I remember the day my perspective on my disability really changed.
I wasn't yet diagnosed with any nameable condition. In fact, I didn't even consider that "disabled" could be a term used to describe me. All I knew is that I was different in a way that I hated. It seemed like I was constantly in pain. I felt fragile and avoided joining my friends in most activities — a day exploring the city or even just a trip to the mall — for fear of ending up broken.
On this particular day, I had just come home from yet another disappointing doctor's appointment. Yet again, I had been told that, despite my chronic ankle dislocations and full-body pain, despite the facts that I could barely make it up the stairs to my second-story room and that I had to take a car to college because I couldn't walk seven blocks between classes, they couldn't find anything medically wrong with me and that there was nothing I could do. This was also one of the worst doctors I had dealt with — he talked to me like I was a child and like I didn't even know my own body. I felt defeated and hopeless.
As I walked up my driveway and toward my front door, I saw a small bird fly down into the front lawn, cock its head to the side, then yank a squirming worm out of the ground and fly off. I froze in my place for a moment, considering the brutality of that tiny action.
In that instant, I knew that I didn't have it that bad. Sure, I was an awkward 19-year-old who could barely walk across her college campus without spraining an ankle. Yes, on that day and for years beforehand, I was essentially told that I would always be in this much pain. But in that moment, if nothing else, I knew that I would never have to live my life in constant fear of being pulled out of my house and eaten alive.
I recognize that it sounds silly when I put it that way, but it really solidified the idea that I'm lucky for what I have. The medical field is always expanding and today, five years later, I have a diagnosis, a muscle rehab trainer and a fantastic support system. Living with a disability is never easy, and I definitely still have my bad days, but I'm strangely comforted by the fact that at least I'm not a worm.
With a Perspective, I'm Lia Seth.
Lia Seth is a bank associate in Palo Alto by day and a blogger in San Francisco by night.