Having a disability, in the minds of many, is like having a collection of minuses. To many, who become disabled later in life, when first experiencing disability, that seems true. Things are harder, things take more planning, things require help, minus, minus, minus. For me, one of the things that became almost immediately more difficult was dressing. I went into the hospital, catastrophic illness and all, being able to dress completely independently. I came out, two surgeries and a recovery later, needing help with getting dressed. At first I thought it was a temporary thing, that I was still dealing with the after effects of the surgery. It gradually dawned on me that I would never be able to get through a day again, without assistance.
Some things shifted columns from "needs assistance" to "done independently but very slowly." One of those things is putting my pants on. (I can't believe I'm telling you this, it's wildly private, but there's something I want to say and this is the only way to say it!) I sit on the side of the bed and process pretty much every move I have to make, setting up, targeting, attempting. For the first few weeks as I was determined to do it myself I struggled with frustration, with maintaining determination, with tears. How could something so basic now be so incredibly hard? Training my eyes to do what my skin used to do took time. A lot of time.
Then, one day, a change happened. Similar to the change that happened when you were a kid, the one where yesterday you needed help tying your shoe and today you know you will never need it again - or so you think. I now have every confidence, when I sit down to get dressed, that I will rise, pants on. I don't let Joe stay in the bedroom while I'm doing this. My solution to the problem of pants is very personal, it's mine alone.
I realized yesterday that the slow deliberate way that I go from naked to dressed has become quite a calm and peaceful ritual. Where once I had to pause and really focus on what I was doing, I find I'm still pausing. There is no longer any need for that pause, I know what to do and how to do it. But that pause was there for so long as I developed this skill again, it was part of how I did it, it's now in the routine. And I love it.
Sitting on the bed, early in the morning, readying myself for work or for the weekend, I pause, pants hanging expectantly in my hands, I think and I pray. I have created the calm, the I in the storm of the coming day. Ideas flit by my mind, visiting me in this rare moment of quiet. Realizations have time to form gathered together from one part dream and two parts reflection. It's allowed me to grow more contemplative. I enter the world, now, much differently than I did before. I no longer rush crashing into the day. I no longer allow busyness to take me by the nose and rush me from pillar to post. I start with a kind of peace.
I put my pants on myself. And by dressing disabled, I stuff my pockets with all the tools I will need for the day.