I've done it hundreds of times before.
But on Tuesday, last, I got out of my chair to walk from the bus to the door of my office, and my feet somehow fumbled and over I went. I crashed to the ground. During the fall, which took until the middle of next week, I imagined hospital beds, bedpans and boring hours 'resting'. The impact, as you might guess from a man of my size, was, um, noisy.
I was briefly disoriented and slightly dizzy. It took a few seconds to gather my wits together and to survey the situation. I was on the floor. Getting off the floor was going to be an issue. I immediately began looking for options and strategies. (Anyone remember 'My dog Hamish has blue eyes"?)
The driver, who of course was very concerned, was doing everything he could to be a help. What struck me the most was how incredibly gentle he became in dealing with me. His voice didn't betray the panic he must have been feeling at seeing me seemingly helpless on the floor of the bus. He offered me choices, imagine that choices! I don't know what training he got but it must have been good, I respond, at moments like these to choices much better than I do to commands or to decisions made on my behalf.
I figured out a way to get up. I had him put the ramp back up, raise the bus from the kneeling position, I then scooted on the floor over to where I could hang my legs over the edge and go into a seated position. From there, with his assistance, I was able to stand. My first impulse was to ask to go home. My second was, "I'm standing, I am able to walk to the door of the office building, I've stuff to do." He ensured I was safe on my walk, got me back into my chair and then double checked if I needed anything before I went into the building. I assured him I was fine.
A few hours later I realized that I kinda wasn't fine. I began to feel pain from the fall. Bruises flowered on my arm. My 'angry words' which are usually held back by a strong filter, came through a couple of times, as if the filter had been knocked akimbo, and I was very short with a couple of people. (They got their deserved apology today.)
When I was getting ready to go home, WheelTrans, the company that runs the disabled transit in the city, called to see how I was feeling. I thought that a nice touch. I told them that the fall had been my fault, that the driver had been supportive, helpful and gentle. That I appreciated how it was all handled. I had planned on writing them to say 'thanks and I'm OK' that call saved me from that task.
Here's the thing, people do fall over.
It's kind of a human thing to do.
Slips and falls are, usually, slips and falls.
It's not a crisis.
But there have been a number of people who have suggested that I should stop walking and rely, now, solely on my wheelchair. I don't walk much, but I do walk. On transit, I walk on the bus, I walk off the bus. I'm heavy, I don't want drivers hurting their backs from helping me. Besides, I CAN do it. I want to do what I can. I walk from my office to the washroom, I have the office closest to the washroom. I can can.
I'm not sure why having a disability takes an accidental trip and makes it into something it isn't, makes it into a sudden evaluation of risk and suggestions for how to avoid those risks. I'm not sure why having a disability makes the decisions I make require input and opinions from others.
Life goes on.
I don't need a meeting. I don't need an evaluation. I don't need a myriad of opinions. All I need is someone to get me tea when my bruises twinge or my knee throbs a bit.
And I already have that.