Charity of the Month

Given the leak from the Supreme Court regarding overturning Roe Vs Wade choosing a cause to support this month was easy. I am horrified at the implications this decision would have.

Telling half the population they have no right over their own body is barbaric. This is a death sentence for so many people. As with most of these hard right agendas, it will disproportionately impact poor people. Those with money will always find ways to access abortion services. It isn’t possible to ban abortion, removing legal access only makes the procedure unsafe. Make no mistake, this will kill people. Be clear also, that the right will not stop with abortion. This is the start of an erosion of the rights of women & those with ovaries.

You can’t ban abortion. You can only ban safe abortion on rainbow background

If you are in the states I urge you to contact your representatives and let them know how ardently you oppose this move. Where ever you are in the world, if you have means please consider donating to organisations who help people access abortion care.

National Network of Abortion Funds

Fund Texas Choice

Planned Parenthood

Naral Pro Choice America

Abortion Rights

Alliance for Choice

Abortion Support Network

The Anti-Diet Club

I am talking Body Acceptance & Medical Weight Bias on this amazing podcast today. I’d be delighted if you fancied a listen.

The podcast creators Gillian McCollum and Tamsin Broster both do really powerful work in body acceptance/anti diet sphere. Please check them out too.

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Don’t leave me this way…

Since we seem to be heading full steam into SUCK IT territory for the disabled & chronically ill I wanted to talk about my experience of covid. There has been an overarching theme of those with existing health conditions being dispensable from the start, but now it’s pretty much being explicitly stated by our leaders. I want everyone to know how frightening this is for those of us that so many are happy to sacrifice.

As a person with chronic health issues (arthritis, fibromyalgia, stomach disease, anaemia, PCOS) I took covid seriously from the beginning. Lockdown was a complete lockdown for me. I stayed at home. I had no visitors. All my essentials were delivered. The only contact I had with anyone was the occasional driveway visit. My sister or bestie would stand in my drive and I’d sit in my open from door. I didn’t touch another human being or leave my house for months. I had hospital stays without visitors, didn’t celebrate my 40th birthday and spent Xmas 2020 at home on my own. My lockdown stretched on further than the official stay at home orders. Since early 2020 I have spent the majority of my time at home and I have been scared since the beginning. I had no idea what covid might do to me. I’ve experienced catching bugs or viruses that were no biggie for others, but sent me to the hospital. Every time I heard of someone dying being caveated with they had existing health problems, I knew that could be me. This pandemic has always been an emergency situation for me & those like me.

I now regularly see family & one close friend. I wear a mask, sanitise, stay outside as much possible. If I must be inside I go to places that follow all covid precautions and I exercise extreme caution. Doctor appointments aside I leave my home about once a week. I still have everything delivered and avoid contact with those outside my immediate circle. I do home tests before and after I go anywhere. With a couple of exceptions a restricted life has become my normality.

I contracted covid 19 in oct 2020. At that point I was spending 99% of my time alone at home. I was seeing only my sister, mum & nephew and wasn’t visiting anyone indoors. I still managed to catch the virus despite none of the family I was in contact becoming infected. The acute illness was not severe. It lasted about ten days & felt like having a stomach flu. I had more gastric than cold/flu like symptoms. My cough was very mild. I lost my sense of smell & taste. I felt terrible, but I didn’t require any medical attention. In the following weeks I really struggled with breathlessness & racing heart but assumed this would pass. It did not.

15 months later I am still dealing with long covid. My already limited mobility has been massively impacted. I become breathless even moving around my own home. I have to sit even to brush my teeth, make a cup of tea etc. I have overwhelming fatigue, brain fog and widespread pain have markedly intensified since having covid. I experience palpitations and chest pains on the slightest exertion. My heart rate regularly climbs to heights whilst trying to complete the most basic of tasks. I have been hospitalised on 4 occasions because my heart rate would not slow down to an acceptable level. Drs can monitor and treat symptoms, but they know almost nothing about long covid. They can’t tell my why these symptoms persist or if they will ever go away. My chest x rays are clear, my heart is not damaged. The tachycardia & breathlessness are a covid mystery.

