I was so wrong about what it’s like to be disabled

During Erin Ehm V Blatchford I got up on my soapbox a little bit.  It’s my microphone I can rant if I want to. What I didn’t know is that the Tuesday after that episode aired, I’d end up going on a journey into what its like to have a disabled spouse with limited mobility.

My wife, and the I’ve Been Wrong Before Podcasts sound engineer, was injured at her day job. The injury has resulted in a lot of constant pain, the inability to walk, and a battle of wills with the workmen’s comp insurance people.  My type extroverted, walk 5-6 miles a day wife, is suddenly unable to cross the house or stand in front of the stove to cook her own meals, or stand up in the shower, or walk through a grocery store. Or in fact go to just about any store that doesn’t have one of those little electric carts for a disabled person to use.  Also, it being Christmas time is means me dropping her off at the door that Does have the electric carts then circling the lot to find a parking space some where in the outer reaches.

After being trapped in the house for a week and her getting tired of having to wait for me to walk in from outter Mongolia whenever I did take her to the one or two stores that have the carts, we asked for an got a temporary disabled card from her Doctor and DMV.  No at least she feels like she’s a little more normal and can get from the parking spot to the building under her own power.

My heart, is a do for herself kind of gal. She’s the one who takes care of the family.  Having to have others do for her is a blow to her sense of self.  Being in pain constantly is draining. Couple that with not knowing yet how long this will last or exactly what’s wrong (thank you slow ass insurance company) and you get a seriously grumpy wife who is looking for anything that helps her to feel normal.

Guys she decided by herself that she needed to get a wheel chair so she could go to stores that don’t have the electric carts.  That’s both a big step in taking care of herself and an admission of how much pain trying to walk with her fucked up leg is.

So, I’ve been experiencing second hand how little our world is designed for people who aren’t fully able bodied as we learn how to navigate with her injury.  She can’t drive because it’s her right leg, so I must get her to all her appointments and that leaves her without the use of the car while I’m at work.  There is only so much she can do at home sitting with her leg elevated. And sitting still for long has never been her strong suit.  Then as soon as I get home, we load her up in the car for whatever appointment or errand she has or just to get her out of the house!

Once out we must deal with people who don’t look at wheel chairs or carts and almost aim to be right in the way.  People dodging in a wheel chair is Not easy! Also, have you noticed that stores don’t make their isles wide enough to navigate with a shopping cart let alone a wheel chair. Throw in that everything is designed for someone at standing height. Counters become barriers. Isle displays become obstacles. Clothes racks become mazes. And suddenly nothing is within reach. Not to mention doors with out handicap auto openers might as well be brick walls.

And that’s just the inside of stores.  The next time I see someone parked in a handicapped spot with out a tag You can bet you ass I will be confronting them.

Now if we can just get the damn insurance preapproval for the MRI we might be able to find out What is fucked up in my wife’s knee that makes it hurt so bad she can bend it more than a few degrees.