I feel like I came back to sit in my apartment. Like all the freedom and beautiful things I experienced in the city by the sea got crushed under the forced and weary footsteps I took yesterday on a quest to find wheels. Like the cheap wine and post election revolutionary stirrings in the street were not worth the lack of mobility and freedom I am experiencing right now, in this moment. I haven’t felt this much physical pain since I left Edmonton and thought I could just go to the dog park and walk around with my Mum like I used to. Boots laced up tightly and dog drooling all over the beige spring earth. I was wrong.
And I was wrong to expect that the Rheumatologist I came back in time to see would have anything to say that I haven’t already heard: take anti-inflammatories, here’s a prescription, oh they hurt your stomach and you don’t want to damage your kidneys? Well take this other thing at the same time, so it counters the side effects. Its all about quality of life. You want to have a normal life right? Well, take these things and walk like I do until you can’t anymore. Then have your bones cut out and reconstructed and then walk around like I do some more.
I don’t like ableism, the idea that the definition of a good life is one that mirrors that of the normal, jogging businessman. The guy who lifts weights after driving to the gym. The kind of guy who carries all his grocery bags in one hand. Its oppressive. And he, incidentally, is also the type of guy who cuts you off in the grocery store because he’s in a rush to go home and grab his ergonomic shoes and extra breathing exercise clothes and make it to the gym tonight.
I don’t like ableism, the training and practice in medicine that aims at contorting you, your body, your reality to fit the norm. The medicine that makes you conform. The physio who says, I’m closing your file, you need to stop seeing me and get on with your life. As though doing exercises that strengthen me and make me feel balanced in my movements are a temporary, post-crisis experience; the time in a wheelchair a negative period in an otherwise bi-pedal, therefore, positive life.
I can’t sit, I can’t stand, when I lie down the nagging god damn pain makes my breathing short, my muscles contract, and makes me scowl. This is what I get from their normal.
Why should I struggle getting everywhere I go? To let doctors feel that they have succeeded? To make people in the public feel more comfortable with my body? To feel like I made it back to the enrobbing comfort of the false norm?
How about instead of me walking around just so I can get on the metro and hopefully have the mobility required to buy groceries, get fresh air, see things and get to a job, we just put elevators in the metro so that I can use some sort of wheeled vehicle to do the same stuff? I promise having crips in public places doesn’t contaminate the public experience. I promise we won’t roll over your toes or force our ways of being on you, like you have on us. I promise you’ll stop feeling so uncomfortable the more you see us in your spaces. I promise that diversity of existence is a positive thing.