A frightening and very real mystery. It is scary to feel as though your heart is going to burst out of your body. Or to be so out of breath that your head spins and chest burns. It’s a million times more terrifying to be told that the experts have no idea why it is happening or how they can make it better. Fear has been common thread. 2021 has been a really hard year for my health. All of my existing symptoms have worsened. The added problems have caused me serious problems and I think I have picked up every cold, stomach bug & infection going. All of which has been alarming. I’m worried that the next illness or flare might be the big one. I’m stressed about all the work I can’t do and the financial repercussions of that. I am chilled at just how little I am now able to do before becoming too exhausted/sore/dizzy/breathless to continue. Most of all I am terrified of what could happen if I get another variant of covid.

I am fully vaccinated (& boosted). I have masks galore, anti bac in every bag & pocket. I still leave parcels & deliveries by the door for an hour before I touch them. I bought a device to sanitise my phone. I’m never in crowds. I rarely go out. I’m acutely aware that I was being even more careful when I caught covid the first time. Every single aspect of my life has been affected by this pandemic. I know I am not alone. Most people have sacrificed. Many are in the same boat as me & others in far more treacherous vessels. I understand that this has been a collective trauma that everyone is eager to put behind them. I just wish more people would understand that this isn’t over yet.

When you justify the need to ‘live with covid’ by saying that most healthy people only experience mild symptoms I am the exception in that sentence. People like me will die or be permanently disabled if we ignore how dangerous covid still is. I understand that you want your life back. You want to stop worrying and missing out. I do too, but if we throw caution to wind now it’s not without consequence. If we pretend that covid is just another part of life we are throwing the sick, disabled, old & vulnerable to the wolves. I believe that those lives are worth as much as any other. Our needs are already ignored in so many ways, please don’t abandon us altogether.

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And just like that, I’m not ok…

I have just finished the first episodes of the much awaited And Just Like That. I was excited for the return of the S&TC girls (I know). I loved the original. I even liked the slightly dodgy films. I was so happy to see them all again. And now, I am not ok.

Poster for and just like that featuring Sarah Jessica Parker , Cynthia Nixon & Kristin Davies

If you’re planning to watch & don’t want me to spoil it, stop reading now. If you’re still here, how are you doing? Did you survive that first episode? I was so unprepared. Not until Lily started playing those foreboding notes did I suspect that Big was in danger. Those sneaky fuckers got me. As soon as the scenes started cutting from big on the bike to Lily on the piano; I knew. I didn’t want to accept it though.

I was really enjoying happily ever after with Carrie & Big. He’s still hot. Still colouring outside the lines. Still an old school romantic. Carrie is still Carrie. The writing is good. The shoes are better. It was all working until they broke my heart. This is not the forever I was looking for. How can Mr Big be dead? Why on earth did the writers think we could cope with this storyline?

Still from and just like that. Carrie cradling Big in her arms

I can’t stop crying! Listen, I always cry at the sad bits. Books, films, tv shows, life. If it’s sad, I cry. However, I think after 2yrs of a pandemic and all it brought maybe everyone’s emotions are a little raw. I find it increasingly difficult to view a whole range of media. The news is obviously a very rough watch. Fiction isn’t really much easier. The stress, fear, anger, grief has been turned up so high in real life that I really struggle not to absorb those emotions from fiction. I start feeling sad about a storyline and before I know it I’m flooded with a million real things to be sad about. Repeat for anger and so on. I’m beginning to think that Covid has left even more of a mark on me than I realised.

I’m wondering if others aren’t feeling the same. We’re all aware of the trauma covid brought. Huge losses & life altering changes. I’m not sure we have properly thought about the long term impact on our collective psyche. Lots of us were lucky enough not to lose a loved one. Many careers have not crashed and homes are maintained. A significant amount of people didn’t even get sick. Nonetheless, everything feels different. Also, the same. Is this chiming with anyone?

I feel like the world should have changed. So much of it hasn’t and that feels incompatible with where we are now. It’s hard to climb out of all those extreme emotions we’ve been swimming in. It’s even harder not to feel the need to revolt against those who still can’t bring themselves to care. I can’t articulate it perfectly, but I feel something has shifted. It could be wishful thinking. I hope not. It’s like the other shoe is just dangling from a single toe now. The people who least expect it might be about to get squashed.

ly wearing tortoiseshell glasses leaning her head on one hand and looking fed up

Well, that was quite the leap. From a 90’s reboot to revolution in less than a 1000 words. I think that might actually prove my point; there’s a lot bubbling right under the surface. Anyway, in brief, whether you’re sad about John James Preston, the damage a global pandemic has wreaked or the craven shower we are governed by, I feel you. It’s hard to keep it in. You’re not the only one. Be gentle with yourself.

