If you’re just joining me for the first time: hi, my name is Erica! I have the same disorder that Sarah Grossman had: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), which is a heritable connective tissue disorder (HCTD). Please wear your mask! You never know who’s got “pre-existing conditions”. You’d probably feel really dumb and ashamed if you found out that you accidentally killed me because masks are uncomfortable, right?
I’ve had a few days to mull this over and grieve “one of us” (as we might say in the EDS/HCTD community) and I’ve come to the conclusion that they need to investigate Sarah’s death more thoroughly. Indeed, this illness is a risk factor for developing dissections, but Sarah spent two days prior getting gassed and brutalized by police. Can we truly say that her experiences as a protester had nothing to do with her death, and that everything about how she died came down to having this disease? If Sarah were my daughter, I would want a more thorough investigation than this.
Nevertheless, clearly, the media and the coroner are trying to make it seem like this is the case: Sarah Grossman died of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The police are totally without fault here. It’s not their fault she died; she died of this terrible genetic disease!
What if she had survived?
Should she have survived into her late 20s, Sarah would’ve undoubtedly spent countless hours doing exactly what I and many others with our diagnosis do: navigating crippling pain, and attempting to validate it in a world that treats it like it doesn’t exist. Teaching doctors and disability lawyers how to spell Ehlers-Danlos. Explaining to elders that, yes, you can have mobility issues before 30–and that it’s not just from being lazy. So often, even professionals do not believe this disease exists or causes what it does. We are accused of malingering, being work-shy, or exaggerating our symptoms.
Yet, suddenly, this diagnosis can be used to let someone off the hook for murder?
No. Entirely fuck that.
This is one of the most under-diagnosed, poorly-understood connective tissue disorders. I am not interested in letting folks learn about it as a way to let a cop off the hook for gassing a group of unarmed, peaceful protesters.
The Columbus police department murdered Sarah Grossman.
I will eat crow if it can be substantiated that the physical stress of being gassed had literally nothing to do with Sarah’s aortic dissection. But until then, I can’t help but think: this is what happens when you gas someone who is medically vulnerable.