Friday, June 08, 2012

Life in a Wheelchair is Not as Awful as You Might Think

If you were in an accident and found yourself to now be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life, would you wish you had died instead?

I'm very privileged to work with Chelsea Zimmerman, a young woman who was injured when she was a junior in high school and is now paralyzed from the chest down. Her article Life in a Wheelchair is Not as Awful as You Think is definitely worth reading.

She writes:

There are the hard-to-ignore sympathetic looks and pats on the back from passers-by and the surprised reaction I frequently get from people who can’t believe that I could have such a positive attitude about my life. Though they don’t come right out and say it, it’s not hard to imagine what they are thinking. We’ve come a long way in helping people with disabilities become more active and involved in our communities and work-forces, but it seems we have not yet relieved the general assumption that life with a disability is unbearable or less fulfilling. In fact, 52% of the people in our country admit that that they would rather be dead than disabled. This able-bodied view of life with a disability – dark, limiting, lonely, depressing – is why so many unborn children are killed after a poor prenatal diagnosis. It’s also why people advocate for sick and disabled people to have access to assisted suicide services or allow, even encourage, family members to starve their severely handicapped loved ones who can’t speak for themselves. In reality, however, most people actually in these situations (including myself) are quite happy to be alive and want to stay that way.

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