Charity of the month…

Christmas is around the corner & along with all the big Xmas ads come the Sally Army appeals. They portray a kindly organisation providing aid for poor suffering souls. I understand why well meaning folks send money their way at Christmas. However, there is darkness behind that brass band. Thus, I want to urge to support less judgmental groups.

The Salvation Army are the quintessential ‘sing for your supper’ charity. Their help does not come without strings. There have been many reported cases of discrimination against LGBTQ+ & addict users of Sally Army services. The church is anti LBGTQ+, anti choice, anti harm reduction drug policies et al. You can find more information here & here. Of course you are free to give donate your money anywhere you please, but if this doesn’t align with your beliefs there are many excellent alternatives.

Social Bite are a incredible organisation who provide hot meals, employment & social housing for homeless people. You can donate in a variety of ways including pay it forward meals in their restaurants.

Social bite in green circular background with bite taken out of it

Birth,Baby & Beyond provide essentials for new parents & families. With the recent £20 cut in Universal Credit combined with rising prices of almost everything struggling families are facing extreme crisis. B,B&B accept donations of baby equipment, clothes, toys & food. They currently have an emergency pack appeal that requires support. Please donate if you can.

Group of new born baby essentials and birth, baby & beyond  van

Kid’s Out allow you donate a Xmas present to children who many not otherwise receive one. Many of the children they live with are in refuge escaping domestic violence. The simple requests are heartbreaking, these kids really deserve to have gifts under their tree. You can now pick a toy & buy it on their website, so it could not be easier.

I will be sharing more charities making a difference at Xmas over the coming weeks. If you are in a position to do so, I hope you will lend your support.

The ethical fatty paradox…

I’ve been working on/thinking about this piece for a while, but there have been moving parts. With COP26 happening a few miles from my doorstep now seemed the time to float it.

Finnisteon crane, the armadillo & hydro buildings on clydeside

I’m a big supporter of supporting small brands, especially local ones. The benefits of shopping small are multi fold and many naturally align themselves with anti climate change measures. Ethical business practices including zero waste, natural ingredients, recycling materials, vegan products, less environmental impact of using locally sourced material & taking to market close to that source are all more prevelant (& easier to confirm) in small business. There are of course also the direct human impacts of living wages, supporting passion projects & allowing sustainable lifestyles to thrive. It all adds up to small brands being a sensible & compassionate way to spend your money.

What’s more, this thinking is going mainstream. We’re all really staring to get on board with this thinking. It’s a slow burn, but the flames are building. Ethical consumption is becoming a hot topic. All of which is wonderful, except for the people who are excluded. There are barriers to ethical shopping. Some of which are not at the fault of the business. For example, cost. Paying a living wage, sourcing ethical material, handmade items etc all necessarily drive up price. That more people can afford those prices is a societal issue (which also massively impacts climate change). However, sometimes the exclusion is a choice & that’s where your favourite fat nag comes in.

As a fat disabled freelancer I find myself forced to buy from places that would not be first choice. Having a variable income & a fat arse means I have to rely on fast fashion much more than I would I like. I do really try to support ethical brands, but with clothes in particular it is a struggle. I usually wear a uk 20/22, which though on the smaller side of the plus range, is still battle underrepresented outside the big high street brands. If I did not have access to the internet my wardrobe would rapidly diminish. I would love to shop in the many cool independent shops that Glasgow has spurned, but it honestly isn’t possible. There are limited options for t shirts & more expensive made to measure items. For most items, matching even high end big brand prices is still a dream.

The reason it’s taken me so long to put this together is that I tried a little fashion experiment. I searched a selection of small independent stores in Glasgow for my own or larger sizes. When I couldn’t find any I contacted the shops to enquire if they planned to expand their ranges to include larger people. The answers I received (or not) were deeply predictable.

Amaryllis Boutique

The largest size I could find on their site was a UK 20 & that was only a few items. I contacted them late September to ask if they had any plans to extend their range of sizes. I have yet to receive a response.

Hayley McSporran Studio

The largest size I could find on this site was a UK 18. This brand is billed as slow fashion made in Glasgow. I contacted them in late September & did receive a quick response. However, it was the familiar story of being a very small brand & so unable to expand their sizing. I’ve never bought this argument as an independent small batch creator is entirely in control of what they produce. If inclusivity were a priority they would work it out.

