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Why are so many of us labeled handicapped

Updated on March 20, 2012

Wouldn't it be nice if the people of the world stopped negative labeling, especially handicapped for those who depend on devices to live a "normal" life, and did more enabling. Well in some cases it wouldn't work but in many it should. There were times in my life when a label was needed.

When a bottle of liquor was more important than anything else in my life people called me a drunk. This label was needed and deserved. People's lives were affected negatively by my addiction. Without this label help would have never been asked for. Now recovering alcoholic will remain a label until my death, but that is my choice.

It seems like labels have been part of my life since my mother delivered me. It has been papoose or baby, toddler, child, teen, and brave. For me those were in Cherokee, Spanish, and English. With age came heathen, and finally mostly in English, adult.

From the adult point on a quite a few are going to be left out. No one wants to hear them, even me. For the last two years of my fathers life they were heard everyday. He required care which was given from a wheelchair. He had been a kind and caring father until his brain was changed by senile dementia. It took me a while to figure out the disparaging things he was saying and his constant hitting were the disease, not him.

Actually there are a few which fit well and should be mentioned. Christian, teacher, veteran, father, stepfather, care provider, and husband come to mind. Workaholic and provider are also acceptable. Enabled and alive are my favorites.

The ones which bother me the most are Disabled and handicapped. There are places which can't be reached, people who can't be visited, and times help is desperately needed yet anything required of me has been done. Anyone who can live alone and be completely independent in my mind shouldn't have to carry those labels.

In the town called home the closest most accessible place is the local bar, which for obvious reasons is not frequented. Everywhere else requires a four wheel drive vehicle in the winter so one of them has been, except for three and a half years, part of my life since shortly after going into the wheelchair. These two types of vehicles are my enablers, they give an independence which would otherwise not be possible.

Great strides have been made towards removing barriers in the past fifteen years. More work is needed however before one can truly say a wheelchair dependent person is truly enabled. Places frequented have found ways to make my life more comfortable especially the ones who have been told writing on high counters is causing me to lose my sight. My local bank put a desk in the lobby because their counters are way too tall. Some places let me go behind counters where there are desks or give me a clipboard to do whatever writing is necessary. As crazy as it sounds credit cards have been the best enabler. With them the only thing required is a signature and not even every time.

There is now a bike trail about one hundred and fifteen feet from my front door which can be used to get downtown in the summer so a motor vehicle is no longer necessary. Curb cuts have been added and replaced so actually being downtown is now a pleasure. So why should the labels disabled or handicapped apply just because wheels are used to get me everywhere.


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    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      5 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Thanks Tammysoffices. What actually bothered me most was when I was living on the California desert. People at the local grocery store were constantly running into my knuckles. The carts had sharp areas below the basket, this is what I was being hit with. At first I believed it was an accident until someone brought to my attention that people were doing it on purpose.

      At this point I don't believe it is the label as much as the attitude behind it. Not every person who is disabled or in a wheelchair is a drain on society.

      The love of my life and I started out like everyone else. Polio put her in a wheelchair at age 9. For me it was nerve damage at age 38. My wife worked a full time job, I earned from rental property. What little help we received "from the system" was paid for in spades.

    • TammysOffices profile image


      5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Love the article! I, personally, do not mind the label, b/c I KNOW I am 'differently-abled'. We all do wear labels, some we like, some we do not. I know how strong you are and all that you can do. Running your own business is no small thing either.

      The one thing that 'bugged/bugs' me most is when I have others with me and I am in a wheelchair/scooter, trying to talk to the clerk behind the counter and all they seem to do is talk directly to the others with me. One time my husband even told the person, 'you can answer her, I didn't ask the question!' Which of course forced them to look at me (they did apologize) and maybe it made a difference for the next 'differently-abled' person who came through their line. People just do not think - they react. Great job!

