How I Cope With My Disability …

As many of you know, I have a disability that puts me in a lot of pain most of the time. I either have to use a wheelchair or use sticks to get around and sometimes it takes up to an hour to get out of bed.

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Sleep at night can be hit and miss. When I move, it wakes me up as shooting pains course through me. I used to use blogging as an escape from the discomfort until I started having difficulty thinking of things to write because of the pain.

I turned to playing games on the XBOX One as it allowed me to disappear into another world, another realm, another place completely by chasing down monsters, battling robots, or travelling through space to new galaxies, wiping out whole colonies of bad guys. Or good guys, depending on the character. My gamertag bought amusement to people as it is Toe Blarone. A play on the chocolate, and keeping the one word I have had in my tag for years – Toe. [Edit -13/05/2018 – This has recently changed as Toblerone didn’t like me using the name. It is now Chocolate Toe]

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I started watching a few broadcasts of people playing the same games I did and enjoyed what they were doing, and I would talk to them in their chat and ask them how they find “streaming”.
Streaming:

  1. (noun) Computing 
    A method of transmitting or receiving data (especially video and audio material) over a computer network as a steady, continuous flow, allowing playback to start while the rest of the data is still being received.

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One of the people I spoke to about it, said that they started it due to their disability. After I thought about it for a few days and visited more and more channels, I decided to give it a go myself. A proper go. I had already tried twice before. Once for a couple of weeks on and off on the streaming platform Twitch, and then once at a special event on 29th April 2017 on the newly merged with XBOX channel, Beam.

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I spoke to these people for a few weeks until I thought about it myself. Maybe if I gave it a proper go. On the recently rebranded MIXER – which had been Beam. When I started, I had 5 followers. They were all friends. People who also had an XBOX and played games, and on occasion, streamed. I mentioned in a couple of the other channels that I was going to give it a go, and … things didn’t’ go as planned.
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The stream would stop suddenly and turn off; the quality would drop to unwatchable; the sound would turn robotic; the video would just freeze. So I decided to give it up. I mentioned to one of the people I followed that it had turned into a cake full of laxatives and rotten eggs. They told me to contact the support desk and get it fixed. I did so. Over the next two weeks, I was getting support for each new issue that popped up, and it was being fixed almost straight away. Because I had streamed in that event in April, I was given one year of Mixer Pro for free, which meant I got priority support.
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By the end of September, my stream was working well, and I had built up 50 followers on there which was seriously impressive. To me. One of the people who helped me, well, I say help, more like inspired me to start, was a “partner” of Mixer. A partner is someone who stands for the company, they show the face of the business and promote it by being the best they can be and by being interactive. I decided that I was going to subscribe to this person as he had shown me a lot of support.
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By the end of October, my follower count had passed 100, and I was so moved by it. That 100 people wanted to watch when I was online. Of course, not all of them turned up. Most days, nobody did. I felt dejected and wanted to throw in the towel again, but was persuaded otherwise. Told that if I have a schedule, then that would help. So I set a schedule, and posted every time I went “live”.
When I had no one there, I still talked. I acted as though I had an audience there. I talked about what I was doing. I talked about anything. Even current events. Sometimes it felt so good just talking. It really took my mind off everything. I didn’t think of the pain which made it easier.
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I started feeling a lot happier as streaming made me smile. It didn’t make me think about going outside which I am very limited in doing. (Have you ever tried getting a wheelchair down 3 flights of stairs?) By the end of November, my follower count was at 200. I never thought I would ever reach that amount of people. Some even came back regularly to watch.
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Mid-December I decided I wanted a target by the end of the year. I wanted to go into 2018 with 300 followers. December 30th I was on 296. I resigned myself to being at that stage, as I didn’t plan on streaming on New Year’s Eve. I was convinced otherwise though. I was told I should see in the new year, live on stream. So I did. With 305 followers.
I had done it. I decided I wanted to be at 500 by the end of 2018. I figured that at the rate the followers were growing, I should about do it by November.
The Partner who I had subbed to, and he had later made me a moderator on his channel, decided to “Raid” me in January. When a streamer finishes his or her stream, they take all of their current viewers to another channel and host them. It gives them some more air time and introduces the viewers to someone they may not have seen before. This caused my follower count to rocket, and I was dumbstruck and starstruck. To have someone of that calibre raid me was something I never dreamed of happening.
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 As a result of that, by the end of January, I was on 496 followers.
I was part of a raid that went into the channel of the highest profile streamer on Mixer. This guy was the first person to reach 100,000 followers and 1,000,000 views. This guy knew very few people in his channel as they would come and go. He knew his mods and a few of his subscribers.
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At one point he said “Toe Blarone? I’ve seen that name. I have heard about you on twitter. I have heard good things.” (I may have fangirled a bit there) This guy knew my name!
It is now 18th February 2018, and I have 588 followers on Mixer. My aim is to be a Partner. Maybe this year, maybe next. I think I can do it.
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Streaming helps me deal with my disability. It helps me deal with not being able to go out. It helps with my anxiety. It helps with talking to people. It helps me to not think of things. It helps tremendously. And I no longer hide my face. I have my camera on when I am “Live”.
I am currently saving to buy a computer that allows me to better my streaming capabilities as my laptop just can’t handle it. I already have some parts on order, but a have a few things left to get. I am hoping to be fully interactive by the end of June this year.
If streaming can do this for me, then there are activities that can do the same for you. Maybe streaming isn’t your thing, but there may be things you can do that will help. It is not the end of everything with a disability. Things can get better. Things will get better. But you have to work at it a bit to make it get better. You can’t have it fall into your lap.
I have made a lot of new friends. doing this.
If you want to put a face to the name, then head to my Mixer channel below.
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53 thoughts on “How I Cope With My Disability …

