What It Means to Have a ‘Sitting Disability’

What It Means for Me to Have a ‘Sitting Disability’

This all sounds so familiar, it makes me realize I also have a ‘Sitting Disability” – I just never thought to identify it as such.

I can’t sit.

Well, I can, but not for very long. When I do, it hurts a lot.

There are many medical reasons why a person has difficulty sitting. Mine is because I have a throbbing pain in the low back (lumbago) and shooting pain down my left leg (sciatica). 

Like many invisible illnesses, sitting disability is widely unrecognized.

the world is designed around sitting. There are chairs in trains, buses, planes, cars, restaurants, doctor’s offices, the workplace and so many other places. Most people don’t think about chairs, but I think about them every day, everywhere I go.

The people who are closest to me know that when we plan a night out, it means dinner or a movie, not dinner and a movie. I couldn’t do both.

A night at the movie theater would take place on a slower night and I would have an assigned seat near the aisle. I would sit for a little bit, then stand in the side while watching the movie.

I would stand at the end of the hallway so that I could stand while watching the movie, but other theater-goers could not see me and I would not distract them with my sit-stand-sit activities.

Transportation is the same. I carry an inflatable pillow with me everywhere I go that helps with situations where I have to sit. I don’t drive and when I am a passenger, I sit in the front seat or I don’t go at all.

I have tried everything: physical and occupational therapy, massage, ice, heat, TENS, chiropractic care, acupuncture and dry needling, acupressure, biofeedback, steroid shots, and of course, surgery.

More than a cure, I long for a diagnosis. I still don’t have a clear reason why I have leg and back problems

I sat as an IT consultant at a desk for many years and the pain gradually took over. No doctor can give me an explanation.

I continue to search for cures all the while understanding that I am looking for ways to manage the disability. In addition to my trusty inflatable pillow and car pillows, I have several pillows for sleeping and watching TV. I have safe-for-public exercises that don’t require me to lay on the ground and create a ruckus around me

When people hear the word “disability,” they automatically think wheelchairs, because not being able to walk is the most visible disability. It’s not that I can’t walk, but I can’t sit.

I have experienced this. Everyone presumes you need to “rest” by sitting down and, especially with the invisibility of pain, it’s hard for them to really understand that you may be able to out walk them or be on your feet much longer then they can be, yet you can’t sit comfortably for more than a few moments.

Maybe that’s why I’m still in reasonably good shape: I can’t just sit around even if I want to. Pain keeps me constantly moving or fidgeting.

There are accommodations for wheelchairs everywhere, but not for people with sitting disabilities. This would mean providing a place to stand or lie down. To most people, this sounds ridiculous.

The cause of sitting disabilities is controversial. Some believe more sitting equals more sitting pain. I believe that is true for myself.

If that is true for others, then we are heading for an epidemic as people in this country are increasingly sitting for long commutes, office hours at a desk, and binge-watching the latest shows.

Thank you for pointing out the name for the disability for which I need the most accommodation.

2 thoughts on “What It Means to Have a ‘Sitting Disability’

  1. BirdLoverInMichigan

    Providing public places for people in pain to stand or lie down? That’s an excellent idea.

    But would undisabled society understand?

    If it can understand “transgender” bathrooms, why not us?

    Maybe it’s time to start a new political party, the Pain Party.

    Liked by 2 people


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