There are all sorts of questions that you get asked when you are disabled or not quite how people think you should be, many from complete strangers. You wouldn’t believe most of them and they are certainly questions that I would never dream of asking complete strangers. For some reason though people seem to think that if you have some feature that stands out, then it is their right to ask you about it. I am not sure when this became acceptable or normal, maybe it always has been but it is something that is actually quite intrusive. I genuinely don’t think the people asking the question are trying to be intrusive, I think they are trying to show caring but it seems to get lost - or maybe I just take offence to easily. You would think that the worst question to be asked is ‘what’s wrong with you’ and don’t get me wrong that ranks quite highly on the ‘most offensive questions’ list. Along with walking into doctors office with a folder and being asked if I am there for a pregnancy check-up – you would think doctors would know better than to jump to conclusion, or at least read notes quickly before you come in but that has happened twice. I laugh it off and make a joke about it being a miracle as I had a hysterectomy at 29 but they usually look mortified, so I bet they will think twice before jumping to conclusion again.
So, for me the number one question I hate most from random strangers is ‘what have you done?’. I really hate this one, not only for the implication that it is somehow my fault that I am the way I am but also because I really don’t know how to answer the question. I got asked it last night. Last night for the first time in months I went out and had fun with friends to celebrate the fact that two people from the martial arts club my husband runs and I used to train in, did their black belt grading and were successful. I don’t walk very well and my ankles are particularly unstable at the moment they dislocate frequently, so I wear braces to try and keep them in place. I knew we were not straying far from the car so I braved the word without my wheelchair or stick, but had my husband for support. Yes part of the reason for that is pride on a night out, sometimes it’s nice to feel 35 not 100, to not be the broken one. Even though I look 100 when walking, if I am sat down I can do a half decent job of fooling people that I am ok. By the time my husband and I left everyone (they were still going strong) I was exhausted and in pain and it was showing despite the medication and pain killers. My tremors are getting quite bad especially when I am tired and they are quite noticeable, despite how much I try and hide them. Anyway so there we are staggering slowly back to the car, I am leaning on my husband and shaking, actually I probably fit in quite well, I just looked like I was drunk ha ha, of course the strongest drink I have had all night is a tonic water.
So, a completely random stranger askes me what I have done to my leg, she wasn’t a teenager she was middle aged. Unfortunately, because I am so slow I can’t just quickly get in the car and escape the question that way. Therefore, I am left deciding what to say. Do I go into the long winded explanation that actually I haven’t done anything; I have a genetic disorder that have been progressively getting worse and it causes ……. and so on and so on. Do I just focus on the ankles rather than the whole condition and just say I have unstable ankles that keep dislocating and I will be having surgery at some point in the future to try and strengthen them. Do I make up a story because lets face it that’s what this drunk lady wanted to hear that I had been in a horrific car crash or I was injured whilst wrestling crocodiles. In the end I simply said - I haven’t done anything and my husband and I continued to potter in our own way to the car. Well my answer was factually correct. Of course as we are slowly moving away from them I can hear the not so subtle whispering of grumble grumble, I was only trying to be nice there is no need for her to be so rude. So now somehow I am the bad guy in this situation because I didn’t want to divulge my medical information to a random drunk stranger in the street. Of course, I am sure she will remember nothing of this in the morning, me however…..