For the past 6 months of my life I have tried desperately to keep a cool head and promote a positive attitude. I’ve tried to be grateful for the little things and turn my frowns upside-down. However, I believe there comes a point in every persons battle with illness where you just can’t fake it anymore. Where your outsides start to reflect your physical feelings inside and you don’t feel like smiling. There are some days you just don’t want to wake up and face your current reality. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to “stay positive” and “keep fighting” when all you feel is pain, suffering and sickness. When life seems to go on around you but you are stuck in the same continuous loop, it can make you so angry you want to scream bloody murder.
You see I am currently unable to go anywhere on my own. I have been stuck in an immobilizing brace since my surgery on May 14th and have yet to bend my leg. I can only walk on crutches in my apartment and only for short distances. So, any time I would like to leave the house I must do so with someone else present in a wheelchair. These brief outings are my only means of escape from the confines of my home and I try my best to enjoy them, even if I’m only going to sit I front of my building. That being said, I have a major bone to pick with the majority of strangers I encounter in my day to day outings. It seems like every time I leave my house, be it in the elevator, the lobby, the park downstairs or any other place I may see another human being, some one just HAS to ask me “What happened to your leg?” or “What happened to you?” or “How’d THAT happen?”. It seems to me that any notion of etiquette has been thrown out the window and for some reason being visually disabled opens up a floodgate of inappropriate and un-necessary questioning from the masses. It seems as if people have lost their ability to control their mouths and/or curiosities. If I know you and you want to ask me how I’m feeling or doing, that is fine. But to constantly be barraged by people I have never seen/spoken to in my life is maddening. It’s very unnerving to me how people are so quick to make small talk out of your personal struggles. Every time this happens, it makes me feel like less of a person and more of a patient. What ever happened to “Nice weather we’re having” or “How ’bout those Yankees?”.
Today I wasn’t feeling well but I decided to go out with my mom to a local flea market. I was trying to take my mind off of things and do something that I used to enjoy immensely. Within 15 minutes of being there, every single vendor we approached inquired about my leg. And I told them all about the cancer…because it seems I have nothing else to talk about. I left feeling worse than I did when I arrived…and I am SICK of it.
In all of my life, I have never asked someone in a wheelchair WHY they were in a wheelchair. Have I wondered to myself, particularly if the person was younger? Yeah, absolutely. Would I have the nerve to inquire about something so personal in an effort to make small talk or satisfy my own wondering? Absolutely not. I wish other people would think before they speak. It is not worth ruining someone’s day and besides, it is none of their damn business. So, next time you see a person in a wheelchair or with a cane, crutch, cast, etc. try smiling and saying hello, you could be making all of the difference in the world.