It is it 

Sorted by: Theme: Disability/Immunocompromised

Written Story by Tom

It is it 

I had Covid twice

I was more dead than alive

pale gasp walk to grocery

cooties consuming me

life fading lungs

I dreamt of stairwells

It’s done, the grandmas are in graves

masks in storage, we move on

no

its to remember and be kept

hurt stories and names

I love you all, kneel and cry

in a field of tranquil flower

my cup of mourning is full

among the rest

on this bus ride

I don’t want to be alone

sit next to me

and we will hold behind masks

I come home from work at a convalescent home

people die constantly

stand here and hold a hand

as it grows cold

watch the beeps diminish

again, cease breath and slide

its not time yet to cry

we have to go on weaving

we held death and shoved on

a mourner, with frown and bouquet

look at us on the bus

a forest away with lilac of death among

we should come to each other

sit with, tell your grasp of the raft

 

a vanishing point

I went among prairies

to mourn better,

bring cloth for graves

on hard roads

I went away with seekers

slept rough and fought truth

where I wanted to walk was all water

when I wanted talk, a bus bench

so I willow in vanish sorrow

among hay feather glass birds

you died in Covid

and we leave that to here

arms draw inward

geese weave reeds

honk and make silly the morose

hands sift loss among moon wool

inward we mourn

as lamps close

Written Story by Anonymous

I am a nonbinary physician of color. I actually worked for the state governmental COVID 19 response here in Oregon, as my first job in this state.

I felt tremendous responsibility and pride in doing the work I did when I did it, because  there was an acknowledgement of community stake, partnership and investment with the way  we did our work. Blue state vs. Red Federal policy clashes somewhat helped with the ability to  do the work, above and beyond what the CDC was publishing in those days. We were in a group  of about 18 physicians and scientists writing policy and guidance from a variety of lived  experiences. I contributed heavily as a physician of color and made some of my first few friends  in Oregon working in POC predominant teams as the scientific liaison to state based community  engagement work. I was publicly shamed and ridiculed on the internet by trolls and those at  odds with the state’s policies that emphasized community action and non- pharmacologic  interventions to keep everyone safe from a new, scary and unpredictable threat. Yet through all  this, I persisted.

I ended up leaving my position in early 2022 when after more than a year of conflicting  policies, shifting narratives, the politicized CDC influence on state-based policy making was too  great and overrun by individualistic public health policies to an airborne pathogen. For  something as contagious as COVID-19 and with ongoing high mortality and even higher  morbidity, an individualistic approach just serves to marginalize the few- the disabled, the  elderly, the chronically ill, and really a lot of female bodied people without any of the above  conditions with the disproportionate and increasing toll of long Covid in all these populations.

Out of concern for my own safety and to avoid new disability, I have continued to avoid  getting infected. These days it has been getting increasingly difficult. I spent the 6+ years of my  medical training suppressing and coping with a moderately disabling condition to know how  terrible it was to feel even moderately disanled compared to peers. A friend even casually  mentioned one day that I was a 27 year old in a 40 year old body. Ableism exists and even worse  so for people in the health professions. I also don’t have the luxury to assuming that my family  with chronic illness including immunosuppression will survive repeat COVID infections without  worsening of their chronic conditions, or loss of their transplant organ.

Since COVID-19 continues to kill 1.5 times as many people as seasonal influenza, and  maim even more even in the times of Omicron sublineages, I don’t have the choice to ignore it.  Ignoring it could potentially risk my livelihood, my intellectual ability, including the brain that  got me through years of medical school, and the physical ability that allows me to enjoy life  without pain and restriction.

As an extrovert, my life has changed dramatically. Negatively? Not necessarily. I’m  selective with my friendships, I have stopped seeing a lot of my friends who have moved on  mostly because of dismissive or slighting comments, and unwillingness to make  accommodations to see me. My life is full of outdoor patios, and masked brief indoor outings  here in the states. I have traveled and continue to travel with my partner- albeit in lower  frequency than pre 2020 – in fit tested n95 respirators. I got to go to Japan to experience life in a collectivist society, even if for a brief while, earlier this year. My respirator kept me safe, as did  community masking through all kinds of crowded venues.

The costs of my life are that I know more, and care more about chronic illness and the  dangers of reinfection. Much more than my immediate family, my partner and oftentimes some  healthcare providers. That’s been a side effect of always staying appraised and up-to-date on  this virus and its accompanying set of illnesses. It’s a burdensome role, shared by many other  new branded COVID experts, even larger of a burden for those studying long COVID, those  studying end organ system and immunologic impacts, who then have to share this data with the  public. It’s a tremendous moral injury to be a caregiver of people and of populations in these  times.

