An invisible physical disability
Are you like me? I suffer from an invisible physical disability.
Do these statements sound familiar? “Crikey I didn’t know you were disabled”. Or maybe someone said “You don’t look disabled”. Sometimes it’s even “You look healthy”, and then they deserve a slap.
An invisible physical disability
Millions of us in Briton have a hidden disability. Only a tiny percentage use wheelchairs, assistance dogs, or can be identified by visible evidence of impairment. I’m one of them.
What it’s like to be physically disabled?
The easiest way to describe it is not being able to do something that other people take for granted. Mine is also progressive so the strategy to cope with it is constantly evolving.
Here are some things that either I cannot do or find very very difficult
- Run for a bus
- Carry a tray of glasses
- Go to the loo and have a pee
- Button up the cuffs of a shirt
I know my problems will get worse, I only survive by being an ostrich but I digress.
Sit down and have a chat with me
You would not realise that I am disabled. The moment I stand up you will see that my legs don’t work properly. Luckily I have not had any abuse hurled at me.
Is this because of where I live? Its a very middle class town. I know it would be different in other parts of the country.
I do have a lot of sympathy for are those who have a disability and you cannot see anything obvious. Often it’s a bowel or bladder issue.
Does it take courage to use a disabled toilet?
I found it difficult to admit that I always have to use a disability toilet. I suspect my mobility scooter deflects any criticsm. Anyone can get a radar key and often people coming out of a disability loo look healthy. Parking in a disability parking space requires a ‘Blue Badge’, it tells people that you are disabled.
You see someone coming out of a disability toilet and how do you know if they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis or they are just taking the mickey. Do you ask them if they are disabled?
Love her or hate her
Our new PM has got type 1 diabetes, a progressive autoimmune disease. I think there is nothing worse than suffering from an invisible physical disability.
hidden disability, don’t look disabled, look healthy, autoimmune disease
I am so grateful to find you all discussing this problem as I have it and I look so healthy except for the way I walk and the speed I walk. Its too long and boring to go through all my problems I do take 22 tablets each day and use a TENS machine most times when I am out. The tablet that was most effective in pain management was taken away from me because it could cause ulcers, which I never suffered from. Some people have been absolutely rude to me. Some have been caring. I don’t live in a posh area, I live in a very poor area and it seams they all make extra money off “telling on you” I call them the vigilantes, they know how far to go and it makes me look silly when I report to the police, people have been in my home without my permission while I have been on holiday and left things. I do travel with my medical records and my prescription I wont just show them to anyone but like the poor man at the airport I would definitely recommend following Patricks advice. If I had to explain it all to those people it would make me cry at having to face it all together when I am looking forward to having a nice holiday or outing to forget have a normal life for a change. One of my conditions is osteoporosis so when the sun is shining I like to drag my lounger into my back garden and rather lying in bed I go out and lie in the sunshine and think of the sun building up my vitamin D so help absorb my vitamin C. One chap who must have visited the house that backs on to mine stopped his vehicle outside the front of my house when I was out there and shouted out of his car “You would do better going out to work than spending all your time sunbathing” he was so cross. I don’t like going into my front garden any more it used to be a pleasure as in the summer the sun is there from early morning rather than having to sit in the after noon sun in the back garden. I used a stick and have progressed to a Travel Scoot it has been great this seems to upset some people because I go out on my good day I take 2 anti inflammatory and my TENS on and go around the shops with my make up on and a big smile on my face and dressed nicely some of the sales assistance are openly rude about my health and advise on me not being disabled. Enough I am going through a bad time with looking healthy and hurting and suffering badly and will only get worse. I have never claimed to be paralysed. I don’t want to move bungalows like mine are hard to find.
Sometimes its tricky but it is your life so ENJOY, ENJOY ENJOY.
Travelscoot, its a great little number enjoy that as well.
Thank you Patrick for responding, I do enjoy my life. i honestly feel it starts with us . Why should we even think to wonder if some one has a right to take a leak in that toilet, or to sit on that seat.. If we even stop to wonder we cannot judge the people who question our ability/disability.
You just have to get on and do it
Chuffed that we are highlighting this rather difficult subject!
Its about increasing awareness
Love your article. Profound and pertinent.
I have found myself asking the same question of,” How do you know someone is not disabled or otherwise, by sight alone. Yesterday, a lone father with a buggy and baby girl had to use the Disabled Toilet…and this was obvious as to why he used the ONE only disabled toilet in the Shopping Centre. I struggle with having to justify my need for help for example Airports, where they judge by how you look. Recently, in Glasgow, I’d been placed in a wheelchair, and at the Security check, the Woman Officer DEMANDED that I remove my shoes, walk barefoot through the Scanner. I have Special shoes…which are not easy to put on.
Needless to say, I broke down and wanted to cancel the flight. I explained to her the reason I was in a Wheelchair. I was deeply embarrassed and I was sobbing. I chose not to complain afterwards as I was too exhausted. I just wanted to return to Essex, where I live.
The Offending Security apologised profusely, but I still suffer the consequences of her actions.
I’ve not flown to Glasgow since, where my son and Grandchild live. My confidence has been totally stripped away.??
Disabled toilets also have nappy changing facilitied but knowing that the system is not being abused is a tricky one.
As regards the problem with the airport it might be an idea to get a letter from your consultant or GP explaining the problem with the shoes. I have to wear an FES (Functional Electrical Stimulator) its an electrical device that sets the security device off so the consultant gave me a letter explaining what I have to wear and why. The secret is try to look forward and not look back