Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Day I Quit Walking Day

It’s like when you don’t know your dog’s birthday so you just pick a day and declare that day to be your dog’s birthday and have a party. You stick a birthday candle in a hunk of raw hamburger and give it to your dog.

So I declare February 28 to be The Day I Quit Walking Day. Why not? It’s as good of a day as any to have a party. I wish I would have thought to note the date on the actual day I quit walking. But I didn’t think much of it at the time. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. I just decided one day that trying to walk was a pain in the ass and I wasn’t going to bother anymore.

It’s coming up on 40 years now. I was a teenager at the state-operated boarding school for cripples. My leg braces were locked at the knee so I sat in my wheelchair with my legs sticking straight out. The therapist rocked me up to a standing position in the parallel bars. I walked like Frankenstein in cement boots dragging a ball and chain. I leaned way to one side, thrusted the opposite leg forward a few inches. I took two steps forward like that, two steps back. That's all I could do. I sat down. The end.

Don’t believe what they say in those feature stories you see when a linebacker becomes a cripple. Walking isn’t just a matter of desire, determination and discipline . If it was, therapists would take a whole different approach during rehab. It would be more like boot camp. “Get up off your lazy ass and walk, cripple! LEFT RIGHT HUT HUT LEFT RIGHT! C'mon! Move it! You’re a disgrace!”

I also didn’t like how therapists referred to walking as “ambulation.” Why couldn’t they just call it walking? “It’s time to ambulate!” I think that word bothered me because I was raised Catholic and ambulation sounded like something a priest would tell me I should never ever do. “Bless me father for I have sinned. This morning I ambulated all over my bedroom.”

I told the therapist that was it. No more walking for me. And it was a big load lifted. I could spend that time and energy doing something more fruitful and fun. They sent me to see the head therapist, who implored me to never give up trying to walk. But what was the point? Two steps forward, two steps back. It felt good for me to tell walking to fuck off! “You can’t fire me! I quit!”

While I’m at it, I also need to declare a The Last Day I Used the Stand-up Table Day. That was another thing the therapists did. They laid me on the stand-up table, which was this padded, horizontal pallet. They strapped me in good and tight across the knees and across the chest and all over and then they turned a crank until the stand-up table was vertical and, consequently, so was I. And there I “stood.” I felt like I was bound to a tree. I kept waiting for the therapist to place an apple on my head and shoot it off with a bow and arrow.  I felt like a magician’s assistant, backed against the wall and waiting nervously for the magician to fling knives that whiz past my ears. I felt like a scarecrow.

They discontinued that therapy for me without telling me. I don’t know why. I never asked. Just shut up and be grateful. I only wish they would have told me after my final crank back to Horizontalville that they were officially giving up on the stand-up table. I probably would have remembered the date of this great milestone.

Be it resolved that henceforth, February 27 shall be The Last Day I Used the Stand-up Table Day. That way for two days straight I can party myself silly.