Sunday, March 2, 2008

Don't Touch Me!

Remember the comedy routine in which Bill Cosby imitates two kids fighting: "Dad, she's touching me!"? Children must be taught to respect one another's space, not to poke one another gleefully for the fun of it, one-sided fun. But when you're a grown up and disabled, you find yourself still complaining that people are touching you, but are taken no more seriously than a small child complaining from the backseat.

If you're abled and reading this, don't ever make the mistake of trying to help someone by pushing them--you could injure them or yourself. Ask if they need help, and listen carefully to the instructions. Wheelchairs and scooters (w/s) tip easily (and that's not an invitation). When someone in a w/s exits or enters in front of you, give space. If the w/s doesn't clear the threshold the first time, the person will have to back up a few inches and try again at higher speed (with a bigger and more painful taa-daa landing). This is NOT an invitation to push the w/s (whose owner's back may be in pain and may not appreciate pushing. For people with limited strength, you could push them out of the chair if you knock them off balance). The only reason the w/s user went through slowly the first time is because they sometimes can or thought they could, and low speed is less painful on big bumps. If you're standing an inch behind, by the way, the w/s user can't see you and risks backing over you.

And if you see a w/s user trying to drive the w/s off the lift, don't push it from behind, for God's sake! It's equipped with batteries that can exert more of the right kind of energy than you can. Be patient. The w/s user has far more experience than you, even if they're not as strong as you. The bumpers on the lift are there for a reason, and if you'll back up, the user can back off the ramp (the easier way) rather than getting stuck from your pushing and risking ruining a delicate and expensive piece of equipment by thudding off of it. Gratitude this week to the person who stayed near me but didn't interfere when I had trouble getting it off the lift. That worked much easier than the next day when someone pushed it, meaning the whole thing got stuck in a far worse way, pushing it so it had to go off sideways, giving me more pain in trying to move it and risking injury because of my limitations.

Don't let your kid (and all his/her friends) run past a w/s user over and over, pulling and shoving on the basket (which will fall off). The basket is not a handhold for you, either. It's unstable and will fall off! And if you push the scooter to squeeze past, you're pushing the person in it, too.

On Saturday, I suddenly graduated from a snarky, "Could you move" to a vehement "No!" as if having taken a '60s style self-empowerment class. In a line we were in this weekend, people invariably, truly invariably, cut in front of me instead of between two standing people. That would have been fine if they didn't shove me. I think they expected me to move. The person behind me was very close so I couldn't back up. I think they only saw the physical object and not the person in it, as in, oh, shorter person, a break in the crowd. After dealing with the bumping and shoving a few times, I accidentally bumped into the person in front of me trying to narrow the very narrow gap slightly and shouted, "No!" at the next two people who tried to do it, and said, "That's rude." My pain level was through the roof, and I was out only for the kids' sake, because I wanted to be with them, against my better judgment. There has got to be some kind of bad karma for pushing people in a w/s.

And I don't like being touched when I hurt. Don't touch me, either, unless we're already on a hugging basis, and that does not include most people. And I really don't want to shake your hand, because my hands hurt. Don't take it personally. I like everyone better with their hands not touching me, and I really don't want the bones in my hands fractured when you choose to prove your strong, manly grip.

Gratitude to the teenage waiter for asking me about the kids' orders this weekend, recognizing that I was the one responsible for the decision.

In other news, last night I dreamt I was at Manderley again. No, seriously, having combined what was left of the hydrocodone and a muscle relaxer (not a permitted combination, but very little pain medicine left), I dreamed that the employers decided that anyone who had gone on leave or part-time ever could not come back to work. Oh, now we're violating FMLA and other leave policies. Hmm, not sure what this could mean. Lack of trust? And then there was something about a big boat, turtles rising to the surface of the water in response to the boat, divers coming in with harpoons, something about oysters, and the capture and torture of innocent people. I think I'll skip the interpretations there. Last night the pain in my neck was the worst it's been since 2005 (September 29 and for several weeks after, very memorable sudden change). Everyone else had gone to a hockey game, and I called my husband when he was at the train station sobbing about being out of medicine since the pharmacy lost the refill my doctor called in. I didn't even cry during childbirth, and only cried out once or twice during each birth, near the end. I had my children naturally, which I don't take as some kind of badge of honor since births vary, but as a mark that I can deal with a lot of pain without needing drugs. I usually don't even take them for back pain. Upon getting the refill this afternoon, I think I passed out ten minutes after I took the dose from pain relief. I don't even remember closing my eyes.

The pain has been so much worse. I did far, far too much this week and am paying for it. I still didn't expect the neck pain rather than low back pain. I can't even feel the low back pain right now because the neck pain is so severe. I'm hoping things calm down.


Anonymous said...

I hate this too. People are so odd with the touching. They grab me, my chair, I've been shaken, pushed, kicked... A complete lack of respect of my physical boundaries.

I especially hate the way people make a beeline to jostle through a line right next to me. And I think it is good and useful to point out to them that they're being rude.

Now, on the other side, have you ever experienced people jumping out of your way when they're about 30 feet away and no where near you?

Is there no happy medium... just regular respect and thoughtfulness!

FridaWrites said...

I had the pushiness happen again today--gaah! I pointed out to my friend when we walked into a place: watch, wait and see how long until I get pushed, shoved, ignored, and we're both considered not to be waiting in line. It was about a minute later.

I haven't experienced the leaping aside so much, but since I"m primarily in the suburbs and not in crowded situations very often, that may make the difference.