This episode of ER was on tonight. The recap I found is incredibly funny (I must find time to read some more of these recaps) and the episode is an incredibly apt one for Blogging Against Disablism Day.
I could so so so relate to everything Weaver said about not needing to be fixed, not thinking of herself as handicapped or broken etc. I am what I am. It's all I ever have been and it's all I ever will be. And for the most part it's ok.
And then she went on to comment that the surgery she was facing would take away her crutch forever and the to ask who she would be without it. There will never be a surgery which will take my wheelchair away from me and for me that is, in a way, a blessing. My wheelchair/my cp does not define me but it has, and continues to, shape me and my life. As a friend once commented to me, if by some strange happening I woke up tomorrow and wasn't disabled I would freak out. I honest to god would not know how to cope... my cope strategies, the way I live my life... its all done on wheels. I may not always like my wheels but if you took them away I would flounder.
I thought the comment her surgeon made about how if it were him he'd be dying to be rid of the crutch was incredibly hurtful and showed a complete lack of awareness. In a way that comment was an example of disablism. But then my doctors have been the same with me.
When I was 14 or so my consultant suggested a major surgery to me. It would mean a three month recovery time and after various tests we were told it was 50/50 whether it would make me worse or better. There was no chance it would leave me the same. My parents and I consulted with various people and agonised over that decision for an extremely long time. In the end they left it up to me and I said I didn't want it. Once I said that they told me it was what they had wanted but felt I should have the surgery if I wished. So we told my consultant that.
Fastforward to just after my 15th Birthday and my next yearly check up. Again, my parents were asked if they had changed their minds and they said no. OK, says my consultant, see you next year.
I turned 16 five days before my next appointment with him and with that birthday became the one who would be signing consent forms. Emma you're now old enough to sign consent for yourself. he tells me. Do you want this big scary operation which will leave you laid up for three months and its the same as tossing a coin if you get worse or if it helps you? It's the same one your parents decided you shouldn't have. No I don't want it, says I. And I was the one to say no to it in the first place.
I didn't need him to fix me, just to help me with therapies etc to make the most of what I can do and to keep an eye on me so that I don't get worse. But, he didn't like that idea and so he decided I didn't need to be seen again... if I changed my mind about surgery I should ask my GP to be referred to him again.
My consultant meant well, and the one on ER did too. But it still doesn't stop their attitudes from being an example of inadvertant disabilism. Because to them the disability was this huge horrible thing that had to be solved. No good could come from it.
To me, and as I think this episode of ER showed, Dr Weaver, disability is just something to be lived with and accepted as normal.
But that doesn't mean we should have to put up with disablism.
This is my second entry on my experiences with disablism today and there are many many more all over the web... I hope you will learn something from reading them and maybe think twice in future.
I just wish my consultant and the interviewers I mentioned in the earlier entry would read this and realise how they hurt me.