Nancy Smillie

This site was the most confusing. Most of their clothes had no size information at all. I contacted the shop mid September & received a quick reply. Their clothes are ‘one size fits all’, which apparently will fit a size 12-18 depending on required fit. I’m sure all my fellow fatties will be as dubious of ‘one size’ as I am. It almost always mean, not for you. However, when I asked about plans to extend sizing they did say that added new lines/designers every season and they may stock larger sizes in the future. Although that answer is vague it did at least show willingness to expand.

Gallus Alice

I contacted this shop in late July to ask if the had plans to extend their size range & have yet to receive a response. The biggest size I could find on their website was an XL & that was only available for some t-shirts. There’s no size guide on the site, so I don’t know what the XL translates to. I can say that I have tried to shop here (they have lots of cool things) & nothing came close to fitting me.

Pampas Glasgow

The largest size I could find on their site was UK 16. I contacted them in August & have yet to receive a response.

The point of this experiment is not to damage these brands. They are all small independent businesses stocking desirable fashion. Rather I just want to show the lack of options for the would be ethical fat consumer. Please continue to patronise independent local boutiques. It is important that we help this type of business flourish. However, if you notice that your fav has a limited size range please ask them about that. There is a huge untapped market, we need customers to show interest in larger sizes to prove that.

If you are looking for small Scottish brands to support you can find some here & here .

I was lost…

It’s 2.35am. I’ve been alerted via social media posts that it’s World Mental Health Day. I feel bound to write something on the topic. However, I’m a little stuck on exactly what that should be.

We’re probably all feeling stuck in one way or another. Nearly 2 years into a pandemic that has changed everything and nothing at the same time. It is surreal to learn that global crisis is status quo for the capitalist monster. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise, but somehow I thought perhaps we might find a way to rise. We haven’t. The incredibly rich continue to suck the (literal) life out of almost everyone else. Those already in the worst positions suffer the most. The rest of us get sick, grieve, sacrifice, struggle and still find ways to pay the rent. It’s A LOT. Even folk with the most robust mental health have floundered. Anyone who was shaky pre Covid probably found the rigours of a plague made them increasingly sinkable.

I’ve found myself in and out of a strange no man’s land. Not ok, but entirely unable to properly articulate the details of that not okness. I’m generally a bit lost. I feel like the world is crumbling around me. We’re witnessing tragedy after tragedy. Death & destruction abound. Our leaders seemingly with no more clue than the rest of us. Politicians still scrambling for money & power as the bodies pile up. Your boss still wants their 35hrs, tabloids still print trash & people are still sleeping on the streets. None of it makes sense.

We’ve already started packaging the accumulated trauma of Covid as ‘burn out’. People write peppy pieces on how to beat burnout with an aim of getting everyone back to bloody work. Back to the commute & the offices even though people are still dying every day. Why? Because despite working from home actually proving to be more productive the higher ups want you back where they can see you. No comfort for the workers. The Tory government continues to grind their boots on our necks too. Cut universal credit amongst Covid & Brexit insanity. Carry on fucking the NHS and refugees and hungry children. Then they film the PM doing puns of their ridiculous slogan and pretend that’s a solution. I’m surprised anyone is still sane.

It’s not over. No definite end in sight. Always another calamity over the next hill & zero provision for help. No extra money for mental health services. Accessing even the most basic support is more difficult than ever. All the people who were already living on a knife edge haven’t gone anywhere. The problem has just multiplied.

*

So, this year I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying forever. Awareness is great, but to treat mental illness we need money and a different ideology. I can’t see any change in NHS mental health funding or direction until there is a huge change in Downing St. Not merely a change of party, but a shift in the will of power. My heart sinks when I think about how long that could take.

* Buy here.

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If I had a little a money…

In recent weeks the cost of disability debate seems to be all over the place again. Mainly able bodied folk rudely telling disabled folk what we do & do not need. It is of course offensive and exceptionally annoying to be on the receiving end of this. Debating your reality us never fun. Hence, I thought I’d do a little run down of the day to day expenses that my disabilities incur. I am far from the worst case scenario, so bare that in mind when you’re processing this.

It feels important to make it clear that sick & disabled people are rarely just given the things they require. There is a myth that equipment, money, human support & treatments are just handed out to anyone asking. They absolutely are not. Any help we do receive is procured through humiliating assessments, long waiting lists & much general fuckwittery. At the end of which our requests are often denied. It’s a special kind of torture to lay yourself bare to unfeeling beaurocrats only to be gaslit & told you’re fine. Or, sometimes even more frustrating, It’s accepted that you need help & such help exists, but it is not available to you for ‘reasons’. We are screwed over time & again, left with the option of paying for the thing ourselves or never getting it. When the thing that must be paid for is essential, that’s not really a choice.

