Comparison & contrast essay written for school...

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Able-bodies vs. Quadriplegics


            The quadriplegic population is often misunderstood.  When thought of by most able-bodied individuals (those without any physical disabilities) and even sometimes by those with other disabilities, quadriplegics might actually be thought of as less fortunate and disadvantaged!  After breaking my neck and losing all movement and feeling below my shoulders, I began to see the fantastic truth about being a quadriplegic.  When comparing the lives of able-bodies to my new experience, I found this new life to be far superior.  Contrary to what most believe, able-bodies are in fact the disadvantaged ones.

            Quads and able-bodies both share similar daily routines, such as waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going out for the day.  Sadly, many able-bodies have to go through these routines alone, with very little help or input from others.  I recall my pre-accident days when there was no one to prevent me from making horrible fashion judgments.  It was embarrassing walking around in a neon shirt, plaid pants, and army boots!  But now, since I can't do anything myself, advice from others is always readily available when getting dressed.  In addition to that, no meal will ever be eaten in solitude and I no longer have to rely solely on my own sense of direction (if I do indeed have one) when driving from place to place.  Many able-bodies are sometimes forced to face these tasks alone, when clearly two heads are better than one.

            Both quads and able-bodies are also similar in that they each carry their individual self-concepts and ideas on body image.  Many able-bodied people (including my pre-accident self) spend an enormous amount of time working to improve their body image.  There's aerobics, sports, running, dieting, etc., all intended to help the average person reach that impossible ideal self.  I would run at least 20 miles a week, do thousands of situps, and never be content.  But thankfully, my broken neck disrupted this endless cycle.  Now I have the greatest excuse not to work out.  It's a tremendous relief to finally say, "whatever will be, will be."  And besides, even if my clothes aren't fitting perfectly no one will really notice since I'm always sitting.  Able-bodies simply do not have any such luxuries.

            Another similarity between quads and able-bodies is that they must each find some way to provide for all their needs.  I recall many experiences before my accident trying to find work.  I tried babysitting, pulling weeds at a plant nursery, sweating in the back of restaurants, and the list goes on.  Of course I didn't work myself to the bone because I enjoyed it, as I'm sure not many people do.  My broken neck saved me from the working force so many able-bodies are dependent upon.  Now a disability check comes in every month while I do absolutely nothing, Medicaid covers all my medical needs, and if I wish to pursue any career goals, disabled services will pay for it.  You can't get much better than that!

            Other problems plaguing both quads and able-bodies are physical ailments.  No matter who you are, there's no escaping them.  I can't count the times I hurt myself before my accident.  All the bruises, broken bones, skinned knees, and pulled muscles were sure to negatively affect my mood and abilities.  But now such events are merely an amusing spectacle.  All these things that caused much pain and anguish before now either cause laughter or, at worst, empathy.  And what's best is that all these things that would either slow down or knock an able-body temporarily out of commission usually won't keep a quadriplegic down at all.  As long as we're able to sit in a chair, we're ready to roll.

            Clearly, the world has the wrong idea about what it's like to be a quadriplegic.  It's quite amusing to think that we're thought of as the unfortunate ones.  We'll never have to go through life alone, we're not obsessed with body image, there's no more grueling eight hour shifts performing a job we'd much rather not, and when disaster strikes we don't have to feel a thing!  I was trapped in the able-bodied world of pain and hard work before, but now I'm so thankful I've been set free. Who would have thought this superior life of luxury was only one broken bone away?