Into the land of giants…

So far, this entire move has been incredibly exhausting and physically draining, drastically weakening my muscles. My reduction in strength makes this small to mid-sized house and everything in it feel more substantial and, in fact, simply impossible. The size of the house contents and my weakness give me a peek at a challenging road in my future. We have all heard if you do not move it, you lose it. Unfortunately, I did not move it and inevitably lost it, creating a sad setback of the century.

After a 77-minute drive from the Orlando Airport with minimal conversation, Lisa stopped outside a pleasant-looking home. She asked if this was the correct residence, as this was the address I provided to them. I clarified that I had only seen a few pictures, but it must have been mine since the garage door was rolling up from the remote opener. It felt strange to be in a new home and a new state because never have I seen this house in person.

A friend of a friend named Callie arrived just as we did, and she pulled into the garage that I had just opened. Without haste and plenty of urgency, Lisa quickly unloaded me and my luggage and put both into the garage. She said goodbye and left like she was late for an appointment, as it was her last trip of the day. Before I got into the house, I faced my first struggle: getting into the house. When you are in a wheelchair, though, depending on your abilities, every step is like climbing Mount Everest. There was a 4-inch step with an extremely short ramp, meaning it was too steep for me to self-propel into the house.

Callie was the first in a crew of four women scheduled by my mom to bring home-cooked meals during my first few days. Thankfully, she was willing and able to push me into the house as the ramp was too steep, making it the first time I faced excessive height in this house. As Callie and I moved through the house, it felt strange because my brain and body were exceptionally exhausted, as if I had tried to do trigonometry for a few hours. My brain was sluggish, and my body felt lethargic, making everything distant like a movie dream scene. It was too early for bed, but I needed a 15-minute power nap to reboot my mental system so I could last until bedtime, but no luck today.

Callie wanted to help me unpack and put things away where they would live permanently. She began to put things away in my new dresser, although something caught my eye about my new sleeping quarters. My bed was extraordinarily tall, so there was no way I could get in the bed tonight without mountain climbing gear and a sherpa. Callie eventually left me to enjoy my new humble abode with a full belly and food for tomorrow. I knew I was not alone and would soon meet neighbors and many other friendly people, but the house felt cold and lonely right then. 


Later that night, I went into my bathroom to brush my teeth and get some acetaminophen. My sore muscles needed a team of Swedish masseuses, and I needed someone to turn off the jackhammers in my banging brain. As I rinsed my mouth out, I leaned to spit into the sink, and my chin was barely high enough to reach the sink, making this vanity way too tall. This bathroom countertop was the third item in my new house that was excessively tall and out of reach for a guy 4-foot tall in a wheelchair. 

The following day, I went into the kitchen to make a bowl of cereal and saw some challenges I would face in this house. Today would be a struggle because my bed was too tall to sleep in, so I continued to be cognitively sluggish. The kitchen was not ADA height, which I expected, yet they pushed everything sitting on top of the counter back against the wall. Although it looked neat and tidy, this situation ensured everything was out of my reach, making another too-tall situation.

My new house

As the game of double-dutch continued, the chance monster waited until now to jump in and begin causing confusion and chaos. The truth is that this entire move has been a roller coaster of one step forward and two steps back. I have had four solid months of exciting ups and some truly disappointing downs. However, a plethora of exceptionally tall things will take time to readjust and remodel for a positive living experience. I also need to start physical therapy to create an exercise regimen that will help me get stronger to aid with every aspect of my life. 

The rubber band is going to snap soon. I can and will feel it.

Nearer but not therer…

Upon landing at the Orlando Airport, my nerves jumped like banjo strings, making me feel quite jittery. So far, this trip has gone freakishly well, which terrifies me as I fear the monster called chance. It feels like this move is a rubber band, and life pulls it farther apart as I simply wait for it to snap in my face. Sometimes I think it is a game of double dutch, and the Chance Beast is waiting for just the right moment to jump in and cause havoc in my life. I am more fearful of this than most can understand or even fathom. 

It felt like only minutes for the plane to land, connect to the walkway, and for people to debark. When you are a person in a wheelchair, you are the first one to board the plane but the last to disembark. The pilot, Captain Jack, and his co-worker Mike, carefully picked me up and placed me back in my wheelchair. Trying to hide my anxiety about the negative possibilities of today, I loudly spoke up and proclaimed: touchdown, seven points, no need for a field goal. My statement led to much laughter and high fives all around. 

Mike placed my carry-on bag on my lap and swiftly pushed me out to the carpeted area past the gate employee. We moved too fast for me to see the gate person’s name tag, but she had a bright smile on her face bringing sunshine to everyone. We moved quickly until the carpet ended, where I could see everyone waiting to get on the plane for its next destination. The gate attendant told me she would get some help and then called for assistance, taking me to the baggage claim and the transport. I waited for several minutes but had to use the restroom badly, which was just across the aisle.

As I rolled into the restroom, I noticed the facilities were packed with passengers since our plane had just landed. I cautiously wheeled through the room to the accessible stall with my hard carry-on luggage still on my lap. Unfortunately, the stall was in use, so I spoke loudly, explaining that a guy in a wheelchair was waiting, but I received no response. Since I was in a hurry, I left the bathroom and continued to sit and wait for the person who would assist me. After a few minutes, the crowd in the restroom emptied and left the accessible stall open, which I could use promptly. 

I finished quickly and went back to waiting on the carpet of the gate our plane landed while they called for help for the fourth time. My time was up for transportation, so I panicked and called the transport company, hoping they did not leave me marooned. I spoke with the transport operator and apologetically explained my stranded situation of waiting at my gate. She told me I contacted them just in time as the bus was about to depart without me, and getting them to come back was difficult. She informed me they would only wait a little longer since I called.

After a 45-minute wait and my bus nearly leaving without me, I finally saw an employee for Southwest Airlines. When the employee, Sally, passed me with a wheelchair, she told me she would take me where I needed. Southwest Sally pushed my chair to the trolley where the Transport company called to say my time was up. I begged a little, explaining that I was on my way as they picked me up moments ago and we would be there soon. We rode the Orlando Airport trolley from one part of the airport to the other, with very few people. 

Southwest Sally continued to push me with one hand through the airport, weaving in and around a few people. Finally, we arrived at baggage claim, and thankfully the luggage from my flight was still on the carousel, though very few bags remained. Sally quickly pushed me through baggage claim, where she performed a balancing/juggling act like no other. She rolled my large checked suitcase with her left hand while pushing me with her right hand, and I dragged my carry-on bag with my right hand.

Sally and I made our way through the airport until we arrived, where the Paratransit van was waiting. It was a large vehicle but appeared only to carry one wheelchair at a time while also taking the rest of the family if there was one. The driver, Lisa, put me in the back of the van, locking me in place cautiously like I was an explosive box on the back of a pickup truck. She next grabbed my luggage and tossed it in the van like a bag of marshmallows that would not break. Finally, Lisa had a clipboard to keep track of her mileage pickup locations and destinations, and once Lisa filled it out, she started the vehicle, and away we went. She quickly let me know this trip would take one hour and fifteen minutes to reach my final destination.

As we rode off into the sunset, her words rang ominously.