Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Enough already

Andre Dubus has a book out called "Meditations from a movable chair." It is one of the most beautiful, true and scorchingly sad books I have ever read. When I read it, it makes me want to cry and cry and cry and laugh, too, all at once.

My favorite essay is "Liv Ullmann in Spring." He begins with this paragraph:
In my sixth spring after becoming crippled, I learned this: as each season ends, I suffer again the loss of what I used to look forward to in the season that is coming. It took a long time to learn, because these feelings are not caused by images: I do not, as summer ends, imagine hunting in the woods in the fall, then feel sad. Spring may come with snow, and I may be shut in for days because there is ice on the driveway up my hill, and I may know only that. But my body knows that in summer it will not be walking with children on the beach, or running into the surf. For days or weeks, I feel close to crying and I am afraid, as though something real and bad is likely to happen very soon ...

I am in my ninth spring of full-time wheelchair use, my 20th or so of disability, and this is still not something I remember ... until I have been drowning in sadness for days and there is no apparent reason. Then it occurs to me, as it did today, "you think you are longing for summer fun that doesn't involve wheels?"

But this time something real and bad did happen, well several somethings.

In addition to reminding me about summer, Memorial Day also kicked off some bad allergies, which are causing me to sneeze. Every sneeze cuts a deeper hole into my tongue. I probably won't bite through it, but never say never, right?

And I fell today in the bathroom at work and got wedged between the stall wall and the toilet with the big metal toilet paper holder blocking my exit to the front. I was laughing so as not to cry, also because I found funny the thought of someone coming in and seeing my pasty legs under the stall door. When someone did come in, though, it became much less funny, and I got up as fasat as possible.

And finally, I got some really crappy news about my horseback riding.

I just think that if God were cool, he or she would once in a while say, "OK, you know what, enough. Go pick on someone else."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My melancholy brain

As I was leaving work today, I saw this gal who quit like a year and a half ago. We were friends, and I had this urge to run up to her, hug her and tell her how lonely I am feeling these days.

Of course, if I had tried, I would have fallen flat on my face -- I can't run. So I just waited for her to come over and we chatted, although not about how lonely I am.

I sometimes feel that my work friends are just that friends while at work. It doesn't really matter that four years ago I hardly even had any work friends.

It also doesn't matter that I am to blame for this lack of friends: It's not like I have the courage to ask anybody to do anything.

I do, of course, have an excuse or two.

I am in a wheelchair. If I go somewhere with someone, whether to their house or lunch, they will have to do things for me, nothing bad! but like pulling my wheelchair up steps. I guess I am loathe to assume they will not mind doing these things. Don't want to make an "ass" out of "u" and "me," you know.

UPDATE: You know how when he was introducing a guest on the Muppet Show, Kermit the Frog would flail his arms about madly? I wanted to do that today when I saw the coffee maker in the break room. It is new and the nozzle is actually reachable for those of us who don't stand. YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!!!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Trust the hands

I climbed two of my Everests today. Or at least a couple of K2s.

First, I went for a bike ride. Officially, it is a trike. But either way it is hard as heck. It is really hard because I ride at my folks and going away from them is a nice modest downhill that I can ride forever just about. But then I have to come back, and that nice modest downhill becomes steeper than Everest. I could use some oxygen, too.

You know it is bad when cars stop and the driver leans out the window and asks if you are OK. I just said yeah and kept plugging away. My ankles bend too freely. I really can't keep them straight, so that hurts my pedaling, too.

But I survived and it was time for K2-2 -- my shower.

I have written about it before and called it my Everest. I think I was a little off-base. It is really my dad's Everest.

It is really hard for me to take a shower at my folks' because it is upstairs, but if there is one body part I trust, it is my fingers and hands. Not to be arrogant, but I have Kung-Fu grip -- no denying it. And the GI Joe kind, not any other kind that Google may retrieve. I know that while I may bang my head or hurt my calf or grunt like a maniac, I am not falling.

