disabled brains?

“Werner has patients who were born with disabled brains from which he has removed as much as a whole hemisphere.”

disabled brains?

this sentence came from an article in shambhala sun about—what else?—a brain surgeon. there is no explanation or justification of the concept of disabled brains and why they need to be operated on.

i’ve had my brain checked numerous times for anomalies that might explain my various cognitive impairments and recurring seizures. so far no concrete evidence has been uncovered that proves my brain is disabled, men’s health
nevermind which part. modern western medicine has not connected me to the technology that would finally provide a physical map of my status as abnormal and less-than-whole. in brain or body.

a disabled brain? i love this concept! it’s so absurd that it throws light on the arbitrariness of the social construction of disability. this guy is removing the “disabled” parts of our brains! removing them!? truly, decease
i have barely an idea, even after reading the article, where this surgeon is coming from or what exactly he does. that’s not the point, really. the point is how casually the author addresses the concept of disability, of surgically altering a part of someone for no other reason than that “it’s disabled.” as if it was a given.

it reminds me of the way my disabled friends and i joke about social attitudes towards disability and disabled folks, i.e.
“get it away from me!” or
“disabled people make me sick!”
(by the way, one does not have to say it literally to convey the sentiment.)

eeeewwww!! it’s a disabled brain! fix it! fix it!

it reminds me of how much unsolicited advice i get on how to “cure” my chronic illness. as if the Advisors couldn’t just let me be sick. they have to do SOMETHING to help alleviate my suffering. or at least let me know that my illness is
all in my head
or
all my fault
or
a very simple problem to solve.

this advice is rarely prefaced with the kinds of questions or statements that indicate an awareness of and respect for my autonomy, my needs, or my ability to decide for myselfs if i want or need their help.

some examples:
do you feel like talking about your illness?
how do you experience your chronic illness?
i don’t know if you’re looking for resources, but i know this doctor, supplement, healing modality, diet, cool trick that i’d be happy to tell you about if you’re interested.
where are you at with your chronic illness?
i have some time, energy, money, or skills to offer if you want or need them.
is there anything i can do to help you feel more comfortable right now?

i wonder if it occurs to most nondisabled folks that i may just be living my life without focusing most of my very limited energy on trying to “fix” what’s “wrong” with me. sure, pain hurts. that’s what it does. but i’ve only had a handful of pain-free days in the past seven years, despite my best, worst, and mediocre efforts to feel better. i considered ending my life over it early on in my illness, but i decided i can live with chronic pain. i made my choice and i live with it. the least people around me can do is accept my pain.

i’m definitely not saying folks with disabilities shouldn’t have surgery or seek out health care. more that the assumption that every disability is a problem that needs to be fixed is a cultural attitude and, furthermore, it is incorrect. and my disabled brain thinks so, too!

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