I’ve previously shared Articles by Philip Anderson on this Blog.
I use the phrase “disabled yet able” to describe myself and fellow individuals who may suffer and/or live with a disabling condition. However, we don’t let our illness/disorder/ what have you, stop us! I would definitely include Philip as one such fellow “comrade”. You’ll get the reference as you read on.
Here, I share Philip’s recent Article “Keeping In Touch“, as well as my thoughts and feelings on some of the subjects he addresses.
You can read more about Philip on his Blog here: https://www.independentliving.co.uk/philip-anderson/
You can also follow him on Twitter @phandi
A Fellow Advocate & the Power of Advocating
Philip is currently writing his memoir, which is one of my major life goals.
In fact, I have signed-up for a challenge to write a book by December 15th! *Wish me luck*.
“Advocates In Crime”
Philip is also an advocate for access, equality and inclusiveness on behalf of those with disabilities.
If there’s one thing I always say, it’s that we must advocate for ourselves and for others.
I began writing this Post on the day Philip published his piece. It is so moving. Unfortunately, life, cancer and yet another surgery got in the way. 🙄
I also began editing my Post on Halloween. Last year I spent Halloween in the ER. So at the very least I’m home doing this. Of course, because I’m still recovering from a 14+ hour surgery, I did not finish.
There’s so much in Philip’s piece that there will be a “Part Two” to this Post. However, I’ve written several Posts in which I’ve yet to finish the final Part in a Series. So… time will tell. Nevertheless, what is important is that others read Philip’s thoughtful piece.
Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first), but I truly believe my advocacy is one of the many reasons I’m still kickin’ after 3 bouts of cancer and 9 surgeries since April 2014.
It could be that simply advocating for others heals , as well as energizes me.
Yet, it could also be much grander than that.
Maybe my true purpose in life is to remain on this Earth for as long as possible to help others and make a true difference.
I don’t know. My bet is on the latter though.
After an experience I had just after this last 9th surgery, believe this even more . That’ll be the topic of my next Post once I complete my thoughts of my fellow “advocate in crime”, Philip’s Article!
Philip’s Recent Article – “Keeping in Touch”
I’d urge anyone reading this to read Philip’s Article in its entirety through the link below:
The general focus of Philip’s Article is how our lack of interaction, and particularly the sense of touch, can affect us. As Philip points out, this is especially true throughout this horrific year of 2020 during the COVID pandemic.
Philip brings up fascinating points that would make for great “dinner party conversation”… Ah, if only we could host dinner parties these days. Nevertheless, Philip addresses the need for people with particularly vulnerable immune systems, like us, to constantly quarantine and isolate. Thus, we’re lacking regular communication and interactions, especially in the form of “touch”.
Notably, he writes:
I miss a good hug!https://www.independentliving.co.uk/philip-anderson/keeping-in-touch/
Breaking the Rules – I Got Some Hugs
I’ll just admit it. When I learned I had suffered my 3rd bout of cancer and had to undergo my 9th surgery on October 9th, I hugged the hell out of the few family and friends I got to see! Frankly, I really did not know if I’d come out of that surgery alive, and I almost didn’t!
So, yeah, I broke the rules I had followed so strictly for so many months. I had friends and family over to our apartment. We hugged – a lot. I got kisses on the cheek. We held hands.
I needed that “sense of touch” to comfort me and to express my love for all the wonderful people in my life. They needed to show how much they cared for me too.
Initially, everyone was “masked-up” but we ate and drank, so my mask rule fell by the wayside. Not smart. I know. However, being in the Metro NYC area, half of my friends already had the virus and have the antibody.
Do you think “mask up” will become a new catchphrase for our COVID generation? It kinda sounds gangsta, No? As gangsta as this lil white girl will ever get, anyway. 😉
It reminds me of one of the 1st hip-hop songs I loved as a teenager, “Regulate” by Warren G feat. Nate Dogg. If you don’t know the song, the Intro ends with the line, “Regulators, mount up!“
Let’s just change the lyrics to, “Regulators, mask up!”
