Monday, January 24, 2011

Quote of the day - disabilities

QP (links possibly NSFW) penned an excellent post here and I thought something she said in the comments warranted a QOTD and further discussion.

"The reason you don’t think of Breda or me as “a handicapped girl”, I’m hoping, is because that’s not actually a thing. Disability is not my entire identity or my cardinal trait. It’s just something I deal with. That’s the same for anyone no matter how visible or severe their disabilities might be."

The above is almost verbatim of something Breda said to me once in a discussion on IRC. A physical impediment is but one of many simple identifying traits like, for example, having blue eyes or a big butt. While physical limitations are a part of your life they don't define you as a person. It's the sum of the parts that counts.

Reading her post really irked me. I'd be quite offended if someone's response to me was something to the effect of " aww, how nice of you to bring home a gimp." Pity might be useful for the person giving it, but in this context it's generally not going to be received well by the person with the disability. Y'know, this gimp could probably kick your butt up & down the basketball court. (well maybe not these days) I actually shut a lot of mouthy kids up this way growing up.

The 2nd part of QP's quote was as follows. I'm breaking up her quote for discussion purposes

"Of course it’s a little tricky when you want people to see you and not your health issues but also don’t want them to forget that you’re not completely able-bodied. But that’s a whole other complicated can of worms."

I don't really talk much about my disability. (nor do I consider myself "disabled") I don't have a handicapped parking tag even though I legally qualify for one. Hell, I think more people at The Firm know I'm a gun owner than know I have CP. Many of them only know because they were in my office when I got carted off in an ambulance at work in April 09' and I told the EMT's I had CP. There are plenty of people who don't just forget I'm not completely able-bodied, they don't even know about it.

The issue QP brings up is indeed a complicated can of worms. How do you balance the stubborn self-reliance that comes with the territory with the fact that, at times, there really are things you can't / shouldn't do on your own? I've always done an extremely poor job of balancing the two and my body has paid for it. I chalk it up to just dumb luck that I haven't seriously injured myself due to dumb stubbornness.* Honestly, the question above is one I can't answer.

*Hey, I was out on the basketball court shooting around with friends while I still had a big cast on one foot. And then there was the time I fell down an entire flight of concrete stairs while trying to move out of my dorm room without any help. Etc., Etc. Good times.

**This post was sitting in drafts for the past few weeks. D'oh.


Laura said...

I think your stubbornness defines you far more than your physical situation.

And I'm reluctant to call it a disability...because you don't, because I don't see you as disabled, because I rarely think of you as "my friend with CP" and I've known you for YEARS, and I think I've known about your CP for almost as long.

I told you the other day you don't wear it like a badge or a label...I wasn't kidding. It's just another facet of who you are, rather defining every part of who you are.

Mike W. said...

Thanks, I have been known to be *a bit* stubborn. ;)

I think the last part of your comment perfectly reiterates one of the points I was trying to get across in this post, which is ironic because you said that to me before you read and commented on this but after I wrote it.

You get me, y'know that?

And yeah, you've known me almost a DECADE Laura. Crazy how time flies huh?

Laura said...


Mike W. said...

I seem to have an affinity for making you feel old. Well that and big butts. ;)