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Posts Tagged ‘patrick stewart’

A few days ago (again with the FB…) I posted a video of Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard, wheelchair dude from X-Men) addressing a group about violence against women and post-traumatic stress for veterans. Having just been assured by two women at a writing group that it was okay for a man to shake a woman he was angry with, I felt the need to have someone else loudly proclaim that violence is never the answer and to then receive a round of applause. That video met the need handsomely. (Literally. He’s a handsome man.)

What I found more captivating than his speech, however, was the way he stood, arms crossed in front of him, one hand clenching and clawing at his sleeve. I recognise that move. Any arthritic recognises that move. Call it “The Clench”–it’s a dead give-away that the person is arthritic and not in a mild, one-finger-hurts-when-it-rains kind of way. I swore then in my FB post that he has arthritis.

This afternoon I finally got around to googling “Patrick Stewart arthritis”. Apparently he is a red-letter sufferer, public about the problem and mentioned in some arthritis groups as a sort of Pop Culture Patron Saint of Arthritics Everywhere. {As an aside, I truly do not get this need that people have to find a celebrity with their problem/issue/concern so that they can validate their problem/issue/concern. Does arthritis “count” more now that Patrick Stewart has it?} So I guess instead of being all Sherlock Holmes-y on the YouTube video I could have been more up on Patrick Stewart in general and I would have found out that way. Oh well.

What compelled me to keyboard was the fact that there was a fan account of meeting him wherein the fan waited on line for a long time and was disgruntled that Stewart wouldn’t shake his hand or even give him a fist-bump. When the fan-wrangler had to explain that Sir Patrick (he actually called him Sir Patrick…) has arthritis the fan was pretty irritated.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had people irritated when I won’t shake their hands. In fact, it’s gotten to be so irritating to me that I no longer refuse to shake hands. I would rather put up with the slices of lightning that wrap around my fingers and shoot up my arm than to suffer under the laser glare of someone’s automatic decision that I am a bitch who is too bitchy to live.

By and large I’m glad that my disability is not visible in the way a missing limb or an eye patch would be. Folks can’t just look at me and know (unless they are a sufferer themselves and aware of the signs) what hurts, why and how bad. I’m like that commercial a few years ago for fibromyalgia where they show black animated fog superimposed over the parts of the woman’s hurting body while they told us loudly that Fibromyalgia Is Real. (No kidding…thanks for waiting for a saleable drug to get on board with that one, medical industry!) The animated fog superimposed on my joints would be red and make me look like I’d fallen in a vat of Buster Bluth’s juice*. But you’d better believe I’ll shake your hand. It’s just one more way to get by in an ableist world by faking ability.

Props to Patrick, er, Sir Patrick Stewart for drawing a line in the sand. But man, I sure would love a day when we arthritics don’t get lambasted for “impersonal” behaviour when we give in to our limitations.

(“You mean we have unlimited juice? This party is gonna be OFF THE HOOK!”)

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