When I was little the goal seemed to be to make me as mobile as possible. But this newfound mobility came at a price. I was at a greater risk of falling down and hurting myself than ever before. I wrote about how my parents sent me off to the world famous Institute for children with (mostly) Cerebral Palsy a number of times before. I talked about the sacrifices we all have made as a family and how it affected all of us. During the first few days, right off the bat really I was fitted for braces to keep my legs straight. First pair was made of plastic like synthetic material, the next ones were metal ad leather with a release like mechanism at the back of the knee. These were pretty heavy. They wanted me to walk around using sticks. I would lean on them and make a movement from the hip. It was very easy to fall, in fact in the Institute I did it a number of times. It wasn’t uncommon for a Conductor to walk off to focus on other kids while I was walking around the room. The floors were very smooth, made of PVC or something similar and my sticks were rubber. It was very easy to slip. The stick would get away from me making me lose my balance. At that point my dad became concerned. For weeks back in our apartment he’d make me stand in front of a couch and then throw myself on it while throwing my sticks to the sides with my hands stretched out. And again, and again and again.
The goal was for me to know how to fall down so I would protect my face and avoid head injury. Until it becomes an instinct , a reflex and you know what do without even thinking about it. Back then, the rubber on the tips would wear off quickly and the sticks would slide on sand and certain types of carpets as well. The story my mom likes to tell is how she was walking and pushing my chair and didn’t see the sidewalk was ending suddenly. She pushed me over, but when she realized I was falling she grabbed me by my hat and that’s all that remained in her hands while I went face down in the puddle. She laughs that we found the one puddle in the entire city. I was ten and that was in Budapest. But the lessons my dad taught me about how to fall I use till this day. I may be in a wheelchair, but if there’s a crack in the sidewalk that I don’t see it may sent me flying and it happens from time to time even till these day. I remember walking out of a store one time thinking the ramp was in front of me, while it was actually on the side and I rolled into a concrete drop. I took the fall on my elbows. Once a painted crossing tricked me into believing a curb cut was right there when it wasn’t. I can get injured every day ad it doesn’t get better over time. If anything, if I get cocky I’m more likely to hurt myself. Scrapes and bruises are not that uncommon on me. Sometimes I get hurt regardless, because I overestimated something or wasn’t paying attention. Once I made a dent in the drywall of a restaurant’s bathroom with my head when I decided to jump into my wheelchair while it moved away from me. It happens. Mistakes happen. But the ability to try to protect and guard my body serves me well today.