Posts Tagged 'good cripple'

Waspish Wednesday: Yes! I DO Know How to Operate My Powerchair!

I’ve decided to start a new series, called “Waspish Wednesday.” These will be short posts that will tell readers that, “Hey, that thing you do/say because I’m disabled? You can stop now.”

Today, I went to the doctor. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I hate this doctor. If I never had to see him again, it would be too soon. He’s the only person on the planet I’ve ever threatened with an ADA lawsuit (and I meant it, too).

However, this particular thing that he said, and that he has said every single time I’ve seen him in the decade I’ve gone to his office using a powerchair, is — sadly — not unique to him. It is ubiquitous in medical settings: doctor’s offices, hospitals, even occasionally home visits (VNA or home draw programs), etcetera.

Here are the people I happen to remember who have said this to me: PCPs, surgeons, interventional radiologists, MRI technicians, nurses (of all varieties), office staff/clerical, phlebotomists/lab technicians, and every specialist imaginable.

What happens is this. We are about to leave or enter an office or corridor, or we need to reposition ourselves in an exam room, operating theater, or blood draw cubicle, and I move.

“Hey!” They say, in a tone that is half amazement and half amusement. . . .

  • “You really know how to corner in that thing!”
  • “You really know how to move in that thing!”
  • “You’re really good at that!”
  • “Wow! You can turn on a dime!”

They are jocular and seem pleased that they have been able to serve up this compliment, that they have noticed this rare phenomenon and can point it out to me.

What I want to say, but never do is, “Yes! Isn’t it amazing that I know how to operate the mobility device that I’ve used everyday, all day, for several years? This powerchair that I use inside my non-wheelchair accessible house, everyday, for years?”

Or, I could say (but don’t), “Actually, I’m pretty sucky at it. You should see the inside of my house, where every doorway is splintered and chipped, where every tight corner has had the plaster dinged all to hell, where I took the strip of molding off the bathroom door (and we never even bothered to put it back), and where the plates of protective Plexiglas are splintered where I hit them!”

Or, I could say (but don’t), “Yes! And look at you! You are walking! You really know how to ambulate! You can really move on those feet! You sure know how to work those legs! Good for you!”

What I say when I am in a really good mood or I really like the person, is, “Thank you.”

Otherwise, what I say is (nothing).

I have not been happy with either of these options. So, now I’m saying something else:

Hey! General public! Please stop acting like a disabled person’s ability to use the mobility equipment we use every day to get around is a big freaking deal! Or we might just start telling you, in a congratulatory and avuncular manner, how impressed we are that you know how to operate your shoes.

Thank you.

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (I looooved to run next to the chair), and Barnum (SDiT?)


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