Saturday, October 08, 2011

Wheeling into the World

I was to be allowed to go for tea.

Only days before there was a question as to whether or not I'd survive the illness. The fact that I'd lost the ability to walk had not interested the doctors, they were far too interested in beating back a serious infection. Walking, at that point, hadn't moved up on to their radar. Life, and life alone, was their one and only goal. As for me, I was so weak that I was laid up in bed, I'd learned the strange art of the bedpan, I'd made peace with exhaustion as a constant companion. Therefore for me, walking wasn't even part of the equation.

I'd just come back from having a cat scan and was resting in the room. The door opened a bit and Joe peaked his head through, grinning wildly. While it was tough for me, those days were hell on Joe, it was wonderful to see glee on his face again. I could tell he had a secret. He backed away, opened the door wide and pushed in a wheelchair. "The Doctor told me I could take you out of here and down to the coffee shop on the main floor."

He helped me out of the bed. I had no balance and falling was a distinct possibility. Once in the chair I was too tired to help push. Joe sailed me out of the room into the ward, out of the ward and into the world. We sat and had tea. After only a few days of being secluded in Intensive Care, the world seemed busy and noisy and confusing. How quickly the world becomes small, I mused.

Then, daily, I was out. Sometimes a couple times a day. I learned to walk, on unsteady feet, for a few yards. I've never managed much more than that. It takes much brain power and complete concentration to not fall over. I knew then that the wheelchair was going to become a big part of my life. And it has. Its become more than a part of my life, it's become part of me, part of my sense of self, part of my world view. I always thought that one saw farthest, standing on tip toe. No, the seated view, that's the one that allows you to see a very, very, long way into the heart of the community and the soul of the world.

This weekend, Thanksgiving Weekend, I'm grateful for my wheelchair. I'm grateful for the freedom it offers me. My wheelchair has more mileage on it than most cars, it has travelled more than most people. It has allowed me to feel like movement is possible and that future is waiting.

And, of course, I'm thankful for my wheelchair because both Ruby and Sadie love it so. They love riding on my power chair, seated on my lap and whizzing along a mall. They love, love standing on the back of my manual wheelchair and riding pell mell down a ramp. They are coming for a visit this weekend and I know that there will be several wheelchair rides, for both of them, over the time they are here. I know those rides will bring them joy and bring us closer. Awesome.

Ruby, once when tired, said, "You're lucky, you get to have a wheelchair."

She's right.

I'm grateful for it and, I give thanks.

(Image of a turkey holding a Canadian flag with the words 'Happy Thanksgiving, eh!' printed beside the turkey. Turkey looks happy, probably because this blogger is vegetarian)


Carla said...

I have just started reading "i to I".
Thank you for doing what you do.

Beth said...

I love my (manual) wheelchair and my rollator. I had to fight for them, but I think I appreciate them all the more for it. Having a way of reliably getting around is wonderful. And there are other benefits. Unless it's very long, waiting in line isn't tiring, just boring. You have an excuse to carry a bag no matter your gender. You occasionally get the nod of approval from a child stranger at their realizing how you're doing things (and that it works). Provided no one is in the way, you can zoom down ramps or across flat, smooth surfaces. And you get to laugh whenever a receptionist, for example, tells you to be seated. Oh, and you can look pretty cool, too, if you want. My wheelchair cushion is shimmery and my rollator has blue flames on the front bar. :-) I love these things.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave, I started writing a comment on this post yesterday and i abandoned it before i published. It was about a moment of kinship and you have posted about a moment of kinship today so I’m going at it again.
Last year my partner was in hospital and nearly died. It was really hard. Afterwards I realised it was also really hard being a lesbian couple in hospital.
Reading your post about Joe coming to you in hospital and peeking round the corner made me feel on solid ground and less bereft. I guess it’s the first representation of a non straight couple going through something like what we went through, that I have come across.
I was going to say on thanksgiving, thank you to you and Joe. Thank you for sharing and posting stories of your life together.
Thank you for that kinship. It means so much. I came to this blog as a practitioner working with people with disabilities and have found so much more as well.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Carla! it to I has been out of print for years, where did you find it?

Beth! from you descriptions I am desperate to see your rollator. Really. Can you email me a picture?

Anon! thank you so much. I know what you mean. I choose to be 'out' because I feel a responsibility to others who are forced to live closeted and becaus eI have a need to speak honestly of my life. In doing this, there has grown a small community around this blog where, I hope, all feel safe to speak of their live and their loves.