I was chatting, yesterday, with someone who almost literally bumped into me. I had come to a stop, she was texting on the phone and walking quickly towards me, I called out but she couldn't hear me because she had ear phones stopping all natural sound. She looked up at the last minute, veered to the side, and laughed. "I've read on your blog how much you hate when people aren't paying attention." I smiled, trying to be civil because she's right, it really annoys me.
She then launched into a friendly conversation with me. Her job with a local service provider is rewarding but frustrating, her 'clients' are teaching her more than she teaches them ... and the like. It was in college that she'd started reading by blogs and one of her teachers had required the whole class to read a particular blog and come to class prepared to debate for or against my position.
After a few minutes she said that I was quieter than she expected me to be. I had thawed out during her chat, she was quite charming. I told her that I'd not been feeling well and that I'm taking a whack of anti-biotics and they always leave me feeling quite nauseous.
I expected, I don't know, something along the 'hope you feel better soon' vein.
What I got was quite different.
She said that she was a faithful reader of my blog and she hadn't read anything about me being under the weather. I told her that I don't write about every aspect of my life, only the ones that really fit with the theme of the blog AND of course the ones I wish to keep private, I keep private. To me there was no 'story' in being unwell.
I could tell she wasn't buying what I was saying. She nodded, a little curtly, and moved on. She clearly was angered that this bit of medical information wasn't up on display on my blog.
At first I thought that this was about how she, and often others, see this blog. It is a personal blog, true, but it's also a blog with an agenda. I write this blog to say things about my experience or the experiences of others in living with disability. To me this is an endlessly fascinating topic.
Then I thought that maybe something else is going on here. I thought of all the intrusive questions I get, from strangers, about my disability, my weight, my health - information that people feel that I somehow owe them. Like I am under obligation to explain to them intimate details of my body and my health simply because they have a right to know and I have the duty of explanation. I am, of course, always clear, in my response about boundaries.
Yes, I am on anti-biotics right now. No, it has nothing to do with my disability. Last time I looked, the line up at the pharmacy was full of walking people. I know two people, right now, normals, who are also on anti-biotics. Not everything I experience is directly related to my disability.
I got sick. I'm getting better. Wow, that's a bit of a dull story.
Privacy, and the right to privacy, is still, obviously, a struggle for people to understand when the person claiming the right has a disability. The public nature of our disability does not mean that we are required to be public about the nature of our lives.
I remember, a few years ago, when having tea with friends, a woman sitting down at a table beside us. She broke into our conversation to ask me why I used a wheelchair, what my diagnosis was. I told her that this was private information. She said, "That's OK, I'm a nurse." My friends were shocked at the woman's question and the fact that she felt free to enter into a conversation, between friends, to ask a question that was none of her business. They were also surprised at how offended she was, how she presented herself as a victim of my mood, because I, politely, told her that it was none of her concern.
I was shocked at their shock.
It happens fairly regularly.
So now you all know that I've been sick these last few days. You'll see me out and about because I get bored sitting around. The pills make me nauseous but a friend recommended Kefir as a drink that might help with the 'watery mouth' and the churning guts ... and it really does.
To the woman I met yesterday: NOW there IS a story.