Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Shove

I read a report recently that most people are poorly fit to their mobility devices and as a result experience pain for at least part of their day. For me, this is also true, I do experience some pain when I'm in the chair for a very long time. At the end of a day's lecture, I really need to switch out of my chair at least to stand and do some stretches - the kind that I don't fall over if I try.

But what's interesting to me is that I've never read about the pain that's caused simply by socially interacting by typs (typicals) while in my chair. You'd think that it would be obvious at we are seated and not standing. I for certain notice that they are standing, you'd think the reverse would be true as well, but apparently not.

I had just met someone, a fellow my age, and we were talking. I was enjoying the conversation but was beginning to get a little sore. He stood, as so many people do, just a little behind my chair which required me to turn way round while looking up. It's not an easy position for me.

You may be wondering one of two things:

1) Why didn't I turn my chair around so that I could chat comfortably? Well, there simply wasn't the room, there were a lot of people around and my chair was positioned such that any movement would endanger the ankles of those around me.

2) Why didn't I simply ask him to move forward? That's a more difficult question. It's hard enough to meet people, to have these casual chats that are part of what we all want from community - connectedness - without breaking the flow of things to get them to accommodate you by moving. People often respond so awkwardly and sometimes with great embarrassment. So, I'm okay sometimes thinking that I don't want to educate I just want to participate.

But then this happened.

A woman passed by, someone I don't know and haven't ever seen before, and noticed where he as standing and how my body was twisted to accommodate his stance. She marched over, and yes people with walker can march over. She came from behind him, took him by his shoulders and pushed him forward. She said, "Can't you see how he has to sit when you stand behind him like that??"

Then, before leaving, she said to me, "You're welcome."

I was gobsmacked.

Yes, I was in pain by the time she came over. But it's my choice as to what to do about it. I do have the assertion skills and the social skills to deal with it. And. I'm a really good decision maker.

I get what she was doing but the fact that she understood the situation, visually, she didn't understand the situation internally. More than that she had no right to touch his body or to shove him forward. It's outrageous behaviour.

Her disability doesn't give her permission to take away my personal agency.

Well, it all ended badly of course. He was mortified. So was I. He asked me if it had been uncomfortable for me to chat with him because of where he stood, I said that it was but that I was enjoying the conversation and hadn't wanted to interrupt it. That didn't save it. He apologized and fled.


Thanks for the help.

I feel discomfort after long hours in the chair.

I feel physical pain sometimes in interacting with others.

But those are my problem and I have my own solutions and choices.

No one gets to make them for me.


clairesmum said...

Ugh...the unhelpful 'helpers' strike again!

The first part of your post caught my attention - in caring for elderly/bedbound patients, it is very hard to convince families, caregivers, and some MDs that even though a person may not be able to say that they are having pain, the non verbal behaviors that suggest pain (PAINAD, if you want the technical name of the screening tool) are significant and deserve intervention.

ao thanks for giving me some validation of my observations/assessment, as it is not something that has any medical research to support it...

and I hope the new chair decreases the baseline discomforts of being in a chair, so that the social strategies you use are not adding to pain that is already present....

Deb said...

Please help me understand something here. Several weeks ago you wrote about an elderly man using an unusual cane, and your attempts to dissuade two observers from asking about the cane. How is that any different from what this woman did, aside from the physical shove? Were you not attempting to make a decision for that elderly man as to when and with whom he could discuss his adaptive equipment? Were you not making the assumption that because you would consider bystander questions an invasion of privacy, so would that man? Please accept my apologies if this sounds ignorant or argumentative, but I have been struggling to see why one intervention is acceptable and the other is not (again, aside from the physical shove).

Dave Hingsburger said...

Deb, good question. For me the difference is this. In the piece about the guy with the cane, I was suggesting that they not ask a really personal question. Our mobility devices are like part of us and questions can be really intrusive. I talked to them before they interacted with him. In the other situation the interaction had begun and she intruded upon that interaction. If she was already talking to him, I wouldn't have inserted myself. Had someone suggested to her, as an aside, to maybe leave us alone I would not have minded that at all. Does that make sense?

Deb said...

Okay, yes, thank you!