Did You Miss Dysautonomia Awareness Month?

It’s likely you did; it’s overshadowed by the barrage of pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October is also Dysautonomia Awareness Month. Dysautonomia affects an estimated 70 million people, at least one of whom is a regular reader in my audience. I learned about dysautonomia from Heather Thompson, who, like many (but not all) sufferers, acquired the disorder after a head injury.


House of Horrors 4: The Dark Side

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Hidden Disabilities House of Horrors:  The Dark Side. Of the year, to be precise. The Autumnal Equinox that occurred a month ago--the shifting of the balance of light and dark to more dark than light. And the ultimate horror:  the time change that will occur on November 3.


House of Horrors 3: The Skeptic

Welcome to the third installment of the Hidden Disabilities House of Horrors:  The Skeptic. The person who doesn’t really believe there’s anything wrong with you.

The way we live our lives often looks inconsistent to other people. For example, I’m not able to work a scheduled, on-site job because my condition is so variable, I miss a significant amount of work time. When I’m allowed to work from home and take breaks as needed, I can get something done on a day when I’d have had to call in sick to an office. I knock off for the afternoon around 2:00 while I still have enough energy to take a bike ride or swim. If I were to work until 5:00, I’d be too wiped out to work out in the evening. My colleagues see me taking off at 2:00 to go ride my bike, and they express skepticism about my need to do so.


House of Horrors 2: Awful Seating

Welcome to the second of our House of Horrors episodes—Awful Seating. You’re visiting a friend’s house and seating options abound, all of them terrible for people in good health--nightmarish for people with invisible disabilities that involve pain.

There’s the too-deep couch, comfortable only for someone with a 3-foot-long femur, and the piles of throw pillows you’re supposed to arrange around your body so you can sit. Unless you’re under 40 and can comfortably draw your knees up, or you can lie down, you’re going to suffer on that couch. Extra horror points for slippery naugahyde.


The Sidewalk Doctor

Now that October is here, I’m ready to get over my denial that summer is over and switch to a scary Halloween theme. The first of our Hidden Disability Horrors episodes—The Sidewalk Doctor. You all know this person; the one who knows your case better after 5 minutes than you do after a lifetime in your own body.


Men and Physical Vulnerability

Last week’s post ( didn’t generate any discussion, but judging from the Facebook reactions, people had feelings about it. Maybe those feelings aren’t comfortable to discuss. Something happened a few days ago that made me realize this topic might be even harder for men to talk about.


Does Your Physical Vulnerability Make You Less Assertive?

Today’s post is kind of hard for me to write, because I have to admit to behavior I’m not proud of. Recent behavior, not things I did when I was young, foolish, and easily misled. It’s an issue I think a lot of us deal with, though, and maybe if I speak up, so will you.

Many of us with hidden disabilities are physically vulnerable. We are less able to fend off physical force, and that may lead us to be less assertive than we want to be.


Internalized Expectations II: Keeping Up

While I was in college, I worked summers at a hotel in Glacier National Park. (If you were one of the myriad students who did the same, it was St. Mary Lodge & Resort, not the then-Greyhound-owned hotels). On our time off, we went hiking. We took all-day hikes, no matter what our condition going in. We were young and foolish, and our one day off a week (!) was precious, not a minute of it to be wasted. It was there that I learned the phrase, “We’re burning daylight!”


Internalized Perceptions and Expectations

Last night my neighbor came to my door at 8:30, just as it was getting dark and time to round up the cats, and asked me to help jump start his truck with my car. I figured it would be a 15-minute misadventure at the most, and I was “just” watching TV.

I stepped outside and got my jumper cables from my trunk. “Jeff” asked me which side my battery is on. I thought I knew, but wanted to look to be sure. I popped the hood latch and went to open the hood from the front, and discovered that I couldn’t lift it. My hood is very heavy, but I can usually lift it myself. Last night, though, my left arm said no. It’s held together with a rod and 8 screws, and when it says no, I have no choice but to listen. Jeff came over and lifted the hood, verifying that the battery was on the driver’s side.


My 9th Crashniversary

It’s been 9 years since I got hit. I’m not a big date person; when it would have been a loved one’s birthday, for example, I think, “that was Dad’s birthday,” but after the first year, I didn’t sit and think about what if he were still here with us? He’s not. I miss him, but I don’t imagine an ongoing life that would have unfolded if he were still here. And it doesn't make sense to imagine the life I'd have had if I hadn't been hit either--I was hit.