Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wheelie boys

I should have expected trouble when I was able to finish half my graphic novel while waiting for my ride. But "Ex Machina" is pretty awesome so I didn't mind.

I should have gotten a clue when the wheelchair lift broke and wouldn't lower. But the driver lowered it by hand and it worked to raise me to the van.

I definitely should have worried when my fellow passenger, an older wheelchair user, started giving me directions on how to drive my wheelchair.

Actually, that did kind of worry me. It got worse when he spent half the trip complaining to the para-transit service how he was going to be late. He totally had a point, but there is a right way to complain, and then there was him. He said they should fire the woman who took his ride info the day before, he said the driver didn't know where he was going and didn't follow procedure.

Then he hung up, and I got scared. I didn't want him telling me all about his problems. AHe didn't, though, well not too much.

Instead, he asked what was wrong with me, CP? It's OK for him to be nosy, though, because we are both wheelie boys, I guess, although he was taking a risk because we didn't exchange the secret handshake.

He then told me how there are so many things to do, like going to baseball games, and how I should do them.

He wasn't wrong, but what the heck?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What a drag it is getting old

I turned 36 today.

The past few years I have enjoyed my birthday less than usual. It's not the presents -- who wouldn't like a Green Arrow action figure -- or the day, which today included a super soaker war with my brother-in-law, sister and their two kids.

It's not that I look old. I Do have white hair, but I keep it so short you can't really tell. My mom claims that is not a sign of age anyway. She says it is a family trait -- her dad had all white hair by his mid-30s. Claren's puppy-raisers sent me a card and said I still looked like I was in my 20s.

And my body doesn't think I am old. I fell at work last year, and I went to the clinic for a bandage. The doctor there was more interested in my neck because I had done a wrenching number on it. After he conceded that it wasn't broken, he asked how old I was and when I told him, he said I'd probably be sore because the muscles at my age don't bounce back. I wasn't sore, though.

No, the problem is I am finally learning to have fun in life, but I feel like I am on a deadline or two. These are the deadlines I worry about: dying ...
  • because of FA directly, like heart problems. This seems unlikely as I have avoided these problems so far, but who knows?
  • because of FA indirectly, like a fall doing me in.
  • because the environment has not been set up for people like me.
Maybe I'll live.

It just took me so long to learn how to relate to people.

Someone actually remembered my birthday at work. I have gone to a birthday not of a family member.

I don't know whether it is Claren, some stage of grief like acceptance or what but things are finally looking like they might eventually be OK, even though I have FA. And I want them to be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wheels of fortune

Every morning I make a decision that has a profound effect on my day, and no, I don't mean the decision to get out of bed. I choose which wheelchair to use.

My power chair saves my energy, and it ensures that Claren gets some exercise as we roam the workplace. It also makes it easier to go visit co-workers.

But it makes me feel lazy. I have run over Claren in the power chair, too. I feel every bump I go over in the soles of my feet, the muscles of my butt, my back, my neck and my head. As the holes in my wall suggest, I tend to crash into things. And while visits are easier, the power chair makes it almost certain that I will go home with my parents. It is too heavy for people to toss in their SUV. Taxis are available but expensive.

Of course, if Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed up and asked me out, I'd get a cab. Come to think of it, though, she would be strong enough to lift the power chair and she has her mom's SUV ... I smell a destined match.

Since I am Slayer-less, I need to use my manual chair if I think or hope to go out with people without wheelchair vans. Of course, the manual chair sucks up energy, means I get exercise not Claren, tires me out, doesn't always go over bumps, makes me feel like my co-workers work in Alaska and shockingly enough does not guarantee that I will go out. It just is my option if going out my possibly be on the table.

I hate them both. Maybe tomorrow, I will just stay in bed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I had a good idea for writing about something disability-related and quite embittering, in a good way, of course. Instead I learned today that: A) my sister-in-law is in the hospital, to which I thought/prayed "give me a f-----g break, God." Then I asked the saints to look out for her, not that they get high marks from me. B) One of the few non-bitter parts of my life, horseback riding, has become one of the worst. My teacher left another program or was forced out. I am ready to follow her again, though I am getting tired of it. And the program that she just left kept my horse, I think to try to keep me. Like I need this stress.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I must crush you

When my 4-year-old niece was born, I named her my arch-nemesis because I correctly deduced that she would be the one to steal the attention from me. I was right, of course.

