Category Archives: Lore Rant

Geek on Wheels ponders a curse of good manners

So I have a dilemma. Something that is pissing me off in that I don’t know if I’m happy with how I reacted to a frustratingly weird event today.

Regulars to my rants will recall about a year ago, I went on a royal rampage about how I didn’t need to be cured. That there was nothing wrong with me that could be prayed out. I got a lot of good and interesting responses to that post. Let’s see what people think about this one.

Cut to the scene!

Parking lot outside the Metro grocery store on St. Clair. It’s a hot day, sun blazing down, but the weather is due to change, getting quite cooler for the week. By now, I know that means my legs will misbehave quite regularly, which makes loading and unloading the chair an interesting challenge. Regular readers will also know that I no longer turn down offers to help, pride being useless versus the chance of injury.  I was quite grateful when  two women walked up, one a tiny hispanic lady, the other of some caribbean descent with an accent that was harder for me to understand than small town Irish dialects. Her pink paste in her hair that looked like someone had dripped paint down the front made for an interesting view. Calling it streaks would have been an understatement…but I digress. She offered to help load it, so I stepped out and leaned on my walker (both hands firmly on it mind you…bear with me) and she loaded it quite well, on its side as I asked and I thanked her profusely…but then…it got weird.

Her little friend tried to hand me a pamphlet…even though she had just seen me using a walker with BOTH HANDS. I groaned inwardly the moment I saw it and tried to put a nice smile on my face. The loading lady turn to me to ask what happened. It’s my most common question after all, so I thanked them both and told them it was a spinal cord injury. She clucked her tongue, threw her head back and I swear she cursed at my spine. Really. That’s what it sounded like anyway. Then it got REALLY awkward.

The little woman pushed the pamphlet back at me, and I grabbed it with two fingers as the loading lady asked me, “Have you heard of the Healing School my friend…the lord has worked miracles for us there…you should come!”

All I could think was…how do they keep finding me??!?!

I took a deep breath. Thanked them very much for the help, but firmly stated I wasn’t interested and that no faith healing would cure nerve damage…have a good day. She continued to go on about the lord’s work as I slowly walked around to the driver’s side and then walked away.

So my dilemma?

Well first, I’m pissed off that I didn’t use my line I promised I’d use the next time: this ever happened…”why is there something wrong with me?”

Second, I wonder if I should have stopped being so bloody gracious and confronted this foolishness head on. I know in the short-term, it would have done nothing to change the opinion of these ladies…but this is something that gets under my skin. There is a lot of really good, REAL science being done right now to help people with much worse spinal cord injuries than my own. From laser scalpels that can detect scar tissue and only cut it away while avoiding healthy tissue, to stem cell regeneration of nerve damage, to even the exo-skeletons that I have mixed feelings about, but that I recognize the value of. This is science. This costs money. This needs resources that could be put to real world use.

There are far too many, though, who would rather donate money to some faith healing church on the basis of a belief with no reality to it. In fact, their beliefs often hinder the science that COULD help so many.

Now look, I am not painting every one of faith with the same brush. I have many family and friends who believe differently from me who give me fantastic support. I appreciate there prayers and good will, even if I don’t believe as they do. I truly thank them all because their support is based in reality and helps in many ways.

It is just certain types of people of faith, for example many of those who go to mega churches with  TV shows that feature some charismatic guy  in a perfect white suit and the best smile money can buy…sorry am I being too specific there? You see after Shannon read up on this pamphlet (and really its more a mini-magazine, Matt Kean will love this thing) it turns out this Healing School has a TV show on Vision TV, a faith-based station in the Toronto area. They claim to have cured a woman with some “rare” disease of both her blindness and her paralysis of 12 years. Apparently, she jumped from her chair and danced on stage as she was healed.

Uh huh.

Because muscles atrophied from 12 years of paralysis regain strength in an instant, eh?

Of course if you want to be healed, you have to apply and go through a screening process. Wonder what gets screened eh?

So tonight I am kicking myself. Perhaps I handled it “properly” making my point while still thanking them for their help and being polite…but another side of me wishes I had done more. My manners be damned.

Maybe one day I should take them up on the offer…but then I’d probably just be told it didn’t work because I didn’t believe.

Uh huh.



Geek on Wheels ponders…confinement

I’m probably cursing it, but it appears, just maybe, that spring has finally arrived, up here in Toronto.It almost got into the double PLUS digits today and we’re down to only the biggest piles of snowplowed hills left. Hell, I even heard some birds earlier this week…they driving our Chinese Sharpei, Toby, nuts! With the onset of spring, we wheeled ones can finally start to look past our winter confinement…but that really isn’t the type of confinement I’m thinking of tonight.

A few weeks back, my partner Arthur sent me an article looking at the idea of some new cybernetic leg units that might one day help those of us with SCI’s to walk again. It’s an interesting concept that the sci-fi geek in me loves…but there was a term used in the article that struck me.

“it would help those confined to a wheelchair.”

Now, realize something here. I don’t usually worry about politically correct terms. I also know the media in general tends to overuse its metaphors and catchphrases and clichés for the sake of keeping things simple when they are on a deadline. This really got me thinking though.

The one place I DON’T feel confined is when I am in my wheelchair. Ever.

When I’m having to use my walker, and stumble along carefully to my car, off-balance, watching each step. When I’m having to use more upper body than lower body to climb four stairs. When I’m having to bum my way down stairs into my own basement. THAT is when I feel confined. (granted seeing my nephew Liam learning to walk down stairs and looking better at it than I have in years just makes me laugh)

My wheelchair is not confinement in any sense. In my chair, I’m quick. I’m agile. I can turn on a dime, make skid turns when at a good speed, use walls to help me take corners faster and dammit when the zombie apocalypse comes (oh come on, just go with it), just you remember something. You may have two good legs to run…but I’ve got four good wheels to roll on.

Are there limits to it? Of course. Stairs. Stairs. Stairs. The bane of all of us on wheels. Even then I damn well intend to get skilled at going down them at least. Heights? Well, thankfully, even sitting I’m still 6’2″. That makes me a very tall sitting man. While it’s better that I ask for help when stuff is too high, I can find a way. I make it work. Period.

The cliché of people with spinal cord injuries being confined to a wheelchair is another one of those things I never thought of before it happened to me. I’d be willing to bet, though, that just about anyone in a chair…manual or powered…doesn’t see their chair as their confinement.

It is our transport. Our tools. Our freedom to live our lives. It is NOT confinement.

Do I wish I could still bound up my stairs 3 at a time, like I could just 3 years ago? Of course I do. That isn’t reality, however. An individual can choose to see a wheelchair as something confining if they want to let it define them. The media though, needs to stop using that cliché to define all of us who use chairs in our daily lives.

I can still hope for those biomechanical legs…or even better the nerve regrowth that was recently linked to me as well. I won’t let waiting on it confine me though.

Now if we can just get ourselves caught up to our southern neighbours when it comes to being truly accessible. Tell you what oh USA…we’ll lend you the lessons of healthcare for the masses, if you’ll do the same with accessibility for the masses.