I wouldn’t find this funny if it weren’t for my quirky sense of humor. But it is true if I had to run for my life, I probably would die. Thanks to permanent nerve damage in one leg and muscle weakness due to my chronic conditions, the chances of my being able to run to or from anything are improbable. Accepting and laughing at things like this is how I cope. If I couldn’t laugh it off every time one or both of my legs lost feeling or gave out on me, I would always cry. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t try; let’s face it, sometimes a situation arises, and I don’t have time to think about how badly I am going to hurt myself if I physically react the way I used to.
One example was when I was puppy-sitting. Although the sweet pup knew me, this was her first time staying at my home. I had decided to take her for a short walk down my street as this was back when I could take short walks without my walker or wheelchair as long as I was slow and careful. Unfortunately, she broke free from her collar when I stepped outside the front door, and she began running away from me. She dashed into the road, and I was in quick pursuit. Just as I ran into the middle of the street, my left leg went numb, and I hit the ground. My daughter came running up to help me. But I told her to leave me behind and save the dog instead. Thankfully the dog didn’t run far, and she was able to scoop her up and bring her home. I am also thankful that there hadn’t been any traffic on our street that morning. Once the pup was safely back in the house, my daughter came back to rescue me.
Afterward, it wasn’t the bruises and scrapes that upset me; my bruised ego had gotten the best of me. What if that had been one of my children? What if someone was trying to attack me? I had to reach a point where those thoughts didn’t haunt me daily. I had to force myself to remember that I do not control everything that happens in this world and that bad things can happen to anyone, whether disabled or not. This doesn’t mean I won’t try, nor will I will let my fear hold me back. But it is a stark reminder that I am at a disadvantage. I would love to trust my body to be able to run down a street or even just a few feet, but that is not my reality. This is why I am more cautious and pay more attention to my surroundings than ever before. Whether I am eating out or at church, I prefer to be near an exit. Not just any exit, but one that will not be impossible to get to and through with my wheelchair.
The incident with the puppy happened over five years ago. Through the years, my legs have proven to be useless when I have needed them the most. When I go months without falling, my confidence rises, and then BOOM, my body reminds me to stay vigilant. I almost fell into the River of America at Disneyland a few weeks ago. My husband parked me and my wheelchair near the river while he and my daughter went on a ride that I wasn’t up for. While they were gone, I needed to retrieve something from my backpack, which hung on the back of my chair. My legs felt strong and steady as I stood up and took a few steps. As I stepped back to the front of my chair, I lost all feeling in my left leg and began to topple over. Thank God there was a fence and that I was able to grab it because, with the angle at that I was falling; if I hadn’t been able to hold on, I would have toppled over the fence and into the water!
Funny? Yes. Scary? Yes. A reminder of my limitations? Most definitely! Will I be more cautious in the future? Yes, but being that I lose feeling in one or both legs without notice at any given time, I am sure that I will have more stories to share in the future!