I’ve talked about this once before but I wanted to expand on it. It seems to me that when someone is in a wheel chair, suddenly you no longer exist to the outside world. Since you are below eye level, many people stop noticing your very existence. Until you bellow at the top of your lungs a polite “Excuse Me!!” or a cheerful “Beep Beep!!”
I’ve been in a wheel chair for nine weeks at Disney World. This is mainly because my endurance level is very low. But it IS getting better. Sunday I was able to go three and a half hours without needing a chair. And that’s after walking the day before at IKEA for two hours unassisted.
Sure, this is annoying. But there’s another type of invisibility I want to talk about. It’s the kind of invisibility that you as a survivor of any kind of trauma probably see on a regular basis. Here’s an example.
Say you’re a cancer survivor going through chemo. The hair has gone bye by so you wear a bandanna on your head. People will look your direction, recognize the reason for the bandanna, get that tell tale look of pity and then look away.
Before I had my reconstruction surgery and my chest was still mangled, there were times I saw that look and then the look away. The quick dip of the chin and the briefly closed eyes say “Damn that sucks”. And the quick steps in the opposite direction speak volumes of “Glad that’s not me”.
I don’t expect anything else. Not really. I don’t expect that suddenly people will start being more conscious of wheelchairs. I don’t expect people to suddenly feel comfortable around survivors of trauma. I don’t think most people know how to deal with it anyway. It’s just one of those things that’s part of dealing with the human species.
I think this is one of the reasons that I have kept my hair pink. So that I wouldn’t be invisible. It also drew attention away from my chest. It seems to have acted as bright pink camouflage in a way. Hair slight of hand.
I have a new quote that I came up with today. Feel free to use it and give me credit.
“The idea is not to fit in. The idea is to stand out.” – Maria Myrback