A difficult thing for those without chronic illness or disability to grasp about me is something I can sum up in a single sentence: That I can doesn’t mean I should.
By which, I mean: My disability and chronic illness are such that the consequences of overextending myself, exposing myself to triggers, or otherwise endangering my mental and physical health are not always immediate. They’re often delayed by hours or days and rarely even weeks. The effects of overload, for example, don’t become apparent until the situation is over or until I run out of my supply of adrenaline and exhaustion sets in, whichever comes first. The effects of exposing myself to an asthma trigger sometimes bother me immediately, but sometimes, they pop up at around 3AM. Sometimes they just quietly destabilize my control so that something else that normally wouldn’t bug me (cold morning air, for example) puts me over the edge to flareup land. The effects of over training on my loose joints doesn’t become apparent for weeks. And so on.
So occasionally, there is a situation where I know that if I force myself, I can tough it out. But I shouldn’t because the consequences will be severe and unpleasant. Hypothetical case in point: A cat-owner friend who smokes hosts a party. I can go to the party and tough out the cat dander and cigarette smoke and noise and environment and change to my routine. Should I? Depends on how bad my asthma is doing and how stressed I am. Today? Hellll no. My asthma is threatening a flare-up with morning tight-chest and poor sleep and has been for the past week and a half or so. Cat dander and cigarette smoke would put me over the edge. Going would be dangerous.
If there is a takeaway for the currently able in this post, I’d like it to be this: Accessibility isn’t just making sure that can access is satisfied, it’s also making sure that should access is satisfied as much as possible, too.