Only days before there was a question as to whether or not I'd survive the illness. The fact that I'd lost the ability to walk had not interested the doctors, they were far too interested in beating back a serious infection. Walking, at that point, hadn't moved up on to their radar. Life, and life alone, was their one and only goal. As for me, I was so weak that I was laid up in bed, I'd learned the strange art of the bedpan, I'd made peace with exhaustion as a constant companion. Therefore for me, walking wasn't even part of the equation.
I'd just come back from having a cat scan and was resting in the room. The door opened a bit and Joe peaked his head through, grinning wildly. While it was tough for me, those days were hell on Joe, it was wonderful to see glee on his face again. I could tell he had a secret. He backed away, opened the door wide and pushed in a wheelchair. "The Doctor told me I could take you out of here and down to the coffee shop on the main floor."
He helped me out of the bed. I had no balance and falling was a distinct possibility. Once in the chair I was too tired to help push. Joe sailed me out of the room into the ward, out of the ward and into the world. We sat and had tea. After only a few days of being secluded in Intensive Care, the world seemed busy and noisy and confusing. How quickly the world becomes small, I mused.
Then, daily, I was out. Sometimes a couple times a day. I learned to walk, on unsteady feet, for a few yards. I've never managed much more than that. It takes much brain power and complete concentration to not fall over. I knew then that the wheelchair was going to become a big part of my life. And it has. Its become more than a part of my life, it's become part of me, part of my sense of self, part of my world view. I always thought that one saw farthest, standing on tip toe. No, the seated view, that's the one that allows you to see a very, very, long way into the heart of the community and the soul of the world.
This weekend, Thanksgiving Weekend, I'm grateful for my wheelchair. I'm grateful for the freedom it offers me. My wheelchair has more mileage on it than most cars, it has travelled more than most people. It has allowed me to feel like movement is possible and that future is waiting.
And, of course, I'm thankful for my wheelchair because both Ruby and Sadie love it so. They love riding on my power chair, seated on my lap and whizzing along a mall. They love, love standing on the back of my manual wheelchair and riding pell mell down a ramp. They are coming for a visit this weekend and I know that there will be several wheelchair rides, for both of them, over the time they are here. I know those rides will bring them joy and bring us closer. Awesome.
Ruby, once when tired, said, "You're lucky, you get to have a wheelchair."
I'm grateful for it and, I give thanks.
(Image of a turkey holding a Canadian flag with the words 'Happy Thanksgiving, eh!' printed beside the turkey. Turkey looks happy, probably because this blogger is vegetarian)