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Timmargh.me

The chair and the friends  12

I was reading the introductory posts for Ouch!’s guest bloggers (some of whom are new, some not) and they inspired me to actually write something here for a change. For the most part I’ve added entries to this site because I felt I should, but lately I’ve been doing it when I want to. As you may have noticed: this has led to something of a dry spell, but hopefully I’ll enter a phase when I’ll want to post more often and so I will. There’s no real reason behind what I’m posting here, I just thought it’d be interesting.

The chair

As I was reading Dave Hingsburger’s introductory post on Ouch! I came to the part when he first used a wheelchair:

I plopped my butt down into the chair. Not realising at that moment. That precise moment. I joined the disability community. I didn’t see the chair as anything more than a devise to get me out of that room and downstairs for a cuppa tea. I had my blanket over my leg, a bag of urine at my feet and a gentle breeze blew over me as Joe whipped me out of the room and down the hallway. I had never felt freer than I did at that moment.

Probably because of that moment, I saw the chair from the get go as a release from the captivity of legs that didn’t work. I didn’t feel confined by the chair, I felt liberated by it. I could move. Go where I wanted. Determine my own way again.

It was odd to me, then, that when people first saw me in the wheelchair that they said weird things. “I’m so sorry you are in a wheelchair.” is the consistent message. “But I almost died … isn’t the chair a step up from that?” I think. And it’s been an amazing companion, my chair. As I lecture internationally. The chair has been all over the UK and Ireland, it’s been through several of the United States, most of Canada … and still people think of me as ‘confined.’

I love my chair and the freedom it gives me.

This struck a chord with me; a voice in my head said: “That’s exactly how I feel!”.

When I was in my late teens/early twenties I could still walk, albeit with some difficulty and little endurance — whenever I was offered the use of a wheelchair I was relieved. When I was sat in a Remploy or a Stannah I could keep up with my friends; they didn’t have to help me out of chairs or walk slower because I was knackered. I could relax and take in the scenery rather than spend my time looking at the floor for unseen bumps, dips or other traps that would cause me to buckle and hit the floor like sack of shit (once I stumbled it was a guaranteed one-way trip downwards). Plus the fact that if you enter a pub walking in a funny way and looking a bit, well, gangly whilst holding onto someone’s shoulder for support then you get some funny looks; enter in a wheelchair and you barely get a second glance.

I currently have a motorised indoor chair and two (count ‘em!) manual wheelchairs but lack the strength to self-propel and so have to rely on someone to push me around. Soon though I’ll (hopefully) be taking delivery of a motorised indoor/outdoor chair so I can be free all by myself. But that’s a different story.

The friends

While I was sat on the toilet, thinking about stuff (as you do) I suddenly got the notion that I have different groups of friends. Well, when I say “groups” I don’t mean as in “one group who all know each other, another group who also know each other separately to the other group” although I do have groups of friends like that. No, what I mean is more like categories of friends. Now, this may be a bit harsh but I’ve thought about it and I think I want to say it.

I want to state here and now that this is in no way connected to any recent event, situation or conversation I have had with anyone I know - I have thought about this a few times and decided that now is as good a time as any to get it out of my head so I can make room to be able to remember more images of boobs.

So:

Category A - The Part-timer
A person who is quite willing to be your friend but somehow sees your disability as a bigger burden to them than it is to you;
Category B - The Activist
A person who is quite willing to be your friend and will do anything for you but makes sure everyone knows about it;
Category C - The One Worth Hanging Onto
A person who is quite willing to be your friend and will do anything for you but isn’t afraid of telling you when you’re taking the piss;

An example of a Category A person is someone who wouldn’t let me have a drink whilst at their house after leaving the pub because “you’ll need a piss and I don’t want to have to lift you”, even though I was the only one out of seven people without a drink and I’d said that I was quite capable of waiting to go until I got home. Hmm, thanks mate.

I think all of the friends I keep in touch with are Category C’s and some of the ones I don’t see often enough are also good examples of this type. They’re the sort who can sometimes completely forget that you’re almost entirely dependent on theirs and other people’s help to get around and say things like: “Come to my wedding - it’s in a castle!” To which I say: “Erm, haven’t castles got lots of stone steps and things?” Their reply: “Oh yeah … erm … sod it! Come anyway and we’ll carry you up them!”

If you’re worrying that you’re a Category A or B then it’s almost certain that you’re a C. Needless to say I love each and every one of my Category C’s.

Now, am I a complete and utter bastard for writing the above? Who cares - it’s my ‘blog and what I say goes!

Comments

It’s always useful to get one’s thoughts down in order to make more boobspace - surely that’s what blogging is for? I’m quite pleased to say that the vast majority of my friends are in Category C, although alas, there are a fair few family members in Catergoreis A and B… - The Goldfish

Good read Tim, enjoyed that. - Darren

I was relieved to see that people who worry that they’re an A or a B are probably a C. I think I have the most guilty conscience of anyone I know! - Murphy

Goldfish: Hmm, boobs. Darren: cheers! Murphy: yeah, it’s usually the ones who’re cock-sure of themselves that shouldn’t be. This isn’t always the case of course, because I, myself, am fantastic. ;^) - Timmargh

I refuse to be categorised, dammitt! and you’re taking the piss… Does that make me a ‘C’?? :-) - tugger

You’ve over looked one major point, i.e. the categories relate to friends … :^P - Timmargh

hi tim, interesting read which i can easily appreciate you striking a chord with. Just wondering how far you are with getting your indoor/outdoor chair. It’s been over a year since i’ve worked in wheelchair services in the NHS, but if you think they’re dragging their heels a bit what i know is probably still valid and could still offer some advice if there’s any problems. Am also slightly curious as to what you’re getting. If you were living where i was working I’d hazard a guess they’d give you either an Invacare Phoenix or Harrier (both very reliable indoor/outdoor chairs), but obviously there’s going to be some variation depending on the PCT, as they will all have preferences of manufacturers and suppliers - stonysleep

I’m not sure I see the difference between A and C. I’m often willing to do a lot for my friends (nothing to do with disability), and there are times when I’m not - it’s inconvenient, I’m tired, I’m a bad mood, I feel like they’re using me… Wouldn’t a real friend be honest about it, rather than do “anything” for you. I don’t do just ANYTHING for anyone… It all depends on the situation. - anonymous

Yeah, a real friend would be honest and tell you when you’re using them or taking the piss. The category A people are the ones who just won’t do it because they can’t be bothered. The example I gave for the category A was a guy who was quite happy for me to pick him and his missus up and give them a lift to the pub in town and back (I lived out of town, they lived on the outskirts), but when I suggested that I’d like to be able to not drive and have a drink once in a while he replied with "Okay. We’ll get a taxi and meet you there". A taxi would’ve cost them about 3 but it would’ve cost me about 10. - Timmargh

Did I really endure a ten month pregnancy to read these “pearls of wisdom”? Come on Tim, share with all the world that brilliant brain which I know exists beneath that once shaven head. Luv u Lots x x - mum

Hi Tim, was THAT *points up* really your Mum?? Cool! :) BTW, please don’t forget to drop by during the Blogathon, OK? :) - pelf

Yep, that’s her. - Timmargh