I’m proud to participate in the 5th annual RD blog week. Today is day three and the topic is:
Disability – Discuss your feelings about our position within the disabled community with variable disability. How do you deal with limitations that are present some days and not others?
Professionally, I’m a speech-language pathologist and I work with people with varying levels of disability. My goal for my clients is to always to encourage them to never let what they “can’t do” stop them from doing what they “can do”. It’s a lot easier saying that to someone else than actually doing it yourself.
Over the past 10 years, i’ve broken my leg once, and my foot once. Both times, I required mobility aides like wheelchairs, crutches, scooters, etc. It was shocking how people looked at me. People held doors, asked if I needed help, and were just much nicer to me. There was someone who, very kindly, offered to park my car for me at work. This person made a comment about how people looked at him funny because he would park my car in a handicapped spot (because I have a placard). I had the placard prior to the broken bones. What he didn’t realize is that I get looks each and every time I park in those spots. I don’t look disabled. I don’t walk around complaining how much pain I am in as I walk down a hallway. I don’t scream out in pain when I can’t lift my arm up to grab something off the grocery store shelf. My disability is invisible, but no less valid than anyone else’s.
Last week, I had two people approach me in two very different situations to tell me, ‘I don’t know how you do it.” (in regards to my work and managing swollen joints) Honestly, I don’t know how I push through the pain daily except, I don’t have any other choice. My doctor has mentioned the term disability a few times. It’s clear that working more causes my symptoms to flare immensely. I have friends who are disabled and live on disability and it is so difficult for them. I know many people think those on disability are “fakers”, but honestly, in this country being disabled means being impoverished and poor. The biggest fake of them all is the preconceived notion by abled people on what constitutes a disability.
My disability impacts me daily. I can only do the best I can and take it one day at a time. There may come a time when I can’t push through. When that happens, I will continue to keep trying to do what I can, and learn to accept what I can’t. Until then, I’d advocate, education, and keep living my life, warts and all.