I talked a little while ago about the neurological disease I live with. This incident happened not long after.
I had an appointment with the chiropractor who I have seen for about 5 or 6 years and who is aware of the disease. As I walked into the clinic he said "you are not walking real well"
I was really struggling on that day "no, I'm not"
"What happened?" he asked
at this moment I wondered what the hell he thought happened
"it's just the disease, it gets worse"
"well it's a lot worse"
To understate it just a bit, I don't much like having trouble with walking and I resented the statement of the obvious. "Are you stiff?" he says "you should do stretches"
I'm not stiff, I just can't walk well
"I have an appointment to get some braces, it should help me"
He says to me "you don't want those, or you will rely on them"
to which I answered "I already can't walk so I already kind of rely on them"
I don't mind educating people, even though it can be tedious or confronting but this ....well I will borrow a wonderful line I read recently ......this made my piss boil.
Nobody wants to need prosthetics or orthoses. Nobody wants the hassle of glasses or false teeth. Nobody wants to rely on a prosthetic leg or have a glass eye or use a wheel chair but for those who need these things, it can add to their quality of life. What the hell is the point of saying "you will rely on them"? Relying on them is exactly the point and you wouldn't ask a short sighted person to refrain from using glasses because they would rely on them.
I could write off his comment as ignorant or I could think of it as ableist. What I really think it is, is physically elitist.
Yesterday, my 47th birthday, I went for the first consultation on the road to getting my Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs).
The orthotist was lovely. One by one, he outlined the issues he will be correcting and then he put on a trial pair of AFOs. Two of the issues immediately went away. He then asked me to try walking, which was scary so he gave me a walker. The walker was very helpful and I was able to build some confidence moving around his workshop.
What I am getting is like the carbon fibre prosthetic limbs used by somebody like (dare I say it) Oscar Pistorius except mine will still have my own legs in them. It will take some practice and some humility and some adjusting but I promise I will rely on them.