English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ince I read a similar article recently I thought I would post some of my biggest disability related pet peeves.. These are in no particular order and will probably number more than 10.
- I am not five years old anymore and even when I was my vocabulary was far more developed than one your using right now.
- If you see me with someone and have a question about my disability ask me rather than my companion. Being spoken about in third person is very rude. You wouldn’t like it if a stranger started asking your friend questions about you with you standing right next to them and able to speak for yourself would you?
- If you aren’t a very close friend or significant other do not lean or prop your feet up on any part of my wheelchair. You have your personal space bubble, I have mine, the wheelchair exists within it. Hands and feet off police.
- To fast food restaurants with takeout service, telemarketers and over the phone customer service representatives: I am aware of what my voice sounds like over the phone, I’m not a very tall person to start with and I’m pretty sure my disability has influenced the pitch of my voice at times, I assure you I am an adult, of legal age to both vote and drink in the United States. Calling me a liar or worse simply hanging up on me because of my voice happens to be pitched is a good way to ensure that you don’t get anymore of my business.
- To all sit down restaurants regardless of whether most of your staff speaks English as a second language or a first: I do not care that some of your waitstaff may be allergic to or afraid of dogs that is not my problem. My golden retriever is federally recognized as a piece of medical equipment which means with very few exceptions but I have the right to take him anywhere I please. You CAN refuse me and my dog access and service. Know that I CAN and WELL file a discrimination lawsuit against you within the week.
- I was not in a car accident nor did my mother use illegal substances before my birth. I do not mind discussing my disability but if you are a random stranger you asked that question with no preamble my answer will probably be something like this “I’m in the chair because of brain damage sustained during my premature birth, do you have brain damage to or are you naturally this route?”
- This kind of goes with the above statement but please stop asking how sex works for me., go back to the I was not in a car accident and even if I was that would still work okay. I am a “real girl” and neither one of my partners has complained yet.
- If you see my dog and my out shopping or at the library etc. ask to pick him before doing so. Do not sneak pet him by learning your fingers through his coat as we by, he is friendly and loves meeting new people so chances are if you ask and I’m not in a huge hurry I will let him visit with you. Like the wheelchair the dog is an extension of my personal space. You do not touch him without express permission
- I do not need to be healed. I know you mean well and you might honestly believe that you can help me by laying hands on me and praying over me. I thank you for your concern. The problem with something like sad is that in order to have any chance of success at all both the person trying to create the healing and the person being healed have to believe it will be effective. I don’t. I mean no disrespect to your religious beliefs but they aren’t mine, never have been and never will be I have spent years working on my acceptance of self. I struggle daily to see myself as simply me rather than a defective version of myself it would be better off without any trace of disability. It’s not easy and your intentions although well-meaning only serve to undermine my somewhat fragile sense of self.
- I am not a saint. Growing up I had fights with my sister. I pulled her hair. I waited three days to bite her after she made fun of me. When I was eight I had to get my teeth wired straight because of a fall I made a big deal because I got to eat milkshakes and smoothies and ice cream for two weeks solid and she still had to eat mostly regular food. I got punched in the mouth for that and I deserved it to. She and I thought as teenagers every chance we had, I fought with my parents… A lot. My legs may not work right but I still have feet of clay. I am an ordinary person just trying to make it through life. I have challenges that you don’t and probably some coping mechanisms that you never thought of but then again I’m sure the same could be said of anyone. Do not pity me. Help me if I ask for it. Be glad when I succeed. Commiserate with me when I fail and encourage me to try again. That’s all anybody really wants from life isn’t it?
Pollyanna (1960 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I can be a very cynical person. A certain percentage of able-bodied people expect those with disabilities to have a Pollyanna attitude all the time. Pollyanna has not lived in my house on a regular basis since about the fifth grade ask my mother if you don’t believe me. Where the able-bodied community got the idea that we are perfect angels all the time I have no clue. Personally I have been known to swear and drink alcohol on occasion. Yes I am perfectly capable of sex you can ask either one of the two people standing behind me. Yes I realize that there is both a man and woman standing behind me and I’m so glad you’re smart enough to know the difference between the two. Not all disabled people choose to date others with disabilities even though you obviously think we should. Do you also think interracial marriages should still be illegal?
Why do you think it necessary to speak extra slowly to me? I promise you there is nothing wrong with my hearing or comprehension though I am beginning to wonder about yours. Please do not hurry your children away from me when they have a question. I am not a leper and treating me as such it is very hurtful. I have no intention of harming your child and they cannot catch my disorder I promise. The only thing that will result from there talking to me is a smile, an age-appropriate answer to the question, and permission to pet my Golden Retriever sidekick if they wish, nothing more.
If you see me in a store, restaurant etc. I would appreciate it if you would not address questions about me to whoever happens to be with me. Rest assured I am perfectly capable of understanding English. I am also perfectly capable of answering for myself. I realize that some people in wheelchairs often cannot do one or the other but it is impolite and presumptuous to assume. Please be advised that such an assumption is likely to elicit a smart ass, sarcastic, and/ or just plain rude response from me.
To parents shopping with children: I realize my service dog has more charm than should be legal. I also realized that he and children attract each other like magnets. Most of the time I do not mind stopping and chatting with you and your kids about him, it really does brighten my day. I do however request that you not let your children touch him without asking my permission first. He doesn’t bite and children on his favorite things in the world but I view the area that he occupies beside me as an extension of my personal space bubble and would greatly appreciate you and your children asking permission before entering it. I thank you for your consideration and politeness and taking the time to read this.
