Friday, February 26, 2010

Not quite like that...

This week I met with the 2 other Co-Chairs of the people with disabilities association we have where I work. I forget how much fun we always have, and that laughter always seems to bring us to tears, because we can relate to each other. One person has a spinal cord injury (SCI), call her Jane, and the other has mostly invisible MS, call her Donna.

We laugh at silly things we have done, circumstances we "overcame," and choices we have made. Donna and I laugh having both experienced severe depression from steroids, and deciding to live because a kid needed to be picked up or a dog needed to be fed.

We all laugh at the choice as to whether to go back and retrieve something from the house, if we've forgotten something and are already in the car. How important are those things we forget? We generally leave them behind. We're exhausted. For me it may be that just getting ready and making it to the car involved falling multiple times, or zapped all of my energy.

Similarities are amazing - we all deal with different beasts. Jane and I frequently deal with exhaustion. By the time we get to our car, we collapse and are thankful for the drive ahead. Donna is told by people "but you walk fine," but she deals with exhaustion and pain. Different worlds which are, amazingly, the same.

Jane shared an article with us from someone who uses an electric chair. He fell out one night and couldn't get back in the chair; for him, the act of crawling to reach his phone was like climbing Mt. Everest. "There are times when it is all just too much. One moment you are independent, the next you are on the floor, stuck, helpless as a baby. Dignity, self esteem, all that evaporates. There you are, out in the world, competing with the able-bodied, kicking ass, and then of an instant, you are a pathetic cripple."

This morning I went to an appointment. I arrived at the parking lot which had been plowed, but was still icy. The accessible spots seemed worse. I chose what seemed to be the best spot. I got out of my car to get my wheelchair and as I got to the back, hit black ice and landed on the pavement. I heard people but strangely, no one noticed or asked if I needed help. My Mt Everest moment came. I opened the trunk from my position on the black ice, pulled wheelchair parts to the ground, somehow put the wheelchair together, and pulled myself from the black ice onto wheelchair. Alone. But I conquered it. My Mt Everest moment, not witnessed by more than 4 people who didn't see, or chose to think someone putting together a wheelchair while sprawled on black ice was somehow "normal."

I'm a bit stuck. My Mt. Everest moment ironically happened at an appt to get a second opinion about my hurt shoulder, and climbing the mountain irritated my shoulder more. But I'm more stuck on where are people? Was I invisible? I hate being the person in the wheelchair who needs help. I wish I could be the person who notices the people who need help. I hope I would notice and help. But would I?

And where's the religion here? Well, I didn't think at all about God during the wheelchair incident. I thought about what I needed to do, one step at a time - open the trunk... ok... - get the main wheelchair part out, reach for the wheel, one wheel in, balance the chair, get the other wheel, balance chair and wheel ... pull self off ice onto chair, etc. Go to appointment and smile. But I think God was there, and God is there to help us build relationships where we can laugh and each experience our own Mt. Everest moments, no matter what those may be. Thanks be to God for that. And thanks for those out there who do help. And lastly God, while I'm at this, could you reverse my shoulder to where it was prior to this Mt. Everest climb?

No comments: