Friday, November 07, 2014

Bricks into Breeze

Yesterday, after several days of being in the house, I headed out to go see the doctor. I was getting minimally better but after 3 days of being really sick, I wondered if the doctor might be able to help. Joe had called in to see if we could get an appointment and, magically, there had been a cancellation and we were slotted in for just after three.

It took me awhile to get dressed and ready to go out. Stopping to cough furiously every few minutes or so really does slow the process. Once dressed and ready, I hopped into my power chair and we were on our way.

It's unusually for me to be indoors for so long. I'm not one that can hunker down and stay in for days on end. I like the occasional 'all housecoat, all day' event, but just one of those is enough. I'd found the 3 days of illness to be long, boring and exhausting.

As much as it took energy to get out, I was full of anticipation as we headed down the hallway to the elevator. We rode down in silence, both of us wrapped in our own thoughts. We exited the elevator to the 'hellos' from others in the building we have a nodding acquaintance with. Then, blessedly, we were out.


I could feel the fresh, cold air, touch at my face. The cold, brisk air was perfect for being out in, for walking in, for just being alive in.

On our way down to the doctor's office, I thought to myself:



In three days my skin had become desperate for the touch of 'outside'. In three days my nose had longed to smell the freshness of newly fallen leaves and the coming of snow. In three days my whole body had longed for the sense of freedom that is presaged by fresh air.

I would have described the three days using these words:




Three days.

And yet we locked up people with disabilities for YEARS, dozens and dozens, decades and decades, of years. They were inside because we didn't want them outside. They were locked up for the crime of difference, they had been convicted for straying too far from the norm.

I can still picture the large institution that I worked at, years ago, here in Ontario. I remember, well, the smell of 'inside'.

Now, when I need to remember that place, I will remember that the community living movement fought to turn bricks into breeze - perhaps the most honourable fight ever fought in the history of those with disabilities.


Robin said...

This post gives me chills! People still need to hear what institutionalization really looked like.

I recently heard of a person with a disability who thought we should go back to institutional living. Methinks she didn't kno exactly what that looked like.

Hope you feel better soon!

Andrea S. said...

Dave, glad you were able to go out! And hope you'll feel better soon! I don't think I've ever had a cough bad enough to slow me down from getting dressed or whatever. But I've had allergies involving nasal congestion and sneezing that, when I was middle school age, sometimes got severe enough to basically make me nonfunctional. (Fortunately not often, just during one of the very worst allergy reactions I've had in my life.)

Off topic, but a book review I wrote was published today at Disability in Kid Lit, which is a blog geared toward readers and writers interested in disability representation in young adult literature. Whether you read my own review or not, I hope you explore some of the other blog posts there: