You Know You Want to Look!

One of my past posts was entitled Longing to Fit In, in which I wrote that I longed to be in the “healthy mom/people” crowd.  (Which you can pretty much figure out on your own, but if you chose to read that post too, I’m not saying no!)

Anyway, Tracey from Just Another Mommy Blog (love that title!) had this to say:

“I’m glad you have this space… I just want to say that not all of us are looking with morbid curiosity or pity or anything bad. Some of us are able to look at a person in a wheelchair and not really “see” the disability.”

Personally, Tracey, I enjoy pity but apparently most of us disabled/chronics do not!

I started to write her back personally but realized what I started to write could be a blog in itself, so, thank you for that, Tracey!

I told Tracey that if she could look at someone like that, not see the disability, that she was pretty amazing.  (And I mean that in a sincere way!)

The thing is…even I always can’t, and I am often in a wheelchair or scooter of my own!

So, why do we look?

I don’t know all the answers and I guess I can really only speak for myself.

When I was well, I don’t know, you see a disabled adult or child and your eyes just GO THAT WAY, and I don’t know why I am so drawn to it.  But it does not mean that just because I looked, that I was thinking that person was a freak; most always I just feel sad and wonder what is wrong with that person.  I think that we who are in scooters or wheelchair, carry canes, etc. need to keep that in mind, that healthy people mean us no ill will, curiosity just gets the better of them.

Now that I am disabled ,I look at people using assistances and I just really want to know what’s wrong with them!  Maybe they have Lupus like me, or Fibro, or Chronic Fatigue!  I want to say “Me too!”  Sometimes I actually have and it’s been a good thing and I have found someone with a related illness!  I don’t know many disabled people in real life so it is sometimes nice to meet a fellow chronic!

How do I feel when I am stared at?  Like, I said, I remember how I stared or still do and why and I do not let it bother me.  Except when startled moms look at me riding a scooter with horror and quickly get their kids out of my way, fearing that I might run them down. (Which is probably wise, as I do find these scooters can be hard to drive sometimes and have crashed into displays, but never people.)  So I do feel bad when I scare moms and kids.

To those disabled who really still don’t want people to stare at them, I seriously tell them, don’t look at them! I usually take this approach, then I have no idea if people are staring at me or not!  This “don’t make eye contact approach” particularly comes in handy when I am putting up my handicapped placard around my rearview mirror, and what people don’t know is this perfectly looking healthy person is then going to get on the nearest scooter she can find!

If I have done anything in this post, I hope it makes healthy people realize that some sick people know you can’t help it and are even okay with it.  And I hope that those readers who are disabled have been made aware that people who stare at you are not necessarily awful, prejudiced people.

Why do you stare?  Or can you control it?  If you are disabled, does it really upset you?  Any “war” stories?


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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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13 Responses to You Know You Want to Look!

  1. Why do I look? I look at everyone. I try to smile at them all, too. Everyone has something that they are self-conscious about. My daughter has a large birthmark on her forehead. She was bald or nearly bald till she was 2. Lots of looks and conversations over that. I have a son with Tourette’s. Tics can be quite confusing to someone who isn’t accustomed to them. I am startlingly beautiful and draw attention all the time.

    I JEST! That was totally a joke.


    I meant it when I said it, though. I have friends and ex-boyfriends of all types. Quite the variety pack of religions, races, sizes, and abilities. We all bring something different to the table and I don’t want to discount someone before I get a chance to know them.

    Also, not all of the seemingly healthy people are “healthy.” Either physically or mentally, many people suffer in silence and without anything as obvious as a wheelchair. Perhaps some of the looks are because they wish it were easier for the rest of us to understand why they are so grumpy/unhappy/quiet/etc. We all suffer our own demons.

    I hope that you had a healthy and peaceful day with NO PAIN at all. Take care…

  2. mer says:

    I hate being in my scooter in crowded stores, it is so hard to not hurt someone who does not know you are there and backs up into you.

    Another thing, I was recently at the car place getting my car looked at and there was a woman sitting there on oxygen. She had a long conversation on the phone about being sick and her huge pill box.

    When she got off the phone i told her I was sick, too. Well she was JUST diagnosed with Lupus and she has 2 kids, and is a single mom. We exchanged phone numbers. The worst part is the chronically ill moms who WANT TO HELP EACH OTHER THE MOST – we are the ones who need the help the most!

  3. Tendai says:

    When I see a scooter or a powerchair, I look always. But I am looking because I want to see if that is the type I am looking for and I so wish I could ask them questions like is it comfortable, can you adjust the back, how hard is it to transport and a ton more but I restrain myself. I am not looking at the disabled person so much. I also like to know how much weight does it support because I am sure my son will want to sit on my lap and it is the best way to control his movement too because he likes to run.

