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Use Your Head to Live With Heart*

*Today's Thought from the Tea, which, like so many of them could be an excellent Bruce/Tony (MCU) prompt.

Bit of a blip since I posted the Poll (which is still open if anyone else - theemdash, msmoat, starkandbanner, anyone - wants to give feedback) since my godmother chose to tell me (at my Mum's birthday party!) that I'm basically ruining her life and she should be travelling and visiting John in Aus and going on cruises, not being tied to looking after me. "It's no life for her." Disability, chronic pain, mental health problems, a medical inability to work, and needing a Carer when I'm only in my thirties, was, of course, a choice I made and the life I always wanted. I was forgetting that. :-/

The number of responses my friends, family and parents' friends have to my situation boggles me at times. There are people who think I'm "inspirational" (which in the context of disability generally, I find a little uncomfortable - and these people certainly don't see me during my lowest lows or worst pain days!) and people who think I'm basically swinging it and I could do XYZ if I wanted to and tried hard enough. This included the official fire marshal at work who while designing my evacuation plan said that she was sure if there was a bomb or fire I *would* be able to run out of One Canada Square (aka Canary Wharf Tower, the tallest building Britain, where I worked). I'm pretty sure if the DWP thought that I wouldn't be receiving Employment Support Allowance - Support Group benefits! I'm pretty sure if my parents thought I was swinging it *they* woul not be helping and supporting me the way they do. But some people still think it's fine to tell me that to my face. And there's the ever helpful and sympathetic, "Well, it's only pain, isn't it? You can ignore that."

ETA: And I forgot to say that on 27th January this year, I had another denervation/surgical procedure on my back, under Dr A. So at the moment (and on-going, God willing?) I'm more mobile and in less pain than I have been for months. Although it's still a question of good days and bad days and a handful of REALLY bad days, even the really bad days have not been as severe as some of the horrible days I had in December and January and the good days have been both *better* quality and higher in number. I have been able to reduce my opioid dose and get to leave the house on a number of occasions in February and March so far and I even did a little bit of the Spring Cleaning/going through piles of papers alongside Mum.

However, I don't think the procedure is *as* effective at reducing my pain as the steroid treatments have been; but the effects should last longer than the steroids and the whole idea is to get me off steroids before I start to accrue serious side effects from long term use. And I still can't get off the prescription pain meds. :(

Is that a Real Life post or a Rant?

It does bring me on to a bit of a fandom pet peeve from the MCU - between Tony's chest and Bucky's arm (and I'm sure Rhodey's legs will get there at some point) chronic pain is a bit of a topic in some fics. But I have yet to see a Doctor of Pain Medicine, or a Pain Management multi-disciplinary team, or a Doctor of Anaesthetics, or a neurologist or a Centre for Neuromodulation - or basically any medical pain specialists - involved in their treatment. I have seen several character-delivered sermons on not treating long-term pain with prescription meds, however. You can treat chronic pain due to nerve damage with herb tea and a heat pack and OTC anti-inflammatory gel. Maybe an asprin on a really bad day.


I wonder if the entire department at St Thomas's Hospital (including the surgeon who has now put six cautary leisions in my back) dedicated to the treatment and relief of chronic pain and neuropathy - or the one at Bart's Hospital, or the Bath Centre for Pain and Rheumatic Diseases, not to mention the similar departments worldwide - are aware of that?!

While I'm on the topic of Things That Annoy Me in Far-Too-Many MCU fics - am I the only person on the face of the earth who thinks that RDJ/Tony Stark is NOT THAT SHORT?? Okay, yeah, he's not 6'6". But according to the available evidence (and I know he wears lifts/stacked soles and even stacked *heels* sometimes, especially as Tony Stark in scenes with Steve Rogers or Pepper Potts) RDJ is more or less US male average height. He's not 5'6". Or under.

Jeremy Renner/Clint Barton is only an inch or two (less than an inch by some sources) taller than him. They are not Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond - if they are standing next to each other, specific-you, the only way Clint could put his chin on the top of Tony's head is if he stood on a step, or Tony ducked his head against Clint's chest or shoulder or something.

And RDJ is, as far as I can make out, slightly *taller* than Mark Ruffalo/Bruce Banner.

RDJ is not a teeny tiny little man. And, while he's not thickset and has a sort of dancer's build, I don't think you can look at his Tony Stark arms and call him delicate or petite or any of those other choice adjectives fan-writers do keep using. Is it all part of the woobyfied and often times *feminised* fanon!Tony that I hate with a burning passion? (Seriously, guys, parent-fic, without always-a-girl or MtF trans*Tony, or omegaverse; where Tony is referred to as the child's Mom and Mama by his male partner??!! Tony being Avenger's Team Mom while Steve is Team Dad??!! Do. Not. Want.)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2017 03:41 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear from you again.

