What is it like being injured?
Until you find yourself disabled, it’s not something you think about. Without my right hand, how would I put on a bra, take off a shirt, tie up my hair or my shoes? How would I drive a car, bike to work, edit long articles? I simply wouldn’t — more accurately, I couldn’t.
My hand went through a window 3 weeks ago, and in an instant, life went from normal end of summer to abnormal hospital visits, two times a week physiotherapy, and disability offices. Most days I don’t leave the house. When I do its an onslaught of questions from strangers: what happened to your hand / how’d you do it / is it bad / sounds painful / etcetera. Strangers don’t realize this is the fifth time this hour I’ve been asked. That I’d rather not relive the horror with them. That I’m much more than one broken hand. I was just trying to buy some shoes without laces! At one point, a woman deigned to pet my cast. Do people treat people with permanent disabilities this way? It must be exhausting.
Suddenly, I understand why my advisor kept her terminal cancer secret until the very end. People disappoint you. Illness brings your relationships into sharp relief. You would be surprised who’s truly there for you, and who quite simply is not. One acquaintance wrote to me, after I explained my condition: "I hope it isn't affecting your work too much." Let's see: 5 to 6 opiates a day, chronic nerve pain even at this dosage, and an inability to use my right hand period. I’ve already dropped a class I was supposed to be teaching in January. It’s a good day if I manage a few emails. Mostly, I online shop.
But then there are those strangers who equally surprise you. Who don't pry, instinctively know what kind of help you need, who are genuinely empathetic. Old people more often than not fit this description. They’ve lived long enough to know what the body can do. They’re less afraid of illness. They get it.
And cooking? Haven’t done that. Everything falls to my partner. We got seven day pill cases, with 4 compartments each, because I can’t open pill jars. So he wouldn’t have to be constantly ferreting me vitamins and drugs at every hour of the day and night. So he could relax, at least a little bit. A few nights ago, we watched the movie Take Care on netflix and laughed and laughed and laughed. If you want to understand what injury is like, check it out. That’s what it’s like.