Saturday, December 10, 2011

Going Pee

Santa's sleigh had nothing on us. The car took nearly half an hour to pack. I got in, then the wheelchair was loaded into the trunk, the bags and bags and bags of Christmas gifts were loaded in and around the chair. The back seat head our suitcases, more bags of gifts, and tucked into the corner one, now very tall, teen aged boy. We were on our way to Ottawa and we'd just picked Joseph up when I announced that I had to go pee. Joseph, Mike's son and oldest child, was hungry and we could get two things accomplished, drain me and fill him up.

The decision to go pee wasn't made easily. I knew that by stopping, it meant unpacking all the gifts, getting the chair out, then repacking the chair and the gifts around it. But sometimes one makes a decision out of pure necessity. I'm getting older - and everyone knows there is a reason older men never wear beige pants. So, I had to go, we had to stop.

Joseph helped Joe get the gifts out and then the chair out. I hopped in and we went into Walmart. I went straight tot he bathroom, Joseph went straight to MacDonalds. All was accomplished. We headed back to the car, him full, me dry, the world was good. I then got into the car and sat and waited while the chair was reloaded and the gifts, which had been moved from the trunk to the body of the car, were moved back to make space again.

A creeping sense of guilt took me over. When they got back in the car I said, to myself in a stage whisper, 'The only time I have difficulties with having a disability is when it inconveniences others.' I said it and I meant it. All the work it took to get the chair out and then in again at that moment bothered me. I don't take the work that my disability places on Joe's shoulders, and in this case Joseph's too, for granted. The words were out of my mouth and in the air.

All Joseph said was 'What?' with a kind of incredulous tone of voice. Joe never said anything. I knew that I'd made them both uncomfortable. I'd placed on them the feelings that I imagined they were having, I'd made them both into people they weren't. Neither, clearly, had been as bothered by stopping as I thought they might have been. My issue became their issue. That wasn't fair.

I wonder if sometimes I, and maybe others, imbue into the world attitudes that aren't there. I wonder if we off load our own feelings into the way we perceive others feelings? I wonder if sometimes I am the source of the attitudes I perceive around me. I try to be 'jouranlistic' in how I see the world, but I wonder if that's even remotely possible. I don't know. But I do know that I got this one wrong and made others uncomfortable. I'd invited others to my pity party and they didn't come.


Maybe a car stuffed with wrapped presents had another gift that didn't need unwrapping.



Shan said...

Yeah it's not as big a deal as you think. Everybody needs a bathroom stop sometime and some of them are going to be damned inconvenient! My husband has a kidney disease and can't drive for more than about an hour before he's busting at the seams. Once we were crawling down the I-5 passing Seattle at 5 PM on the day before Thanksgiving...just think about that for a second. There we were, on the freeway at a dead stop, three lanes and two hundred meters from an exit that would lead us straight into downtown. "I gotta go. I'm so sorry, but...I gotta." We looked around the car for a water bottle he could fill up - nothing. Amazingly we managed to creep across the three lanes of traffic and along the shoulder to the exit, and around downtown long enough to find a Starbucks (.7 seconds) so he could go. It added forty minutes to the trip, all told, but who the hell cares? What - I want him to blow his kidney transplant or get an infection, just for forty minutes?

This is why we surround ourselves with people who love us.

Sarah W said...

I support a woman who uses a walker, and sometimes a wheelchair (depending on how she is feeling on a given day) to get around. When she gets in and out of the van, we use a step stool to manage the gap from the ground to the seat. Aside from her requiring some help to get in/out of the van, she also struggles with pain due to arthritis on a daily basis.

Without fail every time she gets in and out of the van, she looks at me and says, "The things I go through to go places" and I smile and say, "You are a woman with places to go and people to see, so you gotta do what you gotta do!” Then we both chuckle and go on our way.

The other day we were making our usual banter while getting in the van, and she looked at me and said, “I know I complain about doing this, but I’m not going to let some pain and discomfort stop me from doing what I want to do!”I looked at her and smiled, hoping that I too would have this positive attitude should I ever be in such a situation. Before closing her door we both chimed, “Places to go, people to see”, at the exact same moment. We both laughed and drove off to our destination.

I sometimes think of how often I decide not to do something because I am too lazy to get myself up off the couch and out the door; and yet here is this woman pushing herself, mentally and physically to do so every day. It kinda puts things into perspective.

Anonymous said...


sometimes I am able to comment to your posts instantly. These are the times the ideas,thoughts and feelings in your posts are sorted in my head too and I can take a clear position.

Other posts you are writing are very very difficult. They get my world and my feelings jumbled until I dont know what to believe and think...

This post is one of those posts as well as the post about the differently human (Thanks Inspector Lewis). I was glad that you mentioned that you did not feel confortable with any of those lables.

Basicly they both make me rethink why I sometimes feel unconfortable around other people. While the biggest issue of my disabilty is that I sometimes feel like my head is exploding and my lung and my heart hurts and that makes me slow. And not the discomfort of being slow and not working fast enough and slowing others down or taking up resources from able bodies persons.

Very very difficult but good to rethink this thoughts. I am glad others feel that way too. And I am glad you voice it.


Displaced said...

Hey Dave,
I think you are really on the money about putting our/your attitudes onto others. I too try to function as an unbiased observer but I know that I too fail.
The way a person describes their assumptions about another person's attitude says FAR MORE about the describer than it does of the subject of their description. Phew...
I try to assume that most people are just trying to do their best.
As regards the help we/you receive from others I think we/you need to remember the gifts we give in other ways. the emotional balance we provide, the insight... there are many many ways to give! Many many ways to share the load.

Anonymous said...

I do not use a wheelchair but I do hate to inconvenience people. Recently my sister asked me to help her select an online gift for her friend. I was able and happy to do so and even paid for it since I have a better income than she and felt I owed her for something else. She was not pleased and said, "can't I do anything for you?". It made me realize that we need to let others do things for us. It makes them complete and connected to us. It's love. I bet that's how your family feels too.