[Image shows three spoons on a laptop background. Overlaid is a clipart of white torn notebook paper with a red paper clip. On it in black text reads “You’re Too Young to Be Sick”. And below in small red font is the URL for TheeCrohnieGrace Blog.]
The other day, I went to the State fair with some friends. I took my cane because I knew that there would be a bit of walking involved. And even knowing I couldn’t do the rides, I wanted to get out of the house and hang out with some friends.
When I got there it didn’t seem like a huge deal, there were other people using canes and wheelchairs, although they were older, I tend not to really judge by age someone’s health, since knowing my own.
As my friend took her son to this kiddy rollercoaster in the shape of a long alligator (it was his favorite ride), I was met with the conductors words:
“You’re a little young to be using a cane.”
Looking back I can think of a thousand witty replies that would have left him cold in his tracks. But at the time I was just sort of taken aback and said, “You’re not the first person to tell me that.”
But what I really wanted to say was, “Do you say that to kids in wheelchairs? Do you go into Children’s Hospitals and tell the kids to get out of bed because they’re too young to be that sick? Is disabled something only old people can be? Would you be saying this to me if I was in a wheelchair? Do you think my age has anything to do with my health? Would you still be saying that if you had seen me in the hospital at 9 years old for months on end?”
But it hit me that this isn’t the first time someone seems to think that young people are full of energy, they can’t get sick. But age does not have any correlation to health.
There are kids younger than me that are sick, kids who are just born, and barely even take their first breath before they are met with life long conditions they didn’t sign up for, things that could take their lives, or make their lives more complicated from day one. And there are people older than me, who may have been those kids who were sick on day 1 or who may just be finding out they are sick. And then there are people my age: Some have been diagnosed for years like me, some are just being diagnosed today, and some are still fighting for that diagnoses, trying to figure out what is wrong with them, why they aren’t just like everyone else.
In this world, once you realize it, nobody is too young for their life to be snatched away from an illness or disease, to get into an accident, etc. Nobody is too young to be disabled.
So to the man who worked the Alligator kiddy ride, at 9 I thought I was too young to have all of this happen to me. But now? I’m thankful for every day I have, even if I have to use a cane or wheelchair one day, even with my ileostomy, my port, etc. Yeah, I used to think those were only things that happened to elderly people too, until it happened to me. But for some people, they will have the privilege to remain abled bodied all their lives, they will never be hit with the “Oh crap, this CAN happen to anyone.”
It’s why I blog, it’s why I post about it, to break the silence and stigma that comes with disabilities and chronic illnesses. So that one day, maybe kids won’t have to be faced with the same insulting questions that we have to answer now.
[Image shows me sitting on the ground, but all you can see is my chest up, by the ferris wheel. I’m in a black t-shirt and have my black and green glasses, red lipstick and red hair.]