chronic pain / Spoonie Challenges / Working

I Don’t Have a Disability

I don’t have a disability.

If I sleep on my stomach (with two pillows) or on my back, I need help rolling onto my side because I’m in too much pain.

I don’t have a disability?

If I stand for longer than 15 minutes, I feel dizzy and my back starts to hurt. If I continue to stand, it gets worse very quickly. I have no measurement for this, as I usually leave whatever line I’m in before that happens.

(I don’t have a disability.)

I can’t hold my daughter, who is nine months old, for longer than one minute, unless I’m sitting down.

Maybe I do have a disability.

chronic back painIt has been nine years since my back pain started making itself known. Nine years since I went to my supervisor and told them my back was hurting, and then burst into tears because the pain was so bad (and yet the bed I recently slept in at St. Lawrence College residence was even worse).

I do physio exercises to help strengthen my back, but if I forget for even one day, my muscles let me know. My muscles think that my spine should be flat (as seen from the side). My back has a natural arch. I think you see the issue.

But I have this cognitive dissonance where I look at my friends on this blog and think, “That, there, is disabled. I’m just complaining about twinges in my back. I don’t need to worry about rationing my spoons, because I always have enough. I don’t belong here.”

Maybe I do?

Sure, I have enough spoons. But if I do something like empty the dishwasher . . . that’s it. It’s a big task for me, because bending over is a trigger. Mowing the lawn means taking one day to do the front yard and one to do the back, and we have a tiny yard. Because pushing and pulling the mower uses muscles in your lower back, have you noticed? Same thing for vacuuming—one day per floor. It’s not a matter of spoons for me. I still have energy after doing the big task for the day. I can still focus and write for hours afterwards. I simply can’t physically do more.

I sometimes forget that I have back issues at all! When I’m sitting on my amazing couch (It has a lounge!) doing travel consultant work, writing for my blog, copy-editing for TEGG, or doing research for Blush, I feel no pain. Currently, while writing this article, I feel perfectly normal, even though I slept on my stomach for some time last night and couldn’t move this morning.

I think it’s a good thing that a lot of what I do for work involves me sitting down at home.

But I think I need to talk to my doctor.


Jen with her creations: Blush, the travelling TARDIS, and baby Dragon (in utero). Picture taken by Éric Desmarais. Jen is three days overdue in this picture.

A consummate student, Jennifer Desmarais has three degrees and just graduated from her fourth. These include a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Chemistry, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa. Following her passion for travel, she just completed her diploma in Tourism and Travel at Algonquin College.

She works for AJ Travel in Ottawa, and loves helping clients design trips with a geeky/nerdy theme.

Co-founder of JenEric Designs, she creates unique geeky crocheted items and writes bi-weekly articles on sexuality and bi-weekly articles on Fandom Travel. She is also one of the co-organizers and founders of CON (Creative Ottawa Nerds craft fair).

She is the lead copy-editor (How did that happen?) at TEGG, and has edited two books in the Hellmaw line to date. If you know her at all, you know that horror/thriller is REALLY not her thing, so she considers this a big accomplishment.

Jen has written one short story that won a contest in 2016. You can read it here.

She lives in Ottawa with her husband and their library of over 2700 books. They had their first child, a daughter, in September 2016.

3 thoughts on “I Don’t Have a Disability

  1. Spoonie editor here! I gently hug you, Jen, and say that you are a spoonie because you don’t have enough spoons to do tasks, due to pain. I thank you for your honesty in this article and know many people will feel the same way. Let’s keep welcoming all the spoonies all over and validate their spoonieness! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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