Friday, 13 November 2015

The Price

There's a price for everything, and everything has its price.

It's an expression I have used for many years, a recognition that there is a cost to everything, not just an economic cost, a cost in terms of trade-offs with other things, a cost in terms of impact on other people, a cost in terms of consequence. Every change, every decision, every act comes with an impact. Nothing is free, a lesson I learned once again yesterday.

We've made changes to my wheelchair to help get rid of the constant pain in my tailbone. There are two specific changes; a hard pad has been added to my wheelchair cushion to stiffen it, and a solid back has been added to my wheelchair to keep my back straight and upright. The solid pad in the cushion makes it heavier, more challenging to lift off of the chair when I get into the truck. The stiff back means I cannot lean back or slouch back in my wheelchair.

The inability to lean backwards in my chair affects two things fairly directly. First, it means I cannot lean back when I pee into my jug. It may not seem like much, but that L-shaped bend at my hips and waist means the pathway from bladder to exit point takes a sharp turn along the way, restricting the flow of things, slowing things down, making the effort more difficult, messier, and longer.

The second challenge is that I can no longer change my center of balance. This is critical when going downhill facing frontwards. I need to lean back to shift my center of balance so I don't tip over frontwards. I can no longer do this, and yesterday it almost caused disaster.

We were leaving an office where I had gone to pay a bill. The cement sidewalk had a sloped ramp to the asphalt pavement. The joint between them was cracked, a sufficient crack to bring my wheelchair to a sudden stop at the bottom. Thanks to my stiff L-shaped position, my center of balance was too far forward when my chair hit that crack. I pitched forward, nearly diving completely out of my chair. Fortunately I was able to hold on just long enough for Katherine to grab my shirt-back and arrest the fall. I stayed in the chair.

Apparently the price of this new seat cushion, the one I got to help with my tailbone, is that I must now go down all but the smallest of slopes facing backwards. If the transition is wide enough, like where an alley meets a roadway, I can go frontwards, but on a long angle, eliminating the worst of the slope. You give, you get. That's how it works.

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