In my able-bodied youth, an era I no longer fully recall, the very thought of being in a wheelchair must have seemed horrifying. In fact, any bodily affliction would have frightened me. The sense of being constrained, trapped, reduced…none of this fit with the jumpy youth that I was. Suffice it to say that to me there was such a thing as being “trapped in a wheelchair.” More than that, and I can almost recall this, anyone who lived with a serious and obvious physical disability seemed to be forever aware of their constraints. As though they knew that this was impossible, that was undoable, they couldn’t go here, couldn’t enjoy those, partake of these…. Pushed and prodded, jammed and corralled by the very body they inhabited.
And now? Perhaps the other extreme.
For it often comes to me late in the day, that thing called inspiration. Or if nothing inspires, the practical opportunity arises to create. Certainly on this day the latter proved true, for it took hours, much of the morning, to deal with the realities of property ownership. Mixed with the realities of inexperience and natural disorganization. The best example of which involves the repaving of the driveway my flats share with three other buildings.
The concrete is cracking and disintegrating, shaken to death by six decades of life aboard the San Andreas Fault, not to mention bad drainage and increasingly heavy delivery trucks. All by way of background, for the morning task was clear and simple. To send an estimate for paving and civil engineering to one of my fellow landlords. Which seemed simple enough until I tried to find the right information, mysteriously absent until I realized I was misspelling the man’s name. Then carefully composing an email to this property owner, whom I know to be a serious businessperson. Taking us right up to lunch, more or less. And after sushi with a friend, well that was afternoon, of course, and whatever inspiration may or may not be afoot…my body was sending signals.
The lower back. The sides. The stinging of the swollen right paralyzed foot. I do in fact live within these constraints. Which squeezes the afternoon into something else. If I’m not careful, it squeezes the life out of the afternoon. It squeezes me into inaction. Or put another way, it squeezes me into taking care of my body instead of my creativity. One might say.
Thing is, these limitations squeeze me like a steer in a cattle chute. And they steer me nowhere. I find myself constantly adjusting, shifting, standing up, sitting down, putting my legs up, tilting my wheelchair back…all in an effort to get comfortable and keep writing. I can’t stand it – and that is the other option. Which I am exercising now, standing up and staring at my tilted screen as these words spew into my voice recognition system. Which works for a while. But never long enough.
For what I really can’t stand is facing facts. Just this morning I was completing a health questionnaire, part of my transfer to Jane’s medical plan. It was simple enough, check this box, check that one. Did I have an enlarged prostate? Of course. Poor circulation in my feet? You bet. So why was I reluctant to check these particular boxes? Because I can’t stand it. Reality, that is. Because this shifts me into the next stage, the next admission. That I need to find a way to write in my recliner, the armchair that tilts back, feet up…a laptop in front of me. Which I have tried before, never quite finding satisfactory, but like it or not, it’s time for another try. Yes, I do live in a faltering body – like everyone.
Although, problem is, unlike everyone, I also live in a faltering mind. So it’s a good thing I had a chat with my massage guy this morning. Yes, my right foot is swollen, and more than usual. Good thing I was able to mention the truth. Because it is rather embarrassing. I ran over my own foot. That’s right. It is possible if one is not paying rapt attention to run over one’s exposed foot, particularly the paralyzed one…the unfeeling extremity dropping and dragging on the carpet just long enough for the right stabilizer wheel to roll right on top of it. A strange injury, this one. But it’s been hurting for days, and by now beginning to worry me. So there’s another angle to the standing up all the time. The changing position and so on. And I wasn’t quite facing this, so now I am.
A bone bruise? Even a hairline fracture? Perhaps, and it will either get better or worse in a few days, this foot. Meanwhile, there’s no pain associated with walking – that’s good. The damage, if there is any of the permanent nature, is on the top of the foot. So, okay, elevate and exercise and see what’s happening, day by day. Meanwhile this might just release a little energy to deal with the other thing that’s happening. My blog with the local weekly, the Menlo Park Almanac.
My first post is up – and so far, no one has commented. Which, the Almanac editor tells me, is not a good thing. So, if you are reading this, I ask you to do that good thing, which is to find my blog on this page, then comment: http://www.almanacnews.com/blogs. Thanks.