Life has become very complicated, and not a little frustrating.
I am now officially “a wheelchair user” and, it would appear, I am not as happy about it as I should be. I don’t feel empowered or liberated, and I am not in training for the para-Olympics.
Sometimes, I look at this keyboard, with its high-vis letters and symbols, and I think, Why are the keys looking streaky? Why is it suddenly difficult to find the question mark? Then I realise tears are dropping from my face. The world is blurred by tears.
For there is a wheelchair-thing stuck in the middle of the room. It is a room that used to say “Here lives a writer and a reader, someone with a liking for the view of the garden, the clouds and the windy leaves, someone with a dog and, surely, a song in his heart.
But now it says, “Here lives a cripple, a man who is invalid, disabled, handicapped.
The chair is a constant reminder to me of all I have lost and of all the things I used to be. It doesn’t matter how colourful it is, or how wonderfully lightweight it is, or how fantastically small it is when it is folded into a car. I don’t care about any of that stuff . . . which I realise are really importantthings for the poor unfortunates who have to push and pull me around . . . I just want my legs back. I want to walk my dog again, visit the woods again, feel the autumn arrive on my face from the west, be cheerful and fun when my wife comes home from work.
So, is it really any surprise that I hate that machine in the middle of the room, painted in its ironic racing green?
Yet in the kitchen, with its laminate flooring, I can now rock forwards and backwards, forwards and backwards, with a delight in the ease and smoothness of it all. Or, with a decisive opposing spin of the wheels, I can go and experience the harder work of the carpet in the next room.
There is a pleasure in the solid click of the brakes as I push them on, and an even greater pleasure in the even more solid clunk as I flick the brakes off. There is an element of engineering precision about it, as with a bike.
And it is a great way to go round Ikea, or to get good seats in a theatre.
This is true, but it’s not a fair swap . . . a theatre seat for your legs. Don’t close the deal unless you have to.
Of course, the sun still shines and the flowers still bloom, but it still feels second best.
Someone please tell me how to get the magic back. Or maybe how to lower my expectations?