Monday, May 10, 2010

Ramp it up

Last November, I busted my foot.
It was spectacularly stupid. I fell off the bed (and got no end of suggestive comments about it.) What I was intelligently doing was standing on the bed to mess with the drapes, which did not want to close. Apparently I was too near the edge of the bed, and went down on my left foot, pronated it, stretching the tendon (and spraining my ankle while I was at it), which snapped my baby metatarsal. Note to self and reader: never do this.
Yes, it hurt. But the pain of being temporarily disabled was far greater.
What brought this back today was a report on the CBC, noting that it would take 80 years for the City of Saskatoon to install ramps on all street corners. They've made a start, but they're a long way off from getting them all sloped.
Tell me about it.
Since I could not even carry a cup of coffee to the table, I invested in the rental of a wheelchair. At least I could help cook and more or less navigate through the main part of the house, instead of lurching along on crutches. You see, when you break your foot, you can't use your hands for much either, since they are busy supporting your weight.
So, I got the wheelchair. Trying to keep up with at least a little bit of exercise, my husband and I sallied forth into the streets, with me wheeling for as long as my weak upper body could manage, and then getting pushed for a while.
It didn't take long before I realized that city sidewalks are slanted. This is in some ways a good idea, since rain will slide off them; but keeping your wheelchair from running off the curb is tricky. Once you get to the corner, you try not to fall out of the chair as you navigate down the ramp -- if there is one. But at least you can cross the street, if you remain upright.
As often as not, though, there is no ramp. Therefore, you must wheel down the street until you find a likely-looking driveway. Some of them are pretty steep; others are not too bad. But meanwhile, you're on the street, and it can be scary.
I am really lucky. I'm walking again. Others, however, don't have that luxury. They have to put up with bumpy streets, slanting sidewalks and finding ramps wherever they go. I never realized how brutal it is to get around until my fall...and in the fall, it was okay. Once it snowed, I was toast. It was slippery and absolutely terrifying. I gave up on trying to wheel anywhere, apart from out of the car and into the grocery store. (Try shopping for food on crutches.)
I have a new-found and enormous respect for the amazing and intrepid people who somehow manage getting around these streets every day. They, I'm sure, want more ramps, and after spending three months wheeling and crutching around, I'm behind them all the way.

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