Due to his high profile, it's no surprise that much ink is devoted to Christopher Reeve. Our world has collided with that of an A-list celebrity in a way that we could never have anticipated, so it is inevitable that we react to him in the Rag, Mouth, Accent, and all of our other usual forums.
Readers themselves may have witnessed or experienced firsthand the myriad thoughts and emotions in the two or three years immediately following such a massively imposed change as is caused by a spinal cord injury. In the clinical model, there are textbook pages written about a pattern of denial, anger, and depression. Christopher Reeve is, so far, the most powerful, influential person to go through this experience. All his talk of The Cure is nothing new; convert gimps have been singing this tune for years. His use of this crap is now drawing the attention it craves because he's the one saying it. We're all horrified because he can undermine the life work of hundreds of advocates in just one speech.
I would also submit to all reading this that you may believe, as I do, that some greedy goody-two-shoes got to him early, took advantage of his vulnerable emotional state, and is using his celebrity for financial gain at our expense. He has been set up. He is being used. I'd bet his time is carefully controlled so that none of us could get near him.
Consider the power he has. We have all seen it. Imagine that one day he wakes up and smells the coffee. When he realizes just how badly his time is being wasted, how rich people are getting from his hard work, that all his effort is going for snake oil, then we can turn him over to our side of the Force. But by then will it be too late to repair the damage? We must break through to him somehow. He must learn how many of us there are. He must be made to see all of us. He must be jolted, grabbed, embraced, and fully accepted by our movement so that he can allow himself to be given over to it. He must be told just how angry he is making us all now, and how much permanent damage he is doing to human rights. If he knows this, if we ask him, maybe he will change. One thing's for certain: he won't change as long as we keep our anger to ourselves.
Rumor has it that the postmaster in Pound Ridge, NY, will forward mail indiscriminately addressed to Mr. Reeve. I want him to read these words here, juxtaposed with everybody else's. I want him to know how much homework he has to do before we let him dance in our troop, but dance we can make him when he joins. So he'd better crack a book. Starting with this next Ragged Edge. If people want to contribute to a subscription fund, then we can give him our cure. I'm sending a dollar by snail mail.
The zipcode for Pound Ridge, NY is 10576. --ed.
He delivers the nice, comfy-cozy "the only good cripple is a cured cripple, I'm gonna walk again" story. He's SO NICE, not threatening, non- confrontational, clean, handsome in that good boy way. He is, my god, the perfect cripple.
In the meantime, his audiences can feel all warm and fuzzy while they write those checks and they can go right back to their privileged lives congratulating themselves on how wonderful they are to help the handicapped. He challenges no one to assume any responsibility for doing anything to change things. No wonder he's such a popular boy. Time, however, and no cure, no walkie and we'll see, we'll see.
Cheryl M. Wade
Lydia P. Priest's poem, Aphasiac's Plea, is a mirror to me and eloquently described. Thank you for it.
No matter how discouraging things become, we should not get out of our situation by suicide. The book Life After Life by Raymond Moody chronicles near-death experiences; those which were the result of suicide attempts reveal a retention of, rather than an escape from, a problem. Carrying these burdens to the end of a normal lifespan is far less daunting than the prospect of having to carry them through eternity. (Who knows if such is so? But who has the courage to find out?)
No one doctor knows everything. Find specialists if you need. When dealing with medical people, remember who's paying for the services being rendered: you! Even if insurance is paying, they have an obligation to give you your money's worth.
Sex with yourself or your lover will necessitate adjustment; this will become a new area for discovery for you and your partner. It is imperative that one knows oneself before trying to share such details with someone else. What works? What doesn't? What can be substituted?
Get involved: continue to vote; volunteer; get involved with politics! Tell your public officials what you want them to do! Don't mince words! What can they do to you that's worse than what's already happened to you? Maybe now you'll have the time to analyze what previously you could only gloss over. And when you develop a solution, tell someone!
I wish we had a forum in the disability community where differing opinions could be freely shared and discussed. I feel this is lacking in the few publications I'm able to read. Too often we take strong positions with little discussion and that bothers me. Maybe there's such a possibility with the Ragged Edge?
The best letters are short and deal with a topic in the magazine. The editor reserves the right to edit letters for space. All letters are assumed to be for publication unless explicitly stated otherwise.
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