Before I start, you should know that when I say “out of order” I’m referring to my own personal circumstances, and I’m not trying to suggest that anyone else who needs assistance is in any way incapacitated. I’m just not up to my normal level of activity or mobility, hence being “temporarily out of order”!
A little over a week ago, I had some corrective surgery on both of my feet, to remove some bunions and realign my toes. I prefer not to use this word as it isn’t the most appealing, and conjures up visions in my mind of evil hags with crooked smiles and feet to match. Maybe I have been watching too many Disney movies? Either way, the bottom line is I had some bones sticking out of my feet, and I had them removed. On both feet. At a time. And now I can’t walk, stand, shower, dress or leave the house without assistance. I won’t be able to drive for at least 7 more weeks, much less walk, work or do anything else other than lie in bed with my legs in the air (feet must be elevated at all times) and wait for my mum to bring me my medicine/lunch/ water anything else I might need. She says she feels as though she has a newborn again!
This is a minor set back in my life, a forced lesson in how to relax and literally put my feet up and slow down for a bit (my health depends on it).I had to get this fixed because my feet were so sore from standing up for the past 3 years of my professional life. That’s not very long in the scheme of things! I consider myself lucky to be able to have the support that I do to fix it now, before I have even bigger responsibilities to think about. So basically, I need crutches to walk, a walking frame to stand up, a special commode (chair) to sit on in the shower and, wait for it….. a wheelchair. Naturally, for leaving the house, because I am unable to walk on uneven surfaces, wet ground, dirty ground or any ground basically, for risk of infection and because after about 5 steps I am tired.
What an eye opener this is! First of all, I have to rely on someone else to drive me everywhere, put the chair in the car, park the car, get the chair out, and then help me out of the car and into the chair. I am waiting a temporary ACORD (disabled) parking sticker to make life easier for all of us over the next few months, but until that comes, we aren’t really able to park in disabled parking bays without proper permission.
On my first outing for the whole week, we went to the shops, and there was a car parked in the special bay that didn’t have a sticker, didn’t have a person who needed help in the car or walking to the bay. Seeing my mum struggle with the chair, with me, and the crutches, from a far away parking space made this guy drive away sheepishly in a cloud of exhaust fumes. It’s a bit hard to fit a wheel chair into a two door convertible…don’t you think? Then it dawned on me. As much as I hate to say it, on at least one occasion, I have been guilty of parking in those very bays when I have quickly ducked into the shops. Never, ever again! They are there for a reason, and unless that reason is you, you definitely shouldn’t park there! It took two broken feet for me to discover that, and I will never again park somewhere that I’m not meant to. Out of respect!
I am lucky enough that this situation of mine is temporary, much less from elective surgery. There are some people who have to deal with this on a daily basis, through way of accident or birth and I truly admire them. It literally takes me 20 minutes, 2 crutches and another person to climb a few stairs. Some people can’t even do that. I felt uncomfortable in public in a wheelchair. Children stared, people didn’t move when I said excuse me, and whenever we encountered someone, the person would speak to whoever was pushing my chair, and not me! Maybe they just didn’t know where to look or what to think? From my line of work, I am used to interacting with people from all walks of life, both native english speakers, and not, able bodied or otherwise, and we were trained to always speak to the person, not their mobility aid/wheelchair/ carer unless they’re unable to speak for themselves.I try to carry this on in everyday life.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some people that were very accommodating and kind while I’ve been wheeling around the way I have, but they have mostly been nurses, pharmacists and healthcare professionals, who are used to seeing lots of different kinds of people (a bit like those in aviation/customer service!).
So while I sit here, and rest, and heal, and my feet slowly un-swell from the size of footballs and lose their hideous purple/blue tinge, I thought I would share this with you all. I am so grateful that I can feel my toes, that I can move (albeit with help), for the people around me that look after me, care for me, and carry me up and down the stairs. I can see now why people who are full time carers seek financial assistance for their roles. It is emotionally and financially draining! So next time you see someone in a wheelchair, don’t avoid eye contact, or ignore them, or act any differently. Just smile, acknowledge them, be polite and treat everyone how you’d like to be treated. Karma is a bitch and you’d hate to be in a difficult position one day, especially without a parking space 😉
I hope you have enjoyed this candid little post. It isn’t much to do with travelling, or flying, or leaving the house, but it’s true and that’s what this little online space is all about. My own little written therapy to share and vent, and I assure you there will be much more to come 🙂
Happy and mobile travels,
p.s This wasn’t caused by flying. It has to do with standing up and how my feet are shaped. It is quite common, not just with those who have worked as cabin crew, but any career that requires prolonged periods of standing up.