One of the observations I’ve made about this (sort of) quarantine for COVID- 19, and people’s anger at being forced to stay home, or wear masks, and suddenly find their world much smaller and less in their own control, is that it’s like having a disability.
When you have a disability, there are things you have to do that you don’t want to — medications, assistive devices, and often pain. You don’t get to go places you went before, you’re stuck, sometimes for the rest of your life.
Many people find making accommodations for you annoying, or not worth the expense. People try to tell you that if only you took this vitamin, used this meditation technique, or saw this healer or preacher, if you believed, you wouldn’t have the disability.
If you didn’t take the drugs that are helping you, you wouldn’t be as sick because it’s all a plot from big pharma anyway.
You get tons of “information” by people who don’t know you. Because they don’t have your disease, disorder, or mental condition, obviously it can be overcome by willpower.
One of the most toxic statements I hear from people, even sometimes people with disabilities, is “If I can do it, anyone can.”
I thought about this as I was exercising a few days ago. I had gotten to where I could do 5 sit-ups pretty consistently every morning. I was going to try for ten, but I couldn’t even do one. I squirmed around like a turtle on her back.
Why? Why after my progress was I back where I started from? My neurologist said it’s just the nature of my thinning spinal cord and how messages are relayed from my brain to my body. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and eventually it won’t work at all. And there’s not a damned thing I can do about it.
But I’m used to these roadblocks in my life. I learned early on (I was 16 when my disability started) that I would have to work within and around limits and boundaries.
Most people don’t. Their bodies carry them through life unencumbered by problems.
Now, however, everyone has had their lives disrupted and limited by something they can’t see, and can’t fight, even though they are trying. Trying so hard to not believe such a thing could happen to them, to us, to the world.
They blame, they are comforted by conspiracy theories, and are determined to not let it alter their perception of themselves, God and politics.
I can understand that. I think of all the times I tried to deny my own disability, and all the experimental remedies I’ve tried. My disability wasn’t diagnosed until I was 46, so I went 30 years not knowing what I had. Possible Multiple Sclerosis was the best I got, but Abnormal was my diagnosis for decades.
How good or bad I dealt with it through my life was later underscored by a diagnosis of Bi-polar disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from child abuse, plus the undercurrent of fear in my life from my disability. One of my first doctors told me that I may be dead by the time I was thirty.
Here I am, though, nearing 60, more alive in many ways than I would be if I had not had this strange disability accompany me through life.
My diagnosis changed a few years ago to Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. Since then, I’ve gotten much better treatment for my symptoms, and better support for the degeneration that the previous diagnosis didn’t address.
But now I use a wheelchair all the time. I can’t get into buildings I once did. I can’t volunteer at places I want to because their buildings aren’t accessible, I can’t go to some restaurants, art galleries, or churches. I can’t visit friends because I can’t get into their houses. I roll around the neighborhood and am faced with no curb cuts on some sidewalks. People use the sidewalk to stack all manner of yard waste, garbage, scooters, bikes.
People pity me, preach to me, won’t look at me, or will stare at me.
But it’s no big deal to me anymore. I survive. I thrive. I have negative emotions, but I know they will pass. I can’t do everything I want, but I do a lot.
So making an adjustment like wearing a mask and gloves in public is easy for me. I work hard not to succumb to negative feelings about my situation. I hate that the quarantines have limited me even more, I miss having my friends visit or going out to eat with them. But I know the restrictions are there for my (and your) health. It really sucks to be sick.
And viruses, bacteria, and other things we can’t see, all are part of nature, all have a life of their own. Just like weeds, roaches and ticks.
Don’t take your or my health for granted. It’s a precious gift, good health. Don’t lose it over something as trivial and easy as wearing a mask and keeping a social distance from people. Any new adjustment is hard at first, then it becomes easy. It becomes that second nature that we all have been blessed with.
Stay safe ya’ll.
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