In my last blog I wanted to further explore some of the press I had done around my choices not to go ahead with trying to walk. I was shocked, and a little saddened by some of the replies and comments I received in reply to that blog.
The idea that disabled people can live lives that able bodied people might envy seemed to upset some disabled people. Yet surely the disability movement has spent years trying to get across the fact that disabled people deserve the same chances and rights as everyone else, and if given them disabled people would be able to experience life just the same as the able bodied. So why shouldn’t some able bodied people be envious of some disabled people? Disability is not a reason why anyone’s life will be less in some way.
Now of course many disabilities come with medical conditions. I have a spinal injury, and so am classed as Paraplegic, but the injury caused some nerves to be trapped in scar tissue. This leads to periods of chronic pain, and the pain killers I have had to take has led to problems with my digestive tract. These do disable me, but they are really ongoing medical conditions. Using a wheelchair will never make my life less that it would have been if I could walk. I think it is essential to make sure we understand the difference. I never wake up thinking “I wish I could walk” but I do wish “This pain would stop”. Yes, the pain is tied to the disability, but it is not the disability.
I hope that everyone agrees that disability as described by the social model is the way it should be viewed by society. So I am not disabled by my inability to walk, or by my pain or anything else but by the barriers put in my way by the larger society. It’s not being in a wheelchair that makes me disabled, but the steps into a building. That goes for all of us disabled people. In fact it goes for everyone. Everyone gets old, or sick. In a world that was shaped by the social model of disability and so was fully inclusive, many of the issues that they will face would not exist. It wouldn’t matter if they had trouble walking, or seeing or hearing, or needed a seat or whatever. The solutions would be built into every part of our daily life and the world we all lived in. Any medical issues would be just that. Separate and something to be treated.
At a time when the disabled, the elderly, and the poor are going to be a the sharp end of budget cuts, and when many people in society really believe that assisted suicide and mercy killing is a valid way to go, we disabled people must see that we need to be vocal. We need to shout how we are capable, and can experience anything we want to, if we are given the chance. We have to be proud of how we have got as far as we have, both as individuals and as a group. In 100 years we have fought to go from being shoved into institutions and pitied or feared, to living in the community and having a voice and shaping our own futures. We have made amazing strides forward and must keep on fighting to make sure we do not stumble and loose ground.
My story is a strange one, I admit. Not many disabled people have to make the choice I have recently, but as science advances more and more will. That decision will be up to the individual but I wanted to explain that being cured is not the answer to integrating disabled people. To integrate a minority, the answer is not to correct or eradicate the minority. If we go down that dark road then why not make gay people straight and black people white? Or just wipe them all out? Sounds familiar to me. Who tried that already?
No matter how much a disability, and it’s medical problems, effect your life, or how much you may sometimes feel that it gets too much, every disabled person on this planet has the ability to live the kind of life that would make able bodied people envious. We can find love, feel fulfilled and be happy. I know how few able bodied people manage to achieve that. Yes it can be a real struggle, but it is for everyone on this planet. It’s the extra barriers that are put in our way and the ignorance of what we can achieve that are the enemy, not our disabilities.
Katie Fraser says
I agree with everything you have said here Mik! Every disabled person has the ability , it’s just somnetimes disabled people don’t always see that they can live fulfilling l,ives and this is where disabled people see the bad things.
Barriers can be achieved they may be big ones or small ones but overcoming them is a great challenge.
I hope none of my comments were saddening to you , mine are always honest and very positive.
Katie Fraser says
Also who determines what is right and wrong about your decision , your decision was purely based on your own opinion , NOT anyone’s else’s!
Bugger what they trhink , you live your life how you want Mik , and glad you enjoy what you do!
I went to see all the replies and comments to your blog that you referred to, but there was only one comment and that was mine.
Of course there might be aspects of a disabled person’s ‘life’ that an AB might envy and vice versa but I thought you meant AB’s would envy a disabled person because of their disability which I would find very strange because I wouldn’t wish a disability on anyone.
So the disabled are going to be at the sharp end of the Government’s cuts. Oh really? I haven’t noticed any change that’s going to occur to my circumstances and I listened to the whole of George Osborne’s speech yesterday.
Mik Scarlet says
Just a quick thanks to Katie, and to LIzziski – Huh? If you really think that being disabled is such a bad thing then that is your problem. Most disabled people are proud of who they are, and so they should be.
As for the cuts… what planet are you on? ALL DLA recipients to be reassessed (and not by doctors by by civil servants – who obviously are experts in medical conditions), and Incapacity Benefit and it’s replacement to become timed benefit (even though disability is for life and not a year), care packages to be cut, social services to have up to 40% cuts, oh the list of how it effects the disabled is just too long for a comment.
As for the replies and comments, I also get e-mail and speak to people. While I did get others, I won’t deny that your comment was the driving force behind my blog. Still amazed that you feel this way. Never really met many Tory cripples. But hey, always open to new experiences.
Anyway, keep watching the blog as I promise you will be disagreeing with all of politics and pretty much everything else I say in the future. Ha ha.
Oh I’m proud of who I am thanks all the same… who I am isn’t my disability though. I’m interested in issues to do with disabled people especially if it affects me. But to be honest I’m not interested in disability as some kind of badge of honour to be proud of. My life is so more interesting than my disability and I find people who seem obsessed with it a bit odd, sorry.
Care packages to be cut, oh really? Where did you get that specific info from because I haven’t seen it. Social Services to have up to 40% cuts doesn’t mean they have to cut it from the care packages (which btw the Government are giving £2 billion extra for). Social Services waste an awful lot of money which could be re-directed to care.
The cuts are going to affect everyone, not just disabled people. And while we’re on the subject, how come you always refer to disabled people as ‘the disabled’ like we’re some homogenous group? I think ‘disabled people’ reflects the fact that we are people first which we are and we’re not all the same.
Oh I’m a Tory cripple because I don’t agree with what you have to say? Not correct, but then so much of what you write, isn’t correct it’s just your opinion which is fine cos it’s your blog.
Carry on I may not agree with what you say but I do find it interesting and it would be a boring world if we were all the same and agreed with everything, wouldn’t it????
Another thing I wanted to ask, do you accept that spending has to fall at all? If so what are youe preferred ‘cuts’ please?
I know you seem to think that all rich people and bankers should be heavily penalised. A bit short sighted as they would more than likely leave and go to more prosperous countries.