I returned to clinical practice for a short while between policy changes, for a half day per  week from the summer of 2021 to 2022. I had a mostly substance use reduction based practice  and felt uncomfortable in increasing workloads of COVID-19 positive patient care that I knew  were upcoming especially with increasing community transmission. However, with societal  reopening and the end of the mask mandate on transit, my commute on crowded max trains  got increasingly uncomfortable, and especially so during times of high community transmission.  I left in-person clinical practice, a year after I had re-entered it. I feel increasingly reluctant to  return especially with the loss of universal masking in healthcare settings even more recently.  Unfortunately, this virus is not at a virulence that I can tolerate workplace exposures without  reasonable mitigation. Despite some personal and group based advocacy I engaged along with  others, mostly disabled, suffering from long COVID, or other chronic illness that puts them at  risk, we failed to achieve a stay on healthcare masking. I have been lucky enough to not require  frequent healthcare services for myself during this period of sustained viral infectivity and  severity combined with falling mitigations. But these compounded losses as a healthcare  provider, I will grieve for longer, and more deeply than some of my other social and community  losses where I could rebuild and forge new connections from the small but still strong  community of people who care about community caring, love, support and wellness.

The only times I feel concerned for my wellbeing and mental health are in the gaslighting  and minimizing comments by healthcare providers, and colleagues both in public health and  healthcare who have “moved on” and make comments to indicate disapproval or worse,  incredulity.

I knew, years ago, when I entered Healthcare as a profession, that this was a place for  healthy people, who “worked out”, who experienced no chronic illness, both physical or  behavioral, or none that they could show transparently. This has been highlighted by the  Oregon Medical Board’s decision to remove stigmatizing language on the attestation forms for  physician licensure around mental health and substance use. But cosmetic fixes like this don’t  dismantle the very real systemic ableism in healthcare that continue to persist. Some of the  same reasons for physician suicide I see replicated in the gaslighting, marginalization and  repeated dismissal of physicians who desire and have very real physical needs to avoid and  minimize infections and reinfection with COVID as a reason to avoid or reduce the chance of  disability. If our healthcare workforce, agencies and systems can’t even care for our own, who  will care for our patients?

Written Story by Oluwatosin Oginni

Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on family connection: Community Connection and Isolation 

The experiences and impacts of COVID-19 pandemic are ones that I will not forget very quickly.  This is because it has really changed my perspectives about the importance of communal living  and the support that comes from the community, which we often take for granted.  My wife became pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic period and as a result, we were  confined to stay at home. Being our first time of been pregnant, there were many things we did not  know about pregnancy that we could have learned based on meeting people daily. Two  inexperienced people living together all day every day, not having anywhere to go, really pushed  the boundaries for us as my wife’s mood swings were changing due to the baby’s growth and I  was the outlet for her to vent her frustration. So, I learnt to become very patient and calm to  understand that many things were going on with her which were beyond her control.  Another experience I could not forget easily was having to decide on whether my pregnant wife  should get the COVID-19 injection. This was a scary decision as there were no pieces of medical  evidence to prove if the injection will impact the unborn baby. Given that I was responsible for grocery shopping, which in turn means I will be interacting with people, I was both at risk of  contracting the virus and bringing it home to my wife. So, the decision we made was for me to get  vaccinated so I can protect myself and in so doing protect my wife and the unborn baby. My wife  ended up getting vaccinated later after the baby’s arrival.

The saddest part of my COVID-19 experience was when my wife gave birth to our baby, and we  couldn’t get her mom to come over to assist her with the newborn as well as help her with the fresh  wounds from her Caesar Section delivery. It was a bittersweet experience for us. On one hand, we  were happy that we have a new baby joining the family, and on the other hand, we had to tend to  my wife’s wounds as well as cater for the baby. How do we bathe the baby? The baby was so tiny  and fragile. Even though we were taught how to bathe him at the hospital, it flew over our heads  when we got home and were faced with that responsibility. This would have been easy with the  help of grandma. Both lo and behold, she was denied visa multiple times. This was when it dawned  on me that often time, we take community for granted. At this moment, we needed help, while  people may be willing to help, they were afraid of contracting COVID-19 as well as not to transmit the same to other people. However, we were able to go through all these experiences unscathed as  we now relied on the use of video calling for guidance from grandma.