This evening I figured out what to do about it: Crush her.

It nearly worked.

I woke up from a nap at mom and dad's and got in my chair. K-dog, my niece, was nearby, so I pretended to lose my balance and tumble on to the floor.

But K-dog's quick. She ducked out of the way so that I just nicked her toes. She is also quick-witted: Her smirk of triumph was immediately replaced by a look of horror that her uncle tried to crush her.


Monday, July 16, 2007


I played hopscotch tonight.

I took off work today and Tuesday to recharge my batteries because this is the only week in July my boss is here. He has a lot of vacation. To make sure my batteries are as high as possible I decided to stay with my folks.

It actually is kind of a mixed bag because it is not as accessible, but I can sleep later and everyone brings me things and it is warm enough that I can shower outside under the hose.

Staying at mom and dad's is like being at a bed and breakfast where most of the other guests and the host are just insane. Not in a bad way, just in a moderately loopy way. But you know they love you and it's not like you're sane either so you should talk.

Plus, it is hard to get depressed at mom and dad's, especially when there are other visitors. And there usually are: My sister and her family live across the driveway. She and her husband, who went with me to see "Transformers" last night (best movie of the summer!), have two hilarious kids who stop by a lot. Two teen-age nieces are also there and make me laugh, too.

After a day filled with rousing chants of "Uncle Matt" (Do you remember that Starbucks ad a few years ago? It's like that), my nephew Joe was telling people to hopscotch. Of course most of the people he was telling could walk. But the wheelchair didn't faze him a bit so how could I let it bother me?

I just wheeled down the hopscotch board. It was pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The father of slapstick

I don't know who invented slapstick, but they must have either been in a wheelchair, preferably with FA, or had a sibling, friend or enemy in a wheelchair.

Or maybe they just watch my morning routine. Because am an effing riot, unless I die or have to go to the hospital, then it isn't so funny.

I slipped this morning, giving my wheelchair another chance to violate me. I responded rather violently to this rear assault, flipping 180 degrees off that wheelchair arm and coming down on the other arm on my chest. Actually, I landed on the joystick and finally had a little luck. Dad had re-covered the joystick a few weeks ago, so I fell on one of those big green erasers. Otherwise, I'd have fallen on a thin metal stick and that would not have been funny, really.

As I was introducing my chest to a big green eraser, my legs were trying to find purchase on the floor, but they couldn't. I just kept slipping, and I think I must have looked like Coyote when he chases RoadRunner off a cliff. He just runs in place for a minute, then plummets.

As my legs were pumping, I noticed a grab bar within reach, but my arm was like a candle flame in a breeze, just bouncing all over the place. It was pathetic. I don't know whether it was the pressure of the moment or of the big green eraser or the pain in my forearm from smacking during some part of the fall.

I don't really remember how I got up: maybe me feet found solid foundation or I grabbed the bar finally or maybe Buffy the Vampire Slayer burst in saved me and then threw herself at me. Probably not that last one, though.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hit me with your best shot

Who knew, but apparently today in addition to being Tuesday was also Kill the Kid in the Wheelchair Day.

I was crossing the four-lane road in front of my condo. I made it across lanes 1 and 2 with no problem and was sitting in the median waiting for two cars in lane 4 to pass. Well, the first car slowed for me to stop, but before I could even utter "son of a b," the second car passed the first car and zoomed by in lane 3.

Lest you forget, this was a bad dream of mine.

I wasn't prepared for what happened next.

I got on the sidewalk and was going down the road when I looked up and saw a gal on a mountain bike bearing down on me and Claren. Her teeth were bared and clenched. She rode to the side of the sidewalk but it was like the grass was lava. She wasn't going there.

Finally, I went into the grass and somehow the lava didn't burn me.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

No means no, wheelchair!I

I have stumbled backward several times recently, but I haven't fallen. Instead, each time some piece of my wheelchair has caught me … by ramming that piece up my butt.

