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MRI Forthcoming – Physical Therapy Happening

There has been so much going on that I felt like blog posts would be overwhelming, but I’m going to just focus on one thing at a time. Today’s post? Physical therapy.

I went to a pain clinic last Wednesday to be evaluated due to a pain I was getting in my lower pelvic region whenever I ride a bike. With other examinations, it was ascertained that my spine is having issues, so I was prescribed physical therapy (which I need, anyway, so I’m pretty happy with it), and that an MRI of the spine would be happening, pending the results of my physio evaluation, which happened, today.

Results: I have no balance, but good form. Which, okay.

The beginning of the visit went about like this:

Physio: Do this move. [lays on back, knees bent, draws one knee up to chest]
Me: Um, my boobs are in the way.
Physio: …wait, are you THAT flexible?
Me: I guess?
Physio: …
Me: …

So the stretches for my hips are all invalid, because I’ve got hypermobility of both those and my shoulders. She asked me to show her a stretch that would actually cause my hips to feel anything, and I went into pigeon pose, which for the uninitiated looks like this:

pigeon pose

That’s what I’ve been doing for years to stretch out pants (don’t laugh, other women do it, too, though maybe not like that), and didn’t know it had a name.

The physio started laughing, and told me to not do that pose, any more, because I could cause more damage, and we needed to get my tendons to actually do what they’re supposed to, again, and stretching them too much would basically defeat the purpose. Okay, then. She confirmed that I’d done dance, we ascertained that I have no balance and that I needed to start standing on one leg while brushing my teeth, and then got down to exercises.

I did some hip sway thing while laying on my back, did the standard “move your arms alternately,” did some weird marching thing on my back, and then I got to use the machines, which included a sitting stairstepper (yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds), and leg presses using my own weight. My quads are in good shape, I just need more endurance, but my calves were like HAHAHAHAHA when I tried to lift my body weight with my toes.

There’s a hydrotherapy area just next to the weight bench, and I kept glancing over there because a man was doing treadmill work, and the physio said, “You know what? That’s not a bad idea for you. Bring your swimsuit next time, and we’ll start you in hydrotherapy.”

The reasoning behind this is weird, but if I understand it correctly, my hips are so hypermobile that I’m not going to be able to build muscle because they have no resistance. They usually get resistance from muscles and bones or something. So the resistance will come from the water until they can do it on their own.

Now I have to buy a swimsuit.

And I’m getting an MRI soon to figure out what the hell my spine is doing, because my body is numb in really awkward places (the top of my right foot can feel pressure, but has no sensation on the skin – the cold spray test was really weird because I literally couldn’t feel that my foot had been sprayed), and I’m having trouble with some basic tasks. I’ve also got weird tics, and nystagmus.

So there it is. That’s what’s going on, health-wise. What they’re screening for with the MRI goes beyond just regular spinal issues (like swollen or herniated discs), but I’m not at a point where I feel like I can talk about it without getting weirdly emotional.

I’m really looking forward to more physio, though. I’m really enjoying it, so far.

Oklahoma City! Woooo! [MEGA-POST] [EDITED]

I went to visit Jennifer and Michael (i.e. Evyl Robot) last weekend for both some R&R and the SUPER! BitCon convention. (Their son, Isaac, is pretty awesome, and I was happy to meet all of them, finally.) I was able to make this a legitimate work trip due to the fact that there were a number of independent game developers there, and while there were a couple of hiccoughs, the overall trip was amazing, and I’m so glad I went.

It turns out that the guy who literally wrote the book on corrective hair color has his shop in OKC, so of course I asked Jennifer to make an appointment for me. My flight arrived around noon, so we had a couple of hours to kill, and then I went to spend 5 hours in a salon, gabbing and having my hair made to look the best/strangest it ever has.

Here, have some photos:

So that was pretty amazing.

edit:  I met Firehand on Friday! It was exciting, and I can’t believe I forgot to mention it, and I feel like a bit of an ass for it. Here is a photo of him in what turned out to be most of an Indiana Jones cosplay:

Very handsome security, indeed!

Very handsome security, indeed!

I helped with setup on Friday, as well (“helped” basically meaning running around and lifting some really heavy things), and got to take a sneak peek at a really neat piece of gaming equipment that was originally created with the goal of helping Reserves members hone their shooting skills. It’s called the MACS, and it’s pretty badass:

I wrote an article about this, even though I write for an indie games site, because it’s THAT awesome. Here, have a thing that I wrote that’s been on the featured news section for a week. The MACS was part of the Gaming Museum, which had some great little things like the GameBoy sewing machine:

20150327_132448

Yes, this is a sewing machine that hooks up to a Game Boy.

