a Stream of Consciousness

March 20, 2007 Amy BooksDisability StuffMedical SchoolRomania

“The non-disabled world tells disabled people generally that our lot is unavoidably tragic, and if we’re smiling, we’re smiling through tears and despite suffering. In the face of those powerful social forces, I believe that lving our strange and different lives, however we choose and manage to live them, is a contribution to the struggle [for equality]. Living our lives openly and without shame is a revolutionary act.”
Harriet McBryde Johonson
…a hardcore crip
I just finished Too Late To Die Young by Harriet McBryde Johnson. Absolutely brillant. Especially the last three or four chapters. It made me want to go become an activist almost as much as the movie AMAZING GRACE (go see it). (Brit be proud). Unspeakable Conversations still gives me goosebumps even on my second or third read of course. I will never forgive myself for admiring some of Peter Singer’s work considering his other works. Alas Johnson struggles as well.
I couldn’t help though to think about Laura (Romanian friend who died 2 years ago) as I read the book. Harriet and Laura have a lot in common. Harriet and Laura refused to subscribe to their culture conception of disability and to people’s expectations of what they could and couldn’t do. They are both writers and activists. And yes they both have nueromuscular diseases. The differences are stark however. Where Harriet succeded in getting an education and living life on her own terms. Laura was denied an education partly out of sheer predjudice and partly because her country was falling down all around her. Where Harriet refused to believe the statistics and lived life despite of diagnosis. Laura was haunted by hers to the point that in the months proceding her death she was having panic attacks not out of fear of death itself but on running out of time for life and her work. Laura died young begging for more time to help her people and live life, Harriet lives on. Harriet is what I think Laura would have been if she had been born in a first world nation or even in Romania but not in the mist of a Ceaceseau’s reign of terror.

Ironically we spent most of today learning about neuromusclar diseases. It was hard. As I read through Robbins Pathology section on Muscular Dystropy I was suprised by what came to my mind: “So what?” As I looked down at the little colorful blobs of protein and chemicals I was struck by how little it mattered to me. I was a little terrified how little it mattered to me. Because those blobs are supposed to mean something to me, they are supposed to be worth learning about.
I spent a good protion of my journals in Romania whining about what was wrong with people’s perceptions of illness and disability. I was so sick of being told there would be a mansion in heaven for my people and an institution for them here on earth. It didn’t cut it for me for them to bear their crosses. It was that furious summer of futile theological debate that cemented my desire to go to medical school. My preaching did very little where my assisting thearpists and doctors at least gave people something soild. It is very hard to preach liberation when no one can decide what the heck that means.
Not that I didn’t try to figure it out, I spent a year and half writing about liberation theology and all that debate. 86 pages later, I got a dorky award and a handful of medical school acceptence letters. I was tired of debating. I put my theology books in boxes and left them in another state under my bed next to my box of My Little Ponies from the 80s.
Now as I sit and look at Robbins Pathology, I articulate what has been coming for years. Medicine isn’t going to cut it for me. Its not that I don’t want to be a physicain. Its not even that I don’t want to be in medical school, I can’t just do medical school. I can’t just be a doctor. I can’t subscribe to some sort of theory of physical wholeness or lack of wholeness as the bottom line. A world of nothing but science isn’t the world I live in. I can try to pretend but it silly, its like my life is a play…Look this is Amy as medical student, isn’t that interesting?
I think I want to take some time off from the medical world. Don’t worry i am not going to do anything rash. But I do think I am going to take a year after 2nd year and go get my Masters in either International Development or Ministry. I also think I might go to Scotland or England to do it. If I stay in the US, I am not staying the Southeast.

by some crazy twist , my parents approve.

The End.

One Response to “a Stream of Consciousness”

  • Kristen says:

    I pray you stay with your service to Romania.
    The needs are great for working with love.
    May God bless you and lead you as you serve the children with disablities.
    I have been volunteering at a hosptial in the Transylvania area for about 15 years or so.
    Some of the children are in foster homes for a few years presently. Nost remain in the hospital.
    The director is good.
    God bless you as you study, then go.

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