Football may be a Thanksgiving tradition for a lot of people but it’s not mine. The National Dog Show comes on after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and that is where you will find This year I had to get a little creative since we no longer have traditional TV access. We don’t have cable and because of where we live the local channels are not much more than snow and static so it was an adventure. I’m glad to say that I got to see both the parade and the dog show. I freely admit to being an armchair judge and I think I’m getting pretty good at it. The thing to remember is that the dog is not being judged against the other dogs to the ring, but on how closely they resemble the American Kennel Club‘s breed standard.
I’m actually enough of a dog geek that I bought the AKC Dog Book which has all the standards and history of the recognized grades, well most of them, the edition I have is about two years out of date. The National Dog Show Best in Show was a Wirehaired Fox Terrier, personally I disagree with the judge. Before anybody says anything, yes I have a Golden Retriever, the Golden from the Sporting Group didn’t make it to the last ring and he shouldn’t have soul I’m not just saying that because “my dog” didn’t win.
As well as resembling the breed standard there should be an extra spark, it should be obvious that the dog itself wants to win. If you don’t believe me that a show dog knows when it has won I disagree. Several years ago a 13 inch beagle named Uno won Best in Show and when it was announced that he and his handler had won he started to howl and the audience actually joined in. For me The Wirehaired Fox Terrier did not have that spark even though she was pretty technically correct, but that’s just my opinion.
Thanksgiving food is still not finished yet but for me the best part of all of it has already happened. I have said it many times, but I really don’t know what I would do without Gideon.. He is bright, cheerful, and happy. I have yet to see anything phase him and he is never been anything other than polite and friendly to strangers. I truthfully think that my New Year’s resolution is going to be too strives to be more like my dog.
voting day in a small town (Photo credit: Muffet)
It’s the day after the US Presidential Election and whether you are celebrating the result, feel like you have a hangover because of it, or have a hangover from celebrating, we could all use some levity. I voted yesterday for the first time since Gideon (my Golden Retriever service dog) has been here and it was refreshing after the political tensions of the past year to see things from his view. I voted at our City Hall and there was a line of people outside the the room where the voting machines were set up. He walked in tail wagging, politely sniffed shoes and sat down to wait our turn. While I voted he power napped under the table. When we left he gracefully accepted compliments and perfunctory pats from volunteers and voters regardless of party affiliation with a tail wag or the occasional lick. I continue to hope that one day we can express differing opinions without the verbal brawling and bloodletting that often takes place. Maybe next time the candidates will take a leaf out of their pets books while on the trail and hopefully be better for it.
I have never been an extreme Beatles fan (that title belongs to my friend Beth who has a blog here on WordPress called In Case Of Fire Use Stairs, the first time I met her at summer camp she had a scrapbook full of Beatles memorabilia that I didn’t know existed) but I think Lennon got that one right too. I never expected to break my legs or to actually have an orthopedic surgeon whose opinion I respect. That is most definitely a nice change. I never expected to have a Golden Retriever and I really didn’t expect to bond so well with a male, that’s what I get for being sexist all this time. Although a few of the surprises have been less than pleasant (we won’t go there) mostly it’s been interesting.What’s next? Just no more broken bones please.
Image by rkleine via Flickr
I know I am long overdue to post an update, better late than never and I hope anyone reading this will forgive me. I am now the owner of a purebred golden retriever who can trace his family tree at least as far back as I can.I have never had a purebred dog before I got him, believe it or not, it is quite an adjustment. The other thing that initially threw me for a loop it is the fact that the puppy is male. I had originally requested a female but fate decided to change my plans for me. So now I have Gideon, a 3 1/2 month old Golden who may very well be the smartest puppy I have ever met. I’m still adjusting to the fact that he is my dog. My mom does do things like take them outside for bathroom breaks, feed him, and cleanup the remarkably occasional accident. But Gideon is definitely my dog. I make sure that his vet appointments are kept and that everything he needs is paid for. I remind people to put his food and water down and pick it back up so the cat does not try and eat the puppy Chow which apparently cats like. The longer he is with me the more I am reminded of how much puppies and children are alike. Keeping up with him is insane at times but I think the trade-off of watching him learn and grow into his awesome potential is well worth it. Disclaimer: the Golden retriever in this picture is not Gideon.
Image via Wikipedia
To say that these past months have been hectic is barely scratching the surface.I’ve become an “executive assistant” for a friend. I am perfectly happy to use the word secretary but I’m not allowed to do that. I did get back on my medicine which definitely helps but there are still days where I have to bully myself to get out of bed. I think I know how being stuck in quicksand feels, at least emotionally. On the bright side my dad agreed to let me get a golden retriever puppy to train as my service dog, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I feel like my whole life is one long string of “hurry up and wait”. I’m trying to make the best of it though. The pups aren’t allowed to leave home for another month, June 4 to be exact. I feel as though I will explode or go crazy before then though I know I won’t. I’m not relying on myself to train the puppy, I’m paying a professional. For anybody who doesn’t know it will take somewhere between a year and a half and two years before she is fully trained and in the end it will not be exactly what most people call “cheap” by any means but if she allows me to finally move out of my parents house I consider that priceless and well worth the time and money spent.