Sunday, February 10, 2008

Am I disabled?

Wheelchair Racer Bobblehead Thrusters engage! (Image courtesy of Strategy is for Imbeciles, ©2007)

There is no doubt in my mind when my condition was at its worst that yes I was disabled. But now? My ego says no. But the reality might be something else. My balance is still not 100%. My mind still wanders when I get fatigued. I was light-headed and dizzy most of Saturday. I did drive to town and back (about 11 miles each way. Any easy ride). I made it fine but I was very apprehensive. I do not like standing on one spot. As much as the City on the Hill has done a great job getting busses running, there are no benches at the bus stops. I was stuck waiting almost an hour after my PT session. The downtown bus I was on let me stay on in the warmth as he made another cycle. I was glad, not that I was worried about standing out in the cold. It was the standing that worried me. Walking seems to be okay. All that said, I spent some time yesterday looking at recumbent bikes on the web. I have no desire to do another Triathlon but am itching to do a Century. I might be thinking too big. And even if I am, would a recumbent compensate for a Loopy. Dizzy Bobblehead? Easy on the neck and back, lower center of gravity. Do I look into a trike? They are heavier and the hills here are killers. How can I consider myself disabled and yet still be contemplating 100 miles on a bicycle in one sitting? I also saw how I went from being not just able-bodied but down-right athletic into a stuttering, slurring, swaying, green-faced, bone-white fingered, passing-out, Bobblehead, confused, dizzy, imbalanced, passenger, wheelchair bound, angst-filled person in 6 weeks. It happened once, could it happen again? I know it could and fear that person is lying in wait just below the surface. That said, even at my worst I was still producing good work. It was amazing (and frustrating) to see people who knew and respected me really stop and slow down in order to hear what I had to say, even though my stuttering and slurring of words were agonizing to listen to. The number of people who were praying for me and respecting me for who I was inside (they know I am one stubborn SOB and do not give up once I set my mind to something) was staggering. And when I said, “I think we should consider...” they listened and considered, even if it sounded like, “Ahh de-de-denk ee uh-ud consiida...” Amazing. Of course, it was also strange to see people who had never seen me before. Almost all were friendly, some were curious. A few were angry at me (or it appeared that way). On a one to one basis almost everyone was accommodating, sometimes to the point where it was frustrating. But in my months in the chair there was only one guy (at an airport...another post) that royally pissed me off. I always felt treated as a person. Of course I only spent months in the chair, not years. As for infrastructure...that is another story. I am STILL fighting with my employer over something inane and the lawyers chimed in with something very frustrating. More later. Stairs, sidewalks covered in snow, ramps that all too steep, doors that will not open, buses with ramps that do not work, broken elevators, don't get me started over public restrooms, customer service counters set so high I cannot see anyone. You would think that by 2008 many of these would not be issues, especially in facilities built in the last 15 years. Yet there is a common theme of non-thinking in the design and adaption of these locations. I am not an engineer or an architect but I often can see quick, cheap, often FREE fixes and they are not built in. Amazing. Even at my worst, I was able to get out of the chair and walk. I needed a cane or an arm to hold. I could push my chair and use it like a walker. I was well off. But what if I were completely unable to walk? My town seems pretty good ADA-wise and I had a terrible time getting around. The thought of a person that could not walk was daunting. Back to the original question, am I disabled. My head is starting to fog up and I become a little dizzy just writing this entry. I would not want to drive anywhere just yet. It is cold out and I am making excuses not to go outside and play with my dogs. At least for now the answer is yes.

[posted by Bobblehead]