The Best Laid Plans and Blog Against Disablism Day 2009
Some of you may know that I lost all my old blog entries (long story; proprietary system), which may or may not be a good thing. Since then, I’ve been in such a state of flux and I’d always meant to get around to redesigning my site, restoring my blog, yadda, yadda. I wanted to have the redesign in place before my “inaugural” WordPress blog entry. I’ll have everything set up how it should be soon (read, “Cut me some slack!”).
At any rate, this entry can’t really wait because of the day’s importance. I want to share my story for Blog Against Disablism Day.
When I was born, my mother noticed that something was different about me, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. When I was a few weeks old, she realized that each of my eyes didn’t focus the same; one eye always seemed as if it were looking in the distance. When she mentioned this to the doctor, he told her that she was being a panicky, overprotective mother. She continued to mention it to no avail. That is, until a few years later.
I don’t know when the doctors started listening to my mother, but suddenly, everyone wanted to look at my right eye. Some of my earliest memories include going to the old Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC to have my eyes examined. Finally, I was diagnosed as having a pigmented growth on my right eye’s optic nerve, which meant I was blind in that eye.
Naturally, my hand-eye coordination is a bit off. I have trouble judging distances even when I’m walking. I don’t always see cars when I cross the road. I bump into walls and people. Sometimes when I walk up stairs, I step a little higher than is necessary and I end up stumbling. I don’t feel safe driving, so I’ve chosen to stay off the road—actually, I’m doing that to keep the highways safe for you.
Those of you who have met me have seen how my right eye drifts to the side. It never would have occurred to me to be bothered by it were it not for the people who ask me, “Why do you always have to cross your eyes when you look at me?” Or, “Dude, you look sooo high!” (Actually, I do.) Or the granddaddy of them all, “Gawd, you look retarded with your eyes like that!”
Yes, they throw the R word at me. Still.
The fact is, people stare. I still laugh to myself when I see people get confused as they try to figure out which of my eyes to look into when they look at me. I usually shift so that I look at them from my right side. Usually.
What’s worse is that I’ve asked police officers for assistance with reading signs and have been astounded at the dressing down they gave me. Sometimes people have told me that I “look disturbed” or “airhead-like because of your eyes” and they treat me as such. People have mentioned how they’re surprised that “Angela, you can carry on a conversation despite your problem. And you’re capable, too!”
Actually, it’s only that I’m shy. Otherwise, my communications skills are intact.
I won’t even begin to say that my very light problem and what I’ve experienced comes close to what others have endured. I’ve seen people with disabilities treated like idiots and children, belittled, ridiculed, and even attacked physically.
Come on, people. We’re better than that.