    So I watch them discreetly and sometimes jealously for awhile especially if we are in a waiting room to get a feel if they are open or not. Then I might ask a question.

  4. Aviva says:

    It’s funny — I hate being looked at, but I can’t help myself from looking too. I look when people park in handicapped spots — I want to see that they are parking legally (i.e. have a placard) and then I guess I’m curious whether I can guess what their disability is.

    I’m fat, so I’m paranoid that if I use a scooter, people think I’m doing so because I’m lazy or my weight has caused my health problems. (My health problems have caused my weight problem!) Meanwhile, I look at folks on scooters and wonder about why they need it. And whether that’s what I look like when I use a scooter. :-/

    I do try to smile in a friendly way, so they don’t think I’m being judgmental. But it’s probably disliked as much as I dislike getting looked at ….

  5. Andy says:

    I recently had a conversation with my therapist about something similar. Using a cane makes me visible, where before my illness was completely invisible. I am personally flattered when people hold doors open for me, or offer to help me with things. It’s nice to know people care enough.

    I think part of the reason we all look is that it is a novelty in the sense that most people are not on crutches or win wheelchairs, and our attention is naturally drawn by things that are out of the ordinary. That’s the anthropologist in me speaking 🙂

  6. admin says:

    For Aviva and all: I debated writing this, but now that you say it it here, I admit, I used to look at overweight people and judge them. I was so wrong, I see it NOW!

    This is a HUGE problem for sick people. I was never overweight but I get so mad when I hear people say that even their own doctor says they “just need to lose weight”!

    Well, I was going to the gym 3-4 times a week, had a trainer and I STILL got R.A!

    What do you say to that, doctor?

  7. admin says:

    For Tendai and all: I am so glad I wrote this post because it is nice for me to know that a lot of us disabled people are thinking the same things!

    I “test people out” to see if they are open to a dialogue as well!

  8. admin says:

    For Mer and all: I dream of a day where sick people who are near each other can find each other, connect and help each other. It is great that you exchanged phone numbers!

    My thought is when the other person feels okay they can help the sicker person with whatever they need doing, cooking, tidying up, etc.

    My only trouble is that I am at a point where I feel I can no longer reciprocate. I have a relationship like that now, where it’s been one-sided for so long, I have tremendous guilt over it.

    You know who you are! I worry so much that you feel used, but please know that even if you did not do things for me I still would love you. Sometimes I feel I owe my life to our friendship, God sent you to me for a reason. I hope some of this makes you feel good.

    Sorry, I hijacked your comment a bit there, Mer!

  9. Francesca says:

    As per par Emily, OUR timing is impeccable! Just read your post and comments now after experiencing a day full of the following:

    About staring; I am extremely self-conscious about being in the way. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder to avoid blocking someone’s path. You see, I suffer from another chronic illness, “lack of self-esteem”. I often feel undeserving of attention, of help, and spend most of my day in my own mind worried about how others perceive me.

    Yes, I too, have chronic illness and, I too, look. I am more curious about situations that are similar to mine, and more apprehensive about disabilities that are different because I am not aware of the “culture” of that particular illness, especially dwarfism.

    I am so worried about how I am being perceived that my wandering eyes usually shift focus on my self. I am always feeling selfish.

    Anything that I do for you, I do because I can, because I want to, because I know that your pain pains me. So there you have it…last strung words of thought…Helping you helps me, selfish like I said.

    And just like your handwritten diary (latter post), your memory may need to be refreshed. Remember a the 4,5, +++ years we were friends, how many mental crises I was going through, how much psychiatric chaos, sleep disorders, etc…Who took my manic phone calls, day after endless day…details unimportant.

    As you believe that I am your Angel, I know you are mine.

  10. gaelikaa says:

    Disabled means differently abled not sick. End of story.

    Dropped in from Saturday Sampling.

  11. Broot says:

    I notice but I do my best to look people in the eye, smile, and talk to them like I would anyone. 🙂
    Broot´s last blog post ..Grrrrrrr hotmail!!!!

  12. I’ll admit, I look sometimes but I don’t stare. It’s because I’m curious. I want to know what using a wheelchair is like. I want to know why she has a helmet or why he has leg braces. And yet I also know it’s none of my business and someone with a disability has no responsibility to answer my questions or be an unexpected “face” of their particular challenge.

  13. luci gabel says:

    This is a GREAT post. Lovely information for the masses.
    luci gabel´s last blog post ..What I Think about New Year’s Resolutions

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