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9/17/08

On Healing

It's been about 5 weeks since I fractured my ankle. I started physical therapy last week and with that, it always gets worse before it gets better. So am I getting better? Hard to say. The pain is worse, but in different places than before, as I work lazy, stiff muscles back into consciousness.

I think this period of being kinda-sorta crippled has helped me to better empathize with people who are actually handicapped and have real disabilities. I don't claim that what I'm going through at all rivals a life with a permanent disability. But it's easier now to see how the world is only made with the fully able-bodied in mind, with little regard for anyone else. Lots of people have minor impairments that people don't even realize, invisible afflictions- Arthritis and trick knees and bad backs and flat feet: problems that don't require canes or splints but still hurt everyday and make ordinary things difficult. Do these people want to be singled out for this?- I'm sure they don't. But I'm also sure they'd like to be considered when they add steps to the entrance of buildings that don't need them, or a hip neighborhood decides, "Hey, let's have the street be all cobblestone here, for two blocks and then stop abruptly." It made me take notice of those inconsistencies and difficulties that can make someone's day terrible (if you've ever had the experience of going up 2 flights of stairs out of the subway, one step at a time, and having people 2 inches behind you, or cutting in front of you as if you were invisible until a split second before, all the while pulling yourself up by the handrail and putting your entire body weight on your left leg which was none-too-strong to begin with, you know what I mean).

But there are people who have to deal with much worse and have been dealing with it for years or, possibly, forever. So they don't complain because they're accustomed to it and learned to get by. Most of all, this has made me appreciate being able to walk all the more. I will get over this. I will be able to walk regularly again and be good as new. I've already had other issues that I kept me down (Epstein Barr making me tired & sick all the time, a weakened & sensitive back from a mildly-serious car accident making things I used to do more difficult). After my leg heals, I want to try to be better and do more. I don't want to use those things as an excuse any more. If other people can get over their much more serious problems and still get more accomplished, because society says they have to (people of minority status always have to work twice as hard to get recognition and not be considered lazy or leaching off the system) then why should I have trouble doing my basic stuff?

The thing is, when you become incapacitated to any extent you see how fragile the human body is. Strong and sturdy and still breakable. So I worry about if the next time I hurt myself it isn't something permanent. I don't want whatever thing to have been the last. Like this time, I hurt myself dancing. What if I did something that meant I could never dance again? But I think the answer is not to be more careful, but contrarily, more courageous. For me it's a major change, but I would be happy with simply being less of a baby and a quitter and doing things anyway. Even if I was too tired or in pain or didn't feel like it. If I could push myself just that little bit, I'd be a lot happier in a lot of different ways.

I can already feel myself changing towards that: I insist on doing some things by myself, even when I could get the help of others. I don't want to become a needy burden, and I know that outside of home or some nice people at work, no one will help. I mean, if I guy walking on crutches or a 7-months-pregnant lady can't get someone to offer their seat to them on a crowded train, what chance have I? You'd think that if you have a visible injury that most people would treat you more courteously, but it is definitely not true for most people. I can't decide if it's bad or good. It's insensitive, but it's probably more helpful to me in the end. I'll help myself and heal faster. Those with permanent injuries will do for themselves and be seen as heroes because they manage to get through the everyday in a society wherein no one gives a crap about the person sitting next to them, knees touching.
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1Ygp5vxLJ

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