Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Point of View

I like looking at things from another point of view. Over Thanksgiving, I sprained my ankle very badly. I was messing around in my garage and I went back into an alcove, which is 18 inches above the garage floor, and started digging into piles of stuff to take with me when I turned and done the floor and stepped down rather harshly on my foot.

I crashed down on the floor. And literally saw stars. I dragged myself to the living room and plopped down on the couch. I thought I would be able to get up in a few minutes, but I was wrong. After a few minutes, I put my foot down and pulled myself up, but even with the cane, I quickly realized that I really didn't want to walk. So off we went to the emergency room. I knew from previously working in a hospital that going to the emergency room early on Thanksgiving would be the best time to go. Much later, everybody has been eating and drinking and slipping and falling, getting in fights or car accidents, and then sitting around and thinking about whether they wanted to go to the emergency room or not maybe for a few more hours and then they all come rolling in the ER at once. You know how a restaurant near a ball field gets slammed with customers after a big game? So do emergency rooms get slammed with patients on the evening of a big holiday. Word to the wise, get there early, before the crush.

Went to the ER, and x-rays taken, and was told that I sprained ankle. I got some crutches and went on my way. I husband and I decided to continue to go on our vacation. We had planned to go away to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay for The holiday. There is a lovely resort in Rosehaven right on the bay. We drove for a few hours and then we checked into the hotel. The hotel was very nice about me not being able. They gave us handicap parking even though I'm technically not a handicapped person and we don't have handicap license plates. They drummed up a wheelchair and my husband pushed me into the room. Hubby was very nice to me that weekend and took care like the best the of nurses: he iced my foot, taped it up, elevated it, etc., all the good things that a nurse would do for a wounded foot. He was an excellent morale officer. We took a nice little ride on the dock with the wheelchair and I saw that the ducks preening and flapping and the boats bobbing up and down. It was really really beautiful...there is nothing like being on the breakfronts of the bay.

I paddled my wheelchair around the grounds by myself , as well. Being a nice resort like spot, this place gets its share of wedding parties. A lot of people like to come for their weddings and rent out rooms with large picture windows for their bridal suite. These parties usually involve copious amounts of alcohol and loud rowdy behavior. Bachelors came rolling in primed, each with their bottle of beer already uncorked. Someone apparently saw me and made some not very flattering remark relating to the fact that I was in a wheelchair. I couldn't really hear it but I heard the response along the lines you could end up like yourself, too.

My first response was to say, "hey, I'm NOT HANDICAPPED! I JUST HAD A NASTY FALL. I'LL BE ON MY FEET IN A FEW WEEKS. I'M NOT NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE". I seriously considered rolling up to one of the yahoos and explaining my situation.

This response made me think a lot about myself. Why was my first reaction to disown kinship with the handicapped? What's wrong with not being completely whole as the average person defines it? What is it about group identification and how we define it? We make categories and stick people into them. Us and Not Us.

In fact, someone reading my blog could make a pointed remark about my invisible disabilities and how I should show more empathy towards the handicapped as I among myself.

I think my secret hope has been that by doing all my therapies that I will be "cured" and no longer part of the handicapped. At this point, I have gotten out of the autistic world (if I was ever truly part of it). There's a lot of questions about the validity of the assessment that led to that diagnosis. Maybe the differential in verbal vs performance IQ has more to do with vision and occular motor skill problems than a real diagnosis of a nonverbal learning disorder. Correct the vision and the performance IQ goes up adn the diagnosis of nonverbal learning disorder goes away. On another level despite the diagnosis, I never really felt a kinship with THOSE PEOPLE. I really never felt a connection with that category of humanity. Along with many of my therapists, I never felt like the diagnosis fit.

Another diagnosis is ADHD. I am not sure about it. There is a lot of overlap and misdiagnoses between eye problems such as convergence insufficiency and ADHD. Think about it. If you have an eye problem where it is hard for your eyes to fixate on a target such as a light flickering on and off (part of the ADHD test suite), you aren't going to score well. Ditto for ocular motor problems like hitting the switch when you should. Same for hearing. There's a lot of overlap and confusion between auditory processing disorder and ADHD.

But when I think about my rejection of autism and how I just don't want tobe with a bunch of people who have a reputation for not getting along with the rest of humanity, I'm just not too proud of myself. It's one thing not to like a diagnosis for not being a good fit and quite another for not acknowledging the humanity of another bunch of people.

I don't have the same problem with ADHD. It seems to fit better. ADHD seems a bit mad cap with the potential to unwittingly annoy people. I don't know whether the diagnosis is going to be correct so we shall see. But maybe when I think of my experiences on a wheelchair or with diagnoses of autism, I'll approach things with more humility.