My disability was a mistake

I almost dodged cerebral palsy – almost. Hundreds of babies were to be delivered smoothly the day I was born. The odds were in my favour, but I rolled even. Well, I didn’t roll at all; my doctor rolled for me and messed up.

Yes, my disability is somebody’s fault. The doctor overslept that morning and I was left with an incompetent nurse or two (what were the odds?) I didn’t want to budge from the womb and the nurses decided to do a dance as they waited for the doctor to stroll in – he didn’t.

I know, all that positivity from last week is now being dashed against a wall. But I’m sure the doctor didn’t neglect me on purpose. He can’t be that evil, but I used to imagine he was. I’ve never seen his face but to me he was the ultimate Disney villain, chomping down scab-flakes for breakfast and boiling children’s dreams for lunch.

I died for two minutes that day. Two minutes! I’m a zombie. I’m a talking resurrection. Where are my special powers? I was such a dramatic baby, unafraid to rip at the hearts of my audience. An Oscar-worthy performance, no doubt, if Hollywood saw past its prejudice against babies. A lack of oxygen to my brain for an extended period of time meant that upon emerging out of the great mysterious abyss I found a new lifelong friend in cerebral palsy.

Some days I drift into philosophical meanderings. It hits me how close I was to having a ‘normal’ life. I was entering a superbly scientific world, where the hospital equipment came tested and such things as witch-burning events were dead in the past (or at least in the UK). If one man just did his job properly as he had countless times before and after, I would now be walking, skipping, maybe fighting, maybe doing handstands, who knows.

So close. But it could’ve been worse, I could’ve died. Well I did die but, you know. I could’ve died-died. So I am grateful that somebody at some point saved me. Besides, cerebral palsy isn’t that bad.

Every day people are born with or develop punishing, life-threatening illnesses and disabilities with only faulty genetics and bad luck to blame. Me, I have to live with little old cerebral palsy, a disability which sounds merciless but is really just a house cat wearing a tiger outfit. All of my issues so far have been annoying yet temporary, like a bottle fly thumping itself against an out-of-reach window. My version of cerebral palsy (there are many variations) represents the perfect medium between appreciating what you have and yearning for more. I can’t draw delicate pencil art but I can type and therefore write. I can’t blast a football into a net but I can drain my hours away on the iPad instead. I have the same life expectancy as the average person, a strong immune system and thus far have experienced minimal pain in relation to my disability.

Not bad. You see, the doctor didn’t ruin my life after all, he was simply a part of it.


Sometimes I just want to be punched

Let’s see if I can write some positive stuff for a few weeks. I’m generally happy in real life, but as soon as I start wondering what to blog about it’s all negative.

I love doctors. I hate having to visit them, but so long as my issue isn’t life-threatening and they don’t need to shove a stick up my rectum I feel comforted by their presence. Sure they sometimes get things wrong, but at least it’s going to be a calculated error.

I saw a new doctor last week. It was great. He looked me in the eye and shook my hand. I felt like a proper adult. Part of me wanted an earth-shattering diagnosis so I could get a man hug off him, after which we’d discuss the brutality of life. What is wrong with me?

I love sitting in a room and feeling like the stupid person without feeling patronised. I feel like a child again, a time when I trusted adults had all the answers. They don’t, but it’s nice to pretend they do every once in a while. In a world where the majority seem scared of offending me, where I can do no wrong, I’m comforted by the fact that if I was dying this particular doctor would not hesitate to tell me. Well he’d obviously hesitate a bit, build some tension.

God, I’m so tired of people distancing themselves from me, viewing me as this fragile misery machine that I get joy from visiting the doctor’s.

Sometimes I just want to be punched in the face. When I used to go clubbing I’d always have some random stranger hug me at one point in the night. I like hugs, but it has to be the right kind of hug. These guys would always give me the sympathy hug, the you’re-an-inspiration-and-I’m-glad-I’m-not-you hug, peering over their shoulders to see if any girls noticed. Of course they noticed. So when these two star-crossed lovers would start sucking each other’s faces in front of me, I’d get these fantasies in my head.

What would happen, I’d wonder, if I kicked him in the nuts? I have a long leg, he’s inches away. Better still, I’d have a back-out clause: it was my spasms that done did it. So I kick him in the nuts, her in the ovaries, what are the chances that they’ll get angry? I’d get shouted at if I was lucky but I don’t think I’ll ever be punched, at least not by a stranger. It’d be ‘cowardly’, wouldn’t it, to punch a disabled man. That, and you’d be guaranteed an extra beating off security.

I kind of agree with this notion. Some of us are physically fragile (brittle bones comes to mind) and it’s best not to risk it. Maybe you could punch someone with a weak heart and kill them. So it’s logical that we feel reluctant to hit disabled people, but at the same time…

Just give me a little dig. Go on. Your sister is a horrible person. I don’t know your father but I bet he’s just as bad as your uncle who I also do not know. Now punch me so hard that I have to visit my doctor again.

Because everything is better than being a sympathy sponge. You feel sorry for a dying chick in the middle of a road. You feel sorry for Charlie Sheen. But you don’t need to feel bad for me, stranger. I’m OK. Who knows, in some ways I may be better off than you.

