Today, I wanted to talk about my disability, it’s a subject I’ve been very passionate about, but have yet to speak out in regards of my own personal experience. What triggered this blog was this past fall I met a gentleman who came to see me from out of state for a business meeting, he noticed I was walking with a limp and without hesitation he asked, “Why are you limping? Is that from your trafficking?” At first I was a bit startled because I was use to people seeing me limp, but was afraid to ask, afraid to offend me or afraid they would trigger a traumatic past that warranted my disability. So, when he asked me those questions I wasn’t offended at all, it allowed me to educate him about my disability.
I drive around with a handicap plaquard and when I see others seeing me pull up, they stare at me especially people who assume I’m misusing the system. I have lived with my defect since birth 1975, but I didn’t obtain my handicap plaquard til 2010, it literally took me YEARS to get a doctor to give me the plaquard. I didn’t get approved for disability for my defect. My condition is not common that even doctors have been scratching their heads trying to figure out what is wrong with me. The medical term for my condition is “Hip Dysplasia” that is commonly known in dogs than in humans. I’ve had doctors treat my condition like a patient who had been in a car accident. Stitch me up and I’ll be normal in 3-6 months, but no not mine. I’ve had to educate doctors all my life regarding my conditions so they could refer to the right doctor who would take his time to study my condition, listen to my concerns and we can learn to cope with this problem together. When you see photos of me you wouldn’t see disabled across my face, it’s because I don”t allow myself to be labled, but medically speaking I am.
Since I’ve started my activism work in domestic violence and child abuse one of the issues I noticed we never discuss is “Disabled Persons who’s been victimized by violence.” I kept thinking to myself of all the resources I’ve received no one ever asked me about my disability, if my defect was ever a factor in the abuse. I remember being beaten by one of my abusers and when he threatened to break my legs, because my legs were my strong point of coping with what I had left, I would beg to comply. I remember that ultimate fear of never walking again. Going from wheelchair, walker and being able to walk independently the fear of going back to that wheelchair frightened me.
I can’t speak for others coping with disability, but for me I see it as an opportunity to educate those who are curious. I was born with a congenital defect that deteriated my joints and causes me to have arthritis pain. Depending on the weather, moisture in the air and the climate my joints can go from very little pain to extreme pain. I was born with this defect so automatically I’ve learned to adapt to it. I don’t treat myself as a “disabled ” person because I don’t allow my physical mobility to stop me from accomplishing anything that I have my sights set on. My birth defect doesn’t just affect my joints, but also my sight, my breathing and my respiratory problems along with my health. I was never given a pamphlet of what I need to be aware of with my condition, I had to learn what my own limits were. I’ve lived in hospitals with repeated surgeries most of my childhood life, I’ve even had doctors concerned about the outcome of the surgery and was worried I would not be able to walk, but I defeated all odds. I may not be a track runner, but I am standing, walking and still moving forward.
I’m sharing this because, I want to allow my readers to be open minded when you see someone who says they are disabled and you can’t see it, doesn’t mean they don’t have it. In the year 2015, I plan to talk more about my disability and violence and start a new topic to talk about. Thank you for being my faithful readers.