Friday, August 6, 2010

Venting Self-Consciously


My correspondence has continued with my friend who is venturing into public for the first time carrying an ventilator to compensate for post-polio syndrome respiratory insufficiency.

My vent is the new Trilogy, which is about the size of two shoe boxes stacked atop one another. It comes with a soft carrying case. The thing is, I don't need it. Unless I'm tired. Or asleep. Or to survive.

Normally, it sets on a roll-about, and I come to it. When out in the world, I tote it around, not using it when ambling about in my chair. When I arrive at a place, I simply set it on the floor or a table. I suppose I could bungee the gadget to the back of the wheelchair when it comes time for me to breathe while driving.

Funnily enough, my biggest problem -- that is, when I seem not to breathe correctly (meaning, sufficiently) is when I'm eating, and post-eating. It seems to take every kilowatt of my energy to digest food after a meal, which comes on top of being able to eat and talk at the same time. With that, I suspect I'll soon be toting it into restaurants.

It's a new experience, going public with a set of mechanical lungs, and it's one I've resisted for a very long time. Why?

Ah, the ugly, tawdry, preening idea that deep in my psych that carrying around a ventilator makes me feel more fragile and weaker than my conception (or perception) of The Real Gary.

That in turn means I've been brainwashed into accepting society's long-held perception that people with disabilities are less than ... weaker, dependent, less useful, non-productive, that we are our disabilities rather than simply people, with everything good and bad that identification suggests. 
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