When the truth is considered “too controversial”

I’m beginning to realize how spiritually broken we truly are as a nation when I see a young incoming politician like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say something as logical and sane as “sick people shouldn’t have to die because they can’t afford healthcare” and is labeled everything from a radical to a communist to a wacko and even invited to leave the United States (the country she was born in!) by the mentally unstable man we currently have as president. 

Growing up, I was taught to be blindly patriotic, to accept our white-washed version of history and to never question my country’s stances and policies, especially its foreign policies. As much as I’d like to think of myself as a rebel (I was one in many ways), I’m embarrassed to admit that intellectual laziness made me automatically obey those rules.

Who knows, maybe if I hadn’t broken my neck and become paralyzed  – thus a burden on a system that was designed to favor those at the top while squashing those at the bottom – my intellectual laziness would have lasted to this day. It took getting kicked around by a cruel system to open my eyes and not only learn actual history, but come face to face with my country’s bloody past and ugly present.

Growing up in what was once labeled “the whitest state in the country”, Maine, I don’t remember witnessing a single instance of racial profiling or police brutality, for example. That changed very quickly when I moved to New York City.

Yes, I was aware of the many issues that so often divide the so called left and the so called right, but I had very few first-hand, personal experiences.

It was also my first time meeting a large group of people devoted to changing the things they couldn’t accept: social, racial, environmental and economic injustice. 

I’m not going to drag this out. I’d just like to finish by saying that I find it disheartening and heart-breaking to see empty people like the Kardashians get tens of millions of followers on social media and an unbelievable amount of media attention while courageous justice warriors like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have significantly fewer social media followers and usually get negative media attention, often even getting ridiculed.

And since I’m too old to care about being liked by everyone, I might as well confess that when I post something mundane on social media myself and get a lot more attention than when I bring up issues of importance, I feel not only discouraged but hopeless.

Shut up, Shannon, you’re making us uncomfortable. Just post another cute picture of a pet, a meal, a joke, etc, you’re too political!

OK, I’ll obey, I’ll keep posting cute pictures and videos of cats. Actually of just one cat, a disabled one. But let me warn you: sometimes he sounds like a zen master and other times like Noam Chomsky!

If that’s how I’m going to get people to pay attention to important matters, so be it.

#SocialJustice #SocialJusticeWarriors #StrongWomenScareWeakMen

#ThePlanetIsOnFire #NoTimeForSelfies #UncomfortableFacts

They DON’T hate us for our “freedom”

A “Facebook friend” recently posted this vile meme and left me wondering: how much ignorance and/or hate does it take to publish something like this? If we don’t want refugees, maybe we should stop creating them by bombing the hell out of their countries.

I myself was also taught to be blindly obedient and patriotic and to always stand on the side of my country regardless of the unspeakably horrible things done in its name. But you reach a point (at least I did) when you realize that that’s insane. I mean truly insane. Your conscience starts eating away at you, your inner sense of justice makes you want to take off the blinders and study ACTUAL history.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the United States was founded on the blood of Native Americans and the backs of enslaved human beings brought from Africa. Facts are NOT up for debate.

We have invaded countries and stolen their resources. Sadly, that’s not a thing of the past as it has continued to this day. We have installed bloody dictators all over Latin America (look up “Operation Condor”) to advance corporate interests regardless of the destruction of democracy and the horrendous human rights violations. Those who are invading sovereign nations and installing murderous dictators have no moral authority whatsoever to lecture anyone on human rights and democracy. And they certainly don’t get to complain when the citizens of the countries they’ve ravaged come to our borders in a desperate attempt to survive.

If the United States really cared about human rights and democracy, would it embrace Saudi Arabia where women are considered PROPERTY, human rights are violated on a regular basis and children are taught in school that we are one of their enemies? And now the Trump regime is embracing the murderous dictator that runs the country of North Korea with an iron fist, starves its people and happily executes anyone who looks at him wrong. Freedom and democracy, huh?

