I’ve been writing this blog for just over a year now, and I thought I had the measure of it. In my mind, its subtitle was “Thoughts on Nature, Identity and Politics”, and it was slowly growing up to be a well-behaved child . . . a little predictable, perhaps, but essentially well-mannered and nice.
But suddenly it has grown up to be a therapy-cuckoo!
I didn’t want it to be my surrogate therapist. I wanted it to be about flowers and animals and trees.
It has decided it’s going to be about my recovery process. Or about my slow slide into decrepitude. It has decided to be about my attempts or failures to come to terms with the possibility of life in a wheelchair. This means, I think, that it might contain a lot of anger, sadness and frustration, but it might also contain some insights and, I hope, some wisdom.
What I am discovering is that life in a wheelchair is slow, really slow.
I’m not talking about the speed of the chair. I’m talking about the thinking and planning. Everything takes longer than you can possibly imagine. It takes longer to get up in the morning and longer to go to bed at night.
A shower takes a lifetime, and has now become physically dangerous.
Imagine you are watching television, and you decide you want a cup of tea. Before I was in a wheelchair, that’s all I had to think, and, hey, the job was done in the time it takes for someone to tell you that a silver-coloured car with one company logo on the bonnet is infinitely superior to an identical silver-coloured car with a different logo. And if you wanted a biscuit as well, you might miss the black and white shots of moody, deserted streets or moorland roads down which the said car effortlessly glides.
But that was all.
Now, it requires logistical skill and an extensive risk assessment, as well as a certain amount of effort and bravery.
Yesterday, I spent five . . . yes, five . . . hours, going to the toilet. By the end of the process I was exhausted and embarrassed. The toilet itself ended up blocked and I ended up in tears in a heap on the shower floor.
I’m sorry to be so explicit, but these are the things no-one talks about and that come to dominate your life and leave you in emotional tatters.
Amazingly, the joy and gleeful anticipation seem to go out of life. The flowers are not quite so pretty anymore.
I only hope . . . for my sake and for yours . . . that my next post from the front line will be more positive!