You’d never expect to hear this kind of thing, especially from your own mother.
I’d just got home from the Royal Show. It was my first experience of it in a wheelchair, at the age of 29. With spinal osteo-arthritis, my ability to walk has decreased severely due to pain. On any day it varies, but I generally can’t walk more than 100-500 metres. The original idea to purchase a wheelchair, in fact, came when I realised the show was nearing, and that I wouldn’t be able to cope without one. I then realised that I had essentially stripped any ‘long’ adventures out of my life as well. Buying my wheelchair opened up a lot of things I’d forgotten I even missed- I now catch up with a friend at least once a week and we go shopping around large malls. My partner and I forget we even missed long ‘walks’, and we are so thrilled to get back into it. Don’t get me wrong, I still hurt by the end of the day, but wheeling myself around means I can actually cover ground, last longer, and live again.
But back to the Royal Show. It was the second day of it being opened, and a Saturday- it was busy. I knew it would be difficult but I didn’t anticipate just how much it would take out of me. Any hopes of staying until 9pm to view the fireworks were dashed, I made it about 4 hours before we had to head home- emotionally, psychologically and physically drained. People are in a vibrant celebratory mood, and sadly when you are below eye level, you are just often not seen. Outside wasn’t so bad for the most part, but in the pavilions I pretty much didn’t get to view anything, as I spent the entire time moving forward inch by inch, my eyes on people’s feet to ensure I didn’t run them over, whilst I was swarmed, overtaken, tripped over and glared it for being an inconvenience.
I would often send my partner to line up for food, drinks and show-bags, whilst I stayed back out of the way. Rides were out of the question completely. Oh and viewing the animals? Within seconds, I had cow manure on my sleeves. Mission abort! And apparently this was the experience I needed to ‘give me inspiration to walk.’ I was gobsmacked- didn’t know what to say. My partner was a bit quicker off the mark, and explained how the chair wasn’t ‘fun’ for me, it wasn’t a ‘phase,’ and I sure as hell would love the ability to walk but it wasn’t anything I could control. He explained in no uncertain terms how the comment wasn’t at all helpful, and how previous similar comments had shredded me inside, and how he was left to deal with the repercussions. I was so grateful he was there to put in words what I felt, and was unable to say. There was no malice, no shouting, no insults, and thankfully it was received in the nature it was intended.
For the most part, I am at peace with my situation. I realised early on that longing for something that may be out of reach was only going to be detrimental, so I have learned to embrace what I still have, and I am honestly okay with most aspects of my health. I appreciate that loved ones struggle with seeing me like this, but the push to be ‘fixed’ sooner rather than later is now falling on deaf ears. I haven’t given up by any means- I am still exploring avenues of treatment and therapy, but for now, this is the path I’ve been given.
And I sure as hell don’t need more “inspiration” to want to walk again.
Photo of the Royal Adelaide Show taken by Greg Scales (Flickr Creative Commons).