Crutches and Canes and Prejudices, Oh My!

I do not care if the doctor thinks a walker is safer. I’m NOT going to use a walker- even for a little while. NO WAY. I said full of contempt, as  I wobbled past them.

I also don’t care if it has pretty pink and teal paisley or even leopard print, it’s still: a cane. People will think I’m handicapped. They will think this is permanent!  They’ll think there’s something wrong with me! (Forget the fact that there IS something wrong with me..)

Reluctantly, I picked up a cane and put it in my pharmacy cart anyway. (You know you’re in trouble if you need a cart at the pharmacy…) The pain in my knee was screaming that maybe I could use it just around the house.

Next, I headed towards the crutches… I don’t care if they do bruise my armpits to the color of eggplants. At least they look like I had a sports injury… not something more permanent. (Or like my weight blew out my kneee….. oy. It could happen…)  Besides.. I know how to walk on crutches without injuring myself….

So, for the past 10 days, I’ve been switching between the two. Honestly- the crutches are better in a lot of ways, but I hate to admit the doctor was right- they fall down, constantly. Bending down to pick them up is a herculean effort against pain. Blah. The walker may be better, but I just can’t do it…I am vain. (I know, I know, who knew? Zip it.. I’m having a revelation, here…:P)

Being injured  has given me lots of time to reflect. (Update: Diagnosis  Tore some cartilage and a have a loverly stress fracture. 4 weeks on crutches for now, we’ll decide on a treatment plan for the cartilage, later. The plan will prolly not involve a cartilage piercing..it’s pretty much already there- minus the bling.  just sayin.’  ) Mostly, I’ve reflected on the “poor me” side of things. But yesterday, as I was working on my  “A Mile in Her Shoes” book proposal, I had a tug at my heart.

Am I prejudiced about people with permanent handicaps/special needs?

I didn’t think so… and yet, I did not want to be mistaken for one.

So-What’s my problem?  What if I had to limp like this permanently?  I’ve never been particularly graceful so there’s not a huge loss there… aside from the pain, would it really be that big a deal?

Here’s the ugliness I found while digging through my heart today with crutches and canes and walker aversions….

1) I hate being needy.  (My friends know this is NOT a news flash or a revelation) Being limited physically, is partly hard because it means I need HELP.  I do not like NEEDING help. I like GIVING help.

2) I hate being thought of as needy.  Yup, this is different. I want people to think I’m capable and independent.   I am currently: Not.  I need extra time to do everything. I can limp about for around 20 minutes then I need to prop and ice or heat the lameness… There are some things I can’t do, (or at least, that I shouldn’t) at all.

3) I guess the truth is I am prejudiced (to some degree) against those with handicaps. (I don’t even think that’s a PC term… I hope someone will school me on the proper word to use;) Not in the “I’m better than you- or I think you’re stupid” way…..more so, in the: “I think you need, and should accept my help,” kind of way.

Prejudiced? Well, if I prejudge others as needy (which I hate) I also pre-judge them as needing my help. Maybe even as expecting or wanting my help…I act like my help is a huge joy in their life because I’m so considerate…. (I am helpful.  I hold doors, I make eye contact when others avoid it… blah blah blah….) What if I’m really, just annoying? I hadn’t thought of that.

What if I’m not the only one who hates this feeling needy?  What if it would be better to ask, than to always try to be helpful? What if I accepted a “no thanks” to my offer of help with respect, instead of acting like the person is being stubborn? (Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe they are holding onto their independence, like I need/want to?)

I feel a little like I’m walking a tightrope, trying to balance doing what I can, and accepting help when I need to. It’s awkward. I lean too far from one extreme to the other. What if this is what’s it’s like for others… everyday?  It’s exhausting.

Here’s the thing: What if I always limp? (I won’t, I’m just thinking aloud here..) Am I less capable, because I have limitations?  Am I less valuable because I need help?

I don’t think so. The truth is none of us were made to be able to do it on our own. We were created to work together. We’re supposed to be interdependent, not independent.

I may be able to do less….. But, I think I’m starting to understand more… about what it’s like to limp a mile in the shoes of a mom who has special needs….

Questions:

Are you a special needs mom?  Do you feel other moms are prejudiced towards you?

What challenges do you face?

What frustrates you?

How can other moms be compassionate without being prejudiced?

Have you ever caught yourself pre-judging a mom with special needs? How can you catch your prejudices before they become bigotries? (*See my post: confessions of a mommy bigot)

Dear Lord, First, I thank you for helping me gain some perspective through this knee injury.  I pray for all the moms who struggle with pain and mobility issues everyday. I pray that we’d learn to respect our unique challenges without prejudice.  That we’d listen and learn from each other and earn to connect and love each other. Oh.. and Lord?  I’d really like to be able to walk without pain…. I ask you to continue the healing you’ve begun, and to help me stumble along the tightrope of doing what I can, and allowing others to help, Amen.

3 thoughts on “Crutches and Canes and Prejudices, Oh My!

  1. Christina says:

    I love the post Tracey!!! Especially for the need of fiber! Amen!

  2. Lisa H. says:

    I have rheumatoid arthritis, have been diagnosed for 5 years, probably had it since high school. I have three boys under the age of 9. People walk past me every day thinking that I look and seem normal, but I work really hard to keep up this impression. I spend hours getting ready for a little one hour steering meeting and hours later resting afterward. I take 11 pills a day, on good days, more on bad, and two shots a month to help me along this path of not seeming weak, not seeming like I need help, not seeming (here, I’ll say it) disabled.

    Your last post had me in tears because that lack of concentration writing, the difficulty of basic mom work, the plethora of mobility aids, the constant search for a position that’s comfortable, that wondering when the pain would recede…that is every day for me. Every day of the last 10 years and every day of the foreseeable future.

    But I am so fortunate, too. I have insurance that covers most of my medications, a family that surrounds me with love regardless of my defects, friends that are willing to pick up my slack when times are rough, and a God that constantly finds ways for me to feel like I’m giving back to others, regardless of my own troubles, shining His light of love on me.

  3. Lisa, this experience has given me a hole new respect/ appreciation for your experience. I hope you’ll help me as I get to this chapter in the book proposal…

    things to think about:
    how can we (moms- MOPS esp) make it safe for moms to be honest and not have to keep up the supermom- I can do it all by myself..even if it hurts, impression?

    How can we be helpful, without making others feel incapable?

    hugs. and praying for you… and asking you to pray for me too.

    one thing thats esp hard- is needing my kids help…. it kind of feels like I’m failing as a mom when I ask for their help, or have to say “no” to something because.. well, I can’t do it. (like waterpark, and stuff like that, cause i’m in pain…)

    is that part of an ongoing issue too?

    I could see a benefit of my kids being more independent… but that would be long term, which is kind of hard to see in the middle of all this:(

    thnx for speaking up- love ts

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