So, bearing in mind that many disabled people’s ability to work full time (or at it all) is impacted by their conditions, how do you think your pocket would deal with this.

Travel

I can’t get around much on my own as I can’t walk very far. During Covid public transport has been even less of an option for me. I have to take taxis everywhere. Using last week as an example, this costs:

  • Hospital App – £11.80
  • Visit Bestie – £11.30
  • Vet – £8.60
  • Pick up Bronan’s Prescription- £8.80
  • Post Office – £8.60
  • Work Meeting – £22
  • Weekly Total – £71.10

Pain Relief

Lots of really effective pain relief options are simply not available via the NHS. These are pain management related items I have had to buy.

  • Heat Pads – £5 per 3 pack.
  • Tens Machine – £65
  • Tens Pads – £5 per 10.
  • Long Hot Water Bottle – £20
  • Microwaveable Heat Pouch – £15
  • Dragon Balm – £2.50 a jar.
  • Lidocaine Patches – £60 per 10 pack.
  • Vape – £35
  • Cbd Oil – £15 per 50ml.
  • Freeze Spray – £1
  • Paracetamol – 56p per 12
  • Massage – £70 per 60 mins.
  • Kinesiology Tape – £5.50
  • Yoga Mat – £20
  • Foam Roller – £12

Disability Aids

I believe some local councils will fit disability aids in social housing or if people meet certain criteria. Unfortunately I do not live in social housing nor meet those criteria. Thus, I had had to purchase any device I require.

  • Walking Stick Ferrule – £5
  • Easi Reach – £10.99
  • Easy Open Food Containers – £25
  • Jar Opener – £5.50
  • Easy Veg Chopper – £20
  • Multi Bottle Opener – £5
  • Auto Can Opener – £15
  • Lotion Aplicator – £8
  • Walking Stick Seat – £25
  • Sock/Tights Aid – £8
  • Bra Angel – £17
  • Hook/Zipper Assist – £6
  • Suction Grab Handles – £28
  • Shower Seat – £35
  • Wearable Tens Holder – £20
  • Press on Lights – £10 per 3 pack.

Services

There are jobs that must be done regularly that I am incapable of doing. There is no support for such things, so I must pay people to do them.

  • Grass Cutting – £45
  • Hedge Cutting – £60
  • Weeding & Garden Tidying – £100
  • Wheelie Bin Cleaning – £8
  • Window Cleanimg – £8
  • Bathroom & Kitchen Deep Clean – £175

On top of the costs outlined most disabled people also report spending more on bills. My gas bill tends to be high as I have a greater need & more difficulty keeping warm. My electricity bill soars with the need to charge various essential aids & technology. My food shopping is increased by the need to purchase lots of pre prepared fruit & veg, free from items to accommodate my dodgy stomach, plus the cost of food waste when I am unable to cook/eat. Having everything delivered incurs a cost as does working from home, which both add to my outgoings. In fact, Scope reports that on average disabled people face extra costs of £583 per month. That’s only accounting for necessary day to day living.

Should a disabled person attempt to do anything beyond the basic there will of course also be additional costs. Try going on holiday, trying a new hobby, undertaking to study a new discipline and you will find that there are always extras/different apparatus to enable a disabled person to take part. Almost every aspect life presents a bigger bill.

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We’re all from somewhere…

August’s donation needed very little thought. I obviously felt compelled to help those faced with impossible circumstances in Afghanistan.

I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone deals with their world crumbling overnight. Especially when every single gain has been so so incredibly hard won. Our interventions in this country make this mess our responsibility. We must help those we have left behind. If you can please give whatever is within your power to one of the following organisations.

Refugee Council

Rooms for Refugees

Care4Calais

Refuweegee

IRC

You can also help by writing you MP and expressing how much you care about this issue. We must make our representatives aware that we want them to act to save Afghan lives.

Thou shalt never…

I love a good slogan t shirt. However I’m not really into the sensation of anything too restrictive around my neck. Enter, my shaky customisation skills.

I’ve hardly worn this tee because the crew neck felt uncomfortable. After some chopping & sewing I think it’s going to get much more body time. Add the comfiest velvet trousers, a spot of leopard print & you’ve got a look.

Trousers – Elvi
Vest – Monsoon
T-Shirt – GrlClb

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