Is any of the pain treatment helping? Sorry to be dim but I can't make it out from your post.
Mar. 22nd, 2017 07:46 pm (UTC)
No, you're not dim, I didn't say anything about it. :) Sorry about that - I've added an ETA. In general, however, yes the treatments help (otherwise the NHS wouldn't be wasting money on me) but they help by making the pain more bearable rather than either being able to address the damage itself, or get m etotally out of pain. The trouble with nerves. The surgical procudures can only get *close* to the cause of the problem without the risk of leaving me worse off than I already am. Obviously when dealing with spinal nerves in the lower back, it's not just doing more damage to my mobility they have to worry about.

So it's just... a daily grind of living with nerve damage. There's the chronic pain, yes, but there's also the various neuropathy sensations - random pins and needles, numbness, weakness (because of nerves having difficulty talking to muscles), spasms, twitches, "dead" leg etc etc and circulatory difficulties (I get pretty bad lower limb oedema).

The treatments can help, but the real key is me psychologically managing and dealing with the pain. And I really struggle with that. We work my opioid pain-killers on the pronciple of minimal effective dose, so my prescription is the lowest amount possible to take the worst of the edge off. Even on the prescription meds, my pain averages to about a 7/10 - and this has been true for 13 years. We give me med breaks sometimes - and I cannot do it, at all without pain relief. On a bad day maxing my dose (the prescription's for a range of doses - one or two tabs, three or four times a day) still leaves me moaning, crying screaming and trying to escape my own body. It's torturous. And some of the attitudes to pain and opioids I talked about encountering in this post, really don't get it and are not helpful.

.... Um. Hope that wasn't WAY TMI and answered your concern? Thanks for asking - and commenting. :)
Mar. 23rd, 2017 02:57 pm (UTC)

Actually I hate fanon!Tony just like I hate that people try to make fanon!Bruce equal the actor playing him to the point that Bruce sort of gets lost.

But seriously fanon!Tony is one of my biggest peeves and one of the major reasons I didn't even deal with the Marvel or MCU fandom at all until Avengers came along and other people started pairing him with Bruce. And I did an extensive reread of all of every fic in the Bruce and Tony tag on AO3 after AoU (it took about 3 months at that time) and at the start Tony was for the most part finally given "Steve's role" in the relationship with Bruce, more often being the protector, more often being top or dom, and occasionally treating Bruce like "the girl" (although a lot of those fics actually were clever in calling out that this wasn't true and that they were both strong and soft and protectors and such in their own way, which is what I desperately try to do in my own fics, even if I slip up sometimes and feminise Bruce a little bit more than I should for a million different reasons and none of them to intentionally make him somehow lesser than Tony - which is another thing that bugs me because it's like so many of these fic writers are female and it reeks of internalized misogyny to feminise one and make them so needy for the traditional male character - if that makes sense? idk). Then as time went along it started to become a little more even kilter which I'm totally fine with. Like I said, I love these characters as equals even if the complement each other in some respects. Then fanon!Tony started to creep in and by the time I got done with my reread I was seriously depressed because almost completely gone was the middle ground (or, even selfishly speaking, the subjective way I view their relationship and the characters) and in its place was Tony being shorter than Bruce, Tony being a power bottom/needy bottom/etc, omega!Tony, always a girl Toni, spoiled girlfriend Tony, and size/aggression/Hulk kink with it all being about Bruce being aggressive/dom because of Hulk or Tony wanting Bruce because "Hulk sex" (or almost-Hulk sex) or Bruce not letting Tony top because of the Hulk and so on and so on and like Do. Not. Want. I get that other people seem to want it, but I don't and that's why I always felt like I was on the outside even when I started contributing to the fandom. Hell, I was so terrified nobody would want me around in the fandom that I actually had Tony say he was a "natural bottom" in one of my first fics and I hated it so much that I abandoned it promptly and moved on.

Sigh. Sorry to also rant and bring the Bruce aspect into it so much, but it just really grinds my gears.
Mar. 23rd, 2017 02:57 pm (UTC)
As for height, Robert is I think an inch or two taller than Mark irl (officially, for what posted heights are worth) so that's how it should be in fics. Granted that's not a lot, so I typically write them as being nearly eye level since they would be. Sure, I've joked about the lifted shoes RDJ had to wear in Forged W/ Blood/Fire, but that's really it. And I try to use the actors' real heights in my aus as opposed to the exaggerated film heights, so like in my Lucky Thirteen verse, yeah, I have Tony and Bruce being shorter than some of their kids - like Steve, Thor and Loki - because they're just taller in real life and that's just how real life works, and even make a point of Tony and Bruce commenting on how they can both relate to being average height.

Similarly, I almost always try to use "broad" or something similar when describing Tony because to me he does appear thicker (stockier maybe?) than Bruce - and he's more evenly proportioned from top to bottom compared to the whole Dorito!Steve or Thor's massive upper body. I agree with dancer's build, but even that brings to my mind broad set shoulders and strong arms (I always picture more Gene Kelley than Fred Astaire). Likewise, while Mark isn't small, he (and canon!Bruce as I think of him from the old days) is lean in my view. I'm sorry, but I don't see how anyone can look at the scene of the two in the lab across from one another and see delicate or petite Tony compared to Bruce. Hell, I don't even see it when Tony is fighting with Steve (camera tricks re: height aside). Their builds are different and hold their respective bulks differently, that's all there is to it.