My dad does not trust my Kung-Fu grip or any other part of me. So he worries about me doing anything but especially the shower, and he helps, which makes things easier for me. I worry, though, that it makes things too hard for him, or at least harder than they need to be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What a pisser

I try to go to bed after my shows end at 10. So why am I here writing after 11. Maybe it is because I just got out of the shower and am too awake. Why did I take a shower after watching Veronica Mars? No, it was not a cold shower thing. Instead, it is a tale of tea, pee and me.

I had a cup of tea as I watched the series finale (very disappointing that it is over). As I watched, I got on the floor to brush Claren, and when it ended I got up or tried to to go to bed.

My bladder must have vertigo because my getting up sets off alarm bells. This time was more urgent than normal, made worse by failure to get back in the chair the first try.

Well, that tea had to come out and once it did I couldn't stop it. I was going as fast as I could to the bathroom and got there without gashing up any walls with my chair (no small feat), but it seemed kind of pointless to let the last little bit go in the toilet.

Then I had to strip. I sat on my towel because my wheelchair cushion was wet. That made no sense. I was dirty, the cushion was dirty, what the hell? But that was what I did.

I needed to put my wet clothes in the wash, and being in a chair, you can't really hold something at arm's length. So the nasty clothes sat on my lap.

All that explains why I showered. But it wasn't over. Because I had used my towel, I had no clean towel within reach and had to dry myself off with a washcloth.

Continence problems are one of the many possible problems with FA. Let me be very clear here: It fucking pisses me off. HA

Pushy Matt gets buckled down

My driver today forgot to put the straps on the front of my wheelchair. This time, though, I said something. And this time I didn't flip in my chair. And even more remarkably, the driver was not offended.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Who's worse? Me or Spidey?

I went to see Spider-Man 3 this afternoon even though I have felt crappy for about a week. Actually, maybe I went because I felt crappy.

I have an idea that the crapppiness is mostly in my mind. I am sure that is what my doctor will tell me in a few weeks when I see her for my annual physical, which is actually every two years now because my insurance company decided annual is not medically necessary.

My parents and sister are out of town, meaning if I need some physical assistance I would have to ask a friend, stranger or the police. And even the police, as nice as they are, are unlikely to pick me up from work with leftovers for dinner.

I am able to survive on my own, but it is the little things that get me. For instance, I have two handsets for my phone, but I can't find one. I can hear it but not find it. Or the rugs in my bathroom are messed up, but it is as hard to rearrange them as to just deal with them.

So I went to the movies to forget I am feeling crappy. It worked even though the movie cost $7 for a Sunday matinee.

What's worse is the movie seems to have been made by Crappy Crapperson of Crapville. It was so disappointing. There were deuses ex machina behind every door. I kept expecting Aunt May to spring out of her human skin and show herself as Golden Oldie, herald of Galactus. And Spidey was a wimp.

My folks come back tomorrow, so I am likely to make it. Maybe I will even feel better.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh crap

I woke up from my too-long two-plus-hour nap, and I took great pains to transfer safely back to my chair from the couch. I still fell.

And it took almost 15 minutes to get up. For the life of me, I am not sure why I fell. I tried as hard as I could to be safe.

Then I went to the back room and saw that my too-long 2-plus-hour nap was actually three-plus hours. And I am still tired.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Guess who almost died Friday night?

It wasn't me, for once. It was Claren's turn to stare down the reaper, in the form of a German shepherd-pit bull mix.

We were out for a walk and this dog runs up aggressively barking and stuff. To her credit, Claren did nothing, just let him do what he wanted. I saw crazy dog had not only a collar but also a leash. I wasn't sure what to do, though, because we could not outrun a dog. So he ran behind my chair and up to Claren.

As crazy dog was going off on Claren, his owner came up. Unfortunately, he also had another dog with him, let's call this one Dopey. And Dopey ran in front of me to sniff Claren.

