What It’s Like Being Disabled

What It’s Like Being Disabled July 13, 2022

First of all, I’m not sure if disabled is the right word, I’ve been busy the last 6 months trying to recover from my stroke. They tell me I’m doing very well, but it doesn’t feel that way.

I have no speech issues or cognitive impairments, but I don’t move so fast and my left arm is still quite impaired.

Overall, people have been encouraging. They have donated money, called us regularly in some cases, and were generally encouraging. As is always the case, it only lasts for a while. People seem to get weary and I understand.

I have discovered that no one wants to hire a 50 something, somewhat disabled man, from a rural area. All the entry jobs are for able-bodied, vibrant young people. It’s just a fact. Even those that have good intentions, never seem to be able to find an opening.

“Have you tried..” I hear, or “maybe you could do this.” I send it another 20 applications. It does nothing to disrupt the silence, the steady stream of junk emails is all I see. Wait, there’s a customer service job–i live 20 miles too far away.

Someone offers to help me write a resume, etc. but I already know how to do that. I know how to get a job, I keep trying to tell you I’ve got a lot of life experience.

Is it just me, or does it seem that everything involved in this process takes an extra amount of work? People don’t call you back, you have to badger them just to get them to return your calls. Getting that medical form to that person that needs to move forward in the process, it’s literally exhausting everyday to have to push people to help you.

I want to go back to work, and people promise they would make a place for me, but every step of process seems like it’s constantly being delayed. The advocate at the hospital, the insurance people, my former employer, the agency that’s supposed to be helping me, etc etc.

Maybe it’s that we’ve been conditioned to put most of our energy and resources into our best resources. I understand that, from a profit and loss statement, I’m not the most valuable asset. But don’t they know I have other qualities, do they understand that I have life experience, do they have any compassion for me?

When people see me in public, and see me struggling, they do pity me, but that’s not what I really want? I want them to recognize the determination it took just to get up and put the brace on, and work through all the therapies and get my driving privileges back and walk several hundred yards to get to the point where I drop my cane and drew attention to myself.

At this point, coaches want to scold me to have a better attitude and put more positive vibes out of the world. Religious people sometimes want to blame it on the devil or on me for not having enough faith. Employers seem to just want me to go away. The paperwork people of the world want me to understand they are on vacation or they’re too busy and have too many responsibilities.

In all of this, I still don’t want people to feel sorry for me. But I do want them to understand, I want them to give me a chance. I want them to let me participate like they did at the farmers market. I want to find a place where I can feel good about myself again.

I must acknowledge that there are people like my wife who have sacrificed and endured and encouraged and worked her ass off to help me get to this point. There are friends online that have contacted me consistently throughout and been my friends and given me money. For these people, I am eternally grateful.

I’m really not trying to blame anybody, I’m just trying to let you know how it feels.

If I had any solutions, I would have implemented them already. Believe me, I’ve had more than enough time to think about it.

Be where you are,
Be who you are,

Karl Forehand

Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity

Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!

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