This week I’ve watched one of my cats as she’s attempted to negotiate the house while wearing a collar around her neck–one of those conical things designed to keep her from grooming a wound. It’s been tough to watch; suddenly a cat I’d normally describe as ‘a force of nature’ has become very unsure of herself. Normally the dominant cat of the household, now when her brother hisses at her she doesn’t hiss back. It’s taken her several days to stop falling out of bed in the morning and the like; she still walks slowly, with baby steps, her head low to the ground. She tries to scrape the collar off on everything–and everyone–she can get to. She spends most of her time curled up on my lap, and refuses to leave even when I need to go get lunch (today I ate lunch hunched over, with her sitting on my upper back/shoulders).
What should be a small ailment–lesions on her abdomen due to an allergic reaction–has had a massive impact on her quality of life while she heals. Disabilities and handicaps, both permanent and temporary, can have a similar impact on people, particularly when (like our cat) you don’t know when or if it’ll get better–after all, it isn’t like we can explain the situation to her.
Today, imagine that you or a fictional character develops such a disability or handicap. Choose something that affects basic, day-to-day activities. It could be something as small and temporary as a sprained finger or as lifelong and debilitating as becoming a quadriplegic. How might you (or your character) handle it? In what ways would it devastate you, and in what ways would you not allow it to get the best of you? How much would it frighten or anger you?