Travelling wheels, and whoever invented the ankle was a jerk

Someone just tagged this very nice photo of me dressed to kill! It’s from linux.conf.au in 2010 in Wellington. Now that was a fantastic conference! I had such a great time with the Haecksen and at DrupalSouth. I gave three talks, “Code of Our Own“, “Hack Ability: Open Source Assistive Tech“, and one about Drupal consulting; went to some other great talks; did some fun hacking around; messed with Arduinos; went to a GirlGeek dinner; did touristy things (greatly facilitated by Daniel and Kelly driving me around half of the island, one of the nicest things ever); and met a ton of fantastic people. (Thank you Google “diversity” money, LCA, and DrupalSouth for helping me get there with some cold hard cash!)

liz-in-wheelchair-in-a-suit.jpg

I note that when you’re using a wheelchair and dressing up it is important to either wear pants that are about 3 inches longer than you’d wear walking, OR make sure to have on really good socks.

These stripey purple socks cheered me greatly! I have matching armwarmers, but that’s kind of overkill.

It was nice to wake up to see this reminder that I am a tough-assed world traveler.

That’s part of why I leave the dozens and dozens of airplane gate tags remnants on my wheelchair frame. Sometimes it bolsters me up to look down at at them and think, “I’ve been a lot of places with this chair.”

After months of doing very well and gradual improvement in walking, to the point where in December I was boldly walking around barely using a cane “just in case” and practically STRIDING, going up stairs just for fun and to “feed” my little FitBit friend, well, something went wrong in my ankles. I don’t really know what (yet if ever) but it began to hurt like hell. I took it easy every couple of days, but then it went *really* wrong, and I could not bend my ankles very well. That’s never happened to me before! A whole new kind of pain and limping! Right when I was cautiously thinking about my future years of “invisible disability” and the new challenges that would bring…

If your ankles don’t work, you can only shuffle very cautiously. Going up or down even a small step means turning sideways to take the step, while holding onto something for dear life. So, I’ve been in bed for two weeks, with my feet up on ice packs and heating pads. It is hard to take a shower. I can’t drive, because my foot can’t work the gas and brake pedals. For going to the doctor (or my one outing this week, to a cafe, driven by a friend) I am back in the wheelchair. I’m taking taxis for doctor visits and using TaskRabbit rather heavily while my partner is out of town.

Now while I talk big about everything I have to say it was just plain convenient and nice to be able to walk so well. I am in pain and sad and upset. Actually I’d notch that up to “freaked the hell out and terrified of losing my independence.” So it’s nice to see this photo of myself from 2 years ago, happy and smiling, looking sharp, ranging (alone) so far from home. I do love my wheels!

And next year I swear I’m going to KiwiCon. . .

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3 Responses to Travelling wheels, and whoever invented the ankle was a jerk

  1. judy tuan says:

    I really hope your ankles get better soon, Liz! Those are kickass socks =D My friend made http://sockpanda.com/

    I am going to be audacious and ask you to host a Security Night where you can teach us how to use a VPN service (and how you chose yours and how to find what options there are out there/how you know you trust yours), how to use Tor (and when), how to be aware of your surroundings with firesheep, what wireshark and nmap are, how to encrypt our email and IM… but above all, WHY we need to care about this anyway. Maybe women-focused; maybe at Noisebridge.

    Why I am asking for this: I’ve read Little Brother. I have set up PGP with thunderbird and OTR with adium/pidgin, and I encrypt my email and IM communications with only 1 person in my life. I have downloaded the Tor Mac client and the firefox extension and used it a few times, but stopped because I left tabs open about Tor for months without doing the research and understanding fully what it does (I mean, I understand that there are certain people that are exit points, and their IP addresses will show up for all the traffic of the people they’re in front of; and it’s all encrypted…) … BUT I have never used a VPN, firesheep, wireshark, or nmap. So I am a beginner and I want to learn more! And I KNOW that instructions are available online, but it’s hard to get people to do it all — it’s much more powerful to meet in person and get things started hands-on (and besides, we could do key-signing parties!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    We could just do a one-off, or we could use the Railsbridge model and call it Securebridge or something. Haha!

    I sat next to someone at dinner on Saturday who told us about being on the front lines in Mexico and teaching people to use encrypted email so that the government couldn’t monitor their communications. If she could do it in Mexico, we can do it here. LET’S GOOOOOOO

  2. Liz Henry says:

    Judy: Yes let’s do that! Feminist Hacker Club meetup at Noisebridge would be really fun! I could certainly do some of that and I w0uld love to do a key signing party. Just having everyone walk through the steps to set that up would be great to do! Also I’ll write up the discussion notes and post them tomorrow (with links and stuff and the typos fixed) and send them to the She’s Geeky notes archive!

  3. Thanks for the tip on taskrabbit. You look good, I have stripped like that, I get some from hot topic (skeleten socks with the bones in different colours), and anarchy shop – a goth/anarchy/clubbing/wetware online shop whose other name starts with F**k. Onward to Kiwicon, I’m trying to figure out how to get there via cruise repositioning from hawaii – southern cross viewing on the cheap.

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