I just want to feel like a man, OK? I want someone to write a Blues song about me. I once gave myself a black eye by accident, and it felt good. There was tension when I entered the room, tension that dissipated once I’d revealed that I’d jabbed myself with my erratic left arm, but just for a few seconds people feared me. Yes, I want to be feared. But just for a day. I don’t want to be a meathead for any longer than that. I’d exercise so hard my new man-breasts would put me off balance.

And it’s at this point, discussing man-breasts, that I start questioning the point of this post. What have I said here that I haven’t said within the past year of blogging? At least it was somewhat positive. I didn’t mention death, not once. Apart from the image of a dying bird. And the weak heart bit. And the part about craving a bad diagnoses.

Sorry. More positivity next week, I guess.

Stop praying, you’re scaring me to death

Lately I’ve been scrolling through, a website which collects and showcases many celebrity political and religious views. It’s a surprise when you cross an atheist on there, unless it’s someone already outspoken about it. In a block of 28 people, you’re lucky to find 4 atheists. I’m always disappointed to learn that a comedian cherishes a belief – Kevin Hart, Eddie Murphy. You’re wasting gifts of material! Hearing a standup defend God is like seeing a clown get overprotective about his squeaky red nose.

I try to be a laid-back atheist. When God pops up in a group conversation, I’d rather somebody else be the downer, or if the opinion is harmless just let it stand. If religion brings you comfort without breaking your thirst for knowledge, if it causes no physical or mental harm to you or those around you, I say have a blast. But I’m allowed to be petty once in a while, and this post is one of those times.

Yesterday on the radio listeners were asked one of those throwaway inconsequential questions: If you were ill, which famous person would you like to look after you? I heightened the question by imagining I was on my deathbed, trembling at the thought of the Unknown (death). Listeners typically chose a celeb crush to look after them, but it’s a miserable thought to have Kate Hudson skirting around my bedroom, horrified at the sight of my limp, tired body and my zombie-grey face.

So instead I chose the old and wise Tom Jones. With his rich, leathery Welsh voice he could coo any worries away. But, looking at hollowverse, I now see he’s a strong Christian who prays every night that he’ll keep his godly voice as long as he lives. Because of this, I’m having second thoughts on inviting Tom around.

‘Come on,’ you say. ‘Stop being so prejudice. You won’t be invited to my deathbed with that attitude.’

But I can defend my decision. While Jones’ voice could coax cancer cells to health and you know he’d give the best hugs, I’d rather not hear anything about God or Heaven as I drift away. First off I’ll never believe these things exist until I see them, so they won’t bring me comfort. On the contrary, God-speak would only emphasise how horrible it is to be dying, how it’s been something so dreaded by children and adults alike (mostly adults) for millions of years, so feared that we still rely on ancient books to help numb the pain. Kneeled at my side, Tom would pray and pray. But I don’t think it’d be for my benefit, not really. He’d pray back {his} fear, pray for the ignorance to carry on living without having to contemplate the insane inevitability of it all. He’d be better off comforting me by giving himself a foot massage.

Maybe it would ease my worries if me and Tom shared the same belief. I’d think hey, Tom’s doubling my chances of Heaven through prayer (is that how it works?) Then again, the only religious people who look forward to death are the crazy terrorist shitheads, and they prove it time and time again.  If every religious person was so confident of a blissful afterlife, we’d be having traffic jams with the amount of dead bodies blocking up the roads and traditional funerals would be a blast.

Instead of praying fear away and trying to convince ourselves that we or God has things under control, let’s just admit to and bathe in the insanity of the temporality of it all. Rip off your clothes, headbutt a streetlight, marry a lamb, because we are all doomed, bitches. And as I die, tell me how great I am. Go on, you know you want to. I’m like a God to you. You need me. The world will never be the same.

I’m happy I can’t drive

Sometimes I mourn aspects of abled life I’ll never experience – skipping, juggling, steady hands and a warmth for the human race. But driving? No thanks.

It’s not like driving is out of bounds for me either. There are companies out there who redesign cars to suit your disability. If they could replace the car wheel and the pedals with a joystick or two – like the one I use to drive my electric chair – who knows what the possibilities might be. I could be so much more of an inspiration than I already am.

I’d also be angry at every driver who wasn’t me. I’ve sat in so many cars where the driver spends the journey shouting threats at every other driver on the road. Too fast. Too slow. Why did you turn? Why did you stop? Why do you exist?

Once you get that license to hit the road it seems you’re doomed to a tragic form of self-righteousness. Nobody’s driving exactly how you drive, and so everyone’s wrong, and so everything sucks. There’s a reason why car adverts usually consist of irrelevant metaphors or show the car on an open road – if they showed it on a busy motorway the viewer would start criticising all the other drivers on screen and the whole “life will be awesome” fantasy would vanish immediately.

As with walking, it’d be cool to drive for a day but after a few weeks I think the thrill would be gone. I’d have someone beeping at me to accelerate through a green light as I’d sit daydreaming about eating ice cream, because everything else just becomes routine.