Sunday, May 18, 2014


What can I say? I can't do it all.  Instead of arriving tired but triumphant after a mile and a half stroll at my Foundation's Board meeting I ended up having a panic attack in the street and calling my neighbor to take me home. It happens. Sometimes the limitations of my body ruin my plans in ways I wouldn't anticipate. But I dust myself off and get back in the game. It all happened Friday. A local start-up incubator offered us a proper space so we could hold meetings every few weeks in a place that wasn't a restaurant, a cafe or the back of the shopping mall. And I was very excited to try it out for the first time. We had a room reserved from 6 to 8. I've never been in that part of town before and I had to figure out how to get there. My choices were - route 2 that I've never ridden before and wouldn't have a clue were to get off or just "walking" there. Google Maps claimed that it's only a little over a mile away, a 16 minute walk (more like an hour for me) and a 35 minute bus ride. I figured I had an hour and a half, the distance didn't seem that far and I've wheeled to places that were over a mile away before. Get to 4th Avenue, it will strangely merge to  3rd and you'll get to Hawthorne Road. Easy enough, yes? What Google Maps didn't tell   me was that most of the walk will be up the hill. What I also didn't know was that it was sending me through areas with no sidewalks. I was wheeling in the streets or in the bike lane or through designated parking spaces. From time to time I took the side roads that were saver, but going away from the avenue only to get back to it a few blocks later was taking too much time. Finally, when I was rolling up the hill I had to stop.I had a feeling that at any point I could roll back and cross the lanes into the traffic. The cars were passing me very closely. Even though I moved to the side of the road at an angle I still had a feeling gravity will pull me back into the traffic at any minute. I needed a piece of concrete to separate myself from the traffic to feel secure. I ended up rolling onto somebody's driveway and I pulled out my phone. I was there for a while emailing Keira, one of my boardmembers who was about to start the meeting. I told her I was in trouble, so she drove out to find me. There was a miss-communication- I guess she thought I was on the other side of town. Between her desperate emails that she can't find me and my desperate descriptions of the area I knew that we were not getting closer.  It was 40 minutes later My phone was about to die, so I called my neighbor who happened to be on the road and agreed to pick me up. When he got there and we started to load my chair into the car a policeman came by. He was looking for a man in the wheelchair that was supposed to get to the meeting at GTEC. It was almost eight at that point and there was no meeting to get to and I was too panicked imagining what would have been to participate anyway. I guess when she couldn't find me Keira asked the police for help. Luckily I was able to figure my own solution. Yes, I should have taken a bus. A mile walk turned into a three hour adventure. The whole experience left with the feeling that I'm very lucky to have people who  care about me enough to be willing to help when I'm in trouble. But it also got me to think about how wheelchair unfriendly sections of town can be even in the city that seems familiar. I could have used the application my foundation is working on now myself that day. Finding the right route for a wheelchair is different from figuring out a bike  trail or navigating traffic.

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