20150327_135523

Here’s the cartridge that makes the whole thing run.

 

There was an exercise bike that also ran on Super Nintendo, and Jennifer was kind enough to demonstrate how it worked (Michael helped!):

I could spend all day recounting the neat stuff I saw during setup, and during the convention, but most of the noteworthy stuff, I’m actually writing about as much as I can on IGM, so you can mosey over there.

The Hasts have a knack for thrift-shopping, and they took me along to their favorite place, known as “Pastor Mike’s.” It’s pretty much a perpetual garage sale, with such a wide variety of stuff that it took me aback. I hadn’t really found anything, and was waiting for some glasses (Star Trek, naturally) to be boxed up for safe carry, when Jen pulled a pair of boots out of a small area and said, “Wow, real Docs made in England.” My first question was “What’s size are they?” and it turns out they’re an 8, so YAY! I got them home, and I seriously thought they were brown because of how dirty they were. Nope, they’re black! I oiled them with grape seed oil to get the surface dirt off, and they’re so pretty. New laces, and they’re ready to go. I wore them around, and the only issue is the insoles – they’re a bit worn. For $5 (maybe $10? I was tired, I’m not sure), you can’t beat this:

We sat around and had good food (I had snow crab legs for the first time! YUM!), played some great video games (Journey! A video might be forthcoming…), and I discovered that strawberry moscato is pretty much the best and most dangerous drink, ever.

I met the animals, and they quickly decided that I was the answer to all of their nap problems. ANIMAL PICTURES! WOO!

I met and immediately irritated the piss out of ProJared, a popular streamer. So that was fun. Here, have a panel discussion:

I actually missed a full day of the convention, because I was too busy having a shitty migraine, but the second day was a lot of fun. I don’t even know how I can condense it into a post that already very long (with lots of photos), because man, AAAGH.

I missed my flight home on Tuesday night, but was able to get on standby for Wednesday, so I got to witness an Oklahoma thunderstorm while eating an excellent pork roast and asparagus, which was fantastic. We don’t often get lightning and thunder that are really spectacular, so being in the middle of that with pretty minimal rainfall (compared to Memphis, where it’s basically raining really hard or just humid) was amazing. I’m not happy about missing my flight, but I was happy to have missed my flight, if that makes sense.

Bayonetta 2 was also played, so that was fun. :D

I met so many great people from the Oklahoma Retro Gamer’s Society, had a great time at the convention, and the Hasts are excellent hosts. I am exhausted, but it was worth every spoon.

I leave you with a photo of me and Jen shooting zombies (House of the Dead – I ran out of quarters when we were halfway through the final boss, which was unfortunate, and I had to modify my stance because it was so crowded):

(photo credit Micah Heath)

(photo credit Micah Heath)

Let’s be irresponsible about information, because that ALWAYS helps, right? Updated.

Okay, so. The IDSA (Infectious Diseases Society of America) is notorious in the Lyme community for their stodgy view on Lyme, and, most notably, chronic Lyme.

Their argument for decades has been, “if there are no antibodies, a bacterial disease is no longer active; therefore, it no longer exists in the body.” That’s more of a paraphrase than a direct quote, but you get the point.

I’ve talked about how Lyme likes to hide in the body’s own cells, how it can cross the blood-brain barrier, etc. These are things bacteria shouldn’t be able to do – but syphilis does it, and it’s recognized as an ongoing problem in people whose infections have gone undetected for years. It can cause lasting damage to the brain because, well, the brain doesn’t really do well under circumstances where it’s being attacked by a disease.

It stands to reason that a disease that can not only cross the blood-brain barrier (i.e. a spirochete), but can also hide using the body’s cells (i.e. a virus or a cancer), could stay in the body as long as its host stays alive. It is a parasitic, virus-like bacteria that proliferates like a cancer. You want to talk about convoluted structure? Lyme and its life-cycle has it (it even exists in manganese, rather than iron – that’s a serious anomaly).

With all of these qualities, and all of the knowledge about Lyme that has been gained in just the past 5 years, one would think that the IDSA would adjust its guidelines and perspectives accordingly, but, well, there are several issues there that I’m not qualified to speak on, but they have to do with conflicts of interest, business-wise.

mayday project irresponsible

The Mayday Project (look them up, I’m not linking to them for reasons you’re about to read) posted the above as a means for people to “take action” and join them for an annual demonstration in Washington, D.C. to protest the IDSA guidelines. I took a screenshot because this might be deleted, and we can’t have that, can we?

