1. Rock On
This whole “not being able to walk without leaning on something” gets fucking old at a rapid pace.
For months I’ve been using one of my Alpine poles to keep from loading my left leg wrong and making myself yip (unexpected, sharpened-screwdriver jabs of pain would erupt at any point in the region of my ass or groin); then I really felt the need of one whenever I went anywhere just to allow me to walk at a decent clip. Then I went off the painkillers (Advil and so on) because I was fairly scared of ending up like Mr. P, , the trainer at my gym who took fistfuls of the stuff dealing with residual pain from a broken pelvis after a car crash, and ended up in the hospital with a hemorrhaging ulcer. Ugh. That meant I needed two poles. Which is now how I get into the gym, looking absurd as I pole my way from one weight station to the next and then slam everything I can while working around the hot spots. Lately, around the house I’ve been using a walker a client lent me, which I blinged out with a rhinestone bell and some bike tassels.
It came in the nick of time because last week as I was snailing my way out of the gym, the old bicep tear I incurred dropping a forty pounder decided to lodge a complaint about my arm being used as a leg. A nasty pinging sensation in my right elbow made it feel more like a tricep strain but the next morning the old scar area felt swollen and I couldn’t straighten out my arm.
I only had the Minotaur to work on in about three hours so I weighed the priorities, slammed some Motrin and swathed my arm in Rock Tape, a wonderful invention which is to an Ace bandage as a pantyliner is to an old lumpy Kotex. It supports everything and helps the swelling drain by lifting the skin over the lymphatic capillaries, and the minute you put it on the pain backs off. It comes in nifty designs. The leopard lasted several days, though I just replaced it with some sassy Coco Chanel polka dots.
I now have one uninjured extremity, my left arm. This continues to suck.
2. Spanish Guys (III)
Being a crip gives you some interesting insights into human nature.
When a woman is limping painfully and unsteadily across a snowy, ice-packed parking lot or sidewalk apron using two poles, people have a spread of reactions.
Younger people, especially hot young women in Spandex, go clip-clopping by as if they don’t see you, and even if you are only a few paces behind, don’t appear to think of holding either of two sets of double doors. A lot of guys well into their thirties are the same way, whitebread guys anyway.
Older people get it. Only the older women coo and poor-thing you while offering to open the door, and I can kind of do without that.
And then there are the young Latino men, a large population at my gym location, who will trot over to a door if they see me near it, to say nothing of the almost beardless youth who saw me from several yards away and ran up (calling out in broken English) to give me his arm, like the classical Boy Scout helping the old lady cross the road. Until the last snow melted, another “Spanish guy,” as people around here tend to mass-identify any men from the Latin countries, popped out from behind the desk every day to bird-dog me out to my car, handing me down from the curb past an obstacle course of packed slush while I hung onto a credible set of solid forearm extensors. Life could be worse than being eased into your car seat by a muscular youth named something like Carlos or Ramon.
If this is what we get from immigration, open the goddam borders.
3. Tagging Along
If you think getting a little courtesy from the young and undamaged is hard try getting a crip tag.
By the time I saw the rheumatologist — the one who tested me for lupus, rheumatoid, ankylosing spondylitis and every other thing before concluding I was just busted — I was already teetering painfully on the damn sticks. I asked if she would write me for a crip tag to hang on my mirror so I could park in disabled spots, and she said absolutely and gave directions to her staff and it all seemed excellent.
On the way out they charged me $25 to “process the forms with the doctor’s signature.”
Okay, fine, everyone has a nickel and dime racket. Whatever. Only when I got home the forms were blank.
I filled in my part and called the office back. Oh dear yes I would have to mail the forms back. Could they just send them on to the state from there? I asked. Oh no, you have to take them to the DMV in person. Well we don’t really know. Here’s an 800 number to call.
The number was not in service.
A week and some later I called the office, reminding the person who answered that I had sent back the forms and had they been sent back to me or the DMV or what?
Oh, I left you a message a few days ago to find out what we should do. she said.
The hell she did. I have caller ID and there wasn’t the trace of a call. She maintained that they could not be mailed to the state office. “Send them back here then,” I said.
When I got them back I detected some small print, the kind that often escapes my blind-four-ways eyes, stating that the forms could be immediately processed at a DMV window OR mailed to the main office in Richmond.
The damn thing just arrived yesterday, six weeks after I asked for it.
At least this is better than my client whose first surgical consult was with a Dr. Dick who declined to operate on her unless she lost thirty pounds — something that I had seen her struggling to accomplish for two years with a personal trainer and a mean, joyless diet. She asked him if he at least could give her a tag so she could spare herself the length of the Safeway lot on a bad day, and he said “No, I want you to walk so you’ll lose the weight.”
I sent her to the guy who’s doing me next month (I had already seen his work) and he didn’t blink at her weight and was brandishing forms for a tag before she could finish asking. At least some people get it right.
I always knew disabled people take a lot of shit because after all I work with hurting bodies, but you still kinda got to live it to get it.