A mundane event occurred this past weekend during a family gathering, yet it left me pondering several questions that don’t seem so run of the mill.
On a pleasant spring day, my cousins and their children strolled to the neighborhood park. I love nice weather, parks, playing with kids, and I had nothing else to do aside from rest on the couch while intermittently checking my email on a smart phone with suboptimal 3G. I wanted to join the park group, especially because these family members live across the country and seeing them is a special treat, but I immediately thought, ‘it’s not an option.’ Already in pain from flying, I knew my foot would give out at the park, if not sooner.
But I’ve gone ahead and done things — shopping, navigating airports, traveling — that seemed physically infeasible. Sitting on the couch aimlessly scrolling through my Newsfeed, I realized the reasons why I had been quick to dismiss participating in the excursion: the only way I could comfortably join in was to use my wheelchair. While I was fortunate to have a devoted family member who would have been happy to push me, I was afraid of two things.
- Alarming my 2.5-year-old cousin by being in a wheelchair. Had she seen one? Would it upset her? She’s not quite old enough to understand, and I didn’t want to upset a cheerful trip to the park with an awkward, toddler-friendly description of disability (which surely does not exist).
- Attracting attention from the newer family members on the walk, who either didn’t know about my accident and subsequent disability, or didn’t realize that the accident led to a permanent condition.
Was it a huge deal to miss out on a trip to the park? Of course not. (And I even learned some interesting things on Facebook about my friend’s sister’s ex-boyfriend…and realized that Pitbull must work “dale” into every status update).
But all of the times I miss out on excursions like these accumulate.
It would be nice to just walk to the park without thinking twice about it. Or to use my wheelchair to get to the park without caring about other people’s judgments. Through continuous medical appointments and efforts such as this blog, I shoot for the former. But in the meantime, and perhaps for a lifetime, I need to figure out how to deal with the latter.