Stairs- a bridgeable chasm
Stairs- a Bridgeable Chasm
Like most people, I never gave much thought to a set of stairs. Most of us climb a flight or two daily and think nothing of the mechanical genius it takes to make such a simple maneuver possible.
I had been housebound for a week after foot surgery and was now contemplating my first excursion outside with some anticipation. But first, I had to manage the set of stairs that would carry me from our second story condo to the welcome fresh air of the out of doors. It is only a single flight and descends but some 15 linear feet from our place to the welcome seventy-degree sunshine that was beckoning me.
Perched atop a set of crutches, the distance seemed a lot higher. But like most journeys, the hardest step is the first one. I think a mechanical engineer would take several days to figure out the shifting load factors, angle of descent and swaying motion of a 200 plus pound mass, cantilevered atop a precarious perch of two upright supports as it was gradually and safely lowered those same fifteen feet.
In that I didn’t have that kind of technical support, I just started the descent slowly, one hand grasping the railing in a death grip, the other leaning heavily onto the aforementioned vertical support. For all of the apprehension involved, the trip down was easy enough. The human mind and body are amazingly adaptive. There must be a small computer in the brain that measures all of the mentioned mechanical variants and conveys the corrective support commands instantaneously to the various body parts in order to solve the physical dilemma mentioned. I was outside with the sun shining on my face and the wind in my hair again.
I think we all take for granted the small pleasures in life. The ability to walk, move and enjoy the simple things takes preeminence when they are denied you. Social apprehensions, the vexations of the various groups on pontificating heads on television or the radio are subsumed into the primal need to function first.
I have several friends who are differently abled and either had to use crutches or a wheel chair many times, some permanently. I had a newfound empathy for them and all of the minor obstacles that they had to overcome daily just to lead as normal a life as possible. And I can certainly see why sometimes they get a little cranky having to ask for assistance with all of the minutiae that need attending to in our daily lives. I found it frustrating even after a short period of time. No one want to be on the asking end of things, even if the help is willingly given by a loving spouse.
And then there was the absolute feeling of freedom in piloting the family chariot around the surrounding streets. The feeling of being back in control of one’s life was as important to me as the pleasures of being out and about once again.
We looked for a place to stop for coffee and sit in the Florida sunshine. The process gave me a better appreciation for handi-capped parking spots. People don’t get them because they are lazy or want special treatment. They get them because otherwise they wouldn’t physically be able to use that facility. And the rascals who use them, when not needed, are a sorry lot indeed.
We weren’t getting our parking sticker for a few more days, so we had to carefully assess where we could park and then judge my ability to transit the distances on crutches involved in finding a seat. And in Florida’s high season, you had to figure out where you could make a mad dash for an available seat before some rascal beat you to it. Most places seemed inaccessible. Finally, we found one outside an Italian Deli/Restaurant called De Romo’s. It was extremely pleasant to sit in the warming sun and enjoy the simple pleasure of talking with your wife over a cup of coffee on a warm spring day.
We soon returned to our abode and, with only a little difficulty, mastered the climb back up the heretofore avoided chasm. The stairs didn’t seem quite so steep now that I had mastered their ascent and descent once. Hopefully I can do this daily. It alleviates the feeling of claustrophobia and annoyance of sitting inside on a gorgeous spring day.
In a week or so, I will be fitted for a ten-pound contraption called simply “The boot.” It looks and functions like a large downhill ski boot and transfers the weight bearing pressure onto the heel of your foot, allowing the treated or broken bones to mend over the next month or so. With that outsized contraption will come even more freedom to travel out of doors. And a handi-capped parking sticker will give me a better than even shot to outrace some rascal to one of those treasured seats in the morning sun. Thank the good lord for the simple pleasures in life.
Joseph Xavier Martin