“They hate us for our freedom”. That phrase makes me laugh at first, then it makes me angry. They hate us for our imperialism, they hate us for our brutality, they hate us for our greed, they hate us for our bombs. The only absolute freedom we have in the United States is the “freedom” to accept the system that has been imposed upon us without questioning it. Don’t you dare protest against it or you’ll be labeled a radical and/or unpatriotic.

No, I do NOT hate the United States. I hate the corporate takeover of our government. Their ruthless lust for profits above anything else is truly sickening. I’d love to be proud of my country because I do love it, but I hate what it has become.

A culture that doesn’t acknowledge its mistakes is doomed to repeat them.

Spare me your outrage.

#QuadriplegicRefugee #RefugeeSolidarity #RefugeesAreHumanBeings #AmericanRefugee #UncomfortableFacts
#USForeignPoliciesCreateRefugees #NoOneIsIllegalOnStolenLand #CorporationsAreTheREALWelfareQueens #ImperialismIsViolence #DissentIsTheHighestFormOfPatriotism

https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2018/09/world/yemen-airstrikes-intl/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Condor

https://www.wearelatinlive.com/article/4487/heres-a-twist-91-of-americans-living-in-mexico-are-illegal

https://www.newsweek.com/thousands-americans-cross-border-mexico-affordable-medical-treatment-each-1426943F81C3B24-5554-4CC7-B6B1-A9971B6D6E79

A Mile In Our Wheels

#AMileInMyWheels #AMikeInOurWheels #SpinalCordInjuries #Quadriplegia #Paraplegia #TheDisabledAreABurdenOnSociety unlike #War and #CorporateWelfare

#WeDidntChooseThis #WheelchairLife #CatastrophicAccidents #QuadrillegicRefugee #AnimalCruelty #AnimalRescue

I’m a quadriplegic American refugee

This is my story:

The promise of stem cell therapy

A dear friend of mine adopted a paraplegic kitten that some soulless, pathetic excuse of a human had harmed and discarded as garbage.

The poor cat had been literally living off garbage until a kind human saw him and brought him home. My friend then adopted him and the kitty’s long process of recovery began. His liver was in bad shape, his kidneys were failing and he suffered from severe colic. The vet said that his paralysis was the least of his problems at that point.

Fast forward two months: he’s in great health, playful and adorable. His vet referred my friend to a specialist who could set him up with a series of treatments for his paralyzed legs. After reviewing his x-rays and his entire medical history, the vet told my friend “I recommend stem cell therapy, hydrotherapy and physical therapy”.
My friend literally screamed and jumped for joy when she heard the words STEM CELL THERAPY. She had no idea that such a thing was even a possibility! Having known me for so long, she was very familiar with stem cell therapy and its potential uses.

As I’m sure you can all imagine, I’ve spent countless hours doing research for a cure for paralysis ever since my accident. There is none. However, stem cell therapy has been PROVEN to increase mobility in a surprisingly high percentage of spinal cord patients. I have to be brutally honest here, when I see fellow spinal cord injury sufferers talk about the possibility of walking again after undergoing stem cell therapy, I get sad because I don’t think that’s realistic at all. I certainly wouldn’t expect to walk again, but I know for a fact that stem cell therapy offers the very real possibility of increased mobility and that would make a world of difference for someone like me!

Able-bodied people would probably think “what would make you think that increased mobility would make such a big difference in your life?” I’m happy to explain.

I’ve met other quads who had more mobility than me and as a result didn’t need 24/7 care. For example a C5 quad woman I met in NYC was able to shower by herself (with supervision, of course) and she was also able to do things such as hold her phone (clumsily but still able) and sign her own checks. She could also feed herself with very little assistance. We had the exact same diagnosis: C5 quadriplegia, but she only needed part-time assistance due to the fact that she had more mobility in her arms, whereas I need assistance 24/7 because I can’t even scratch an itch on my forehead.

