Monday, April 16, 2007

Sympathy for the ADA

First of all: ding ding ding ding! Faded is our winner: yesterday's post title was indeed from Ghostbusters. Congratulations, Faded. You win absolutely nothing, but you do have even more of my respect.

Meanwhile, I can't figure out what the hell I've done to my calves. I ran on Wednesday, did the bike on Friday, and went for a long walk on Saturday, and by sundown on Saturday my calves and hips were killing me. I limped around all Sunday, moving as little as I could, and even today I've been in pain. I've been walking stiffly, even dragging my feet now and then. Stairs...oh, stairs suck. Going up and down the stairs in the office today made me limp even more and favor my left leg for some reason. I favored my right leg on Sunday.

Usually, people think of ADAAG's space requirements helping people in wheelchairs, but the rules are for all kinds of handicaps, including visual and audial handicaps. As for mobility-impaired individuals, there are those in wheelchairs and then there are those who are sometimes referred to as ambulatory handicapped. These are people who use a cane or walker, for example, or perhaps they have issues getting in and out of chairs, like many of our elderly population.

This was me today: wincing from mystery hip pain as I got out of my fancy-schmancy office chair, limping and favoring my left leg as I hoppity-hopped downstairs to go to the restroom, slinging my arms awkwardly as I'd try to keep up with Guy going to the elevator in our condo building. Guy asked me if I'd been drinking enough water, which my friend Dame Judith asked me about yesterday. I've increased my water intake in thepast 48 hours in hopes that it would help the pain, but only a tiny bit so. I must've jumped around while being excited about something or pushed with the wrong muscles too many times, and only time and rest will heal the aches. In the meantime, movement is uncomfortable and inconvenient.

I suppose it's not very fair or accurate to say that I feel a handicapped person's pain right now. My injury will be gone in a week or two, but a major injury stays and makes life difficult for the rest of a handicapped person's life. They get to deal with the injustices of navigating stairs and having to park too far away and trying not to hold up an elevator every day.

It makes me think of something I saw a few years ago. I was stopped in my car behind a bus in heavy downtown traffic. The bus was taking for-fricking-ever to move. I was shouting obscenities by the time the bus left the curb and went on. A few of the cars behind me either honked or zoomed around the bus in a huff. When the bus pulled away, I saw a small, thin, frail old woman with a cane and an oxygen tank trembling on the sidewalk. A taller but also old, thin, and frail man was standing by her, holding her against his chest in his thin arms, one bony hand on her back, the arm protectively around her shoulders, the other hand patting the thinning white hair on her head. She leaned wearily against his shoulder, eyes peeking over his arm through thick glasses. In her magnified eyes, I saw a mix of fear and exhaustion. How tiring it must have been for them to get anywhere in a big, busy city. How frightening to be rushed and be made to feel a burden, an annoyance. It occurred to me that we weren't far from a medical center; I bet that's where they were going. And now, after the exhausting process of just getting off the bus, they would have to walk across another street or two to reach the medical center. More frustration, more exhaustion. At least they had each other to make the trip a little easier.

When people complain about all the space and expense required to make curb cuts, accessible door handles, and 5-foot turning circles, I say shut the fuck up. You might need that space some day.

6 comments:

ms. kitty said...

Amen, Pixie, we're all just temporarily able-bodied.

faded said...

It has taken me many years to learn how to be patient with people and events around me. What I have discovered is patience saves me from embarrassing myself. I hope that when I am old and grow disabled I can do it with grace and be a servant to the people around me. The ADA may help by making then environment a bit friendlier.

Maybe one day I will mellow out enough to be able to follow these exhortations, "Be excellent to each other," and "Party on!"

What movie do those to quotes come from?

Mile High Pixie said...

They're from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." Excellent, quote, Faded!

Wilderness Gina said...

Sore musk-kels eh? I refer you to your post of April 14th. I put screws in a 35 square foot bathroom floor (bending from the waist to use body weight necessary to punch screws into the floor)and a mere 3 days later I can barely move. It sucks being and "adult" and that's a fak!

Wilderness Gina said...

Bill and Ted's....
Some of Keanu's best work to date!

Tom Harper said...

I have to plead guilty too. I used to have a long bus commute, a little over an hour each way (often longer if traffic was worse than usual). Whenever there'd be a person in a wheelchair at a bus stop (which wasn't very often), I knew there would be a 5 minute delay while a mechanical device would lift the chair onto the bus, and another 5 minute delay when that person would get off the bus.

Intellectually I'd be thinking how lucky I am and how nice it is that this person is able to get out and about and use mass transit and public facilities. But that "id" part of me would be thinking "oh F#$%#!! come on, I want to get home!"

OK, I've confessed; I feel better now.

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