I haven’t written on this blog for quite awhile. I’ve started countless posts to only give up and decide I’ll try again on another day. You see, something big happened and I’ve only just realized exactly how big.
Back in May, I went to the Abilities Expo in New Jersey (The New York Metro Abilities Expo to be specific), and there, some amazing things happened. First and foremost, was that I met Auti Angel (one of the stars of Push Girls and creator of the Colours N Motion dance team). While she was there I asked her about how she got her first job after her accident.
She talked about her dance career and how her doctors told her that she would never dance again, but she proved them wrong. And then she told me that all she could really tell me was to follow my heart.
Now, it’s pretty standard as far as advice goes, but hearing it from someone who is following their heart and refusing to let people tell her no, makes a big difference.
I had come close to giving up. I was working in a borderline scam job, answering phones, cold-calling, and doing absolutely nothing physical. Somewhere along the line, I had slowly begun to believe that I wouldn’t be able to do much more than a desk job. And the only type of physical activity that I would be able to do were those that were specifically adapted for disabled people.
I hated my job, and I had only been going for two weeks. I was terrified of quitting because I couldn’t figure out who would want to hire me and I didn’t want to lose the first job I had in years. And as I’ve mentioned before, I missed martial arts.
At the expo, I found that products were created with people like me in mind. Instead of learning how to adapt to everything on my own, this was a place that adapted to me. I don’t think most able-bodied people can really understand what that meant, because everything is already adapted for able-bodied people. The wheelers outnumbered the walkies, so most people were at eye-level for me. And it was amazing to talk in person about similar issues that we dealt with. And while no one else really knew what RSD/CRPS was, no one shamed me for my use of a chair.
I stayed at the Expo for two days. I quit my job over the phone the night of the first day. I decided that I wasn’t going to settle. I didn’t know how I was going to find a new job or what exactly I was going to do, but working somewhere I hated just wasn’t going to do for me.
The second day of the Expo I went to Auti Angel’s Colours N Motion dance workshop. Which was amazing of course and a blast. I’ve always loved dancing, it’s not something I’m particularly good at it, but it’s always been a close second to physical activity I love (after martial arts). And while practicing dance moves (and failing quite miserably, co-ordination is not a strong suit of mine), all I could think was how much I wanted to be doing Karate moves.
After the Expo, I slowly became more active. I left the house more often. I applied for jobs that required physical ability. I bought a tennis racquet and tennis balls (that I have yet to use of course). Soon I got a job. And then, towards the end of June I saw that my old Karate school had a women’s self-defense workshop. I asked if there were any spots left open, and the instructor said yes and that he hoped to see me there.
I went. And while this might not seem like a big deal to most people, I had tried to go back to Karate more than once, and more than once, I turned the car around and went back home. But this time was different. This time I had Auti’s voice in my head. This time, I thought of what Auti would do.
She’d keep going.
And then I thought of what I would do had I not been disabled.
I always wanted to go back. I never really wanted to stop going in the first place.
I decided to live with my CRPS, as not to let my body become a constant war ground. I had forgotten that the biggest reason I decided to live with CRPS and not to constantly seek experimental medical treatments was because I would rather use that time to live my life.
So I kept going.
Because that’s what I would do.
The self-defense class reminded me that I am still capable. I signed back up for Karate that evening. These past few weeks have been amazing. I’m starting at the beginning again, new body, new things to learn. And I have a goal. A crazy, ridiculous goal that I still can’t explain exactly why I want to, other than I have the feeling it would mean something great. I’ve decided to try to get my blue belt back by December. December 9th of this year marks my third year of the car accident and part of me thinks it would be kind of of a big deal. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s definitely been enjoyable so far.
Actually, I lie. It’s been fucking amazing so far.
And for anyone reading this who also has CRPS, I want you to know that even if you don’t get a cure, even if you don’t go into remission, it doesn’t mean you’re life has been taken from you. You can live with CRPS and you can even enjoy your life with it. You have to do what’s best for you, not what any of your doctors think is best for you, and not whatever your family or friends think is best for you.
You can do this.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.