Thursday, December 28, 2017


Yesterday was my first day out of the house for five days. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to be indoors for long periods of time. I love my home, but I also love being out, in the world. But I'd been laid very low by a cold and cough that left me bent over and weak. I started medications last Friday and slowly began to get better. I tried going out on Boxing Day but couldn't. But yesterday I was determined.

The cold wasn't my only reason, though. The snow has seriously decreased my mobility and independence and increased my need for help. I don't like either of those things, but I'm going to have to learn to cope. I don't want to, but I have to. It's not a step back, I tell myself, it's just a different circumstance leading to different and new solutions.

All that to say, I went out.

We had a few chores to do, things to pick up, so we plotted a map and set out. Wherever I could manage to push myself I did, and wherever I couldn't I didn't. It was hard not to let my spirit be dampened by this, but that's how it is.

We were just going into a store when a woman with a disability, a wheelchair user like myself, was being let off at the door by the local disability transit bus. She followed us in and went through after me while Joe held the door. She thanked him for making her access easier. I turned my chair to wait for Joe and in doing so greeted her as well. "Winter's tough on chairs isn't it?" She said that it was. I mentioned my difficulty in needing more help.

She said, "Do you feel guilty using the disabled door buttons?" I told her I didn't. She said, "they are help too. If they aren't a big deal why would someone holding the door open for me or giving me a push when I need it be any different?" Then she was off to work.


I think the disabled button helps me without diminishing me. It's just there for a purpose.

But why do I feel diminished in some way?

I don't know, do you?


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I was brought up to be a helper, not a helpee - it's just the basic training kicking in.

But there is a certain pride established when you're the helper. "I can do this for someone who can't." Pride makes us better. So we don't like giving that little perk up. It just is. It's one of the things that keeps people trying (except those who take everything as their due, because they're special).

I think we also hate entitlement in other people, and it feels a little bit entitled to be helped instead of helping.

Note it - and shrug it off. Not all good training is perfect.

Shannon said...

I use the buttons when they are there (and when they work) though I don't really have a problem with doors. I do feel strange when someone goes out of their way to push the button for me - though I know there are some people who really would not be able to push the button. What really felt weird was at a doctor's office recently when the nurse asked if I can stand and I said no and she thought that meant I could not get undressed and she started to help me get undressed by pulling off my hat.

clairesmum said...

Her ambivalence (accepting Joe's willingness to hold the door open for her) and then asking you how you feel about the door opening buttons is evident.
We humans are consistently inconsistent in our thoughts/emotions/behaviors, aren't we?
I know there are lots of great things about this apartment, but it seems that the area right around it is not as accessible in winter as the old place...nothing is perfect....

Stay warm.

L said...

Well, a door opening button

- will never pat me on the arm/shoulder without asking after helping me

- will never be condescending/patronising when helping me

- will never treat me as if I am less-human or less-adult for needing a door opened

whereas often, human beings will...

Ettina Kitten said...

If using a door button counts as 'help', what about using a doorknob? What about having a door? What about having buildings? Technological 'help' is all around, and every one of us uses it every day.