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‘Realizations from the wheelchair’ by Jannelle So


By Jannelle So

Realizations from the wheelchair

According to a Harvard Study, accidents at home rank among the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. Sadly to me, it’s not just news that I can discuss on “Kababayan LA” (The first and only daily talk show for Filipinos in the U.S. that I host and produce.) – It’s a reality that I myself experienced first-hand, and the effects of which I’m still recovering from.

On the night of January 2nd 2011, after wrapping up a series of holiday revelries, I decided to have a quiet night at home, planning an early night to prepare for the brand new work week of a brand new year. It was simple and wholesome enough: no friends, no drinking alcohol for the night (not even wine), no loud music, no dancing; just quiet time alone, a cup of calming tea, maybe a little bit of television – steady as steady can be. To wait for sleepiness to come, I tried arranging some stuff around the house. It was a night as wholesome as Disney!

Even my fall was actually uneventful. It wasn’t dramatic or anything. As I was walking down the stairs, I slipped a few steps and landed hard on the hardwood floor. No, I didn’t land on all fours; nor my body splattered on the chocolate brown floor. I did not even land on my behind. It was what I consider a “poised” fall. I landed flat on my left foot, upright body, right knee bent, almost to a kneeling position. It took a few seconds for me to figure out what happened and then the realization came along with a sharp pain in my foot. It hurt severely and I couldn’t walk on it. But I didn’t think it was anything serious.

Called my folks to tell them what happened. My dad suggested I put ice. The problem was I did not have ice. I don’t like drinking cold water so I really don’t see the need for ice cubes. Nor did I have an ice pack in the medicine cabinet. Sadly, I did not have anything in my medicine cabinet.

“Ok, just put White Flower,” Dad said, referring to the all-around liquid cure for aches, pains and even mosquito bites that has a very strong medicinal scent. (Although some people smell like they use it as their eau de toilette.)

Sensing my hopelessness, Dad and Mom drove to my house late that night to bring me an ice pack and a small vial of White Flower. They told me to go to Urgent Care but I was too tired from my wholesome-and-safe-night-gone-awry-because-of-my-fall experience that all I wanted to do was go to bed. Besides, aside from a quarter-size blue and violet bruise on the bottom of my foot, the whole body part still looked non-threatening.

I realized I was so wrong with my self-diagnosis. I woke up the next day with a super mega huge left foot. And it looked menacing not only because of its exaggerated size; but also because of the color = all shades of blue, red, black, green, violet. It seemed confuse as to what color it wanted to be. It did not look pretty.

I limped my way to work and all through “Kababayan LA” taping. Then I drove myself to Urgent Care where I found out I actually had a fracture on my fifth metatarsal. Everything was too scientific at that point. And of course, all I understood was: 1) doctor saying it would take 6-8 weeks to heal; and 2)nurse taping my left foot with bandage and strapping it into the horrifying black walking boot. And let’s not forget about the crutches.

You know those things you often see or hear about but never think would happen to you? This was it for me. So I’ve been alternating between wheelchair and crutches for the last 7 weeks. It is a big hassle. Just imagine, covering events in a wheelchair. And don’t get me started on the crutches. What muscle group do you exactly use when on crutches? I can never tell because the whole body aches the day after you use it!

But it’s true they say there are always two sides. And everything that happens to us is just a matter of perception. And when I choose to dwell on the benefits of this incident, I realize I have learned and grown a lot.

The blue-lined parking spaces reserved for handicap parking? They are there for a purpose. People living with disability need that. It’s not a luxury to them. Don’t you dare covet that space. In waiting areas? Giving up your seat for somebody on crutches, a pregnant woman, an old man or lady is not just chivalry. It’s humanity – showing compassion for people who need consideration more than we do. And whatever problems we have and however monumental we think those are? There are still others who are in a worse situation. The attitude of gratitude is showing appreciation for the blessings – that we have eyes to see and read, ears to hear, and other body parts that work. Be thankful.
Don’t wait for something like this to happen to you in order to have empathy for people.

And I missed a lot in the last couple months. I’ve had to turn down invites to events, parties, and other socials. All my plans went down the drain because nursing my left foot had to take priority. But in the bigger scheme of things, life goes on. You just have to roll (in a wheelchair) or hop (on crutches) with it. No excuses. It’s true what they say: What doesn’t break you only makes you stronger.

And folks, it’s time to wake up to reality = White Flower (or Tiger Balm for that matter), no matter how credible they smell, does NOT cure all.

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