By Letter to the Editor on March 20, 2020.
This letter was inspired by both the newspaper article with Shannon Phillips and Ryan Gerstenbuhler and the “Good Doctor,” Dr. W. Gifford-Jones’ March 12 column.
Dr. Gifford-Jones asked a question in his column: Why are families so polite when loved ones are suffering? His article is about needless pain that sick people are enduring when there is a solution to minimize suffering.
My point is that there are different types of suffering and families of those who suffer should not have to worry that their loved one will be subjected to discrimination simply because of his need for assistance in order to live independently. So do we, as family members, need to start actions that would disrupt the people of Alberta and the government to get their attention? Such as blocking roadways and rail lines? Let’s hope that there are more sensible solutions at hand.
Ryan Gerstenbuhler lives as independently as he can with assistance. However, Jason Kenney and his UCP have decided that there must be cuts in home care and those should be shouldered by the disabled citizens of Alberta. The way the government agencies have decided to do this is by demanding that Ryan must give a minute-by-minute accounting on how long it takes for a quadriplegic spasmic cerebral palsy man to eat, bathe, dress and yes, to complete a natural bodily function. Do the citizens of Alberta fee that this is OK? This is dehumanizing, disgraceful and unacceptable! Who on earth have we in Alberta voted in to govern us?
Ryan has the ability to express his thoughts and feelings for himself, but there are many disabled Albertans who can’t; many young and old, who do not have a voice. He also cautions us that we don’t know what health crises are lurking in our own future. Please put yourself in his position and ask yourself must we accept these indignities and embarrassment.
The most telling statement our son has said to us is “I’m so weary of always having to justify my mere existence.”
Henry and Micki Gerstenbuhler