BYOC

What does one do when injured by a chair and needing to be extra careful about posture?

I’m fortunate enough to have a chair that’s build for me, meaning it’s designed as specifically as possible to my unique posture needs.

I’m talking about my wheelchair.

There are additional benefits to having a wheelchair that people don’t think about, and this is certainly one of them.

Having somewhere to sit that you know won’t cause pain or discomfort doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for some people it is.

You’ve heard of BYOB? Sometimes I BYOC

This isn’t a new thing for me, but as the years pass I find more times when it is beneficial.

Once I remembered I had the BYOC option I remembered the 1st time I write about the topic.

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The holidays always make me think of recovering from surgery. My last surgery was in September, the one before that January, my SDR was in October, and I even had a large birthmark removed during the holidays one year.

Did you know some surgeons frown on having surgery requiring a long recovery period in the summer? Something about being more inclined to be more active in warmer weather, I think.

Three years ago (almost to the day) I was given the O.K. to stand up. So I did. I’d love to tell you that I strolled out of the clinic that day but it doesn’t quite work like that when you’ve spent months off your feet at all costs.

This wasn’t the first recovery process I’ve dragged my family though but this one has been different than the others, at least to date. This one involved the shouting, “Come get Sarah in the house,” for one thing. And even that became shockingly normal after a few tries.

I thought I’d be “up and around” by Christmas that year. A month was enough time to learn to walk again right? (Plus it wasn’t my first time at this rodeo either) I wasn’t thinking I’d have to maneuver a wheelchair though a house crammed full of people.

But when the day came I was still relying on wheels to get me from point A to point B so my cousins carried me into the house. I rolled in and quickly turned to the left.

Christmas day in my family is legendary. There’s a running joke that if you return for another Christmas you’re probably going to stick around for a while.

We’re the only family (that I know of), that won’t go buffet. It’s “not how Christmas should be,” we all have to sit down at the table and eat, together. The table runs the length of the dining room, literally. So if you walk in the “wrong” entrance you walk into the table.

I’ll admit it’s an intimidating table, and this is my normal.

Trying to fit a wheelchair at a table that’s had to adopt the mantra, “just because a plate can fit there doesn’t mean a person can;” have I mentioned that we have to borrow chairs from other people/places in order to make this work?

So fitting a wheelchair at a Christmas table……

Thankfully my request was honored and I was privileged to sit on an end. It was pretty easy actually.

This one year my cousin brought his girlfriend to dinner. She was trying to be polite asking my cousin questions as quietly as possible. I say she was tying to be quiet because it’s impossible to do anything without someone noticing when you sit that close to each other.

“How many people are here right now?”

My cousin looks down the table and makes an educated guess, but his younger brother (& one of my carriers) and I overhear the guess and feel compelled to jump in, it’s what we do.

“We needed 29 chairs, so there are 30 people here.”

“That makes sense 29 chairs, plus me, so yeah 30 people”

“If we needed 29 chairs then there are 29 people here.”

“No there isn’t, I brought my own, so it’s 30”

I just had to throw a joke in there somewhere, because all of us trying to do math isn’t funny enough.

“There are 29 people here.”

“She brought her own chair. There are 30.”

“No”

“Sarah brought her own chair.”

Error in judgment realized, joke understood, the whole section of the table burst into laughter, girlfriend sits there confused, which is probably part of the reason she didn’t return the next year.

The things I do to get to sit at the foot of the table.*

*To avoid confusion one end of the table is called the “head” and the other is referred to as the “foot.”

*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on November 29, 2012

Sarah Leaves

I used to have a fairly regimented holiday season, and then things changed.

Taking the advice of a former coworker, when things changed that I couldn’t control I changed what I could control.

I leave.

As my mother keeps telling people “around the holidays Sarah leaves”.

As in claw around the holidays throw my stuff in a suitcase and hit the road, or sky, whatever fits.

In fact, I happen to be typing this while sitting in the back of an RV which sounds far more romantic than it actually is. Being a nomad, even temporally, isn’t for wimps.

Why do I hit the road? Because left to my own devices the holidays are filled with memories of traditions that lasted for decades.  I get out of my long time comfort zone of traditions by not acknowledging any, if I can help it.

Where do I go? Well that depends, it helps that my family has spread out in the last few years. It’s not nearly as expensive and much more relaxed.

If I can get a reasonably priced ticket and a place to crash I’m gone.