That quote in the photo above has no attribution, no date – you can look up the name of the doctors and see that they are, indeed, prominently influencing the current IDSA, and then get excited because it is made to look like this is a current quote that is a reason for hope, thus making the march seem more timely and important.

That quote is from a 1988 paper. Yeah, this means that the doctors in the IDSA are influenced by something other than ethics, but we already knew that.

The march is important, but it’s NOT important enough to lie for the attention.

So I’d like to give the One Finger Salute to The Mayday Project for accusing the IDSA for lying, and then turning around and doing the same thing just to create excitement from people who are looking for hope in their darkest hour.

You can take your 27-year-old quote (yeah – 27 years – count that, again) and shove it up your collective rear end.  You’re irresponsible, and I’ve just lost every single shred of respect I had for your organization with your single action, because you’re supposed to be “the good guys.”

ETA: So this just happened on Twitter – I was expressing excitement, a friend came in to be supportive, and then I realized what had happened, tagged those responsible, and they came back at me with weaksauce. “We’re sorry you misunderstood, but we’re leaving it as-is because we want people to come to our site,” is the gist of the answer.

Here, look at the whole thing (unedited). I got salty, because this is fucking bullshit:

Click to embiggenate. This is too much file for one post.

Click to embiggenate. This is huge, I’m sorry.

Almost set for the NRAAM!

We’ve got a place to stay, I’ve just requested my credentials (and since I still need him to help me around, even though I’m feeling much better, I hope Forrest is approved as my assistant, because yeah, I wouldn’t be able to go without him), and I’m making plans for who/what/where!

I’m ridiculously excited. It’s been 3 years, and I’m not ridiculously sick, any more, so I’ll be able to do a lot more, and have more fun.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone! Let me know if you want to meet up, and I can exchange numbers with people I know (since my phone number changed, this might be necessary, anyway).

Woooo!

Bikes, shots, automobiles, and bendy things.

Today was my 4-month checkup from the neurologist (my very no-nonsense Indian doctor who is freakin’ hilariously blunt).

The focus of the check-up was to make sure my migraine meds are working. Secondary concerns are back and neck pain, dizziness, and nerve pain.

My migraine meds, as far as I can tell, are working. The Lamictal is doing what it’s supposed to do. I’ve had a couple of really bad headaches, and had a two-day migraine from hell just a few weeks ago, but I think it was worse because of stress and lack of sleep. I had a headache today, but a certain tiny little fart-monster decided to walk around the room mewling at me and occasionally jumping on my head, so we’ll go ahead and cite “lack of sleep” on that one, too.

Dizziness is better, balance is better, nerve pain’s still a problem (my legs are seriously pissing me off, you guys), but it’s…bearable, most of the time. Which is a step up, for sure, but I’m still wondering what to do, there.

My balance is so good that I am now able to stand on one leg and do stretches. They’re not pretty, and I’m not the most graceful person in the world, but dammit, for about 10 seconds at a time, I can look semi-normal. I can do the other exercises I was given last time, as well, and they’re helping.

I got those cortisol shots in my hips, again, except instead of the ones in the greater trochanter (i.e. the very top and outside of my femurs), I got them in the sacroiliac joint (it’s in the back, basically where the pelvis meets sacrum, which is near the base of the spine). I didn’t realize that area was bad until the doc pressed on it (I haven’t had someone do that since…um…2009? When I was being screened for fibromyalgia), and I actually went “FUCK, sorry…ow, FUCK…sorry…” and then basically lost my breath. It hurt, is what I’m saying.

After the shots, which also had a numbing agent in them, I was asked to lay on my back on the table, and the neuro stretched and flexed my legs to assess my hips. He lifted my leg up and kept pushing my foot back toward my head…and would stop for a second, look at me, keep pushing, look at me, and finally he said, “Wow, yes, you are flexible.” Thanks, Doc.

I think it was because I hadn’t eaten much, and hadn’t gotten sleep, but after a couple of minutes, the shot went to my head, and I felt legitimately drunk. It wasn’t terribly fun, and neither is the pain in my butt from the shots, but if they help that stupid “non-specific inflammation,” I’ll deal.

THEN THE BEST PART HAPPENED: I got cleared to drive! :D

excellent driver

Anyway, so things are good. I go back in 4 weeks to get the greater trochanter shots, and then won’t go back for 6 months. I’m pretty stoked about being on maintenance.

