Use It Or Lose It!

Disability Network/Lakeshore staffer, Chris Wistrom, wanted to share some thoughts with all of you!

The other day I was working outside on my farm moving hay and clearing the barn out for some new construction work that was scheduled to begin shortly.  I was struggling to move a large shelving unit and my friend stopped by.  He asked me why I was being such a martyr trying to move the shelves by myself instead or asking for help.  I was surprised by the question and quickly responded, “Because if I can do it, I want to!”  That, in turn surprised him.   I went on to explain that although I have a disability that makes it difficult for me to do some things, and this was one of those things.  As long as I was able to do it on my own, I wanted to.

I come from the old school of “Use it or lose it!”  I know there is a time coming when I won’t be able to “bull” my way through, but I want to put that time off as long as possible.  I don’t want to be more dependent on others.  I’m that way now in several areas and it frustrates me.  Yes, I understand that we have to accept our limitations and work with them, through them or around them, but I am not going to give up one inch of ground until I have to!  If I allowed others to always step in and take care of the hard parts, then pretty soon, even the easy parts would get hard…at least, that’s how I feel about it.

I think that goes a long way toward explaining why people with disabilities refuse help when it’s offered.  We don’t mean to be ungrateful; when we really need help we’re glad it’s there.  But we also don’t want to have people do things for us that we are still able to do for ourselves.  Please don’t take offense when I say, “No thanks!”  I don’t want to hurt your feelings.  I’m not trying to be a martyr; I just want to be as independent as long as possible. 

Have you ever offered to help someone with a disability and had them refuse?  How did that make you feel?  Did you understand the reasoning behind it?