The more comfortable I get in my manual chair, the more bold I get when it comes to venturing outside and around the parking lot. I don’t really like using my chest strap unless I absolutely have to which in many circumstances can be quite dumb. I’ve managed to go outside and make my way down the 15 foot ramp with a fair amount of ease and not much nervousness. Once in the parking lot however, the risk-taking goes up a notch or two.
This evening I went outside after dinner and made my way to the parking lot. I strolled up and down the asphalt careful to know my limitations and when the various levels and inclines surpassed my courage. Not only do I not have a chest strap but I have also taken off my lateral supports which means the only direction I cannot fall is backwards. I decided to make my way up the small hill, testing both my nerves and my courage, but not so much my physical capabilities. I am fully aware that I am able to complete the feat.
Once halfway up the hill I pulled into two empty spaces and sat there enjoying the night air and watching people pass me by. A car then pulled into a space not too far from my vicinity. It just so happened that a very cute blonde hopped out. The corners of my lips curled upwards and a twinkle in my eye appeared. I attempted to make solid eye contact but only got a passing glance. She slowly made her way up to the mailbox. A myriad of thoughts began to appear in my mind, as I gave myself a peptalk on what I should do. I surveyed the environment and discovered that I could push my way diagonally up the hill, to a small ramp and a sidewalk. There I could probably intersect her path and who knows? Possibly meet the woman of my dreams?
My heart rate increased and my breath quickened, and I suddenly realized that I did not have the courage to perform the maneuver. I once again attempted to make solid eye contact but my efforts were in vain. I had the sense that she looked at me out of the corner of her eye but I can’t be sure. My presence definitely did not go unnoticed.
Slightly frustrated with myself, I decided to see if I could have made it over to the sidewalk if I wanted to. The risk factor would significantly increase, but I was feeling bold. I made my way up the hill no problem but as I approached the ramp things turned tricky. I made it to the handicap space and then turned my chair sideways to make my way towards the sidewalk. The pavement was rather uneven and I knew as I pushed forward my chair would begin to turn towards the left, either leading me into a curb or into a parked car. I decided to go for speed hoping that the momentum would keep me going straight and my right hand would guide the chair in the appropriate direction.
I gave a solid push and began to roll forwards. The chair began to slightly angle towards the left so I digged my right hand into the push rim, but the chair continued to go left straight for a curb. I flung my left arm behind me and hooked onto the push handle. I leaned to the right and used my bicep to grab ahold so I could turn away from the curb. Slowly the chair eased away from danger and I let out a sigh of relief as the chair angled towards the ramp, but an unexpected issue arose. My footplate suddenly hit a 2 inch lip in the ramp and my upper body went flying forward with my left arm still behind me. My chair stayed put but there I was fallen over in my lap and I couldn’t get up.
Anxiety and panic, instantaneously emerged. I knew people were all around me but were not in my eyesight. I looked towards all the mailboxes and began to holler for help. "Help! I need help!" I continued to holler but no one was emerging to save me from my predicament. I looked to my left and saw a woman a hundred yards away walking down the sidewalk. "Excuse me! I need help!" I yelled, but she didn’t even turn around and was gone. Then I looked up and saw a car pulling in. A woman emerged and I began to yell again. "Help! Mam! Could you help me!" Busy with her cell phone conversation she amazingly did not hear me. I continued to yell. Then almost out of sight she turned and began to look around. "Finally, someone heard me" I thought. As she began to piece together what was happening an Indian gentleman appeared out of nowhere with his young daughter. "I’ve fallen and I can’t get up", I told him. He helped me up and my heart slowly stopped pounding and all anxiety turned to gratefulness. "Thank you so much", I said. He was a humble hero and did not say much but I was truly grateful. He helped me put my chest strap on and I made my way back down the hill and into the apartment.
I am now officially terrified of going outside again without my chest strap. Most likely I will be wearing it from now on when I go outside, but then again I can also see myself not wearing it because quite frankly, I can be pretty stubborn. Looking back on it however, things could have been much worse, and much more horrible things could have happened. I think I should wear my chest strap. I swear, girls, all they cause is trouble.