Maybe we should all try to be disabled for a day , an hour might be enough

I first thought about this about five years ago when I had a knee operation. I was at home, walking on crutches, and I made myself a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Then I realised that I cannot bring it anywhere, so I drank it standing and leaning on a kitchen cupboard.

Yes, if I was on crutches all the time, I would most likely have a trolley on wheels, but still. It reminded me how hard life is if you cannot use your arms.

Then I remember when I had a broken arm in plaster, it was my right arm. Even wiping my bottom with the other hand was strange.

I recently had a cataract operation. I also have some macular degeneration, so I thought my worsening vision was due to that.
I lived the past three years as a visually impaired person.
It made me realise how insensitive some people are when asked for help. It is not that to those people are nasty, they just don’t think.
The times when I asked somebody at the airport to read me my gate number, apologising, quoting my poor sight.
“Can’t you read it?” 
I kept my good manners, and instead of saying: “WTF do you think I am asking?” I repeated that I cannot see well.
I recall the impatient people behind me on dark staircases where I could only see the stairs as a path, so walked slowly. I look fit and healthy and wear glasses (well, not any more- hurrah) and the comments about me going too slowly were unexpected and not very nice.
“Sorry, I can’t see” I kept repeating. Everything was hard, shopping, travelling, working. I kept complaining how badly lit places were. Now I can see, the lighting is better than I thought. I can find books in my bookcase (I could not read the spines). I can read paperbacks, not just my kindle with an enlarged font.

Life has changed, I can enjoy exhibitions, theatre, admire gardens.

I was lucky, my visual impairment was only caused by cataracts and the fact that they were surprisingly missed by my local hospital Eye department.
Till my operation, I thought this is only going to get worse. I was lucky, but there are so many people who are slowly getting blind, disabled, deaf, or forgetful.

Life is hard if you are old, frail, or disabled. I am a doctor, and see this all the time. The bravery of some of my patients, struggling with independence despite their disabilities.

Let’s be nice to them, treating them with respect and as equals while offering help, in a nice, non-patronising way.

Maybe we should all have a trial of what it is like to have a disability, like I did.
Try to close your eyes walking around, or pretend you cannot walk without crutches, put ear plugs in and try to hold a conversation- an hour of that would teach you a lot.

But that is most likely a silly idea. Is it?


2 thoughts on “Maybe we should all try to be disabled for a day , an hour might be enough

  1. they say, and ive noticed people who are deaf probably take it the worse of any handicap. theyre very angry people. and its very hard on caretakers who live with deaf people or hard of hearing. i didnt realise this until my grandmother couldnt hear as well anymore, the tv way too loud. having to repeat everything you say, its not bad at first but after a while it was bothering me and i consider myself to be a patient, empathetic person. i had to check myself and realise how i was answering her. you got to really slow down and be more empathetic plus just for your own sanity. my grandmothers cousin is in his early 80s he lost most of his hearing from taking a ototoxic*sp drug for sepsis and his daughter is a shut-in, 40 yr old woman and the way she talks and treats her father is pretty bad. i learned something from staying with them for a week how i was to treate my grandmother and not go crazy myself.

    its like most things, people dont understand things really until they experience it. people are against euthanasia until their loved one dies a horrible, drawn out death. that kind of thing. same way with disabilities ,people are so caught up with mundane, selfish, petty thoughts etc that they dont know what its about until theyre disabled and then all of a sudden they demand empathy or get depressed and all that jazz, when people treate them how they use to treat people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very thoughtful. Your grandmother is lucky to have you as her grandson. And yes, people treat deaf relatives as if they were stupid. I usually write to deaf patients, always have a pad when I visit old patients. Of course, that is a problem when they can’t see either!


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