July is Disability Pride Month and USA Today appropriately had an article called “10 inspiring self-help books about illness and disability.” It’s impossible for people without difficult, chronic health issues to understand what it’s like to live with one or more of these issues daily. Most of us feel disabled just to have a bad headache for a day. And while it is not necessary to fully understand what others struggle through, complete ignorance and lack of empathy does not help us be decent people considerate of others or help us be accommodating at work or play.
Not everyone with disabilities has a conspicuous physical problem. People dealing with chronic, disabling illness or episodes of being dis-abled often appear completely healthy because they are having (or pretending to have) a good day. During times when COVID is rampant, “freedom-loving” people who tell others to just stay home appear to be completely ignorant of the great many people out there who are not perfectly healthy and abled, or are caregivers, and also need to go to work and do other normal out-of-home behaviors to survive.
Especially if you know someone dealing with chronic pain or mobility problems and/or want to create an accommodating environment for public space, workplace, or even a friendly visit to your home, you may want to read a memoir about the daily issues faced. One of these memoirs is “On a Roll: How It Feels to Be On Wheels” by Katie Rodriguez Banister, who became a quadriplegic at age 25.
Katie Rodriguez Banister is a local friend, an author, a woman of many talents. She is an educator on disability awareness who speaks to school audiences, advises businesses and public entities, and empowers others coping with daily struggles. She is a huge inspiration to all who know her. Her On a Roll memoir candidly tells about the impact of the tragic accident and how she survived mentally then and every day since. Reading it put my own annoying health issues in perspective and I saw the real Katie’s struggles and frustrations beneath her cheerful demeanor and feisty personality evident throughout the book. No sob story, rather an awareness story. Katie is an impressive fighter and her wisdom on how to live through tough times is a light for all.