Sunday, June 24, 2012

Two Blog Posts at Once

Two Blogs in One

Because I've been having trouble with my computer I have two blogs, which together are depressing.  Please read the first and when you come to a new title, wait a couple of days to read the second, which Does contain humor as well as annoyance.  Thank you for being kind enough to read them at all!

Disability or Character Flaw, Can You Tell the Difference?

Once a friend of mine parked in a "handicapped parking spot" and was Roundly berated by someone for Not being "handicapped" but "stealing the place of another person  who was."

When he exited his car it became obvious that he had lost a leg and used crutches.

Ann, my former partner had scoliosis, Fibromyalgia, diabetes, osteoarthritis,  and the flattest feet anyone had Ever seen.  She stuck to her diabetic diet Religiously, but found walking and exercise very painful.  Physicians now know that the drug she took to lower her blood sugar is associated with weight gain.  They did not know this when Ann was alive.

Although Ann worked hard to lose weight she was overweight.  Her diabetic cheat test, (called A1C) Always came in at 5. something or at most, 6. something.  Her endocrinologist was shooting for a score of no More than 7.  This proved Ann Didn't cheat.

She attended water therapy for years until it became so expensive she couldn't afford it. I offered to pay for it, as I paid for her glasses, but she absolutely refused. But the water therapy left her physically strong, in spite of being in never ending pain.

Once she went to a Dr. to have an in-grown toenail removed. If the toenail had become infected it could have led to amputation, as Ann was diabetic.

The Dr. Ann saw was training a resident, Without bothering to ask Ann if she felt ok with this.  After removing the toenail he turned to the resident saying, "This one will be in a wheelchaiur by the time she's fifty." In a dismissive and derogatory tone.  Then the Dr. and his trainee walked out.

Ann was crushed!  She came home and cried.  She was working So Hard to Stay as healthy as Possible, how could he Judge her like that?  And he wasn't the only one.  Many people looked at Ann as though she was a fat, Lazy person, who had "let herself go."  Actually I never met anyone who tried harder just to Maintain her health.  And she was Never lazy about doing what needed to be done.

As it happened, Ann began using a power wheelchair to go a block or farther at the age of 51.  It was only then that she wondered if  the Dr. Might have been making a medical assessment, Not a character judgment.  But given his tone and callous insensitivity toward  Ann, it is hard to tell.

If a person has a visible disability they are likely to be reacted to in an obvious manner.  They may be prayed over without their consent, shunned, laughed at, ignored when requesting anything, or talked to as if they are children when they are adults. 

When a person has an Invisible disability its results are most likely to be treated as a personal character flaw.  My friend in the car had an invisible disability until he stepped Out of his car.  Ann, and many other people have disabilities which remain Invisible.  Often they are assumed to be things they Aren't.  And if they try to explain that they are disabled, this is often taken as Further evidence that they are lazy, negative, whining people. 

Ann and I often discussed the differences in how people treated us.  I did not like being hassled, but at least it was overt and when I had the energy, it could usually be dealt with.

Having people in general assume incorrect things about you and act on those assumptions is far harder to take, I think.  Both kinds of prejudice hurt and effect one's self-esteem.  But one can be dealt with.   An Attempt to deal with a hidden disability by explanation is likely to be interpreted only as Proof that the incorrect assumptions made are True.

This is why many people with non-visible disabilities choose to hide them and subject themselves to danger, in some cases.  The same can also be true of people with visible  disabilities  who choose to pretend they are Not disabled.

I once had a client in the rural Ozarks who was severely visually impaired.  But this person refused to carry a white cane, even for purposes of identification, so that Others would know they couldn't  see well and would hopefully  drive more carefully.  When next I saw this individual they had a broken leg from a fall which proper use of a white cane would have prevented.

Given the environment of religious fervor in which this person lived and the fear level of blindness, I can understand the choice that was made.  The combination of religious fervor and fear is nearly Always Toxic to the person or nation it is turned upon.  A deep belief in God may be no problem.  But combine it with Great Fear and there Is a problem. 

Fear leads to a desire for safety from harm and control over one's life and future.  My understanding is that none of us Truly have as much control over our circumstances as we want to believe.  What we have Much more control over is How we React to them, What we Do about them.

But deep fear and a desperate search for an explanation tends to lead to blaming the person perceived as Different, or some other untrue or unhelpful explanation of what has happened.  Anyone ending up in a painful situation may end up as the target of the fears of others.

