Mission Accomplished! The March for Science

I did it!!! I marched the march!
Me at the March for Science 2017

I know, I barely walked a mile for the Bellingham March for Science. Many other people walked further to get to the starting line than we did in the actual march. Some people rode their bikes to get there, and others took the bus. All of this was great for the Earth and reduced emissions on Earth day. But in the midst of a fibromyalgia flare, I needed to drive and park as close as possible to make it through the actual protest.

I had a lot of anxiety while trying to find a parking spot. I needed a fairly level path to the starting point, and I needed to be relatively close. I got so lucky with my parking spot, which was just three or four blocks away from city hall, where the march began with its speakers. I joined my physics friends just in time to hear Dr. Melissa Rice's inspiring speech. We waited in the rain, getting excited and getting soaked, until it was finally time to start the march.

It was exciting to walk in my first protest. While it was fairly subdued (this is the city of subdued excitement), there were so many people marching, and many store keepers were cheering us on. We chanted Science not Silence a few times and shared sign waving duties. The marker from the signs dripped onto our faces, and we congratulated each other on excellent signs.  The walk itself wasn't hard on my body, and it felt good to walking at a slow but steady pace with my friends.

After we returned, the science fair had several booths, one of which was manned by the Women in Physics club that I care so much about. Gathering with friends and chatting with them, it was great to be included and present in activities. However, I was feeling close to my limit due to the standing around. It isn't something most of us think about, but standing around is harder on the body than walking is. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with anyone as they were making plans to get food. Some I explained that my pain levels were too high to walk anywhere, and even thinking about how to order gluten free food was too difficult. Others, the people who know this speech, I just said that I looked forward to seeing them later. And I left.

I probably shouldn't have walked back to my car by myself, but I figured there would be a wet bench to rest on during the few blocks to my car. Unfortunately, there weren't any benches, and half a block from my car I was wobbling over. Luckily, my favorite dessert/coffee place was right there, so I stopped for a treat and some necessary resting.

This place is my favorite because they always have gluten-free options, and the options are always well labelled. This is so important when I am ordering because I'm usually in such a fog that I forget to order my food "special". If what I am ordering is already gluten free, I don't have to remember to say that I need the gf option.

I spent an hour there waiting for the ability to walk half a block to my car. I didn't feel guilty about sitting there, but I did hope no one came in that had invited me to get food. While I knew I was doing the right thing for me, it is difficult to explain when I need to be alone for tasks. It is embarrassing to fall on flat ground in front of my friends, and it is hard to ask people to wait around for an hour so that I can walk with them.

When I finally drove home, the worst of it started. I wanted to get a jump on my homework, but I honestly just couldn't. My body was in so much pain I could barely get myself something to eat, and I had a very emotional response to this. On one hand, I didn't want to miss the march for the world. On the other, I deeply regretted spending two days of spoons on two hours of activity. I spent almost 12 hours resting and crying and making hell for my boyfriend before I was able to sleep.

Even today, my body is painful beyond what a mile-long walk should do to a person.  My body aches, my words don't make sense, and the aftermath of those crocodile tears is not easy to deal with. Science is so incredibly important to me though, and while the aftermath is hell, I know that what I did mattered more than the time I am losing.

Reasons the March for Science mattered to me

  • Scientific consensus needs to be understood by the public and our politicians. Lately, we have a problem with blatant disregard for scientific findings, with politicians denying findings which have an incredible amount of data behind them.
  • Scientists cannot stay out of politics any longer. We have always allowed our cultural image to be portrayed by the media without regard for the diverse reality of scientists, but now the media is portraying our science however sells the best. This cannot be allowed to happen, and it is the fault of scientists that it is happening to our good name. We have to tell politicians that they will accept the peer-reviewed scientific consensus, or they will not survive in politics. The facts are now a political issue, and we must stand up to defend their place in decisions.
  • I proved to myself that I am capable of doing what I love and showing that I care, even on my worst days. I know I can continue to support STEM and research endeavors for a long time, despite the challenges I face.
  • Fibromyalgia has very little information about it due to a lack of substantial research. Without funding for research, I may never get answers about my illness, and I really need them. And it isn't just fibromyalgia I need answers about; there is loads of research funded solely by the government that needs to happen for climate change, for less popular diseases, for space exploration, and for national security. The current federal government has proven that they do not want to fund science, and this lack of support is a risk to the well being of Americans. 


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