We go home today. I am tired. I can't sleep. After 8 hotel beds, 6 lectures, 12 individual consultations and 12 days on the road along with countless hours of driving countless miles, I'm wiped. Yesterday crawling through traffic to get part way home, I crashed. When we got to the hotel it was my job to order in supper. It took three tries to get the number right, I accidentally called a woman who told me that if I couldn't dial a phone I shouldn't be allowed to use one. Um, sorry.
When I get tired like this, my disability moves much more to the foreground. Getting out of the car last night was difficult and the pain, which is always low level, turns up a notch. I know I am a wheelchair user and I know that I have need of a variety of adaptive devices, but it's only when exhaustion adds to the mix that I truly feel the extent of my disability. Joe does an amazing job of mitigating a lot of what I'd have to deal with, he is an expert in how to set things up in hotel room after hotel room to make things easier and more accessible for me. But when fatigue crashes in, nothing much can be done.
The transfer from the car to my chair last night, as I've mentioned, was very difficult and quite painful. I caught my face reflected in the car window as I turned around to sit in my chair and I looked really, really old. I noticed someone notice me and I knew what they saw and knew that they didn't know what they saw. They saw a tottering old man, moving with difficulty and moving with some pain. That's true. But what they really saw was a fellow who had worked a gruelling schedule, A fellow who, only hours before, was giving an animated lecture to an audience who were asking hard questions and engaging in good discussion. A fellow who was simply bushed.
I got into bed long before Joe did. I read maybe ten pages of my book and the light went off. I heard Joe moving around, checking out my Facebook page, answering emails, cursing under his breath the fact that the Internet here is lousy. I don't know what time he crawled into bed. I was long asleep by then.
The night before going home I always have one of those sleeps that is interrupted by the excitement of the day yet to come. I love what I do and I love the opportunity to do it, but I also love going home. This morning I'll have to take my first pain pill of the trip, I only need them when I'm really tired, and I'm really tired.
Disability is an interesting thing to experience isn't it? It can be ever present but seldom noticed, but it can also rear it's head and say 'Yo, Dave, remember me?'
Yeah, I remember.