This new tradition of non-tradition helps in some ways but other aspects are more difficult.

There’s always lack of sleep to contend with but at the same time it allows me a better chance to think about other things rather than what’s still lodged in my brain. For example, it’s hard to get lost in grief when you’re trying to catch your next flight located across the terminal that’s scheduled to leave in less than an hour.

I don’t travel as much as I used to and truth be told I find it to be increasingly stressful but I do make these “pilgrimages” every year I’m able to.

I still get criticism from people for it but I don’t care.

My sanity must come first when I feel depleted or else I just spin within myself and it just gets ugly.

I don’t really leave. I retreat and recharge by changing my surroundings. I get out of my own head and in some cases out of my own way.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take a break of some kind, before, after, or even during, the holidays. It’s overwhelming and overstimulating for a lot of people, self-included, naturally. However, it’s much more common to criticize those who acknowledge that they need a break. Someday it’ll be the other way around, as it should be.

Holidays & Disability

I hate shopping. I don’t see the point of it. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than go to the mall, for example. I wasn’t always this way however. I used to look forward to shopping, no matter what occasion.

Now it’s just another pain in my ass.

It’s funny how I cling to online shopping when I used to resist it so much.

There’s a reason why I shop for Christmas gifts throughout the year, and it’s not for the bargains (although that would be a bonus).

I’ve been nearly finished with my shopping for months now. I just have to get a few more gifts and I’m done (hopefully by the time you read this I will be done).

This year came with an unexpected hiccup.

I went online to make my purchase. I tried more than once and asked others to try too (in the event of human error). No success.

I called the store, as in the brick and mortar building.

They told me I couldn’t place an order through their website, any order, at all.

So one wonders why bother having a website in the first place?

I asked if I could order my gift over the phone (which I understand is the most insecure way to place an order).

“Well how would you get your order.”

I could’ve explained to her that I don’t drive so getting to the store isn’t as easy as ordering online. But that’s beside the point I was trying to make by calling the store, not to mention I didn’t want to drop that card unless absolutely necessary, which isn’t, but I did ask myself that at first.

I’ll stick with the reliable family fallback gift giving tradition. It’s not my 1st choice but I have to do it with another gift anyway so what’s one more?

I can hear you asking, What’s the point of this post if she already had a solution in her back pocket?

Not everyone has a backup plan.

The holidays are stressful for everyone without accessibility issues. E-Commerce can easily be seen as a luxury we take for granted but for many it’s a gateway to the world at large, not unlike social media.

Therefore, if you have a website that includes eCommerce of any sort please make sure it works, and if it hasn’t worked for any length of time fix it and let people know that it is up and running again. You may not see any large benefits from online shopping but you’ll get more than if you have nothing at all, and even worse if you have it but it doesn’t work (in my opinion).

An Obligatory Advent Post

Recently I asked my dear friend Tiffany if she had any ideas for blog topics. With Advent around the corner she suggested “Advent prep?” Which I quickly replied, “I have that covered.”

Well the joke’s on me, because I don’t. I mean I did, but if you were to go back and read what I’ve posted on a previous blog during previous years, well, it just doesn’t work anymore.

Add in the facts that the semester is almost over and I can’t stand the Christmas season starting before Halloween and I’m at “Christmas burnout” around the 1st week of November.

I put up with it, begrudgingly, but I certainly don’t like it and make every attempt to avoid anything out of my comfort zone.

Yes, I’m the person who says “No thanks” to office Secret Santa projects and grab bags because I can’t pull it together to buy a gift for someone else, not even with the benefit of online shopping.

I’m the person who says they may attend the work Christmas party and then back out, sometimes at the last minute.

I can’t deal with any of it; I don’t even want to try to.

I’m more of an introvert by nature, but the holidays make me want to crawl into a hole and never come out.

That being said I will tell you that I like the time of Advent, not as much as I like the Christmas Octave, but still. I like the idea behind it and I wish more people took it more seriously, yes even non-Christians, even just for the sake of Christians.

We all complain that the world is moving too fast, yet we buy into it.

If you want the world to slow down, slow down your world.

Maybe others will catch on.

I hope things reach a tipping point and we won’t be watching White Christmas while waiting for tick-or-treaters.

PS. If you’re looking for a good talk about Advent Greg & Jennifer Willits recorded one of their talks as a “podcast extra.”