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10 Reasons Being Disabled Kicks Ass

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I am not the kind of person to look at the world the way everyone else does. I love The Mighty and the mighty ones who live every day despite the struggle. I am not in love with the lists of the worst: the worst part about this condition, the worst doctor story, the worst moment traveling with that condition. Please don’t misunderstand me. I understand what hardships we face because we are Mighty, believe me I do. I just don’t understand why we so often focus on the negative when we talk about these things. When we talk to one another, we are positive and amazing human beings, validating and encouraging each other, but when we talk about our conditions, we often get dark and dreary.

I find my attitude and my emotion can either trigger everything to flare, or can trigger sassy remarks and laughter. So here are my top 10 things I love about being disabled:

10. The parking. Yes… I said it! Sure it is a complete drag when someone is parked in the disabled spots illegally, but it is nice to not have to wheel my chair through an entire parking lot of pouring rain or snow instead of just up the ramp and under the overhang. Yep! Why else would all the toads try to steal our primo parking?

9. Movie premieres. I don’t know about you, but I totally get suckered into loving franchise movies. “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter, “Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit,” and anything Marvel. Yeah, I’m that chick. Do you know what else I love? Going to movie premieres and not standing in line for seven hours, then getting the chance to be seated first or to boot some ablebodied person from the accessible seats because I really am disabled. Oh yes, I’ve done it! It’s a hoot! I love the look on their face when you inform them the ADA requires disability accessible seating to be available to people with oh, disabilities. Yeah, mate!

8. The Look. I’m a certified teacher, and that means I’ve completely perfected giving “The Look” to children when they misbehave. I love giving The Look to adults who show their ignorance about the ADA, access, service dogs, disability parking, or anything of the like right before I start my totally teachery Socratic questioning to bring them into the world of reasonable human adulthood where they realize that they are in fact wrong. Such happy memories!

7. Cussing in public. I have an incredibly vast vocabulary of cheap cuss words and I was delighted to read about some research someone at Harvard (I think, don’t quote me on that) did that concluded that people who cuss are likely to be more intelligent. Fucking fantastic! How does this have anything to do with being disabled? Aside from the fact I find cussing at times to be stress relieving — and we all know how terrible stress can be for our aching and chronic Mighty bodies — all I need to do now when someone looks cross at me is excuse myself by explaining the wonders of phantom limb pain!

True story: last week I slipped off my wheelchair on a slope when the front wheels caught in a crack. When I landed on my stump, the phrase “Shitfuckpissballs” came out of my mouth before I started crying as a sweet little old lady came to see if I was OK. Did she care that I cussed? Nope! Why? Because this disabled chick busted her ass, that’s why!

6. Concerts. So about a month ago I had the pleasure of seeing the Lt. Dan Band play live! When everyone rushed to the stage, I was left looking at bums until someone looked at me and asked if I wanted to get closer. Well duh, Gary Sinise has a great smile and who wouldn’t want to be close to the band? Magically the crowd began to part as this person went in front of me, tapping people on the shoulder and pointing. Before I knew it I was at the bottom of the stairs at the center of the stage, smiling at Lt. Dan himself who was smiling back at me. I spent the next several hours singing dancing along from my chair with the best view possible.

5. The magical stop to whining. Look, I know that everyone has difficulties and pains and issues. I do. I also get that not everyone can be the Mighty Badasses we all are. I don’t want to discount someone else’s journey or experience… However… I don’t like when people whine and act like their issues are the worst ever. My incredible magical stop for constant whining is to turn my head sideways while looking sadly at them and nodding until I get the eye contact. Somehow in that moment there is a pause where the light gets all golden and sparkles begin to shimmer in the air as light dawns in their eyes and they sputter to a halt. If that doesn’t work, I just quip, “Tell me ’bout your leg problems, bro!” with a smile. Cracks me up!

4. 50 percent off pedicures. OK, I know this one isn’t a universal, just like my “leg problems bro” comment, but it is pretty sweet. I only pay for one foot!

3. Yoga pants all the time. Yep. I freely admit I completely live in yoga pants, and when questioned (which usually only happens in professional settings) I will go into a long-winded explanation about all my issues that cause all the pain that can completely be alleviated by being compressed and warm and comfy. Obviously no one has been able to outwit my medsplanations (medical explanations), because I still somehow get away with them everywhere all the time.

2. The right to flake. I remember when I was well, I always felt obligated to go do things with people, be social, help friends or even strangers move, and generally be the “go to gal” for every volunteer opportunity and social event. Now I have no problem saying I can’t come or calling off plans I had made because I don’t feel up to it mentally or physically. When I want to Netflix and chill instead of go dress up and do the silent auction and cocktails and small talk I do the Netflix and chill. Questions bring medsplanations, and my friends know at this point that if I say no, there’s gonna be a reason.

1. A new view of the world. I know my time may be limited, but I no longer fear death. And I also no longer miss taking advantage of opportunities to be with people I love or finding beauty in the world or in my everyday life.

Originally published: May 16, 2018
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