Monday, June 09, 2008


I waited in the gift shop, beside the front door, for the car to come around. Several people who came in asked if I needed help. I say, "No, I'm waiting for the car to come round" politely, even though their offers of assistance become annoying after a while. I am sitting comfortably in my chair and I am enjoying watching people go by. There was a lot to watch and much to think about.

Then I heard, 'out of the corner of my ear' someone say, "I can't believe how my life has changed over the last year." The speaker wandered out of earshot so I wasn't sure what he was referring to. I couldn't even tell from his tone of voice if the change was something good or something bad. All I knew was that my train of thought had been yanked from one track and set upon another.

Here I am sitting in a wheelchair waiting for a car to come round. I think it really hit me that I was was disabled for the first time. It's been three years now that I've used a chair. But that's only three years out of 55. For 52 years I walked with the rest of you. But now, certainly, I am sitting in a gift shop, looking out of the window, waiting for the car to pull up.

How'd that all happen?

I reviewed the journey from the catastrophic illness to the wheelchair. I was so grateful to the chair when it first appeared in my life. When Joe rolled it into the room in preparation of getting me out and down for a tea, I almost wept with relief. I was getting out of confinement and into mobility. The best way possible to have a chair introduced to your life.

But now, sitting in a gift shop, watching others go by and waiting for the car - I realize how much my life has changed. I don't even think of doing some things that were natural to me for 52 years. Only hours ago I had looked at six stairs up and then 5 stairs down and felt that I was facing an obstacle that no amount of positive thinking would lessen.

A stranger's voice asked me to think about that for a second. About the mammoth way my life has changed. And yet not changed. I am still who I am, who I was - but different. I still do what I do, what I did - but differently. I think I notice more now than I did before. I think I think more now than I did before. I care less about some things, more about others. But that would have come with age anyway, wouldn't it?

The car pulls up and I see Joe get out to come up and get me. I hit the button that opens the door and push myself out into the sun and the heat. There is a gentle slope down to the car and I use my gloves to slow the descent but I enjoy the ease of movement and the gentle breeze that I feel on the way down to the car.

I can't believe how much my life has changed.


Heike said...

Yeah. I so know that feeling.

Once I was just me, now I am a mother of three children, two of which have a disability. One of which has just received her first chair (at the ripe old age of two). I can't believe how my life has changed, and I have changed. But then, it hasn't, and I haven't.

And Dave, aren't we lucky to have such wonderul partners to share it all with us?

Love to you and Joe.

gracie1956 said...

Life sure has changed for me! I was a nurse for thirty years, and a pretty darned good one too. I am not nearly as good a patient. It is just so un-natural for me to be "the patient" but I'm getting better at it. Sometimes I find myself wanting to tell perfect strangers that I once had a job and was not always in a wheelchair, usually when they stare at me or act condescending. When I have to go to a hospital or doctors office it really gets to me when people insist on "helping" me.I know I don't owe anyone an explanation so why do I feel this way? I guess I'm just not acclimated to being handicapped yet.