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How the 'Sickness of the Abled' Makes My Life With Disabilities Harder

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I’m struggling.

Another person’s cold has left me without a voice, constant pressure in my chest, and this means another weekend spent going between laying and sleeping.

But I deal. I deal because this is the deck of cards I was given, and you play with the cards you have, not the ones you wish you had.

Lately, I have become more and more frustrated with the lack of empathy throughout society. I look at others’ metaphorical hands and they make such light comments about their deck or throw their cards around like they don’t matter. Sometimes I imagine taking literal cards from people that have things like “can procreate” or “mentally healthy” or “can breathe going upstairs” on them, holding them up to their people’s faces and screaming “Why you? Appreciate this!”

I have always struggled with this frustration. To combat this, well honestly, this selfishness of mine, my mother and father taught me to use perspective-taking, and to empathize. They worked to help me really understand what matters to another person to work on this frustration. We worked so hard on this that I am able to feel what is just as important in another’s eyes even though the situation may not feel as large as my own. I know I can empathize, and that this quality has helped me greatly work with the population of amazing students I am honored to work with, but I am really struggling with consistently implementing my strategies with adults.

I’m struggling with adults that say they are against vaccinations… now, if they are someone who watches everything they consume, I get that! If they watch GMOs, pesticides, and their consumable materials, I totally get that they are truly wanting to wait for more evidence. But I just want to know, how much evidence is enough? How many lives must be ended or negatively impacted before you are willing to put yourself at whatever risks you are worried about? For instance, after you’ve had 10 friends die from COVID, then is it worth attempting the shot? Or does the shot need to be around three years old, and then you’ll take it? I just want to know the deciding factor as someone who doesn’t have the luxury to question those decisions.

I’m struggling with adults who are anti-vaccination but then consume alcohol like rye, potatoes, and wheat are going out of business, or join fitness programs where they take powders and supplements that they didn’t research. How can you say you don’t want to inject yourself with a substance because you don’t trust it, but you’ll purchase a brightly colored powder and suck it down because a friend of yours says it helped them drop a couple of pounds or reinvigorated their sex life?

I’m struggling with folks who are busy blaming the effects of a broken system rather than making active steps to repair the systems that lead to the effects. These people that are getting to walk away after wielding weapons or being identified as previous abusers and gaining powerful roles, I am having a hard time empathizing with them. Especially when I know the situation would be completely different if one component was changed.

These are the people that are cycling in my mind when I begin to think I need to apply for disability.

For, you see, many have asked me to sign up for disability throughout the years, but I continued to say the same, “I’m not sick enough yet.”

When I was told I couldn’t play aggressive sports and quit basketball and volleyball in middle school (forcing me to attempt music and acting — which was a laugh), I wasn’t sick enough.

When I was given more and more restrictions about when to sit out and received eye-rolls and passive-aggressive responses from physical education staff, I wasn’t sick enough.

When I was told I may be going onto the transplant list and had girls spread jokes that I couldn’t have sex because of my deformed heart, I wasn’t sick enough.

When I was cut open and given a robotic device and people told me or texted others that I was dramatic as I struggled through processing the mortality rates I was researching during late nights, I wasn’t sick enough.

When I was shamed by many for getting a tubal ligation because I was afraid of losing my reproductive rights should I ever get pregnant, I wasn’t sick enough.

When I was late to our wedding rehearsal because I was pushing myself too hard and forced my organ into several arrhythmias and worsening heart failure, I wasn’t sick enough.

When I woke up in surgery and felt them burn my heart so the lower half became paralyzed and dependent on a machine for the rest of my life, and returned to “you don’t look that sick” four days later, I wasn’t sick enough.

But now, the world is sick enough, which makes me think I am sick enough because I haven’t felt that before. I’ve never felt that I was boxed in with no other wiggle room to find a place where I could be successful. The abled often do not care for the disabled, until they become them, or are “burdened” by them. They’ll pray for their healing, but won’t get a shot for them. They’ll speak of freedom and proof, but dismiss the truths that are uncomfortable for them with fallacies.

Long story short? I officially qualify for disability parking and am looking forward to the snide remarks and side-eyeing because I know I waited until they were sick enough for me to admit I was too.

Next stop, more disability decisions, and full-on warrior woman advocate powers!

Getty image by Central IT Alliance.

Originally published: July 5, 2022
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