Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Help Wanted. (Not.)

I was sitting in the waiting room in my wheelchair, balancing my purse, a folder, and some more paperwork on my lap. I cautiously opened the folder, which began to slide away from me, and tried to place the papers inside; a very simple, no-brain task for an able bodied person. My right hand was almost useless and my right leg kept flopping to the side, refusing to cooperate with my other leg to form an actual lap. I came pretty damn close to dropping all of it on the floor. As I finally got the paperwork to slide inside the folder I heard a woman say softly, "Good job. I almost got up to help you but realized I wouldn't be helping you."

That is one of the coolest things anyone has said to me. She is absolutely right. While there are things that I truly can't do yet, there are a ton of things I can do if I focus and give my body an opportunity to do them. What I certainly don't need is someone assuming I can't or worse, not giving me time and personal space to make an attempt. When you're disabled, people want to be helpful. But they have a hard time understanding when help is warranted.

I’m learning to hold things again, which means I’ll be dropping things in the meantime. I’m learning to walk again, which means I’m going to stumble. No, I don't need you to catch me or make me sit down. I need you to let me be. It may frighten you to know that I might fall and truthfully, I already have. I slipped right off the couch and landed on my bad knee. Yes, it hurt like hell. But guess what? I could feel it hurt. Guess what else? I managed to get back up onto the couch by myself. Tired and sore isn’t exactly tragic. I understand it must be hard to watch me struggle at times, but it is in the struggle that I learn. Ask me if I need help and I’ll answer honestly. Otherwise, let me be. I don’t always know if I need help, but I appreciate the respect to allow me to assess that for myself. Thanks.


  1. that is so rad that she said that to you.

    and i totally agree with your thinking about this. it took me a while to figure out. and it took my loved ones a while to figure out that dashing to catch me every time i wobbled didn't actually help me and was a lot about their comfort level. we're all learning.