A clear view and a sit down lunch.

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It's been an interesting week so far, and it's only Monday evening...

The last two days have been peppered with incidents that illustrate some of the more unusual awkwardnesses of living with a spinal cord injury (things even more awkward that trying to pass off 'awkwardnesses' as a word).

Yesterday morning I finally got down to the rock pool for a swim, something I have been promising myself for some time, but somehow I always find an excuse to make it too much of a hassle. Inevitably, my swim coincided with a high tide, and while I thought I was past the peak, I still returned to the edge of the pool to find my wheelchair was rather more damp than is good for it. I shall now be spending most of this week replacing the bearings as they seize up, one by one (incidentally, have a guess how many sets of bearing there are in a typical wheelchair. Nope. Not even close. Ok, I'll tell you: 12. Twelve of the bastard things).

Still, I am resigned to the effects of the ocean on my chair. It goes with the territory, what with living by the ocean.  And the dampness of my wheelchair when I got out of the pool was as nothing compared to the dampness of my wheelchair after got back into it in my new wetsuit which, I have now discovered, hides goodly amount of water in various nooks and crevices that is subsequently released by sitting.

No matter. I felt serene after the swim, and the sound of the waves crashing always soothes my soul, so I headed back to the carpark feeling relaxed.

A little too relaxed, as it turned out, because I forgot to apply the brakes on my wheelchair when I transferred into the car. This is a bad habit that doesn't usually incur any adverse consequences, unless I am on a hill. On Sunday, I was on a hill. Not only that, but the slope ended in a drop off the sea wall, against which the waves were crashing with some vigour.

All I could do was dump my mask and snorkel into the door pocket and utter, "No. No. No." to myself as I watched my wheelchair, replete with my wallet, mobile phone and car keys, snake lazily down the slope towards the edge. Thankfully, and perhaps inexplicably, my chair turned sideways and came to a halt a meter from the edge, and all I had to do was wait a couple of minutes and ask a passer-by to wheel it back over to the car.

As I put my wheelchair into the car, I felt like I had dodged a bullet, and that the day was going to be great. I swung my feet into the car and slammed the door with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, my diving mask wasn't in the door pocket as such, but was hanging half out of the door pocket, and this happened:

mask.jpg So that was Sunday.

Today's incident involved lunch. I was sitting on the floor at lunchtime, adding a new door strip to the back door in a bid to stop a lake forming in the laundry whenever it rains. Penny brought me a piece of toast with feta, tomato and basil. Seeing that I was engaged on the task in hand and not wanting the dog to get my lunch, she hit upon the practical solution of putting the plate on the seat of my wheelchair.

I can't honestly remember having a conversation about the plate of food, and once I'd finished fixing the door, I pulled my chair around and hopped back into it. I say 'hopped', but it's a bit more of an effort than that implies. It also involves me bending forwards and facing the ground as I haul my arse into the air and try and stick the landing.

Three hours later, and some time after having made and eaten my own lunch, thinking to myself, "I'm sure Penny asked me earlier if I wanted some lunch..." I got out of my wheelchair again, only to discover a plate under my backside. A plate containing the squashed remains of the feta and toast. The absurdity of it all.

In truth, I am extremely lucky. More so than my wheelchair not ending up in the Pacific. I am lucky because I have 'good skin', which is to say that it doesn't mark easily. For some people with spinal cord injury, sitting on something as unyielding as a plate for three hours would be certain to cause a problem that could in turn lead to a pressure sore, and a prolonged period of bedrest. In extreme cases, pressure sores can lead to serious infections and even death.

So all in all, I'll take the broken mask, the seized bearings and the squashed lunch. Not only is it all just 'stuff', but they also represent the baggage that comes with being able to live a full and active life.

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