Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Is it karma?  Monday  afternoon I was on my way somewhere, I think I was about to get a hot dog across the street. I promise you, I have crossed the cobbled road parking lot in my apartment complex many times before. A bit of an angle, my front wheels get stuck a bit here every time. It's a little steep so I have to lift my front while going forward. A few minutes before I was telling my neighbors that they cannot let their dogs roam about the complex. I don't care if it is Martin Luther King's day and they are grilling in the courtyard the need to supervise their pets. As I was leaving thinking how ungrateful people are for the free legal advice  I have given them, having no concept of what could happen and how they can be liable, I've noticed that my chair lost balance and started to flip over. I felt that I was falling slowly and there was nothing I could do. This is what you come to expect when you have a disability. You've had plans, you were going somewhere and then you fall, you get injured, you land face down in the mud, you cut something, you scratch something else, you end end up on the ground and then this new, unplanned situation takes over your entire day. I remember talking to a very experienced wheelchair user, much older than me, who recently told me, he rolled off the sidewalk I believe and broke his leg. And I thought to myself, with his years in the chair, how is it possible? But then I've done things like that before. Sometimes I wasn't looking, other times I was distracted, I missed something, overestimated another thing. Sometimes things just happen. When you're in a wheelchair, "sometimes things happen" a lot.  Once a bus lift opened slightly above ground in a muddy area, during rain. Some other time, I went straight instead of turning right for the wheelchair lift as I left the gas station store. On a different occasion a painted crossing on the street led me to believe that a curb ramp was there while it wasn't. What do you do? At that point your well being takes priority. You need to assess that you can move, that you're not injured anywhere, not bleeding and you have to situate yourself in your chair. I'm fairly mobile, I can do a lot of those things being on my knees and people trying to lift me often instead of helping get in the way. Let me tell you how you can assist me. As I fell back, I've hit my back pretty hard. It's a hard cobble road and I have a short back chair. For a few seconds I felt intense pain. Did I broke my spine? went through my head, because at that moment all my back muscles seemed to have given in. Then I realized that although I took a pretty hard fall, my legs and arms were moving so I had to had been fine. As I fell I leaned my head to my chest so I wouldn't hit it. Rolling over at that stage felt painful, so I laid there for a minute trying to gather energy to get my back muscles to cooperate. I got on my knees, I put the chair up and as I was assessing what I can use as my second point of support to balance off and get up a car stopped. Some people stopped and asked if I needed help. As the road and the chair was tilted, I've said: I only need your arm. But not to pull me up- to lean against and push away like a grab bar. One thing years of rehabilitation have taught me was how to balance my own body weight in situations like that. How do get things done, effectively, although perhaps not in the most pretty graceful way. My back burnt as I rolled on to the hot dog place. You really don't notice how much of an upper body work out riding in a wheelchair is until you're trying not to use certain muscles.  Initial pain went away quickly, although sleeping was a challenge. Turning, sitting up and down was painful. And although I'm fine, my back still feels like I took quite a beating. Hey... Things happen. 

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