A co-worker asked me this morning why I take so much Tylenol.
I was at a loss. I didn’t know how to respond. I’m usually a private person when it comes to my difficulties, the twin that is inside me. I don’t like to bother others with something that wasn’t their fault, with something that is common place for me.
It’s not that I’m ashamed of having Cerebral Palsy. Quite the contrary. I think it has to do with the fact that I’m too proud. I don’t like admitting weakness or discomfort. I live with it every day, why bother others with it?
I took a truthful approach and told her that I had Cerebral Palsy. She looked at me bald faced and asked “What’s that?”
“It’s a physical disability where the brain affects the nerves in the body.” I was summarizing but didn’t feel like going into any explanation.
“But you’re not disabled.” she said.
I didn’t think I heard her correctly. “I’m sorry?”
“Well, you’re not slobbering or in a wheel chair are you?” She laughed at what she obviously thought was a joke. “C’mon,” she said. “Why do you really take so much Tylenol?”
I was taken aback. How does one respond to that? How does one reply to something which feels like a slap in the face?
So I said: “It’s true. I’m an addict.”
She laughed, thinking I was playing along with her, never realizing that, even as she laughed, I was putting up walls against her, one brick at a time.