life: super powers not included

A Case of the Mondays: Humiliation and Hopelessness

Wheelchair on beachphoto by rachelcreative

As much as I loved Thanksgiving—a lot, especially since the dessert table had five pies—it reminded me of a few things I’m not too happy about. And if I can’t whine on this blog, then where can I? Besides, it’s a rainy Monday. That alone deserves a little bit of complaining.

Here’s my gripe: The whole act of getting from Virginia to Massachusetts is humiliating when your knees are lined with chewed-up cartilage. Forget that sitting for an hour and a half on an airplane makes my joints feel like a vice is tightening my insides. The problem is my mode of transportation.

You see, I have to use a wheelchair. No big deal, you say. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to heal your knees. That’s what I thought the first time I parked my butt in one. But once you’re in the seat you realize it is a big deal. People look at you differently. Some soften their eyes like they feel bad that someone so young is trapped in a moving chair. Others are accusatory, as if my normal appearance means I’m faking the whole deal in order to skip the line at the Southwest gate. Even if people aren’t thinking I’m a loser, I feel like they are.

Some people tell me not to pay attention to what other people think. It’s easy to say when you’ve never rode a wheelchair. Maybe this is what overweight people feel, as if everyone is noticing their extra pounds and judging them for it. Maybe this is how other people with disabilities—missing limbs, paralysis, or even a limp—feel when they go through the airport. I sympathize with them.

In the end, it makes me feel crummy about my knees, about the fact they’re not fixed yet, and about the prospect of them never being fixed. Since my move, they’ve been sore and easily swollen, and I’m feeling closer to 85 than I am to 27. I fear they’ll never be fixed, that I’ll be wheeling through the airport for the rest of my life.

I’m hoping this feeling will pass, but for now, how do you get over hopelessness? Do you ever feel humiliated because of your body? What’s your solution?

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4 comments

1 Joy Manning { 12.01.09 at 10:47 am }

I can only imagine the kind of sadness you feel in those situations. I often feel humiliated about my body, but for what I realize are silly reasons when I think about you needing to navigate the airport in a wheelchair. One the one hand, as much pain as you’re in, you only need the wheelchair in specific situations. There are so many people who have no hope of ever stepping out of their wheelchair. You should also remember how hard you are working to heal your knees–if anyone with this problem is going to figure out the solution, it’s you. There’s no solution for feeling bad when you’re in a bad situation. Just try to remember that you will feel better, even if your knees don’t anytime soon. And there’s no point in blogging if you aren’t going to say what you really think and feel. It’s not whining!

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Tracey Reply:

It’s true–there are a lot of people who have it a lot worse than I do. I do hope my hard work pays off and next Thanksgiving I can walk through the airport and wait in awful lines like the rest of the world. Thanks for the boost! :)

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2 Jill { 12.01.09 at 10:36 pm }

I know how you feel– kind of. I have some stomach problems and can’t eat lots of foods. It’s embarrassing and extremely frustrating for me to go out to dinner with people and not be able to eat anything on the menu. Thanksgiving and holidays are like little glimpses into hell. So many good things to eat and I have to stick with pasta– and still have stomach cramps that bring tears to my eyes. So when you say that using a wheelchair is a terrible experience, I can imagine how that feels (even without the looks you get). I wish you didn’t have to go through this but I am grateful for wheelchairs. I’m grateful that they provide them so that you can come visit for holidays.
I often have to remind myself of the things that I do have- the things that I actually can eat. If nothing else- you have been given a new respect for people who deal with those stares every day. Trace I can’t wait for the day we walk to dinner.

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Tracey Reply:

You’re so right. We’re total opposites, too: You can walk forever and I can gorge myself. I’m grateful for wheelchairs, but still… I can’t wait for when we can both walk blocks to dinner. And I hope it’s sooner (ahem, in 2010) than later.

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