Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's Always Going To Be An Uphill Battle...

Today was the day that I have been looking forward to since the first day of class. We received our wheelchairs.

We started the day off by watching a movie about Mark O' Brien, a poet that has polio, and as a result, can't survive without an iron lung. He attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, and received his degree in English. He would have gone on to grad school, but got extremely ill, and could not continue. We were supposed to finish the movie and receive our wheelchairs, we didn't get them immediately. Instead we waited about two hours. They actually came right before lunch started, so Monte wasn't willing to make us go straight to a meal without practice.

We came back, and rearranged the seating so that the people that are in chairs today will sit at the back of the classroom since it's hard to maneuver to the front of the classroom even when walking. At 1:10 we all sat down, and will remain sitting until 1:10 tomorrow. Monte told us that we would be going on "missions" and aren't allowed to discuss them with our classmates until tomorrow. I obtained permission to blog about it, as long as nobody from Medicine, Health and Society reads this and has the surprise spoiled for them. So, I hope that hasn't happened.

Anyway, my assignment was to go to Peabody Library from Wyatt, find a specific book, and text a picture of it to Monte. The path to get to Peabody was blocked by construction, so I had to make my way through the grass instead. I kept on getting stuck, and the chair kept listing right. As my spotter, Arnold is not allowed to help me unless I am in danger, so I had to extricate myself from those situations alone. We got to the library, and the lift near the stairs had a spider directly above the button to bring us up the stairs. Arnold stood by the stairs to make sure I didn't turn down into them, and I maneuvered inside, only to be told that the elevator was broken, and I couldn't get up to the book. I feel that that experience added to the point that Monte was trying to make by sending us on this trip.

An unexpected side affect of having
my arm pressed against the armrests
Arnold and I were the last people to leave for the library since we were staggered out, and we took an alternate way back to the way we came. However, we were blocked by cars, and none would let us pass. When one car finally let us pass it was basically too late to make it back to class. So, I texted Zach to let him know that I would just be going back to Hank instead of Wyatt. At this point, I was basically 25 feet away from the entrance to Hank. But, when I reached the grass across from the cars, a woman that was facilitating the cars asked me to pull over to one side and wait until the cars had passed. I would have been there for twenty minutes instead of fifteen if I hadn't gotten so frustrated that I pushed through the wet, muddy grass and moved the final ten feet towards the ramp. The ramp itself was a herculean task, which took me about five minutes to climb up, when it would normally take me 30 seconds. One of the strangest parts of it was that the people who were participating in the Vanderbilt tours that passed by me either smiled at me or just averted their eyes.

I could not participate in my Arete, as boot camp and wheelchairs don't really work well together. Dinner was my first meal in a wheelchair, which was a very...different experience. The lines were too narrow to maneuver, and a staff member had to widen them for all the students in a chair. People kept on offering to help, and since I could get all of the items by myself, I declined their offers. During SOFT we stayed in, since I did not want to leave campus without knowing all the wheelchair accessible routes, and where I could go. I look forward to continuing this experience tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Your frustration with the elevator is a problem people have with the escalators and elevators at BART every day when they’re either broken or down for repairs. I often travel pulling a luggage cart with a couple of hundred pounds of camera gear and need to use the elevators. When they’re down, I’m forced to drag my gear up the stairs which is more than a pain in the rear. Even though I’m not supposed to use the escalators with the cart, I sometimes do and my cart has been known to get stuck.

    Rather than try to help me with my predicament, other travelers often either walk on by or even try to push me and my cart out of the way (good luck with that one). I think you saw a little of that with the cars that were less than accommodating.


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