I am disabled: Dysgraphia and such

The Barefoot Medical Student wrote a blog post about how she “sucks at driving” (her words, not mine) and I was intrigued.  The post was a link-up with Nisha 360, a young woman with Cerebral Palsy who blogs about her journey to independence and the challenges she faces living with Cerebral Palsy.  I checked her page out, and she is inspiring and interesting and all kinds of other loveliness.

The “I am disabled” campaign is being used to show that world that we are all “disabled” in some way or another, just not all in the societal labeled way that instantly comes to mind when you hear the word.  That we all have some sort of struggle or challenge.  She wants us to answer the question “what do you wish you could do, but can’t?”

I was drawn to this first because I have a superstar best friend who also lives with Cerebral Palsy and despite challenges, after many surgeries and lots of physiotherapy, she plays the piano, drives and does all kinds of things that lots of other people without a societally defined disability can’t do.  She is a prime example in my life how a disease label is just a label and that people fall on a spectrum (hers being on the mild side) and that determination, prayer and sometimes a bit of talent can make a difference.

Though disease causes real disability, sometimes we box people based on physical appearance or disease.  And really, that isn’t fair.  It is good to accommodate for needs, but it is not good to limit people just because of an anticipated problem.

I have a bunch of things I wish I could do, but can’t.  And really, I don’t have a societally accepted disability.  I have asthma, but it is well controlled and I can do as much as the next person (well… I’m not in great shape, but that is just a bad call, not a disability).

Image via Wikipedia.

One of my friends diagnosed me with a sometimes controversial learning disability called dysgraphia.  If you don’t do the whole latin-medical terminology thing, that means I have problems writing.

And I do.  I really can’t write.  Proponents of the dysgraphia theories say that physicians are one of the most affected groups and that people with high IQs are more likely to have it (well, in that case, maybe I should embrace the problem, ha ha).

I try to be a neat writer.  I am anal retentive about everything, but somehow no matter how hard I try, it still isn’t pretty or girly or anything.  I have been told that my notes and orders are legible and that it is appreciated, but I make a conscious effort.  It takes a lot of effort.  And it is hard.  I have seen people look like they are just scrawling something down and it is neater than mine.

I also have this weird hand shake before I write.  And I move my lips when I write.  I can’t explain it… But people notice and it is awkward.

I used to lose marks on labs (especially physics labs) because I couldn’t be neat enough for the teacher, even though my work was good.  And they weren’t messy, just that my writing wasn’t what he considered good enough.  And I get it… Teach kids to be neater.  But I was being neat.  I just can’t form letters.  Especially when I get on a roll.

I would love to be able to write… Or print.  Because I am so anal retentive that it drives me crazy that I can’t seem to be a neat writer.

So, I type everything I can.  I can’t wait until the hospital I work at gets electronic records to minimize my need to write.  It would save me so much time.

The writing issue falls over into other fine motor things… Like I struggle with suturing.  Have no fear, I can do it… I am just painfully slow.  But I have a weird hand tremor.  It takes me twice as long to learn those sorts of skills.  I am great at venipuncture, but it took ages for me to hone the skill (spending a summer working in blood collection helps).  So, suturing will come.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a surgeon who will let me hone that skill further because I am slow.

I have challenges in the area of writing and some other seemingly valuable fine motor tasks.  I wish I didn’t, but I do.  And I have learned to do these things to an acceptable level despite my struggles.  And I keep working at it.

Think twice before you judge a book by its cover.  Just because someone has physical or mental challenges does not mean they can’t do something.  Just like because someone does not have obvious challenges, it doesn’t mean they can do something.  Let people try.  Understand when they can’t or when people struggle.  Maybe help them to learn how to do something.  The results may surprise you.

We all have disabilities.

6 thoughts on “I am disabled: Dysgraphia and such

    • I think the visual helps clarify the point.
      I hate it when people have terrible handwriting that is so bad you actually can’t read it. That is what I don’t want to do to people. Though, the fact that I have terrible handwriting does help with deciphering other people’s terrible handwriting.

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