When bureaucrats ask me to outline my personal care needs in excruciating detail,
I will say : my partner helps me shower
And we enjoy it
- there have to be some perks, right?
If they find me 'not crippled'
I won't feel like a liar, because I know better.
I will not apologise for being an inconvenience
when I need a ramp to access public transport.
Even if I hadn't planned to travel 24 hours in advance.
Nor will I apologise when someone trips over me,
because they're not looking out for people at wheelie height
(I might apologise if I run over their feet. Unless they really deserve it)
When my speech is slurred and my brain is foggy,
or I need to lie flat to stop fainting
when I lock and pop with each step
like someone's cut a puppet's strings,
when I arrive on wheels with a stethoscope
I will wear a Tshirt that says
"keep staring, I might do a trick"
When I am working part-time,
and colleagues tell me I have it easy,
I will invite them to walk a mile on my knees
or wheel a mile on cambered, cracked pavement
and then report back.
I get to do FY1 and FY2 just like them,
(and FY3 and 4 and even 5
- whatever gets the hours done)
And when fellow 20-somethings
look scandalised by talk of prolapse, constipation
or 'little accidents'
falls, faints and full carrier bags from the pharmacy,
I will be thankful that my friends can see the funny side
and the not-funny side;
who get that honesty is vulnerable but silence is isolating.
Next time I'm on the train, and someone hems me in with suitcases
And says "just ask if you need to get out"
I will smile
- as long as you don't mind asking my permission before you go for a wee"
I will keep talking about the worst times of my life
because stigma and silence kills.
I will be assertive about my access needs at med school,
and take no nonsense from my GP.
I will keep shouting "it's a miracle!"
when people stare at the wheelie walking.
And when Beanie kisses the top of my head
when I'm wheeling down the street
I won't scan faces
wondering what people think of our relationship
from the outside.
I will just tip my head back
Fuck narrowly defined normality.
I will not be embarrassed anymore.