What Did You Do To Yourself?

9 September 2016

I went into a shop the other day (to get brownie supplies) with my brother, both of us in wheelchairs wrestling with those ridiculous trolleys that attach to your chair. The woman on the checkout asked us what we'd done. It took me a while to process and realise she meant why were we in wheelchairs and not what we had done with our day. When I replied that we had a genetic condition she got super embarrassed and immediately blurted out that the weather was nice. Just a tad awkward.

Why is it that when people see a wheelchair or crutches they immediately think it's something we've done to ourselves. We must have done something dangerous or silly and it's all our fault that we need a mobility aid. Why does a disability have to be someone's fault? That's not how disabilities work

Even if someone is disabled because of an accident this does not mean it is their fault.

My disability is no one's fault. It's a mutation in my genes that no one could do anything about. It's just something I am. I am disabled and I didn't do anything to myself. I am also extremely fabulous.

Every time I wear a splint I get "ooh what have you done to yourself this time?". Umm nothing. I just got out of bed and my ankle was hurting. I thought I could write and my wrist is now angry. My knee is refusing to stay in place today. I dislocated my finger turning on the light. It's just how my body is. It's not something I do to it.

Can we please stop with the what have you done to yourself questions. They are ridiculous and just make it awkward for everyone involved when you don't get the juicy answer you were looking for. Made worse when the person asking freaks out at the mention of a genetic condition. People need wheelchairs for all sorts of reasons. Paralysis is a very small percentage of those reasons. People use crutches for things other than breaks and sprains.

Also not everyone is comfortable talking about their health and why they need their various mobility aids. Anxiety is pretty common in the chronically ill community and being questioned by strangers can be very intimidating.  It is not your right to know because you're curious.

If you have any genuine questions about disability, ehlers danlos syndrome and wheelchairs then I am more than happy to answer as long as you are polite.

Beth...x

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