I think it’s really telling that the only people who complain about me using wheelchairs when I was in the states in, say, malls or other large public buildings.. were able bodied people.
"Oh, you’re too young!"
"You look fine to me."
"Surely you’re not in as much pain as you say."
"There’s no way you feel that sick, it’s an exaggeration right?"
"If you lose weight you won’t be in pain and you can’t do that in a chair." (Yes, I shit you not, I’ve heard that one. Thanks, dude.)
"Is it contagious..?"
"What if someone NEEDS that?"
"I don’t understand why people don’t treat those seriously, they should be ashamed. Young, healthy people taking a chair away from someone who needs it. What if someone comes in here with their grandfather?!" (Said within earshot. Oh, god, their faces when my husband and I just stared them the fuck down.)
I never get that from other people who are ill. Visible or invisible, I never hear from them anything negative or dismissive. I get questions, I get stories, I get conversation and well wishes. Prayers from various religions. Understanding smiles, or shared laughter over bad driving skills in way-too-narrow store shelving areas and the inability to get assistance with reaching things.
Ableism is so thoroughly in society that I essentially expect the worse any time I try to keep myself out of pain and discomfort, and it’s shitty that this should be a concern at all. It shouldn’t be the norm.