Proud of My "Disability"

Proud of My "Disability"

by Katie Beckett

I had a rather unusual experience yesterday while shopping for back to school items. I was in a store looking for school clothes. I noticed the sales associate was staring at my neck. It doesn’t bother me when people stare at my tracheotomy tube in my throat. It happens a lot and I ignore it. I wasn’t prepared, however, for her to say to me, “You want turtlenecks, don’t you?”

It took me aback. I go shopping a lot and I have not had anyone say that to me EVER. I wasn’t sure how to handle it so I ignored it. I wasn’t going to cause a scene. It’s not really her fault because she probably wasn’t thinking what she said was going to offend me. In addition, she was African-American and I was worried that in this race conscious society that I might be accused of being racist if I did say something about it. I wished I hadn’t been afraid and said something to her but I think I did the best I could at that time.

Some people over the years have encouraged me to cover up my neck because “it is intimidating”. They say, “Even if you don’t want to wear a turtleneck, you could put pretty ribbons instead of the white one to hide your (trach*) cap.” Doctor’s have suggested clear trachs or other models. I decided to stick with my trusty white trach with a white ribbon.

This trach has kept me alive since I was six months old. Covering it up would be like covering up my nose. It isn’t just another body part to me. It saved my life. I wear it proudly. And if some people have that much of a problem with a little piece of plastic then they aren’t the kind of people I want to associate with anyway. My hope is that other people with disabilities will be proud instead of ashamed or embarrassed by the physical symptoms of their disability.

"Till next time, take care of yourself and each other."

“Only shooting stars break the mold.”—Smashmouth, “All Star”

*Trach is short for tracheotomy (pronounced “tray-kee-ot’-o-mee”) tube. A tracheotomy is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the front of the neck and a breathing tube is placed into the trachea, also called the windpipe. The tube that is placed into the trachea is called a tracheotomy tube.

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