Fancy living on the edge? Actually, no. My life has a few too many edges, thank you very much. Yet when I think about it, aging with a disability – or living with a disability – involves lots of sharp edges. The trick is not to get cut on them. Anyway, this being the metaphorical way of explaining that Jane and I are setting off on a trip that will have me somewhat on my own, that is to say, without her. And the “edge” simply refers to the next stage of incapacity. Balance? General strength? Osteoporotic bones? Stuff like that.
Thing is, like death itself, one goes through various stages. That is, from grief to denial to acceptance. Or maybe it’s supposed to be the other way around. I don’t know. But I do know one thing. The whole trick is to acknowledge the possibility of neuromuscular defeat and rally all allies in support.
Which is the first, and current, problem. I don’t like this. I mean it was only yesterday that I used to…fill in the blank. In truth, I used to do preposterous things. As recently as the 1970s and into the early 1980s, having friends and family in Southern California, I did things like fly into Los Angeles Airport, take my aluminum stick and hobble up to the Hertz counter and pick up a car. Now, remember, Dear Reader, we are talking about a one-handed, one-legged (in effect) driver. One whose neuromuscular state requires all sorts of special equipment, not to mention techniques.
Thank you, I would say to the uniformed man or woman dispensing cars. And out I would go to the Hertz portion of the LAX parking structure. There it would be, the Ford or Chrysler du jour. And there I would be, bag hanging off the crook of my largely paralyzed right arm. I would toss in the luggage, toss in the walking stick and slide behind the wheel. What next? Well, I would kinda shift around, bending my paralyzed right leg out of the way, and commence to do the very opposite of what I would do with my own car. That is to say, instead of having the accelerator to the left of the brake, I would find it where it normally would be, to the right. Which may sound like no big thing, but driving involves automatic responses, vis-à-vis traffic reflexes. Really, you don’t want to accelerate when you want to brake, and so on.
And off I would go, rolling toward, I don’t know, the 405 or Santa Monica Freeway…as though this was the most natural thing. Actually, it never was. But damned if I was going to miss out on Los Angeles. Somewhere along the line, I lost that determination. Recently, I have been missing out on Los Angeles a lot. I jokingly say that I go there every 20 years or so, whether I need to or not. And, I’ve had enough scary moments with my current car. No need to mess about with Hertz or Avis.
In other words, I am describing past risky behavior. Now “risky behavior” constitutes getting into bed alone at some hotel or cousin’s bedroom. This is the neuromuscular course of things, and I simply don’t like it. Still, where there’s a will there’s a wayward, I always say. As for now, I’m going to wait for the 36 Muni bus. It’s Maundy Thursday at Jane’s church. It’s Passover tomorrow. It’s an ecumenical season, in short. And I don’t intend to live it on the edge.