Sunday, February 17, 2013

Disability envy

I guess we all get used to our disabilities at some point. We all end up learning how to work our bodies, our senses for our advantage, how ever limited in some respects we may be. This is the one life we are given, we better make the most of it. We get familiar with ourselves, we figure out what we can and can't do and how to do certain things differently.  Every disability it seems, comes with a different limitation, and it almost feels like a trade off- some people are able to do one thing but can't do something else and many that I have spoken to get so for the lack of any better word- comfortable with what they have over time, they would not trade it for a different condition. I have Cerebral Palsy. This means that with my extent of my condition  I have control over all of my body, I can use my legs and my arms but all of them are somehow affected. I can sit and I can move, but my posture isn't very good. I can ride around in my wheelchair, but I'm not as fast as I'd like to be. I grab things with my right hand, but it will never be as precise as my left one. I can use my legs to adjust myself, transfer or stand for a bit, but my knees are too spastic for me to walk. At the same time if I wan't to get out of my wheelchair and get on the carpet I can do it easily. Or get up on knees or crawl. If I feel like sitting on my couch if I so desire. And of course I have all my senses. At the same time I'm not as strong or as fast as people with some other disabilities that have to compensate by developing a really strong upper body (although mine really gotten stronger over the years).  One of the questions that I usually get (among other less polite or intimate variants going in the same direction) is "Can you feel your legs" to which I sometimes I say: You just saw me move my foot, did you not? Sometimes I get "Is it painful" to which I say "No my legs are not in pain". I don't mind my disability. But doesn't mean I don't notice it or that it doesn't frequently get in the way. Yes, I suppose it's true that it's easier that I was born with it and it's all I know. But then, growing up in Poland where there were stairs, stairs and more stairs everywhere I was always aware of how limited I was and would always be. How there are people, places I'd never get to see unless somebody takes pity on me and carries me up somewhere struggling with my weight. Just because I was born with it, doesn't mean I don't see how some people react to individuals in wheelchairs, that I don't realize that I live in the world of body-abled people, who run and dance and do many other things I will never get to do, not really. Just because you are "born with it" doesn't mean  there aren't times I don't feel different, that I don't feel like I don't belong. I'm happy with the limited mobility I have- a bit of everything, none of it really that good, you may say. I'm also blessed not to be in any major pain, at least for now.  Do I wish I would sit more straight? Of course I do. But then I know there are people who could do with their bodies and brains as well. I remember how one of my school friends told me when we were kids: "I envy you, I wish I had your smarts". This was maybe 22 years ago and it made me think how we all struggle with something we have. To me studying came effortlessly most of the time and it felt obvious, something that just came to me. I guess it was like getting up and running to him, something he didn't even think of.  And it makes me think even today, how we focus on what we don't have, how we dwell on what we are lacking, rather than applying what we do


  1. That is so true! When you learn to focus on what you have and not what you don't have, life is better xx

  2. That is so true! When you learn to focus on what you have and not what you don't have, life is better xx