Are You Hurt?

This is just one of the many ways people ask me about my limp. But I’ve gotten everything from “you’re gimpy” to “did you hurt your ankle?” A man in Idaho once told me “ouch, that looks like it hurts.”

I’ve gotten to a place now where I mostly understand people don’t know any better and some even genuinely care. I met a very sweet guy who ended up becoming a friend in college because he thought I hurt my ankle and asked if I needed help.

But for a very long time (and every once and a while still), I got both irritated and hurt when people would ask me about my limp. I got irritated because I would never approach a complete stranger and ask them if there was something wrong, or bring attention to something that was obviously a physical impairment (even if it was just a temporary injury). Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why others do things when I wouldn’t do them myself. Then I would get hurt. Hurt because maybe in that moment, I had finally forgotten I had a limp. I had finally forgotten I was different. Then that person asked me about it, which just reinforced that you can in fact, notice that I have a limp. That I am different. A harsh snap back into reality.

I was at Disneyland the other night, on my way out of the park with my best friend and again, the question was posed to me. It was a woman with her family and she asked me “are you sore?” not once, but twice. I was exhausted and simply said, “No, I’m just handicapped.” Her face kind of dropped and she said “I’m sorry” and I just responded that it was ok.

There’s really no good way to answer that question, or any of the others I’ve gotten. Sometimes I haven’t felt like explaining it so I just say “I’m fine.” To the guy in Idaho I said, “Yeah, it does, thanks.” Then there’s times where I don’t want to make the other person feel bad because I know they don’t know I have MD so I don’t want to be insensitive when I answer. But it’s also not my responsibility to protect their feelings. They asked and therefore, I should be able to give a truthful answer.

This is one of those things that I know is going to come up for the rest of my life. I can’t say for sure that I’ll ever get to a place where it doesn’t sometimes annoy me when someone asks about the way I walk. I can say though, that I’ve gotten pretty far past the being hurt by part. I was told by someone in my life that I have kind of a swag when I walk now, even with the limp. A “pimp limp” he called it. I have to say, the comment made me feel good about my limp for once. That someone noticed not the limp so much, but the confidence that I walk with in spite of it. I hope if anything, I can maintain that confidence for the rest of my life. That maybe my “pimp limp” won’t matter so much as the years pass, and people noticing it won’t matter so much either.

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3 thoughts on “Are You Hurt?

  1. Jackie, I can relate to this very much. Reading some of your articles brings me back a few years to when I was your age, although it still holds true today. Sometimes I used to wonder to myself that maybe if I were more disabled people would just know and stop asking me if I had a bad back! Now I’ved just learned to live with it. I still can’t believe how many people find the need to comment though. Like you, I would never ask someone about a difference they have unless they initiated the conversation. Hang in there, it will get easier to accept those comments. Every now and then I’ll shock someone with a very detailed response, but then I feel bad afterwards.

  2. I love this blog because it says I feel exactly- EXACTLY- the same way! I don’t get embarrassed like I would have a year or two ago but it does sting- and I think you figured out why… I wasn’t sure myself but when you said it was the reminder that we’re “different” it rang a bell. I usually just say I’m fine but I kind of love your answer “I’m handicapped”- must remember that for next time!!! I find that even when I use my cane, people will ask and that seemed unreal- no one asks strangers in wheelchairs or older people with canes what is wrong- so why me? I think it’s that we look young and healthy- that assume it is an injury. Whatever the reason, it irritates me too, so happy you shared this blog! It is always nice to connect with someone on these issues others in my life don’t share!!

    1. Thanks for the comments Katie and Ray! I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know other people feel the same way about this! I wish we didn’t have to relate on it unfortunately and that people just wouldn’t ask but at least we are not alone 🙂 I myself definitely feel the “not disabled enough” thing because I’m not in a wheelchair. I get look and comments when I use a handicapped parking spot with my placard yet people also ask about the limp so it’s a double edged sword for sure.

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