I Am Not Your Propaganda

I Am Not Your Propaganda

One of the strongest, if not the most pervasive, motivators in my life is anger. I use it as a guiding force. If something or someone pisses me off enough, I will work to spite them.

Consider this anger management.

Over on Twitter, a place for the very normal to discuss serious topics like adults in a civil and rational manner, I came across a series of posts from an anti-vax account. They purported to show the symptoms of post-COVID-19 vaccines, claiming it caused dysautonomia, a series of little known or mentioned disorders that affect the nervous system.

The account posted a video of a woman picking up a can of beer and then violently shaking said can in her hands. Her hand doesn’t begin to shake until she picks up the can. It stops shaking as she goes to put it down. Anyone with eyes or a developed brain can tell that this performance is utter bullshit. And the replies and quote tweets reflected this.

This is a repost of the infamous “beer can” video, as the original account went private. Thank you Harry-ish Balzak for your service.

(As an aside, the woman who made the video has made several accounts, pretends to be from Brazil or Uruguay, and makes GoFundMe’s to grift off of her “injuries.” GoFundMe apparently lets you put anything on their site as long as they get a cut I suppose.)

And it is laughable in its banality. Right wing conspiracy nut tries to create propaganda around the mRNA vaccines for personal gain. Water is wet.

But it pissed me off. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. I actually have dysautonomia. The thought of my illness being weaponized in such a profoundly stupid manner is one of the more infuriating experiences of my life.

Enough to get me to talk about my illness.

I don’t talk about my condition. Ever. Especially in public. For one, I’m a private person and don’t share much about my life as it is. For another, in some way, talking about “my shit” as I usually refer to it is like acknowledging my own weakness, that there’s something wrong with me, and that there always will be.

I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). It is an autonomic disorder that essentially boils down to my heart being out of whack. My heart rate is constantly elevated; my resting is anywhere from 85 to 100 bpm. My heart doesn’t know what to do when I stand up or lie down, it’s confused.

I’m tired all the time, I have chronic migraines, and I can go for days without being able to do much of anything. It sucks, it’s a pain in the ass, and a lot of the time it makes me feel absolutely useless. I’ve lived like this since I was 17, though I had symptoms at an even earlier age.

That’s the worst part of having one of what is now referred to as an “invisible illness.” It’s hard to know what’s caused by the POTS and what is just something on its own. Are my anxiety and major depressive disorder caused by it? I know they certainly aren’t helped by the POTS. What about the acid reflux? Who can say. And the chronic migraines is a can of worms. Every single doctor I have ever talked to has given me a different answer. One neurologist says the POTS causes them. Another claims I just have chronic migraines. As a separate thing I need to deal with. The surgeon gave me percocet and wanted to peek inside my brain. I was told fusing my spine to my neck would only cause a minor inconvenience for the rest of my life. For example, I wouldn’t be able to turn my head independently of my body anymore. I was told my case would be presented at a conference if I went through with the surgery. I was an experiment, not a person.

Oh, how could I forget: my hands shake too. Not just when a camera’s running and when I pick up a can. It’s a constant thing. I have tremors. I don’t even know when they started, I never noticed them until a doctor pointed it out. Same with my heart beating over 100bpm sitting down. I felt normal. At least, that’s what was normal to me.

What isn’t normal is waking up with a headache every day. Fainting at school, not being believed because you would go to the nurse’s office every single day. I missed half of my senior year of high school, bedridden, when the symptoms reached their zenith. The school attempted to flunk me the day before graduation because I had missed so much time, as if they weren’t made aware of what was going on.

I consider myself lucky in a way. I was fortunate to have health insurance through my parents, and a mother with the ability and sanity to go to dozens of appointments with me. I’m sure there are others like me, in pain, in the dark, because health care in this country is too valuable and suffering is a commodity and a threat.

So when I see fear-mongering over a itty-bitty shot, a little boo boo, using me as a prop, I’m going to get angry, no matter how poor the pantomime is. Over 1 million dead, a contagious disease that can be lessened by a shot or two. And grown adults will make Tik-Toks where they act like toddlers.

Vaccine hesitancy and the “just asking questions” crowd, don’t act like you’re any better, even if you think your act can make it in Vegas. You and fake illness freaks are on the same team after all. So when you pull out some bullshit VARS statistic or start talking about myocarditis, you look just as stupid as Karen with the Heineken can. You just have the good sense to keep the camera off your dumb fuck face.

Keep dysautonomia out of your fucking mouths. Stop the performances. Go be weird somewhere else.