Recently I got a cane and some fabric, reusable, filter type masks. Both of which I’d probably needed for quite awhile but financial limitations and internalized ableism had prevented happening up until recently. I expected to have a complex emotional reaction to actually having assistive devices. But one thing I hadn’t really expected was how good it would make me feel, how powerful.
I’d had my reasons, other than money, for not using any assistive devices before of course. I had bought and used paper filter masks before but they didn’t really help, and honestly really embarrassed me. People looked at me like I was personally carrying the plague or zombie flu, it fogged up my glasses, and made my face feel claustrophobic or something…It just wasn’t worth it for the lack of help. So I hadn’t bothered trying any of the valve filter reusable masks, since budgeting for them would be difficult anyway.
As for a cane, it has taken me forever to even realize a cane could be an helpful option for me. Internalized ableism, cognitive dissonance, and pure obstinance had me thinking canes were for people who had some sort of issue with their limbs, bones, muscles, or joints specifically. It never occurred to me that if a cane could help me function, i could just use one. It never occurred to me it could be as simple as that.
So when friends recently offered to help me get a couple masks and a cane, to hopefully give me some independence and accessibility back, i said yes, though with a swirl of emotions. I knew that I wanted to be more independent, at this point more independence was the key dream, the goal of goals. But I was also afraid. I was afraid I would “do it wrong”, that someone would tell me I wasn’t actually allowed to use them for the purposes I needed them for (asthma and standing for longer periods respectively), that I would look ridiculous, or that I would get my hopes up and be let down again.
For two days I waited, both excited and anxious. Once they arrived, I ripped the packages open and immediately tried them out. As I did something surprising happened…I felt…proud…I felt confident…I felt capable, strong and sexy.
Mind blown. So to speak.
So here I am. I haven’t actually gotten to use them out of the house to much. I’m not able to go out to often even with a cane and a breathing mask. But one thing I know for sure is that every time I do use them, i will be using the resources i have at hand to help myself…and not only is there is absolutely nothing shameful about that. It is fantastic, it’s a sign of strength, coolness. Dare I even say it, it’s pretty fucking sexy.
And so help me, if anyone does see fit to complain about my using a cane so that I can stand with my family, they might just regret it.
Because I bet this thing is pretty good for shin walloping too.