___

In other news that’s related;

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a new friend who mentioned wanting to go bike riding. I happen to have that great bike I bought *mumble* years ago and only rode twice (because who the hell sells a hybrid commuter to someone who says they want a cruiser? because OW), so I was like “we’ll clean it up and it’s yours!” It didn’t get cleaned up, but she’s taking it, anyway – her boyfriend (who’s a mutual friend of mine) can fix it up, so that’s that. She gets it on Sunday.

This directly relates to what I’m going to be picking up on Saturday:

NEW BIKE

The thinking on this is multi-faceted:

  1. It’s a bike, for cryin’ out loud. You ride them. They’re fun.
  2. Walking hurts the hell out of the joints on the left side of my body. I’m positive that leg’s shorter. I want to exercise, but I want it to be fun (see point 1).
  3. I want to get out of the house.
  4. Forrest will be getting out and riding with me, which will be good for him.

It’s a cruiser, and I sat on it for a while at the store, and while no bike seat is going to be perfectly cushy to someone who has spent the majority of the past two years in bed, I have to say, it’s pretty damned comfy. The way it rides is good, the tires are easy to balance on, and it’s not so tall that I feel like I’m out of control if I feel a bit off-balance.

There’s a great route called the Greenline just down from where we live, and it’s pretty much perfect for riding and walking, but it’s not like our neighborhood is terrible for it, so I don’t have to wait for Forrest if I want to go riding (until my car gets fixed up, I’m still going to be a bum).

So aside from Sophie being an utter buttnugget this morning, things went okay. :D

Song of the Day

They gave me a test to make me the best that I could be
They knew all along that there was something wrong with me
We picked out a spot and made a hole
Wire and glass and stainless steel
Now I can imagine how I’d feel

I got a new heart
I got a new heart
I got a new heart
I got a new artificial heart
It’s not a real heart
It’s not a real heart
It’s not a real heart
It is a real artificial heart

There’s blood on the bed but here in my head I’m feeling fine
It’s easy to sleep when I’m not buzzing all the time
So funny the way I was before
Once I was blind but now I see
Once I was him but now he’s me

I got a new heart
I got a new heart
I got a new heart
I got a new artificial heart
It’s not a real heart
It’s not a real heart
It’s not a real heart
It is a real artificial heart

You’re happy again, I nod and pretend to think it through
I don’t need to think at all if I don’t care for you
It’s not an emergency for me
I look at the walls and they go clear
I cover my eyes and disappear

I got a new heart
I got a new heart
I got a new heart
I got a new artificial heart
It’s not a real heart
It’s not a real heart
It’s not a real heart
It is a real artificial heart

Life is just too exciting for words.

That’s almost sarcasm, but not quite.

The past few weeks have been filled with some true stupid, and some good, and some gross. I’m going to only touch on it.

First, my post about physical abuse has caused a rift, because it upset people who chose to gossip amongst themselves than talk to me about it (until substantiated, it’s gossip, period). What I have to say to them: the person I was writing about doesn’t exist any more, to me. They’re basically dead. The person who took their place is one of my favorite people on this Earth, and I’m grateful every day that this is the case. That entry saved lives, literally. If me sharing my past experiences about a person I don’t consider to be alive, any more, is a problem, I’m sorry to have upset you, but my intent with the entry was to help via experience, which I did. You know where to find me if you want to talk.

_

Second, and this is actually related to the previous point in a weird way, I’ve gone ahead and let folks know I’m genderqueer. The details are basically summed up in this comic:

genderqueerThe reason it’s related to the above is that the very people who are upset at me for the content of the physical abuse post are the ones I was afraid to talk to about this particular trait. So that kind of took care of things for me, since I was afraid they wouldn’t speak to me, and here they are, not speaking to me. I am out, whatever, y’all do what you want with the information, and questions are welcome, either in comments or via email (contact tab above).

ETA: My preferred pronoun is still “she.” Please don’t call me “they/them,” as I grew up with that grammatically being an impersonal pronoun (and usually a plural one), and I don’t have a duality. I’m still one person, and it’s just easier this way.

I likely will not be dressing “out,” because since my hysterectomy, my breasts have actually increased in size. This is common, and is due to hormones trying to balance themselves. They’re sore for the same reason, and binding is nearly impossible. So any comments related to my appearance vs. gender preference aren’t really necessary.

If I’m feeling girly, I’ll be girly. If I’m not, I won’t be. I’m still the same person. Just treat me as such, and we’ll be fine.

