Brain injury won’t happen to me

I went to the doctors to get my yearly jab – in the face. Doctors’ surgeries aren’t the most pleasant of places. I’ve had better parties. Bill Withers’ ’Lovely Day’ came on the radio in the waiting room and I wanted to see everyone get up, dance and be happy. It’s not easy with all those posters on the walls: Are you age 0 or above? Do you exist? Then you are at risk of death.
Anyway, on the way out I always notice and groan at this poster near the door. It says ’Brain injury – it’ll never happen to me!’ and below is a gloomy shadowy figure of a man in a wheelchair, head hung low. Below this image, ’My mates take me out… Sometimes.’
So I get it, alright? Nobody desires to be disabled. If they did, we’d see people lining up to head-butt passing traffic. And the point of the poster is that you shouldn’t fuck around, dumbass. Seriously, remove your head from the between the bin and its lid; I don’t care if you enjoy it. Still, if you already have a brain injury that wasn’t even your fault, all this poster tells you is that you are in the worst situation ever. For life. Look at you, nobody likes you. You don’t even have a face.
His life is in everyone else’s hands. His mates only take him out when they feel like it, meaning he has to actually be nice to them now he’s in a wheelchair.
I think brain injury is best served at birth. You grow up with your disability without any other reference to normality. It must be devastating to live with all abilities in check only to have them stripped away after an unfortunate, perhaps preventable incident. But there’s still opportunity to adjust, right? To mourn and accept and slowly rebuild.
I get the message, I get the aim and  that I’m not the shadowy figure, I didn’t mess up. Somehow, however, the poster manages to take a stab at disabled life in general: It’s miserable. Nobody will desire your company. There’s no point to life. Worst of all, you can’t buy clothes unless they’re the colour of a shadow. And I have no alternative ideas. If I didn’t have cerebral palsy the poster would probably scare me into thinking more about whatever danger it’s referring to (drink-driving, maybe?) It just doesn’t feel right whenever I see it, in the same way the Dogs Trust posters don’t feel right when they claim ’We never DESTROY a healthy dog’… I should think not! Maybe that’s their plan to encourage more people to adopt rescue dogs – take them home or else we’ll tear them all to pieces.


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