When someone begins telling a story with the phrase, “The reason I don’t like handicapped people is…” – it’s a pretty safe assumption that the person telling that story is an asshole.
The reason I don’t like handicapped people is…that they think the rules don’t apply to them. We get it. You’re suffering. Boo-hoo. But c’mon, at some point it’s like reading, Angela’s Ashes or The Kite Runner. I feel bad about the situation, but I don’t need 300 pages of it thrown in my face.
Listen, I’m not saying that I hate people who have a handicap. I’m just saying to follow the rules. And the rules are very simple. If you were born with the handicap, like without arms or better yet with too many arms, you’re okay in my book. Not your fault. If for some reason you become that way through disease or an accident, also not your fault. You get a pass.
But if you become handicapped by eating yourself to 400 lbs, then no, I don’t like you anymore than your bedsprings do. If you’re handicapped because you’re so old that you require more than one apparatus to simply stand upright, then no, I don’t like you any more than your adult diaper does. God is telling you something…and you should listen. And I’m not saying you can’t live a full, happy life if you’re this way…you just can’t live it in front of me on the subway during rush hour.
Two weeks ago I rolled over on my stomach to stare out at what looked to be the start of a beautiful day. This buoyed my spirits and I momentarily forgot about the awful commute ahead of me, likely full of people described above. I allowed myself a few more minutes of peaceful contemplation before yawning and swinging my legs from under the sheets and onto the floor. Rubbing my eyes I stood up, took one step, and crumpled to the ground, smacking my head into the wall and almost passing out.
When I came to I was dazed and cradling my left foot in what looked like a Yoga move called, “Injured freckled goat”. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t get off the floor for a few minutes as my brain struggled to comprehend how this could’ve happened.
How did I do this? Was it my twelve-mile charity run yesterday? The AIDS Walk from last month? The weekly door-to-door awareness outreach for the homeless? Hmm…
When I realized I did none of those things because I don’t care about people, I began to think of more realistic possibilities.
How did I do this? Did I really kick the stroller THAT hard? Was it last week that I blacked out and fell off the barstool? When the hooker said, “You’ll be sorry”, is this what she had in mind? Hmm…
Regardless of how it had happened, it had happened. At some point my foot stopped working. And in true Irish Catholic spirit, I decided I had two options: pray that it healed or learn to live with the pain for the rest of my life. So I went to the shower and bathed like a flamingo.
The problem with living in Manhattan is that you have to walk everywhere. Which meant that for the next two weeks my strategy for “resting my left foot” consisted of walking three miles in tight dress shoes, each day, to and from work. At the end of those two weeks, I was still in so much pain that I decided it was time to do the responsible thing and…look up possible diagnoses online.
First up…gout. Gout is a horribly painful and debilitating form of arthritis usually found in those over the age of 60. And nowhere on Wikipedia did it say it appeared suddenly or that it was common for those in their late twenties…but it didn’t NOT say that. So in my mind, until disproven, I had gout.
Moving on…blood clot. A blood clot could appear suddenly and cause intense pain. Check. The swelling of the arteries would back up and, if untreated, the clot could lead to heart attack or stroke. This was common, it could happen at any age…and, goodbye gout, I had a blood clot.
But wait…jackpot. Bone cancer. Intense centralized pain, neurovascular damage, gradual weakening of the bone structure followed by…amputation.
And just like that, I was going to lose my left foot.
Even though I hate doctors, part of me felt like I needed a second opinion before hacking away at my foot with a steak knife. So I made an appointment with a podiatrist. Well, first I tried making an appointment with a pediatrician, before realizing I had the wrong field.
The thing that bothers me about podiatrists is that they are all about feet. All day, every day…feet. What kind of fucked up person chooses to dedicate themselves to something so gross and smelly? And normal feet can be gross and smelly…this guy is seeing ALL TYPES of feet. All I could picture on the way to the office was how much money it would take for me to turn to the fat, sweaty woman next to me on the subway and cradle her foot in my hands. No, thank you. I’d rather be a gynecologist at a free clinic.
As I sat in the waiting room of the podiatrist’s office, I hoped to run into at least ONE pirate coming in for a peg leg check-up. But alas, it was all old women and one guy who obviously had a foot fetish. And as he eyed my size 12’s with sick delight, I did the necessary lying on the forms. You know that lying… where even though each question only requires “Check Yes, or No”, you feel the need to qualify yourself.
Do you drink? No. I mean, I’m not a “drinker.” Four times a week, max. And weekends, of course.
Do you smoke? No. Absolutely not! Disgusting habit if you ask me. But you know, when I’m drinking, yes.
Are you pregnant? No. I mean, I hope not…what with the drinking and all.
Going into the office itself I began to get nervous. Not about the diagnosis, I knew it was bone cancer, but I didn’t remember if I had clipped my toe nails. It didn’t matter in the end because my embarrassment was transferred to the holes in my socks and the doctor quipping, “Bet you wish they made sock insurance also.”
They took a quick X-ray and I learned that I had pretty remarkable looking feet…and unfortunately no sign of bone cancer. Or a blood clot. Or even gout.
“Well then, what is it?” I asked, my big toe popping through one of the holes.
“Not sure,” the podiatrist replied, directly underneath his foot diploma hanging on the wall.
“Not sure? Isn’t that your job? You just looked inside my foot.”
“Well, did you see anything wrong?”
“No, but I’m not a pediatrician.”
“Whatever. So there’s nothing wrong?”
“Do you drink?”
“What?! No! I mean, wait. Why?”
“Well, maybe you just banged it when you were drunk, I dunno, we’d better get an MRI. Something is definitely wrong. Just not sure what. In the meantime, you’ll need this cane.”
As I left the podiatrist’s office onto the street, I tested out my new walking device and it actually did seem to help keep the weight off of my injured foot. After a few steps, I got the hang of it and was moving along at a good clip.
Then I reached the subway. I tried to move down the stairs and it became difficult to hold the railing and the cane each time I descended a step. A quick glance at the clock across the street confirmed that it was 6:30 PM…rush hour. And before I knew it, I was swept up in a sea of people, pushing and kicking at the cane to get it out of their way as they tried to catch their train, almost knocking me over in the process.
And that’s when it hit me. No, literally. That’s when someone hit me. I was pushed in the back and told, “Move it, asshole.”
Move it…asshole? At that point, I stopped and realized what a mistake I’d made before. I wasn’t this type of person. What could I have been thinking? How could I have been so selfish?
I mean, why did I get on the subway with a cane? That’s so fucking rude!