So yeah, increased mobility would definitely make me less of a burden to those around me.

I’ll be following this little guy’s progress with extreme interest!

Why am I crying?

#StemCellTherapy #SpinalCordInjuries #WheelchairLife #AMileInMyWheels

Update: It was decided that Scooter wasn’t a good candidate for stem cell therapy yet although that might change soon.82E14FAF-CC38-46FC-BD6D-347EB3C6926832C0DAF5-85FE-486F-8646-DEFDDB143F43

Why is greed so prevalent?

An experience I recently had with the only wheelchair accessible cab service in town prompted me to write this.

Greed motivates way too many people, not only in the United States of Corporations, but sadly all over the world.

I live in a city with very limited wheelchair accessible public transportation and have no choice but to call an expensive cab company that has wheelchair accessible vans whenever I need a ride. They are actually quite new. They only started operating last year. I spoke with the owner a few weeks ago and she explained that her family owns several large businesses, including a few cab companies, and when they saw a need for wheelchair accessible transportation, they jumped on it. They are wealthy, that’s obvious.

It became painfully clear to me that the only thing that motivates these people is greed when one time I dared to bring two suitcases with me (we were moving that day and I thought I’d help by carrying at least a couple of pieces of luggage). When the cab driver called the main office and mentioned that I had “extra luggage”, they sounded annoyed and charged me an extra fee. Why? It’s not like I asked them to help me carry anything, my caregiver was with me and she carried the suitcases. Also, those are not shared rides, so it’s not like I was taking up someone else’s space or anything. I don’t understand why they’d charge extra money especially considering the fact that I’m a loyal customer. Well, I have no choice since, sadly, they have no competition! But still, to take advantage of the fact that there is no competition is, in my humble opinion, despicable.

On another occasion they charged me an outrageously high extra fee for “having to wait”. Wow.

I know that attacking capitalism and capitalist-minded individuals makes me sound crazy to some people but honestly, at this point in my life I’m all out of fucks to give. Greed is disgusting. Period.

No, I’m not saying that everything should be free and that people shouldn’t charge for goods or services, I’m not insane. What I am saying is, why let greed be the main motivating factor when running a business? For example, the people that own the cab company I mentioned above could easily lower their rates and still make a killing. Yet they not only charge high fees (to a segment of the population that’s not exactly rich), they also find excuses to charge extra fees. Unacceptable.

I’d LOVE to get a wheelchair accessible van and become their competition! This is how I would operate:
– Can you afford to pay full fare? Please do so.
– You can only afford to pay half the regular fare? That’s fine.
– You can’t afford to pay? That’s OK. We’ll help you anyway and compensate for the expense by selling merchandise and holding fundraisers with local businesses.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but there’s an army of us. We just need to organize ourselves as well as the greedy crowd.

Would anyone wish they made more money on their deathbed?

#AMileInMyWheels #PeopleBeforeProfits #GreedWillDoomUsAll #CompassionIsPriceless

Callous ignorance

I’d like to address a callous comment that was posted on my op-ed article detailing my struggles as a disabled person who had to flee her country, the United States, to save her own life.

It takes a great deal of cowardice to anonymously attack a severely disabled person publicly discussing her life struggles in hopes of raising awareness about the cruelty with which a large part of the disabled population is treated in the United States.

I stood up to bullies before the accident that left me paralyzed and will continue to do so from this wheelchair.

But the main reason for this letter is to address that person’s main complaints: first, his suggestion that I was to blame for my accident and second, that I have no right to demand anything as far as disability benefits is concerned since I most likely already received all of the contributions I made before becoming paralyzed.

Forget about the callousness – the ignorance of facts it takes to make such a statement is astounding.

He asked how I was injured. Was it while partying? He seemed to feel that I somehow DESERVED to break my neck and become paralyzed, if it indeed happened while partying. No, it didn’t. It was during a swimming pool accident. I know he probably thinks I should have been home and not running any risks, but damn me! I just had to go out and hang out with friends and, gasp, swim!

