Changing Times, Failing Joints

Everyone has points in their life when realities can no longer be ignored.  My most recent epiphany hit me yesterday and it is a hard one to accept.  As a polio survivor my independence has always been on the top of my list of importance, some have told me to a fault.  There were points in my life where my independence has been challenged and never more than the day I finally had to accept total wheelchair dependence.  That’s what happens when a joint (shoulder) that were never designed to be a weight bearing wear out.

The world changed considerably for me at that point.  All of a sudden accessibility became a much bigger issue than I had ever realized.  When I left Calgary in 1990 to move to Vancouver Island I was still using crutches but when I returned to Calgary in 2007 I was wheelchair dependent.  Places I use to go to regularly were no longer accessible to me.  So many places had one or two steps which I had never paid attention to before.  The realization that Calgary was a very accessible city all of a sudden wasn’t true.  However you move on and do the best you can.

On the unfortunate side of things many of the friends I use to have in Calgary were no longer there.  I attribute that to one of two things (possibly both).  First none of them have accessible homes and my days of crawling up steps while my wheelchair is carried in are behind me.  I would like to think that some of these friends were increasingly guilty by my inability to visit.  A few of them felt it was to expensive to visit my condo because of the $4/hour parking fee on Calgary streets.

The other option, which is just as likely, is that I am a bigger prick then I sometimes give myself credit for.  I do know a lot of people that have no desire to hear about advocacy issues particularly if it intrudes on their perspective of the world.  I can understand that.

However yesterday my own failing abilities really hit me as I finished folding my laundry.  It took me three days to get that done.  I could fold four towels then my shoulders would start to let me know just how pissed off they were with me.  I would have to put the rest aside until the shoulders stopped throbbing.  It’s a simple thing however it is the simple things that erode independence.

So with that said I have one set of sheets to finish folding and then I hope to be able to finish off my Christmas decorating.  Anything that requires me to lift my arms above shoulder height takes a little longer these days.

My next hurdle will be my knees.  So far I can still balance on my knees enough to use my inaccessible bathroom as well as my shower.  Once the knees are totally shot (and they are not in that great of shape right now) I will have to give some serious thought to a wheelchair “accessible” place to live rather than a wheelchair “friendly” place.

Just one man’s opinion!


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