Our Sense of Touch Is Critical Throughout Our Lives
Infancy And Childhood
Philip explains that even before birth a baby detects touch in the womb, before it can hear, smell, or taste. I’m not a mother. I’ve never had children, but that makes sense.
Then, once we’re born “touch” is so “critical for a baby’s physical and emotional development.” We then carry that need for the“sense of touch” as we grow-up.
I delve deeper into this a bit below, but FIRST….
Growing Up: Waxing Nostalgic For My 80’s Youth
80’s Kids Were Tough!
I was born in N. Ireland in 1980. However, when I was around 2 years-old my parents and I moved to the States As a kid, I was dearly loved and cared for. Yet, as a child of the 80’s, I was tough.
Us 80’s babies were nothing like kids these days.
F—K! I’m old!
Once you’ve uttered the phrase, “Kids these days!” you’re offically old 🤣
Back in the 80’s, there were no so-called “helicopter parents” like today. Or at least, they weren’t the general type of parent. I just don’t understand these “helicopter parents”, but again, I don’t have kids.
Life as A Suburban 80’s Kid in America
Generally speaking, this is what life as a kid in the 80’s was like, in the burbs:
- cell phones – nope
- no helmets – for anything!
- seatbelts, sometimes
- people smoked on airplanes, buses, in office buildings, etc.
- if we got in trouble at school, it meant we probably f—ed up! We more than likely did it.
- ”Yes, Mom, I did tell my teacher I wasn’t listening because I was actually smarter than her, and that she was stupid”, which one of my dearest friends did in like kindergarten! She went to public school though…
- I went to Catholic school. No laws protected us from getting hit!
- TRUST: A nun will slap you with a ruler faster than you can even say, “Damn, she’s got a ruler!”
- No matter…as 80’s kids, we had to respect our teachers; sometimes, Yes, even to a fault.
- If we got smacked in the head with a school supply, our parents asked, “What did you do to get an eraser thrown at your head?” They didn’t stage a protest to have the teacher fired. (Please don’t get me wrong-I don’t agree with how we were treated, but I also don’t agree with the “helicopter mom” mentality today)
- our parents left us home alone for hours
- some of our friends or even we, ourselves, were “latch key kids“
- we played outside in our neighborhood, all the time, and even after dark
- we knew “stranger danger” or to watchout for a white guy in a van “Chester Chester the Child Molester”.
- I guess we were aware that kidnapping and molestation happened, but kind of made a joke about it, as horrible as that is;
- As in, we kinda knew Michael Jackson was odd, but, we did not have a clue how f***ing off the rails and sick he really was!!!
- And, Yes, here in the Metro NY area we had Action Park. If you don’t know about it, watch the documentary on Netflix)
We Were Tough, But Still Innocent
Even if we were “tough“, there was a certain level of innocence no other generation will ever have going forward!
The Internet changed everything, including childhood.
Yes. We had video games, but we played Super Mario. I’m an adult and the video games I’ve seen kids play these days are disturbing!
We didn’t carry around mini-computers via our Smartphones in our back pockets with 24/7 access to the World Wide Web.
The Internet is a pretty sick place, “if you are into that kinda thing”, or if you go looking for something sick and twisted as a kid, which you definitely should not see.
In the 80’s it was even a big deal to have cable!
This is what the typical TV looked like. We had about 13 channels. We constantly had to fight with the “rabbit ears” in order to get a clear picture. There were no LED flatscreens with 1,000 channels for us! When we got cable, it was life-changing!
1980’s Television Epitomized Our Innocence
I’m generalizing, but just about every 80’s TV show depicted a warm, fuzzy family: the so-called “nuclear family”
That family was typically a mom, a dad, 2.5 kids, maybe a dog… or if you’re a CERTIFIED 80’s KID, you’ll understand the references:
Maybe a robotic little girl; an older, white, single millionaire who adopts two black boys; or a snarky alien muppet from the planet Melmac.