I was trapped by leashes, but the owner dropped Dopey's in his haste to get Crazy. That meant the leash fell under my wheels so I started to get away.

Then I noticed Crazy's leash stuck in my wheel. The owner finally got it out but only after tying Crazy and Dopey to a tree with his one leash.

He was very apologetic, but maybe he was the real Dopey.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Economics, fitness and vibrating sex toys

Yes, vibrating sex toys. But don't you dare skip down and read about them. Just be patient; it'll be worth the wait.

I took an economics course in college, and I learned about opportunity costs.

I was thinking about this yesterday when I was at the Coke machine. I was late to work and decided to get a drink at the machine instead of making the three-minute trip down to the coffee shop.

A drink costs $1.25 at the machine and dI had no change, so I spent probably 5 minutes trying to feed two dollar bills into the machine so I could get a Sprite.

As I failed again and again and my dollar got spit back at me, I realized I should have gone to the coffee shop. It would have been faster.

That's when my economic book learning popped up. It occurred to me I had already spent so much time at the machine it didn't seem to make sense to go to the coffee shop. Darn economic theory.

Hey, where are those eyes going? I'm up here. Don't treat my blog post like a piece of meat.

I had another incident of falling between my wheelchair and the couch. I can't decide why I fell -- because either I was still asleep after my two-hour nap or because my left foot was on top of my right foot. Maybe both.

Word to the wise: You probably can't get your body weight off one foot no matter how hard you lift the other one.

To spice my exercise routine up, I really had to pee the entire time I was struggling to get in the chair. Now there is incentive. Like Joey from Friends.

Now, here it is: sex toys.

I was watching a commercial to see if it was appropriate to put on my company's website. A man gives a woman what looks like a jewelry box and she looks in and says yes. Then you see the product: a ring. I saw it was made by a condom company so I just assumed it was some fancy condom wrapper, and I asked my boss if he was OK with a condom ad on our site. He said yes so I asked out video people to process it. Then I got a little blurb about what the product was: a vibrating sex toy.

I asked my boss about a sex toy ad and he came over to watch it. I guess I felt less naive because he said he hadn't thought of that either. He did wonder why it didn't explain how to use it.

I love my boss, but I really did not need to hear that from him. Man, I am worried about my dreams tonight.

P.S. Mom, I am very sorry for any innuendo or offensive talk in here. I just needed to get this off my chest.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Avoiding death, but not a sore neck

Sometimes people in wheelchairs can come across as a bit pushy.

I was waiting for an elevator around Christmas with my sister-in-law, who uses a wheelchair. In front of us were a man and child and a seemingly able-bodied woman.

When the elevator came, no one moved to get on right away. My sister-in-law, in a loud voice, said something like, "well, let a wheelchair on, that's what it's there for."

I got on that elevator, but I was mortified. I would have quietly waited for the elevator to be free. I might even still be there.

I definitely don't like to make waves, which is why I almost died today.

My driver tied the back of my wheelchair in, shook and said, "that's OK?"

I said OK, even though I knew he should tie down the front, too. But, I figured, he won't get in a head-on crash. And he didn't.

I forgot, though, that when he started abruptly from a stop that I might lean backward and the chair might flip over backward, too.

Holy cow, did it freak the driver out when his passenger did a back flip. But he got me up and strapped the front in tight.

I vow from now on to be more pushy. It might not win me friends in the elevator line but it might keep me alive.

Oh, and my youngest niece broke her arm last night. Who do you think will get all the sympathy -- a 35-year-old who ignored common sense or a 3-year-old? Even though I am disabled.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

When did help become a four-letter word?

I went for a long walk today with Claren today on this bike path. Well, Claren walked; I rolled.

It was pretty quiet. I couldn't believe so few people were out enjoying the weather. I passed two people -- one girl who seemed to be gathering long blades of grass and one woman who was exercising and hardly acknowledged me when we passed even though I said hello.

