CW: Death & Eugenics:
For the past few years, I have been more anxious due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As someone with Cerebral Palsy, it has been even more challenging to live during the pandemic. It’s frustrating to realize that society sees people like me as disposable. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, even made ableist comments on Good Morning America back in January. Walensky stated, “The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities.”
Everybody who has died from COVID-19 was a human being. It doesn’t matter if someone has diabetes, COPD, or cancer. Cerebral Palsy is considered a comorbidity as well. I can’t help but wonder what would happen to me if I were to end up hospitalized with COVID-19. Would my life be worth saving? Would the staff see my life as having value? Sarah McSweeney, who died in 2020, had Cerebral Palsy.
The doctors were puzzled by a document that the staff at McSweeney’s group home brought with them. It was a legal document outlining the medical care that this disabled woman, who couldn’t speak for herself, desired. The staff didn’t understand why it wasn’t a DNR. A do-not-resuscitate order is a legal document issued by a physician stating that you do not wish to be resuscitated in the event of an emergency. Because of her disabilities, the staff felt that she was less valuable. This horrifies me as a woman with CP.
For much of the past two years, I’ve stayed home. I’ve gone days without leaving my apartment. In public, I still wear a mask and avoid crowded areas. I haven’t gone to the arcade, sporting events or many other entertainment venues in the last two years. I have only gone to the movie theater three times since the pandemic began, and I was uncomfortable while I was there.
In the fall, I am going to attend my local community college. I haven’t attended in-person classes since December 2019. I am nervous about what college will look like. I don’t want to get sick this fall. It’s challenging to be excited after not having a traditional college education for years. Remote learning didn’t work well for me.
For people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, the pandemic has been incredibly difficult to deal with. If people in your life seem anxious, please be patient with them. For many of us, catching COVID-19 could be life-threatening. Our lives matter and are worth saving.
“Covid-19: Comorbidity Expanded.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Dec. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/health_policy/covid19-comorbidity-expanded-12092020-508.pdf.
Shapiro, Joseph. “As Hospitals Fear Being Overwhelmed By COVID-19, Do The Disabled Get The Same Access? .” NPR, NPR, 14 Dec. 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/14/945056176/as-hospitals-fear-being-overwhelmed-by-covid-19-do-the-disabled-get-the-same-acc.
Spocchia, Gino. “’My Disabled Life Is Worthy’: CDC Prompts Backlash for Comments on Omicron Deaths.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 9 Jan. 2022, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cdc-omicron-covid-disabilities-deaths-b1989524.html.