Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Promised Perspective Blog...

OK I promised last night I would do a perspective blog about what it is like to be disabled. However, I got home at midnight last night from dinner with Doris and her family, and quickly crashed into bed. So here it is...

I am 23, but have spent all but 7 years of my life in a wheelchair. Why? I don't do it for kicks.

I have Spina Bifida, which occurred when my spinal cord was still exposed at birth. It was surgically closed within hours after my birth; however, doctors could do nothing to save my mobility. I am paralyzed from my waist down. So in 1992, I started needing a wheelchair. I pretty much have had one since.

So why is this a perspective blog?

You'd be surprised at the number of people who tell me they're "sorry". (NOTE: I know they're not sarcastic, I'm quoting) They shouldn't be sorry.

And you'd also be surprised at the number of people who, every day, ask me if I need help. Sometimes, I need it (ever try to push a wheelchair through snow? Doesn't work well). But most of the time I don't. It is nice of them to offer. But then, other times, people come up behind me and just start pushing my chair or trying to carry things for me. I don't appreciate people just doing things for me. I really appreciate it MORE if you ask.

The thing I hate worse than people trying to help without asking, however, is the "C" word. To be specific, the word "cripple". I LOATHE that word. I despise it. It sounds like a word you say when you don't give a hoot about a person who has a wheelchair. And to be honest, that's pretty much what it says to me if you say it to me. You don't care about me. You don't care that I have feelings, or a heart.

So the next time you see someone like me, and you want to help but aren't sure what to do...ask. And don't tell us you're sorry about our condition. We don't all want pity. And if you ever see me, or anyone like me, and you want to use that "c" me and everyone else a favor. Don't. It makes us feel better about the world.


Shellmo said...

Thank you for your perspective - you sound very confident and capable. How did you get interested in being a DJ?

74WIXYgrad said...

I'm glad you decided to enlighten us. I think you've got a fantastic attitude.

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing your story and your thoughts on this. It is an awkward situation for people sometimes. I had a friend who had MS and was in in wheelchair, she taught me many things, and the greatest was patience.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Thanks for giving your perspective on this - I remember years ago, when my son was just a little boy of about 4 or 5 (he's almost 13 now), we were waiting for our ride at the mall and there was a man in a wheelchair who was waiting near us, and my son said to him, in the "matter of fact" way that little kids do "Why don't your legs work anymore?" And of course, I felt very awkward about it initially and wasn't sure how the man would react. But the man in the wheelchair just smiled. I think he was happy that a kid just came out and honestly asked him, and didn't pity him... Anyway, he told my son what happened (he had been in a car accident which had left him paralyzed). He and my son had a nice little conversation and the experience was good for my son AND for me.

Anyway, thank you again for sharing your perspective on this.