Posted by Pattie on 10/04/2009 05:08:00 PM
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Everyone has limits. We have things that we are capable of doing and things we are not. Some of us can sing melodiously. Some of us have tin ears. Some of us can hit a baseball with a bat or a puck with a hockey stick or a golf ball with a club powerfully. Some of us cannot hit the broadside of a barn with a cannon.

I remind myself of this when I think of myself as person with disabilities. I often tell people I am no longer a talented walker or standing for long periods of time is not my best skill. It's funny. I have spoken and written publicly often about disabilities and mobility issues and accessibility, but I forget my own disabilities most of the time. I just don't think about it because I've developed habits that allow me to move around in the world. I don't think about it because I rarely test it.

In August, I got my real estate license. Suddenly, I am now faced with these limitations. Showing properties is a physical activity. There is no getting around it. It requires walking and standing in empty spaces without the support of benches or chairs. It can involve stairs and long sidewalks and porches and a number of other physical activities that put me against my own limits.

Since most housing is NOT accessible, using devices doesn't solve the problems. So even if I could afford a scooter, it would still make it nearly impossible to do this part of the job.

I have solutions in mind, but they are had to explain to others and thus the question keeps coming up and all of the sudden I am thinking about myself as a disabled person a lot more than I want to or am used to doing.

But I am disabled. I have nerve damage in my left foot that makes walking and standing difficult. I have chronic illnesses that sap my energy and make me have bad days with sleepless nights.

I don't like limits.

I don't like them one little bit.


Noelle said...

Pattie, your entry today speaks to exactly what I have been thinking about myself the past few weeks. I remember myself as a "talented walker" (that made me smile, btw), but now I can't stand and/or walk for more than a few minutes before my back and legs yell, "Hell, no!" at me. I've gained 140 lbs over the last 2 years for undetermined reasons and it has changed my physical abilities, but the message hasn't gotten to my brain yet.

The other thing that brings my changed physical state to the forefront is that my ankles and legs swell up if I sit at a desk for an 8 hour day, as I have recently started to do now that I am back to work after 10 months of unemployment. It was nothing like this severe last year and I am going to have to find new ways of coping, since staying home unemployed is not an option. :~)

Pattie said...

Two things I think are important to remember. It is not the weight gain that creates immobility. We can learn to carry our weight through exercise, but that can be undermined by existing health conditions. For me, it was an injury in 2004 that didn't heal properly. I now know that the problem with healing was probably due to hypothyrodism, but I was still subclinical then. I also sought no medical attention to the injury (which I thought was a "sprain"). Rapid, unexplained weight gain is a sign of hypothyroidism. It is a vastly underaddressed condition and I encourage anyone who experiences unexplained weight gain to seek medical attention. Fat does NOT CAUSE immobility. Something else is going on.

Second, swollen ankles is extremely important to address. I found that sleeping with my feet elevated has done wonders for my ankle swelling while my left foot (the damaged one) still swells fairly often, just elevating my feet and taking a dieuretic prescribed by doctor has made what was once severe swelling go away. Immobility does cause this in anyone of any size. But once swollen there are a number of complications that can develop. Once again, while more prevalent in people of size, fatness does NOT cause this. Unfortunately, immobility does and that becomes the catch-22.

Noelle, thanks for sharing and remember that you deserve to have your immobility taken seriously. Don't let anyone tell you being fat did this to you. Your weight gain may be a symptom, but it is not a reflection of character or a cause of your problems.

gabfly said...

Thank you for this important topic. I still have mobility issues, but I find that my water walking and water aerobics (with strengthening exercises for my knees) have worked wonders. I also think I have to do exercises for flexibility since I have found in my reading that flexibility is involved with knee problems (my particular problems). I just wish there were more health and fitness specialists that wanted to work with fat people since I think a lot of fat people, like myself, could benefit from a HAES approach to these mobility issues. Good luck with negotiating your issues.