Bcuz I am in a wheelchair does not erase my existence in the world. I often experience people acting very unsantizingly around me as if I am not there or do not exist. What do I mean by unsanitizing ? Well, for example the other night I was at the store an a older gentleman roughly coughs and continues walking he stands closer to me like one person length away and again roughly coughs but right in my direction. (=_=) Might as well just get up close and cough in my face. He did not apologize or look to even realize that he just spread his germs with me. I did the best I could to hold my breath and wheeled myself outta the area where his germs is most likely lingering in the air.
This has happened to me on multiple occasions and on one occasion I actually got sick from another person coughing in my direction. I know any other person would probably call that person out to please cover their mouths or something but I’m just too polite and forgiving to shout in someones face even though sometimes I want to shout … VERY KIND OF YOU TO SHARE YOUR GERMS WITH ME. But instead of making a scene and possibly angering the bad mannered person … I just hold my tongue, quickly wheel away, and forgive them.
Now another incident happened today in a Target bathroom. I had just finished doing my business and rolled on up to the sink to wash my hands. There was a lady using the sink next to me. I was quietly washing my hands and the lady next to me finished washing her hands. Her hands were dripping and normally the person reaches over for the paper towels or blow dryer to dry their hands. But this person turns towards me and violently shakes her hands dry. Water flicks everywhere ! On my face, glasses, clothes, etc. She then grabs a paper towel to dry off any remaining water off her hands.
Again … I was apparently invisible and the person did not seem to care that a person in a wheelchair was right next to them and soon to be victim of their actions. It just seems as if people treat me like I’m non-existent or like an invisible ghost. I’m not really there in the flesh. People cough at me, shake their germ wet hands at me, they sneeze in my direction, etc. I am really close to placing a sign on the back of my wheelchair that says PLEASE, MIND YOUR MANNERS AS I AM NOT IMMORTAL OR IMMUNE TO THE WORLD !!
I am often times afraid that one of these days I will contract a illness from someone else’s careless sneeze or cough in my direction. People need to be more educated about airborne pathogens and bacterial droplets that when inhaled can infect an innocent person putting them in the hospital or even worse death. My husband works in the hospital and he knows about the many patients who come and go in the hospitals. He knows about patients who are in isolation rooms. For those of you who don’t know … Isolation rooms are specially treated rooms for very infectious patients. People who have a illness that is highly contagious.
I’m sure there are people just walking around out there who are recoverees of an isolation room illness or just recovering from an illness. Bacteria never 100% leave the body. It’s just the immune system keeps the bacteria in check that it’s not taking over your body making you very ill. The bacteria just cohabitates with the others and behaves. So you’re still capable of infecting with that one bacteria gone airborne in droplet form through sneeze or cough.
I have to admit that having repeated incidents of people coughing, sneezing, and flicking wet germ water at me makes me a bit into a germ-a-phobe. I now carry with me Sanitizing gels, wipes, and a pocket Lynsol spray in my bag cuz you can never be too careful when people always graciously share their germs with you.
Hopefully this blog post will make people more aware to mind your manners and etiquette when it comes to things like sneezing, coughing, and drying your hands. Also to understand that just bcuz a person is in a wheelchair or a baby is asleep in the stroller does not make them non-existent or invisible. We are humans too. We have feelings and a immune system that can be easily compromised like anyone else. Being in a wheelchair does not transform us into some type of mutant cyborg immune to the world. So please be respectful and mind your mannerisms. Thank you !