First off, I gotta give a shout out to my Jewish readers, have a happy and healthy new year. L'shana tova!
Next, I've got a cripple question from the lovely Rachel from "Fluted Cups & Ampersands". Her post was essentially about being called lazy by a nurse at a doctor's appointment, and Rachel wanted some input from other cripples about the situation. Here's my two cents (and probable cripple rant)
If hypothetically a nurse called me a "cripple", "gimp" or any fun technically offensive word I wouldn't think much of it. I'd probably start laughing hysterically actually. BUT if some nurse had the audacity to call me lazy all hell would break loose. Being called "lazy" is probably the worst thing you could say to a cripple, if not the worst it's in the top 10. Why? Because being lazy implies that you are making a conscious choice that you don't want to do something simply because you don't feel like it. I have chronic pain and fatigue, so when I cannot do something it's not because I don't WANT to something, it's because I CANNOT! Calling a cripple lazy implies that you think they are lying, weak, annoying, etc. It's extraordinarily insensitive and extremely hurtful, especially coming from people who do not know what they're talking about.
What would I have done in this situation? Thankfully I have not been called lazy by a total stranger so I can only use my imagination here. Gauging from the fact that it was a professional setting and probably other people around, I'd probably rip 'em a new asshole... politely of course ;) The conversation would probably go as followed...
Stupid Nurse - *some snarky comment about me being lazy*
Crippie - Excuse me? I... I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Did you just call me lazy?
Stupid Nurse - *insert another well thought out comment*
Crippie - How many tumors are on your skeleton at this very moment?
Stupid Nurse - Um... none
Crippie - I have hundreds of tumors all over my body. HUNDREDS. Do you know what that means?
Stupid Nurse - Um... no
Crippie - What a surprise! Well, let me educate the expert here. These tumors cause pain and restrict mobility. Do you know what that means?
Stupid Nurse - Um...
Crippie - I'll take that as a no. This means it physically takes more energy to complete a task. Ok? I am not lazy. I am in an extreme amount of pain, I am extraordinarily tired... and I have to waste more of my energy educating know-it-alls like yourself.
Would I have contacted someone? Yup. Depending on the doctor's office there are surveys you can fill out about your experience. Heck, I might even demand to see someone at that very moment. Why? Because in a professional environment your job is to shut up and be nice to your "customer". In my line of work, if I ever called someone an "idiot" to their face (as tempting as it may be) I'd get fired. It is not appropriate and people need to learn that.
What can be done about it? It's hard to say because I hope these instances are just caused by lone idiots. On the whole "minor" healthcare employees aren't like this. If my orthopedist or my physical therapist said something implying I'm lazy, that would be another story because they know their stuff. What can cripples do about it? Again, it's hard to say because there are those "special snowflakes" out there who validate the opinions of those stupid nurses. All we can do is try to brace ourselves for the idiots. Memorize the spoon theory, come up with a general response. Something.
Now, it's pretty obvious that being called "lazy" strikes a nerve with me. While I've never been called lazy by strangers, people I know (various degrees of closeness) have implied that I'm lazy. For example, the act of grocery shopping is exhausting for me. When I return home I generally go lay down, leaving my able-bodied relatives to put away groceries. That sounds horrible, right? That's because it is. I cannot even begin to describe how guilty I feel that I cannot help. I should be helping them! I want to help, and I do whenever possible or absolutely necessary but it hurts, a whole lot. In college I couldn't do certain household chores, leaving my roommates to do them. That's not fair to them and I know that. I try to compensate by being the sole person to do the chores that I am physically able to do, but still to a degree I am a burden. I hate being a burden. Being called lazy implies that I am willingly making other people's lives difficult. I hate being a burden. I hate not being able to do things. I hate that I am putting a weight on someone else's shoulders. Being called lazy implies that I WANT to be like this, that I enjoy it. I didn't choose this, I don't want people to do things that I should be doing. This is not a "cripple perk" and it's insanely hurtful to think otherwise.
What can EVERYONE, normals and cripples alike do to alleviate the situation? Just try to be empathetic to other people's situations. Understand that you do not know the entire story and you don't know what everyone else on the planet is going through. As for the cripples that, like me, are riddled with guilt that they cannot do everything they should... I accepted long ago that life is not fair and everything will never be as it should. Just try your best to do whatever you can.
Something tells me people might react strongly to this, so please feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section. Am I being overly sensitive? A special snowflake? Spot on? Other?
Crippie's Tippie - DON'T CALL SOMEONE LAZY!
P.S. - I have a follow up to the Lucy stories. I'll probably post in within the next few days. I was crazy tired and achy this week. Labor day weekend weather sucked beyond all reason and kicked my ass.