Recently, we’ve learned that Peanut’s eyesight has taken a turn for the worse, and we’ve started patching again to try to save the vision in his left eye. As rotten as this is–and, believe me, it’s been pretty rotten–it’s not a stumbling block, as the song says: it’s just a stepping stone.
I’ve noticed people tend to see disability as a death sentence, so to speak, and that there’s a presumption that one will not be able to accomplish as much, be as productive or soar as high with a disability “in the way.” I think it’s time to put this in perspective.
This man is Stephen Hawking:
I imagine Mr. Hawking fits most people’s idea of “profoundly disabled.” Since 1985, he has required 24-hour nursing care. He uses a wheelchair. He is no longer able to feed or dress himself. He speaks using a speech synthesizer. He most likely drools.
He is also a world-renowned theoretical physicist who has revolutionized the way we think about and understand our universe. He’s a best-selling author. He’s a dad. He’s taught at Cambridge and Cal-Tech, among other places. He’s a freaking household name. And he did all of this after being diagnosed with ALS in 1963 and despite his increasing physical disabilities.
Compared to what Mr. Hawking is dealing with, blindness, even total the-world-is-black retinas-fully-detached blindness, is a cake walk: it’s totally and completely doable. So, Peanut uses a cane to get around. He might need to read with his fingers. He’ll likely use other adaptive aids and techniques as life goes on. But you know what? He can still do absolutely anything he sets his mind to. If Stephen Hawking can do it, Peanut can too.
I pulled the information for this post from the following:
- Mr. Hawking’s official Web site, http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.html. He’s written about his ALS and computer-assisted speaking on the “About Stephen” section.
- Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking.
- Ned Potter’s article Stephen Hawking Makes a Big Bang, available at http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/04/stephen-hawking-makes-a-big-bang/