The locomotion

March 1, 2010
One of M’s partners gave him a gorgeous cane with a carved fish head that has inlaid eyes.

It’s because M. used to attend a lot of long, boring meetings and after a while, his jaw would slacken in boredom and he’d resemble a fish.

His partner’s term of endearment was “fishface” and the cane marked that nickname.

M wanted to sell it at our garage sale but I insisted on keeping it, and it’s a good thing, as it’s been a big help in my infirmity.

That’s because traitor body is alive and well.

Actually, well is a relative term.

My back went out a week ago and is only slowly returning to normal. Way too slowly for me. During this week, I’ve felt like a fish trying to walk on its tail.

I’ve had the usual back pings over the years, but this is the first time anything so severe has happened to me. All I did was sit in a chair at the bank and the next thing I knew, I could barely get up.

It’s most likely related to all the packing, lifting and moving.

But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve been almost two months without Trainer Tom, who spent part of every session on stretching and is knowledgeable about physiology. He’s kept me whole in my old age. I’m looking for someone new now, but the bar has been set pretty high.

This small limitation has given me just the tiniest peephole into life of people with disabilities. I count a dear writing friend among them. Polio and a wheelchair. No pity here–he has a full life with a loving and wonderful wife, kids, grandkids and has authored an excellent memoir (Seven Wheelchairs) and had a piece published in the New York Times. We should all be so deservedly lucky.

But his writing and blog attuned me to the issue of disability even before I had a small one.

I’m not comparing a back ailment to polio. But I AM saying we take our locomotion as a given and it isn’t.

When I hear folks complain about the Americans with Disabilities Act it bothers me. My brush with limitations on physical accessibility demonstrated how helpful–no, not helpful, necessary–those accommodations are.

Don’t take mobility for granted, kids. Just don’t.

And when people act like people with mobility issues or other disabilities–sensory, depression, developmental, learning — shouldn’t deserve special accommodations, speak out.

Because there but for luck of the draw (not the grace of God, but luck) go any of us.

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