Posts Tagged ‘disablility’

“Why are you in a wheelchair?”

August 8, 2009

QuestionMarkSomeone asked me yesterday “Why are you in a wheelchair?” I looked at them bemused for a moment; I’ve been asked this question many times before and almost every time I’ve changed my response:

“F*** me, I’m in a wheelchair?!”
“Well I lifted myself out of bed and just got in”
“I found it in a dust bin”
“I was born with it, Mums labour was hell”

This time however I gave them the honest answer “I was born with Spina bifida”. They didn’t ask too many questions after that, in fact, I’ve hardly spoken to them since. I got the impression they wanted a more elaborate story on a horrific accident…sorry to disappoint. It did make me wander though, about why people ask and should wheelchair users give them an honest answer?

I know some wheelchair users are often offended if they are not asked straight out; they feel that people are talking about them behind their backs and I can, I think, relate to this. It drives me crazy when I’m out with my Mother or worse, a friend and the lady in the lift turns to THEM and asks THEM what’s wrong with me. Well apparently I’m bloody invisible, that’s what’s wrong with me! The thing is; I don’t feel my wheelchair defines me as a person, nor do I feel it’s an important story to tell. I don’t think I have ever turned round to a friend and told them my story without them asking. In fact many of my friends have gone months without even mentioning my four wheels.

My boyfriend who I’ve known for several months now has never asked me what’s ‘wrong’ with me, maybe he doesn’t see the wrong, I don’t know. You see, I think that’s why some people ask, they see ‘it’ as a barrier to getting to know a person properly, then again (and this is the most common case I feel) maybe it is just a mans curiosity…and what’s wrong with curiosity?

Next time I’m asked, I will reply frankly, I’ll leave the bad stuff out, I’ll give my frills and cotton candy story on how and why I’m disabled. People don’t want to know the hard stuff; they want to hear a story book answer. Maybe that’s my problem with that question, I feel I have to lie to cover up certain aspects of myself, after all, phatic conversation doesn’t call for the details.

Ali x

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