24 April 2011

"The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment"

As a trade unionist and socialist these words by Martin Luther King always rang true to me. 

I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism and the self defeating effects of physical violence."

And I guess now that I am a new paraplegic these words ring even truer.

After listening to this after a long time, two recent blog posts came to mind.

One was an
imaginary conversation I had at my 'Spinal-Cord-Injury-group-therapy' with my counselor.

Counselor: "If you don't accept your lot in life, you will never adjust."
Dennis: "I'm not really interested in adjusting to this life. I'd rather fight for the cure. Not just because I want one, but because it's possible."
Counselor: "Then you my friend are maladjusted and you get an F in group."

And the other was a blog post written by a friend and how he was labeled as: "An example of a person who has not reintegrated into society after a spinal cord injury." Basically he was called a maladjusted, too.

In the year 2011 is it right that we are still trying to adjust ourselves to paralysis when we have excellent results in animal studies and clinical trials in progress to cure paralysis? Actually, the thinking that we should adjust is what is stopping the cure.

I appreciate all the work done by those before us, who have struggled for better accessibility, chances at employment, etc, but as long as we continue to think in 2011 that paralysis is something that you adjust yourself to, the further we will be away from a cure.

The image of the 'happy roller' rolling through a successful life in the chair, is a myth.

For every successful businessman or career woman in a chair, there are countless more unemployed. According to a 2002 study, the unemployment rate in America for those with spinal cord injury was 63%. And to this I never intend to adjust myself.

For every happy person living a carefree life in the chair, there are countless suicides. The rate of suicide in the spinal cord injured community has been evaluated as high as five times greater than those without disability. And this I never intend to adjust myself to.

For every person living a long life in the chair, there are thousands who die prematurely due to complications stemming from their spinal cord injury. A 2009 study stated that life expectancies, "are still somewhat below life expectancies for those with no spinal cord injury." I never intend to adjust myself to a lower life expectancy than others.

For every person in a wheelchair enjoying greater accessibility in our communities, there are countless numbers of others who are confined to their homes due to poverty, pain, or vent dependence to whom ramps are meaningless. And to this too, I never intend to adjust myself.

If refusing to give up hope for a cure, when evidence supports it, is to be labeled maladjusted, then I too am a maladjusted and I'll throw my hat into the ring of "The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment".


  1. I never Intend to adjust myself to the W/C too.
    I intend to fight for a cure to get out of W/C ASAP.

  2. Life on w/c is not to live, this is only to adjust ourself to this situation. I will fight too for a cure ; to survive is not enough for me!

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  4. I will never ajust. Ajusting means giving up on a cure IMO!