November 12, 2013

Navigating the Basement

Alan F. 009

My left knee had been hurting for a while, and it didn’t seem to be getting any better. To be safe, I decided to use a wheelchair. My fear and anxiety mounted as the pain persisted. So in an effort to distract myself, I signed up for a professional workshop and looked forward to the diversion it would provide.

Arriving at the workshop location, I was surprised – then angered – to learn that the venue was a basement room with no handicap access.

As friends struggled to maneuver my wheelchair and me down the narrow steps, their emotional uneasiness was as palpable as their physical discomfort. As we neared the bottom landing, I heard my porters discussing where to park me – I could just as well have been a senseless sack of flour.

Simultaneously feeling that I was utterly insignificant and a huge burden, I found it hard to concentrate on the content of the workshop. But still another humiliating circumstance was waiting for me: The dining room was up two flights of stairs with no elevator in sight.

Anticipating the possibility of a difficult-to-access dining room, I had packed a perfectly adequate sack lunch for myself. The workshop hosts, however, insisted on bringing me a plate of food – and they would not be dissuaded.

Now alone in the deserted conference room, I tried to enjoy food that I had neither selected nor requested. Tears stung my eyes as I struggled with what I felt was my obligation to be grateful for the compassionately provided lunch.

My knee eventually healed from what turned out to be a hairline fracture, and I eventually healed from this incident in the basement. Fortunately, my joy and gratitude rest in the fact that this was but one incident in a life that has been full of amazing and wonderful opportunities.

Guest blogger Alan Flynn of Sacramento has cerebral palsy and grew up in a small farming community in the Midwest, the middle child in a family of five boys. He has two adult daughters and a new grandson. Through his writing, he hopes to challenge himself and others to reach new goals in every aspect of our lives and gain self-understanding and enthusiasm for the opportunities waiting for us. 


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