My response to the MDA blog: Are You Hurt?
I'm glad Jaclyn is telling her story. The world tends to display ignorance when it comes to sharing space with someone who is different from them. Bringing awareness is important not only for those who are walking this road, but for future generations of people who will also seek the respect and acceptance they deserve.
I couldn't begin to guess how many times I've been approached with questions like "What did you do to have to be using crutches/cane/wheelchair?" or "Uh oh, you're walking with a gimp limp, what happened?" or "What's wrong with you?"
And then there are the people who refer to me as "crippled", or "gimpy", or who poke fun at me. One person looked me up and down one day with a smug look and said "Okay?" like I was some kind of freak. A man and woman actually followed behind me in a mall one day, mocking me under their breath, thinking I couldn't hear them.
I bet they'd raise hell if the tables were turned, but you see, people don't care unless it's happening to them.
I think it's vital to educate the public about rare and debilitating diseases. For that reason, I am very vocal about my condition, and I am more than happy to talk to someone who is genuine and respectfully inquisitive. In fact, I thank them when they ask. There is a big difference between them and the people I referred to above.
Words have the power to help or hurt. I may not always remember the names or faces of the people who say these things, but I certainly remember what they said. We could all stand to turn on our brains before opening our mouths sometimes. The world would be better if we did.