It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Empowerment of Choice

Yesterday I did one of the coolest things ever. I walked to Starbucks. And then I walked to Barnes & Noble too. The whole time I was walking there all I could think about was how cool it was that I just decided I wanted to go there, got dressed, grabed 2 books, my wallet, keys, phone, and crutches, and headed out the door. I didn't have to tell anybody where I was going, why I was going there, how long I was going to be there, or wait for, ask, or beg someone to take me there. I just went. It was a much better thing to do then sit in my apartment alone all day. I think if I would have done that I would have lost my mind, even though all I did was read and I would have done that anyway, even if I didn't go out. A change of scenery is always good for the mind.Big Smile

When deciding to go out I had to first plan out my route. I couldn't cut through buildings on a Sunday, so I had to figure out how else to get there. Then take an inventory of all my different mobility aides to detirmine what was best to use in this instance. My choices were:

  1. Nothing (bad idea)
  2. UCBs (to the right)-- they look something like that, except they end before the toe and they're purple, not pink
  3. UCBs and crutches (crutches to the left)-- mine are black w/polka dots that I painted on last fall
  4. AFOs (to the right)-- I think that's the closest thing to what mine look like, except that they only have one foot strap and they're supposed to look like jeans.
  5. AFOs and crutches
  6. Jazzy (to the left)-- that's my chair model in teal like mine, but I have a black seat. Isn't it pretty?

I think those were enough choices, don't you?

The thing about choices such as this one is that you have to make it by yourself. There is no possible way that someone could have made it for me. A few months ago someone who should know better started a sentence with "People like you..." in relation to bipolar issues I was having. Don't you just hate that? There are no people like me. CP is so variable that it would be impossible for anyone to tell me which one(s) I should use. No one has my exact spasticity issues. Everyone with CP has fatigue issues, but some people get more tired then others. And in response to that person, having CP and bipolar disorder is a whole other ball game then just being bipolar.

So yesterday I needed to decide where to go and then what to use to get there. It all depends on the type of pavement, whether it was relitively flat or extremely hilly, the weather, what I did yesterday or even the day before, and what my plans were for today or tomorrow. Deciding whether or not to take the chair to the library today wasn't such a thrilling decision, but somehow the act of deciding to wear my UCBs and take my crutches to Starbucks to go read was thrilling. I think that was because there was more to consider in going to Starbucks and it was also out of the norm of my daily activities, so it wasn't as automatic a decision as today's decision was.

This summer a lot of things I have done have been rather empowering. For example, meeting a friend for a "secret excursion" and dinner down the street or meeting a friend at the mall on a rough day, was empowering.

Deciding to ditch my new laptop and force my shrink to hold the power cord for ransom (I can't get it back until April I decided) was empowering because she never asked, forced, or coerced me to give it to her. Rather, I simply walked into her office, handed it to her, and told her I didn't want to be anywhere near it. And since I made her take it, I decided when and how I'm getting it back from her. Pretty much all by myself.

Making doctors appointments specifically when and where my mom can't go is empowering. I'm 23. Most 23 year olds get themselves to their own appointments. Why should I be any different?

Now I feel like a 2 year old. 2 year olds do 2 things. They ask "what that" so many times that I might want to scream, and they want to do everything themselves, whether or not they really can or whether or not it's safe. They learn from doing and exploring their world. So do 23 year olds apparently. I've been relishing in the self-detirmination--deciding, what I want, when I want it, and how I need to go about getting it—it’s taken to learn that.

It's something I think most adults take for granted--not having someone telling you what to do all the time. Or even deciding what it is you want, but not being able to do it because someone else thinks they know what's best for you, or just doesn't want to/feel like helping you. On the subject of help, achieving self-detirmination doesn't mean that you do everything by yourself. That's impossible; even for ABs. It just means that you're in charage of the help that you get. It means that you're directing it. As human beings self-detirmination may very well be the most powerful tool we have. You feel better about yourself and I bet accomplish more when you have control over your life. Because I am a PWD self-detirmination took longer to achieve. I still don't drive, so deciding where I wanted to go and when I was going to get there always revolved around my mom's schedule, for example.

The most empowering thing from yesterday was that I was physically able to choose to walk to Starbucks and then to Barnes & Noble and back. It was about a 2.5mi round trip and not something that I was physically able to do 2 years ago when I tried, or even last year I tried to go half way. Both times I ended up feeling like death. But yesterday I thought I could do it and decided to try. The name of the game was let's see how far I can go before I sound like I'm about to lose a lung. I never did. My breathing never went above normal from my extra energy exertion. It was cool because if I was with someone else they might not have let me try and I would never know that now I can do something I used to not be able to. It was cool because I chose to walk all that way and forgo the gym today. Next time maybe I will choose to take the chair so that I can walk to class instead.

More and more as I am getting older I am given more responsibilities. Just like everybody else. But unlike everybody else, each time I am either given a choice or forcefully take it from someone (I can be very explosive at times) I start to appreciate my choices that much more. Even a choice that may seem small to an outsider: crutch it or chair it? That's really rather big.


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