(Another thing and I know you hate IM3 so can probably respect this opinion, but I don't think IM3 did fanon!Tony any favors in the woobified/feminised crowd. Because somehow Tony's genuine distress, fear, struggle to be the warrior that's expected of him in the face of men like Thor and Steve, who have unfair advantages, and in the face of his mortality and the potential mortality of those he loves, is grounds for taking those issues and twisting them so that Tony has to be "cared for" and now Pepper's "the man" (similarly, "oh Tony had to be rescued by Pepper tehe), and Tony is broken, and so on. Like, no, his undiagnosed, potential PTSD is NOT 1. justification for your desire to woobify a character and 2. mental illness or the inability to deal with the things a character like Tony has gone through is not inherently female? Like it's actually a really gross stigma. And for comparison, why the hell isn't Steve a wooby feminised character that needs to be taken care of because of all he's had to deal with (losing his whole life, the issues with Bucky, Peggy's death, etc.)? Instead, Civil War - from what I've read/seen - turns it into "Oh everyone is against him and they need to get out of his way and he needs to protect himself and everyone else and protect Bucky" and it's "Poor abused Tony who has to lash out because 'you killed my parents' oh I'm so hurt right now and don't know how to deal'"

Okay... I'll stop now lmao. But it's always fun getting this off my chest, even if no amount of complaining it will seem to ever make it go away.
Mar. 23rd, 2017 02:58 pm (UTC)
Also the bit about handling chronic pain in MCU fics... I'm probably really bad at that too so I'm sorry if any of my fics (especially Arrhythmia) has bothered you in that respect. I knew this would be a potential problem no matter how much research I did so I probably shouldn't have even attempted it. I think that's why I stuck with more of the relationship aspects than the specifics, tried not to focus on Charles and Erik and so on. And I knew I was taking a risk with making Bruce afraid of his medicine and personally attempting homeopathic techniques even while giving other people medicine, but I kept it in because it's something I've dealt with personally (absolute fear of meds because of the effect they had on me), but had the fic focused more on Charles and Pietro's recovery, there would absolutely be references to the things you mentioned above as far as I could understand them (which maybe implies I still shouldn't bother at all) and I don't think I would be careless enough to imply prescription medication wouldn't be needed, but I can be careless without intending to about a lot of things as insulated as my upbringing was and the struggle to research and learn more and more every day and unlearn that carelessness so I won't say that it wouldn't have happened.

(the deleted comment was the same as this one. didn't meant to reply to myself)
Mar. 23rd, 2017 05:18 pm (UTC)
Oh and back to say, god I'm very sorry if my saying your resilience is inspiring caused you even the slightest discomfort. That's a little what I was trying to get at with my after comment, that it's easy for me as an outsider to say that and it's not really fair to your feelings because of the pain that you've had to go through to be perceived as inspirational to begin with and the fact that, like you said here, what we perceive at any point is usually a far cry from how someone feels at their lowest or how they perceive themselves/their efforts/etc.

So, again, I apologize for mentioning it at all. I should know better by now that it's not in good form since I already grasp that it can be insensitive.

Edited at 2017-03-23 05:19 pm (UTC)
Mar. 23rd, 2017 08:04 pm (UTC)
Okay, no, it's okay. There is a difference between someone *with the same problem* (we both have Depression and that's what you were talking about in PM) finding strength and inspiration from someone else; and people appropriating lives with disabilities as "inspirational" without thought. Like how some able-bodied people react to Paralympians as disabled first, you know? As opposed to athletes with disablities, competing at international level, some people make them Brave Little Toasters and Brave Little Soldiers. (Remember the Hans Christian Anderson story about the tin soldier with one leg - because he'd been the last in the batch and there hadn't been quite enough tin - who was in love with the balleria doll who looked like she only had one leg because of her pose?)

I really see a difference in those attitudes. You have Depression. I've told you that I had a really bad downward spiral - but I also told you I can accept that, try to put it behind me and try to "Move On Up" now my brain chemistry is in a different place. To me, you calling that "inspiring" is saying you take from it that if I can do it, you can maybe take from that the knowledge/belief that you can do it too. Because you can - because if *I* can keep going down the rabbit hole and coming back again, so can you, so can other people with chronic Depression. Taking from other people's experiences the knowledge that something is doable is one thing.

BUT - What does it say about attitudes towards disablity if simply getting on with life - shopping, cooking, being able to laugh at myself etc, etc - becomes "inspirational" when I do it with a disability? What am I supposed to do now I have a disability? Hide from the world? Make a Carer do everything, even the things I still *can* do? Or lie on the sofa and feel sorry for myself? Give up completely? If the normal is inspirational to some people, what does that say about their "normal" and their beliefs about disability?

THAT'S what I feel uncomfortable about. Does that make sense?

Mar. 26th, 2017 10:51 am (UTC)
I'm so glad the denervation had some effect, although of course I wish they had something that was even better. Navigating disability is so complicated and requires so much emotional labour, even besides the pain and the meds. *hugs*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Dee Natsuko

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