It was the height of a crack epidemic after all! Plus, I think like 80% of adults were blowing lines of cocaine. Perhaps that influenced TV concepts…
I don’t know.
Regardless, it seemed every TV family was full of love and support.
The last 5-minutes of most Prime Time shows included a “life lesson” ending in hugs all-around.
“Stranger Things” – A current TV show perfectly depicting a suburban kid’s life in the 80’s
“Stranger Things“ does a fantastic job of recreating life as an 80’s kid, minus the whole sci-fi monster and supernatural powers thing.
If you haven’t binged-watched this show, you’re seriously missing out!
“Stranger Things” Official Site: https://www.netflix.com/title/80057281
As depicted in the show, back in the 80’s:
We hung out at the mall, like, every weekend
Back in the 80’s, we went to the mall pretty much every weekend. It really was the center of our universe. Hence, why “Stranger Things“ Season 3 is so on-point! It’s not that we went there to really buy anything. We just wanted a place to hangout with our friends beyond the “semi-watchful” eyes of our parents!
If we weren’t at the mall, we went to the arcade
I remember distinctly begging my parents for the new and exciting thing – Nintendo!
If we didn’t have Nintendo or just wanted to go hangout, we went to an arcade. The arcade was especially popular in the summers where I grew-up if we were down at the Shore.
We played Pac-Man and Donkey Kong on real arcade machines, like the ones below.
We spent a lot of time waiting for our friends to show-up because again, no cell phones
Whether our parents dropped us off later than planned, or if you had siblings your parents had to bring your brother or sister somewhere first – whatever the reason. We spent a lot of time waiting around for everyone to meet-up. We couldn’t just pick-up our cell phones and text, “Where u at?” Nope. We just had to wait…
The “Sense” of Speech
Even though “speech” and communication are not included in the standard 5 senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch, speech relates directly to many of those senses.
For example, a blind person will use speech to compensate for their lack of sight. Further, someone with difficulty hearing may read lips.
Directly related to that, nowadays things like FaceTime or video chat allows someone with difficulty hearing to communicate using technology.
Personally, I feel that speech and communication is indeed a “sense”.
Although technology has been wonderful in many ways, I feel it has ruined our ability to communicate: The loss of the “sense” of speech
Back when I grew-up, we communicated in-person or had to actually talk on the phone! There was no such thing as texting. No social media. No, we had social skills!
Our faces weren’t buried in our phones 24/7. (As I type this on my phone, mind you) I cannot imagine my parents’ reaction if I sat at dinner with my face buried in my phone! It probably would have been thrown across the room.
At home, our phones were attached to the wall or sat on a table attached to a severely annoying cord that was constantly tangled! I had such misdirected young rage towards that tangled phone cord!
Most middle-class or suburban households had one or two telephones. As kids and especially teenagers, we had to slyly walk away fighting with that f-ing tangled phone cord so that we could be far enough away from our parents ensuring they couldn’t overhear our conversation.
While, Yes, it’s good that now we always have a phone on-hand in case of an emergency (It probably would’ve helped in many scenes in “Stranger Things“) all kids do these days are text, scroll social media or whatever it is they do on their mobile phones.
In my opinion, kKids have lost the ability to actually communicate person-to-person.
That issue is not just a problem for kids. I can’t count how many times I’ve been bumped into or almost bumped into because someone was walking down a crowded NYC street looking down on their phones!! Common sense, people!
It wasn’t THAT unusual if our parents didn’t know exactly where we were because again, no cell phones
If you watch the show, you understand what I mean when I say, “Karen Wheeler NEVER knows where her kids are!” However, without cell phones back in the 80’s, it wasn’t THAT unusual not to know where your kid was at every single moment.
We didn’t have GPS tracking via our cell phones. If we needed to reach our parents, we needed a landline or a pay phone.
We played interactive board games, used walkie talkies and rode our bikes around the neighborhood – even at night- and there was no social media to obsess over!
