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Who is the last person you hugged?

This is a bit like that thread we had here recently, about people adjusting others' clothing. I'm quite a tactile person and when my mobility and balance were normal, I'd often hug and be hugged. But after I started needing a stick to walk there were a few times when I got swept into an unexpected hug, risking a fall and injury, and found that I needed to speak quite sharply to make the person let go of me.

It's another of those things where you might get advised to consider how the other person feels, what they mean, whether they knew that hugging wasn't safe. But with sudden hugs it's not just about those things. It's also about whether I fall into a busy road and I know people for whom it's about whether bones get dislocated.

For me the hug-danger has greatly reduced since I started using a wheelchair. Both because I'm far less likely to fall and because it makes my disability far more visible. These days, when somebody wants to hug me, phe tends to approach quite cautiously. Except for a small minority who stroke and fondle me. Perhaps they're trying to show how unprejudiced they are, or how much they care about me, or something. It makes me feel invaded, dirtied and irritated! but I try to keep a gracious face pinned on. It's nothing that a shudder and a change of shirt won't cure.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC)
I'm always wary of hug-danger too - I have lung problems and quite often an overzealous or unexpected hug squeezes all the air out of me and sends me right into an attack that sends me running for my inhalers and takes a while to recover from. Another thing I can't stand is when I'm having an attack (and coughing up half a lung), people who start whacking me on the back thinking I'm choking, which just pushes MORE precious air out of my lungs. I'm not choking, I'm trying to breathe! I didn't indicate that I'm choking! All they're doing it making it worse.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:10 am (UTC)
Not to mention that what they're doing is the wrong treatment for choking too! You don't whack someone on the back for choking unless no air is getting through at all (i.e. they are silent, not coughing, and starting to turn blue.) If they're coughing up half a lung, it means they're still capable of dislodging the object by themselves, and interfering could make it worse.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks for explaining this. I didn't know it and I'll add it to the list of Wrong First Aid advice I grew up 'knowing'. Along with the one about putting a stick in a person's mouth during a seizure.

In fact, you've given me a good idea about how to move forward with the friend who tried to help me with my coat a week or two ago. The incident which led to a long thread on this comm. That friend is an assessor of trainee First Aid instructors. So I think I'll try to steer a conversation around to Wrong First Aid and try tactfully to slip in a mention of the clothing-adjustment gaffe.
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
I've found with the stick that people don't quite know how to approach me w/r/t hugs - people who would have thought nothing of hugging me pre-stick are now very cautious, which is a good thing overall but every now and again I want to yell "I won't break!" at them, however I am aware I only speak for my own situation.

Now, on the other hand, people are very grabby with me when I look like I'm going to black out. Which is fine IF I'm going to fall somewhere dangerous, however I don't keel flat over, I tend to sort of crumple? and a lot of force is absorbed that way. I've dragged someone down with me when they tried to catch me before now, and also I've been dropped which hurt like HELL because I landed flat. My family know when to grab and when not to, and they've been berated by nosy bystanders for letting me just go on occasion.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
This must be hard. Because there's no way for you to teach people, except people who know you quite well, how to respond when they see you blacking out. How do you handle this?

I've never blacked out but I do fall sometimes. That usually leads people to grab my arm and try to pull me to my feet, saying words like 'One two three, hup!' when what I actually need is a pause, at least a few seconds and sometimes a few minutes, until my motor neurons start working again. If I'd fallen somewhere dangerous, like into a road, then I'd appreciate being picked up and moved by an appropriately qualified person. Unfortunately most people aren't so qualified but most people (especially burly men) want to give it a go and that could be quite dangerous.

So I'm back to using my facial expressions and my voice. With those, I can mostly get into control of what people do to me.

I'm really frightened of what might happen to me when my face and voice stop working properly. Still, I used to be so frightened of things which are now my everday crip reality, and I know people who cope with stuff I haven't yet needed to cope with. So no doubt I'll find ways when/if those become necessary.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 06:14 pm (UTC)
This must be hard. Because there's no way for you to teach people, except people who know you quite well, how to respond when they see you blacking out. How do you handle this?