So the choice my client Really had to make was, which hurts more, having a broken leg or trying to overcome their own fears and those of their community?  It truly Is a hard choice.  Trying to confront one's own fear and educate fearful people all around is a Pioneer's task.

Another person I worked with asked me to put bright orange glue dots on their speedometer, as they couldn't read it at all, even with glasses.  This person was willing to put everyone in their city in danger in order to keep driving.  I had to decline.  Giving up the freedom of driving is an extremely Painful thing to have to do.  But is another person's Life worth ones ability to drive?  I wondered how this individual would feel if they hit another car and killed someone, or several people.

Bottom lines:  1.  Yes there Are people who abuse the system  2.  You can't Truly know who those people are, so please try Not to judge.  3.  When faced with a person who has a disability, look at your Own feelings, please don't project them onto the disabled person.  There is nothing wrong with feeling fear or revulsion.  What may be wrong is What you Choose to Do with these feelings.  You can choose to recognize them and look at them more deeply when you have time, (Please Take the time) or you can project them out so you Don't have to look at them.  In doing so, you may do real harm to another person, whether you can see their disability or not.

Finding a New Doctor

Dr.'s have been among the most ignorant people I know concerning disability.  My primary care physician, whom I Very much Appreciate is leaving.  I will have to choose another Dr., as she won't be allowed by her hospital contract to say  where she is going.  I would follow her and my guess is that other patients would too.  The hospital doesn't want to lose money by losing patients.

I Dread trying to find a Dr. who will treat me as an intelligent being who knows my own body better than he or she does.

I do not know how to go about this, except by interviewing physicians.  And large clinics are set up to try and Prevent changing Dr.'s, when They don't instigate the changes Themselves.

I do not wish to waste  time and energy "Dr. hopping."  But what else can I do?  You pay your money and you take your chances.

It probably sounds like I am overstating this and "just being paranoid."  So let me tell you a couple of stories.

When I first began to have difficulty crossing streets independently, due to hearing loss I went to a number of Dr.'s trying to find out Why I was losing hearing. 
One Dr.
said, "Well you're already blind, so if you lose some hearing it's really no big deal.  I mean, all you do is sit around all day anyway."

I was so shocked I didn't even mouth off or give him a gesture Any American driver would understand.  I did, however, leave. 

When Dr.'s in this health uncare system ask why my ENT and audiologist belong to a different healthcare system and I tell them, their first statement is Always one of disbelief.  Why would I make up something that cruel and Ignorant when I Don't sit around all day?

Another Dr. I left was one I went to with a serious ear infection.  A friend drove me.

The Dr., looking at my friend asked, "What's wrong with her?"  I answered, "I have an ear infection."

Dr., again looking at my friend asked, "Why does she think she has an ear infection?"  I answered, "because I am dizzy, can barely hear you,  my balance is screwed up, and my ears hurt."

Dr., looking at my friend asks, "Does she have a fever?"  I say, "I can't read the thermometer but I feel like I have a fever."

Dr. looks at friend, asks, "How have her bowel movements been?"

Finally my friend can stand no more and shouts, (I heard Her ok) "How the Hell do I know, I'm her Neighbor, Not her Mother!"

Doc' takes my temperature, I have a fever.  He looks in my ears, (ouch) and prescribes antibiotics.  I was so sick it was all I could do to walk upright, I guess that's why I didn't yell at the man.

Many Dr.'s tend to treat me as though my brain doesn't work, since my Eyes don't.

I have had sighted people run across traffic, endangering their own lives to Help Me cross because I was and am Blind.  Do I Really want their Help?  I'm not willing to walk out into traffic moving back and forth directly in front of me, even if They are!

I could waste Reams of paper writing down such ridiculous but True stories and the scary thing is, so could just about every person with a disability whom I have met.

The situation is sometimes complicated further if the Dr. I go to happens to be from a country where people with disabilities must beg or rely completely on their families to physically survive.  I am Not trashing physicians from other countries.  At least They have a lot of good Reasons not to know about how we who have disabilities are privileged to live, pay taxes, and work. 

The Americans who have gone to medical school here have Far less excuse.  But cultural barriers such as the belief that a disabled person shouldn't be allowed to live, or that his/her disability is a punishment for evil misdeeds or from God can get in the way.

Come to think of it, though, sometimes that's not too different from the crap I run into right here in the Ozarks.

So finding a new Dr. is a DRAG!

But I Still count the blessing of Medicaid which Allows me to find, or Try and find a Dr.  I am very aware that many of my hard working fellow Americans don't Even Have this option.  May they have it SOON!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I want to write back after I have considered this post.