Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pet Peeves and Crappy Phrases

I've got quite a few pet peeves, and if you've been around here for just about any length of time, you've maybe figured that out. But one of my biggest is this phrase: "So and so SUFFERS FROM (fill in whatever disability you want to here)"

Why is it an automatic assumption that just because you have a disability, you're suffering? In fact, most of the people I know with a disability are the HAPPIEST people I know.

One of the sweetest boys I've ever virtually met, who has one of the most amazing mothers on the planet, has been blessed with Down Syndrome. In every story, in every picture, that his mother shares..... I've never seen anything that even comes close to resembling suffering. In fact, I say he's blessed because he, quite simply, seems like the happiest little boy I've ever come across. His life is lived in the moment, and since moments change continually there is always something new to experience for him. He inspires anyone who meets him or spend time with him to smile a smile that comes from the heart. Every toy he has and every person he knows is his best friend. He is creative and joyful. And he loves to be naked. How is any of that suffering?

An elderly gentleman that I help take care of a couple of days a week is confined to a specialized recliner for 95% of his day. He doesn't have much use of his legs. He's got Parkinson's, which create some challenges with his hands. He wears hearing aids in both ears. He has to rely on other people for some of the most basic of daily necessities. And yet, he greets me with a smile and a laugh every time I see him. He remembers and asks about my family and what's going on in my life. He is patient with me as I work with him. His deep and abiding spiritual faith is both humbling and inspiring. And his disposition is such that I would never presume to think he's suffering.

Bug has ADHD and is Bipolar. Both of these are disorders that carry a multitude of challenges that he has to face on a daily basis that he has no choice about. But suffering? That's a choice for him. He can choose to face (and meet!) these challenges, or he can choose to let them continually overwhelm him. It's not always an easy choice. And he doesn't always choose the sunniest path. But he's NOT suffering.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure what I'd replace that phrase with. I just know that it irritates me when people assume, and therefore proclaim, that disabilities and suffering go hand in hand.


Anonymous said...

I whole heartedly agree! Having a disease and suffering do not go hand-in-hand. Suffering is largely a choice. Attitude plays a huge part. As a nurse I have witnessed this often.
As for another phrase... how about just saying someone is "living with..."

Cecily R said...

AWESOME points.

I seriously need to tack this post to my forehead for the days when I feel like I am suffering the MOST. I know it's largely a choice, and I need to keep that in mind more often.

Karen said...

Micah HAS Down syndrome. It's just part of who he is. But you're absolutely right, he doesn't suffer in the least. Except for that naked thing. If I were naked it would be suffering in the worst sense.

And you are The Sweetest. Really. Do you know how much I love that so many others love my boy? You make me smile.

Iqra said...

I like your perspective. You are right, we choose whether or not to suffer. I like the "living with" phrase anonymous suggested.