  1. A I don’t even know what streaming is till reading this! I love love love that your found something to help you get outside yourself! To me you’ve always been so talented I love that about you! We’ve been long time friends and I’m so encouraged by this. You know how to reach me if you ever need me but looks like to me you got it going on A. Yay for you A! xoxo ❤

    • I have been reading a couple of your posts in the emails I get and I keep meaning to come and visit. Now that I have handed over the reigns of Sunday Photo Fiction, I have more time. So you can guarantee I will be there soon.

      • Hi A. I’m not sure I answered this or not. I took a sick day yesterday because I’m so tired from work. Same ole story lol. I’m happy things are going well for you and don’t worry about visiting I know how hard it is to find time to but I wanted to visit you because I was thinking of you. Sending hugs and love 🦋💜

  2. I’m glad you have found an outlet and are able to be ‘free’ some of the time.
    I know nothing about streaming. Continued success.
    Pop in here once and a while to let us know how you are 🙂
    Hugs, Jules

  3. Wow, Al, I’m glad I didn’t miss THIS one. This is a TERRIFIC post. I’m sorry to hear about how much pain you’re in. Your venture into streaming is fascinating–a world I knew nothing about. You are a hero for not letting diversity stop you in your tracks. You have found a way to have an impact far beyond your home.

    • I’m not going to say it has been easy. There are still days when I just want to curl up and ignore the world. But I don’t. And I look forward to streaming now. Especially with people keep coming back. I am also closing on one of the minimum requirements of being a partner. I need 750 followers, and I am on 744. Considering I never thought I would reach 50 …

      And thank you, John, for your encouragement.

    • Thank you. When someone who follows my stream saw this on twitter, they shared it with the rest of Mixer. There is a fundraiser through March to try and get the money together for the parts for the computer. I am so moved by the community.

    • Thank you so much Kittie. It was great meeting you on Mixer. The “famous Canadian Kittie” always bubbly and fun.

  4. Making new friends is great, glad to see you making a success of things in another sphere (as well as this ‘ere blog of course). I will try and catch a stream when I can.

  5. Hi Al, great to hear that you didn’t give up. I know someone else who is streaming and loves it, helping with some issues. Nowadays it is a great thing that you can make friends via computer and chat live and enjoy the company that way. Good, you found a way to get away and lets you forget about the pain. Keep it up and enjoy ! Hugs Ute

  6. Good on yah.

    I started streaming awhile ago and realized I was stretching myself thin. Its a lot of work while you edit and record for youtube.

    So after talking to itsPlanB and Pebbster for a bit I started. Got my shoutouts set straight, took some advice. I only lasted 2 weeks. I had to stop, ai had just entered a relationship and it was crazy.

    No one starts without the dream of doing it forever. Just remember, talk to your fellow streamers. Listen. Learn and set small goals.

