I started my day in a bad mood. I slept poorly, when I went to heat up some muffins I discovered they had mold on them, and worst of all, when DATS picked me up, they came in a bus. I hate that. Usually, persons that are using wheelchairs require a bus. As I'm not using any kind of equipment any longer, they usually just roll up in a mini van, which is (in my opinion) much more discreet. I hesitate to say I'm proud, but I truly am. I don't like depending on others to do things for me, and I really don't like being unable to drive. I'm used to being the person who picks up patients, in a much cooler ride than a bus or a mini van--in an ambulance! My job is a big source of pride in my life and being reduced to a patient is hard, and in particular, hard on my soul.
Today I couldn't help but cringe when that big 'ol bus pulled up, but I swallowed that bruised pride and got on. But--full disclosure--I put on my dark sunglasses and let a tear or two well up. Every once in a while I let myself wallow in self pity and bus days are those days.
The driver was a very nice East Indian gentleman and he paid me no mind as he was very involved in his Hindi radio station, and I even noticed him singing along at one point. Fine by me; I had self pity to wallow in, who needs the top 40?
He informed me we had one stop to make before he dropped me off and I smothered a sigh. A few extra minutes isn't going to make me feel any better or worse about the whole bus situation.
We stopped and picked up a man in a full motorized wheelchair--probably around 45, and wow was he ever a Chatty Cathy. I obviously wasn't in much of a mood to chat, but damn my polite up bringing, I couldn't be rude to him. I drew the line at taking off the dark sunglasses though.
During our chat, he starts to tell me his story. He wasn't always in a wheelchair; about 10 years ago he was partying downtown and got jumped outside the club and beaten almost to death. He was in a coma for about 10 months, bed ridden for about a year, shipped to a brain trauma facility away from the city. But he fought every step of his journey and eventually was able to come back to the city, live on his own (with roommates downstairs, but he was very independent).
As you can imagine, this had the effect of making me stop wallowing. Yeah, I'm a long ways from where I was and from where I want to be, but thank god I don't have a story like this mans. I can walk. I should be able to drive again soon. And in the mean time I can climb the bus stairs and buckle myself in. If this were a made-for-tv movie, the sappy, uplifting music would start playing right about now and would fade to black as this man wheels off to his destination.
What have I learned over the last year? Life is not a made-for-tv movie. The next part of this mans story is that he was kicked out of the house by his roommates for drinking and doing too many drugs. Cocaine, oil, heroin, marijuana, crack. I kid you not, he listed these off as substances he not only just tried, but used regularly and thoroughly enjoyed. He was quick to inform me that he didn't use them anymore though. Except booze. He likes booze, he's not giving it up.
I have no idea what to say so I nod sympathetically (extremely thankful at this point that I kept my dark glasses on) and look out the window, hoping this conversation is over. Nope. He back tracks a bit and talks about his goals, and how he really wants to be able to walk again. "And get a girlfriend. That would be nice." He looks at me out of the corner of his eye (seriously, I'm thanking the Hindi gods that I kept the dark sunglasses on).
By some other miracle, we pull up in front of my physio therapy clinic. I tell him it was nice chatting with him and hold back another cringe as he reaches out to shake my hand--holding on just a fraction too long to be comfortable. I hightail it into the clinic, walking as fast as my damaged leg will let me go, pausing just long enough to stop at the hand sani station and pump a little more than necessary into my palm.
I walk into my room in the clinic and breathe a sigh of relief, realizing at the same time that I'm no longer in a bad mood. Life is funny, even when it seems sad and dark. It's not always amusing, but it's at least bemusing and sometimes you just need to be reminded of that, even when you're in the midst of wallowing.
What a way to ruin your bad mood. Life is that way..you can always find someone worse off then you.
thank you Nancy, I am glad you did not ignore him, and that you are sharing your experience with us, it IS a good one.
I find myself angered by my physicality, finances, mobility, dependency and a host of other things that will not change. The Universe could actually CARE LESS what I used to be, what I used to be able to do, what I used to earn! One thing I've come to take ownership of is the fact that I do not have to own my circumstances...these things are NOT ME. These things are simply moments in time and should carry NO EMOTIONAL attachment once the moment has passed.
Tomorrow is ALWAYS a new day!!
I have primary Progressive MS and I stagger around like a drunken oragutan and can't tolerate heat so I am no longer employed. People often say that must be terrible or something like that. I always tell them about a fried of ours who has a 13 year old daughter who has crebal palsy or something. She is absolutely gorgous and quite inteligent but she can't talk and communicates with a touch screen pad. She can drive an electric wheel chair and that is about it.
I am nearly 60 and I have had a life, a very active and unusual life. I have worked all over Australia and in New Guinea and my last Job was as a ranger in Kakadu National Park catching crocodiles etc. That kid will never get to walk let alone have an independent and active life like I have had so I have got nothing to complain about.
Great story! : ) That is more entertaining than the dreck sitcoms on the tube.
Great story telling! You caught all the nuances and feelings. Do you write as you certainly captured everything right on the nose!. So easy to look around and notice others who seemingly have it all or have great futures. No one has the promise of tomorrow or a great future. Perspective and appreciating all the good there is even if its something small, helps us be happy.
I completely agree! It's easy to have pity parties, but definitely important to remember everyone has some kind of hurdle in life to go through. Sometimes I need to remind myself that most people (myself included) are very much up in their own head. We are always thinking about our situations, assuming that everyone is noticing every little detail about us, when in fact they are sitting across from you thinking that YOU are noticing things about them. You are not the most interesting, fascinating thing in the room, and sometimes that's ok. In fact, it's grand. I don't want to be in the spotlight unless I jump into it.
As for writing, I really love it. It's a passion and a pass time, maybe one day a career. But for now I look at these forums as practice, and I really like that something I've written can entertain someone.
Hope you're well,
I cannot agree more about the bad self-pitying times. When I wake up, my family knows - do not talk to me. I can barely walk and I really need to pee! The thing that brightens my mood to make every morning better? The elderly vets at their usual table in the food court. Hey Dolly! Hi Sweetheart! How ya doin' love?!
These guys have seen hell and discuss the war every day and I've seen them have this same conversation every day for almost 10 years! They always bicker yet smile as soon as I hobble by. Sit with us! Have lunch with us! They are absolutely adorable and I love each of them, but the one that really has my heart is Lenny; he turns 95 in September :)
It's interesting what makes our most crappy days much lighter and makes us appreciate what we have. Yes, the guys and I walk with canes, but I have not had the hell of an experience they have. When I see them, my crappy days fades away very quickly. :)