city in North America for wheelchair users; one publication referred to “notoriously wheelchair-unfriendly New York City.”
There are many parts to the tale, but let’s start with one currently at the top. New York City is set to get a new fleet of cabs, the Nissan NV200. They’re totally inaccessible; among other problems, the seats are so high up, it’s nearly impossible to transfer from a wheelchair, unlike current taxis.
Mayor Bloomberg’s response to complaints has been to provide lame, offensive excuses (at one point, he argued that in accessible cabs, riders sit so far back, it results in smaller tips for drivers).
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who hopes to become the city’s first openly gay/lesbian mayor, refused to take questions last year from New Mobility, the leading magazine for wheelchair users. Apparently, her desire for social justice has its limits. New York, by the way, mobilizes 13,000 taxis; under a deal between the mayor and the governor, 2,000 new yellow cabs — coming who knows when — will be wheelchair-accessible.
London has 19,000 cabs, and every one of them is accessible.
I’m not wed to riding around in cabs. I’d be happy to take the subway instead — if there weren’t many stations throughout the system without elevators, which makes it as easy to get to the platform as it does for an able-bodied person to scale a skyscraper.
This is not simply an issue of transportation. Rather, like an earlier civil rights movement, it is a question of whether or not the disabled are going to be full participants in civic life.
Last summer, my wife and I traveled back to see for ourselves. It was a trip the two of us had to make, to our hometown.
Cabs were impossible. The first day we went to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, with the towers bathed in sunlight. Getting back, we went to the cabstand in front of the South Street Seaport, just beyond where the cobblestones start
The fact is, I and many other wheelchair citizens have no difficulty getting into and out of a cab — if they stop in the first place. A number of taxis sat there, idle, somehow too busy to take us; every one of them refused. Only by calling a car service did we make it to our hotel.
A new fleet of accessible cabs could change this. So could two-man teams of plainclothes police. Put one officer in a wheelchair, with the other ready to hand out a summons for noncompliance.
On our last day, we went to the American Museum of Natural History. As we were leaving, my wife went up to one of the information kiosks and asked where the wheelchair-accessible exit was.
“Just up the stairs,” the lady cheerfully replied, pointing the way. Monty Python couldn’t have delivered a better line.
Slayton, professor of history at Chapman University, is finishing a memoir on becoming disabled.
Mia’s Thoughts – The story below is a sad indictment of a concept that started out with the goal being to protect our nation while still treating our citizens with the dignity their citizenship should guarantee. Somewhere along the way the idea changed from an honorable service to our nation to an out of control group of Hitler Youth wannabe’s running perpetually out of control, assaulting the very people they were sworn to protect.
My own horrendous experience on March 21st, 2011 was one of a permanantly disabled wheelchair-bound person being ordered to stand, walk and wait in the corner. While I tried to inform the moronic excuse for a officer that it was medically impossible I was forced to go to a body/cavity search. Here is the link to the story I wrote documenting that hideous incident:
How would you feel if you had never done anything wrong and yet you still received an invasive pat-down solely based on your physical limitations?
That’s what happened as demonstrated in a video gone viral to a clearly physically disabled, wheelchair-bound toddler in 2010, when the boy received a pat-down from Transportation Security Administration, solely because he was in a wheelchair.
It could be that my brother is in a wheelchair, or that I was raised around wheelchairs and other children with disabilities. Or maybe it’s because my best friend is in a wheelchair.
It could even be that I’m mildly, physically disabled. Maybe that’s why I’m so sensitive about this subject.
Or maybe not.
Who wouldn’t think the actions of TSA lately are deplorable?
Just because a wheelchair sets off a metal detector, TSA pats him down like he’s a terrorist.
That’s not even the sad part.
TSA is so terrified of terrorist attacks that it has done pat-downs on innocent people like this for years.
“There is another human being putting their hands on my child,” said the boy’s father, Matt Dubiel, in an interview with CNN. “That is not acceptable. If he was putting his hands on my child at McDonald’s or anyplace else, we would immediately have him arrested and call the police.”
Sure, you can make the argument that Dubiel could’ve planted something on the boy himself, as is the custom of a suicide bomber.
However, it would’ve been a lot easier to plant something on a wheelchair that’s clearly three times too big for him instead of putting it on him.
So why give him the pat-down?
Why not check the wheelchair, which the TSA agent failed to do?
TSA has gone too far and needs to be reeled in.
This isn’t the first case an innocent person received a pat-down either.
According to CBS News last year, TSA required a 95-year-old woman to remove her adult diaper, thinking if it wasn’t, terrorists could start using diapers to their advantage.
In another humiliating case, 56-year-old Claire Hirschkind couldn’t go through airport metal detectors because she had a pacemaker-like device.
She tried to board a plane at an airport in Texas. After telling TSA she had the equivalent of a pacemaker in her chest, she was sent to a female agent for a pat-down.
When she requested to not have her breasts examined, the agent insisted. When the woman refused, she was thrown to the floor, arrested and banned from the airport.
She told Austin news station KVUE-TV she is a rape survivor.
And as such, it’s understandable why Hirschkind would feel strongly about her treatment by the TSA. However, what’s not understandable is the compassionless way she was treated and the way TSA handled the situation.
Last year, in a story published by Fox News, a severely mentally disabled man was forced to undergo a pat-down.
Because he had the mental capacity of a 2-year-old, he had difficulty understanding agents’ orders.
When his father attempted to explain the man’s disability, the agents said, “Please, sir, we know what we’re doing.”
The agents also confiscated a 2-inch plastic hammer, which the man had carried with him for 20 years for comfort.
The agents told the father that it was a security threat. They tapped the wall with it and said, “See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon.”
The family would have to have the little hammer shipped in order to keep it.
Later, TSA issued an apology, saying the hammer should’ve never been confiscated.
Of course it shouldn’t have been confiscated. The hammer was the man’s crutch and a toy.
Furthermore, while I can understand that it is possible terrorists would maybe use a wheelchair or a diaper in an attack, I’ve personally never heard of it happening.
I’m in favor of increased security, especially post-9/11, but if TSA feels like it needs to do pat-downs on people with disabilities, then maybe things have gotten a little out of hand.