I was also left with no choice but to explain to this person how public safety nets work. It amazes me that I STILL have to explain something this basic to adults like that hateful man. Social Security is a safety net we all contribute to through our paychecks. Some contribute for decades and don’t live long enough to collect. Other people, like me, contribute for a short period of time and start collecting at a relatively young age. And then there is the overwhelming majority who contribute their whole working lives and receive benefits once they retire. That’s how the system works: we all pay in and money is there for those who need it. It all balances itself out. It’s a way for civilized societies to prevent people from sinking into poverty due to a severe injury. Capiche?

I sometimes wonder if people like that feel as if they have have divine insurance against catastrophic accidents so that they can continue to freely judge people they’re never met, for facing unforeseen circumstances that could happen to anyone.

I guess the reason I allow people like that to affect me negatively is because they are a reminder that brainwashing against the poor has been very successful in what I refer to as the United States of Corporations. There has been a concerted effort by corporate manipulators to criminalize poverty since the Ronald Reagan era. His callous comment didn’t make me sad because I felt personally attacked. No, I actually cried because it made me realize that people who make billions successfully convince people who make thousands that those who haven’t climbed the ‘corporate ladder’ – their idea of success – (the poor, the elderly, the disabled) are the enemy.

Corporate greed is the enemy.

#AMileInMyWheels #WheelchairLife #PeopleBeforeProfits #CorporateGreed #JudgeLessLoveMore

A Mile In My Wheels

My name is Shannon Nelson. I am an American Refugee. This is my story.

Maine Voices: This party girl learned of disabled people’s struggle – the hard way

#AMileInMyWheels #AmericanRefugee #WheelchairLife #Corporatocracy #TwistedPriorities

American Refugee

I had to leave the United States to save my life. No hyperbole. I had to leave the only home I knew in order to save my life.

I decided that I couldn’t allow a cruel system now in the hands of a ruthlessly misogynistic, racist, ego and greed driven sociopath kill me. The callous policies and budget cuts enacted by previous GOP administrations (since the Reagan days) as well as the Trump administration have directly and negatively affected the disabled community of which I am part. I was at a point where I was facing homelessness and having to contemplate suicide as a way out. I actually researched it and found out that even that wasn’t an option because I’m supposed to be suffering from a terminal condition in order to qualify for assisted suicide in California. I guess quadriplegia doesn’t qualify as a ”terminal condition”.

Isn’t it disturbing that severely disabled Americans like myself can make peace with our disabilities but have to contemplate suicide as a way out of being unable to get the services needed to survive? We can’t afford to hire lobbyists, so I guess that makes us disposable. The greatness of a nation should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens – not by how much it helps its wealthiest.

Am I saying that all of our country’s problems started with Trump? Of course not. It’s the system that we have in place that puts profits ahead of people. All Trump did was put it on steroids and brag about it as if it were normal.

Anyway, I said fuck suicide and applied for a passport (and then a visa) instead. I am one of the lucky ones, not everyone can do what I did. It makes my heart ache to think that I left behind fellow disabled friends in dire situations. I wish I could have brought them all with me!

When I, a disabled American citizen who always played by the rules and contributed to the system until the day she broke her neck and became paralyzed, has to make the radical decision to leave her country in order to SAVE HER LIFE, you need to pause and re-think that “greatest country in the world” myth. I have lost count of the number of people I’ve met who are in similar situations and whose plan B is suicide.

Before I continue, I’d like to point out that I have documented proof of everything I’m stating here.

My mother left me some money upon her passing a few years ago which allowed me to move twice within the country looking for a better life for myself. I ended up giving up that pointless search because I realized that I was wasting my time moving from state to state. It’s the system. While some states treat their disabled populations better than others (thank you, New York!) others treat them as a complete burden (I’m looking at you, Arizona). But across the board, we seem to be the easiest target for budget cuts.

