Cyborg

[this would be spoken word, if I could speak]

I am a cyborg
What, you don’t believe me?
What did you expect a cyborg to look like?
Certainly not a fat, ugly thirty-something is-that-a-woman-or-a-man
Certainly not someone
Who can’t even meet the standards of normal
Let alone surpass them
Certainly not me

But I am a cyborg
I am a cyborg
And I will show you
If it’s the last thing I do
Because I think being a cyborg
Is pretty cool

My first implant
My friends call my Bionic Butt
There’s a battery and controller system
Embedded in my right butt cheek
Connected to a wire
Carefully threaded through my tailbonee
And inserted into the pelvic floor muscle

My pelvic floor muscle is spastic, you see
So I couldn’t pee very well
And I kept getting infections
Physical therapy —
Electrodes on my butt playing video games —
Didn’t help enough

So the controller sends a message down the wire
Telling my pelvic floor muscles to relax
And through the combined effort of the machine
And what I learned playing video games with my butt
I can mostly pee enough
To avoid getting urinary tract infections every few weeks
And that makes me a cyborg
Even if it isn’t glamorous

My second implant is called a GJ tube
Short for gastrojejunostomy
It’s a double tube
G tube for my stomach
J tube for my intestines
Food, water, and medication go in the J tube
Bile and other stomach contents get drained out the G tube
I sleep with a drainage bag on thee G tube
Collecting my bile all night
So it doesn’t go up into my lungs and give me infections
Meanwhile the J tube
Lets me bypass my stomach
Which is partially paralyzed and mostly useless
Because most of what I put in it (or that it makes itself)
Doesn’t get passed to my intestines
It just sits and sits doing nothing but making me feel sick
My feeding tube saved my life
And I love it uncondittionally

My third implant is called a PowerPort
My veins aren’t good
The more I go to the hospital
The worse they get
Until I’m seeing six IV nurses
In one day
Because my veins infiltrate that fast
And they are having to use
More and more obscure locations
Smaller and smaller veins
Veins that won’t take the medication
That needs to go into them

A port is a device implannted into my chest
It is triangular with bumps you can feel through the skin
The shape and the pattern of bumps
Tell doctors what kind of port it is and how to use it
It is connected to a tube
That goes to a deep vein
Almost right up to my heart

They can draw blood from it
They can put medications into it
They can put CT scan dye into it
All just by putting a needle
In the middle of the triangle
And they can use medications
That smaller surface veins
Like a normal IV
Would never tolerate
And I may never again
Have to be poked ten times in a row
To get the right vein
That then only lasts an hour
I was ecstatic when my doctor
Finally said yes
Yes to a port
Yes to the end of the IV torture
We both know the risks
But at this point in my life
It’s worth it

I am a cyborg
Because I am a human
With machine parts

But wait, you say
Aren’t cyborgs supposed to be
Able to do things other people can’t?

Well can you totally drain your stomach
Every time you get nauseated
So that you rarely actually throw up?
Can you eat all day without taking a bite
Or even noticing you’re eating?
Can you take medicines
Directly into your deepest veins?
Can you press a few buttons
And change how relaxed a muscle is?
Didn’t think so.

What you really mean is that
Cyborgs are supposed to be
Nondisabled people
Receiving enhancements
Beyond what they can normally do

Which tells me that you think
Disability is outside the normal human condition
Because if disabled people were normal
Then our feeding tubes
And our central line ports
And our bionic butts
And our pacemakers
And our cochlear iimplants
And our brain-implanted electrodes
Would obviously be what they are:
Cyborg enhancements

When you tell me I’m not a cyborg
You are telling me that my enhancements
Are not really enhancements
Because they only let me do
What you can do already
(Which isn’t even true, bt anyway)
And only nondisabled people
Can be real cyborgs
Because you’re the real people
And we’re the broken ones

You see my implants
As fixing a broken person
I see my implants
As enhancing a whole person
And when it comes to being a cyborg

That
Makes all
The difference
In your mind

But I’m still a cyborg

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2 thoughts on “Cyborg

  1. I follow you on tumblr and I felt that I had to come comment when I saw this poem on your blog. I really, really like this. Your poetry often seems very explanatory and matter-of-fact to me with not much of the euphemisms and metaphors that are in other poetry. That is neither good nor bad poetry style. Only poetry and truly yours. I enjoy clearly reading your thoughts and experiences.
    The message of your body being real and deserving of the title cyborg struck to the core of a lot of ableism I think (and racism too). The dehumanization of others. A world that sees a disabled person as a normal human would be a world without ableism maybe.

    Like

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