My fun world of denial hit a snag this week. A big slap-up-side-the-head, marching band, Vegas lights and feather clad showgirls, snag. You see there's this weird little lie I've been telling myself. Although I've been sick for 7 years, although I use shower chairs, a walking stick and on occasion bring out he big guns in the form of Bernice, my wheelchair, and her new, much comfier, replacement Vera to go to a shopping centre or comedy festival, I have somehow managed to overlook the fact that I may be disabled.
You see denial is amazing. It's up there with fingers in my ears, closing my eyes, and saying “I can't hear you. I can't hear you”. Although at some level I knew that I was actually, shall we say, less-functional, than before 2006 and even less functional again in the last year. Despite the fact I have difficulty with my stairs, that I can't stand for long, drop things, walk with either a catch-my-toes shuffle or wide uncoordinated gait that would do a drunken sailor proud (my body likes to mix it up) I have managed to compartmentalise, deny, or at least use a meh attitude to get by.
I have managed to make it this long without the word “disabled” being written in my file. Not that I necessarily have a problem with the word or the concept. It's not that I even object to it being applied to me. Well at least not in my logical, practical moments. But, and because I am a long-term resident of Crazytown, part of me said if it wasn't written in my file, then it wasn't really true. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I should be studied.
As of two days ago it all became fact. Unequivocal, signed off by a doctor, fact. Now if I was a wearer of big girl undies or had eaten a can of Harden up, Princess for breakfast then I would probably be able to just see it as another point in the road that I had to cross. I'd recognise that the piece of paper currently burning a hole in my handbag will allow me access to mobility aides and other help that I would otherwise not be able to afford. I'd be all matter of fact, practical, glass half full, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately I am not that girl, and am currently in a wee bit of a funk about the whole situation.
Logic is not my friend in this matter although I am sure that at some point that will kick in, but hissy fits, weeping into cornflakes, pouting and the consumption of large amounts of baked goods must occur, before that point is reached.
The OT who I have been seeing has been using gentle encouragement and that “come on now Michelle, time to put those big girl undies on” look to get me to this point. In truth she has gotten me further in the last few weeks than anyone else has in the last 7 years which makes her a bit of a rockstar OT. She has organised my paperwork, had me trying out wheelchairs and basically giving me a reality check, for which I both love and want to stick my tongue out at her. Between her and my physio it has been a hard lesson to digest that I am worse than I had allowed myself to believe. In my mind I was managing pretty well, it was only after assessment that I realised that my idea of managing well, made me the illness equivalent of one of those deluded individuals who firmly believe they are the next American Idol, but are completely unaware that they are tone deaf and have the rhythm of a brick.
So I sat in my GP's office on Monday and handed her the sheets entitled Confirmation of Disability and Disabled Parking Permit and watched her sign away my delusions of still being an able-bodied member of society. Again I was subjected to another example of how clear it is to others, even those who see me sporadically, like my GP.
Now that it's done my family have come out to say “about time, dumbarse”, (okay not everyone one added the “dumbarse” part, but the tone left little doubt that it was implied). It seems I was the only one left who had delusions of my ableness. My ideas that “others need it more”, or “others are worse than me”, was apparently total malarky. It's amazing how completely blind you can be to your own situation. How you can tell yourself lies and believe them completely. How the picture of me I constructed in my head was more fairytale than reality. Denial is a very warm and enticing place. I was quite happy living there.
So I sit here in the hospital sucking down my saline and digesting my new existence. I'm still the exact same person I was Monday morning before the forms were signed. I'm trying to focus on the access it will give me more than the title. As it is I have at least 18mths to adjust to the whole idea before I even have a chance at a newfangled wheelchair. As my OT pointed out (placated me), if I have a miraculous recovery in that time, I can always say no to my new wheels.
It's time to put on my practical hat and be all mature and grown up. But part of me is tempted to just get up quickly and walk at a regular pace from the recliner chair I am sitting in, to the loo round the corner without my cane, just to prove them wrong. Taking a walk on the wild side, baby! It may all end in tears, but damn it would feel good to give it a go.
I'll grow up tomorrow. Promise.
When I grow up – Garbage