Axel Rowe

@axel-rowe | contributor
I'm just a disabled college student who believe in equity and justice.
Axel Rowe

When Able-Bodied People Sit in the Disability Seats on the Bus

A while ago I was waiting for the bus, and it took a while to get on because this lady wouldn’t get up because she was tired. Luckily some other people from the other mobility spaces got up, but I’m not always going to be that lucky, because I live in a major city where there are plenty of wheelchair users who take the bus, and that space she occupied would be the only one I could take. She, on the way to our destinations, talked loudly about how she was tired and how I should just wait for the next bus. This is my letter to her. Dear Ma’am, I know it’s an inconvenience for you that I have to take the bus, but I need to because I cannot drive. At the time I was riding the bus I wasn’t seizure free, and to this day I still don’t know how to drive. It’s an extreme inconvenience to me having to wait for another bus, not knowing if the spaces are taken by wheelchair users or people like you who sit in the disabled spaces but won’t get up. If I can’t be sure I can catch the next bus, I could be in major trouble trying to get home after a busy day or trying to get to the doctor’s office on time. Missing an appointment can be very bad for my health, and could result in a hospital visit.   I know you don’t know this but, if seats lift, don’t sit. Those seats are prioritized for people like me who use wheelchairs, scooters or walkers or are disabled. For many of us, it’s a fire hazard and even downright dangerous to make us sit out of those spaces. That’s if we even can get out of the wheelchair in the first place. I know you are tired. I am too, but please do not take it out on me. I shouldn’t have to wait for another bus if there’s a spot for me on there, just like you shouldn’t have to wait for another bus if there’s a seat on the bus you can sit in. I have MCTD, and for me my joints hurt. A lot. Sometimes I’m in excruciating pain and have to use a wheelchair, but sometimes I don’t need to use the wheelchair and I prefer not to because it’s a pain to get around sometimes. I often find myself having to find the accessible entrance or the elevator. I also would like it if you kept your ranting to yourself, because it’s very hurtful for people like me, and adds to the mental strain of being disabled. I’m not disabled by my body, but by society who ignores me to the point where entrances are hidden, or I am a victim of gatekeeping because I don’t fit society’s expectations of what a disabled person looks like, acts like or sounds like. Sincerely, A wheelchair user We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via TeerawatWinyarat.

Axel Rowe

Finding Acceptance With a Speech Impediment

Growing up I had a lot of insecurity about my speech impediment. I got called names like “stupid, “dumb” and “r*tard.” To top things off, I also had a condition called central auditory processing disorder, which made it even harder for me to communicate with other people. Both of these conditions made schoolwork very difficult, and my social life suffered because of the miscommunications that came from not being able to hear properly and not being able to pronounce words correctly. For a while I started to not speak, because of how uncomfortable it was to hear my speech impediment and how scared I was to be called “stupid.” I would avoid talking while presenting a project. When I could I would try to communicate through email or text message, because then I didn’t have to worry about what other people thought of me or what I thought of myself. In elementary school, I worked especially hard in speech therapy. By the time I was in middle school, I no longer needed an IEP for my speech impediment. But it wasn’t until I noticed that my eighth grade science teacher had a lisp, that I started to be more accepting of myself. I realized I wasn’t “stupid” for having a hard time pronouncing words or not hearing the right words. I was able to see someone be successful despite their speech impediment. He didn’t care what the kids thought of the way he spoke. His unapologetic lisp gave me the courage to accept the way I talked. Later on in high school, one of my favorite teachers told a student that it was wrong of them to make fun of the announcer’s accent, because he’s working his butt off trying to communicate with them. I realized that whether it was because of an accent or a speech impediment, what the kids did was wrong. I started to heal inside. I started to talk more freely, because I was no longer afraid. I am working on getting accommodations for my central auditory processing disorder and other conditions that keep me from doing the best I can with my college work, after having to take a break from college because my mixed connective tissue disease flares made it nearly impossible to pass my classes. Hopefully I can transfer in a few years to a state college. I still have some insecurity from time to time about my speech impediment, but now I socialize and communicate more than I ever have before. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock image by iStock.

Axel Rowe

What Doctors Don't Tell You When You Become Chronically Ill

I have a variety of illnesses, and because of that I have both a variety of doctors and a variety of medications. Over the years I have learned a lot, and as such there are some things I wish my doctors would of told me and some things that I wish I knew myself when I was just first starting out. Doctors will not tell you that sometimes you should keep your medical file on hand, because if you are like me and can’t seem to stop “catching them all,” you maybe bouncing from doctor to doctor. If you don’t have your medical records, your care maybe fractured more than necessary. You may have medications that interact and your doctors may not know, or that you are allergic to Penicillin. It’s worse if your doctors aren’t in the same medical group. They may not tell you that there is a lot of paperwork involved with just trying to send medical files from one office to the next. I’ve had the misfortune of having a doctor try to request for my medical file from a different medical group, and they got a fax back – but it was just a copy of the request they just sent them. Doctors do not tell you that being chronically ill is like having a job and going to college to get a degree – on top of all of your responsibilities. I’ve learned to multi-task, like being on the phone while researching medical terms. Most people do not know the difference between an Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), so if you don’t know all of these insurance terms, I suggest you might research them. You may save a trip to the doctor’s office off the bat. Doctors will not tell you that everyone will think they know what will “cure” you. Yeah, I’ve gotten so many ridiculous responses to my list of ailments after they asked me, “What is wrong with you? You are too young to ___.” I’ve got told things from, “Turmeric can treat your autoimmune disease,” to meditating my depression away, to yoga somehow taking the pain of my immune system attacking my joints away. But most of all, doctors will not tell you that you have one of the strongest and most welcoming communities of all. They will not tell you that there are Facebook groups for almost every diagnosis under the sun. They will not tell you that there are meet-up groups for a lot of illnesses, so you can meet humans in real life with the same or similar diagnosis. Nor do doctors will they tell you that you aren’t alone. They will not tell you that you deserve love like everyone else, or worthy of happiness and health. If there’s one piece of advice I would give to a younger self, it would be to go out there and make some friends with the same or similar diagnosis, and check in with them. Keep up to date with them from current events to the cutting edge of research. The future is now! So go ahead and love freely and live fully – you deserve it! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: NanoStockk