Monday, June 14, 2010

The Disabled Once Again Ignored in Canadian Health Study

image After three years, I have learned that being differently abled means not being considered in the larger world; however, you would think that those claiming to study health would understand by now how harmful a universal standard is.

Apparently, researchers are examining what happens to bodies when we are sedentary
After two to seven hours of uninterrupted sitting, there is evidence "that is enough to increase [subjects'] blood sugar, to decrease their good cholesterol and to have a real impact on their health," said Travis Saunders, a researcher in exercise physiology at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa.
There are likely important physiological activities that go on while we sit that need to be studied separately from exercise physiology, he said.
Early evidence suggests spending long periods sitting affects the entire body, from the way it metabolizes fat and sugars to how the brain functions, and raises osteoporosis risk through lower bone density.
Did you get what happened there?  Lions and tigers and bears oh my!  All of these terrible things happen when we don’t get up and move around.  It is such a concern that people are walking on treadmills at their desks.  I wonder if they find many people that are paralyzed walking on these treadmills?  I wonder if they find many people who suffer from chronic pain getting up to do jumping jacks in their little cubicles to stave off the terrible effects of sitting?  Hey, do you think people who use crutches are up doing tai bo on their lunch break because sitting is destroying their bodies?

Once again, only one type of body is being considered in research.  This is no different than the medical community constantly using the male body as a standard, when it is more than obvious that various medical conditions manifest differently in a female body.  Science has  a tendency to universalize truths in the mistaken belief that what is true for the dominant body, is true for us all.

There are plenty of days when I write this blog lying on my couch, because even the very idea of sitting causes my body to ache.  When I take the time to load the dishwasher and my body is drenched in sweat as though I have run the Boston marathon, it is not because I didn’t find little ways to add activity to my day; it is because I have a chronic condition that zaps all of the strength that I have.

The way this study is being approached affirms the “super crip” mythology.  No matter how our bodies are configured, there is something wrong with us if we rest or if we sit.  The differently abled are constantly held to the same standard as the able bodied, though the task for us may be the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest.  It is easy to follow these simple suggestions if your body is TAB, but if you require a wheelchair, crutches or suffer from chronic pain, it is adding even more challenges to an already difficult day. I will venture to say that pushing your body beyond its limitations is going to have any even more profound effect not only on health, but general over all well being; however, this did not stop scientists from making broad statements, as though the differently abled don’t exist.

Reading the article on this study reminds me of the various attacks that I have faced for daring to exist as fat and disabled.  People don’t see my disability, they see my weight and demand that I just get up and move, no matter what the cost is to me as a person.  My fat disturbs them enough to suggest that it caused the lack of mobility, rather than my disability.  Suggesting that people should just get up (note: not all people can), further enables this sort of damaging social myth.   It also preys upon the fears of the TAB that somehow, if they just follow a strict set of guidelines, they can avoid becoming disabled. Of course, none of these factors are readily apparent, because science is supposed to be objective right?  We just have ignore the fact that scientists and researchers are steeped in the same ableist culture as everyone else.