Monday, January 18, 2016

Seeing Sherlock

Image Description: A drawing of Sherlock Holmes in traditional garb with a pipe
Last Friday I was in a bit of a state. The restrictions imposed upon me by the break down of my power chair were very keenly felt that day. Gone was the gratitude I had for having a mobility option in the old scooter I have. I resented the fact that I was limited to a six or seven, at the maximum, block radius. I could no longer use the subway which made my restriction complete. On Friday I noticed that the Sherlock Holmes seasonal special was playing down at Yonge and Dundas, a theatre we go to often. Or, more precisely, went to often. I haven't been south of College Street since before Christmas.

I sat and thought about it. It was one in a string of things that I'd wanted to see there. 'A Winter's Tale' was high on our list but it too was playing out of my reach. The scooter would get there, it's downhill all the way. The scooter would not make it back, it's uphill all the way. Then I came up with an idea. I could scooter down and WheelTrans back. I don't know why this solution hadn't occurred to me before, but, no matter, it did now. I went on line and was easily able to book the trip.

On Saturday we headed down and when we crossed College, the outer limit for the scooter, it felt amazing. It was like I could hear shackles drop and I could feel a great freedom fill my heart. Those that don't understand mobility in the same way as those of us who have been liberated by wheels will never understand that I'm not overstating the rush you feel from going further and farther and freer. It was awesome.

It had only been maybe a month since we'd been down to the theatre there, but it was wonderful going into the building. Joe and I had planned to have lunch there and I was able to have a five spice tofu with oyster mushroom sandwich prepared with a 'very hot' sauce topping. It was awesome. We sat and we chatted comfortably for a while and then headed up to see the show.

It was great.

Afterwards we went to the lobby, 15 minutes early, to wait for my ride. Two WheelTrans buses pulled up and dropped people off, neither of them was picking me up, but third time lucky, I was in and on my way home. I wasn't actually as simple as that, my scooter doesn't have the power to make it up the WheelTrans ramp when entering the back way, the driver grinned and said that he'd make sure I made it up with no problem. I started up and suddenly manpower plus scooter power plus the power of prayer got the scooter right into place.

When I got over the scooter I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. My world was a little bit bigger than it was before. I had adapted, come up with a strategy and, home now, I knew it was a strategy that works.

The poor driver, I turned to him and said, "I just want to tell you that you, and WheelTrans, you make a real difference to the quality of my life," I was quite choked when I said it but I had to say it. It was true. The emotion I felt was real. I meant every word I said. He was clearly moved by what I'd said and responded in a very personal way. What I'd said clearly meant something to him too.

So my world is a little bigger. It will need more planning and it will mean more waiting but it's bigger and I'm thankful for that.

I continue to wait to know what happens next with my chair.

But the wait will be a little more bearable.

3 comments:

clairesmum said...

Bravo!

Princeton Posse said...

Exactly what Clairesmum said...Bravo

h smith said...

You are privileged to have options to adapt with Dave, which I dont begrudge you at all coz its how it should be, but its not how it is for a lot of us..

I've been a prisoner at home, and mostly in bed, for three long years due to wheelchair services repeatedly failing to sort out the supportive seating that'd let me use my powerchair. I have no access to health care and am completely shut out of the social and natural worlds, and so,so many people know I'm in this traumatic situation but apparently dont see it as the problem it is.

When I first got de-mobilised by equipment/human failure I was panicked, distressed and desperate to regain that mobility and inclusion, but eventually I stopped looking longingly at the gate that seperates me from the rest of the world and stopped dreaming about getting beyond it. At this point I think if I even got the other side of it my heart would burst with the intensity of feelings so I stopped having that as an interim goal too. My relationship with the outside world, and society, has been deeply, deeply altered by this experience and I think often of the many people like me in my country and around the word who are trapped, excluded, invisible and powerless, purely because of social indifference to our plight.

The first time a health worker responded to my protests at being forcibly housebound with "well, why do you need to go out?" I was shocked and horrified. By the dozenth time I was rolling my eyes with boredom and despair. Because now I understand its the normal belief that "disabled" and "entitled to have a life and go out like able bodied people" are mutually exclusive concepts to the majority of bipeds. And that I became a non person when my body needed equipment to mobilise with, even though every single person who comes here arrives in a car which does the job of walking for them and which they freak out about if it goes wrong and has to be offroad for an afternoon while the garage fixes it. How is that different than my powerchair?

I did have a point when I started writing this, but kind of lost it in the rant.. But please keep writing about the importance of enabling equipment to us and the very real pain,struggle and misery it causes when we're without it. Its the social model in action and its something our services and societys have the power to change if we could only make them have the will.