What You Don't See
I didn’t set an alarm the night before, because I knew I’d need my rest. I took it easy all day, staying within my apartment building. I had a nap in the afternoon. I ate packages of roasted seaweed and pre cooked chicken strips from bed, so that I didn’t have to expend any of my limited energy cooking. I attached electrodes to my body in three different places, sending pulses of electricity through them over a period of an hour to try to stimulate my muscles. I squeezed in to compression stocking to encourage my blood to flow properly. I strapped on an ankle brace and readjusted my neck brace. I grabbed my walker and walked out my door to the elevator, travelling down to the lobby.
I fumbled with my keys to call up the mechanical lift in the lobby, to slowly take me down to ground level. I struggled to open the building door around my walker until a stranger walked by and held it for me. I ordered an uber because, while the subway station at my home is accessible, as well as the one at my destination, the streetcar from that 2nd station to my class isn’t.
I made it to the building and walked up the ramp, only to find a giant sign blocking the only door my walker fits inside. I tried to move it, but ended up having to wait for someone to come by and help. They also helped me open the door so I could enter the building.
On the elevator there was a sign saying ‘out of service’. I texted my teacher and waited downstairs, unsure of what would happen. Someone came down with the keys and managed to operate the elevator, bringing me up to my class.
Class was difficult. Luckily it was extremely low on physical activity, but even sitting upright for 3 hours was more than I had been capable of for the last 2 weeks. Afterwords, I left slowly, leaning on my walker. My ankle started to bend within the brace as my muscles refused to hold me up anymore. I needed to get home and lie down. I made my way to the elevator and pressed the button. It didn't come.
Someone went downstairs with the keys to try to call the elevator up. It wouldn’t move.
One friend took my walker. Another took my purse. One walked in front of me. Three walked behind. I slowly made my way down the first five steps, dragging my ankle along with me. I sat on my walker at the first landing to rest. There were 5 more intervals of stairs.
Over the span of half an hour, I made it down the stairs with the help and support of my friends. By the time I reached the bottom I was barely able to hold myself up sitting down, never mind standing.
After sitting a while to catch my breath, I opened the uber app. My journey down the stairs had taken so long that the baseball game was now over. Surge pricing was on, along with excessive amounts of traffic.
I had to get home. I ordered an uber that said it was 9 minutes away. It wasn’t. Eventually, my friend went to hunt down the car while other friends stayed with me. He found the driver and directed them to me. Everyone helped me in to the car, putting my walker in the truck.
I made it to my destination. The driver helped me take my walker out of the car. I slowly dragged myself to my building, going through the same process with the door and the lift. I took the elevator up to my apartment and collapsed in bed with my shoes still on.
That was last night. Today I stayed in bed. It’s 5:30 PM and I’m still in bed. I missed my cousin’s baby naming this morning, because I couldn’t physically get myself to a location that’s 650 meters away. I don’t know how tomorrow is going to look.
And I’m lucky. I’m lucky that taking an uber is a financial possibility for me. I’m lucky that I live in a mostly accessible building. I’m lucky that I can do a fair bit of my work from bed. I’m lucky that I had wonderful friends to help me last night.
But just because I’m lucky, doesn’t mean that it’s easy. And it doesn’t mean that it’s okay.