Saturday, July 25, 2015

All Too Well

After two days of undergoing the wheelchair social experiment, I feel completely immersed into my class. Throughout the course of yesterday and the earlier half of today, I have been able to get a first hand experience at recognizing the adversities of navigating on a wheelchair. For example, this morning I had to wake up earlier than my now usual time of 7:20 AM because I wanted to make sure I would give myself enough time to do what I needed before breakfast. It wasn't as difficult of an experience getting to the bathroom as it was to make the attempt of trying to get into the shower itself. It took me a while, and I experienced the slower process of doing this daily task in a slower fashion. Furthermore, I also found this it was difficult to brush my teeth since the faucet and sink are substantially further than the wheelchair allows you to reach. In that case, I had to just make it through the bathroom phase of this morning. In addition to that, it was also difficult getting clothed after showering and brushing my teeth. Like with the bathroom phase, I managed to make it through those struggles and finally made it to the elevator at 7:50 AM to head out for breakfast, than class.

The most prevalent observation I made during breakfast was the fact that it was much more difficult to navigate through the lines and balancing a full tray. You wouldn't recognize that the lines to get food would be an issue, but when you have a limited amount of space, it becomes quite a task and also makes you somewhat the center of attention, given that most people see you struggling some.

In class today, we continued watching the documentary, Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien. Not nearly the same experience as this man living in an iron lung for about 23 hours a day, I was able to relate in some ways. Primarily, Mark would constantly explain how being in an iron lung posed a plethora of setbacks in his life. They include his relationships with friends, family, his love life, the stigma burdened on him by his condition, dependency, his appearance, how difficult it was doing ordinary day to day tasks, and questions of life that he could not find the answer to. Of all these, being on a wheelchair only gave me a glimpse as to what someone like Mark would have to go through. I was only slightly able to relate to sharing an odd demeanor to the public, given that I wasn't walking like most people out in public do. This and a lot more reflecting in class made me realize what a blessing it is to actually have a healthy, functioning body. It made me appreciate every step I am able to take that much more. Moreover, similarly to what we are doing, a former NFL player,

During lunch, I only had another observation. It's nothing too big or anything, nor can I tell if it has to do because I was on a wheelchair, but I was about to get a cookie in the dining hall and a woman next to me, who I hadn't seen before, warmly said to me, "Those look wonderful." One of the questions Monte reminded us to ask ourselves while on wheelchairs is, "Would they have done that if you weren't on a wheelchair?" The answer to this question, regarding the woman's comment, I do not know. It could have been kind, but I could also interpret it as her trying to be sweet since I was just there, looking disabled on a wheelchair, trying to get a cookie for dessert.

Later in the day, we had an event, Coff-V House, hosted by V House. We had an open mic in the basement and a different things to like board games, video games, drinks, and outside we had s dance-floor set up. Honestly, that was also another one of the greatest times I had here at VSA. Everyone was so talented. There were people solving Rubrik's cubes (3x3, 4x4, and a triangular one), people performing their own original songs, or poems, and people played songs on the piano and guitar, and sang, and danced, and it was amazing. It was an emotional roller coaster of a night, from happy, mellow performances, sassy and feisty performances,sad and emotional ones, and everything in between.

As part of this two day blog, I also woke up this morning longer than usual. I got up at 8 AM to shower and get ready for another good time at breakfast. What was better about today was that we were going to have another laid back time in class watching a film and then having a group activity, then outing. In class, we watched the documentary, The New Medicine. Although it was slightly repetitive in what it was trying to convey, it essentially was about the body-mind-spirit connection that ultimately constitutes health. It's interesting how the body is quite interconnected, with every thing about it influencing one another, like the body affecting the mind and the mind affecting the body. They look at how things like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and hypnosis, how massages, and acupuncture are actually very helpful in maintaining a person healthy. In one example it demonstrated the credibility behind it as an insurance company in California even covered it as part of a patient's health care plan to get massages. Who would have ever thought of that? However, it works.
It was on!!!
Furthermore, after class we prepared for a water gun fight. We decided that we'd make a twist and make it the "Thirst Games", a rendition of the Hunger Games. We made a cornucopia of two buckets of water, surrounded by various tiny water guns, in the middle of the lawn, and were in pairs at each tree. When our TA, Zach, sounded the speakerphone, we all ran to the middle get "weapons," before the second blow marked when we could begin shooting ourselves with water. We had a couple rounds, then decided to just have fun with it and wet everyone. For a second, it was war between so many people, like Angel, who is one of the funniest people I've met here at VSA, and other friends like Andrey and Shelly. There were points where we all showed our much love for Zach and constantly ganged up on him too, but overall, it was a very fun time and I'm so glad our class chose that for our activity. After getting really wet after much fun, we walked on over to 21st Avenue, the main street for shops and stores on this side of Vanderbilt, and went for some Starbucks or Ben & Jerry's for ice cream. After that, it was back to the dorms for SOFT time.
(Left to Right) for tour Water Fight/"Thirsty Games" : Hummd, Shelly,
Angel, Savannah, Katherine, Arnold (me), and Andrey
ILC MHS '15!!!

After a nice time out with my group, I decided I'd go over with Lee and Raymond and blog for a while with them. I stayed there for a while with just enough time to reflect on my time with everyone and the water fight. Like usual, time did not cut me any slack and it was soon time to fo to dinner, so I packed up and headed out with Raymond, Lee, and Cory. After dinner, we gathered into our groups for the activity that we signed up to do this Saturday evening. I chose rollerskating.

I've only ice skated before one in my life, so I had a very basic starting point. As I rolled onto the floor for the first time, I felt very shaky, and unbalanced. However, after a while I began to get the hang of things. I eased into a moderately beginner speed. Nevertheless, I did happen to fall once. To my surprised, it stayed only at once- throughout the entire evening/night. I did worsen a blister I began to get from dancing yesterday, but I honestly have no regrets about rollerskating. It was yet another great thing that I was able to try, especially alongside others like Hummd, Angel, Shelly, my proctor, Tonny, and others!
Hummd off guard > me on guard (haha).

These past days have been some of the best here and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I find it quite interesting how it went from moderate, to really great here. I feel close to some friends and I feel more at home. Moreover, even tomorrow our cohort will go out for brunch again. What sucks is that I have it wandering in the back of my head that this will soon be over. It's slightly saddening to know that after becoming used to a great group of people, you will not be able to see them and live with them the same way again. Anyway, before this becomes to saddening, I'll just say this: I am very fortunate to be having this experience at VSA with these great people. I can't wait to live these next upcoming days with them.

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