What if you're were not a crip?
Having been disabled for over 26 of my 40 years I have been wondering lately what it would be like to be non-disabled. As someone who trains disabled people in positive action and disability awareness it's an important question for me to answer.
I'm forever championing the positive aspects of being disabled. I couldn't go into the classroom on a positive action course bemoaning my terrible luck over the last twenty years and how countless operations hadn't worked and how shite it was being a crip. It wouldn't generate the right atmosphere for a start.But what do really think? But I'm being professionally hypocritical?
Well if you'd asked me 10 years ago I would have given you a very different answer to what I will give you today. I hadn't accepted what I was at that time and was still going through the grieving process. I think many of us who acquire a disablity grieve for the things we can no longer do. It would take a a very pragmatic person indeed to be accepting of an acquired disablility.There are exceptions of course. Alessandro Zinardi the racing driver who lost both legs in a horrific crash was planning his come back within weeks of his accident.
My answer today would be if you could take away the pain I wouldn't change a thing. My stick is an extension of my personality. It's part of who I am. Being a disabled person has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had if I wasn't a crip. The training that I do, which is probably the most fulfilling thing I do, would never have happened if I hadn't had my accident. I have met so many fabulous people that wouildn't have come into my life. I'm a better person for being disabled. To me being disabled is something to celebrate and Rod Liddle can stick it where the sun don't shine.
There is another issue here though. Much of the subject matter I cover when training disbaled people who have acquired a disability is about loss. Many disabled people, when they acquire their disability lose a great deal, be it sporting ability, sight, hearing, mobility etc. I could go on for ages, but I have been wondering what it would be like to be a disabled person with a congenital condition who were suddenly 'cured'. Now I have only one person to go on here,my great friend and mentor Alan Counsell who is CP. He has told me that he would hate it if he wasn't disabled because he has never known anything else. It's a very important point. How scary would it be for a person born blind to gain sight after 30 years or so. They would have to adjust their whole world as much as someone who lost their sight at 30. Likewise a person who has used a wheelchair all their life would find it hard to adjust if they could suddenly walk unaided. Their life would change completely.
This is only a theory, and maybe completely wrong about this but loss can work both ways in my opinion. I have accepted myself completely as a disabled person (sure get bad days when I'm pissed off cos I'm hurting like a bastard). I have been disabled for more than half my life and it would take a lot of adjusting to get used to being non-disabled. It's something I'd rather not go through.