_

Third, I’m feeling physically better than I have in years. I still have bad days. I still feel the need to just hole up in my room and not talk or do anything because I’m just so tired or overwhelmed that I can’t handle it. But I’m getting better. I can walk without my cane (though I’m still having some issues with balance). I feel safe carrying my gun, again. I am doing as well as can be hoped, and I’m only going to get better.

I’m setting some goals for health and weight, now that I can move around. I’m entirely too pudgy for my own tastes, and it’s not healthy. Walking will be first, with yoga added in. I’m going to do this right.

_

Fourth, I have a bunch of events I’m going to, this year, that are just going to be amazing. Super! BitCon is one, the NRA Convention is another, and I’ve gotten a press pass to Momocon, as well, so I’m excited about that. Hilariously, though two of those are mainly to see friends, I’ll be going for work purposes, which is pretty damned neat.

_

I’m sewing more. I’ve got projects in mind, and I’m going to try to set up a shop. It’s something to do, and I can maybe make some money.

_

That’s…well, that’s it. I have some opportunities forthcoming, I think, so I’m going to work on getting myself better, continually, from here on out. I’m going to stay positive and hopeful, because that’s what I have.

 

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Piercing Fail!

I’m not providing photos of this situation (other than jewelry and a diagram to describe what the fuck I’m talking about for those who have no idea about piercings) merely because it’s really gross, and I figure with the armpit photos a few years ago, and the surgery photos from 2013, you guys are pretty well done with seeing part of my body be completely stupid.

_____

If the person who is piercing you is rushed or in a bad mood, leave. If you’ve pre-paid for the piercing, get a receipt for a later date and leave. If you can get a refund, go for it, but I suggest just coming back later if you really want the piercing. You’ll have to fill out all the paperwork, again, but at least you’ll have proof that you paid. Call ahead, whatever.

I got pierced by someone 3 weeks ago, when the regular piercer wasn’t there (he was at a concert, I think). One of the tattoo artists was filling in, and I know he’s a great tattoo artist, but he was taking piercings in-between working on a complicated tattoo, and I should have just said “yeah, no, I’ll come back,” but in addition to the nostril piercing I got, I also wanted a “switch” – having hardware put in previous piercings (I only asked because it’s easier to put in rook and tragus piercings on someone else – it’s a bitch and a half to do it yourself). This is normally a quick process.

Here, have a chart. Rook and tragus are labeled.

Here, have a chart. Rook and tragus are labeled.

It turns out those piercings had shrunk to the point where it would take elbow grease to put in the significantly-larger hardware, and he didn’t have time, so I was like “I’ll take them home and put them in myself,” but despite repeatedly saying he was short on time, he had time to criticize my previous piercing job in my left tragus (saying it was “crooked” – the person who did the original piercing has never done anything but a fantastic job that I’ve ever experienced, and he’s done the piercings of most of the people I know) and then re-do it in the one, tiny place on the tragus (not a large part of the ear in itself) that doesn’t have cartilage in it. It’s much closer to the edge, and is, ironically, actually crooked.

They didn’t have the smooth-edged jewelry I wanted for my tragus piercings, so they gave me the pronged-gem version. Fine, whatever, I didn’t think much of it until I was riding home with my pierced tragus, and noticed that the prongs weren’t…comfortable. I couldn’t figure out why or how until a day or so later. (I have been invited to come back to trade out my pronged jewelry for the original smooth-edged ones, and I’m going to do that, but with the information I’m sharing in a bit, and a complaint about this whole thing, because holy crap, piercing shouldn’t involve this much drama).

This is a beveled flat back. Smooth edges.

This is a beveled flat back. Smooth edges.

I went home with my fresh nose and ear piercing, and three other pieces of hardware that I proceeded to shove into the old piercings in about 15 minutes (right tragus and rook, and left rook), taking breaks to ensure cleaning and to make sure everything was secure. Yes, it would have been a bad idea for him to do that, and I’m totally okay with that. These older piercings, while they resulted in some basic skin damage, healed within a week (peroxide cleanings twice a day, gently, with Q-tip blotting) – the tragi (traguses?) were a bit more complicated, as I’ll get to in a minute. The nose piercing, as I mentioned on Facebook, had to be replaced with a ring, as the screw irritated the inside of my nose. No biggie, changed it to a ring, and while it looked gross while healing, it’s pretty much at a point where I’d feel fine switching out the jewelry now, though it’s not advised to do so. Switching to the ring was ill-advised, but I actually got a nosebleed with the screw, and I’d rather look weird and have a bit longer heal time (it’s healed, btw).

