I’m finally feeling like I’m getting back to myself. For over a year, I was hobbling around with a cane. Existing with pain. Having to measure distances for walking and wondering if I would make it to my destination without ending up on a random sidewalk clamouring around on my hands and knees, destitute and begging for help. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”
The day I was able to ditch my cane and walk unaided felt like a triumphant return from the abyss of dependence into which I was drowning. I needed someone to grocery shop with me since I couldn’t push the cart. I needed help getting shit off the shelves because it was either too heavy or I couldn’t stand and pull with one hand. I lumbered along slowly so if anyone was with me, we usually took double the time to do anything. Do you know how low toilet seats are? Yeah. They’re too low. Just sayin’. I hated it. The only good thing was the return of chivalrous behaviour. Sometimes.
We old timers like a door opened for us every now and again, not slammed in our faces as we reach the doorway. Thanks. Not that the door was opened for me EVERY time, but more so than usual. I suppose looking like an old lady with a cane does make people a little more aware of how accessible things aren’t. Are not. Nice try, though. Ramps are few, automatic doors get broken and forget to be fixed, elevators are creepy as hell, (Hello. The Shining), and don’t get me started on the accessible parking spaces. I’ve wanted to butt those asshats out of the spots with the front of my car when I don’t see a permit. I think I shook my cane at an old guy in a truck who was taking a space waiting for wifey to get out of the store. Fuckhead. Flashes of Carrie Underwood with a bat came barreling through my mind…
Walking from the car to the store, or to the mall was a chore. I measured the distance to each store and if I had enough pain killers in me to make the trek. We take for granted the privilege of movement. We absent-mindedly walk around without thinking how we are getting there. How big is the doorway? How low are the chairs? How steep are the stairs? How many stairs? Is there a handrail? Are there icy conditions? Considerations most of us don’t have to think about. You get up and walk down the hall. You come back and sit down, or walk to another part of the house, mall, office. You’re not planning your distances or measuring your pain levels. You’re thinking the best way of getting from point A to point B. So was I but with more variables.
I’m happy to say that’s behind me now. One hip replacement later, and I’m almost back to my pre-cane self. Fuck the chivalry, I can open my own door. Elevators still creep me out, so I take the stairs. People parking in accessible spots without permits still piss me off. I’m hoping Karma takes good care of them. I’m grateful I have a choice between elevators and stairs, parking spaces far away from the entrance, moving without having to consider how much it will hurt me; it’s a privilege many don’t have. I won’t complain about a distance I have to walk, or another push up I have to do in Bootcamp class. I’ll revel in my newfound freedom and independence.
And remain grateful for every step.