Just a few minutes ago, I had a chat on facebook with a dear friend of mine. She has suffered a majority of her life with a chronic medical condition. She has had a couple of bad days recently as she has had to deal with thoughtless people in regard to her disability. I can relate to her feelings for two reasons. First, I have also suffered from two chronic medical conditions – adenomyosis and a broken back. Second, my sister was born with spina bifida and has been confined to a wheelchair for most of her life.
Thankfully, I have finally resolved my long term fight with adenomyosis after having a hysterectomy. However, during those years, I encountered many people who thought I was faking the pain of this uterine condition. They thought this since the doctors could not find a cause of the pain. Many years later, after finding out that I had adenomyosis, I learned that this uterine condition was and still is extremely difficult to diagnose. In fact most cases are not picked up until hysterectomy. Today, very little is known about adenomyosis, and even less was known when I suffered from the condition.
When I broke my back, I had to deal with people who once again thought the pain was all in my head. These same people saw the x-rays and the doctor reports after surgery which clearly showed a herniated disc, fractured vertebrae, and a bone spur jutting into the nerve supplying my right leg. Interestingly, these same people had never suffered from a chronic medical condition.
My sister has had to deal with many people during her lifetime that had no regard for those with disabilities. Many times, healthy individuals who did not have a disability were parked in handicapped parking spaces. Other times, snow was not cleared from ramps that the disabled must use in order to get into a building. There were occasions where my sister pointed out these issues, but nothing was done to resolve them. In fact, there was a time when my sister and her husband had to threaten to report the incident to the proper authorities before anyone took any action.
I have found in dealing with thoughtless individuals regarding a disabillity that their attitude is rooted in ignorance. Typically these people are very arrogant, think they know everything, and are only concerned about their own well being. They don’t want to be bothered by someone with a disability. I never thought I would have to deal with a broken back, but it happened. Something like that could happen at any time and to anyone. A simple car crash could leave you paralyzed. You never know what will happen in the future. One day you may desperately need the compassion and understanding that the disabled fight for every day. I strongly believe that what comes around goes around. One day, whether in this lifetime or the next, God will call those thoughtless people to be accountable for their actions.
When it comes to someone with a disability, please remember the following:
1. Some disabilities cannot be seen! Not all disabilities are obvious to the general public! Just because a doctor cannot diagnose a condition DOES NOT mean the person is not sick! Usually, science has not caught up with the disorder – this is STILL TRUE today for adenomyosis!
2. Learn to have some sympathy. YOU may need it in the future! Remember – YOU may not enjoy health for your entire life, and you may need help in the future. What comes around goes around.
3. If you are healthy, please don’t be lazy. Don’t park in handicap parking spots if you are not disabled. Those who are disabled desperately need those spots.
4. Please clear snow from handicap ramps. Those in wheelchairs cannot get to their destination without those ramps cleared. Please do not block those ramps when parking. Have some consideration of others around you that just struggle to get from point A to point B.
5. Do not judge others with a disability. If you haven’t walked in their shoes, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
In conclusion, please show some consideration and sympathy for those who struggle on a daily basis with a disability, whether obvious or invisible to the public. Always remember that you may one day need this same consideration if you become ill with a chronic condition.