    I may not be watching streamers much anymore, but I follow my hobby.

    Have fun, game lots, and good day.

    • Thank you Kelly I appreciate that. PlanB was the one that introduced me to Joric and Pebbster. They are great people and they have made a great difference to me. I hope maybe you start streaming again when everything settles down. I am a single dad of a 19 and 21 year old so relationships aren’t an issue for me. In order to meet someone I need to be able to go outside so nothing to worry about there lol.

      Thank you so much for your kind words as well

  7. I’m so glad that you have discovered this cool activity and that it helps you interact with so many new friends! The gaming and the streaming community sounds really cool, and I can see how it would help you stay connected and engaged, and how it would distract you from the pain for a while which is wonderful. A lot of people in your situation wouldn’t be brave enough to try new things, especially with other people like that, and would just sit around feeling sad for themselves. So I applaud you for looking outside your everyday box and exploring this new adventure. Good luck getting even better at it, and most importantly: enjoy yourself!

    • Thank you Joy. I have received a lot of positive response from the streaming community this morning about the post, and I am stunned by it all. For a long while, I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to just sit and hide away and feel sorry for myself and curse the world. Maybe this is life throwing me a lifeline though.

      • I think wanting to hide away is a totally normal reaction. I’m happy for you that you sought out a lifeline, and grabbed it! I’ve never experienced long-term disability (only short-term after surgeries, and that was difficult enough), but I have suffered from serious depressive episodes, so I know how hard it can be to just get out of bed sometimes, much less get up the gusto to try to rebuild a life that feels broken beyond repair. Sending warm wishes to you.

        • Long term debilitating ailments are horrendous. Depression is a part of it as well. Just trying to find something to take your mind off it cn be so hard.

          Thank you Joy

  8. Hey Al! I am so happy you have found something so rewarding. I know it has to be very difficult being cooped up in your house but now you have people to interact with! That is so awesome! I wish I lived close enough to come see you because I don’t do gaming so I can’t interact with you online with the streaming thing. I never have. It stresses me out.. lol! I play solitaire and Tetris but I don’t play against anyone else. I think I am too competitive to enjoy that. But I would love to just hang out and talk. Conversation is a lost art these days with technology. I had a friend come spend the night with me last weekend while my hubby was out of town. It was so fun having a sleepover. We didn’t wear nighties or braid each other’s hair but we did talk about boys giggle. I am glad you are doing better my friend.. cheers! ❤

  9. Dear Al, I haven’t known anything about your pains, what happened to you, if you wish please write to me an e-mail. But you are strong and creative person, please don’t give up, all my best wishes dear Al, love, nia

    • Hi Nia. Originally, I had an injection that went wrong in 2002, and then in 2016, something happened – can’t remember what – that caused a flare up and made it worse than it had ever been before. Living up three flights of stairs I can’t get out much.

      • I am sorry to hear this dear Al, but I hope you are going to the doctor and search about this. You know in medicial world everyday they find a new treatment. Love, nia

        • Unfortunately, the only thing I can do with it now is live with it. One of the reasons I don’t take so many photos is that I often can’t carry the camera, or hold it. But I am getting through. This is helping me no end.

  10. I didn’t know you were under so much physical distress, Alastair. Is there anyone to help you get around? You lost me on the gaming thing. I just never could get into that. But it’s obvious that it’s helped you deal with everything going on around you. I truly wish the best for you. I know this is easier said than done, but please don’t give up! The world needs more people like you and fewer like those in political arenas.

    • Thank you Alejandro, I appreciate the words. I have my kids to help me. They are almost 20 and 22 so they can do a lot to help.

      It has helped me a great deal, and I hope people can see that new hobbies can help them as well. It doesn’t just fall into the lap though.

  11. Congrats Al. This is really exciting for you. I’m so glad you’ve found a place to further flourish, despite your health issues. Keep doing it, I can see why people would want to watch you from your writing.
    Cheers,

  12. Great post. I am so glad you don’t let your disability define you or keep you from doing some of things you love. And thank for blogging and spreading awareness of the disability community. I look forward to reading more of your posts

    • Thank you. I did for a long time. I felt sorry for myself and wanted to wallow in my own self pity. But with streaming, I have only really advertised my disability to the streaming community with this post..

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