This week I walked everyday, plus cycled and did leg exercises. I started out walking just 1 block, and back. I am now up to 3 blocks and back. I have set myself a goal of walking the Turkey Trot with my family on Thanksgiving Day. It’s only a 5K. Three of our family members will run it. Two of the others have consented to walk it with me.
My son has walked the San Francisco Half Marathon with me a couple of times. In 2012 I was doing the race alone and tripped over a strut on the Gold Gate Bridge. I flew through the air, landing on my face…forcing my glasses into my forehead between my eyes, and pushing my teeth up into my lip. I was a bloody mess and they had to take me off the bridge on a stretcher. Thank goodness a nurse was behind me and saw me fall. She stopped the blood until the paramedics could maneuver through the runners to get to me. My family had no idea where I was. They are all faster than me, so I always trail behind them, but when it got to be my usual time, they got worried. They asked for me at the medical tent, but no one knew where I was. My daughter walked a couple of miles back into the race to look for me. Only when my husband took a shuttle back to our hotel room did he receive the message that I was in the hospital. They patched me up pretty well, but I had somehow also torn my rotator cuff and required surgery.
Since that race, my son has walked the San Francisco Half Marathon with me. He says that he never wants this to happen to me again. Much like a parent with a child, he cautions me when there are cracks in the street or uneven pavement. I can no longer do a race like that, since Artie came into my life, but I have asked my son if he will walk the Turkey Trot with me, and he has agreed. My son DOES NOT like racing, but he is kind enough to walk with me so that I can experience it. I am a blessed mother.
We have season tickets to CAL Berkeley football games. My family has tailgated at all of the home games for years. Our tailgating parking lot is at the bottom of the hill, and the stadium is up the hill. That same son walks with me up that hill, offering me his arm as we walk. When we called the university, we were assured that electric vans were available all over the campus to help the handicapped. However, we have rarely been able to snag one. Just last night I tried to snag two on the way back to the tailgate, and they would not let me ride on the very back seats, because they “aren’t supposed to” put anyone back there. It can be a little scary on the very back seat of one of these vans, but I have ridden in them at the prison for years.
So, just in case you have the same scenario during football season, let me share how I survive it. My son starts out walking me up the hill. He is very slow and watchful of my progress. When we get to the Business Dept., there is a maze of stairs leading up to the street that the stadium is on. I used to go up a steep hill on the other side of that building, but going up through the buildings works better for me. If there is a bannister to hang onto, I can usually maneuver my way slowly up the stairs. I find that people will go around me, and will let me take my time. There are occasional benches if I need to stop for awhile. Then, when I run out of stairs, or am between stairs, my son offers his arm again and we make it together. When I reach the stadium, there is an elevator that takes wealthier fans to the club level. Most of the elevators don’t go all the way up the stadium, so I have to use the one to the club level. At first, staff members in the Club didn’t want to let this “riff raff” woman take the elevator. However, after explaining my situation to them, and the fact that getting off on the 5th floor takes me within 1 row of my seat, they told me that it was fine. I had to push a point though, and was told that they “aren’t supposed to make exceptions” but they could see that I had a legitimate issue. People will be reasonable if you tell them what the problem is. My elevator driver last night told me that Artie hangs out with him too, and he fully understands why I need the elevator.
The most important thing to remember is this…don’t let Artie isolate you and keep you from doing races and/or attending football games (or whatever else you like to do). Insist on your rights. These are ADA issues and they MUST help you. So far I’m lucky and I haven’t been kept from walking 100%, but there will come a time when I WON’T be able to do it. I need to know where to pick up a van, and who to see in order to be able to take that elevator up into the stadium. No excuses!