“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance” – Nathaniel Branden
I took a few days off following Canada Day, in part, to avoid the current heat wave but also to rest the body. Increased fatigue seems to be the flavour of 2017 and it does take a bit longer these days to reenergize. The stroll along the ocean walk is very relaxing with gorgeous wild life (from seals to eagles) which is a good way to gather my thoughts and reenergize.
The olfactory action caused by that tinge of salt in the air is natures aroma therapy. That aroma says home to me which contributes to my renewal. Needless to say it doesn’t take a lot of encouragement to hang around the water front albeit from the paved walkway (sandy beaches are not designed for wheelchairs). It is a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon. The down side are the crowds and the reminder of what I can no longer do like walk on the beach. When I was still able to walk with my crutches I could go on the beach, put my feet in the water or just lie on the sand. Can’t do that from a wheelchair.
The other downside is that one cannot wheel from one end of the ocean walk to the other due to poor accessibility planning. There are a number of spots where it just becomes to tedious or dangerous to try and maneuver safely. There are a number of spots where you have to either use a stairway or the path is at such an angle it’s dangerous. I’ve tipped my wheelchair more than once.
One of the minor example is this little pedestrian bridge which comes no where near to meeting accessibility code. To make it to the top, not a long way but a steep way, I have to do a good run at it to crest the bridge. It is as much about gained momentum as wheeling strength but that action is predicated on people stepping out of your way during the run. If I have to stop because some inconsiderate idiot lacks the critical thinking ability of an amoeba to block my ascension then I forfeit my uphill momentum. That is difficult to accept because there was a point in my life where I would just push through but the strength isn’t there anymore. Another acceptance issue…
This results in the “start all over” process of backing back down, reposition and then wait for a break in pedestrian traffic. Once I see a crowd break I can make a judgement on how much time of clear pathway I have to get to the top, I make the charge. Does a person need to put much thought into stepping out of the way of a cyclist? A wheelchair is no different. I do my best to accommodate crowd by being hyper vigilant especially now that people believe texting and walking is a good thing so I would ask people to be a little bit more aware of those around you.
July 1 was Canada Day so there were all kinds of festivities happening in the harbour area. The weather was great so I decided to go down to catch a bit of the entertainment. Unfortunately the closest parking I could find was about a twenty minute wheel to the water front. Maffeo Sutton Park, along the water front, is downhill from where I parked so I could let gravity do a lot of the work. Plus it was a gorgeous day so I could work on a tan while getting a bit of exercise.
Before unloading my wheelchair I had a quick hoot to make the wheel a bit more tenable. While sitting there with car door open, admiring the sun I had one of those epiphanies. Now I’m not sure if this is the wisdom of age or a stoners complacency but that epiphany moment caused me to rethink this escapade. Now you have to understand the topography of Nanaimo, picture a mini-San Francisco with lots of little hills that end at the harbour, some very steep. Getting down to the water front would be a piece of cake but that epiphany moment was focused on all the up-hill work to get back to the car.
I am struggling these days with the acceptance of my advancing decrepitude but I do know my stamina and strength are not what they once were. I realized what may be a 20 minute downhill wheel would eventually turn into a two hour stop and go wheel back. I also know my “bounce back” rate has declined which would mean taking a couple of days to recover. My forearms and shoulders just don’t work as well as they use to.
After rethinking my parking spot I opted to spend another twenty minutes driving around to see if there was closer parking. There wasn’t so I headed back home where I did a couple of wheels around the block. It’s the little things but I now have my first tingly sunburn of the year.
I don’t know a soul in Nanaimo that has a home that is accessible to me so most of my activities involve the outdoors. There are some really nice parks here but accessibility is still problematic. Last year I spend a couple of hours with one of the locals doing an accessibility audit for one of the local parks, a very busy one. Twenty videos and one year later nothing has changed.
I don’t mind doing some volunteer work if it helps the community particularly around accessibility but I don’t like wasting my time. The city never did act on any of these recommendations even after I pointed out some federal grant money available to cover the minimal costs that were associated with the access refurbishment. Even some outspoken residence who wouldn’t agree with “making a nature park accessible”. Some people just don’t get it.
What I find particularly twisted about this is the number of of Nanaimo locals who feel “retirement” should be the focus of business development. If you are going to attract seniors for retirement purposes then you had better have the infrastructure accessible to all. Personally I am not a huge supporter of a small city betting their future on retirement but hell what do I know…Nanaimo can work on their acceptance while I work on mine. The lack of planning or enforcement of access is just speeding up the importance of my own acceptance.
Just one man’s opinion