Friday, September 3, 2010

Wheeled surprises

Well, my walking is going south fast; "circling the bowl," as the saying goes.

Somehow, it's not bothering me. It just is. It's certainly interesting, the challenge that it provides, and I don't mind walking around my house or around a small room, but "getting around in the world" is getting more and more unpleasant.

Yesterday, I got to use a powered wheelchair at school. (One of our faculty's father passed away recently, and he generously brought his dad's powered chair to school, so that people like me could use it.)

Honestly, I was expecting some sort of emotional weirdness. "I've chosen to use a wheelchair. I need to use a wheelchair. I just turned fifty, and I'm reaching for a wheelchair. Because I'm suffering a lot, trying to stay out of the wheelchair."

But what I felt when I sat in it, and drove it around campus, was... joy.

I had a wonderful time. I was no longer suffering, painfully slogging across campus, craving--craving!--a wheelchair.

I had so much more energy yesterday than I did the previous, chairless day.

Many details need to be worked out... for emergency dashes to the bathroom, do I brave the stairs for the closer facility, or take the chair (which will take much longer than even my slow on-foot pace, since it'll require the elevator)? For non-emergency between-class dashes to the bathroom, will it be stairs or chairs?

But I don't feel trapped by the chair, I feel liberated by it. I just got a huge gift of energy that I can spend on my students rather than on fighting gravity.

What will the students think of it? They probably won't care, the ones who really care about me, we'll laugh about it. After a few "Mrs. Claridge" jokes, it'll just become part of daily life, and so many kids are accessorized throughout the year by crutches and the occasional wheelchair, I'll just blend in. And the kids are more resilient than any of us "adults" are, anyway...

We could learn from them. We should learn from them. In more ways than we usually realize.

No comments: