Friday, January 18, 2013

On things I have learned...

I was going to preface this entry with: “In the last 2 ½ years + since my riding accident…”, but that would be a glaring inaccuracy. So let me rephrase that, if I may.

In the last 2 ½ years since some asshole in a pickup truck, through his own stupidity and ineptitude tried unsuccessfully to kill me, I have stumbled upon certain realizations. These are neither good, bad or indifferent, but simply things that have become more apparent to me. Observations or realizations that may or may not have happened otherwise. I was given the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a disabled person, as for a period of time I was amongst their ranks. Notably during the months when I was confined to a motorized wheelchair. These are some of the observations that came to mind during that period:

1. Not all places of business are accessible to the infirm/disabled.

2. Planning a simple outing becomes more of a strategy session.

3. Not all restaurant tables are the same height, allowing access for a wheelchair.

4. When sitting in a wheelchair in the back of an accessible taxi hurtling along a freeway, you develop a new understanding of the term ‘vulnerable’.

5. Most wheelchair accessible taxi drivers are in fact ex-Le Mans drivers.

6. When convalescing, spending a couple of hours in a mall can feel like a trip to Paris.

7. Texting pedestrians in malls can be used as pylons for honing your manoeuvring skills with your wheelchair.

8. A 400 lb. motorized wheelchair will move any pedestrian with ease.

9. Wheelchairs and conventional doorframes are often a bad mix.

10. If you are in a wheelchair, many people will avoid eye contact.

11. Those who do see you in a wheelchair, will often go out of their way to help.

12. Not all sidewalks are created (or maintained) equal.

13. Crossing an intersection in a wheelchair can be downright exciting.

14. You can’t plan events for the following morning if you don’t plug your chair in at night.

15. Most people cannot walk as fast as you can roll. Gear it down some…

16. Trying to do wheelies in a wheelchair is never a good idea.

17. A wall will give before a wheelchair does.

18. Most coffee shop employees are a Godsend to disabled folks.

19. Dogs are curious about wheelchairs and seem to understand that you’ve had a rough go.

20. Motorized wheelchairs are some of the best items ever produced by our technology, for those who really need them.

21. Priority seating on busses IS a good idea.

22. Ontario does possess the absolute worst drivers in Canada.

23. When you find yourself having to walk with a cane, you realize that you are in a different societal class.

24. Physical limitations can be treated as challenges, but they remain limitations nonetheless.

25. The realization that your quality of life has forever changed, engenders a feeling of loss which is constant.

26. It is at times hard to discern if one is feeling bitterness or wistfulness, when thinking of one's previous life. And is there in fact a difference between the two?

27. Regardless of what physical activities you might have engaged in before an accident, it is at times distressing to realize that so many are now closed to you as a result of same.

28. The new 'normal' is anything but...

Like any other unexpected journey we take in our life, this one has been filled with surprises, challenges and learning points. This does not negate the bad effects of this incident, nor does it make it any more palatable... but it does go to show that even if you're forced to eat a shit sandwich, you might just discover that you like rye bread. Or something like that... 

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