I suffer from severe chronic back pain and over the last five years have developed arthritis in my hands and knees among other places. As I type this, my hands are aching.
There’s a line from the 2019 movie Joker that goes, “The worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”
Now, last week I posted a blog about the “Supercrip” and how people expect only positive inspirational stories to hear from people who have physical disabilities. You could almost paraphrase that as “The worst part about having a physical disability is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”
I mean, for fuck’s sake, I remember horror stories from my older teachers telling me their teachers used to smack their hands for writing left-handed. Yes, for mental illnesses, those people are truly fucked in the head to believe if corporal punishment is the correct way to change something they view as a disability.
I’m right-handed and have nothing against left-handed people even though the Latin word for it is sinister. It’s amazing how we set things up for other people based on our own qualificiations.
Today is June 28 and it would’ve been the 20th anniversary of the relationship with my ex. We met on this day on a long-defunct social media website called CollegeClub.
We celebrated in 2019 by going out to eat at Chili’s. I remember it was difficult because like many restaurants and establishments, they weren’t ADA. I had to push her in her wheelchair to the restroom and help her out as she walked in, hoping she wouldn’t fall. She had fallen at her former general physician’s office in February of 2008 because she had to use the public restroom instead of the one in the office, which they only like to be used for urine analysis.
She had fallen in the spring of 2004 while at a seminar in Albuquerque, New Mexico and some piss-poor reaction by the staff led to her having years of complications in her back where she had to quit work. She was finally granted disability in 2010.
I earlier this month received word from a law firm outside Oklahoma City they couldn’t take my appeal. My hearing in August of 2020 was a phone call because of Covid-19. I’m not saying I’m worse that my ex, but I know I am the same or worse than my stepfather when he got disability. And we were the same age range. But he appeared before a judge in person, without a lawyer.
It seems the way things are now, people don’t want to admit people have disabilities. If they do, they want it to be an inspirational story such as a quadriplegic who graduates from law school or a blind person who runs a marathon.
I was going to go exercise today but with the storms in the forecast, I decided to stay home and try tomorrow. It is hard trying to get out each day. But it was harder when my ex and I were together. It’d take about an hour to get around before we could even leave the house. If I left her alone, it usually took about half an hour to get things around.
She was on oxygen, which meant I had to load the bottles in the car along with everything else. If I went out, I made sure a bottle was nearby if the power went out as her oxygen ran on power. This had happened one time when the power went out and she was in a lift chair recliner and I was away at the store.
But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I took care of her because that’s what you do when you’re in a relationship. It’s one thing the parasites at my last job could never understand or just didn’t want to. In some way, I think it embarrassed them when she would show up to company-wide events mainly when we had the annual newspaper contests outside OKC.
For legal reason, I’m not going to say any names, but just to say I was the news editor of the Wagoner Tribune.
I got the same feeling from family on both sides, hers and mine. I don’t know why it is, but too many family members seem to act like having someone with a physical disability is bad thing. It sucks we got more help from our neighbors than we did from family.
Now, I’m not going to get into the details of why we’re not together. It was a lot of things that I’m not going to post here. I will say it got to a point where my own health was becoming worse. I wasn’t sleeping much. Being a caregiver isn’t easy for able-bodied people.
But I would still do it and do it for anyone else I’m in a relationship with.
I’m in a current relationship with a person from my past but I will leave it at that. I’ve thought what could’ve been if we had gotten together years ago, but it’s pointless. Would I haven’t hurt my back? I don’t know.
But I’m always in the belief that the door swings both ways. I’m not one of these small-town burn-outs who always thinks things would’ve been better if he had hit that game-winning homerun or threw one more touchdown pass to win the game.
People like that don’t realize that playing a sport has those outcomes and they never really expected anything else but for them to always win.
People who live in the past don’t want to change things for the future. And we have too many people still stuck in the past in this country and in this world.
I’ve come to the realization that the powers that be at my high school screwed me over in many ways but that’s life. I’m no longer there. I had a 93 percent average. I took AP and Honors courses and passed them as well as the AP tests. I was in the marching band, drama, literary magazine and academic team. Yet, I still wasn’t named an Outstanding Senior. Sometimes daddy’s money plays a role as well as the bureaucrats in school offices have their pets.
I still got into college. I still graduated with a 3.38 GPA. I worked two or three part-time jobs. People always have their favorites. And people always will try to cut you down.
My senior year in high school, they wanted me to take physics and calculus, even though I had fulfilled my science and math credits. They ended up sticking many of us in a bullshit class called Senior Math that really was just Algebra. Even the teacher didn’t like having to do it. Most of the tests were 10 random equations he would pick out of the textbook and write on the board. Yes, he seemed to give zero fucks.
Things didn’t always go smoothly in college and my first job at the Americus Times-Recorder was so bad, I was glad to get out. If I stayed any longer, I would’ve had a heart attack at 24. If I didn’t leave the Wagoner Tribune, I would’ve definitely had a heart attack by age 36
And despite my GPA, I had a few people say, “Oh, you’re just a journalism major!” So, what? People always want to cut others down when they feel insecure or their lives are inadequate.
But that’s because they’re still living in some ideology that by the time you’re 42, my age, you should have X, Y, and Z and if you don’t, you’re a failure.
“Failure” is a stupid word and it should be an even worse F-word than fuck, but failure is basing your goals, accomplishments and even life on what others expect.
I admit, I may have gotten upset in my 20s or even 30s seeing people I grew up with more successful, but I never knew their whole story. Hell, for all I know, they’re putting on appearances and have two or three dozen credit cards maxed out.
And yes, college isn’t for everyone. My youngest granddaughter graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Her brother went to Tulsa Tech and got into drafting and now is operating a forklift for a Kimberly-Clark subsidy.
One of my friends graduated from the University of Georgia Law School and now works in the Baltimore-DC area as a gym fitness instructor. And I’ve written thousands of stories and if you were to ask me which one I am most proud of, it is a story about an animal shelter.
Why an animal shelter? Well, I took a picture of a dog, a lab if I remember, at the shelter. Someone say it and told a friend or neighbor it looked like their dog that had been missing. They went down and got their furbaby out.
That dog has probably crossed Rainbow Bridge years ago but a family was reunited.
The happiest person I ever met was a school custodian.
And this is for all you graduates of 2021, you should set your own goals. You don’t owe your parents anything. They want to put their hero complex on a pedestal. Nothing you do will ever satisfy them. And if you’ve seen what’s happening with Britney Spears, the purpose of having children is to make the world a better place, not to view your child as a retirement annuity that will buy you a boat or a new car.
And you’ll have many people who’ll try to put the screws to you. They’ll throw things up in your face. They’ll say things that don’t make sense. You don’t have to work in a toxic environment just because your parents did. It is possible to work at a job that you enjoy.
And for those people who want to tell you what you can and can’t do, I’ve had more people who I just met show me for caring and sympathy than people I’ve known for many years. I don’t know why it is, but they see me with a cane, people are ready to help, open doors and just be nice.
Yet, someone else will say something stupid like, “You’ll feel better if you just lose a little weight and do more stretch exercise.”
You can choose your friends and you can choose your family. I don’t care what anyone says. Family members and friends shouldn’t put guidelines up. Blood relations don’t mean much if you’re willing to cheat people over.
I wouldn’t wish my worst enemies to have one day of the pain I’m in. But sadly, I do believe in karma and I know eventually, the universe seems to unfold as it should and sometimes people get what they deserve even if they don’t want it.
Life is a journey not a destination. You choose your own path. You choose your own rest stops. You choose your own points of interest to stop and observe.