Thursday, February 09, 2012


Every once in a while someone will ask me how I manage to do it.  How I manage to go through life with a smile on my face no matter how many blocks are stacked against me.  Most the time I just smile and say that it’s not all that bad, that I just smile and go on with it because I have no choice.   And I usually don’t write when things are bad.  I might write when things are a little bad, but never much.  I try to make light of it or find humor in it, but to really write, I tend to avoid that.
But not today.   Today is a mostly uncensored picture of what really bad looks like.
I have a chronic underlying medical condition that affects how my body processes sugar (and carbohydrates which are broken down into sugar).  Most the time it’s not a big deal, it just stays dormant and I don’t really have to worry about it.  Every so often it flares up.  A couple times a year, typically right after a major holiday or a time of major stress (read: exams), and even more so if my immune system has been compromised by seasonal bugs (stomach flu, influenza, colds, etc).  Like it or not, I’m in the midst of a nasty flare. Which means I’m grumpy, I have frequent headaches, I want to sleep all the time, I’m nauseous, I have to take icky medicine, and I can’t eat anything.  I’m allowed to eat unlimited amounts of nuts, eggs, meat and fat.  Except I’m severely allergic to nuts and eggs.  So that leaves meat and fat.  And very limited amounts of other foods, some more limited than others.   I can have some rice and vegetables (as long as they aren’t starchy), but next to no potatoes, fruit or processed grains. It wouldn’t be a big deal if I had the energy to think about meals and unlimited resources to figure out what to put into my body to limit getting sick.  But I don’t.
And then factor in the wheelchair.  About two weeks ago I took a nasty fall that injured my knee.  Initially the doctor thought it was just a bad sprain.  Gave me some anti-inflammatory drugs, told me to ice it and stay off of it and call him in a week if it wasn’t better.  I called him last week.  It was some better, but nowhere near all better.   He told me to give it another week.  That week will up tomorrow.  I’m still waking up at night because of the pain.  I spend a large amount of my day in a wheelchair borrowed from church, because it’s faster than trying to get around on crutches.  I use the crutches if I don’t have far to go and don’t have much to carry with me.  On the bright side, my left leg (the “good” leg) and my shoulders are going to be super muscular by the time this is done.
I’ve always had a decent idea of how inhospitable the world can be to those in wheelchairs, but actually spending a lot of time in one changes your perspective a bit.  For example, at the seminary, the only street side door that operates via a switch is by the library.  The door where most of the community enters the seminary (by the community kitchen and commons and chapel) does not operate via a switch.  Because that door is relatively light I’ve learned to master it by grabbing it with my right arm, flinging it open, and then quickly maneuvering myself in, just far enough to keep it from closing on me.  And then repeating the whole thing with the next door.
Bathrooms have become more accessible over the years, except for the part where you actually have to get into the bathroom.  For some reason building people like to put really heavy doors on bathrooms.  And almost no bathrooms have switch operated doors.  To get into a bathroom I line myself up backwards to the door and push as hard as I possibly can.  And then I push some more.  Sometimes I can get it.  Sometimes I have to wait for someone to help me.  And then there are those wonderful bathrooms like the one at church that have a decorative flower stand type thing just inside the door (it actually has a basket on it that has emergency supplies in it).  Sometimes it’s too close to the door and in my Rambo-style pushing to get in, the door hits it and knocks it over.  The wheelchair usually fits in the stall, but then there is no wiggle room at all.  I have a good leg that I can pivot on, but it’s still a fine art of getting from the chair to the throne and back.
Oh, and during all this it hurts.  My knee just doesn’t stop hurting.  I can’t ever forget that it hurts.  It won’t let me.  By the end of the day, the pain is so ridiculous that I’m ready to cry.  And sometimes I do.  Forget the effort it takes to try and make dinner or take a shower.  Forget independently going to go get groceries or even getting to the pool for the aqua-therapy that will make it feel better.  I’m doing amazing to managed to get out of the house for class in the morning (it’s not graceful, it’s not pretty, it’s not dignified, but I can do it.  Sorta).
And that’s just part of the picture.  I’ve got a sinus infection dealie going on right now.  I can hear even less than I can normally hear.  As fluid shifts in my ear canal my balance goes wonky and the sound keeps shifting.
Oh, and my fianc√© is in a different state (and time zone), we’re  planning a wedding and going to school and working church.  This is life.

How do I do it?  Some days I smile, other days I cry.  Not every day is good, not every day is bad.  Most days are good, many fall in between, but sometimes, sometimes I have those really bad awful no good kind of days.   And then I go to bed and hope the next one will be better.

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