A huge part of my own obsession with “Stranger Things” is that it really captures the innocence of childhood in that era. Obviously, that excludes fighting the demagorgon, the serious trauma Will has to constantly endure, and of course Eleven’s experiences inside the Hawkins’ Laboratory.
In Season One, one of the shows’ greatest “fan favorites”, Barb, mysteriously vanishes at such an amazingly perfect recreated 80’s-type “party”.
Aside from all that though, “Stranger Things” depicts how back in the 80’s, we played board games with our friends.
Walkie Talkies and Walk Mans were massively popular.
We played outside as much as we could – at times, our parents couldn’t even get us inside to eat!
We rode bikes through our neighborhood, even at night!
No one had to worry about social media. There were no “selfies”. Hell, we had to use Polaroid cameras!
Yes. I’m waxing nostalgic. However, it just seemed like simpler times. I was only a kid. Yeah. However, I’d NEVER want to be a kid in this day and age.
Back to the Point: Philip’s Article & The Importance of the “Sense of Touch”
In his Article, Philip writes:
Touch releases oxytocin, the so-called ‘cuddle chemical’, and endorphins, and reduces cortisol, that help relieve stress and pain. Just twenty seconds of welcomed hugging is a powerful tonic.https://www.independentliving.co.uk/philip-anderson/keeping-in-touch/
I was a dearly cared-for and deeply loved child. My parents kissed me, hugged me, tucked me into bed every night, and told me they “loved me” before I went to sleep.
At 40 years-old, my Mom still calls me just about every day. As an only child, I receive so much loving attention from my parents that at times it was even overwhelming. A perfect example of how this has continued into adulthood is when my mother tells me she wishes it was “her and not me” battling cancer.
We weren’t the Brady Bunch, and we had our issues. Nevertheless, I have and will always be loved.
By American standards, my parents were also very liberal. Good grades. A MUST. Rated “R” movies before I was 9 or 10 years-old. Not a big deal.
Back in the 80’s we had one TV. So, what my parents watched – I watched. And boy, did my Mom LOVE the news, still to this day!
Literally Watching the Fall of the Soviet Union and What It Exposed
Since the news was constantly on at home, I lived through and watched the fall of the Soviet Union. Of course, as a kid I didn’t fully understand all the politics involved in those momentous events.
As the Soviet Union fell, American newscasts focused on the lives of the Russian and Soviet people, which had been hidden for decades.
I distinctly recall Russian people waiting for hours on lines in the bitter cold just for bread.
So, as I read Philip’s Article, “Keeping In Touch“, I flashed back to my childhood, watching the endless newscasts on the infamous Romanian “orphans”.
To this day, I have vivid memories of those newscasts!
These were the stories and images nightmares are made of!
Countless newscasts revealed truly horrific conditions that approximately 100,000 Romanian “orphans” (many were not actually orphans) were living under when the regime fell in 1989.
I was not censored from anything. I saw it ALL.
So, maybe my parents should have been a ‘lil bit less liberal with what I watched… 🤔
THE END, BUT JUST FOR NOW…
Just for now, this is where I will end my Post.
The case of the Romanian “orphans” back in the 1980’s & 1990’s provides an EXTREME case of the power of “touch” and what happens when the sense of “touch” is so deeply neglected.
There’s a lot to discuss!
Back when I was a kid, there were specials, major news articles and exposés on these Romanian children, as well as the American families rushing to adopt them. Even today, there have been recent updates on “What happened to these children?”
In Part Two, I’ll delve into a bit of “Cold War” history (very briefly), how the disabled were treated and the affect “touch” has on both physical and brain development. Sadly, this is demonstrated perfectly through what occurred in Romania during the 80’s through the 90’s.
It’s a disturbing area of history. However, as someone who has suffered with brain cancer and various disabilities due to the tumors and the extensive treatment to my brain, I’m fascinated by this aspect of world history.
PLEASE HOLD. Part Two is coming. However, my own lil brain and body is still majorly healing.
Thank you, Philip, for another incredible Post, and keep the inspiration, advocacy and kindness flowing!