No one leaves comments on my blog, but I have had some nice emails and comments from friends who seem to enjoy reading it. Perhaps the post that’s generated the most comments is walking (about a friend who was critiquing the way I walk).
It’s interesting that being disabled means that your body is a public object–most everywhere I go I am stared at or asked questions about my leg. I’m pretty used to it. I expect that when I’m walking through a mall there will be numerous people staring (maybe that’s why I don’t care for malls?).
When I was in France I noticed that everyone stared at everyone. It was a socially accepted and expected activity. Here in the US people are more subtle–they try to stare without me knowing that they are staring. This is particularly obvious when my back is turned to people and I quickly turn around and see them averting their eyes. It’s funny, too, when I’m at the gym and people forget that the walls are mirrored and I can see them staring.
When I was younger I used to wish that just for a day I could go in public wearing shorts and not being noticed. Now I think I’m so used to it that I don’t even care any more.
Though the stares don’t bother me, sometimes the comments or well-intentioned adults do. The most common is, perhaps, the question about why I don’t run marathons or participate in a paralympic sport “like so many other amputees” that this person has seen on TV. Well, duh. My cynical response is to ask them how many olympic medals they’ve won recently [And then there was that one day that someone at church insisted that I had dated her brother, simply because I was an amputee and she knew he had dated an amputee. As if I was the only female amputee in the western hemisphere. Sheesh].
Though the adult comments sometimes sting, kids’ questions rarely do. For the past 4 years I’ve encountered hordes of kindergarteners each day as I picked up my kids from school (the kindergarten classrooms are near the school entrace so I always pass them). When I don’t wear my “skin” (when my pylon leg is showing), the kids are so fascinated!! They meake me feel famous as they gather around me with awe and ask to touch my leg. I love it. We have such fun conversations. It’s the well-intentioned adults that try to shush them that leave me feeling disabled.