Gender Workshop: The Joys of Hospitalization

As always, Gender Workshop is brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood Crip Dyke.

For the past two months I’ve been staying in a hospital – you know, one of the places where people are relentlessly educated and re-educated on ending the stigmatization of health conditions. Even better, I been staying in a Canadian hospital, where the perfect joy of a Utopian health system goes entirely uninterrupted. 

…but that, actually, is why I’m needing a bit of interpretive help. As I was writing an e-mail to PZ, two masculine-looking folk, wearing uniforms that would make them part of this institution but not part of the medical staff, passed by having a loud conversation. Their passage was perfectly timed for me to hear:

And that’s why anytime I see someone in a wheelchair, I call them a ** ** lump.

Their laughter was so loud and so long that I continued to hear it after the automatic exterior door closed behind them.

I rarely use wheelchairs, though I do use them. So I was wondering if there’s anyone else around here that doesn’t use wheelchair-transportation that would like to explain to me what these knuckleheads were doing.


  1. Rich Woods says

    I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea what words those pairs of asterisks might represent. But whatever it is, I don’t like the sound of it.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    I thought, “Must be the punch-line to a ‘joke’.”
    and I googled ‘wheelchair joke’.

  3. lemurcatta says

    What kind of uniforms? I’m a paramedic. Sometimes we use “gallows humor” and if overheard by the public, it would sound profoundly uncaring and grotesque. Not to excuse their behavior, but i would need to hear that comment in full context of their conversation to know if it was “normal” or not, and even so, it should never be within earshot of patients or the public.

  4. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    The uniforms were clearly intended to be for persons who clean or maintain the physical facilities. They were not uniforms for medically-trained staff.

    The “joke” was that one can simply assume any wheelchair user is in the way…AND then assume that the right way to access any work you need to do is to insult the wheelchair user. Unless there’s some other joke someone wants to bring to my attention.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ll be happy when the Redhead gets back into wheelchairs. Anybody making fun of people in wheelchairs should be fired.
    I will admit some wheelchair policies are total bullshit. I had “out-patient surgery” a little over a year ago, and after spending the night (less than 23 hours, so same day surgery), some poor nurse had to wheel me, a fat old bald man, to front door and make sure I was safely in the vehicle for my ride home.
    I could have walked all the way home (about a half-mile) faster, and saved the nurse’s back.

  6. lemurcatta says

    Crip, that’s gross. Definitely not conversation that should be acceptable for medical or non medical staff at a health facility, and not something that even a salty medic at my agency would say.

  7. The Mellow Monkey says

    During the last year of her life, a wheelchair gave my best friend mobility and access to the world that she would have otherwise been cut off from. It also gave many able-bodied people the notion that she was not, in fact, a person. It wasn’t even a particularly subtle shift, as people avoided making eye contact with her, directing questions and comments to me instead. Even a few of her nurses in the hospital spoke to her like she was an infant instead of a woman in her thirties.

    Using a wheelchair in no way signifies a lack of understanding or agency or worth, but apparently a lot of people who don’t use wheelchairs can’t grasp that.

  8. Crimson Clupeidae says

    My MIL spent the last 25 years of her life in a wheelchair. Fuck those guys.

  9. says

    Well, that’s just disgusting! (And unethical, unprofessional, and downright insulting!)

    Had it been me, I’m pretty sure a couple of rude assholes would be finding medical equipment in new and interesting places…

  10. says

    Also seconding what TMM said — people in wheelchairs are seen, at best, as invisible, and at worst, as “in the way”. And don’t get me started on those jackasses who gush about how “inspirational” we are.

    (Er, sorry for the double post!)

  11. wzrd1 says

    I’ve had more than my fair share of injuries over the years, enough that I’ve become quite proficient with operating a wheelchair.
    Worse though is, my wife stands a very real chance of being wheelchair bound, due to severe disc disease that is crushing her spinal cord.
    So, while I share our friend lemurcutta’s gallows humor, I instantly lose my entire sense of humor when such a joke is made. To the point where those two would have loudly been called out on their ablist bullshit, with much usage of profanity and creative description on what species I firmly believe that they have in their lineage. Were anything other than profuse apologies been issued, I’d likely then trip them repeatedly with my cane.

    Yeah, I’m stuck using a cane now, I think I blew a disc catching my wife after she nearly fell after her surgery last week.

    On a more pleasant note, who is well acquainted with mockingbird behavior? I’ve been watching the local variety and noticed these seem to spend a lot more time on the ground than their northern counterparts. I also have been watching one brood mature, four chicks, two disappeared, one died on the sidewalk and one still thrives. It’s something to see a chick of a massive two centimeters, with adult coloring mature. I’m still surprised that they were out of the nest at such a small size.

  12. Karen Locke says

    Grrrrr. I use a cane now — knees destroyed by arthritis — and I might need something more in the future. Husband and I are building an eventual retirement home, and are making it wheelchair-friendly (aka ADA compliant)… just in case.

    I’ve been writing fiction lately, fiction that will probably never get published — I’m much better at writing professional papers — but I wrote a scene in which a security guard is being an asshole to a woman in a wheelchair, and she metaphorically hands him his head on a platter. It reflects my attitude about the whole issue.

  13. llyris says

    I’ve been in hospital for short stays a few times. (Australian, Melbourne). In my experience there are wheelchairs everywhere. If you need x-ray/ultrasound/other someone shows up with a wheelchair and wheels you to the appropriate department. It’s a large, confusing hospital, there’s a good chance I’m not wearing shoes, there’s a good chance I’ll get lost on the way there or back. They don’t know how mobile I am. Sometimes I’ve been able to walk myself, sometimes I’ve been so sore that walking that distance is not possible. So they have people to take you where you need to be and come back to get you afterwards. If you’re feeling good you can make vroom or puttputt noises as you go. There is no way to tell if the person in the wheelchair actually needs it or not. They might be sitting in it because it’s convenient and will get up and punch you if you’re too rude.
    Nope, I have no idea what the knuckleheads were doing.
    But I also don’t know that word the asterisks are standing in for, though I can guess it wasn’t polite.

  14. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @wzrd1, #12:

    I’ve had more than my fair share of injuries over the years, enough that I’ve become quite proficient with operating a wheelchair.
    Worse though is, my wife stands a very real chance of being wheelchair bound, due to severe disc disease that is crushing her spinal cord.

    Empathy for all the injuries, and I agree that there are advantages (and a lot of fun) in having good skills with wheelchair use.

    I feel pretty f*ing terrible to have to say, however, that it’s sad your wife may have an affair with an incarnation of severe disease that has a wheelchair fetish, a bondage fetish, and an SM-top orientation.

    Or is there some other way one can be “wheelchair bound” to which you refer? In my experience, I’ve only found them liberating unless and until my top started getting BDSM-frisky.