I yelled at my chiropractor today. Like, really yelled.
Now, I’m a quiet person, and those who know me are probably thinking I don’t even know how to yell. But I did.
I didn’t yell in anger, mind you (well, kinda.) She was yelling at me... from literally 3 feet away, maybe... out of excitement... over my crutches.
And I couldn’t take her volume, okay?
I mean, I knew this was going to happen. It was the first time she’s seen me since I’ve started using the crutches and she all of a sudden realized I had this different mode of mobility (and she was the one to suggest them in the first place.) And, like it does when she’s excited about anything - her voice volume increased exponentially so that she could “properly” express how great I looked! Wow! Look at you! And everything so exciting and wonderful and amazing. And she’s standing right there, using her BIG outside voice, not across a large gymnasium or something, but right there, and I just found myself uncontrollably matching her volume level to let her know, “YOU’RE LOUD!”
And then she quieted down. And I apologized. And life went on, we had a lovely conversation, I had my adjustment, and all is basically well.
Except that it’s several hours later and I still can’t believe I childishly yelled at my chiropractor like that.
But, man. I really can’t believe how incredibly LOUD she got/gets whenever she’s overly excited.
And, really. Geez. From my perspective, me using the crutches is so completely not that amazing or wonderful or something that makes me feel (emotionally) great or anything. Sure, my pain is eased a bit, which is the whole point of using them. So, yah, yay. But, from my stance on things, I in no way feel less disabled even with my pain lessened. I actually feel more disabled when using them.
Sure, my posture while walking is way better than it was than with just the walking stick. But I, as the person doing the walking, have never really felt like I’m walking in one particular way over another. I feel like just using the one, cool, wooden walking stick that Hubby lovingly crafted for me (anyone can use a walking stick, just because, ya know?) just innately makes me look way less handicapped than I do clunking around with the 2 noisy, clanky, cold metal forearm crutches.
Even using regular under-the-armpit crutches wouldn’t make me feel so - other. People use regular crutches all the time when they hurt their legs or feet. It’s a temporary thing that will correct itself eventually. No big deal.
It’s just something about the forearm crutches, though, that indicates, “that person is disabled. Different. Other. Someone to be careful around. Someone to try to not stare at. Someone to try to act normal around, like ‘nothing to see here, folks.’ But they do wonder and stare and probably want to ask questions, but that would be rude, so they just continue trying to act normal and casual and like everything’s the same as it ever was, no big deal.
But, really, it’s a pretty big deal to me. I feel like people I know who used to feel comfortable around me, now look at me wondering how to just be, like they used to. And for people who don’t know me at all, that just see this person maneuvering around with these clanky crutches, well... they’re stepping aside, giving me a wide berth, telling their kids not to stare, shushing their questions, trying to be as natural as the day is long, no big deal that an “other” is invading their space.
Yeah. That’s how I feel. In a nutshell: like everyone is staring at me while trying to act like they’re not. Like everyone is trying to be careful around me, while trying to act like they’re not overly concerned. Trying to act casual and relaxed while clearly they’re at least a little uneasy in my presence.
And all that, to me, makes me feel invisible and other. People try to act like my presence (my crutches) is no big deal by just ignoring the fact that I’m there at all. Or smiling at me quietly while they don’t say the thing or ask the question of me that’s running through their head.
Or, on the other hand, I don’t need or want people to get overly excited for me and want nothing more than to talk at me about how amazing this is and isn’t it so wonderful?! Yeah. Also not great.
I know. It’s complicated. A few people I know even really do make me feel totally fine and chill, like nothing’s changed at all. I’m so happy to have these people in my life.
And I know some people who know me who are reading this are absolutely thinking this is ridiculous and absolutely not true and all in my head and I should not now, not ever feel this way. Geez! Really, Amy! Get over yourself!
But it is how I feel. I’m the one with the disability. I’m the one with the diminishing abilities. I’m the one trying to adapt to using new aids to help me keep as active as I can. And this is the way I feel. This is the way using these particular crutches make me feel. It’s my truth, even if it’s totally unfounded to everyone else, totally not how anyone else is really perceiving me at all. It’s the way I feel. And to tell me to not feel this way, that I shouldn’t feel this way, that it’s ridiculous for me to feel this way - well, that’s just not fair of anyone else to say. No one else is me but me and I’m allowed to feel however I do.
No one is going through the particular physical pain and the changes and the adjustments I’m going though but me. Sure, others in my little world have their own adaptations to make regarding my changes, and they have every right to feel however it is they feel about that for themselves. But I’m experiencing this in the one unique-to-me way that I am, the only way I can, and that’s that. I won’t apologize or agree that I should get over it or acknowledge yet that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, or anything. This is how my world feels to me right now. It may very well change. I bet it will, with time. But for now, this is it and that’s that. Full stop.
So when my chiropractor suggests I give forearm crutches a try and I tell her I used them years ago but I hated them... and she doesn’t even ask me why I hated them, but I can surmise that she thinks it’s just because they were too heavy or something... and then she gets way, way over-the-top excited (excited for me) to see me use them and look so good and, wow!, isn’t this so wonderful?!... well, really, it’s not. Not so exciting. Sure, yes, helpful for the pain (although now I have different pains, possibly worse, in my legs at times. But that’s a different story), for which I am very grateful. But otherwise? It’s a lot to unpack for me. It just is.
Anyway. I’m sorry I yelled at her. But it needed to be done. Not only to quiet her down, but to make myself be heard.
I am grateful she listened to me. Thank you for listening, too.