I wear a leg brace to walk.
I consider myself fortunate to have it. I am grateful for its gift of mobility.
My blue brace is light, and custom-made in Sweden, and very, very expensive.
I used to be ashamed to show it. For years, airport security was a humiliating, degrading experience.
And then I grew to accept my disability.
I learned how not to internalize society’s judgments — perceived or real — about people like me.
We, people with disabilities, still encounter discrimination, sometimes daily.
As a rehabilitation counselor, I become a stronger advocate for people with disabilities every time I hear about the stigma they face.
So, when I must buy new shoes — required more often to accommodate the brace — I am cautious, because the non-disabled can be easily startled. Customers stare. On occasion, small children gape and point.
I am gracious and use a soothing voice, especially with young people not accustomed to dealing with disabilities.
But when a salesperson acts as if my disability — my inability to walk without a brace — is contagious, I sigh.
I choose not to shop there again.
It’s a sunny day, a day made for walking, and I leave with gladness in my heart for everyone who helped me reach this mental place of acceptance.
I am grateful for every step my space-age brace allows me to make. I walk with strength, inside and out.
I embrace my tech-aided ability to move with joy.