I’ve had multiple surgeries, some of which have failed, leaving me in pain.
There are good and bad doctors, but the bigger issue is a perception of life for disabled people.
I want Trevor Noah to know I still enjoy life despite my failed surgeries.
Trevor Noah is accusing an orthopedic surgeon and a hospital of leaving him “sick, sore, lame, and disabled” after a surgery in November 2020. In a lawsuit, he said he had significant and permanent injuries.
As someone who has survived several surgeries, I have mixed feelings. Doctors fail. Human bodies are imperfect. Outcomes are never guaranteed.
I am sick and sore and lame and disabled. I always have been, to some degree. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying life.
My many surgeries
I had two knee surgeries a few years ago — both helpful, neither perfect. I’ll need knee replacements eventually, but I’m only 39.
As I recovered from those in 2017, my previous spine damage gave way, requiring emergency surgery that December. By February I needed a multilevel spinal fusion, then a follow-up knee surgery in June and neurostimulator surgeries in August and September. After 2018, my spine lasted more than two years before I needed surgery again.
Surgery carries risk. All of mine were successful. But none fixed me like before, because orthopedic surgeries aren’t magic; they can’t make injured joints like new.
These are facts. Hard facts, yes, but facts nonetheless.
There are good doctors and bad doctors — but there’s a bigger issue
I have had wonderful doctors, and I have had terrible doctors. I have had doctors who are both wonderful and terrible in their own ways. I don’t know what kind of doctor operated on Noah.
But the quality of the doctor isn’t the point. The perceived lack of quality of life for those of us who are sick, sore, lame, and disabled is.
I hear the word “lame” thrown around lightly and insultingly, in the same way other disability terms have been, by people who usually say they are just joking. Medical charts of yesteryear have words like “feeble-minded,” “moron,” “idiot,” and “imbecile” recorded as legitimate diagnoses. When I began teaching in Texas in 2003, the word “retarded” was still on school paperwork.
I hate the word “lame” in its evolution as an ableist colloquialism as much as I hate those other words.
Maybe I’m being overly sensitive to the word “lame” in this lawsuit. If I am, though, I have earned that right with each of my 26 surgical scars. I’m allowed to be furious as I see ableist jokes on Twitter about how he was already lame.
I hope the truth comes out of this legal action. But I also hope we can hold the tension that medicine is important and imprecise. Each medical decision provides information that’s valuable to further care and treatment, and early decisions aren’t wrong but are made with the limited information available at the time.
Noah’s lawsuit indicates he is disabled permanently. So, Trevor, let me be the first to welcome you to this messy community of unexpected outcomes.
You’ll find that our stories are regularly told without nuance. You’ll learn that media outlets, including “The Daily Show,” often ignore or misrepresent the experience of disability.
More than anything, I hope you discover that it is not terrible to be “rendered sick, sore, lame, and disabled.” You say you “suffered loss of enjoyment of life.” I hope you see that we in the disabled community enjoy life, even as it changes over time. Living “lame” is more than suffering and sickness; disabled joy is real, and I hope you find it.
Read the original article on Insider