Permanently deferred. Because of a system that automatically denies me without even knowing the actual truth. It started out as something small, that really wasn’t a big deal, but as I’ve been continuing to think and process, I realize it’s more than that. I am seeing it with a different perspective.
I used to give plasma at a plasma donation center twice a week; I haven’t gone for about 2 years but decided that I wanted to start again. I went in today and got a physical exam. Everything was fine until she looked at my eyes. I have Horner’s Syndrome; it’s something that happened when I was born. A facial nerve was pinched, and as a result I have lost some muscle innervation in my left eyelid, my left pupil doesn’t dilate normally, the left iris stayed blue while the right eye changed to green, and the left half of my face doesn’t sweat. Usually Horner’s Syndrome is a sign that something else is going on, like a tumor or a lesion or something similar. After medical intervention for the underlying condition, everything can usually go away. But because it happened to me as an infant, it has always been like this and hasn’t gone away. This is just how I am. And it’s really not a big deal. I am perfectly well and healthy…it literally does nothing but give me a good “interesting fact” about myself in get-to-know-you games. And it’s never stood in my way. Until today. Until it became a title and a way to define me.
When I had been examined at the donation center before, it was never a problem. But today she took a second confused glace when she shone the light into my eyes. I smiled and explained that my pupils are always different, I don’t have a concussion or anything. I told her what it’s called and explained how it happened and how it affects me. She continued filling out my chart and then reached to grab a big binder of disorders and cases and diseases. She looked and, “Sure enough, here it is…..oh. This says here ‘permanently deferred.'” She looked back at me confused. “I’m sorry. You look fine and seem perfectly healthy though. I don’t know anything about Horner’s Syndrome, but you seem unaffected…” I interrupted her confidently smiling, “I am. It doesn’t affect me at all.” She still looked confused, “Yeah… I’m sorry though. I guess you are deferred.”
This label denied access. All of a sudden my body wasn’t good enough. They were fine with it before, they accepted me before. They looked at me and saw no problems. But now that there’s a label plastered on me from a giant systematic binder, I am done.
I wanted to cry. I was rejected. They didn’t want me. I wasn’t good enough. I began questioning if something really WAS wrong, maybe I SHOULD go try and get this fixed. I went home and researched it…which I had done numerous times before, but for some reason I expected to find some crazy new fact or revelation which would give me a reason to be deferred and “broken.” I found nothing. There’s nothing to heal, nothing to fix. I’m fine. I’m not broken or unhealthy. This IS healthy. This is me. But I’m thrown to the side because of the label I have. The label itself isn’t unfair because I really DO have it, it’s true. What hurts is the way the label infers all sorts of other things without taking into account my personal story and reality. The label puts me into a system that works against me, without giving me a chance to explain. I become a thing, a number, something to throw or something to keep. I am no longer a person with a story or a history. I am something to permanently defer without a second chance or explanation.
Now I sit here and wonder, how many times have I taken a label and plastered it on someone without hearing their story? How many times have I passed someone off and their story goes unheard? I’m frustrated with the system. Someone may be perfectly fine and accepted until the label is found out by a pharisaical system; immediate deferral. For good. No chances. No one knows if anything is actually wrong, no one sees a problem, they just go along with the system and stop caring and advocating.
Something happens to people when a system is in place: it becomes so much easier to take life away and make people inanimate, as if they were numbers to figure or parts to a device that just don’t quite fit so they are thrown. People become discardable. Systems are put in place and suddenly compassion leaves. “I haven’t heard your story, but the system boots you out, so I do too.”
Since when does a system, something created by men, govern the hearts of men? Since when does this thing have the power to govern the love and kindness and humanity of humanity?
Unheard stories falling into a systematic cycle of permanent deferring. I am not okay with that.
Jesus, what do I do? What would you do? You broke all the systems. You took what people thought was true and came to renew it and make it right. You didn’t come to abolish the law, but fulfill the law. You brought restoration to the things that were broken and made them right again.
Oh God, make it right again.