Visual diagnostics

I don’t know why we need doctors. The amazing visual diagnostic ability of the average person in the street is astounding. People can take one look at a disabled person and immediately know everything about their medical history and make a prognosis. More than that they can see if a person is in pain, tired, dizzy, having balance issues, feeling sick and a myriad of other symptoms all without any diagnostic scanners or instruments.

Yet can these aspiring doctors really be so perfect. Even the most skilled professionals with the best equipment don’t claim the diagnostic speed and accuracy of these amateurs.

Disease and illness are, in the most part, invisible. That might seem an odd thing for me to say. If you ever seen me, I am a full-time wheelchair user. So, you might think my disability is very visible. What we see on the outside, is a part of the effect that an illness or accident has on people’s bodies. It can even be the effect of treatment rather than the illness itself. It’s a bit like viewing an iceberg, you are only seeing a very small part of the whole.

Just to make it even harder to really grasp and understand an illness, disability, or the result of an accident: humans don’t show their full feelings. When you we are limited in some way we try and put on a brave face and push forward as hard as we can; smiling. You really do only see a tiny part of the whole picture.

There needs to be a mindset change in how to look at disabled and long term ill, people. I understand wheelchair use best, as that is how illness has limited me. But not everyone in a wheelchair is the same as me, I realise that. It is possible to need a wheelchair some of the time. It can be a means to travel further than their legs can carry them. That does not mean they are faking it. They need the chair to get around, in some cases that will be because day by day their condition varies. In others it will be because they can’t walk far. Cut them some slack. No one chooses a wheelchair for fun. Wheelchairs are uncomfortable, embarrassing, and difficult. You only have one if you need one. Wheelchairs, especially ones provided by the NHS; do not get issued unless you have a medical need.

Next time you see a wheelchair user be kind and understanding. You don’t know if you might end up in one in the future. Whether that is part time or all the time you will not find it fun. Don’t be quick to put on your doctor hat. Instead put on your caring hat and be understanding. Think, “there but for the grace of God, go I.” Be thankful, be considerate and be kind.

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Author: Mike Nevin

I decided to write about the funny side of being cared for. I am a full time wheelchair user with daily carers. It's my experiences with my carers that inspired this blog.

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