The financial resources my mother left me which allowed me to travel and explore options for a more dignified life, have now dwindled to nothing because I’ve been paying for attendant care out of pocket as well as outrageously high rent while waiting to be approved for around-the-clock care and subsidized housing. After months of waiting, I was only approved for up to 68 hours of care a week. Highly inadequate for my needs considering the fact that I cannot do absolutely anything for myself and need assistance throughout the day and night. The wait lists for subsidized housing are SO long (years!), I became convinced that I was going to die while waiting.

I was facing either homelessness or a slow painful death in a nursing home. I spent time in three of those houses or horror. I nearly got killed in the first (in Maine), which is why I escaped; and only survived the other two (in New York) thanks to my amazing friend Rose Mary who made sure she showed up every single day to take care of me. The monstrous things we witnessed inside those places left us forever scarred. Nursing homes are neither equipped nor staffed to properly care for severely disabled individuals like myself. I happen to know this from personal experience.

My fellow quad friend Chip died in a nursing home due to a pressure sore (extreme neglect). He used to drink daily to numb his physical and emotional pain. He was only in his mid 40s when he passed. I am 47. Dying slowly and painfully from extreme neglect is NOT how I envision myself checking out after everything I’ve been through (abuse, surgeries, bone infections, etc). Yeah, fuck that.

Budget cuts that take away food and care for the poor, elderly and disabled; tax cuts for people with yachts; cages for immigrant children; the relentless and despicable demonization of immigrants (led by a descendant of immigrants himself!); the normalization of hate; putting profits ahead of the well-being of the only planet we have; the vicious attack on women’s rights, promoting sexual predators to positions of power and authority, Etc. Is this really who we are?

Not happy with screwing us over by slashing funds for programs that our most vulnerable citizens depend on for survival, the heartless sociopath in the white house and his minions went after the ADA! (Americans With Disabilities Act). I never thought I’d witness that degree of evil! I’ve been denied access to a bathroom by a Walgreens employee AS A PAYING CUSTOMER for the first time in the 23 years of being disabled after Trump’s minions eviscerated the ADA. Large businesses, run by obscenely wealthy executives who prey on their fellow citizens, now know that they can get away with it. The psycho is on their side. They even went after “Meals on Wheels”!! Is this really who we are becoming? Are we really going to normalize this? Please don’t! Please get involved and resist. Apathy will be our downfall.

Needless to say, I will continue to #RESIST from far away.

#AMileInMyWheels #AmericanRefugee #Resist #ThisIsNotWhoWeAre #NoOneIsIllegalOnStolenLand #BalancingBudgetsOntheBacksOfThePoorAndDisabledIsImmoral #AsylumSeekersAreNotCriminals #USForeignPoliciesCreatedALotOfRefugees #CagingChildrenIsFuckedUp #ThereIsNoPlanetB #TheWholeWorldIsWatching #ResistResistResist #CompassionIsNotWeakness #WillYouWishYouHatedMoreOnYourDeathBed #LetThatSinkInIMG_4740.JPG

Values?

“Where are all the grandparents?” My recently arrived Latin American friend asked.
“We put them in nursing homes” I replied, as if it was normal.
“That’s fucked up!” She said.
“She’s silly and  judgmental”, I thought to myself.
“You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. You’re supposed to take care of them when they can no longer take care of themselves!” She added.
“Well, I guess we have different values up here” I replied.
“Values? You call those “values”? I guess we have a different view of the meaning of that word.” she added. Then shook her head and walked away.

Years later I learned how very right she was and how messed up our culture and “values” really are.

Is it really worth spending an entire life trying to climb the corporate ladder? And what if you actually arrive? I have yet to meet a truly happy, joyful and peaceful Wall Street broker. I lived in New York City. There are plenty of those out there. What angry, pitiful and stressed out beings they are. I’d rather die a quick death than go through life just existing while desperately trying to “make it” at the cost of losing sight of what truly matters: those things that money can’t buy.

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