Treatment of Impaired Persons

Before I get into my thang, a little State of the Ankle update: I’ve been driving all week, but just to/from work. I’m pretty sure the pain is muscle related (this morning in the car, the top of my foot was where it hurt, so I don’t think it’s a bone/setting issue.) The pain was just sort of mild aching all the time, this morning it hurt more during the drive. Not significant pain amounts (if the achiness was a 2 on the 1-10 scale, the pain when I was using my ankle was a 3) but noticeable. I have also been swelling more. (the swelling never went all the way away but it was stable/fairly minor-ish) So I’ve been icing it a lot more, and if the pain increases from the mild aching I will tylenol. Otherwise, no problem.

Okay! Here we go. Things I have learned about people in my two-plus months of mobility impairment.
Most people are afraid of being the asshole. Sometimes this means assuming you are completely helpless, other times that you would be offended by any offer of assistance. So I spent a good chunk of time with people insisting on doing things for me, and a good chunk of time being ignored by those around me as I struggled with things.

Whichever above category people fall into, it mostly doesn’t change as you heal (if you can heal; I’m only able to speak from the perspective of someone temporarily handicapped.)

There is a small percentage of people who fall between the two extremes; they are pretty awesome. They will offer to help, and accept it if you say you do not need help.

The people who don’t accept it when you say you don’t need help are not trying to make you feel bad. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The people who don’t help unless you ask for help are not trying to make you feel bad. Mostly it’s a combination of “well I don’t want to presume” and “I have other shit to do right now.” Don’t take it personally.

There is a small percentage of people who think you’re faking/milking it/whatever. They’re assholes. Accept that it is shitty, do your best to raise future generations to be less shitty, and recognize that hey, at least you have a cast/crutches/a cane/a scooter/wheelchair whatever to make this percentage of people much smaller than it might be. If you had an “invisible” handicap, like MS, or Lupus, or, say, migraines, you’d be dealing with that sort of person a lot more. (My experience with migraines and the douches is less awful than other invisible illnesses, because I only have to deal with them when I am having an actual migraine. Lupus and MS can affect their hosts far more often/regularly than my migraines affect me. The spoon theory works for migraines, but not perfectly.)

My experiences with people:

best: I was scooting from my cubicle to the office door with the intention of heading out. A man from another office was coming down the hall toward our office door. (Glass door.) he saw me after I started to open the door, and though he was in the middle of a cell phone conversation, asked me if I needed help. I said no, thank you, and he asked if I was sure. I said I was and he said oaky and continued on his way.

great: most people automatically hold the elevator for me, and big heavy senatorial doors, and that sort of thing.

good: If I ask for assistance, I either get it without grumbling and with pleasantness or I get it with a side of teasing “oh, playing the cripple* card!”

bad: I feel like an asshole when I need help and I look around and see people seeing me struggle and I still have to ask for help. (Remember my issues with the escalator and the metro station? Yeah.)

worst: Being treated badly for no apparent reason other than the injury/illness. One of the security guards at work was initially really helpful. We have to have our bags x-rayed and go through a metal detector and he would move the cordon to allow me to go around the metal detector gates so I could be wanded instead, then would go over to the x-ray belt and get my stuff for me rather than making me go get it myself. This helps him as much as me, because it keeps the line moving. Then, last week, he stopped letting me go around (even though he still has to wand me, because my scooter sets off the detector) and made me get my stuff myself, slowing up the line. He also started trying to take the scooter away from me, and getting pissy when I explained I couldn’t walk without it.

So there you have it: humanity in a nutshell: mostly not trying to hurt you, but some awesome folk and some dicks.

*yes it’s a shitty word. It’s not used here or by the people alluded to in that sentence to insult me or anyone who has any sort of handicap, and the people who say it are just trying to amuse me, not shame me or anyone with a disability.



Filed under Anti-ableism, AUGH INJURIES, health, life in general, personal shit, political

2 responses to “Treatment of Impaired Persons

  1. That was pretty much my experience when I was on crutches for six months. I was working during the day (getting rides from my supervisor or other staff there and back) and trekking out to the university for night classes two nights a week (four nights for the last few weeks!) and my regular bus driver was great. He wouldn’t move the bus until someone got up and let me sit down, but I had another bus driver who not only went past me when I was at my regular stop which I didn’t realise had temporarily moved, but also did not stop at my stop and when someone else who wanted off yelled, he stopped in the middle of the intersection so that I had to sit down to get down the steps to the road! (Now all our buses are accessible buses and I ask the drivers to lower the step for me.)

    As you are obviously doing, I reminded myself then – and to an extent now, with my back – that there are a lot of people who are permanently on crutches/in wheelchairs/using walkers, etc.

    I’m glad you’ve had some good experiences with people.

    • the experience listed as “Worst” is the most baffling to me–for the most part, people are doing their best not to be assholes, but how do you start out being cool, then over two weeks become a huge douche when NOTHING HAS CHANGED? I’ll have an addendum to this post on Monday, because I discovered first hand that laws about handicap access do not universally require ramps if the structure existed pre-handicap laws (it’s a positive experience though, don’t worry!!)

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