The picture I have included with this blog post is of me at my graduation ceremony for my Law undergraduate degree in 2012. If you look closely you will see something different about my picture compared to the graduation pictures of most others. No, it's not my amazing fashion sense or my smug sense of self satisfaction that emanates from the picture, you may see a wheelchair. I am one of only an estimated 4,000 people in the UK with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or 'Brittle Bones' disease for people who aren't great fans of Latin.
From the day I was born I have dealt with broken bones from things as simple as being lifted too quickly by family members as a baby or even tying my own shoe laces in school. For my type of the condition (Type IV), bones strengthen after puberty and I thankfully haven't suffered a single broken bone in 12 years, compared to the roughly 300-400 I had suffered through my whole childhood up to the age of 15. Well, a few deformities that come as a result of the condition means that I'm pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life, unless bionic legs become a thing in the near future, but that is no big deal to me if not.
You may wonder why I told you all that. You may be saying to yourself "why should I care?" well this is the point of my blog, because I don't care whether you care or not. From my very earliest days I have suffered countless name calling, snide remarks, mean looks, and just general horrendous behaviour from people, both young and old, who probably weren't cuddled enough as children. In fact, I wrote a blog about that too. So, sticks and stones and all that jazz. That was my childhood and things like that are mostly in the past, though I occasionally get the odd questions from curious children, which presents me with the opportunity to have a bit of fun:
Strange Child: "Aye mate, why you in that wheelchair?"
Me: "Because I used to touch myself at night"
*child stares blankly*
Me: "You'll understand when you're older"
I don't mind people asking questions about my disability. It's an ice breaker, a conversation starter with people my own age that has a good chance of leading to oral copulation if I play the sympathy card right, but what really gets my goat are people who bat around the subject and assume I will be offended if they ask. In fact, even worse than that are the politically correct who insist on telling me they 'don't see the wheelchair' and only see the person in it which is, quite frankly, poppycock (always wanted to use that word).
It is natural to be curious and I know people like me don't come along very often, so why shouldn't you ask questions if you want to know? It's very rare I'm offended by anything, but I do get offended by people making presumptions about me and the type of person I am. Some will likely claim it's just being 'polite' or being 'sensitive' about my disability, but it isn't, it's being condescending. I'm not an infant who will break down into tears the moment you remind me I'm in a wheelchair, so if you want to know, just bloody ask!