How To Handle with Care: O.I.'m Being Carried

After awhile the stares and silent questions from the people around me fade to the background. It took me quite a few years but now I hold my head up and feel proud: Yes, I am a young adult who is being carried around.
There are very obvious wrong ways on how to carry an individual with O.I. but I don't believe there is any singular right way to do it. It all depends on the child or person and even more so it depends on whether there are any fractures and where those fractures are. For me, when I have no fractures, I am fine being picked up under the arms - just like someone would pick up a young child. Other O.I.'ers prefer the cradle technique (like cradling a baby), and feel that this way of being moved is the safer bet. Whichever way someone prefers to be picked up is based on his or her experience and levels of comfort!

"Alright so what would be the best way for me to pick you up? Under the arms? Under the legs? Should I swing you by the arms? Throw you?" My friend was trying to find humor in an awkward situation. This is a question that I am sure many of my O.I. readers (or their parents) have been confronted with. When I was much younger my parents would jump in front of me as if they were blocking a potentially winning goal before the ball could even graze the net. They'd tell the well-meaning stranger that I have a "bone disease so I'll just pick her up myself. Thanks anyway." And with that my parents would swoop me up into their arms and hold me against their hip like any other toddler. Years of that repeated response had ingrained in my head the following 3 things:
1. Not anyone can just pick me up
2. The carrier must realize that I have a bone disease
3. Being dependent on close family and friends is the safest way to go
But as I got older those 3 "rules" didn't always hold up. When I first got to college no one knew about the O.I., or if there is a fire drill in a public place and I am there by myself - there is little time to explain to employees that I have "osteogenesis imperfecta, it's a brittle bones disease and you have to be really careful" (as the building is potentially burning down).
So how have I gone safely outside the years of protective routine that my family had insulated me in?
1. I have had to take risks.
2. I have had to trust strangers.
3. And I have had to learn from my experiences.
These days I know that I will have to expect the slightly rougher grasp from someone who has never held me before, and I know that their lifting me will feel like the jolt of an amusement park ride beginning. This is in comparison to a close family or friend who has carried me many times before - they are always far more gentler, less shakily nervous, and more aware of where my arms and legs are as they place me down.
If someone is nervous about picking me up then I will be nervous about being carried. For people who have never carried me before I usually tell them that whichever way they feel most confident about picking me up is fine with me. If their technique needs to be tweaked or changed then I will let them know, but I have always felt that instilling confidence and a can-do attitude in the other person goes a long way.

I refer to the above three tips as the Out of Bounds Rules. Those are the rules that help me manage the "outside world" or those who don't know anything about O.I., they have also guided me in times when my family and close friends have been nowhere near me, or when I need to make snap judgements of a situation. They are not so much rules as they have become laws to my life. If I didn't follow them then I would probably be living in a literal (and figurative) bubble, not have accomplished as much in life, and most importantly to me is I would have allowed the O.I. to rule my life instead. If the latter were to happen that would not only have broken everything that I believe in and grew-up knowing, but not following the Out of Bounds Rules would, I imagine, lead me to a far more imprisoned life.

On Being Carried:
  • If it's a young child ask the adult who is with the child first to make sure that it's okay for you to pick him or her up (this is true for any child with or without O.I.!)
  • Older children will be able to tell you if they're comfortable with you picking them up; even if you feel confident in picking them up it doesn't mean that you should
  • Be aware of any broken bones first, even the invisible fractures (ribs, tailbone, shoulders etc)
  • Don't coddle individuals who need to be carried, as kids get older they may get embarrassed and will be less willing to ask for help
  • Experience will make things better
  • If you are a young adult with O.I. who needs to be carried it has always helped me to see the person as another medical assistive device. This way you shouldn't feel embarrassed or awkward about having the carrier do something differently or change the position s/he is carrying you (most likely the person carrying you only wants you to be most comfortable anyway!)

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One Response to How To Handle with Care: O.I.'m Being Carried

  1. If I absolutely *must* be picked up and carried I usually only let my brother do it. DO NOT like strangers picking up and very rarely does that happen. If we go to a theme park and can't get my chair close enough to jump in the ride then my bro is the one that picks me up. Thankfully I'm strong enough to not have to rely on this much. It is very embarrassing.


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