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I canâ€™t walk now and I guess that my feelings about it are much the same as the similarly afflicted, i.e. we donâ€™t worry about it, grieve about it, lament, or think about it much at all. So when you see someone like me with 26inch spoked legs donâ€™t think that uppermost in their minds is not being able to walk, run, hop and skip. Not a bit of it. Facts are facts. People who can walk canâ€™t fly but they donâ€™t worry themselves to death about that because they know they canâ€™t do it. When the walking has gone, ditto. I would have expected to have felt the loss myself more than I did. The new non-ambulatory situation becomes the norm very quickly, days only, then itâ€™s as normal as you not being able to fly.
Imagine I were blind. I guess it would be a bit the same as losing walking. If repeating a hundred times â€˜Woe is me, I canâ€™t see.â€™ restored sight for a while then weâ€™d be intoning and grumbling all the while. If half an hour of self pity in the wheelchair would enable me to get up and walk to the fridge for a fruit corner, I dare say Iâ€™d do it.
The purpose of this post is because you may be interested in what disablement is like. Itâ€™s like travel writing by Bill Bryson, we read it and get some idea of Baghdad, otherwise we would have no idea, even of Bill losing his luggage yet again. So I am taking you to the land of not walking.
We have established that we donâ€™t grumble about it all the time. Sympathy is OK but it bounces off a bit because we donâ€™t understand why itâ€™s such a big deal. Facts are facts, we canâ€™t walk and loads of sympathy (we donâ€™t mind a bit though) wonâ€™t put one foot in front of another or butter a single parsnip. Using our blind person analogy again, if we said constantly to them, â€˜Oh, Iâ€™m so sorry you canâ€™t see. It must be awful for you.â€™ It would not be a good thing to do. They know well enough it is not an ideal condition, but they just donâ€™t dwell on it themselves and if they do sometimes they probably think itâ€™s not that bad and there could be much worse, which is always true. At least that's what I think, sitting in this wheelchair. I have a caring friend who recently confessed he didnâ€™t tell me where he had been walking, as I couldnâ€™t do it and it might upset me. The noblest of sentiments but wrong, diametrically wrong. I want to know where he walked across the city, marshes, beach or wherever. I feel no envy, disgruntlement or the like at all. On the contrary, tell me about it, I walk by proxy, I can imagine it.
Boy, wheelchairs are good. Try walking about with a cup of coffee with your elbow at your side. The swaying, joggling, walking motion will have it all over the floor before you reach the kitchen door. Wheelchairs are smooth as silk, and they are like little cars. Backing it up in a tight corner by the sink with a twelve point turn is very satisfying, and you glide virtually effortlessly and noiselessly from place to place. Itâ€™s sometimes worth going for a trundle up and down the passage for no other purpose than enjoying the ride.
Iâ€™ve only got one duff leg, so I can toggle the brakes of my chair and stand up and get the jam from the cupboard and I feel very sorry for those who canâ€™t do that. Thatâ€™s the way it is I think, whatever the degree of your own disability you feel sorry for the next man or woman down the line who has something worse. When I see people walk past, briskly, arm swinging, or sauntering, I do think â€˜Blimey you can walk good. Are you thinking hard about it or on autopilot?â€™ The latter I guess, and I think what a wonderful accomplishment walking is. I also watch children playing. They dart from place to place, change direction on a sixpence. Wonderful, and the more wonderful of course when you are limited to just being able to stand up to reach the jam.
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