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Ouch weblog: individual blog entry

3 Sep 07, 8:54 AM - "How to **** in the Woods"

Posted by Jemma Brown

Regular ouch readers will remember, well might remember, Elizabeth’s recent blog entry about the nitty gritty of disability, the things that ‘you just don’t talk about’ or ‘become normal’, well basically I have decided to talk about one of them but first a bit of an explanation.

In my spare time, when I’m not being a full time student, I am a guide leader but also and more relevantly I am currently doing silver Duke of Edinburgh. (D of E)

This is an interesting but not unheard of feat for a crip like me, it presents several key challenges. I have issues with navigating using the landscape because “I can’t see the radio tower!” and don’t get me started about trying to do bearings using a compass (I think I might have come up with a clever solution to this particular issue), for anyone that doesn’t no bearings are about numbers and angles. Then theirs the interesting thing that I can read a map by the colours on it but can’t see the gridlines or any of the words, and there’s the issue that I’m likely to misinterpret a blue footprint for a car park.

Then there’s a whole new set of issues caused by my weird biomechanics, primarily being that my balance is appalling and my ankles quite often turn and twist without me even noticing. In other words I fall over quite often, then add things like potholes, tree branches, thorns and barbed wire and by the end of the day I will probably require some form of first aid. The worst thing about it is most defiantly hills and ridges. Going up hill is an issue because my stamina is really bad because my legs are weak. Then when I’m descending my balance is at its worst so this is when I’m most likely to fall over. Going down hill is something I’m rubbish at, at the best of times and do anything to avoid but with a 60 litre rucksack on my back, well at least I will have a soft/ish landing. Then theirs the walking along a hill (not up or down). That’s quite frankly just impossible my ankles end up turning so far out in order to keep me upright I walk at a snails pace, and someone farting near me would probably lead to me falling over.

But anyway back to the nitty gritty, there comes the occasion on D of E when one needs to pee. On a walk or ‘wild camp’ there is no toilet, witch (without sounding sexist) is less of a problem for the male members in the group, but it brings about a whole new lot of challenges for the crip.

The first issue is one of privacy, how do I find a ‘good place’ and then if I think I have, how do I no that I cant be seen, ok I cant see anyone around but does that mean they can’t see me?

Then there’s the next (really nitty gritty) question of how? Squatting isn’t exactly the easiest manoeuvres for me with my odd bones at the best of times but with trousers round ankles on rough muddy ground the consequences don’t bare thinking about! So one has to think what other methods are there? I did at one point search the internet. The title of this blog entry is the (slightly censored) title of a book, called if you hadn’t already gathered How to **** in the Woods (warning: title contains adult language) - I’m told it’s a good read but I haven’t read it (although I may have found some digital extracts) so I can’t really judge.

I discovered several ‘ideas’ like sitting on the floor or a tree stump, but they don’t sound particularly useful because a) splinters (ouch!) b) mud and c) as of the squatting idea one could end up in an awful mess.

See right after the fear of being seen, comes the next fear, the fear of making a mess and getting pee on ones trousers/boots/everywhere and then having to walk around for the rest of the day and in the car/bus/ferry/train stinking of pee.

Then there’s the issue of catching up with the group, I’m not the fastest of walkers or the seediest so trying to catch up with the rest of them could be problematic in itself. At the same time getting them to wait the other side of a bush for me to finish could be really embarrassing.

So anyway I thought I would share some nitty gritty disability stuff with you and hopefully make you cringe. If I haven’t already done that then the following might just help.

In order to cut my toenails without losing digits or even possibly limbs I have to be a complete contortionist and bring my foot up to my face, and then still hope for the best.

My mum (who is a LOT blinder than me) has to decipher weather dropped socks, underpants, knickers or bras are clean or dirty by sniffing them. Also when it comes to sorting the washing by its colours she has to bring it right up to her face to see the colour, now isn’t that a lovely thought.

Now to something witch animal lovers will be particularly disturbed by I’m a biology student and one of my favourite practical's of last year was the dissection of a sheep’s heart, but I had two problems with this practical witch are both pretty funny looking back. The first one is in no way linked to my disability but the gloves did not fit my hands, in fact they where so very small my hands couldn’t even begin to fit in them, this meant I actually had to touch the piece of dead sheep. The gloves not fitting apart from being gross was actually an advantage because it allowed me to feel my way around the heart a lot easier than it would have been with gloves on, but there was one more draw back to this. In order to actually see that I was in fact cutting the heart with the scalpel and not myself I had to get my face rather close to the heart, too close. I made the huge mistake whilst making my first incision of breathing in through my nose it was the most disgusting smell ever (saying that it was no where near as bad as the smell of E-coli broth). What’s worse is that this experiment was just before lunch, despite washing my hands millions of times and them being spotlessly clean I couldn’t get the smell off them it was very subtle but still gross.

I could go one with more horror stories of things that I have just had to get around and get on with whilst grinning and bearing it, but I think I have probably made you cringe enough.

Oh and by the way as it happened last year (quite possibly driven by fear) I did not need to pee whilst on duke of Edinburgh.

• Visit Diary of a Monkey

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At 12:00 PM on 03 Sep 2007, Dave Hingsburger wrote:

"I did not need to pee whilst on the Duke of Edinburgh" ... may be the funniest sentence I've ever read in the blog world, though I think I'm picturing something quite different than you meant.

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At 02:29 PM on 03 Sep 2007, Jemma wrote:

yes quite possibly oops oh well never mind thanks for the comment!

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At 05:33 PM on 03 Sep 2007, John Quinnn wrote:

This reminds me of one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I was driving through the outskirts of a city I don't know well and got a sudden desperate urge to defecate. There were no buildings nearby so I pulled into a wooded glade and managed to squat by leaning against a tree, using my crutches to balance with. Imagine my horror, when halfway through a bloke approached walking his dog. I was unable to move, so just waited for the abuse. Much to my surprise he just went:"Alright mate,'' and carried on walking. Probably saw similar things every day.

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