The two months yours truly spent in a full leg cast – having slipped on a patch of greasy tomato pulp and cracked my knee-cap neatly down the middle like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange – was not a happy period, although I learned a lot.
This blip in an otherwise fit and able life opened my eyes, albeit slightly and temporarily, to what life might be like for those living with permanent disability.
Everything free and easy to me now and previously became hard and tiring overnight, from personal ablutions to the act of simply getting around the house.
Believe me, by the time that pot was split open to reveal a fully healed leg – however like a damp chicken wing it might have looked – a new and deeper appreciation of my decent health and unhindered physique had been installed.
Not that it should really have been necessary.
In childhood I had known quite well a number of profoundly disabled individuals, and had seen first hand not only the trials of such a life but also the vast courage and optimism required to rise above the endless parade of difficulties minor and major.
And the support. Of family, friends and an understanding wider community.
On several occasions my folks and I had been able to manifest this support in the form of fundraising activities – manning jumble sales and such – but in my defence it had been a while since I haggled over pennies behind a mound of old paperbacks, pots and twisted clothing.
Who has the time? Many still do, thank goodness, and we should be happy to support them, for the funds raised go no doubt a long way to enhancing the experiences of those born or coming into disability.
And the rest of us? Well, if we are not on the sponsored walk we can at least console ourselves that through general taxation we financially support millions of less fortunate people seeking to lead decent, dignified lives.
Obviously a little less so as of last week. The cuts to disability benefits forced through by this Government greatly clip our collective ability to show compassion in this area, and represent a great leap backwards for this increasingly cruel nation of ours.
As an individual I am furious.
As a community we should be ashamed.