I never really new what I had until it was (temporarily) taken from me. I’m in somewhat of a unique situation where I am considered disabled, but I have a light at the end of the tunnel that so many people I have met in these last 3 months don’t have. Let me explain. The rehabilitation center that I go to specializes in helping persons who have suffered from a stroke or being paralyzed due to one reason or another. These people don’t have the same light at the end of their tunnel as I do. Maybe one day they will get 80% function back into the effected body part(s), me I know that in a few months my arm will be back to near 100%, my leg the same if not better than before, and my brain well my brain who knows that could take years. I think it’s easy to look on it now and realize just how much I took for granted with my ableism. I mean I could drive, I could do mundane tasks, I didn’t have to worry about anything.
I really started thinking about this the other day; I was finally able to wash my hair, like for real with both hands instead of a modified one handed attempt. I can now get myself dressed, in clothes that fit, by myself. So many things that up to this point I was able to do without thinking twice. Now it takes more effort than I care to admit to, to complete any activity of daily living, complicated even more by the fact that I do not have an in home care giver.
I can look at this a hundred different ways and still recognize that I took my ableism for granted, but that doesn’t mean that I overlooked the difficulties that others face. Now though, I can empathize and sympathize because I feel it and it sucks. If this was my permanent new normal I’m sure that, like many of the people I have met in the last three months, I would adapt. I just don’t have to adapt long term. I’ve learned how to put my socks on, to pull up my pants, to button them one handed, to clasp my bra, to brush my teeth, to finally be able to shave, to wash my hair, drive a car, walk my dog, attempt to cook. I’ve relearned all of these things and the inner strength it took to do so surprised even me.
I think, I know, we take our ableism for granted every single day in even the most mundane tasks, but I also think that our society has such a stigma surrounding those that are impacted in various ways around their disabilities. We often only focus on the physical impacts or differences, we overlook the emotional or mental differences. We overlook the perseverance or resilience it takes some one to work towards overcoming these hurdles and make a new normal for themselves.
Did anyone else ever stop to think, maybe those who are perceived as disabled are actually the more abled. The ingenuity, the abstract thinking the grit and determination it takes to complete a task, it would put an able bodied person to shame, but that is simply because they don’t have to think about completing a task, they don’t have to think about doing a different way, or coming up with a new way to get something done.
My accident may have left it’s permanent scars, but the strength and resilience it has helped me develop is second to none. I never want to go through this pain again, but now I know that I can, and I will come out stronger on the other side because of it.