Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What, me? Handicapped?

I've been a sick puppy most of my life. I mean physically sick, get your minds out of the gutter. I have an autoimmune problem, asthma, allergies---well let's just say the list goes on and on. But never did I consider myself handicapped. I might have been sick a lot, but I was also pretty active for a fat chick---I walked, swam, rode a bike, schlepped whatever needed to be schlepped without complaining.

Then in 2005, I was moving into my girlfriend's apartment , and I fell. Which doesn't sound like such a big deal---but it was. I tore the meniscus in my knee, and partially tore my ACL, which was excruiating. I was not able to get treated right away, due to the lousy health plan I had at the time, so that complicated matters. Finally, I had my knee surgery, and settled back, waiting to recover and get back to normal.

Except I never did fully recover. I never got back to "normal".

As the weeks went by, and my ability to walk did not improve, I went back to the doctor several times, trying to discover what was wrong. Then I lost my job and my piddly little insurance plan went with it, so I went for several painful months with no treatment at all.

Then the gods smiled on me briefly; Jackson County Missouri, where my girlfriend works, decided they would extend their health insurance to domestic partners. And so we were "civilly unioned", and I got some decent health insurance.

I visited another doctor, who sent me to an orthopedic specialist, who determined my MAIN problem had not been my knee, but that I had severe nerve damage in my back. I have been having nerve blocks, which help a little, but not much. I can walk a little, but then the pain becomes too severe, and I have to sit. I also have to use a cane, because I tend to wobble a bit, and the cane keeps me verticle.

I could try back surgery, but the success rate is not that great. Physical therapy helps, but is not a cure. And since bionics are still fictional, they're not an option (yet).

Being in this condition is not only painful, it limits my activity. I cannot go shopping , unless the place has a "crip cart". Which means Wal-Mart, not Saks. I can't go to the Westport Art Fair, or to a bar with friends. I can't stand in line for anything. I can't go for a stroll in the park. And I'm sick of it, sick and lonely. So I could save my money for an operation. Or I could save my money for a scooter.

For a long time, I felt committing to a scooter was like throwing in the towel. If I were wealthy, perhaps I could do both, but I'm not. And the scooter would definately get me out in the world, while the surgery has no such guarantees. Some would think the scooter doesn't really have the sex appeal that two able -bodied legs have, but neither does sitting alone in my room, while my partner goes places without me. So, after a lot of soul-searching, I've decided to explore the idea of adding a van and a scooter to my life. It's not the life I had planned to live. But neither was a life of isolation.


Maggie Jochild said...

EXCELLENT post, Shado. I wrote a long reply yesterday but the blog gremlin ate it. Anyhow, I've put a recommend up at Disability 101 to come over here, read and comment.

Love the three-legged dog!

shadocat said...

Thanks Maggie! You're my inspiration