Monday, October 21, 2013

WCCE8: One day short

I didn't get to see Munich at all. Everywhere I went during this crazy European adventure felt I was running out of time. Putting things together at the last minute. Praying no big emergency would come up, blowing all that I planned for up in my face. It started even before I got there. I have just settled a case the day before my flight to Warsaw. As I was exchanging emails with the other attorney I was throwing things into my bag. And I said to myself: How I wish I had one more day before I go to make sure everything was all right.  And then, flights always stress me out so I decided to stay up instead of napping. Luckily my friends picked me up in the morning. Although last minute packing always leaves me in a state of panic and I left my apartment in quite a bit of a mess trying to figure out what and what not to take I decided to worry about it when I get back. The ten days with my family went by quickly. And then I thought how I wish I could spend just one more day with them without trying to figure out where in Munich to sleep on the nights congress organizers did not provide me a hotel. Then I realized I was again running out of time. Coordinating a press release from Warsaw with a girl in California on my mother's computer. On Friday afternoon I got a phone call from a journalist for a last minute interview on Monday. Absolutely not- my mother said as I was to fly to Munich on Tuesday morning but she had very little to say in the matter. I wish everything wasn't as hectic, I wish it didn't feel so last minute. For seven days my wheelchair was in repair, most of my Warsaw stay. Every day we called the shop to see if it was ready and until the day before the flight we were not even sure in what condition I'd be going to Germany. The true extent of damage would only reveal itself when we got there. And there were problems we didn't even see. With a fever, a loss of voice and just falling asleep everytime I got to lean on anything I thought to myself how I wish I had a day or two in Warsaw, without stress, without rushing, just to get better. And I was still dozing off on my uncle's couch two days before my speech. At the airport it appears we lost a sideguard- a part of my wheelchair that was never recovered. More time lost trying to find it. The World Congress appeared to be happening somewhere between all the problems I've been having. Fixing my wheelchair, packing for America and trying to get better. Then we discovered that my sit is falling off the titanium frame it was bolted to and it is now collapsing and has holes. The fabric torn, the bolt ripping away from metal and coming lose. The bar that secures the construction- broken. Things the guy in Warsaw didn't see. My entire wheelchair was falling apart, 2 days before my trip home. It wasn't safe for me to sit in, we needed a fix and fast. He had ten days to figure it out, four of which my chair was just sitting in his shop doing nothing, while I was in some hospital loaner. But where do we go?  If you know anything about Germany you'd understand that hardly anyone works late Friday afternoon. Although we were able to track down the representative for my brand of wheelchair, Kueschall, he already decided to have himself an early weekend. While we were able to get me a quick substitute chair in Germany we needed to figure out a way to ship me back safely. On Friday afternoon my dad was able to switch out my sit with one from an old hospital wheelchair we found. He spent a few hours just poking holes in the upholstery to make it fit my frame and at the same time, seeing his struggles we were worried he'll have another heart attack. Between congress events, my dad was tweaking my chair to see what worked. I showed up at the presentation of my book with the sit at such bizarre angle that my knees were almost as high as my forehead. -If only I had one more day- said a guy from the shop in Warsaw returning the chair that had much more problems than he had fixed. And he had it for most of my time in Poland. I wish we had one more day to see how it all holds together- said my dad, Friday night screwing things together in my hotel room. If only we got to see Munich. If only we had gone somewhere. That  Saturday night I was back at a hostel trying to pick up Wi-Fi in the doorway to answer the other attorney. A few days ago I was answering questions the journalist from the Alligator sent in that same fashion. Somewhere between all the craziness we managed to fix my chair. The story got published. I gave my speech. I packed for home. I caught a flight. Somehow we made it. But a day would make such a difference.

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