I don't go out on my own very often, to be honest. I'm not supposed to anyway because of the blackouts, very occasionally they can come without warning, and I also have some MI issues that mean being on my own isn't a good plan, so I tend to only go out by myself to places I know well with people I can recognise who know what to do if I do have an episode.

That usually leads people to grab my arm and try to pull me to my feet, saying words like 'One two three, hup!' when what I actually need is a pause, at least a few seconds and sometimes a few minutes, until my motor neurons start working again.

I'm similar when I come around, I need a moment or two to actually wake up, so to speak, but some people tend to want to get me on my feet OMGRIGHTNOW when that's probably the worst thing for me to do. On the other hand there's the ones who won't let me get up and insist on calling an ambulance which I get angry about sometimes, because it's wasting their time, I know why I blacked out, if I didn't hurt myself falling or landing I don't need medical attention and I most definately don't need to go to hospital.

At one point when I was first diagnosed, I was taken to hospital five times in the same week! Totally pointless, because the staff would just give me a once-over and ask why I'd been brought in.
Jan. 21st, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
I'm feeling increasingly sorry for you with every post I read! You seem to be getting molested on a daily basis with all this unwanted physical attention stuff. It must be horrible. I can honestly say it's not something I've ever had to deal with and now I'm wondering why.

Like you I'm easily knocked off balance and my general gait when upright is something of a drunken swagger, not helped by the fact my hips never went into their sockets properly which earned me the nickname "ducky" for my inward toe swivelly walk. Thesedays I have trouble maintaining a straight line even when using a stick and tend to overbalance very easily, which means I'm better off in a chair, when walking folks tend to give me a wide berth.

I'm also pretty amazonian when upright, I used to be 5'10" before my back started falling apart now I've lost about an inch or so. And my weight has varied from 12 to 14st, so when I have fallen no single person could lift me up again. So I'm starting to think maybe size matters?

I seldom get hugged when upright and it's usually from folks much smaller than me, like my diddy in laws, then I have to bend my knees and brace which makes me a bit more stable. When hugging someone my own height, like skinny husband, who is the only person I hug regularly, he's the one who has to brace himself because suddenly he can have to support my whole weight when the balance gets thrown off.

As a consequence I do most of my hugging from a seated position. Hugging me standing up is akin to snuggling up to a large piece of heavy furniture with a rickety leg, liable to topple and crush you to death at any given moment!

I think that's enough to make most people think twice!

Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
Well obviously I haven't seen you irl but I'm guessing that you might be right about the size factor.

Thanks for saying that you feel sorry for me! I don't want to exaggerate, though. I don't get molested often, it's just that sometimes my visible and changeable disability seems ato affect people's perceptions in ways that I'm still getting used to. I'm rising to this new challenge, though. A favourite motto is 'can-do attitude' and this is another challenge for which I want to use that attitude.
Jan. 22nd, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
I'm petite, and friends who don't know how painful my back is often want to sweep me into a big lift-me-off-your-feet-and-swing-me hug, which is agonizing. Having dogs helped me develop the Big Voice ("NO! STOP THAT! HANDS OFF!"), which makes them back off if I can get it out quickly enough.
Jan. 23rd, 2012 09:46 am (UTC)
Now you mention it, yes a dog-training voice is the one to use isn't it? I deliberately pitch my voice deep and use a simple command like 'No! Let go! LET GO!' followed up (after the person has obeyed me) by a gracious smile and explanation. I believe that it's important to keep people's confidence up and to encourage helpful behaviour to disabled people.

What I find necessary to avoid is physical violence to the person, esp when it's a lift-off-the-feet hug. I'm sure you'll have tried drumming on the person's shoulders with your fists and I'm sure you'll have been laughed at for doing that, without being released.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )



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