One of the benefits of having CF is that most people don't notice until you have to walk anywhere or they are close enough to hear your crackly breathing. Even then, they just assume you are a smoker or have a cold and will ofter you a sticky cough drop from their pocket (thank you stranger for the gesture but it is kind of gross).
While traveling through Newfoundland, my sister and I went on a whale-watching/iceberg tour in St. Anthony. It was a lot of fun and there happened to be a man with a visual impairment on the boat with us. We had seen the man at the restaurant we ate at the night before and he was definitely not letting his disability keep him from enjoying his food or iceberg martini. I respect that man so much for not letting his disability prevent him from doing the things he loves. Sure, he couldn't see the whales or icebergs, but his partner described everything to him and he could feel the sea and hear the whales.
|Whale + Iceberg = Awesome!|
The man made me ashamed that I had been ashamed to wear my oxygen on a little hike. While I'm not putting wearing oxygen and being visually impaired on the same level of unfortunate-things-that-can-happen-to-you-in-life, this man decided that it wasn't going to stop him from experiencing life or taking sweet vacations. He didn't care if people wondered why a visually impaired man was going whale watching (maybe he internally did but he didn't externally seem to care). I need to be more like that man.
The con of people not noticing your disability is that people make assumptions on your abilities.
When we arrived at St. Pierre from the ferry, we immediately went to the tourist information to get a map and some information of what there was to do on the island. We already had planned on taking a taxi to our B&B as it was up the hill outside of the main touristy area. As the ferry is pedestrian only, we had kind of assumed that there would be cabs waiting when we got off the ferry to take people to their hotels. We should know better by now to assume anything when traveling to new places (ask me sometime about the night we spent with a random Italian family somewhere in Tuscany). We asked the guy at the information place where we could get a cab. He proceeded to tell us that 'young healthy girls like you can walk there no problem!' and then outlined on the map the route to take. Our french was not strong enough to fight with young french men so we went to the bank to get Euros and then went back to the tourist place hoping he was gone. We eventually found a nice women who called us a cab but after asking several times if we were sure we didn't just want to walk. My sister wanted very much to mention that I was actually carrying a tank of oxygen with me to help my breathing, so no, we would not like to walk. However, arguing in your second language is really really hard to do (we would not make good immigrants). We eventually got a cab and the first minute I wondered if maybe we could have walked after all. The second minute I was very happy we were in a cab as the hill suddenly got crazy steep. It was a short distance but it was worth not struggling up.
|View from the top|
While it is frustrating to have people make assumptions about our health when they see us - I think it is because we are thin and people equate thin with healthy (that is a whole other topic I could rant about) - it must be equally frustrating for someone with a visible disability to have people make assumptions about their perceived lack of abilities.
I think the lesson is not to judge people's capabilities based on appearance and if they ask you to call them a cab, just shut your mouth and call the cab.