Saturday, 8 March 2008

Sink or Swim


"If someone asked you 'can you swim a mile?' you'd say 'nah'. But if you found yourself dumped out at sea, you'd swim the mile. You'd make it."


~Gertrude Boyle



I got a copy of "Women Know Everything!" 3,241 Quips, Quotes, & Brilliant Remarks for Christmas. It's been lying by the side of my keyboard for the past week or so and I've been flipping through it as the mood takes me.

The above quote comes from that book and was in the perseverance section.

I get a lot (a lot) of comments from people about how hard it must be to be in a wheelchair, how they could never do it, how they they really admire me because of it.

At the moment with me doing a lot in my manual chair the current favourites seem to be either offering to push me "because that must tire you out." or just starting to push me as an acquaintance of my dad's did this morning (I sat there going "i've got it, i'm fine" and he stopped when my dad backed me up).

My favourite comment at present wins that award for it's sheer "argh!!" value is when complete strangers stop me and suggest I would be better off with a powerchair and - get this - they sometimes even make vague comments about how they could fundraise for me to get one. I enjoy telling those people that I've got a powerchair i'm just trying to get fit and thus using my manual. They never know how to react and this is probably really cruel of me but I enjoy that moment.

Perhaps I should start going up to able-bodied people who are out walking and start suggesting a car would be a better idea?! That'd be fun and it'd also help them get the idea quick like.

Cerebral Palsy and being in a wheelchair is simply a fact of my life just like having brown eyes and wearing glasses are. And I'm not inspirational or whatever, I'm just living my life. Just like you. My life is just different to yours. But so is everyone else's. My wheels may be damn sexy. But they don't make me special.

Gertrude Boyle said in the quote above that most people don't think they could swim a mile but if they had to, they would. Most people think the same when it comes to my disability - that they could never live with it. What I tell everyone who comments that to me is that I have no choice - I've been a wheelchair user from birth and I will die (hopefully a long time in the future) a wheelchair user. It's no big deal to me as it's all I've ever known. In fact the idea of being able-bodied (the idea that I could/would/should want to be) is a strange one that really baffles me.

I tell those people who think CP is something they never could imagine, that they couldn't cope with that they could. If they woke up tomorrow and they needed a chair, they had joined "my club" so to speak they might struggle, they might hurt and it would probably be hard. But that's life regardless of your circumstances. They could live and survive and even thrive. Even though the very idea scares them.

Just like I do.

Because either I sink or I swim.

And personally, I love to swim.

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