Temporary disability, enduring empathy


By Anthony Kinny, Associate Editor

Everyone that drives knows it’s nearly impossible for a car to get around on a flat tire. An unexpected flat can soil any plans of a good time, and can also ruin a good outfit if not careful when changing one.

Although it’s an easy fix, a flat tire can throw an unpredictable twist into any comfortable arrangement.

Figuratively speaking, my body has been struggling with a flat tire since I underwent stabilization surgery on my left shoulder earlier this month. Losing the use of my dominant arm is an onerous experience that I hope I’ll never have to suffer through again.

Despite the fact that my disability is only temporary, my experience has helped me develop a newfound respect for people living with physical disabilities.

I was fortunate enough to be born in good health,

with two eyes, two ears and all four of my limbs fully operable. That’s something most healthy humans take for granted.

My personal experience coping with a physical impediment and needing assistance to do routine things like showering, eating and changing my shirt doused me with feelings of dependency and hopelessness.

These feelings can lead some people down a dangerous road toward depression and addiction.

However, as I slowly recover and regain the ability to do basic tasks on my own, those feelings of despondency also slowly dissipate.

I feel the struggles of losing the use of my dominant arm, however, it’s tough for me to even envisage the strife people with lower body disabilities encounter in their daily lives.

Sadly, those issues escalate when attempting to access the outside world especially in instances involving access to education.

Yes, Contra Costa College does make accommodations for people with disabilities on campus with programs like the Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) or the many ramps that lead into ADA compliant buildings following completion of the Campus Center Project.

However, many of the disability hand plates intended to automatically open doors on campus are broken, leaving students to face the challenge of opening doors themselves unless a good Samaritan holds it open for them.

Classroom doors don’t have electronic access plates at all which sometimes leaves disabled students struggling to get inside their classes to learn.

In the heat of the fast-paced life students usually adapt in college, it can get stressful juggling all of our responsibilities at once, however, no one should be too busy to be kind to others.

People should extend a helping hand to those in need.

It only takes a second to look back and hold the door for the person walking in behind you, disabled or not.

Although I know that I’ll recover from my surgery and be relieved of the burden of this wretched sling, the experience of being temporarily disabled has given me the sincerest respect for people living with disabilities.

But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I am eagerly anticipating the day my flat tire is fixed so I can once again hit the road as the young hot rod I was placed on this speedway to be.