Furthermore, a more painful part of the covid-19 pandemic was the loss of my dear mum. She took  ill during the period of our pregnancy, and we feared taking her to the hospital due to the higher  chances of contracting the virus at the hospital, which may end up exacerbating the situation, given  that she was in her sixties and older people in that age range were highly susceptible to COVID-19. The news of her death broke me to the core. She was very dear to me, and I had wanted her  not only to see my child but to hold him in her hands. I never got that opportunity. I remember  holding the baby in my hands in the labor room and breaking down in tears because my mum was  not alive to see my child. That moment is still very vivid in my memory, and it is so sacred to me  that I will not forget it anytime soon.

COVID-19 pandemic led to so many restrictions which I believe were anti-human/anti-communal  living. It really showed that human beings were not meant to live in isolation. We are built to live  together as a community, to love one another and enjoy the assistance of other people. My  experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic were not so pleasant. While I do not always want to  overtly dwell on those experiences, this storytelling project has given me the opportunity to reflect  on those experiences and how I have been impacted as well as how it has shaped my priorities in  life.

Tosin

 

Written Story by J

Summer 2021 was a time in the middle of the pandemic where many folks who could and  wanted to get their COVID-19 vaccination for protection, were able to. With a direct line of  communication to the Multnomah County Public Health Department and the Oregon Health  Authority, community members were able to remind folks of our severely ill, at-risk, and  homebound community members who were unable to leave their homes in order to get  vaccinated. Specific teams were assigned to help alleviate these issues, although no 211 staff  understood how this was supposed to work nor that a team even existed to problem solve  these issues.  

All this said, for some of us that were very high risk for COVID-19 complications, due to  anaphylaxis to excipients such as Polyethylene glycol (PEG), Polypropylene glycol (PG),  Polysorbate 80, and other ubiquitous ethoxylated excipients, the risk of dying from anaphylaxis  to the COVID-19 vaccines was a somewhat greater, and more immediate risk than dying from  COVID-19. The issue, however, was that these same excipients that could cause anaphylaxis  from vaccine administration were and also are in all of the available COVID-19 prophylaxis and  COVID-19 therapeutics, except IV Remdesivir. Although the FDA had approved IV Remdesivir’s  use in the outpatient setting, there were zero hospitals and clinics in the entire state of Oregon  that were equipped to provide IV Remdesivir to patients in the outpatient setting.  Allergist/Immunologists couldn’t even access the vaccine for their clinics to give to these  patients in smaller doses to test their tolerance.  

During the extreme heat waves that occurred in July 2021, cooling centers were opened. For  those unable to vaccinate for protection, unable to access COVID-19 prophylaxis, and unable to  access safe-for-them COVID-19 therapeutics should they become infected with COVID-19, going  to a community cooling center to escape the heat, was not a safe option… even when the  temperatures got up to 105 degrees F inside the home. Trying to access cooling equipment  being on OHP Open Card was impossible as there was not a program, like the CCO’s had, for  patients to access cooling equipment, even during one of our deadliest heat waves in history.  

This writing is what came out of this experience.  

July 2021  

Dozens of people died from the heat last week.  

The case manager apologized and said there was nothing they could do. It was either a public  cooling center and the real possibility of COVID-19 or nothing. Choose. There might be a  program that might help you access an air conditioner, but you have the wrong insurance. There  is nothing for you. I’m sorry.  

Sometimes, oftentimes, it feels useless spending every ounce of energy you have fighting  insurance companies, fighting poverty, fighting the racism and ableism that permeates the air,  the same air giving life. 

When it comes down to it, no one really cares whether a person lives or dies, well, until they’re  dead. Then we hear the honorifics, the should haves; but really, if we cared, we wouldn’t build  institutions whose job it is to grind people down. To say no until folks just die.  

There is no happy ending.  

It’s only drudgery, the drudgery of plodding through cold muck in a dark, black cave. The same  cave so many before you trudged through before, are trudging through with you now, but  within their own solitude, into infinity.  

Maybe it’s only when you briefly brush elbows, millions of times, that enough friction is created  to produce heat, a brief glimmer of light. 

Maybe these sparks produce a fire so large so as to burn it all down. All of these stifling systems  that suck the oxygen out of every room in every clinic in every hospital in every region – they  suck the oxygen out of each cell who composes its own part in the symphony that sings an  organism into being. Maybe through destructive fire, and only through that, the phoenix might  be reborn.  

But that would spell hope. And we all know that hope is the traitor, the knife in one’s back.  Besides, fire requires oxygen. So no fire. No phoenix. No rebirth.  

