I didn't realize what it would look like.
I didn't think about what it would mean.
This is going to be a difficult post for me to write, in truth I almost decided against it. But, I do want to document truthfully what it means to be me, here, now, in a wheelchair. I shiver at telling some truths though, and sometimes I fall short of the goal. Three months ago, I wrote a blog that exposed a part of me that I'm not so sure of, not so proud of. I finished writing it at about 4 in the morning, hit the 'publish post' button. Doubled checked that it was there on the blog and then went back to bed to read for a bit. My head hadn't hit the pillow before I was up again and erasing the post from the blog and writing something new. I checked sitemeter and saw that my blog had only been visited by one person during the hour the post was up - but I had no way of telling if that person had been on while my soul was exposed. It's weird, truth.
I am quite disability postive, I think. I'm OK with my disability, I thought. There are frustrations, of course, but those rest mostly with the attitudes of others and the structure of buildings. I like it when the villian of the piece is someone at the other end of my pointed finger. Odd to discover that the primary attitude to beat is still my own. I found this all out at the Vita staff retreat on Friday. We held it at a venue that was half restaurant, half video arcade. There were two team building times when everyone was out in the arcade - for the first I stayed back because I was giving a short lecture and wanted to prepare. Besides, the stage was ramped and I wanted to be up and on the stage before everyone got back, at my weight it's a bit of a struggle to get up a long ramp like that. Dignity, it's about dignity. For the second break I was out with everyone else.
A woman from the office stopped and chatted with me briefly. She said she was surprised to see me out with everyone, and followed by saying that she saw me as very unsocial and very 'unfriendly' because I came in, went into my office, and didn't come out again until I left. I never chatted with others, never laughed with people in the hall, I just burrowed into my office. Maybe I was just 'focussed' she said, kindly.
All this is true, except for the unfriendly part and maybe the focussed part, I do burrow into my office. You see, I don't use my wheelchair at work. It was a source of some pride to me that there was a part of my life where I was 'independant' ... where I used my legs rather than my wheels. Of course this meant that I didn't walk down to the lunch room, because I can't stand for the time it takes to cook a meal. I don't chat with people because I can't stand long enough to have the conversation. So I just go into my office. And stay there. Walk to the bathroom and back and congratulate myself on my 'independance'.
And appear aloof and unfriendly and uncaring.
I thought people would get that my disability didn't allow me the kind of freedom of movement that regular social activity requires in an office. But why should they get what I wouldn't admit? Why is that their responsibility? Mindreading is still not listed as a job requirement.
To hell with that silly stupid bit of vanity.
My wheelchair is coming to work.
I'm coming out of the office. I want to join in the ebb and flow of the office social scene. I want people to know that if I feel free to drop into their office, they should feel free to drop in mine. Work is supposed to be a pleasure too.
I'm guessing that my wheelchair is going to give back what I've allowed my disability to take.