Thursday, June 4, 2009

What it's like to limp a mile in another person's shoes

These last few days, I've gotten a very, very tiny sense of what it's like to have a disability. Before I go on, I want to clarify that I am NOT claiming to understand what it is truly like to have a disability. I could never. But, like I said, I got a peek.

Sunday, I was walking down the stairs in our house, carrying Big Girl Sabrina, when I stumbled. I almost fell down the staircase but somehow I stopped myself and sat down hard on my butt, Sabrina on my lap. I figured I'd killed my back but when I stood up, the toe on my right foot next to the pinky was hurting. That's when I realized I pretty much fell on it.

Since then, I've been hobbling around (finally hauled myself to the doctor today, just sprained, no fracture). It's taken me twice as long to get places. People have sighed and hissed at me for walking up and down stairs slowly. People have stared—I've gotten some of those sympathy stares, too. It's been a long few days.

Max is not cognizant of people noticing him. This is a mixed blessing, as it means he lacks that intellectual awareness but at the same time, he is content in his world. I would prefer for him to reach that level of intellect. Is that so horrible? Even if he does become aware of people staring at him or noticing his challenges, I know I can empower him to get past it.

This weekend is my college reunion, we're all going. I hope the toes heal. So, do you think I can drop 20 pounds in two days?

Photo by Joey Harrison.


  1. It is sometimes a mixed blessing to be cognizant of your disability. Right now Regan knows that all her friends are at the junior high dances and birthday parties without's not that she couldn't go, but that I would always have to be around to help. Most days though, it is wonderful that she can mentally deal with the talent God gave her

    Good luck with your foot and the reunion

  2. Barbara from BostonJune 4, 2009 at 12:49 AM

    Awareness is not always what it cracks up to be. Before I became disabled by too many industrial accidents i worked with people whose primary diagnosis was mental retardation; their secondary diagnoses ran the gamut from Epilepsy to Cerebral Palsy to Pyromania (setting fire to peoples beds-while they were still in them.) One young woman was very mildly affected but had developed severe behavioral problems when placed in regular kindergarden so she was institutionalized. She knew she was different, felt the pain of being considered retarded. She ran from the pain literally and figuratively.It could be heartbreaking working with her because she had so many strengths but sabotaged herself on a daily basis. She played at being the tough guy but on rare occasions she let you inside to see her hurt.
    She remains one of my favorite people even in memory.

  3. Ouch, I'm sorry to hear about your injury! I hope you're back on your feet (no pun intended) soon.
    I understand what you mean about the mixed blessing. Daniel is very aware - sometimes more than I would like him to be - about his diagnosis. On one hand, I am very grateful that his stroke didn't affect him cognitively. On the other, there are some things that I wish would just go over his head. Any time someone has asked what is "wrong" with him, he has really taken it to heart. That's what hurts me the most - for him to think that he's somehow defective just because he was born in a slightly different package. Cognitively aware enough to pick up on the cruelty of others, or cognitively unaware so that such comments are completely ignored - the grass is always greener on the other side, I suppose.
    As for the reunion, I hope you have a great time. And don't worry about losing the 20 pounds - I'm willing to bet that nearly everyone in your class is wondering the same thing.

  4. The toes, the toes... After judo for 15 years, I've done it about all... It hurts like hell, and there is not much to do... I wish you well...

    20lb in 2 days? Thats a manly cut... You really would not like where this is going.... ;-)

  5. Ellen, I sure wish I could drop twenty pounds! You'd think with all the running around I do after the boys and at work that I'd be svelte, but no, no, no! I do like my pie, so I've only got myself to blame.

    With my two, we can't help but get the stares and be "The Big Parade" on the staircases and hallways. The boys have gotten good at "staying to the right" and holding on to the rail, but it takes us twice as long as anyone else. Oh, well--they can either get in line or go around. I just refuse to worry.

    We all lean on each other, and have gotten to the point where if we do get a "starer," we'll smile, wave and laugh at them. Of course, most folks know us where we go, so we blend in, even though we probably are a bit of a curiosity, the three of us--some of our "creative" outfits don't help, either (two boys in lurid, hot pink foam crowns?? That's been the fashion this season--they wanted them, they were tossing a mega-tantrum in unison, they were cheap, and I had stuff to do in the Walmart!). I let them be what they are, and to hell with what other people think. Can't change people anyway. I don't control the world, so why get upset about what stupid people think?

  6. If you are carrying your daughter and set her down, you will loose 20+ pounds instantly!

  7. oMG i can't believe its your reunion!!! Have a great time!!!

    And if I've told you once, I've told you a zillion times, stop wearing those sexy stilettos!! They are nothing but trouble!!

    Heal soon!!


  8. "Max is not cognisant of people noticing him. This is a mixed blessing, as it means he lacks that intellectual awareness but at the same time, he is content in his world. I would prefer for him to reach that level of intellect. Is that so horrible?"

    If you think you're horrible you'd probably think I was Satan for some of the things I've thought. But we can save that for email.....

  9. Sure you can lose 20 pounds in 2 days. Wear one color, head to toe, stand up really straight, and wear some form of bling from the neck up so nobody looks down (hey, works for me!).

    I used to try really hard to explain to my son that he operates a little differently and that's why he goes to therapy, has to work a little harder to keep up with his peers, etc. But then I stopped after hearing him say this to a teacher once: "I'm sorry if I'm not giving you the right answer. My ears didn't work when I was a baby and my brain is still catching up."

    I felt so bad -- I'd caused him to apologize for just being who his is!


Thanks for sharing!