Thursday, August 06, 2015

Risks and Evaluations

I've done it hundreds of times before.

No incident.

No problem.

No pain.

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.

I fell.

Here's the thing, people do fall over.

It happens.

It's kind of a human thing to do.

Slips and falls are, usually, slips and falls.

It's not a crisis.

Shit happens.

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.

I fell.

It happens.

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.


Anonymous said...


that in itself is the essence; not only in surviving but LIVING.

I have a conegenital heart disease, I am more tired, easily exhausted and sometimes even discouragec to "move around".

Through the last half of this year my lungs failed, my kidneys failed, my liver had cirrosis and I developed ascites. But my heart in its weekend state goes on working for me. I am slowly recovering. I am still moving around, doing rehab, seeing friends, even drive my assisted bicycle.

I learned, that only being activ keeps you moving. (That, hope and if necessary taking a break to go on...)


Dave Hingsburger said...

Julia, It's your body, it's your decision. I'm glad you are recovering, moving around and doing what you need to do in the way you need to do it. And especially glad that you come here to visit and comment!

Ron Arnold said...

Yeah . . . sometimes shit just happens.

Hope this is an uncomplicated thing which doesn't create more shit.

: )

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave!

I have learned sooo much from this blog: especially feeling safer in voicing my needs and thinking through predjudice.

Thanks again and to Joe too, who supports you so much (or rather equally) transl.?


clairesmum said...

Gravity know that. Your body, your choices, your risks, and your consequences. Glad they weren't worse, and that you carried on with your day.
The WheelTrans staff sound terrific....sure wish they did training for paratransit services in the states...

(I'm not Canadian. I don't 'get' the reference to "My dog Hamish....." so I wonder...what about Hamish and his blue eyes?)

Ettina said...

This may not be an issue for you, but many people with mobility issues have weak bones or are unable to fall safely (eg can't brace with arms or curl their head to avoid serious injuries). For these individuals, a minor fall could be very dangerous. I have heard of people who have had to decide that full-time wheelchair use is better for their health than the risk of falling.

Actually, this may be an area where being a fat guy helps. You've got plenty of cushioning!

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, I relate to this so much. I have a health condition/disability that means that I fall more frequently which tends to only result in a scraped knee at the worst. I hate the amount of concern I get from other people. And I also hate the amount of shame that I feel in those moments because my disability has become obvious and the concern of someone else.

Recently I fell when I was walking by myself in the woods and it was actually really great to just be able to feel my own feelings about it and not have to worry about reassuring a friend or family member that "no, really I am fine."

Stephen said...

Yep, life happens and services have become experts at turning ordinary human worries into technocratic, arse covering processes that are more about professional liability than concern for the person affected. Simon Duffy was kind enough to publish some of my thoughts on this recently, I'd love to hear your thoughts Dave:

Stephen said...

Yep, life happens, and services have become experts at turning natural human worries into technocratic processes more suited to a factory than human lives. Simon Duffy was kind enough to publish some of my thoughts on this recently, i'd love to hear your thoughts Dave.