Most nose-screw shapes are less severe than this. This is what I ended up with. It's...sharp.

Most nose-screw shapes are less severe than this. This is what I ended up with. It’s…sharp.

What I discovered about the pronged jewelry (flatbacks) is that they absolutely tear up the skin. In the lobes, this isn’t usually a problem, because lobes are fairly pliable (people also tend to push them out from the back, resulting in the stud not spending much time digging into the lobe). In the tragus, activities pretty much guarantee that the gem is going to be pushed into the tragus, with the rest of the earring being in the ear canal. This normally isn’t a problem, and wasn’t when I got rings last time, then switched to the flatbacks I wore for a couple of years. The cartilage stopped the studs from flexing around too much on the right side (the self-stretched side), but the left side, being pierced in a fleshy spot that butted up against cartilage without reaping any of the stability benefits, has continued to cause such massive issues that I actually have a weird hard bit on the outside of the piercing that is very painful, and had to take the piercing out for fear of getting an abscess. Since I’m weird about my ear jewelry being symmetrical, and because the rings I had to replace the studs with (well, horseshoes – they’re able to be a bit larger and still allow room, since the opening between the balls fit perfectly over the anti-tragus, keeping it in place and comfortable) are large and kind of noticeable, I took out the right side, as well.

I didn’t say this explicitly, but the pronged jewelry pushed the edges of the pierced hole out from the center, caused swelling, peeling, and bleeding, and a generally horrible appearance. The left side was monstrous, while the right side was “merely” gross. I took them out, switched them, and it got a bit better, but the damage has been done.

This is a pronged flat back. I mean, look at it.

This is a pronged flat back. I mean, look at it.

The left side looks awful. My ear is chewed-up looking, raw, and still bleeds profusely when I apply peroxide. I’m not using pressure – the bubbling of the chemical reaction is apparently enough to open whatever wounds are still there. IT’S BEEN THREE WEEKS. I don’t know about anyone else, but even with my shit immune system, my body heals within 2 weeks on most wounds, even awful ones. The left tragus was apparently this perfect storm of horrible things that’s led to it not healing at all, and developing new and exciting issues along the way.

So yeah. Because of one earring being out of stock, and one overloaded piercer/tattoo artist, I now have what I’m affectionately referring to as my “hamburger tragus.” (I gave it a nickname so I won’t get angry. Because I’m irritated as fuck right now.)

Don’t stay in piercing parlors where the piercer is in a bad mood. Don’t fucking do it. I’m going to have to wait for it to heal, then have the front of the piercing re-done to actually go through the original location, and through the cartilage, but god knows when that’s going to be, because that ear is just being horrible right now. I don’t even know if I’ll get it re-done, which means money was wasted on this whole mess.

This wasn’t necessarily anyone’s fault. That’s why I’m not linking to the pages of either the usual piercer or the parlor. It was a completely shit night, with horrible circumstances, I didn’t call ahead (I should have, so I do take partial blame on that point – personal responsibility and all that), they were busy because it was a weekend, the person acting as the piercer had standing tattoo appointments, and piercings are usually walk-ins since they don’t take very long, and I must have seemed like a giant pain in the ass.

All of this could have been avoided if I’d just gotten Forrest and walked out as soon as I heard that the piercer was working on a tattoo client.

___

Here, have a totally cute photo of me with a strange furry hat and my nose ring.

Here, have a totally cute photo of me with a strange furry hat and my nose ring.

How to Recognize Physical Abuse in Your Relationship [UPDATED]

I said I would follow up that last post about emotional and mental abuse with one about physical abuse, so here it is.

It’s definitely more cut-and-dried, but with the added challenge of trying to spot it in other people, this may also end up being a lengthy post, so buckle up.

Before I begin, another piece of info that many people may not know: The obvious markers for physical abuse are bruises and cuts, or scrapes and broken bones. Once a person gets to that point, if they indicate that someone they know is the one who caused them, encourage them to call the police. However, keep this in mind: only the person being abused can file charges. The police can cart someone away if they were called to break up a fight in progress, but charges can only be filed by the abused party. 

If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you figure things out, and point you in the direction of resources in your area. And I’ll go ahead and throw my hat in the ring and say that if you feel you’re being abused, you can email me and I’ll try to help you to the best of my ability, both by listening and trying to help you find local resources.

As with mental and emotional abuse, physical abuse can vary in as many ways as there are people. There are ways to physically torment someone without leaving an outside mark. There are other ways to see it, however. Expressions, movements, reactions, and other signs can tell you as much about the abuser as they do about the abused. That is a topic for another post. 

