“I wish I could spend all day in bed!” This is something able-bodied people sometimes say to disabled people. I think I understand where their confusion lies, in confusing spending the day in bed with being stuck in bed all day.
I spent most of the past week stuck in bed. While there, I had a lot of time to ponder the distinction between spending the day in bed and being stuck in bed. For me, one of the biggest differences is probably found in relative freedom of movement. When I’m spending a day in bed, such as when on vacation (hey, I haven’t always been *this* poor), I can get up at any time for a snack or a drink or to take my book outside for awhile. When I’m stuck in bed, I try not to get up for anything less urgent than the bathroom.
Getting out of the bed is a simple matter of rising, when simply spending a day there. Getting out of the bed requires planning, preparation, and a sturdy chair stationed beside me, when I am stuck there. Spending a day in bed, voluntarily, is refreshing and relaxing and restful. Being stuck in bed isn’t any of those things, because whatever got you stuck there in the first place is sapping all your energy, and quite likely distracting you with highly unpleasant symptoms like nausea or pain.
If I’m spending a day in bed, I’ve probably already carved out this slice of free time to do nothing. If I’m stuck in bed, I likely have a to-do list growing by the minute, which I can’t even begin to address. This failure to keep up with my life responsibilities adds both stress and guilt to the experience of being in the bed all day.
I love spending a day in bed as much as the next person, but please, the next time a disabled friend tells you they’ve been stuck in bed all day, understand it wasn’t a restful vacation day. It was a sick day.