I went to my favorite park today and got in four miles. This park has huge wooden bridges that cross the river, and it winds and bends through the jungle-like foliage that is Florida's lanscape with hills, and what I consider torturous terrain, but that is what I love most about it. Whenever I need a really great workout, I go to this park and get it. For the most part, the people that go there are there for the same reason I am; to get outdoors, get fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. They are friendly people who wave as they pass by, or say hello, or in today's case warn us about some wild pigs that were rooting around right off the trail. It's a sanctuary for me. Somewhere I can go to get away from it all and get in some much needed cardio at the same time. Today, however, one person had to make me see red.
Now, I know that people are curious about me. They see me in my chair and all kinds of questions arise. That's all fine and dandy, and most people keep it to themselves and go about their day wondering. Then there are those select people who have no filter, no class, and no clue. The ones who can't keep their mouths shut, and for whatever reason feel the need to satisfy their curiosity by asking me questions. Like I have nothing better to do with my day than make sure their questions are answered. Like I'm just so eager to talk about my condition, and go over that story for the one millionth time. What makes these people think that anyone like me wants to rehash what they've been through, or that we feel comfortable when a complete stranger says "are you paralyzed?", or "what happened, was it a car accident?"? Do they think we spend our days waiting to be bothered mid-workout by someone wanting to know why we're in a wheelchair?
Whatever the answers are to those questions, and why people do these things doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that I, and so many others out there like me, get left the hell alone when it comes to our disability. Hey, if we want to talk about it, we will, and even then at least we will have the courtesty to make sure you feel like hearing it.
I don't mind when people who have taken the time to get to know me first ask me questions, it's their right after they've invested the time it takes to treat me like a human being and become my friend. I do mind when a total stranger who has never seen me before stops me when I'm at the end of a very hard workout to ask me "Are you paralyzed?" Like I want to spend my cool-down time telling her no, and why.
I mean really. I don't go up to total strangers and inquire about their health. I keep to myself, do my own thing, and leave everyone else alone unless I am saying hello or greeting them with a little wave and a smile. All I want in return is the same courtesy. Ask anyone in a wheelchair, or anyone with a disability, and I guarantee they will say the same thing. Don't treat us differently, or ask us personal questions, we hate it.
Step count today: 50
Steps I'm behind: 6,581