Hello blogger friends and welcome. Here is another post for the Redefining Disability Challenge started by Rose B. Fischer. If you click on the image to the left, you can see exactly what it’s all about and feel free to join. Answer as many of the 52 questions as you like, or the ones that pertain to you. There is no time limit. Answer them in one post, one a day, a week, or whatever fits your needs.
I’m going to spread the questions out over the remainder of the year since a lot of the questions pertain to me already. For today’s post I’m going to answer question(s) 18 and 19.
18. Have you experienced preferential treatment because of disabilities? — By preferential treatment, I mean situations where you were treated better or differently from your peers even though there was no valid reason. I have to answer this question with a yes because I do get preferential treatment from time to time. Although my gait has greatly improved with physical therapy, I still have people jumping out of their way to open doors for me and offer to help me find things, reach for items, etc., particularly in stores. This rarely happened before my illness.
I know the intentions are good, but unless I specifically ask, I’d prefer trying to do things myself. It’s the only way I know how to find my independence again.
19. In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities? — Examples might be that it’s harder for you to form or maintain relationships or that people treat you differently once they realize you have a disability. This is a tough one because there are so many ways that relationships, the way people treat me, and my attitude towards them have changed.
While I was critical in ICU, my ex prayed in chapel day in and day out for my recovery and posted all over to cherish what you have because you never know what tomorrow can bring. We were basically over before the bleed; my understanding is that my illness was the ‘epiphany’ needed to get us back on track. While I’m forever thankful for the prayers, my ex wasn’t strong enough to handle my recovery.
The first two months out of inpatient rehab were fine, but then I was basically on my own. I had no friends in PA, and no support system. My friends were there for a while, but slowly went back to living their own lives (except for a special two or three).
I huddled more and more into myself, until I thought I would implode. Four months out of rehab, my ex started behaving as if I were ‘cured’. The attitudes came, the arguments, the belittling, and I couldn’t handle it. I became a yelling, screaming, stuttering mess of my former self. I couldn’t string a coherent sentence together without going into a rage; a rage that was aimed more at myself and my brain than anyone else.
My only solace was online. I began blogging in February 2013. I joined stroke groups and vented there. I wrote to other survivors and we shared stories, because people in life didn’t understand me or what I was going through.
I’ve been told that I’m too trusting, and I’ve learned the hard way that I am. I’ve always thought it’s better to give than to receive. I don’t treat myself to much, but I love giving gifts to people I care about. Sometimes the people you care about aren’t the people you thought they were. Once you have a disability, particularly a brain injury, some people take that as an opportunity to take advantage. Yes, it happened to me. I’ve been stolen from by someone I thought was a friend. Of course, I’ve since written him out of my life.
People sometimes ask me if I ever plan on having a relationship again. I’d like to say I would, but I can’t say. I have too much on my plate. I’ve been hurt too many times and I’m still recovering. I ask myself, who would want to be bothered with a recovering strokee? Seriously.
I don’t want to be treated with kid gloves. I want to be treated with the same respect I try to give others. Yes, sometimes shit comes out of my mouth unexpectedly. My brain wires still cross and thoughts to mouth sometimes don’t connect properly. What I think and what I say aren’t always the same. That’s frustrating as hell.
Things have gotten better in the years since the hemorrhage, but I still have work to do. This is a never-ending fight for wellness. But as one of my fellow physical therapy cohorts said:
‘As long as we’re vertical, we’re good’.