Sunday, May 31, 2009

Any Friday (May 29)

I was looking forward to Friday, mainly because it was a half work day and I could get a nice long afternoon nap in preparation for the Jen and I to go out to dinner, something we haven't done much in the past 7 weeks. After a long week - which they all seem to be lately - trying to get the phantom pain under control, I needed to get some extra rest so I wouldn't go face down in my soup appetizer at dinner.

I realized Friday morning my bagel supply was extinguished and I had to decide if I would go for the resupply. Thing is, I haven't been out much by myself in public and I don't think I have been anywhere without Jen. Seemed like a good time to try it myself, and I was a excited about the prospect of the solo trip. Plus I really love my bagels with almond or peanut butter with a banana for breakfast, so this added incentive that would stand in for courage.

Friday morning wasn't too bad, and noon came without any incident that would cause me to work late except for a short reboot of a server. With the reboot complete, I hauled myself downstairs after a short pit stop, and then headed to Charleston Bagel down the street for my big adventure. Got my handicap spot in front, briefly considered crutching in but not sure if using the credit card would result in a scene while I tried to sign the receipt, so I retrieved the wheelchair from the back and started in.

As I came to the door a woman was coming out and held it open for me; I thanked her and went to the order station. No one was there right away but they might not have seen me from my lower climes. I got my wallet and stood up, using my left leg against the counter for support, and was then seen and placed my order. Hmmm...I probably could have done this on crutches after all but the chair is definitely easier. I paid the cashier - really nice folks work here - and sat down for the return trip.

On the way out I noticed a table with a mom and two daughters, or so my quick glance took in. As I approached the door, I believe it was the younger one who quickly moved to open the door for me. I thanked her, got back to the Pilot and drove home.

I backed into the driveway and almost immediately knew I had forgotten something, the plastic bag I keep my meds and other assorted gimp items; some gloves, another plastic bag to cover my stump in should it rain, and a tape measure that I check the stump shrinkage or swelling. I mainly was concerned about my meds; the phantom pain was under better control but it was time to take the gabapentin. The pain had been building on the way home and I was thinking it wouldn't be long now, I could both get some relief and have a nice, long nap.

So now to Plan B (Plan B being in all truth and sincerity means Plan Blalock for the obvious).

Maybe the bag blew out of the Honda when I was getting my wheelchair out at the bagel shop. I would go by there first and if no luck, go back and check the office parking lot and then the office itself. If I couldn't find it, I would call the pharmacy and see what the refill policy was. I hoped I could avoid having to call the doctor's office for some sort of confirmation before I could get it replaced.

I cruised by the bagel shop and didn't see a plastic bag anywhere. I briefly thought about checking to see if someone turned it in to them but figured I'd be better off going to the office. I was getting tired, I hurt, and didn't want to spend any energy on unlikely ventures.

I took the elevator up to our floor, and started down the hall when I thought - didn't I make a pit stop? - and checked into the men's room. There it was, between the sinks where I left it when I washed my paws.


On the way home that day, although I was getting near the limit of my fatigue, I started thinking about how kind people have been to me since becoming an amputee. And not arguably, they have been extraordinarily kind to me. Not an unkind word that I can recall. No impatience, no hint of animosity.

And I thought of how doors were opening for me, not just doors of understanding, but real doors like the one the woman and girl opened for me. I never thought in the moment that they did it out of pity of any sort, but of being helpful to someone who could use a hand.

Could you do this for others all the time, even most of the time, considering we all carry scars of one sort or another? Many are unseen, far deeper and more disturbing than the sight of a 56-year-old man in a wheelchair.

Could I?


  1. You forgot to mention that luckily (for you) we had a late rain storm and decided to stay home for dinner so you didn't have to venture out again. Leftovers turned into some sort of hash.... yum! Good thing we had wine in-house. :)

  2. But we did go out Sat'day night. At least I can be sure of a comfortable seat wherever we go.