disability · Sat with Nat · traveling

WisCon41 all the feels about disability 

I had a great time at WisCon last year and was delighted when David had offered to go together.  It’s a long drive from London, Ontario to Madison, Wisconsin but totally worth it!

This year I brought my swimsuit, running shoes and yoga mat. I did swim Thursday night to stretch after the drive down.

The rest of the weekend I managed to get 8-10 thousand steps a day. I’m not sure how but it may have been going further afield for food.

a thick brown pottery plate from the 70s is heaped with thick slices of golden french toast. This is topped with strawberries, blueberries, pecans, powdered sugar and creme fraiche
My new love, giant French toast

I slept much better this time around, largely due to not submitting for writing workshops which had made me a twinge nervous. I am committed to putting writing in next year though!

As last year, I loved the panels. I attended so many great sessions on everything from food and culture in sci-fi to unpacking portrayals of mental health in fiction.

Due to a mix up on my part I ended up in “Beyond the Fix or How Do I Live this F***ing Life?”

the photo is of the event schedule that indicates the topic is in the Feminis and Other Social change Movements stream of the conference. The panel short description: When you know there's no fix, your disability's never getting better, might get worse, and acceptance is the only possibility, it's time to share aka vent. On this panel we'll air our pet grievances, exchange survival strategies, and discuss the challenges - both surprising and predictable- of a life with disability. We'll also share the stories we've used to keep going. #beyond the fix
Friends, there were so many feels as folks shared their experiences of coming to understand disability and how it has impacted their lives. Many people in the audience were coming to realize that “disability” was a word that described their life too.

My favourite moment was when Jesse the K spoke about how she learned to shift her identity from an independent woman to being interdependent and connected in community.

I reflected on my privilege of living with Major Depressive Disorder and being able enough to stay fully employed. I thought about how my morning routine of stiff joints may hold greater mobility challenges in the future. I thought about my unilateral hearing loss and how my head tilts to put my good ear to a person talking. I thought about my intermittent vertigo. The stories shared by the panelists were on the continuum of ability and disability and I shift along those lines, mostly invisible.

There is a piece about fitness that I don’t talk about, the part where age & ability turn and mean I won’t get faster, better, stronger. Sometimes my goal is to simply slow the slide or manage pain.

It was humbling to really grapple with what my future will hold, especially around chronic pain, and I’m grateful for the mix up that lead me to sit in on this panel in particular.

The absolute best part was that I met even more of David’s lovely librarian friends, some of whom read this blog!

The weekend was just what I needed.

The photo is a headshot of Natalie, with her sunglasses sitting up on top of her head. She is outside waling to breakfast, smiling, wearing a necklace that is the anatomical structure of seratonin.
I feel great and, unlike last year, no mobility or pain from my travels. Just a wince at re-entering a patriarchal society.

9 thoughts on “WisCon41 all the feels about disability 

  1. I think part of the reason I am completely averse to goal setting is that I am in that period of finding acceptance of my personal physical abilities for what they are that day, not looking at fitness goals as a long term plan.
    My physical limitations are fairly minor. Osteoarthritis in my feet, stiff joints, etc. But they still mean accommodations regularly. And injuries. I have had more injuries this past year.

    I have to work with myself where I am!

    That French toast looked delicious!

    Thank you for that insight. I like how you put it.

    1. The stories of acceptance and embracing were so moving. If you have access to twitter there are some great moments under the hashtag. I will go to similar panels next year as I got a lot out of it.

  2. Thanks for this, Natalie. what an unexpected boon, to be with those people with whom we all have much in common, but who we may be afraid to learn from (at least I admit to being afraid to confront my own changing states of disability).

    1. I definitely need to confront my own discomfort about talking about disability. I hate the term “high functioning” but am also leery of using disability language when I am able to carry out my daily activities with only minor challenges.
      It’s definitely an ongoing internal dialogue I’ve had for a while and was reticent to even post. Complicated.

      1. Ditto me and my eyesight. Sometimes I use disability language but I’m not that comfortable with it

  3. I really appreciate you helping me think about this broad spectrum of identifying in different ways and how it helps with what we can aim for. xc

Comments are closed.