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.