Dozens of people died in the heat last week.

Written Story by F.I. Goldhaber

Eugenics

First published in The Trick Is To Keep Breathing and What Color is Your Privilege?
September, 2022 

She said the quiet part out loud,
people “unwell to begin with”
don’t deserve to live. Just like the
poor, the Black, the Indigenous,
the immigrants, the Queers, the Trans.

Because once they figured out most
victims were marginalized, had
comorbidities, were “others”,
the fight to eliminate the
virus succumbed to the battle
to save the economy god.
in the name of the Profit you
must sacrifice the grandparents,
disabled veterans, nannys’
children, baristas’ mothers, clerks
at the corner stores, restaurant
servers, health care workers, drivers
bringing groceries, carry out.

The U.S. already makes clear
who is not wanted, including
those with disabilities, pre-
existing conditions, other
gods, languages, and cultural
traditions. No skin tones kissed with
melanin or “natural” hair.

Disposable collateral,
oblations necessary to
avoid missing brunch, a concert,
a chance to go out dancing or
cheer for the home team at a pub.
Millions already dead, millions
more permanently disabled to
ensure the privileged’s comfort,
the corporations’ bottom lines,
billionaires’ stock portfolios.

As we tumble into Nazi
sovereignty it’s worth reminding
those gambling with their own health and
risking the lives of others, that
among the first slaughtered in the
German Holocaust were those who’re
disabled by the “Spanish” flu.

 

Written Story by F.I. Goldhaber

Normal Life 

First Published, August 2020, in CHAOS: The Poetry Vortex

You have a nice home to shelter in,
food to eat, shows to stream, games to play.

You don’t live with an abuser or
parents who misgender you; insist
your orientation is sinful.

Yet you complain you’re deprived of your
social life, restaurants, bars, park visits.

You don’t need to risk your life and your
loved ones for minimum wage
without protection, sick leave, health care.

You’ve enough to pay your bills; credit
cards to order online; connected
devices allowing well-paid work.

But you miss the ball games, parties,
band performances, church services.

You don’t shiver in the cold, snow, and
rain under a tent if you’re lucky,
or just a cardboard box, or blanket.

If your throat is sore, your head feels hot,
you can telephone your physician.

You don’t have to stand in line for a
clinic that sends you home when they run
out of test kits. Or just keep working.

You know what the virus looks like,
how to prevent exposure and illness.

You don’t toil next to those who could be
infected with no information
how, or supplies, to protect yourself.

You fret about event and concert
cancellations, missed graduations.

You don’t worry about untreated
broken bones; forced sex without access
to birth control; deadly pregnancy.

The only people desperate for
life to return to normal are those
privileged to enjoy “normal” life.

 

Written Story by F.I. Goldhaber

Alone, Now and Forever 

More than twelve hundred days — but who’s counting —

trapped in my home (still, at least I have one) 

by privileged selfishness, corporate  

greed, government neglect. I dare not roam 

amongst the infected who will cough in  

faces and spit at those whose masks remind 

them that they place a higher value on  

entertainment and paltry pleasures than  

on the lives of me and others who are  

immunocompromised, disabled, old, 

poor. They never tested vaccines on us.  

No matter, the jabs stop working after  

two to six months. Or when new variants 

mutate from oligarchic policies  

creating cauldrons perfect for brewing  

more lethal forms of SARS and other types 

of respiratory infections, as 

well as poxes, fungi, bacteria 

that’s resistant to antibiotics. 

Four shots from three different companies

but I still can’t risk exposure. Not a  

matter of if. Just how long until death  

comes, how painful the organ destruction, 

traumatic the stroke, devastating the 

brain fog, debilitating the fatigue. 

The media speak in past tense of a 

virus that still kills hundreds every  

day and disables thousands by the week. 

Forty months since I ate at restaurants.  

Or went to the senior center where I  

once took fitness classes, used weight machines.

To the barber for a competent cut. 

Since I spent an evening with friends or  

attended concerts, plays, or poetry 

readings; Pride and other festivities. 

I even stopped pushing events on my  

calendar off until next year when there  

might be less peril. Because safer will 

never come for me I just delete them.

 

Written Story by Anonymous

In the beginning of COVID, there were two things I feared: the disease itself and the fear of  getting COVID. As a disabled person with multiple medical issues, I listened to the news reports  of the lack of staff, the lack of personal protective equipment, the lack of facilities, and the need  to categorize or prioritize people who became infected by able bodied or disabled. The able  bodied were identified as contributing members of society, less expensive to treat, and more  likely to survive and recover from the disease. I felt fear and anger that should I seek treatment  for COVID as a disabled person, I would be refused admission to the hospital or admitted to the  hospital and then left in a corner to die. 

