As my recovery continues I have become acutely aware of the challenges that I have in being less abled. I am beginning to do more each day and with that comes more time ventured out in the "community." For starters many "able bodied people" are not even aware of those of us who are "less abled" and they breeze right by without thinking about a heavy door slamming in my face or that I may not have enough balance to side step you and your busy little children who are running around. I am slow, yup, much slower at everything than I was before and that does not seem to fit in our go, go and do more society of people who are wired in and always moving. I hate that I am slow and not the same as I was before, but I have tons of empathy now with everyone else who may be slow and less abled for what ever reason.
Being out in the community presents many challenges. Because I have a disabled parking permit the parking issue has for the most part not been so bad. However, I did not know there were so many people who have these parking permits and many times all of the spots are taken. What issues this presents is I then have to park in a spot that makes it terribly hard to get out of and into may car. I am not suppose to twist and with the compact parking spots that I may be left to navigate try using good techniques to get into or out of one car. Virtually impossible. OK, negative shout out to all public establishments who are not meeting Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) code for parking or access - You are rude and should not be in business if you cannot have the decency to have the legally required number of accessible parking spots, not to mention an accessible restroom. Yup, there is one "Mexican" restaurant in Monroe, WA that is going to get turned in by yours truly on Monday for their lack of access. Don't mess with a disabled lady who knows as much as most attorneys on this subject. Not smart.
Being out in the community gives me a chance to drop things in public and not just at home. I cannot bend over and pick up anything right now so boy do I have to be careful. I dropped some mail when getting it out of the mail box and I had to get real creative with the cane to get it up and into my car or I was going to have to go back to the house and get my grabber device. I have dropped items at stores and find that there is usually someone who will help if you explain the situation. Not great, but it works. For a very independent person like me none of this feels good, but I am sure I am learning tons from this experience or why would I be living through it right? I do live in fear of dropping my car keys and being unable to get to them. I am very, very careful with this as I have that thought running around in my head now that I get to drive again.
The good news is that there are many people like me out in the world, some have had accidents or may have a chronic medical condition, many can recall a different time when life was not so hard. No, we do not all feel sorry for ourselves, yes we do find the best way to get through each day and yes, sometimes we drop things that we can't pick up.
Lesson Number 8 - At least once each week take the time to help someone without being asked to do so. You will be paying it forward with your thoughtful and generous spirit.