Paralyzed since I was 18 years old, I have spent much of the last 30 years thinking about the reasons why the social life of crippled people is so different from those who ambulate on two feet. After reading about the so called Ashley Treatment I decided it was time to write a book about my life as a crippled man. My book, Bad Cripple: A Protest from an Invisible Man, will be published by Counter Punch. I hope my book will completed soon.
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Sunday, September 11, 2016
Today at Tales From the Crip Ingrid Tischer wrote the following:
What would be a “threat of self-harm” for you, is a “personal choice” for me.
What calls for an intervention for you, calls for a pre-suicide party for me.
Your movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. My movie is It’s a Wonderful Death.
Tischer wrote these words for World Suicide Prevention Day. I urge others to follow the provided link and read her words. They are powerful. Like me, Fischer was a first. Our generation was the first that expected to live and lead an ordinary life. An ordinary life that included paralysis. While her words struck it was one image that really prompted a flood of memories.
I wore that brace for many years. I wore it 23 hours a day. I was allowed a 15 minute daily shower and the remaining 45 minutes was spent vigorously exercising my trunk muscles. I hated that brace. It was hot. It was heavy. Despite the fact I could walk, it made me a target. I wore that brace for five years. In the summer I perspired so heavily that I would wring out my shirt. In the winter the metal would get cold and no jacket in the world could keep me warm. I suffered. The worst was monthly brace clinic. The orthopedic surgeon I saw was a cold miserable man. I hated him. He had no heart. Brace clinic was pure pressure. If my scoliosis got worse I would need immediate surgery. That fear hung over my head for years. However, thanks to brilliant parenting my mother built in a pressure relief valve. After brace clinic we would go to the Cloisters in northern Manhattan. We would get a dirty water hot dog outside the hospital and then get in the car heading north. We walked around the Cloisters looking at the tapestries and from the parking lot admire the view of Hudson River and cliffs on the New Jersey side of the river. I remember the stress. I remember the bullying. I remember teachers laughing along with other students when I would be mocked by others. Why I am telling this story? Today I looked in the jacket pocket of an old jacket. I found a note written by mother. It was simple: "Happy Christmas! Love Mom and Dad". I burst into tears. I mourn my mother and father. As I tell others, I hit the parent lottery. Thankfully, I was with a friend who held me as I cried.