The exerciser turned around before us so when Claren and I turned around, we were following her. I watched her exercising her arms by flailing them about, and I decided I could do that, with my left arm anyway. My right was steering. I did one-half hearted flail and realized it wasn't for me because Claren's leash would fly off.

Also because I drove off the path.

It wasn't a far drop, but it was steep, too steep to get right back on the pavement. I drove along in the grass for a bit and then tried to get on the pavement. Two wheels made it. Then things went downhill. Well, no, they didn't go downhill, just not uphill. The rear wheels just spun in the dirt, and the anti-tip wheels got stuck, too, keeping me from reversing.

I noticed then that the exerciser was coming back my way, so I was sure she'd stop and ask if I was OK. She didn't. She just walked on past a person in a wheelchair sitting stuck on the edge of the path.

I realize I could have asked for help, but I didn't because I was still traumatized by the blow-off yesterday when I asked for help.

I was making my first visit to my new comic book store, and I saw I would need help with the door, so I said to this woman who was leaving a store next to mine: "Excuse me, ma'am?"

She looked at me so I knew she heard me, but she just kept walking. I did finally get in. It is nowhere near as big as my old store and it was real hard to move around. There was, however, a gal dressed up as an Imperial officer from Star Wars, so it was OK.

But back to the drama on the bike path:

After hootchie mama walked past, I sat there for a moment thinking about what the heck I was going to do. I didn't want to call anyone for help because I wasn't sure where I was exactly.

Finally, I just eased out of my chair on to the ground. Claren found a nice spot in the shade and lay down.

Then I scooted around on my but till I was facing my chair. After a quick pull I realized I was screwed, but then I remembered I could disengage the wheels so they would turn more easily.

I did this and then pulled. I managed to get the back left wheel up on the path. I locked that wheel and pulled the right side and it came up on the path.

From there I knew I was going to make it. I turned on the chair and maneuvered it on to the path so it would not roll off when i tried to get in it. Then I scooted around till I was in front of the chair and I got back in. As I slumped in the chair, a couple walked by. They totally could have helped me if I had waited.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Get in shape, the FA way

I have always been intrigued by fitness celebrity John Basedow.

It's not his creepy chiseled looks. It's that title: fitness celebrity. He isn't just a fitness guru or a fitness expert, but a fitness celebrity. That is so awesome.

I used to obsess about maybe becoming a journalistic celebrity, but tonight I realized I can be a fitness celebrity, too. Here is my workout:

1. Come home from work and take a 2.5-hour nap on your couch with your feet on your wheelchair.
2. Wake up and start to get back in your chair, but somehow slide down between the couch and chair. Remain off the floor thanks to your arms.
3. Let go with your arms so you slide all the way down to the floor.
4. Try to use your legs to get back into the chair or the couch, but give up when you realize they have a mind of their own, or actually no mind at all. They just kind of flop around.
5. Finally, position your arms to raise yourself up. Feel and love the burn as you do rise up and a sharp piece of the wheelchair drags along your back.
6. Flop into your chair out of breath and exhausted, ready for another nap.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Silly, silly Matt

Will someone please tell me what in the name of Odin I was thinking by publicly stating that I was feeling better. Why not paint a big bull's-eye on my head and wait for a toilet to fall from space and kill me?

Instead of that, though, work just stunk.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Future's so bright, I gotta wear shades, but I'm still bitter

Things are going pretty well of late, I think. Either that or I am just too tired.

Of course, I did fall down in the bathroom stall today, but it was a first. Just to keep me on my toes, I was pulling my pants down, not pulling them up. Luckily, nothing else happened when I fell. Nothing exited from me, if you will.

The thing that I struggle with even in good times is not to let a bad happening derail you. So often, it does. A million good things can happen, but a little trouble overwhelms the good and leaves me feeling wretched.

Not today, not the fall. Maybe I am too used to bathroom falls to let them get me too down. That is pretty sad in itself.

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