I am currently disabled, due to a bicycle accident. As I move around the world slowly, I have noticed that not only do I view the world differently, but the world (other people) views me differently. There are basically three categories of how people view me with my disability. I should mention that I have an around the chest sling, which looks scary and when I walk outside at all I use a cane. I don’t need it to walk, but I feel very vulnerable, so I use the cane to secure my balance and fight off scary dogs or cats. I don’t want to take any chances.
The first category is “fearful and scared.” They act as though you aren’t there. “I hope I don’t catch what you have. So I will do my best not to look at you and hurry by.” They act like they don’t see you, as though you are invisible. This is a result of not wanting to face their own invincibility or mortality. If it can happen to her, it could happen to me. “
The next category is “friendly and nice.” These people are kind and thoughtful. They will stop you on the street and inquire as to your health and how you are today. They want to know what happened, but are so warm and empathetic that it does not seem voyeuristic. This is my favorite group. Usually people in this group are older, a result of having come to terms with their own demise long ago.
The third category is the “macabre.” These people stare at you and seize the moment to ask about all the details of your situation. They fixate on your telling of your story the way some people slow down at a traffic accident so as to relish all the gory details. Their eyes get big and they relish each sensory detail. “You fell on the trail. So what happened then? Where did your arm break? Does it still hurt? Are you in pain?” It’s a little unnerving. Your disability represents drama to them, an escalation of the ordinary. When under their gaze you feel a bit like an insect under a microscope.
How do all these people affect my view of me and my disability? I will write about that at a later date. That will be interesting indeed.
Causes Patricia Thomas Supports
Room to Read, UNICEF, Kiva, Save the Children, Pencils of Promise