My experience with physical abuse is a bit more limited than my experiences with emotional abuse, but what I did experience was intense. Other family members have had it much worse for much longer. Physical violence, or sexual abuse, has been a factor in the life of nearly every person in my family. When they say that type of thing tends to carry down the generation, they’re not kidding.

(In the same vein as the last post, I’ll be posting the same questions/answers, but obviously with different subjects and methods of recognition.)

Where do you get off telling us what is and isn’t abuse?

The following excerpt has been edited to remove details, as they have hurt someone I love. I feel like I should point out, yet again, that the family member in question has apologized, things have been good, and I thought that meant that me bringing this stuff up wouldn’t be a big deal, but I was wrong.

As I said above, I’ve had my fair (?) share of abuse.

That’s not to say that my childhood abuse was as bad as others in the slightest. It’s just an example.

When I was married, my abuse was sexual. I’m still not comfortable going into all of the details, but I outlined some of them in the post I made about my ex-husband back in 2011. You can search for it yourselves, if you’d like to read it. Just look for “wasband” using that handy little “search” function in the top corner. Most of my abuse there was emotional and mental, though.

There were isolated incidents in between, with rape and threats of death for revealing it, along with other threats of physical violence from people I encountered. Continued threats toward someone who’s already experienced physical violence can affect someone in the same way the violence itself did, which falls under the heading “emotional and mental abuse” as well as PTSD if this is prolonged.

Okay, smart guy. Why do people abuse others?

From the other post:

“It’s a trope, but it’s also true in a lot of cases: some  abusers continue a cycle of abuse unless they are given the opportunity to learn what is and isn’t appropriate to do to others. Other cases of abuse are due to illness, personality disorders, or, as stated above, them never being told that what they were doing was wrong by anyone. Malicious abusers may have come from an abusive home, but they also have a desire to control things, and controlling another human being is a power trip for them, so no matter what they experience, or how much they’re reprimanded, they can’t stop. This is why there are so many abuse cases with professional athletes. When you’re treated like your shit doesn’t stink, and are paid to be aggressive, you expect to always be on a pedestal. When someone doesn’t treat you the way you want, or you start to feel inferior…well, abuse is one way to get control back. (I’m not covering those with sociopathic tendencies, here, because that’s a whole other ball game that would take an entire post by itself, and I would still be wrong about motivation, because I’m woefully under-equipped to explain anything sociopaths do.)

Ultimately, that’s what abuse is about: control.”

With physical abuse, the need for control is just as great. The people who do it just may rely on physical strength to drive home the point that the other person is weaker, rather than relying solely on emotional or mental abuse. To these abusers, pain is like an exclamation point, where emotional and physical abuse are like ellipses – open to interpretation, and easier to brush off (despite that usually not being the case for the victim). Then there are the people who just like to smack other people around. Their motivation may never be known.

How can you spot physical abuse that’s not blatant? If it doesn’t leave a bruise or other mark, is it abuse, or just an altercation?

This is the most difficult question to answer, but again, I will include a list for the abused to ask themselves, as well as a list for children to be able to ask themselves – parents and other family members, feel free to modify the questions as you need and let the child know that if any one of these things happens, your child can come to you, and you will never think they’re “bad” or “wrong” for having these things done to them. Let them know it’s not their fault, and that you will be there for them no matter what, and will help them.

These lists are longer, because of the severity of the situations, and the reluctance that many people have to escape physically abusive situations for fear of more abuse (“He’ll come and find me if I leave, and he’ll kill me.”)

 

For the abused:

1. Does the person frequently talk over you, or tell you to shut up, no matter what you’re saying? (verbal abuse and physical abuse often occur together)

2. Do they often laugh when you’re in a compromising or bad situation, even one they didn’t cause? (universal to all abusers)

3. Do they have a tendency to continue berating you for something long after your transgression (real or imagined) has been rectified? (universal to all abusers)

4. Do they bring up past situations and threaten to punish you for them, even if they didn’t occur when you knew them?

5. Do you feel as though you cannot express an opinion for fear that you’ll be punished?

6. Have you ever asked them to stop, only to have them increase their physical actions toward you?

7. Do you ever feel as though your actions are coerced, or flat-out ordered, by the threat of physical violence?

8. Have you ever been threatened that if you tell another person about any aspect of your home life, not just the violence, that you will be punished?

