Most of my encounters with people are amusing. A few have been inspiring. My visits to the gym have been the best encounters by far. The first day I hobbled into the gym, I tried to hit the handicap button which would open the door for me. It didn’t work. No worries. I can push the door open and quickly hop into the building. The freakin’ door was heavy as hell and it was tough to get my balance. I’m pretty sure I looked like a circle trying to squeeze into a a square peg. Fortunately, someone saw my awkward attempt at an entrance and grabbed the second door for me. That was all before I even had a chance to show them my membership card.
First of all, I know I look sexy as hell when I walk towards the pool with my swim cap, bathing suit, towel and crutches. I get looks of condolences, no looks at all, and several “be carefuls” to which I so desperately want to jokingly respond, “If I was careful, I wouldn’t be on crutches, now would I?!” Usually, I just say, “thank you” and hobble on…
The first day I headed towards the pool, a guy who was exiting the pool asked me if my crutches were for a permanent disability.
“No,” I explained. “Thank GOD they’re just temporary because of recent hip surgery.”
“Oh, you’re lucky,” he replied. “Aren’t those crutches great? They are so much easier than regular ones.”
(I looked down and noticed he had tan lines on his legs where leg braces normally go. He went on to explain his permanent disability that requires him to wear braces and use crutches every day.)
We chatted a bit more and he wished me luck with my recovery. I already told him that I felt lucky because my disability was temporary. If I could’ve lifted my foot to insert it into my mouth, I would have.
The next time I was at the gym in the women’s locker room hobbling towards the hot sauna. A lovely woman approached me and grabbed my arm to help me along. Along the way, she warned me to be careful because it was slippery.
“God Bless You,” she said. “I’ll be praying for you.”
“Wow…Thanks,” I responded. “I need it.”
“In fact, ” She continued. “Hold my hand and touch my ring. I want to pray for you right now.”
Holy crap, this is slightly awkward. I’m standing in the middle of the women’s locker room in a towel and crutches. Women are around us in various stages of dress drying their hair and putting on make-up. She starts saying “The Our Father” OUT LOUD while I’m holding on to her crucifix ring! Do I close my eyes? Do I pray along with her? Do I dare look around and notice if others are staring?? I’m being prayed over in a women’s locker room and you know what? It was lovely. Awkward as hell, but so very kind and lovely.
She opened the sauna door for me and fervently told me that she would say some prayers for me. I sat in the steam room for several minutes saying some silent prayers of thanks of my own that people like that exist in this world.
For the most part, people have been great. Kids look at me funny so I just look back. One day, I was in the locker room getting dressed while two young teen girls were putting on their makeup. Ironically, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” was playing over the speaker. I laughed at the irony that I was their age when that song was released. Now, over 20 years later, I’m on crutches proving that that song has more longevity than I do.
Needless to say, I’m relieved that my time with the sticks is hopefully coming to a close this week. My physical therapy is going great and my leg feels stronger every day. I definitely learned some valuable lessons along the way though! More than ever, I want to thank those who opened doors for me (literally) and those who told me I was a bad-ass for being at the gym in my compromised state. Trust me, I didn’t want to be anywhere else!
**Meaning absolutely NO offense to those that physically challenged! Humor me, please.
The Original “Tales from the Crypt” Guy
The New and Temporary “Tales from the Crip” Chick**
Amazing and surprising things happen when you walk around the world on crutches. Disabled people who read this probably want to smack me and say, “Duh! You have NO idea what it’s like!!” To that I humbly and graciously say, “You’re right. You have my utmost respect.” I have no idea what it’s like to live with a permanent disability, but being on crutches for the last few weeks has certainly given me a glimpse into the world of handicap accessibility (or lack thereof).