This fear created an extremely high level of anxiety as I found myself isolating myself from  family members and friends in order to not be infected. Those family members included people  older than me with disabilities as well and serious chronic health conditions. Knowing that if  they tested positive for COVID meant that they would be given a death sentence. How could  their age and their disabilities be considered an inconvenience for the health care system? How  could my disabilities be considered the benchmark for whether or not I would receive care. I  have never felt so unwanted by society as I did during these early days of COVID. When I spoke  out about the ranking of able-bodied people over disabled people to receive treatment, I was  shocked to hear able-bodied people tell me that I was a selfish individual. That if I had done  more to be healthy before COVID, health care providers would not have had to make this  decision. They acted as if my disabilities were my fault and as if my disabilities would simply go  away if I wanted them too. 

I felt like I had to hide myself away to protect myself not only from the disease but from society  itself. I missed my grandson being born and had to view him through the front window of his  living room. A piece of glass between us to protect him and myself. Months later after I was  vaccinated, I was finally able to hold him. I cry writing this now as just picking him up in my arms  felt like the world might be becoming right again. When I was vaccinated, it felt like every part  of my body where I experienced lifelong conditions and chronic health issues was attacked. I  could barely walk and it felt like every nerve was on fire. I had little strength or ability to  complete the smallest tasks. This lasted for weeks. When I brought up my symptoms, I was  ignored initially. I suffered endlessly with no relief in sight. Eventually, those symptoms would  diminish but I still experience pain in my legs and a feeling of constant exhaustion. I can only  hope that our society has learned from COVID to make sure that everyone in the community is  protected and cared for no matter what the crisis, disaster or emergency. No one should feel  isolated and fear seeking medical help as a disabled person.

Written Story by CJ Smith

Covid

Outside of my windows live trees 

They continue as 

Seasons march on with vibrancy of autumn 

Bare branches scratch at a wintry gray sky 

Then comes citrine buds and pop they open 

Inside leaves stretch and open wide 

I think of my bedroom as a child-wished treehouse 

Yet along comes a virus, virulent and dread 

It can’t stop the trees outside my window 

It can’t stop the seasons from changing 

Still its morbid threat stops me 

Stops me from walking freely out into the seasons 

The seasons go on and my trees go on 

But immune suppressed I do not 

My room provides me with safety 

Will keep me safe until people start to see 

Covid needs to stop 

Its grasping arms outstretched 

Needs to not limit me anymore

 

Written Story by Catherine

As an immune compromised disabled person, the possibility of getting COVID-19 was  terrifying. My partner is a mechanic and was considered to be an essential worker who could not  work from home, so knowing he was going in and out of other people’s vehicles everyday was  also very concerning for me throughout the process. Add to that the shortages of hand sanitizer,  antibacterial hand soap, and various cleaning products, I often worried he wasn’t able to sanitize  things well enough as he went in and out of stranger’s cars. I was constantly afraid he would get  COVID-19 and pass it to me, knowing that if I got it I could end up hospitalized or dead. I began  hearing stories about disabled folks in hospitals who were denied adequate medical care, and due  to lack of beds and ventilators they were being left in hallways to die, as medical staff were  making decisions about who lives and who dies. I was devastated to see how people with  disabilities were being treated like they were insignificant and didn’t deserve to live, and I feared  the worst could happen to me too.  

There has been such rampant misinformation in the past several years, it has really been  shocking to see how a public health crisis became such a politicized issue for so many people. It  brought out some of the most selfish behaviors in a lot of people, as if they were completely  oblivious to the fact that we live in a world where we should be helping support the most  vulnerable people, and instead were labeling the elderly and disabled people as being disposable.  It was appalling to witness so many anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers just not even care about how  their actions (or lack thereof) affect so many others. The fact that so many people were saying it  was their choice to not wear masks or not get vaccinated completely ignored how those choices  could affect the lives of others.  

Even now, I still have to deal with family members questioning my choice to wear masks and get  vaccinated, by telling me “don’t believe the covid hoax” or that I am just “giving into fear.” My  own mother came to visit me last year and I had insisted she needed to wear a mask on the plane  even though the mask requirement had been lifted. When she was here she made a comment  about people wearing masks in the airport and I said to her “but you were wearing a mask too,  right?” and she responded “no, why would I do that?” I reminded her she had promised me she  would and she just said “oops, I forgot.” She also questioned my insistence that she wear one in  the grocery store while she was visiting, to which I said “because I am immunocompromised”  and she responded, “yeah, but I’m not.” It’s been really heartbreaking at times to see so much  disregard for those of us at higher risk and to see so many people just not care or understand how  their choice to not wear masks can affect us.  

