Tuesday, June 17, 2008


While I'm working to return my rotator cuff to full service, I've been thinking a lot about the privilege of the temporarily able-bodied. I'm not TAB right now, I have a disability: I have limited use of my left arm.

I can't pull a door open (or pull one closed behind me) with that arm, or pick up and carry a heavy package; I can't twist my arm behind my back or across the front of my body, so dressing is more difficult. I wake in the night in pain and struggle to find a comfortable posture, using a pile of small pillows to adjust the support of my usually-adequate mattress. Even pulling up or shoving down the covers hurts, and getting on and off the bed is a new dance of balance in a different direction from before. Driving was hard at first (and so I didn't drive for a few weeks--the pain has calmed down and my range of motion has increased so that I can drive now).

I had to change my usual seat on the couch, because I used to lean on my left arm quite a bit. I can't hold up a book in that hand, neither hard cover nor paperback. I can't knit, because even though the actual motions don't seem as if they'd hurt, the strain of holding my arms in that position for more than a few minutes aggravates my shoulder and causes pain.

We're all only temporarily able-bodied. Any injury or normal aging can take away from us the freedom not to think about whether all the details of the world are arranged to make things easier, or even just possible, for people who are not able-bodied. Look around your life for the easy physical tasks you take for granted, and take a moment to wonder whether you could still do them if you had a minor but chronic injury.

No comments: