Crutches and Backpacks

Posted July 18th, 2014 by Anthony

Anthony, crutches, backpack, and sister

My sister and me at Poly in Pasadena

That’s me with my sister Paula on the grounds of Polytechnic School in Pasadena. Notice the backpack. It seems like I spent an inordinate amount of time from middle school through college figuring out how to carry things, particularly school books, while using crutches. It’s not the sharpest snapshot but the backpack looks big. I think it was the Austrian daypack my mother found. I was the only elementary kid I ever saw who used anything like it. It’s one of those disability things. Did I want to go to a mainstream school? Yes. Did I want to do well? Yes. Did I have to schlep schoolbooks and notebooks from home to classroom? Yes. Well then, a backpack is what it had to be. It could have been worse. Looking back I’m relieved I wasn’t forced to use an Army surplus or Boy Scout bag.

Figuring out backpacks and satchels was just the beginning of the mobility problems I had to solve. Disability access impediments have not gone away with the advent of the ADA in 1990. For instance, last month the ten foot nylon strap I always carry came in handy to adapt a motel’s so called accessible shower. Fortunately, the world is now accessible enough and with my lift-equipped van I get to use a power wheelchair. The briefcase on the back of my wheelchair and the purse hanging from the seat makes it so I can carry far more stuff than anyone should be allowed to have. In addition to a full size DSLR camera with a spare lens, I have two flashlights, gloves, a watch cap, a red-blinking LED light for night travel, scissors, tweezers, three different eye drops, etc., etc.

Now that I can carry too many tools I can use my practiced ingenuity to make my life easier with less sweat and worry. Vice grips? Yup, I got ‘em. Phillips head screwdriver? What size? Disability or no, I would probably be kind of a gadget guy. All that stuff pleases me. The stuff I carry and my now well-practiced ability to solve access problems in a less than hospitable world means I have a little more ease and comfort. Living this disability life gives me many, many opportunities to invent and repurpose both the micro and the macro. It’s satisfying to concretely solve disability-related access problems in the face of issues like employment, transportation, and healthcare for disabled people. Those aren’t easily solved. Little by little we chip away at the mundane and the world changes.

Strapped down shower head.

Ah, too many times have I had to tie down the hand held shower head.


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