Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On Writing and Disability

‘Anything else you want to chat about?,’ the midwife asks nonchalantly: a casually phrased question I assume is geared to pave the way for a possible discussion about pre or postnatal depression.

‘Uh, yeah, there is something else actually...’

She looks up from her note-taking, biro poised above my medical file.

‘I can’t feel my fingers.’

‘Oh, okay...’ Her shoulders relax a little and she continues writing as she talks, ‘That happens sometimes in pregnancy. It’s called Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, mostly caused by fluid retention causing pressure on the nerves in your hands and wrists.’

‘How do I get rid of it?’

The nurse smiles patronisingly as she marks a full-stop at the end of today’s entry, ‘Oh, there’s nothing much you can do. Keep exercising. Keep up your fluids. It usually disappears after the birth.’

‘But I’m only seven months pregnant,’ I stare at her incredulously, ‘My hands are completely numb. I can’t wait this out for two months!’

‘I’m afraid you don’t have much option...’

‘I can’t write. Or type.’

She stares at me cautiously, surprised at my reaction. ‘You’ve finished up at work already, haven’t you?’

‘I’m a writer. And I can’t write or type.’

Oh. I didn’t know that. What kind of things do you write?’

Is this woman for real? She’s just told me I’ll be incapacitated for at least two months and she’s wanting to chat about genres!

‘Some journalism. Some short stories. Mostly poetry though. I'm a poet’

She closes the file, raises an eyebrow and looks up at me, the left corner of her mouth slightly twitching as if holding down the start of a smirk. ‘Poetry. Oh. Well, if it’s just poetry I’m sure you’ll manage to get by for a few months.’