9. Have you been told that if you try to leave, you will be punished, or even killed?

10. Has your abuser even “joked” about the previous point?

11. Are you told that you’re worthless and “deserve” punishment?

12. Have you ever been told that no one would believe you, been told you’re crazy, and/or that no one would ever love you if they knew how “weak” you were?

13. Are you told that you “owe” the abuser for things they’ve done for you, even those things are basic needs that are necessary for your survival (food, shelter, etc.)?

14. Are they in a position of power (parent, spouse or significant other who is the sole or main contributor to the household, boss, religious leader, etc.) and use that power to create situations where you are alone and they can abuse you in secret?

 

These additional questions are for children:

1. Does the person who hits you or touches you in a way you don’t like tell you that it’s okay because they’re an adult?

2. Are you told that you’re a bad child, and that if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be abused?

3. Does the person who does these bad things to you offer you toys, money, and even special trips to places you want to go, and then say you owe them by letting them do what they want to you?

4. Has the person who abuses you ever told you that if someone you love found out, they’d think you were disgusting or weak?

5. Have you been told that you need to toughen up, and they’re teaching you how the “real world” works?

6. Have they told you that they’re trying to help you, and that you’re ungrateful if you don’t let them abuse you?

7. Are they someone who can tell you what to do (parent, older relative, teacher, pastor/priest, older sibling) and they tell you that you have to do as they say because of that power?

8. Do these people take you places where you both can be alone, or take you into storage spaces in the house, so they can abuse you in secret?

 

Again, these are incredibly simple questions, and they don’t cover all the possibilities. The biggest thing to remember is that if anyone touches you in a way that you don’t like, and don’t stop when you ask them to stop, it is abuse. With children, people often assume the child did something to deserve it, and that it’s just disciplinary, but there are things that take it a step too far, such as wildly unmatched punishment for small infractions. If a parents swats a child with their hand or an object once or twice to correct them, and it happens only occasionally, and the child is under the age of 10 – well, there are varying opinions about it, but that is usually not cause for concern. As the child gets older, physical correction (which is honestly all that some children will respond to) becomes more and more inappropriate, and that is the point where things should be evaluated, and someone else may need to intervene. Children know when abuse is happening, trust me. They know when they did something wrong, and they can tell the point when it’s no longer a punishment for the infraction, and has turned into an over-reaction. And it is never okay for a child to be touched in a sexual manner. Even someone massaging a child’s shoulders can be a pre-cursor to sexual abuse. It varies.

Unlike with adult, calling the police on someone who is suspected of abusing their child can result in the child being taken away pending investigation. This is not always ideal, as false claims can be, and are, filed as a method of revenge or even as a threat (emotional threat for the parents, physical threat for the child). The claimant can be found guilty of filing a false report, however, and even though that’s not a reparation of damage, it can be of some comfort.

Physical abusers can gaslight, too. Remember that term? It’s a means of manipulation wherein the abused has their sanity called into question, usually by emotional means.

How do physical abusers use something that’s supposed to be based on emotional abuse?

You gaslight, someone gets upset and reacts, and you hit them. It can be that simple.

I used the example in the last post that my ex-husband would respond to my complaints by bringing up things I did in the past that I’d forgotten about, as a way to shame me and silence me so that he could continue controlling me. Shortly thereafter, he would sexually abuse me while my guard was down and I was feeling meek, afraid, and unsure of what had happened. I was told that I “owed” him because we were married. I was told that he was lonely and “needed” it. I told him I didn’t want to, and he would cry. I’m not even kidding.

In the case of someone I’m close to, her child was threatened if she didn’t submit after having been gaslit about similar things as my situation.

I know another person who was abused as a child by an older sibling, and since their father was physically abusive, all the sibling had to do was say they’d tell the father that the abused had done something wrong, thus keeping the secret safe. The abused still hasn’t gotten over this betrayal.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I’m glad that so many people felt able to come forward and share their experiences, and that was the point: to let people know that they’re not alone.

Once again, please use the resource above, clear your internet browser history or phone call history afterward, and get help if you recognize any of these signs of abuse in  your relationship. There is help, you’re not worthless, and you’re not deserving of pain, no matter what anyone says.

[Note for the smart-ass who may say something about BDSM and consenting adults: agreeing to submit to something like that because you and your partner both want to (as long as no medical trauma is caused, because let’s face it, there are people who begin with BDSM as a cover and can begin abuse under the guise of just “taking it to the next level”) is not abuse. It’s abuse when threats are used to get someone to participate in sexual activities that are abusive or painful. Please don’t make jokes in comments about these situations. It’s not funny.]