I am a linguist who loves literature and who is fascinated by science. I quantify randomness. I paint. I travel in a power wheelchair, hoping to capture the ordinary.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Subject and object confusion

The film The Plague Dogs is a heartbreaking tale of life as an escaped lab animal, replete with friendship, violence, and a rare lack of pity for the viewers. It is based on the novel by Richard Adams, who also wrote Watership Down. One of the lab dogs has undergone an experiment in which the subjective and the objective have been confused in his mind: flies in his head are helicopters in the air. He cannot tell which parts of the world he actually exists in, nor can he make sense of how his actions change his situation or hope for love and survival.

Sometimes the institution-trapped mindset of the disability services industry throws human subjects into similar throes of nobodiness. I was dealing with a broken wheelchair, my beautiful customized Quantum R-4000, earlier this week. I called to get it repaired, and requested a standard chair like those in the commercials on TV, just so I could, you know, sit at the dinner table, shower, and go to work and stuff.

I was rotundly denied, informed that I was simply too disabled to sit in a regular power chair, even though my insurance would cover it. I should plan instead to live out a few weeks wrapped up in blankets in bed or on the floor. No dinner table, no bath, no job.

This was even after a phone call from my doctor. Trapped by my computer for two days, I persisted with Skype calls. Finally, they requested a letter from my doctor. Got it. Not enough. They wanted a letter from my "caregiver". No mind that my caregiver is hired, trained and fired by me and has no relation or real relationship with me. No mind that I am, in fact, my only legal guardian. They insisted that there must be somebody in charge of me. No, I explained, only me, and you are about to ruin my life and risk my death. Here's a signed letter saying just how you are destroying me... Signed, the Professor. OK, finally, I was human enough to have my own words effect change. I am no one's object.

1 comment:

  1. As a caregiver to my husband ... went through something almost as crazy... first denying he could have a power chair (brain injury & seizure disorder)... then when we were to get the controls in the back... they claimed I was not sick ... (no bad back, etc. thank God)... so therefore I could continue to push him around!

    Appreciate this blog... and the incredible art - our passion... http://artsanddisability.blogspot.com/ you may want to check us out as we are new and attempting to chronicle years of work & future work.

    God bless,
    Sonshine & Merry Lynn Morris