I spent Christmas with my family, at my sister's house. I got lots of opportunities to play with my little niece and work on my techniques for making her smile and laugh, holding her the way she likes (so that she can see everyone), and picking her up. I'm very aware that there are many childcare that skills I that I haven't yet mastered, but with each visit with her I feel more and more confident about my ability to look after her using one arm.
I think that's why I've been a bit grumpy about a commercial that I've been seeing on television recently. It's one of those commercials where people with various ailments and their doctors talk about how "We *will* find a cure for ____" (cancer, diabetes, etc.), and of course I know that these research efforts are very important. Besides my AVM (which is not supposed to be hereditary, but I've stories that suggest that they do seem to run in families), women on my mother's side tend to die young from cancer, and there's stroke and diabetes on my father's side...it's not exactly comforting.
Lost a Limb? We Can Cure You!
The part of the commercial that annoys me is when the young doctor comes on and says, "We *will* find a way to regrow limbs." Granted, I haven't lost a limb, but I pretty much live one-handed, and I don't feel like I miss out on a whole lot. I actually wrote about this in article right before Christmas, about how I'd once talked with a woman online who couldn't understand why her blind date hadn't told her before their date that he was missing a hand. I suggested that perhaps he was fine with the fact that he was missing a hand and didn't see any need to tell her. But clearly she'd had a problem with it.
When I hear things like, "We *will* find a way to regrow limbs," I feel the same way. I feel like it's society saying to people who have lost a limb, "We have a problem with you being like this, so we are going to cure you," when many of these people may not a problem at all with how they are living. Society has the problem with the disability, not the person living with the disability.
Lost a Limb: Accessibility Woes
Not that navigating society without a limb isn't difficult, particularly if one has to use a wheelchair. However, much of that difficulty with being in a wheelchair happens because accessibility is so slowly becoming a priority. I can speak from experience on this one...it's not so miserable being in a wheelchair when buildings, spaces and transportation are accessible. Again, it's been society's problem with people with disabilities that's made having disabilities difficult. Thank goodness that's changing. It will be interesting to see whether medical science can regrow a limb by the time that all Ontario buildings have to be physically accessible (2025).
Lost a Limb, But Still OK!
I'm fine with having little function in my left arm and hand. There are some things that I obviously can't do, but I manage. I went through a process of becoming fine with who I am with those impairments, as I imagine I would if I lost a limb.
Perhaps some people would welcome medical interventions that took away their disabilities. I'm not saying I wouldn't try an intervention myself if it could bring back a lot of function in my arm and hand. But the blanket assumption that all people who have lost a limb want/need to be "cured" bothers me. It suggests that they're not good enough, or can't have productive, fulfilled lives, the way they are right now.
And that's simply not true.