Saturday, May 1, 2010

If Yer Gonna Grill Me, At Least Do Both Sides!

So, i know it can be shocking and confusing, but really, me using crutches outside and sometimes not using them inside is not rocket science. If it were rocket science, at least i’d get a better income.
i need my crutches when i need to go more than say 15 feet or so, or on uneven ground, or down stair/s or any incline, or if i’m not sure where i’m going to be. Basically, if i’m out of my apartment, i’m using them. Sometimes i use them around my pad too, if i need to get up and am having a hard time, or am just extra stiff or unbalanced that day or whatever. Sometimes if i’m at a friends’ place and know i’m gonna be there awhile, and know the lay of the land, i won’t be using them, but not always. i’ll still have them with me, but may or may not use them in the house. One reason is that i have a small studio apartment, i’m only going a handful of feet at most at a time, there are things to hang onto if need be, if i stumble, i’ll deal; but if i’m outside? Whole different story. And sometimes (clearly just to keep you on your proverbial toes) i only use one! Clear as mud? Cool.
Well, after all these years, it still really freaks people out! They think they’ve stumbled onto some cure, some salve they didn’t know they’d slipped onto my back. Or they think i’m a faker and don’t really need crutches at all a-HA gotcha!!! It’s usually the latter. And that, my friends, is incredibly annoying to witness and be the target of.
If i’m at your house and i put my crutches down while i go for a pee, or if i’m at a workshop or play party or potluck or somesuch and put down my crutches for a moment, please, do not grill me about it, ok? Because A) its none of your fucking business and b) if you don’t believe A, it’s still none of your fucking business. No really, it isn’t. i know it seems like anytime someone uses a mobility device it’s fair game, but it’s not. And if you use one yourself? Yeah, still don’t grill me. We don’t have a magical connection because we both may be gimps, and i especially don’t want to be grilled in front of a bunch of other people who i wouldn’t really be having that conversation with. That just sucks.
It has to do with not living up to people's expectations of what a "real" disabled person is all about, about the assumptions being made about who needs to use this or that kind of assistive device, and regardless of who it's coming from, it is always based in ableist ways of perceiving disability, and (so i can continue this run on sentence to its fullest) just so you're clear? That is seriously busted. 

It also has to do with a basic misunderstanding and/or disrespect of me and my ability to understand my body as a disabled person. Folks who want to question me on my use of assistive devices, and on the changing of using this or that device over time, and that is based on assumptions about the capacity of disabled folks to make decisions for ourselves, to assess our situations and act accordingly. It is an attempt to get disabled folks to fit into a very particular idea of what it is to be disabled. And if i wasn't clear already, that is also busted.
The reality is that gimps come in all varieties. We use all kinds of assistive devices, some of us don’t use any (gasp!), some on and off (gaspgasp!). Whatever the sitch is, it’s not cool to grill people on their use or lack of them. Unless you’re paying me those aforementioned rocket scientist wages, in which case, have at it!


Miss. T.R. Gendered said...

here here. I have people ask me the same types of things. "Oh so you are better now?" no, I am better today, and by better I mean the comparative (than yesterday) not the absolute (all better now).
Mobility and the access to it with or without devices I find can be a compromise. Perhaps today I will be particularly active seeming because I know that I can rest tomorrow. Maybe I'm seeming slow and sore and in need of help cause I just did my exercises. (an attempt to make things "better"(absolute) that tends to make things worse (comparative.).
Thanks for you words friend.

TM said...

Thank you romham for this post! What always blows my mind is how otherwise lovely people suddenly get all suspicious of me if I'm not using crutches, or else save it up for a later date and then use it against me, i.e. pointing out that I don't "really need" to use them, because they saw without them at home that time! Ugh. Anyway, your post is excellent, and I'm so glad you wrote it. xoxox

seahorse said...

I get this totally as I am a part-time user of a wheelchair and often get amazed looks when spotted either 'back in the chair' or 'walking again'. Each time people seem to think there's been some new tragedy/miracle in my life.
I have learned over the years that approaching non-comprehension with a sense of humour and willingness to explain helps. Because, truthfully, I wouldn't have got it many years ago.

romham a bear said...

Miss T.R. Gendered, oh i sure relate to that. Anytime i use one instead of two crutches, people are like "ZOMG its so good to see you doing better! On the mend!" whatever the hell that means. And then when im back on two "ZOMG what happened???? oh god im so sorry youre not doing well". i have folks tell me "what a waste" it is that "someone so young has to use those!". Ugh. Because yeah, thats what sucks O.o

romham a bear said...

Tricia, thanks :) i wish that kind of thing wasn't so common. It's all wrapped up in some pretty busted ideas about bodies. Ew.

romham a bear said...

Clearly you also enjoy keeping others on their toes! i dont know what i would've done all this time without a sense of humour about it all lol. i do the explaining thing, more often than i care to. And sometimes i just need to rant about it and make O.o faces because it's all. so. tired and so 1993. im glad i know so many folks who really get it :)

Louna said...

I'm here through BADD. (I'm taking my time, it's too much at once.)

I know what you're talking about. Often, I end up using my cane in situations/places where I don't really need it just to keep the remarks at bay. Or sometimes when I'm at a friend's studio and let go of the cane I explain before hearing any question. I think I must have explained it to that friend, as a reflex, quite a few times by now. (Strangely I don't have that explaining reflex in my place, because it's just such a reflex to leave the cane by the door. But since it's a bit smaller/set up differently, there's always a place I can hold on to or a chair to fall down into.)

The thing that gets really iritating is when I have a bad day with strong pain in the upper body so I can't really use my cane and manage without as soon as I'm anywhere inside. And then people are happy because I'm better!

Anyway, good post.

Unknown said...

Oops, I was a little late to the party! I'm glad I found this - it summarises exactly the conversation I had only 20 hours ago, with someone who I'd thought was intelligent and incisive enough to get the idea. Sadly it seems not and, even though I wrote about this on my own blog, I'm genuinely considering forwarding your link on to the guy in question.

Naima Lowe said...

Yes yes yes.
I hate this.
I like keeping people on their toes as well.

I am a person who takes the elevator, occasionally uses a cane, AND I do sporty shit like riding horses, swimming and hiking. O. M. G. !!!!

Unknown said...

Totally totally totally. I get it a lot with my needing text-based communication assistance during phone calls. "But you spoke with us at the meeting! And you spoke fine!" or "Well, there was that one call we were both on and you didn't use it."

Drives me up, for reals.