This weekend, I was invited out to dinner with some very dear friends. I never hesitated and accepted the invitation, gratefully – especially since I have been suffering from a severe bout of cabin fever lately.
If truth be told, I actually wanted a girl’s lunch out with my close friend so that we could just catch up. I wanted to hold her down for at least an hour and just spend some time talking. There has been so much on my mind and heart lately. I need to share it and get some advice – a perspective from somebody I know cares for me deeply – somebody I can trust, and feel safe with, when revealing my truths – someone whose opinion I value – somebody who will look out for me no matter what.
At times life is just so busy. It feels as if you sometimes lose touch with the people you truly care for. I’ve been feeling like that a lot lately. The silly season is upon us. It is hectic and everyone – already worn out from a long year – always seems to be rushing around like mad things getting ready for the holidays – only to start the whole process over again in January. It’s crazy!
When my friend called and asked if I minded if we rather go out for dinner, I was disappointed momentarily but I was really excited about the opportunity of getting out of my house and spending some quality time with some really special people in my life.
I’m always thankful when somebody wants to go to the trouble of taking me out. I’m finding that less and less people are willing. Because, let’s face it, it is a mission and a half.
It’s time consuming. It’s an effort. It’s an inconvenience.
You have to drive to my house and leave your car there. Then you have to get into my old Combi (1998 model), adjust the seat and the mirrors to suit; scratch around in the dim garage light to remove the gear lock and orientate yourself. The indicators and light switches never seem to be on the same side as your car. My care assistants always help get me into the car before we leave but it is your problem once we get to the other side. Reversing out of my garage is no easy task as you negotiate the narrow space between your car and a concrete pillar – praying like hell that the electric gate doesn’t close on you as some bloody idiot put the sensor on the other side when it was built. What was he thinking? You then have to drive slowly and carefully. If you take a corner too sharply or hit the brakes too harshly my arms will inevitably fall off my arm rests. Then you will have to find a place to pull over to put them back otherwise I risk falling out of my chair completely. The difficulty in changing the gears is enough to shatter even the most confident driver’s nerves. The old air conditioner barely makes a difference in the heat and humidity of this area. So, by the time we get to our destination, the sweat will be dripping off of you. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention, I’m a nervous passenger and I tend to backseat drive – just a little.
So, it didn’t surprise me in the least when my friend admitted that she was too scared to drive me and that’s why she preferred taking me out with her husband’s help. And even he struggled.
But the worst was when we got to the Mall, all four the disabled parking bays were occupied. Only one vehicle displayed a legitimate permit to park in these spaces. My stomach immediately went into a knot as I know that now means more inconvenience for my friends and more hazards for me.
It meant that we had to find an alternative parking spot which is really difficult on a busy Friday evening.
Since other parking bays are not wide enough to off-load a wheelchair we had to park awkwardly – half-in, half-out of a parking space to give us enough room to get me out. Besides needing the biceps of a bodybuilder to maneuver the ramps and guide my electric wheelchair down onto the road, it is really stressful for all of us knowing that we were blocking the flow of the traffic. I felt a bit like a deer caught in the blinding headlights as the other cars waited right behind our vehicle for me to be off-loaded. I just felt so exposed – and unnerved.
I then had to get myself out of the way quickly so that my friend could pull my Combi into parking bay properly and let the other vehicles come past. As we made our way through the car park to the entrance, I got shivers down my spine as I remembered how I was almost knocked over by a car a few days ago at that very same Mall.
Once again there were other selfish idiots parked in the disabled parking area. A car started reversing and because I am so “short” we didn’t see each other. My brother, who was a few meters away, was yelling like a madman for him to stop but obviously he couldn’t hear from inside his car. He missed me by centimeters. I don’t know who was shaking more – him or me.
When we finally got into the restaurant we were all emotionally and physically exhausted.
But, we really had an awesome evening. Lots of laughs and good food. And I just pray that they enjoyed it enough that they will be willing to go to the trouble of taking me out again sometime.
I have to admit though, when it was time to go I felt a little anxious knowing that it was going to be another whole mission to get me home safely.
As we got out into the car-park, a man, who was clearly fully-functional pulled into the disabled parking bay. In fact, I had worked with this man many years ago but he pretended not to know me. So sad.
My friend politely asked him to move.
What amazes me is, that most people still argue, get defensive and some even get aggressive despite the fact that they are clearly in the wrong. I just shake my head. As if being paralyzed is not enough of a challenge all by itself already, we constantly have to deal with selfish and irresponsible people who are too bloody lazy to walk a few extra meters. I wish I could swap lives and bodies with them. Sadly, I am the one who has to deal with being a hassle or inconvenience and feeling like a burden to my loved ones. These inconsiderate people certainly do not deserve the healthy, able body that God gave them.
If you have a few minutes, please take the time to watch this short video. I have shared it before on Twitter and Facebook but I think it’s really relevant and deserves another view. It’ll make you think and perhaps give you more perspective – although I already know that my readers are the considerate and compassionate people of this world – and I’m privileged to be associated with you – thank you. Please share it with as many people as possible. If this video can change one mindset, it will be worth it because there is always a ripple effect.