+The Indefinable Dr. S.+
It turns out that she's likely from the "Health Management Company" so some of her behavior takes on new meaning in that light. We started off pretty rocky when I returned from my room after practicing with the wheelchair around the hospital corridors (I wanted to figure some things out BEFORE being released into the wild). She was sort of waiting for me and the first thing out of her mouth seemed to be "I don't know why you weren't discharged on Friday." What the-? Friday noon is when the amputation was-- and I was still on IV antibiotics and I didn't have a wheelchair that fit (standard size doesn't work for 6' 4.5" guys). I hadn't seen any of the PT/OT folks until Saturday and it wasn't until Monday afternoon that the current better-sized chair arrived.
The next encounter came Tuesday morning when she came in with my chart to lecture me about something. "Your hygiene is poor and you're obviously a smoker..." The smoker part was the straw that snapped my patience. I'm usually very considerate to others and I don't get into strangers' or authority figures' faces unless it's something totally outrageous. I smoked 2 cigars in college after big tests-- that was nearly 20 years ago (geeze! I'm olde!) - and I let her know it. Then she went back to the desk after explaining that's good I don't smoke (no apology for being an ass and NOT READING THE CHART). After a few minutes the hygiene remark was gnawing at me more and more, so I rolled out to the desk and asked how she came to that assumption. Was it the long hair and beard? Was it because I had only had sponge baths the past week? Her clarification was that she meant FOOT hygiene because I didn't go to a podiatrist. What the-? My feet are messed up and I don't have the money to go to a podiatrist, but she thought that was a poor excuse.
Finally the Wednesday encounter. I knew I was getting out that afternoon, so I was in an okay mood, just a little anxious about getting around in the chair. Dr. S. walked past my door and then came back. She smiled (it looked kinda fake) and said something about how I was going to get discharged today. Then she said something like she was glad I was doing better. Then, I kid you not, she informed me that "I'm chatting and socializing with you" before heading off. What the-? If you need to tell someone that you're chatting and socializing with them then you're obviously doing it wrong. I later discovered that most people have a problem with Dr. S.'s general demeanor, so my paranoia was proven correct this time...
+Ignorers (Blatant and Otherwise)+
I've noticed that a good percentage of 'legged' folks tend to simply pretend that people in wheelchairs don't exist. I first noticed it rolling around in JCPenny looking for a tie. Maybe 45% of the people in the aisles would glance and then look away like they didn't see anything OR just continue to look straight ahead like there was nothing there to see. That's fine unless they don't move their bleeping carts or selves when there's not enough room to get past with a chair.
Then there are those who bump into the chair because they didn't see it or they weren't paying attention or they're just generally a-holes. It's usually younger people that do this. I'm thinking "you never learned how to avoid obstacles when you were little?"
There have been many genuine offers of "can I help you?" "can I get that door for you?" and the like. But there have been a few people who simply pretend to try to help out while not doing anything remotely helpful.
This usually takes the form of someone coming out of a door when I'm trying to go in. They push the door open as they come through like you'd do for a 'legged' person walking towards the door. THIS DOES NOT WORK for someone in a wheelchair. Sure you can get some speed on a nice flat surface, but entering doors is usually NOT nice and flat. Most doors have a lip that you have to power yourself over. Pushing the door open only makes it take longer for someone in a chair. You have to wait for the door to close or roll up to it and try to 'catch' it before it closes. Then you still have to pull it open.
If you're gonna 'fake help' you might as well push the chair backwards or throw a stick in front of me....
Despite the unhelpfuls and just-plain-rude people mentioned above there are good people who actually help out or genuinely offer to help. Alice (the Purdue student who helped out finding the wheelchair entrance), that guy who held the door at Burger King, and the lady who helped get the chair out of the crappy McDonald's doors/obstacle course all deserve kudos for being there and providing help without being asked. Good people seem to be rarer but maybe it's just that the crappy people make more of an impression.
Although sometimes the offers of help seem sort of silly and tedious (I can change the toilet paper-- I'm going in there to USE it that's why I asked for some) I realize that they're genuine offers and I do appreciate them. I really need to take advantage of these simple offers more often rather than doing everything myself that I CAN actually do. It makes those helping feel good and it'll probably rack up some karma points I could use later on....