Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pride versus Function

I have had alot of pain in my foot lately from plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis. All the walking I have to do at work was not helping it, especially since I try not to limp when I am around patients. I decided to take a week off from work to focus on resting, icing, stretching, and healing (pun intended). When I was a kid, my mom had a rule: If you are too sick to go to school, you are too sick to participate in after school activities. (This did make us kids think a bit about whether we really wanted to stay home on those days when we were only a little bit sick). Because of this upbringing, I feel kind of like I am playing hooky from school. If I am too sick to go to work, am I too sick to do other things?
I went to my Pilates class the other day, and was able to do almost all of the exercises. I kept my good, supportive shoes on to decrease stress on my foot (usually we do Pilates barefoot). Right before I went to the class, I went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get a temporary Handicap Placard to put in my car so I can park in the closer Handicap designated parking spaces. Doing these two activities back to back really got me thinking.
People who file for Social Security Disability sometimes get spied on, by private detectives hired to see if they are cheating the system. Those of us who live with chronic illness and/or pain know that for many of us there are good days when we can do more, and bad days when we can do less, and sometimes we will decide an activity is worth doing, even if we end up in bed for three days afterward. These detectives, and apparently Social Security don't get that. I have heard of people who were seen doing something that those 'in charge' thought was too strenuous for their classification, and they got into trouble  What would the reaction have been if I was in that situation, and they saw me going into a Pilates class? My difficulty is with walking, and Pilates does not involve walking, or for the most part, involve anything that would put a strain on my foot. The question is, would they recognize and acknowledge the distinction, or just assume that if I am well enough to go to a Pilates class, that I don't need the Handicap parking?
I recently posted that I bought a cane to try to take some of the pressure off of my foot when walking. The cane and Handicap placard are both firsts for me. I have never before used such visible symbols of disability.  It is a humbling experience for me.Usually, despite my pain and fatigue, I have been able to do just about anything I wanted: I hiked, I went to the gym regularly, I worked full, busy days (though not full time). Now,  when I walk, I take small careful steps, trying not to lift my heel very much.
Some people refuse to use a cane or other walking device, or to get a  Handicap Placard. They don't want to appear different,or draw attention to themselves. They are driven more by their pride than by their physical needs.Sometimes this results in unnecessary strain for their already straining body, other times, it can result in being unsafe. I say, do what it takes to continue to function and to remain independent. I may be moving differently, and with assistive devices, but I am moving. I am still independent because of these aids.

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