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      8 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Voted up, useful, awesome , beautiful and interesting!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      8 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Hi, wheelinallover. You sound like a real trooper. I was a learning disabilities teacher once, and they taught me a lot. They were better at some things than me!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I do admire people like the one man I worked with for several years as a Lab. Tech. He depended on a wheelchair. He was paralyzed from a spinal operation. He would drive to work each day (in his special car). Park, then reach behind him and get the parts out for his wheelchair, assemble the pieces, slide out of the car and into the chair! He could have just stayed home and collected disability payments, but he chose not to do that. He held down a full time job.

      I also admire people like yourself!

      I voted this UP, and will share.

      I vo

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      8 years ago from Chennai, India

      After reading your uplifting hub, I completely agree with you about "unnecessary labels". The best thing is to ignore these sort of labels ourselves and enjoy what life have to offer. Labels is not only for the handicapped but also for each and every human being - it depends on their behaviour, for example, if a man/woman goes out with several women/men, he/she will be labelled by others as an incorrigible flirt. Your photo with your family is very nice. Thank you for sharing your engaging views with us.

      Thanks for SHARING. Interesting. Voted up and Socially Shared.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      8 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Brett.Tesol until today I haven't seen this article but once since I made the last comment in March of 2011. I had to reread it to make this comment. I missed a very important label which is friend. Thanks for stopping by and your wonderful comment. Thanks for sharing also.

      mooboomoo you remind me of my wife. Even though she spent from age 8 either in an Iron lung or wheelchair she never considered herself disabled. When I lost my memory and went into a wheelchair she was a real trooper. I am now the independent person she was. Her example was the best role model I could have ever had.

    • mooboomoo profile image


      8 years ago from London

      My husband has been Disabled for the last two years and we don't mind the word, its the reaction of others that bugs. Funnily enough it's when they try to help, he doesn't need his wheelchair pushing by anyone else and if he gets stuck I am the only that can help, and not before being asked. The chair and car gave him independence and I do wish that our local authority could do more to make places accessible, but you know, you just get on with it. Our lives are no less, just a bit different and there's nothing that he cannot do, just in a different way to me, that's all. I'm not a fan of labels but it is what it is at the moment and we are just getting on with life and still enjoying ourselves.

      I hope you continue to change minds around you, it's not because they don't want to, it's just because they have no reason to think about how to make everywhere accessible, unless it were to happen to them.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      8 years ago from Asia

      Voted up and awesome. It seem that the modern world is not comfortable if they cannot put someone into a neat box/category. For many, the box is a bad fit or totally wrong. I just don't get where this need has come from.

      Socially shared for others to consider.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Just got home from a sales trip, ended up driving part of the way home. The people I was with have never treated me like anything but normal. I am exhausted and don't know yet how things went. Really glad I am home and be my own bed again.

    • maggs224 profile image


      9 years ago from Sunny Spain

      An excellent article I love your attitude I am rating this up :)

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Thanks for stopping by, I am glad more than one person looks at the positive. One thing which I have been told really helped me was losing my memory. I didn't remember the bad, just knew who I was then and made the best of it. It only took three years to get back to the point where I could pass a college entrance exam. No old memories all learned from scratch.

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 

      9 years ago from Indiana

      My daughter was born with several physical issues. They make life a little more complicated, to say the least... but handicapped, hell no. If someone said, "I'm sorry for your disability" she wouldn't know what in the heck they were talking about.

      As you've shown here, life is what you make it.

      My daughter is a clown, an artist, a quick thinker, a wonderful kid and friend to many... because of this, her life is filled with love, laughter, and much better health than the doctors predicted.

      I can see that you are the same. You've had a difficult road, but you seem to be enjoying the journey!

      Congratulations on seeing the positive and good in your life and reminding us all that labels need to be used with caution!

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Labels can suck but its OK as long as they don't get stuck on us forever

    • tritrain profile image

      And Drewson 

      9 years ago from United States

      Labels can sure suck, can't they? I agree 100%


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