Respect The Disabled And Their Assistant
Disability In Our Society
People in our society live with a variety of disabilities. They can range anywhere from the obvious wheelchair bound person, to the subtle, rarely seen, person that experiences seizures. The second type of disability the majority of the public doesn't see. From the outside the person appears fine. They can walk, talk, play and act like any other person, for all intents and purposes they look fine, and they are fine, except for their seizures. Seizures aren't the only disability society at large doesn't see.
Past To Present
In the past if someone had a disability they were locked up, put away somewhere out of sight. Society didn't want to deal with them, let alone look at them.
As society matured people with certain disabilities were allowed to stay with their families. Rarely venturing outside of their home for fear their disability will attract negative attention, or, in the case of seizures, fear they will go into a grand mall in public and wake up to a crowd around them like they are some sort of a side show for the circus.
Today disabled people have rights, and laws, to protect them (We had to make laws to protect disabled people, unbelievable). There are still some people in our society that don't understand disabilities, or what they were taught was a disability isn't real, or the person is faking and then the "It's all mind over matter" theory.
Recently I read about a woman who went to a store, parked in a handicapped space, displayed her handicapped permit on the rear view mirror and went into the store. When she was done shopping she arrived at her car to find a note stuck to the windshield. In large, bold, letters, the note berated her for parking in the handicapped zone. It went on to call her names, tell her she's just lazy, and so on. The woman was devastated. She is one of the rarely witnessed disabilities. The disability she has doesn't even matter, she had her parking pass, she was having a good day, her disability let her out to shop one day, and someone saw it at face value. A perfectly fine looking woman (apparently slightly overweight)(probably due to her medicine) taking a disabled spot. The note writer was completely oblivious to the fact that many disabilities aren't present at all times. The note writer was way out of line!
Yes, some people use the handicapped zone for their own pleasure. The card they display might be someone else's, or someone they are caring for, whatever. The card was not meant for them, but they use it when they can. They will eventually be caught. The police are on the job and they do watch for, and site people, illegally using handicapped spaces. Think twice before stepping in yourself, you may be horribly wrong like the note writer was.
Educating the general public about disabilities has proven to help. People have begun to understand and accept disabled people as equals.
My Disability And Assistant
To the majority of the public I look fine too, but I am not, I am disabled. My disability came upon me at 50 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday; I had some soreness in my hip for a week. I thought it was caused by my evening walks, or something simple like that. I expected it to go away. Although it did seem odd to me that the soreness did not respond to any over the counter pain relievers, it was persistent.
One afternoon I went shopping at the local grocery store. I was still experiencing the sore hip. As I was pushing my cart down an aisle I began to hear a clicking noise coming from my hip. I could also feel something in my hip area clicking as well. I continued down the aisle for about ten steps when an incredible searing pain thrashed down from my spine to my knee, and I could not move another inch! I had never felt such a pain in all my life. I was stuck, paralyzed in pain. I just stood there. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to make a scene by calling out for help, so I just stood there trying to hide my tears. I don't know what the other shoppers must have been thinking as they passed by me. It must have looked like I was undecided between the Ranch and Catalina dressings before me on the shelf.
I stood there for about twenty minutes, not moving a muscle. The initial pain had begun to subside, slowly. I continued standing there, wiping away tears hoping I wasn't noticed. Nobody bothered me, or asked me why I stood there so long. After about thirty minutes I was able to shuffle myself to face the other direction, the way out! I slowly shuffled my way out and drug myself into my car. I drove straight to the emergency room.
After x-rays and MRI's it was discovered that an old injury to my back had come back to haunt me in the most horrible way. Slipped disks, degeneration and all kinds of terminology I had to look up to understand, was wrong with my spine. An entire page, typed, single spaced, listed everything that was wrong with my back. It won't be getting better I was told. Get used to it, because it can only, and will only, get worse as you age.
The horrible spike pain comes whenever it pleases. I don't know what to do to avoid it, or what can be done once it happens accept don't move a muscle. As the disks have slipped out of place, multiple nerves are involved. Sometimes, for unknown reasons to me, the clicking will start up. That's my only signal that I better get medicine, or somewhere to lay down. When I hear the click, I have about ten steps left before the pain hits.
I have found relief with a T.E.N.S. machine, injected steroids and pain killers. On more than one occasion, I have found myself crawling on the floor to get to the bathroom, kitchen, bedside, where ever my medicine might be. At first I was afraid to leave my house for fear the grocery store incident would happen again.
Then, I thought of it, I'll get a canine assistant! And I did. My world has opened up again because of her. I go in public and have no fear of suddenly not being able to move in the middle of a store. I have learned that the clicking I heard and felt that first time is my signal that the pain is going to strike me within a few steps. When I hear the click I send my dog to get my medicine! She happily runs off to retrieve it. She doesn't give up either. She knows it's somewhere and she'll look until she finds it! Even when the bottle fell off the nightstand and rolled under the bed, she found it in no time at all!
I am so thankful I live in this day and age where disabled people aren't as stigmatize as they were in days of old.
My Canine Assistant
My Experience With Uneducated People And My Canine Assistant
There Are Still Some Out There
Although society has come a long way concerning the disabled, not everyone accepts them.
A friend of mine was having lunch at a Perko's restaurant. Her canine assistant was lying under the table sleeping. She had his papers and ID in her purse. For unknown reasons, two tables away, a patron says,"That dog isn't supposed to be in here." My friend ignored him. He went on, and on, and on, until he was yelling at her, and she was in tears. The manager heard the man yelling and intervened to no avail. He told the man that my friend was welcome to bring her canine assistant into their establishment anytime (Yay to the Perko's manager!). My friend was so upset she couldn't finish her lunch and got up and left while the man continued the snide remarks, quieter now, but still. He had no right. Where was my friends right to enjoy her lunch in peace? Did he expect her to never eat out because she is disabled? Would he rather she left her seizure alert assistant dog at home so she could have a grand mall seizure right there in the restaurant and possibly worse! My friend was 77 years old at the time. Hardly someone that is going to try and pass off a service dog that is not one. Besides she had his papers with her. I know this assistant, he's one of the best. This man clearly has a skewed perception of disabled people and their assistant canine. This incident won't stop him from his antics somewhere else, but at least my friend knows she is welcome at the restaurant even if some man does't feel the same.
Disabled people are not less than, or beneath, able bodied people. We have jobs, we have children and families. We also have a disability we are living with and our canine assistants help us with.