Friday, March 23, 2012

Cough Syrup Haze

For the last couple of weeks Joe has had this 'bug' which has had him coughing to the point of near exhaustion. He's finally getting over it.

And I'm getting it.

I thought I'd gotten through it unscathed, but last night I felt that horrid 'tickle' at the back of the throat and now almost twenty four hours later, the cough is firmly in place.

Great.

I can only speak for myself here, because I've never talked to others with disabilities about this - however, I find colds and, heaven forfend, the flu - disrupt my life much more than my disability does. After four years my disability has almost stopped being disabling and become more like a lifestyle. I've learned how to adapt to my environment and, when possible, adapted teh environment to me. I go to work. I go to the movies. I go out for a beer. I do stuff. Typical stuff.

I think that when people say, 'I'd rather be dead than in a wheelchair,' they are thinking that all people who use wheelchair do is sit around in wheelchairs. And that's actually true. But we sit in them in theatres, in bars, in restaurants, in churches, in offices - in all the places that they are already sitting round in! The only difference is, I'm always guarenteed a seat because I bring mine with me. It isn't a life of 'suffering' at all, it's a life of adaption that rapidly becomes familiar.

But.

Having a cold. Or, heaven forfend, the flu.

That impacts my life in a powerful way. It's uncomfortable. It's messy.

Even sitting hurts.

And yet, oddly, I've never heard anyone say, 'I'd rather be dead than have a cold.' Oh, yeah, you might think, but you get over colds, you get over the flu and then it's back to normal.

Well the same can be said for becoming a wheelchair user.

I think the same can be said for many types of disability.

I don't see people with Down Syndrome having Down Syndrome all the time.

I remember speaking to someone with Cerebral Palsy who said, 'I wish people would understand I don't experience Cerebral Palsy all the time. It's part of who I am, true, but it isn't a constant lived experience. I'm a woman all the time too, but I don't experience my feminity every moment of the day. Gender just is. Disability just is. Each come into focus throughout my day, every day, but neither is the focus of each and every day."

Having a cold.

Having, heaven forfend, the flu.

Becomes a focus.

Like it is for me now. And if this post is completely off the mark - remember, I'm sick.

27 comments:

Team Lando said...

At one year old, I'm pretty sure my daughter with DS would agree. She sailed through two major surgeries, and has therapy three times a week.

For her, it's teething. Ruins her life for weeks.

Celine said...

Agreed. I have Type 1 diabetes and have learned to live with it.. But when I get real people sick - that totally sucks!

Feel better soon.

Jen said...

Great you always have a seat wherever you go :)

John R. said...

Feel better!! and..... I would rather be a Republican Senator than have a cold or heaven forbid the flu!!

Agreed with your points....cough syrup haze not withstanding...

Anonymous said...

OHHHH Celine.."Real People Sick" You gonna get it now :)
Just teasing
Donna

Kristin said...

For someone in a cough syrup haze, you've written a remarkably on point post.

Hope you feel better soon.

ivanova said...

Feel better!

joanne said...

well said! Having a mental health issue doesn't always make a person "sick" either.

hope you feel better soon

Hugh Campkin said...

Get well soon, Dave!

liz said...

Get well soon! And thank you for posting this.

Mary said...

With all deference to your cough syrup haze, I think this is one of the differences between "illness" disability (often invisible, often with a range of symptoms) and "static" disability (where you're dealing with roughly the same parameters every day). Think the difference between deteriorating relapsing/remitting MS compared to having a limb amputated - it's not a question of "more" or "less" disabled, but only one of those is *illness*.

I do all right with colds. Because non-disabled people *understand* colds. If, oozing and wheezing and coughing and sneezing, I croak an apologetic "sorry, I can't do XYZ activity because I have a stinky cold," nobody argues or persuades or tries to get me to spend a fortune on hokey therapies - they usually ask if I need anything, express a hope that I feel better soon, and leave me to it.

I simply don't experience that level of understanding (or respect, or offers of practical assistance) when I look and sound just fine but have to explain that tonight I can manage dinner or a film but not both.

On the bright side, I already have shopping delivery and a seat in the shower and microwave meals and, frankly, some decent painkillers, so I don't suffer quite as much with colds as I otherwise would.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Feel better soon!

Colleen

Andrea S. said...

I'm guessing from today's absence that you're still feeling poorly. Rest up, feel well, drink fluids, and take care.

Tamara said...

Like Andrea said - hope you're feeling better soon!

wheeliecrone said...

I'll just add my good wishes to all the others, Dave. A rotten cold or cough or, heaven forbid, flu, is exactly that - rotten.
I hope that you feel better soon.

Myrr said...

Get well soon Dave

Real Landry said...

I hope you feel better Dave. Lots of lingering bugs going around.It is so true how many people think about being in a wheelchair as a negative and major problem in your life when really you are able to go and enjoy yourself almost anywhere you want, and as someone else said,your always gauranteed a seat. Keep up the good work on educating people about individuals with exeptionalities and helping people to understand.

Real Landry said...

I hope you feel better Dave. Lots of lingering bugs going around.It is so true how many people think about being in a wheelchair as a negative and major problem in your life when really you are able to go and enjoy yourself almost anywhere you want, and as someone else said,your always gauranteed a seat. Keep up the good work on educating people about individuals with exeptionalities and helping people to understand.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

for me having a cold or a flu is something that adds to me being uncomfortable with my disability.

Having problems to breath and being tired every day and than having a cold is always very exhausting.

I hope you and Joe get better soon!!! Sending good vibes and best wishes!

Julia

John R. said...

Ok..Dave....Been two days...no post....some of us are worried! The bug must have kicked some butt!! I just hope you are basking in a continued cough syrup haze and that not much more serious stuff is happening!

Looking forward to next installment...

Get well!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ditto to what John R. said! If you're just still sick ... then keep on resting up! Be well!

Andrea S.

hj wallace said...

Hope you're feeling better soon.

Joyfulgirl said...

Hope you feel better soon

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Its been a couple of days since you blogged. You must feel awful. I am with John r - concerned.

Feel better soon
Colleen

Shan said...

Dave, I'm glad you're taking time to recover. See you when you're better!

Anonymous said...

Hope you feel better soon.
L

Jen Daisybee said...

Very well said! I have a chronic physical illness that has been disabling at times and at other times has been just something I lived with that didn't affect me quite as much, even though I still have the disability. I also have a mental illness, that, when it was untreated, was horribly debilitating and destroyed my life almost completely. Today, I still have that mental illness, but thanks to appropriate treatment, it doesn't stop me from living my life and being happy and having fulfillment. I really appreciate your blog. It is very poignant.