I don't know which is worse: the bruising after a fall or the feeling of being violated after a "save" by my chair. Can you sue an in animate object for sexual harassment?

Even worse, I am always falling. What if it is not the FA but rather because I am falling because I like being saved by my chair?

Oh geez, I need help.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Calling out the saints

I sent an e-mail to a friend of mine to tell her I was thinking of her and her lake. She lives near Lake Tahoe, which has seen an awful fire recently. She wrote back, "thanks, every little bit helps." I think there was an emoticon in there, too.

It occurred to me, though, that my thoughts should be worth more than a "little bit." I know a lot of people who should be working miracles or at least lobbying the miracle workers. I'm talking about you, St. Matthew. (Yes, I am challenging out my patron saint. If I wake up tomorrow and can walk and run, I'll apologize and build him a reallY kickin' shrine.) But still I am in a chair and getting worse.

I figured if I would ever get a deus ex machina in my life, gram would have gotten it done.

Gram died in October; She had known me my whole life, and if anyone could get God off his duff and working magic, she could.

God might complain that miracles weren't really his thing anymore, but I know gram would have none of it.

She didn't hold to rules. This was woman who "test drove" a red convertible to the beach with her friends when she was young. I put "test drove" in quotation marks because while she said "test drove," others might say "stole." She returned the convertible at the end of the day after the dealer was closed and just left it in the lot with its keys.

I was sure she would wander up to God's house, remind him that she was a loyal customer for 95 years and demand that he fix me and my brother.

I realize I am anthropomorphizing God a bit. God doesn't have a duff, a house, even a he. The magic, though, that's all God. God's like Dumbledore.

I won't lie and say I am not a little disappointed that gram has not hooked me up yet. Or Saint Matthew. I guess maybe gram is taking some time to learn the way of things, maybe she is building up a stash of chits. Maybe one day I'll see her behind the reins of a fiery chariot, and some guy with her will say to me in a mumble, "you're healed." She'll laugh and say: "That's right, Elijah, don't play Russian bank with me."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

In throes over my toes

For years, I have blamed my mom for an infection in one of my big toes that eventually spread to my whole body, provoking a fever.

Finally, I had to have a toenail cut out and I fainted during the surgery, which was bad because I was just sitting in my chair.

Anyway, the problem wasn't my mom pooh-poohing my infection; it was my stupid FA.

I put so much pressure on my big toes. If I am just sitting in my chair, things are groovy. But if I am transferring, standing up or anything else, my big toes slam into my shoes.

I need to wear shoes to help dull the crazy reflexes in my feet. But even if I risk it and do something without shoes, my toes slam into the socks, the ground, whatever.

And trying to put a Band-aid on my toe is just a comedy of flying feet, ointment spread everywhere and the Band-aid all squished up.

It may be needless to say, but I have a little sore again. I may or may not let my mom see it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

I'm bad; I'm nationwide

I think I am a bad disabled person.

For one thing, I have very little patience with people who are disabled and are not friends or family.

This morning, we pulled up at a house to pick up another disabled client because the para-transit system is a shared ride service. We waited 15 or 20 minutes before she came out. I was so mad.

I know intimately all the stupid little delays that you can face on a normal day. It didn't matter, though. She made me late.

Part of it is because I get up early enough that all those stupid little delays don't keep me from making my ride on time. Others should do the same.

In my defense, though, you could take the word "disabled" out of the sentence "For one thing, I have very little patience with people who are disabled and are not friends or family" and it would probably be partly true. Maybe I'll get a pass on this one then, and just be allowed to wallow in my misanthropy.

But somehow I suspect the following is going to cost me disability hit points.

After much internal debate, I have decided independence is for suckers.

Sure I can wheel myself up inclines, but it is a whole lot freakin' easier to get a push. Yes I have done my laundry, but I have to stand up to put the clothes in the dryer, so why shouldn't I let my folks wash my clothes for me. Plus, my mom can fold in 10 minutes clothes that would take me 10 hours and it actually looks folded, not like someone was trying to make an origami snowball.

What I am hoping is that I'll get drummed out of the ranks of the disabled. Then I could walk!

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