Tuesday, December 07, 2010


"You are in a wheelchair now."

I hadn't seen him for a long while and he was startled to see the set of wheels that I travel with. We caught up with what was going on in his life. I told him what was going on in mine. He really wanted to know that I was OK that the wheelchair wasn't an indicator of ill health but that it was just how I moved now. I assured him.

Then he moved into something a little more serious and I sat and listened, interested. I waited until he was finished and then asked him a question or two more to clarify my understanding. He paused and then continued to fill me in. When done, he waited for me to speak. I took my time to think, some big things were presented to me. I had seen real growth in how he sees himself and the world he lives in. For the first time I heard concepts come out of him that were fully formed and mature, responsibility, personal choices, just consequences. Wow.

Finally I spoke up and he listened careful to what I was thinking. It was a unique kind of consultation because it was so reciprocal. It ended with him thanking me for my time, me thanking him for his.

He shook my hand and said, "You are so different now."

Without saying, I knew the 'now' meant, now that I had a disability.

I said, 'How am I different.'

He paused and said, "You listen more slowly."

I think that's the biggest compliment I've ever gotten. And if it took a wheelchair to slow my ears down, it's well worth it. Really. Well worth it.


theknapper said...


BenefitScroungingScum said...

We don't know each other Dave, but I have followed your journey through your blog since you started it, a journey I started a couple of years before you.
I just wanted to say, I'm so incredibly proud of the 'now' you. Thank you for sharing it with us all.
We are fighting battles in Britain I thought I would never see as a disabled person. The current political tide is turning against all the progress disabled people have made towards inclusion and rights the past 40 years and it breaks my heart. We're fighting alongside others at http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/ and would really, really appreciate support from the wider disabled community. If you could give us a mention we'd be ever so grateful, thanks Dave.
Best Wishes, Bendy Girl

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

And how fortunate you are that there is someone who notices that you listen more slowly. I try to get my students to understand that sometimes people with disabilities like things about the way they are in the world. But I don't think most of them are buying it. Ablism, normalism - call it what you will. It all boils down to prejudice.

Bendy Girl - I find your message distressing - undoing the progress - YIKES!!!


Kristin said...

I love that you can appreciate that type of compliment.

MoonDog said...

that is awesome!

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Collen, the 'cuts' being made to disability benefits in the UK are deeply disturbing. Entitlement will be reduced by a 5th. People who live in care homes funded by the state will no longer be allowed to receive their mobility allowance, which funds either a specialist vehicle or wheelchair. Residents of the same care home who pay for their place will continue to recieve mobility allowance, making a mockery of govt claims that the money isn't needed as the care homes provide suitable transport (they don't) This would be bad enough if it was just about vehicles but for those ppl whom the only way to fund the wheelchairs they need is this allowance may now literally be confined to their beds.
We desperately need the international disability community to shine some light on our fight here, so all support gratefully accepted, thank you BG

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
If I haven't mentioned it, I love reading your thoughts every day. It helps me to listen more slowly.
Big hugs!