I’ve struggled to find ways to interact in person with others while not knowing who to believe  about how safe they actually are and trying to navigate risk factors on a continual basis. This was  already a concern of mine for years regarding the cold and flu, but COVID-19 just brought it to a  whole new level. After about a year of isolation where the only person I saw in person was my  partner who I live with, I tried to find the courage to safely meet up with friends again. I ended  up having multiple times where the friend I was supposed to meet with ended up canceling  because they contracted COVID-19. It left me feeling like there was no point in even trying  anymore and I just needed to stay inside my safe bubble.  

In addition to the isolation I was feeling from the pandemic, there were so many political and  social justice movements happening at once. I had family members and friends who were 

following QAnon and trying to push their beliefs on me, while I was just fighting to survive.  During the summer of 2020, Portland became an epicenter for white supremacists to gather  during the Black Lives Matter protests. We heard helicopters and gunshots on a nightly basis,  and I had numerous friends who were targeted by the Proud Boys due to their race. I even heard  air raid sirens in the middle of the night a few times after Trump sent in the National Guard to  take down the protestors. Then the Oregon wildfires in the summer of 2020 made it feel like I  was living a post-apocalyptic nightmare. I felt completely overwhelmed that there was so much  happening in the world out of my control. I hit a deep depression, consumed by my feelings of  helplessness.  

I found the best way to work through that pain was by throwing myself into pursuits of racial and  disability justice movements. I may not be able to safely endure the front lines at protests, but I  knew I could offer my skills in virtual spaces to help bring others together through these social  justice movements.  

In the late spring of 2020, I volunteered to help set up an online Facebook group to go along with  the Crip Camp Virtual experience (a 16 week seminar focused on Disability Justice). I thought  maybe a few dozen or so local Portlanders would be interested in joining a discussion group, but  before I knew it the space was shared with the organizers of the event and they began promoting  it as the community led FB group for people to join. Within a matter of weeks we had over 4,000  members from all over the world, and recruited an admin and moderator team of about 20  people. We then created 3 separate groups so that disabled folks could safely share their thoughts  and feelings with one another, allies could have their own space, and then our moderator team  had their own group to work through creating group rules together and also deal with  problematic issues as they came up.  

After Crip Camp Virtual finished, I was asked to step up as administrator for a Portland based  Disability Justice FB group, and by the following summer I applied to be on the board of a new  Disability Justice nonprofit. There I became the project manager of a virtual zoom space called  “Crip Create” that is rooted in the principles of Disability Justice. This space helps bring together  disabled folks from all over the world to be in community with one another for coworking, body  doubling, and socialization. It has been incredibly valuable to help those of us still living in  isolation to have a sense of comradery and validation for the experiences we have due to the  numerous oppressions we face as disabled and multiply marginalized individuals (the majority of  the people who come are also LGBTQIA+ and/or BIPOC). That space has been an actual life  saver for me and so many others, and I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to help run  and organize that space for so long. 

I am beyond grateful for the opportunities that I have found to engage with my communities  virtually in pursuit of Disability Justice. I have found myself much busier and more fulfilled  being able to participate in so many amazing virtual events and give back to my community in  this way. While many able-bodied folks complained about how awful it was to be stuck at home  during the lockdowns, for me that was the life I had already known. I was tremendously grateful  to see so many spaces shift to allow for virtual participation and find new ways to engage with  the community. For me, that is a gift that I found through the pandemic. I hope that in the future organizers can continue to make events and community spaces more accessible to everyone by  also offering virtual opportunities for engagement.  

Witnessing the horrors of the pandemic was incredibly overwhelming and terrifying in numerous  ways. I struggled a lot with being frozen in fear and not knowing what I could do to help. In  contrast to my anger about all of the selfishness that many people were exhibiting, I found hope  in seeing all of the mutual aid happening around me, and I wondered how I (given my limited  resources and physical abilities) could give back too. I tried to move my way through the dread  and outrage by focusing on the love and generosity I saw. There was a lot of ugly but there was  also a lot of beauty. I took this opportunity as a call to action for me to put my organizational  skills to work, fighting against systemic injustice and oppression by creating a deeper connection  with my community and others.