I am a preexisting condition, and I refuse to apologize. I was born with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. After a mental breakdown, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and bulimia nervosa. I take psychiatric medication. I use a wheelchair and a loft-strand crutch. I have a personal care attendant for showering and dressing.
The world I live in is not the world able-bodies see. Most insurance companies do not cover personal care attendants, but I still need one to function. This is why I have Medicaid; it allows me to live independently.
I am not lazy despite ableist assumptions. I do my own laundry, I volunteer, I am the captain of an adaptive track team, I attend college, and I plan to get a job. I do what I can do, yet there are still tasks that are either impossible or so exhausting that doing them would be counterproductive. I learned from experience that trying to fit the able-bodied mold makes me sick, mentally and physically. This is why I need a personal care attendant; showering independently has proven to be dangerous and dressing independently takes me nearly two hours of sweating and almost pulling muscles.
I can no longer excuse ableist remarks. The idea that able-bodied bank accounts are more important than my life is apparent more than ever. This is terrifying and disgusting. I did not choose this life. I am sick of hearing “you should’ve gotten insurance when you were healthy.” Any intelligent human being would know that cerebral palsy is a disability I was born with. I need assistance, but my life is still valuable, more valuable than money. I am a disabled American and I deserve to live.